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May 13, 2020

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
New American Standard Bible for 2020

Text: 2 Chronicles 9-12
Audio: 2 Chronicles 9-12

Psalm 133 (ESV)

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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  1. Unity!

    Once again, we find ourselves in a very short psalm with an important message. Despite Psalm 133 being the second shortest chapter in the Bible, the theme of this psalm, unity, is often misunderstood and, therefore, often misapplied. 

    Psalm 133:1 says…

    "Behold, how good and pleasant it is
      when brothers dwell in unity!"

    This is the first of four times the word unity is found in Scripture, although it is a recurring theme in many places in the Bible.

    Unity in a "brotherly" context is also found in 1 Peter 3:8, "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind."

    In Ephesians 4 we are urged to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:1-6).

    A few verses in the same chapter we learn the Lord gave, "the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:11-14).

    Even though Christians are commanded to have "unity of mind" (1 Peter 3:8), and we are to be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3), there are limitations and restrictions to unity. In other words, while unity should always be our hope, it is not with just anyone.

    As I mentioned, many places in Scripture are about unity without the actual word being used.

    Here is one of those verses:

    2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?"

    Here we see a limitation and restriction surrounding unity. Believers are not to be united "yoked" with unbelievers. This is not a prohibition against having relationships with people who are not born again as that would go against many other Scriptures. 

    As John MacArthur writes in his Study Bible, to not being "yoked" with unbelievers is an "illustration taken from OT prohibitions to Israel regarding the work-related joining together of two different kinds of livestock. By this analogy, Paul taught that it is not right to join together in common spiritual enterprise with those who are not of the same nature (unbelievers). It is impossible under such an arrangement for things to be done to God’s glory.

    "Christians are not to be bound together with non-Christians in any spiritual enterprise or relationship that would be detrimental to the Christian’s testimony within the body of Christ. This was especially important for the Corinthians because of the threats from the false teachers and the surrounding pagan idolatry. But this command does not mean believers should end all associations with unbelievers; that would defy the purpose for which God saved believers and left them on earth."

    That is what makes the ecumenical movement so dangerous today. 

    *What I'm referring to are Christians and Christian leaders, who, for the sake of "unity" have fellowship with and even partner in ministry with people who differ not only on secondary issues theologically, but are "yoked" with false teachers and false prophets who preach a different gospel.

    In an effort to use extreme caution against dividing the body of Christ (which is a warning in many passages of Scripture), the pendulum has swung the other way as many disregard the limitations and restrictions of unity defined in the Word of God – quite literally for the sake of unity!

    One example is John Piper, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, and other sound Bible teachers who regretfully affiliate with and partner in ministry with people from the Charismatic and Word of Faith movements. These groups are overrun with false teachers, false prophets and fake healers. Not only do they speak at conferences with them, they do not publicly renounce their false teaching that I am aware of.

    From the interviews I've heard and read, their desire is for unity in the body of Christ, and to avoid dividing with professing Christians over "secondary issues" that often separate Christians one from another. As such, many lower the bar of what a "Christian" is and keep the bar low on what constitutes false teaching and false prophecy.

    The Bible repeatedly warns against false teachers:

    1 Timothy 4:1-2 "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared."

    Ezekiel 13:9 "My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God."

    Jeremiah 23:16 "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.'"

    This verse literally defines the Charismatic and Word of Faith movements as false prophecies are the norm while many stray, some far away, from the "mouth of the Lord" and instead share visions from their own minds.

    Jesus said in Matthew 24:24, "For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect."

    Again, this defines the Charismatic and Word of Faith movements, not just a small fringe group. These movement are growing in popularity and influence. Conferences like Passion invite celebrities to speak and professional musicians to perform while some solid Bible teachers who lack discernment teach alongside heretics instead of publicly calling them out for what they are (as Jesus did).

    Despite many years of God-honoring and Christ-exalting ministry, Francis Chan is one of the worst offenders. He publicly blesses the ministries of false teachers and false prophets while questioning his own biblical convictions. I'm thankful he is focused on helping people in third-world countries and is out of the public spotlight – even through the damage is done. While there are many great teachings online from Chan, I will never post one or share it in order to protect people from his lack of discernment.

    When great signs and wonders are performed by people who distort the Bible, mislead people away from the Bible, add "new revelations from God" that do not withstand the scrutiny of Scripture (or worse, contract Scripture), and utter false prophecies from their own minds, it's clearly not a time to have unity but a time to run – and keep running, while warning others to do the same.

    You can be a loving, caring, humble person and be a false teacher. You can be nice, kind, and considerate, and be a false prophet. You can have a magnetic personality, good looks, a Hollywood smile, and charm to go along with it, but if you preach what does not come from the Word of God, teach was contradicts Scripture, you are a false teacher. If you speak visions from your mind and prophecy in the name of the Lord things that have not come from God's mouth, and things that are not true, you are a false prophet.

    So how can we protect ourselves from false teachers and false prophets?

    1 John 4:1-6 says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error."

    If we look at this in the general sense, it might explain why Piper, Chan and others partner with false teachers – because these false teachers believe "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God."

    But there are other warnings in Scripture we need to consider when trying to discern if we should have unity with people or not. 

    2 John 4-7 says, "I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist."

    While few false teachers publicly deny the "coming of Christ in the flesh," John goes on to say:

    "Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works" (2 John 8-11).

    This is a clear, proper, biblical response against partnering with false teachers, false prophets and fake healers, who "does not abide in the teaching of Christ" and do "not have God" (2 John 9).

    Instead of uniting with those who do not abide in the teaching of Christ, John writes:

    1. Do not receive him into your house
    2. Do not give him any greeting

    Why are we not to receive them or give them any greeting? "Whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works" (2 John 11).

    Should we have unity with false teachers?

    Should pastors co-labor (be unequally yoked) in ministry with false prophets?

    Should pastors preach alongside wolves in sheep's clothing who deceive unsuspecting people for the sake of unity?

    Should pastors affirm the ministries of heretics publicly to not divide over differences?

    The biblical answer is no!

    While we will never agree with everyone on everything, and there will always be differences between biblically-minded, faithful faithful followers of Christ, we need to stay way from false teachers and false prophets unless we are confronting their false teaching and false prophecy. 

    The unity that we should have is with people who are brothers and sisters in the Lord, who love and teach God's Word faithfully, who do not lead people astray with new revelations and visions from their own minds or trust signs and wonders from false christs who speak false prophecy to deceive even genuine believers (the elect).

    Finally, I get a lot of things wrong. I make a lot of mistakes. I don’t see everything I should, and I miss more shots than I make. I’m also not accusing John Piper, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, or Ravi Zacharias of being false teachers. I am questioning their discernment to speak at conferences with blatant false teachers and false prophets who preach an unbiblical gospel to millions of people. I am questioning how Francis Chan can endorse some of these heretics while questioning the doctrines he has taught for decades.

    May God give us all the discernment we need to protect the flock of God against false teachers and false prophets, while enjoying unity with brothers in Christ who differ on secondary issues.

    ~ Puritan Prayers ~


    Lord Jesus, I sin
    Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it,
        never be content with myself,
        never think I can reach a point of perfection.
    Kill my envy, command my tongue,
      trample down self.
    Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable,
        to live for thee and not for self,
        to copy thy words, acts, spirit,
        to be transformed into thy likeness,
        to be consecrated wholly to thee,
        to live entirely to thy glory.
    Deliver me from attachment to things unclean,
      from wrong associations,
      from the predominance of evil passions,
      from the sugar of sin as well as its gall,
      that with self-loathing, deep contrition,
        earnest heart searching
      I may come to thee, cast myself on thee,
        trust in thee, cry to thee,
        be delivered by thee."

    (Excerpt taken from the Puritan Prayer Devotional "Valley of Vision")

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