Strangulation by Triangulation Print E-mail
Strangulation by Triangulation
by: Bishop Samuel Smith


I really wish that someone else would address this subject; truthfully, I would like for this "cup to pass from me." God knows that I do not want to be offensive. Please read this article in its entirety; prayerfully consider the contents herein, and carefully weigh my spirit before passing judgment."

This is a supplement to, and should be read in conjunction with the article, "Apostolic Exceptionalism." (Available upon request)

Can you recall the story from your childhood about the little boy who cried, "wolf"? His frequent and false warnings eventually fell upon deaf ears. When the real wolf came, no one listened. So much has been said in the past about the last days, much of which was not based on real Bible prophecy, but was hype and emotion, that now many pay little attention to the "signs of the time." When one considers the corruption of the culture that exceeds the days of Noah and Sodom, the threat of worldwide radical Islam, the economic crisis and chaotic climate change, thus causing the prophesied groaning of all creation; for sure, the real wolf is stalking the land and the sheep are in mortal danger! It is not just a cliché, "Jesus Christ is the hope of the world." His Gospel must be proclaimed to every living soul.

The Church was birthed on the Day of Pentecost and the prophecy was given that the promises of our God would flow freely, not only then and there, but throughout the whole world until our Lord returns. The Pentecostal promise and Apostolic message have flown like a river throughout the ages even until now, and continue to carry life, refreshment and eternal hope to another-wise polluted and thirsty world. Jesus said; "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). The gates of hell cannot prevail against God's Church. Our greatest enemies are within, and they are deceptive. Three extremes threaten to choke end-time revival at its source. Real Pentecostal Power and true Apostolic Agenda must be maintained. For what other reason did Apostle Paul state, "I am set for the defense of the Gospel"?

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:" (Isaiah 1:18)

Let this introduction be the background canvass upon which the issues of this article are painted.

(1)... We cannot be so insecure or theologically defensive that we have to repeat the same doctrinal points with every pulpit presentation; neither can we afford to ignore, or avoid vital salvation-truths in order to satisfy the world and a doctrinal-shy, contemporary church-age.

(2)... Ceremonies and ministerial attire that honor the office and identify the clergy is not the issue, it is the "extreme" extravagance, expense, and provocation that brings competivenss and loss of focus relative to preaching the clearly defined gospel.

(3)... God's Word makes it plain that we are in but not of this world, and we are not to love the things of this world, (see I John 2:15). We are to come out from among them and be a separate people; our values, and standards set us apart. Conservative personal convictions are honorable, especially the disciplines that self-denial brings; but, these can be abused when they are demanded upon all without regarding the big picture; culture, region, time and place. When personal convictions are not biblically salvatory, then their imposition brings confusion, discord, and division. As one towering Pentecostal leader of our time has said; "The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing."

Our message is: Christ and him crucified; God becoming man; the Priest becoming the Lamb; His sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension; the keys given to Peter, the apostle's doctrine; a victorious life here; healing, miracles, the resurrection; the second coming of Jesus, and eternity. What an awesome composite message, for this (mess-age)! Daniel prophesied that at the end of days, "they that know their God, shall be strong and do exploits," (See Daniel 11:32). To all who believe the apostle's doctrine, our time has come, let nothing cause us to lose focus. Beware of the distractions from both outside and inside the church.

We have come to the Kingdom for an hour such as this. Our revelation and powerful Gospel, the only hope of mankind, needs to flow as a pure stream unrestricted throughout a wicked and polluted world! We must be careful that nothing chokes it at its source, the well of Pentecost, maintained, defended, and guarded worldwide by faithful witnesses of God who cherish the apostle's doctrine.

STRANGULATION BY TRIANGULATION

I have been privileged to travel across the USA and throughout the world, ministering among multiple ethnic groups, cultures, and a multiplicity of Apostolic organizations. I have often said that I have the best job in the world, to be privileged to preach the Gospel of Christ as it is so clearly defined by the apostle's doctrine, worldwide, in this, the fulfillment of time. I am blessed, that an Indiana farm-boy, with no ministerial heritage, would have this opportunity. I have witnessed the book of Acts in action, the promised outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and have fellowshipped with some of the greatest spiritual giants of the Lord's worldwide Church. While there is a global revival, I am concerned that much of the Apostolic church in the USA, Canada, and Europe, (what is called the First World) once the sponsors of international missionary outreaches, Bible schools, and financial aid; now too often suffer from polarization, division, distraction, luke-warmness and a lack of true gospel-driven purpose. This dilemma occurs at the same time the world stands at the crossroads, literally, the hour of decision! The continued free flow of anointed, real, first century-like Pentecostal purpose and Apostolic agenda is in danger of being choked from three extremes; it is, Strangulation by Triangulation.

(1)...The emergent/progressives; in order to make the modern church more "people friendly," some are choosing to use non-offensive language, thus, they call "sin" a mistake, and water baptism accordingly, a matter of semantics, saying that baptism in the "name" and the baptismal formula that originated in Rome is compatible. Compare Acts, chapters 2:38, 8:16, 10:48 and 19:5, with Matthew 28:19. When one baptizes in the name of Jesus, he is fulfilling Matthew 28:19. The apostles knew this. Matthew did not dispute the issue with Peter on the Day of Pentecost, when Peter commanded the people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. To some there may appear to be a variance with the baptismal mode recorded by Matthew; but, he whom Christ had communicated the formula for baptism and recorded it in his gospel, Matthew 28:19; knew clearly that Peter was interpreting the name of the "Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," when he declared baptism to be in the name of "Jesus Christ."

Our Lord rewarded Peter with the keys of the kingdom because of his stated revelation when asked by Jesus, "But whom say ye that I am?" Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ." Jesus then complimented him, saying, "Blessed art thou...for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (See Matthew 16:14-17) Peter correctly discerned Jesus' statement, "I am come in my Father's name," (John 5:43). He understood the prophecy when the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph saying; "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Peter was keenly aware what Jesus meant relative to the promised Holy Ghost outpouring, saying; "...the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,..." (John 14:26). None other than Apostle Peter boldly proclaimed; "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Many "emergents" are unwittingly (sadly, some willfully) moving towards merging with orthodoxy, the widely accepted and politically correct version of the Godhead, water baptism and overall doctrine. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (I Timothy 3:5). "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (I Timothy 4:3-4). The only remedy is a renewed revelation and appreciation for "Apostolic Exceptionalism."

Among the emergent/progressives, a phrase is articulated that does not ring true against scriptural background; "The church used to insist that you believed before you belonged, now we say you can belong before you believe." That statement is heretical, because history shows that was the very philosophy that opened the doors to Voodoo coming into the Catholic church in Haiti, Santeria in Cuba and other parts of Latin America, and pagan Druidism in Europe. It was this very error that gave birth to the Harlot Church, and her daughters; the mingling with secular politics; seeking favors from worldly powers; comprising their doctrine and standards in order to gain acceptance with the status quo. (See Revelation 17) Apostle Paul wrote; "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord..." (II Corinthians 6:17). Jesus said; "And if thine eye offend thee pluck it out..." (Mark 9:47). The Old Testament accounts prove again and again that when religious errors and idolatry are brought into the camp, and are tolerated, there is always trouble!

How many have forgotten the sad story of King Solomon, a man who had more wisdom than any other, nevertheless, was brought down because he committed the grave sin of mixing truth with the false? O' that he would have remembered the words of his father David, who said; "I hate every false way." How can the church survive when erroneous doctrines and worldly mindsets are brought into the body of Christ? It cannot happen and maintain the favor of God for long!

Man cannot serve two masters. A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways, (see James 1:8). Some may continue to go through the motions and even feel religious for a time while giving lip-service to their favorite and chosen portions of God's Word. Indeed, He will honor any part of His faithful covenant; but, the long-term full and bountiful promises of God are limited when submission to His truth is piecemeal. It was for this faulty reasoning that Leonard Ravenhill was provoked to include in his masterpiece, Why Revival Tarries, saying, "At the Great Judgment will God accuse me of taking His Word too seriously?"

"That he might present to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).

(2)...The extreme interpretation of personal disciplines. Without enumerating them, and anyone who has been around "Pentecostals" for any length of time knows what I refer to. Israel built a golden calf and celebrated, "this (our works) brought us out of Egypt." Moses crushed and ground up the golden calf and made them drink it, impressing upon them that instead, it was the "blood of the lamb" that delivered them. We are not saved, or lost, by the presence of, or the absence of, a radio, TV, monitor, or a computer in our homes or offices. We are not saved, or lost, because of a wedding band or absence thereof from our fingers. We are not saved, or lost, because of our interpretation of what constitutes the Lord's supper. We are not saved, or lost, because of our revelation relative to the identity of Melchisedec. We are saved by the blood of the Lamb! We are not saved, or lost, by the presence of, or absence of, what is in our refrigerator, or what we put on or take off; we are saved by the blood of the Lamb. Having a personal conviction simply "is what it is," a personal conviction. Personal discipline is needful to subdue one's flesh and keep his body under subjection; but, to make personal convictions that often vary from person to person, region to region, and culture to culture, a doctrine that everyone must adhere to, and then build a religion around it, only brings confusion and strife in the midst of the Apostolic experience. "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:16).

I am quite sure that the "snake-handlers" in Appalachia are just as convinced that their personal conviction to handle snakes and drink poison are as biblical and vital to their walk with God as are many traditional Apostolics relative to what their interpretation of personal and traditional standards are regarding "Holiness". The preceding sentence is by no means an excuse, or meant as a license to sin, indulge, be immodest, or blur the identity, appearance, and roles of male and female; because, truly born again people want to conform to the moral codes and salvation message plainly stated in the Word of God. Furthermore, they are eager to submit to biblical oversight and the authority of anointed and God-called spiritual leadership. The answer is an abiding love for, and appreciation of, the great message of "Apostolic Exceptionalism," without needless controversy, strife and discord. In both Old and New Testament passages, the Lord protects the integrity of Holy Scriptures. "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Dueteronomy 12:32). "...If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18).

(3)...And the strangest side yet on the "triangle that strangles" is the attraction that some have towards the road back to Rome. Paul declared, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate..." (II Corinthians 6:17). The time, energy, and money spent on the "pomp and pageantry" that mirrors the Roman Papacy, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Church of England, is a waste of precious time and resources that should be spent in adoration for our Lord, who is a jealous God. We are responsible for the funds that should be spent towards the purpose of reaching the world with preaching, teaching, Bibles, buildings of worship, transportation and overall missions. The just mentioned pageantry is much of what the reformers struggled to throw off in order to pave the way for reformation. The history of the Protestant Reformation actually reports that some were martyred, burnt at the stake, because they resisted and protested the extreme practice of expensive clerical attire and ceremonies that proceeded to promote pride, ego, personal agendas, and arrogance at the expense of proclaiming the true purpose and message of the humble Lord Jesus and His ugly, rugged cross. If indeed, we will be required to give an account for every idle word, we will be held accountable for how we have behaved in the house of God; how we have dispensed the Lord's tithe, and spent the money He has allowed to be gathered under our stewardship. He will not give His glory to another!

Only God knows how many have been provoked to frustration, discouragement, and even jealousy by the extreme exaltation of flesh. How much time, money, and energy is spent by some trying to catch-up, and get their share of honor? How many saints are discouraged by the lifestyles of the "rich and famous" in the ministry that rivals Hollywood, the French Riviera and Broadway? How many missions projects, vans, buses, Bibles, and churches could have been purchased and built for the Gospel's sake that instead have gone for excessive luxury and elevation of flesh for the sake of pride and self-promotion, caused by the erroneous mindset of the imagery of the 21st Century clergy? Let us call it what it is, in or out of the pew or pulpit; "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).

The time worn cliché is so appropriate here, "it is not rocket science." The scriptures are so plain; there is one God, in our Lord Jesus dwells the fullness of the Godhead, he came to seek and to save that which was "lost," men must be "born again." We are admonished to contend for the "faith that was once delivered unto the saints" (see Jude 1:3). "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost," (see II Corinthians 4:3). Christ is returning, the prophesied latter day revival is upon us; "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35).

Strangulation by Triangulation

Emergent/progressives, come home. You can be progressive with aggressive methods, using the latest in technology and skills without departing from the tried and tested landmarks. Our destiny is greater than our history! New "wrinkles" have been tried again and again throughout the history of the church, and their fruit has always been plagued with worms and dead works that eventually demanded reformation and revival. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27). There is a difference in traditions and landmarks. Every denomination picks up traditions along the way, and these must be identified as such and never allowed to become doctrine nor dogma, these unsalvatory traditions are subject to change relative to times, regions, and cultures. Landmarks never change! Don't abandon the old landmarks; let no man add to or take away from the Word of God. If truth lieth in the street, let it not be on your account. When you become frustrated with the status quo, don't throw out the baby with the bath water; "...earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Apostle Peter, the man with the keys, very forcefully warned those who would go backwards; "But it is happening to them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (II Peter 2:22).

Why would the Lord call our spiritual forefathers out of the world, use them mightily to mentor a great end-time church, and now allow us to go back into the world? Never has the church won the lost by behaving like the world.

"Today God is bypassing men - - not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient. Brethren, our abilities are our handicaps, and our talents our stumbling blocks." - Leonard Ravenhill

To the Apostolic traditionalist who desires to maintain traditional Pentecost, be careful that what you protest is really biblically wrong, and what you champion is truly biblically based; be very careful that the mountain you decide to make your ultimate stand upon is more than just another tradition, but, is indeed, a biblical landmark. Jesus greatest critics were the Pharisees who zealously desired to maintain the status quo. He was never "holy" enough for them. Self-righteousness (one whose self is righteous in his own eyes) is as filthy rags in God's sight. We are commanded to not "judge, lest we be judged." Discipline, commitment, modesty, prayer, fasting, evangelism, yes! Harshness, self-righteousness, judgmentalism,...never!

If strife and discord are the forerunners of every evil work, and even an abomination; (see James 3:16 and Proverbs 6:19), and they are, we must be aware of their origins and prevent them from taking hold.

And finally, to those attracted to the pageantry, regalia, and the physical excesses akin to the orthodoxy that mirrors the Harlot Church and her daughters, described in Revelation 17, wake-up! Remember, Paul warned, "Come out from among them." The old song has never rung more true to my ears, "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold." Apostle Peter declared, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). We have a heritage like no other people who have ever walked upon the earth! Buy the truth and sell it not.

Remember the Creator, His purpose, Himself coming to the earth, Immanuel "God with us." Remember His Church, purchased with His own blood and destined to prevail against the gates of hell, with signs, wonders and miracles, and one day caught up to be with the Lord forever, and rule with Him on His throne, Hallelujah!

This Gospel, patterned after the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, built upon the foundation of the prophets and the apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone; (see Ephesians 2:20), defined by the apostles' doctrine, clearly articulated by the apostles in their New Testament letters and powerfully proclaimed by Paul, must be preached unto the whole world before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the popular Christian gospel of today was the sum total of "spirit and truth," Christ would have returned long ago. That gospel, which Paul called another gospel, (see Galatians 1:6-7), has been carried around the world by Spanish conquistadors, the church of Rome, worldwide Christian Orthodoxy, and every shade of Protestantism, and... He has not returned yet. We are challenged: "A world in crisis needs a church in revival!" The internationally acclaimed evangelist, Billy Graham has said, "What the world needs is an Apostolic Revival," meaning a revival like the days of the apostles. There can not be Apostolic revival without Apostolic doctrine! The two are likened to Siamese twins, joined at the heart.

When we believe what the first Church believed, then we will achieve what the first Church achieved!

"Where there is no vision, the people perish:" (Proverbs 28:19). Those whom the gospel does not reach, perish without the witness that a vision of world revival brings, and people who fail to see the whitened fields unto harvest, perish because of their lack of purpose and obedience. Paul said, "...woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Corinthians 9:16)

"Ah brother preachers, we love the old saints, missionaries, martyrs, reformers: our Luthers, Bunyans, Wesleys, Asburys, etc. We will write their biographies, reverence their memories, frame their epitaths, and build their monuments. We will do anything except imitate them. We cherish the last drop of their blood, but watch carefully the first drop of our own!" - Leonard Ravenhill

In this fated hour, without a doubt, the closing of a dispensation, is it possible that we share a dream that the day will soon come when Apostolic people will flee from the "strangling extremes" and merge into a mighty spiritual force against the snares of Satan and the very gates of hell?

The present culture worldwide is corrupt, the lion is loose, going to and fro seeking whom he may devour; the anti-Christ spirit is engulfing the nations. Look at the tormented and tortured faces in the news, mobs, talk TV, reality shows; hear their cries, listen to the expressions of the values of this generation, and tell me they are not demonic, tell me that the devil is not loose in the earth, and tell me hell is not enlarging itself? But, thanks be to God, all is not lost, there is an answer, the Church that Christ purchased with his own blood, (see Acts 20:28), is destined to prevail against the gates of hell! We must return to that first century model.

Nowhere in that newly birthed Apostolic Church, so carefully described in great detail in the Book of Acts, will you find tolerated the three extremes addressed in this article. The first Church was righteous, not self-righteous, holy, not holier-than-thou; in the world, but not of the world, humble, simple and plain; even considering themselves no more than servants, committed to one purpose, to love and to serve God with all their hearts; to lift up Christ, to win the lost and prepare for eternity.

The preamble of one of the most prominent Apostolic movements of our time says it so well; "We shall endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit until we all come into the unity of the faith, at the same time admonishing all brethren that they shall not contend for their different views to the disunity of the body."

Amen!

 
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