Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first three chapters of this New Testament book. ”Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:1-5). NOT OF MEN, BUT UNTO MEN! NEITHER BY MAN, BUT FOR MAN! “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me IS NOT AFTER MAN. FOR NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN, NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11,12). NOT AFTER MAN, NOR RECEIVED OF MEN! THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST! “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caeserea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: FOR BLESH AND BLOOD HATH NOT REVEALED IT UNTO THEE, BUT MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build m y church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).
NOT OF MEN, BUT UNTO MEN! NEITHER BY MAN, BUT FOR MAN! When you come to the epistle which was written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were within and among the churches of Galatia. As you begin reading the epistle, however, you will notice the apostle Paul does something truly unique within his customary greeting—something that is entirely and altogether unlike that which he had done in any of his other epistles. If you read the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto the various churches you will find that the apostle always began with a statement of his name—and not only a statement of his name, but also a statement and declaration of his being an apostle of Jesus the Christ and/or of God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Within the introduction and greeting found in the epistle written unto the saints which were present within the churches of Galatia, however, the apostle Paul speaks of his apostleship as having not come of men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father. What’s more, is that as you continue reading the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul emphatically speaking unto the saints within these churches declaring unto them that the gospel which he preached was not after man, nor did he receive it of men. Moreover, the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto the saints that the gospel which he preached unto them was not taught unto him, but rather it came directly from revelation of the Lord Jesus the Christ. In essence, that which the apostle Paul writes unto the churches in Galatia is that not only did his apostleship not come from man, but neither did the gospel which he preach come from man. The further and deeper you delve into this awesome and powerful truth the more you will encounter and come face to face with the fact that when it came to the apostleship which was entrusted unto and given to the apostle Paul—it was not given unto him by men, nor was it received of and from men, but rather from the Lord Jesus Christ, and from God the Father. This same reality and principle can also be seen and witnessed when speaking of the gospel which he preached, for the gospel he preached was not taught of and by men, but came directly from the revelation of the Lord Jesus the Christ.
MY MINISTRY WAS NOT OF, NOR DID IT COME BY MEN! MY GOSPEL WAS NOT TAUGHT BY MEN, NOR WAS IT GIVEN UNTO ME BY MEN! THE MESSAGE AND THE MINISTRY CAME DIRECTLY FROM THE LORD JESUS CHRIST! As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped and captivated with and by the words found in the opening chapter of this epistle, for within these words the apostle Paul makes two incredibly powerful statements and declarations—the first concerning his ministry and the work which he engaged upon in the earth, and the second concerning the message which he preached, proclaimed and taught unto both Jews and Gentiles alike. I am absolutely and completely convinced we dare not and must not miss the tremendous importance of what is found within these verses, for what we find within these verses brings us face to face with both a message and a ministry that originated not with men, but rather originated with the Lord Jesus Christ, and with God the Father. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs pay close and careful attention to these words, for it shines an incredible amount of light on to those who are in “ministry” today, and those who preach and proclaim a “message” unto and among countless men and women within this generation and the days in which we are living. It is necessary that we read and pay close attention to the words which are found before us in this passage of Scripture, for the words bring us face to face—not only with where we received the message we preach, but also where we received the ministry which we are engaging ourselves in. Permit me to be incredibly bold at the very outset of this writing and emphatically declare that if you have not received the ministry you are presently engaged in of and from the Lord, I would dare say that the ministry you are engaged in is false and is nothing more than a farce and smoke and mirrors. If the ministry you are presently engaged in did not originated within the heart and mind of the Father, and did not come directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, I would dare say that you might be engaged in illegal and illicit ministry among men within this generation. ILLEGAL AND ILLICIT MINISTERS! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this powerful truth, for it brings us face to face with the truth that there are indeed present among us illegal and illicit ministers and workers—those who have neither been sent, nor those who have been ordained and appointed by the living God.
If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find that the prophet had some incredibly sober and somber words which he spoke unto the false prophets which were present in the midst of the southern kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem during those days. As you delve and dive deeper into this Old Testament prophetic book you will find that the LORD of hosts raised up Jeremiah to not only indict, but also condemn and rebuke the false prophets who ran when they were not sent, and who spoke when they were not given a message. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the words which we find in this Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah can stand and serve as a powerful backdrop and foundation for that which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle sent unto the churches of Galatia. What’s more, is I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah declared and proclaimed unto the false prophets during his day and within his generation have direct implications and truth concerning the days and generation in which we are living. I firmly believe within my heart that there is indeed a strong presence of what I would call “illegal and illicit” ministers among us within many of our churches—those who have neither been sent and yet they have run, and those who have neither heard from the Lord and yet speak. I believe with every part of my heart that there are such illegal and illicit ministers who are present among us—those who have not received the “ministry” they are engaged in from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus the Christ, and those who have not received the “message” they preach and teach from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found written and recorded within the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah:
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of His holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; They prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:9-14).
“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. FOR WHO HATH STOOD IN THE COUNSEL OF THE LORD, AND HATH PERCEIVED AND HEARD HIS WORD? WHO HATH MARKED HIS WORD, AND HEARD IT? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the land of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until He have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I HAVE NOT SENT THESE PROPHETS, YET THEY RAN: I HAVE NOT SPOKEN TO THEM, YET THEY PROPHESIED. BUT IF THEY HAD STOOD IN MY COUNSEL, AND HAD CAUSED MY PEOPLE TO HEAR MY WORDS, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD< and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the LORD> DO not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; AND HE THAT HATH MY WORD, LET HIM SPEAK MY WORD FAITHFULLY! What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:15-29).
I HAVE NOT SENT THESE PROPHETS, YET THEY RAN! I HAVE NOT SPOKEN TO THEM, YET THEY PROPHESIED! Oh I am absolutely and completely that the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah spoke concerning the prophets are absolutely true and refer to countless ministers among us within this generation and within these Last Days. Even as I am writing these words I find myself being burdened and pressed within my spirit concerning the countless ministers, the countless teachers, the countless “evangelists,” the countless “apostles,” and the countless “pastors” and “leaders” among us within our churches whom the LORD has neither sent, nor whom the LORD has spoken to. Oh I can’t get this concept of illegal and illicit ministers out of my head and out of my spirit, for there is not a doubt in my mind that there are counterfeit and false ministers among us within this generation—those who have not received their message from the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who have not received their ministry from the Lord Jesus Christ, and from God His Father. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this, for I believe with everything inside of me that there are a number of men and women among us in this generation and within these Last Days who have run despite the fact the fact they have not been sent, and countless men and women who are speaking despite the fact they have not heard from the mouth of the LORD. It is when you read the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah you find the prophet indicting the false prophets of his generation and during his day not only asking who among them has stood in the counsel of the LORD, but also emphatically and boldly declaring they have not stood in the counsel, nor heard directly from the mouth of the LORD of hosts. Oh what was true during the days of Jeremiah was true during the days of the apostle Paul and is indeed true during the generation in which we are living. In fact, the New Testament authors and writers continually and repeatedly warned concerning the powerful influx of false teachers, false prophets, false prophets and false brethren which can and will be present within and among the churches of the Lord Jesus the Christ.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches of Galatia, and I am brought face to face with the fact that just as there were false teachers, and just as there were false apostles, and false prophets, and even false brethren which crept in among the churches during the days of the apostles and the early Church, so also are the same being manifested within and among us in our midst. It’s worth noting and pointing out that the New Testament writers and authors—the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter, and Jude—all saw a day coming when false teachers, false prophets, and false apostles would infiltrate the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, and would create and wreak havoc among the body of Christ. We dare not think that this was solely and simply true of the early churches, for even when you read the letters which the Lord Jesus the Christ had the apostle John write and send unto the seven churches you will find some of these churches which had been infiltrated by false teachers and false prophets who had deceived them and who had turned their hearts and their minds away from the true gospel. In fact, this is what was at the very heart of that which the apostle Paul wrote in the opening chapter of the epistle—and not only what he wrote in the opening chapter of this epistle, but also what he wrote about in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints. I am absolutely and completely convinced that in order for us to recognize and understand the dire warnings the New Testament authors wrote concerning the Last Days and the Satanic seduction and assault that would be manifested within the earth—and especially within the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ—we must needs consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning a false gospel that would swirl among the churches during those days. What’s more, is that even when you read the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders as he prepared to depart from them and leave for Jerusalem you will find him warning of a time which would come after his departure when savage wolves would rise up from among them, and which would come unto and among them who would not spare the flock. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia, the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the saints at Corinth, as well as the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the saints which were at Ephesus:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ UNTO ANOTHER GOSPEL: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. BUT THOUGH WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT WHICH WE HAVE PREACHED UNTO YOU, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, IF ANY MANY PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT YE HAVE RECEIVED, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. FOR IF HE THAT COMETH PREACHED ANOTHER JESUS, WHOM WE HAVE NOT PREACHED, OF OR IF YE RECEIVE ANOTHER SPIRIT, WHICH YE HAVE NOT RECEIVED, OR ANOTHER GOSPEL, WHICH YE HAVE NOT ACCEPTED, ye might well bear with him. For I supposed I was not a white behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you that gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that will I do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves in the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore is is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).
“Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:19-31).
The more I think about and consider the words which are found in these passages of Scripture the more I am absolutely and completely convinced that two of the greatest dangers and threats facing the churches during the days of the apostle Paul was a false ministry that was not authorized by the Lord Jesus the Christ, and a false message that was not spoken nor revealed by the Lord Jesus the Christ. If you want to truly understand the significance of what is written and recorded in the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches of Galatia you must needs recognize and understand that this epistle was written to correct their thinking which had been marred, skewed and tainted by false teachers and false apostles who had crept in among them. You cannot read the words which are found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with this tremendous truth, for the apostle Paul recognized that the churches of Galatia were beginning to turn away from the true gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and from that which was preached by himself while he was yet still with them. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to these words, for at the very heart of this epistle is both a message and a ministry which came not and was not received by the apostle Paul from the hands, the hearts and minds of men. If you want to truly understand the words which are written and recorded in this epistle you must needs understand that the apostle Paul was not arrogantly boasting of his apostleship when writing unto the churches of Galatia, but was seeking to demonstrate unto them the tremendous difference which existed between that which was authorized by the Lord Jesus the Christ, and that which was taken upon oneself by men. Oh if there is one thing we must needs understand when reading this epistle it’s that the apostle Paul sought to remind the churches of Galatia that neither the gospel he preached, nor the ministry which he engaged in was received from men. The apostle Paul did not take any of this upon himself, and the apostle Paul did not authorize himself as a minister of the Lord Jesus the Christ. In fact, if you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find the narrative of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, as well as the testimony he gave when speaking before governors and kings after being rescued from the mob and riot of the Jews in the city of Jerusalem. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this New Testament book:
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:1-9).
“…And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou presecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascu; and there is shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do” (Acts 22:4-10).
“Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy fee: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:8-18).
The words which we find written within each of these passages of Scripture bring us face to face with that which set the apostle Paul on the path to preach the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ—and not only that which set the apostle Paul on the path to preach the gospel concerning Jesus, but also set in motion the gospel which he would preach unto both the Jews and Gentiles. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found within these passages of Scripture, for when the apostle Paul declared that he was not an apostle of men, nor was an apostle by men, but of the Lord Jesus the Christ, he was speaking of that divine encounter he had with the Lord Jesus the Christ along the way to Damascus with letters and authority to bring bound any man or woman of the way of Jesus whom he found in the city of Jerusalem. It would be while the apostle Paul journeyed to the city of Damascus that he would experience and encounter the Lord Jesus the Christ, and would first receive the commission, the mandate and the assignment that was spoken and given unto him. This is worth noting and worth mentioning when reading the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the churches of Galatia, for at the very heart of the gospel which the apostle Paul preached, and at the very heart of the ministry the apostle Paul engaged in was the divine presence and person of the Lord Jesus the Christ. The ministry which the apostle Paul was engaged in did not originate with and from men, nor did he receive it from men—a reality which we must needs recognize and understand. It is necessary for us to understand and recognize this, for within the opening two chapters the apostle Paul is not only demonstrating and setting forth how the gospel he preached was received from the Lord Jesus the Christ, but also that it was ordained and appointed unto him by the Lord Jesus the Christ and of God the Father—and not only ordained and appointed unto him by the Father and Son, but also approved by the apostles and the brethren which were in Jerusalem.
APPOINTED BY THE LORD, APPROVED OF MEN! Upon continuing to read the words which are found within this epistle you will find the apostle Paul speaking of two distinct realities and manifestations within his life—the manifestation of His appointment by and of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his approval of and by men. Please note that when I speak of this approval of men I am not speaking of the apostle Paul seeking to please men, for even the apostle Paul would write in these opening chapters that if he sought to please men he would not be a servant of the Lord Jesus the Christ. What I am referencing and what I am speaking of when writing concerning the approval men is that of the apostles, and that of the brethren which were in the city of Jerusalem recognizing the call, the assignment, the task, the responsibility, and the ministry that was placed upon and given unto the apostle Paul, and their giving unto the apostle Paul the right hand of fellowship. We must needs recognize and understand that concerning the apostolic ministry which the apostle Paul engaged in—not only was their the authority, the anointing, and the appointment of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but there was also accountability unto and among the brethren and the apostles of the Lord Jesus the Christ. We know that the apostle Paul—upon receiving this heavenly vision which he spoke unto King Agrippa—did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, but went three years into Arabia before returning unto Damascus and then unto Jerusalem. This is important for us to recognize and understand, for when we think about the ministry which men and women are presently engaged in among us within the churches within and throughout this nation we must needs ask two distinct questions. The first question is whether or not that individual was anointed, appointed and authorized by the Lord Jesus the Christ, and by God the Father, or whether it was assumed and taken upon that particular individual. The second question we must needs ask is whether there is any accountability that surrounds that individual and the ministry which they are attempting to engage themselves in. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that if there is neither the authority and authorization of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and if there is no accountability among the brethren and among the saints of God then that one who is presently engaged in ministry might very well be a illegal and illicit imposter who has infiltrated the church to introduce that which was not authorized by the Lord Jesus the Christ.
ILLEGAL AND ILLICT IMPOSTERS WHO HAVE INFILTRATED THE CHURCH INTRODUCING STRANGE DOCTRINES AND PRESENTING A FALSE NARRATIVE! There is not a doubt in my mind that there are a great number of these illegal and illicit imposters which have infiltrated the church and have neither been authorized, nor have they been sent by the Lord Jesus the Christ. There are countless ministers among us who not only have not stood in the counsel of the Lord, but who also have received no such commission from the Lord Jesus Christ. Such “ministers” are engaged in a “ministry” and teaching a “message” that was neither approved nor authorized by the Lord Jesus the Christ, and were never sent by Him. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this concept and reality when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote within this epistle, for not only was the apostle Paul seeking to demonstrate the authority, the appointment and anointing that was upon his life, but the apostle Paul also sought to demonstrate the tremendous and powerful foundation of the ministry and message which the Lord Jesus Christ, and which God the Father had given and appointed unto Him. You cannot read the words found within this epistle and not encounter the tremendous and powerful truth that at the very heart of that which the apostle Paul was writing unto the Galatians was how the ministry and message he received was not from men, but came directly from the Lord Jesus the Christ, and from God the Father. It was incredibly important for the apostle Paul to make this abundantly clear when writing unto the churches of Galatia, for he sought to show a clear and powerful contrast between the gospel which he preached unto them—and not only the gospel which he preached, but also the ministry which he engaged in among them.
IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND THE COUNTERFEIT YOU HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THE REAL! IF YOU WANT TO DISCERN THE COUNTERFEIT AND FAKE YOU NEED TO PERCEIVE THE REAL! The more I read and consider the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the truth that the apostle Paul sought to speak, reveal and manifest unto the churches of Galatia the apostolic ministry that was appointed and ordained unto him as a clear and present contrast between that which had crept in and infiltrated these churches. When writing the words which are found in this epistle the apostle Paul not only wanted to contrast the false gospel which was present among them with the true and genuine gospel which he preached unto them, but also sought to demonstrate unto them the clear and present contrast between the apostolic ministry that was ordained and appointed unto him by the Lord Jesus the Christ and that which was assumed and taken upon themselves by those who would creep in and infiltrate the churches during those days. In fact, the entire purpose and premise of this letter was to correct a line of thinking and a false doctrine and gospel that had crept into these churches which was introduced by false apostles, by false brethren, by false teachers, and by false prophets which would be present among these churches. If you begin reading the sixth verse of the opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing unto these churches how he marveled that they were so soon removed from the One who called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. What’s more, the apostle Paul would also go on to write how there were those present among them who would pervert the gospel of Christ by preaching unto them a gospel which was different from the one which the apostle Paul himself had preached unto and among them. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this particular truth and this particular reality, for it serves as a tremendous warning unto and among us during the days in which we are living, and during the times in which we are walking.
As I sit here today I can’t help but get the strong sense within my heart and spirit that one of the greatest truths surrounding this global pandemic that shut down church buildings for an extended period of time is that it began to expose some of the false teachers, some of the false ministers, some of the false brethren, some of the false prophets and false apostles and prophets which were present among us. All one needed to do is look at the words which some of these ministers were speaking during these times and examine their lives and their actions and you can and will begin to see those who were truly authorized by the Lord Jesus the Christ, and those who aren’t. With this being said, I am absolutely and completely convinced that even the most recent presidential election this nation walked through and experienced has demonstrated, manifested and revealed the true nature and character of many teachers, many ministers, many leaders, many pastors, and the like among us. If there is one thing I can’t help but feel very strongly within my heart and spirit as I am writing these words it’s that in the coming days the Lord Jesus Christ is going to openly and publicly expose and reveal countless ministers and leaders who have neither been anointed, nor appointed, nor authorized by Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a great need for discernment within the hearts and spirits of the saints of God in the coming days—and not only a tremendous need for discernment, but also a knowledge concerning that which is real and that which is true. Oh there is a ministry that originated with and from heaven just as there is a message that originated with and from heaven. This was at the very heart of the question Jesus asked the chief priests, the Pharisees and the elders of Israel concerning the ministry of John the Baptist when he asked whether or not his baptism was from heaven, or whether it was from the earth.
ILLEGAL AND ILLICIT IMPOSTERS WHO INFILTRATED THE CHURCHES INTRODUCING STRANGE DOCTRINES AND TEACHINGS! You cannot read the words which are found within this particular epistle written by the apostle Paul and not encounter the overwhelming truth the apostle sought to demonstrate how it was the Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who ordained, appointed and authorized him to preach the gospel and message concerning the cross and concerning the Christ. REVELATION OF THE LORD JESUS THE CHRIST, ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE BRETHREN! If there is one thing we must needs understand when reading the words found in this epistle it’s that the apostle Paul not only referenced the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ within his life as the foundation of the gospel and message he preached, but he also wrote and referenced his accountability with the brethren and the apostles which were at Jerusalem. Although the apostle did not and would not immediately confer with the brethren and the apostles upon receiving the heavenly vision from the Lord Jesus the Christ he would nonetheless journey unto Jerusalem and spend time with the apostles and the brethren which were present within and among the church which was there. OH we must needs pay attention to and consider this powerful truth and reality, for it highlights and underscores two tremendous needs within the life of any one who would seek to engage themselves in any type of public ministry within and among the churches—namely, accountability among the brethren, and revelation of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Perhaps the single greatest truth surrounding the false prophets which were present during the days of Jeremiah was that the Lord had not spoken unto them and yet they prophesied. What’s more, is the Lord had not sent them, and yet they run. OH THERE’S A LOT OF RUNNING AND SPEAKING GOING ON AROUND HERE! THERE’S A LOT OF RUNNING AND SPEAKING AMONG US! Perhaps what adds even more weight and meaning to this reality is when you think about and consider the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Amos spoke unto the people of Israel during the days in which he prophesied unto them. Consider if you will the following words which are found written and recorded within the eighth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Amos beginning to read with and from the eleventh verse:
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
With this in mind I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs also consider the words which our Lord Jesus the Christ spoke unto His disciples concerning the Last Days, and the tremendous deception that would be manifested within those days. What’s more, is it is within this discourse between Jesus and His disciples He would speak of the Last Days and warn of a great temptation that would be present to listen to and follow the false rumors and false reports of those who would rise up and profess and declare that they are the Christ, or that they are Christ’s. I have long and often believed that what will most likely happen in the Last Days is not a massive rise of those who will profess that they are the Lord Jesus the Christ, but rather they will profess that they are Christ’s—that they are Christ’s disciples and Christ’s followers. I do believe the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples, and with those words which He spoke there is not a doubt in my mind that there will be countless false brethren, countless false disciples, and countless false followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in the last days who will seduce and deceive countless men and women. There will be false “manifestations” of the presence of the Lord Jesus the Christ within and upon the earth, and men and women are going to flock from one corner of the earth to the other in an attempt to experience and encounter what they believe is taking place. Oh I wrote earlier how there was a lot of running going on among us, and with that being said I am absolutely and completely convinced that there will not only be a lot of running by those who have not been sent by the Lord Jesus the Christ, but there will also be a lot of running by those who are desperate to hear a “word” from the Lord.
Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that the same thing which the LORD did during the days of Ahab king of Israel would indeed be the same thing the LORD can and will do during these Last Days? If and as you read of Ahab and Jehoshaphat you will find that there was one who stood and appeared in the court of heaven and declared in the presence of the LORD God how they would go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets which would prophesy success and victory for the king of Israel. Scripture reveals how this lying spirit would be the means to lure Ahab to his death, to his demise and to his destruction. Oh dear brother, dear sister—I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are in a time much like that of Ahab king of Israel. I firmly believe that there is indeed a lying spirit that is in the mouths of countless “prophets” and “ministers” during these Last Days—and the purpose of this lying spirit is to deceive countless men and women. The apostle Paul—when writing unto his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy, wrote concerning men and women having itching ears. Oh even as I am writing these words I am brought face to face with the absolutely remarkable and astonishing truth that there are men and women who are running to and fro within and throughout the earth seeking after a “word,” seeking after a “vision,” and seeking after a “revelation” of the Lord, and yet what they fail to realize and recognize is that there is secondary running and roaming that is taking place side by side with that. While there are indeed countless men and women who are running to and fro within and throughout the earth seeking after a “word,” a “vision,” and a “revelation” from the Lord, there are those false prophets, those false teachers, those false apostles, and those false ministers who are running despite not being sent. What’s more, is that there is in addition to this running a roaming—and not a roaming of men, nor a roaming of women, but a roaming of the enemy and adversary whom the apostle Paul wrote about. It would be in the first epistle written unto the saints which were scattered upon the earth the apostle Paul would write concerning our enemy and adversary, and how he is as a roaring lion roaming to and fro about the earth seeking whom he may devour.
Oh permit me to be bold here with these words and caution you if you are a runner—if you are one who has made it a habit of running to and from upon and throughout the earth chasing and seeking after words, visions and revelations from the Lord and from heaven. I feel compelled and challenged to warn those who might be reading these words if you are such who have made it a habit an practice of running to and from upon the earth chasing after and seeking a “word” from heaven, for I am absolutely convinced there are false ministers, there are false teachers, there are false prophets, and there are false apostles who are also running—and who are not only running, but who are running without having been sent by the Lord Jesus the Christ. Even more than this, I am convinced that directly linked to this running of unauthorized ministers among the churches within the land there is also this roaming of the enemy and adversary who is seeking whom he may devour. Oh it is the running of these false teachers which seeks to deceive, and it is this roaming of the enemy and adversary which seeks to devour. Dear reader—mark my words and mark them well, for I am convinced that in these last days there is not only a great deceiving that is taking place, but there is also a tremendous devouring that is taking place. I feel incredibly strongly within my heart and spirit that if you are one who chases and runs after ministers, and chases and runs after “moves of God,” and one who chases and runs after “words,” and “visions” and “revelations,” you are without a doubt positioning yourself to be both devoured and deceived. I feel pressed within my spirit to warn and caution those among us who are runners—those who run and chase after words, and visions and revelations. Oh after reading this, please consider if you will the following words which are found within the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:22-28).
With this being said, I am convinced that one of the greatest ways and one of the greatest means to incite this running—particularly and especially during these days—is through the internet and through the virtual environment the church has been forced to operate within. With the global pandemic that has closed and shut down countless church buildings over the past several months there have been a number of churches which have shifted their services and their small groups to a virtual environment. As I am writing these words I can’t help but be pressed within my spirit that while there was a tremendous danger of deception being propagated within the homes of countless men and women through those church services which were broadcast in televisions and across radio waves—that danger has increased exponentially during the days in which we are living as countless churches, ministries and organizations have been forced to operate within an environment that is entirely and altogether different than that which was previously used. What if one of the greatest means to produce a mass falling away is not only through the closing of church buildings, but also through countless false teachers, and false prophets, and false prophets now being flocked to through the internet on mobile phones, on tablets, and on computer and laptops within and throughout this nation? What if this global pandemic is paving the way and setting up a great and powerful falling away which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about when writing in the second epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Thessalonica? Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that there are countless men and women who I would like to label and define as runners—those who will run to and fro upon the earth seeking and chasing after a word from the Lord. With this being said, we must needs recognize that this running has become even easier since the start of this global pandemic, as countless churches, gospels and messages have been shifted to a virtual environment, have shifted to the internet, and are now accessible with a click of a button.
I am writing these words today and I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a tremendous and inherent danger for those who would run and chase after words, after visions, after revelations, and after that which they believe is the word of the Lord. I feel a strong and powerful warning and word of caution within my heart and spirit as I’m writing these words, for there are men and women who are running to and fro within and upon the internet chasing after and seeking vision, revelation and words from the Lord. Scripture speaks of the enemy and adversary as the prince of the power of the air, and there is not a doubt in my mind that the enemy and adversary has infiltrated and can further infiltrate the internet, and can indeed raise up his false ministers of light which can now enter into homes much easier than ever before. Now no longer do men and women have to get in their cars to drive, nor board a train to journey, nor get on a plane to fly to certain locations to run and chase after words, visions and revelations, for they need only open up their computer, turn on their tablet, and/or turn on their cell phone and they can have instant and unlimited access to all that is present within and throughout the world. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this truth, for I feel very strongly that those who I will refer to as runners are such who are setting themselves up—if they have not already set themselves up—to be deceived and devoured by false Christ, by false teachers, by false apostles, and by the enemy and adversary himself. There is a great danger for those who do not have an ear to hear what the Spirit is speaking unto the churches, and who run and chase after words, visions and revelations, for these individuals are prime candidates for both deception and devouring. The words which are found within the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia are absolutely and incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about them, for the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches to correct them from their turning after and following a false gospel which was not a gospel at all. The apostle Paul sought to present unto them true and authentic ministry ordained and appointed by the Lord Jesus the Christ, as well as the true gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ which he preached unto and among them.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to warn and caution you during these days to guard your ears from what they can indeed hear during these last days. What’s more, is I feel absolutely compelled to warn and caution you to guard your eyes from what you see in the coming days and within this generation in which we are living. There are those among us who have not been sent and yet they are running, and who although they have not stood in the counsel of the Lord are speaking and continue to speak. With this being said, there are those who run to and fro—if not over land and sea, but rather within and throughout the internet—seeking and chasing after words, after visions, after revelations, and after that which they think and believe is the true, the genuine and authentic word of the Lord. There is a great and powerful warning for those individuals as even Jesus Himself warned against this running to and fro upon the earth chasing after those who would profess the person and presence of Christ, and those who would profess the manifestation of the Lord Jesus the Christ within and upon the earth. Not only did Jesus warn and caution us against being deceived, but Jesus also cautioned us against running to and from within and upon the earth chasing and seeking after visions, and revelations, and manifestations in the last days. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that these will be in an ever increasing abundance in these last days and in the days which are before us. Oh dear reader—there is a great and present need within our hearts and our spirits to be men and women who have ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the churches, and to truly recognize the voice of the Father and the true sound and message of the gospel. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand among us during these days it’s that we must needs recognize the sound and the message of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if we encounter something that sounds entirely and altogether different, or if we encounter someone who is preaching anything different—let us make haste and get ourselves up. Much like Lot and his family were instructed to make haste to flee the cities of the plain and head to the mountains, and much like men and women were instructed to make haste and flee from Babylon lest they be carried away and swept up in her destruction and judgment, so must we also make haste and flee from any and every false gospel, and every and any false minister who would seek to propagate a false gospel which is contrary to that which is centered upon the Lord Jesus the Christ.