Backsliding or falling into heresy (false doctrine) happens over a period of time. It is typically not all at once or overnight. It is much like the 'old folk fable' about the frog that is submerged in water that is slowly being boiled to death. The frog does not recognize the danger it is in because its' body temperature adjust to the surroundings. Before too long, the water begins to boil...the frog has not reacted, becomes weaker and dies. However unlike the frog, God will always give warning signs to His beloved (children) by Holy Spirit.
The Spirit speaks of some that will depart from the faith. In fact it is a sign of the end time dispensation as given to the body of Christ by Apostle Paul in I Tim 4:1. As we draw closer to the Lord’s return, faithful men (Psalms 12:1) ‘will fail and will give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.’
What Paul wants the body of Christ (or church) to see is that it is possible for men (and women) to turn away from the truth when they once walked in it. This is a sober warning and Paul ends the chapter telling Timothy (his son in the faith and mentee) to meditate on his words and continue in doctrine; to take heed.
Some questions I began to ask and seek the Lord for understanding: > Did they truly have a ’born again’ experience? > Do they become corrupt as a result of money/fame/power? > Do they become corrupt due to circumstances /events/or hardships, etc.? > What kind of warnings do they receive along the way? > What are the signs of the condition?
Let me paint a picture, with a description of the state of the person according to the Word; however, before I do that, I want you to clearly understand about the power of seducing spirits. Over time as a man or women opens the gate for this power (satanic in nature), this spirit will link and attach itself to their spirit like a leech that sucks blood. It will suck the life out of the person. Because the blood of Jesus Christ is not in operation in the life by faith, it is ‘open season’ for satan. He dispatches his henchmen and the man or woman becomes open prey. Make no mistake; it will take the power of living God to deliver and set this captive one free! II Pet 2:20.
Let me make the point by looking at (2) examples of men that fell – one that is dead and one that is alive. Pastor (Evangelist) Jim Jones who led the church of People’s Temple in (Jonestown) Guyana and Bishop (Evangelist) Carlton Pearson who is now the defunct leader of Pastor J. Coleman’s church in Chicago, Il.
Bishop Carlton Pearson is a 4th generation Pentecostal preacher from a linage of men in the family that had the calling. He was raised in church and received Jesus as his Savior at a young age, according to a testimony he shared. He attended Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, Oklahoma on full scholarship and was mentored as a protégé/son by Rev. Oral Roberts. He started his career in 1970’s as a member of the Oral Roberts’ World Action singers. He was licensed and ordained by Church of God in Christ. He later began a very successful ministry and mega-church in 1981 called Higher Dimensions Family Center composed of a multi-racial congregation of about 6000, and was eventually ordinated a bishop in 1997. Additionally as his popularity grew, he was one of the 1st African-American with a television program on TBN and traveled through the Midwest as an evangelist . He hosted the AZUZU conference consisting of powerful combination ministry and song for several years at ORU that was well attended by many upwards 20,000 people. He was influential in assisting 'up and coming' ministers and singers such as: Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastor Donnie McClurkin, and Dr. Joyce Meyers. He was an accomplished pianist and singer who won the celebrated gospel ‘Stellar Award’ and was nominated for Dove Award as well. During this timeframe he eventually married a women by the name of Gina M. Gauthier and had two children from the union – son and daughter. It should be noted that he met and counseled with two presidents – G.W. Bush and B. Clinton.
Based on interviews and accounts by the media and others that knew him, he began to change his testimony and preaching of the known Gospel in the late 1990’s at the pinnacle of his career. As the story goes from the Dallas Star morning news, ‘He received a divine revelation while watching the news accounts of the genocide in Rwanda. His assumption was that the victims were bound for hell, persecuted yet unsaved. Feeling angry at God, and guilty that he himself wasn’t doing anything about it, he recalls, he fell into a sort of reproachful prayer: “God, I don’t know how you can sit on your throne there in heaven and let those poor people drop to the ground hungry, heartbroken, and lost, and just randomly suck them into hell.” He heard God answer “We’re not sucking those dear people into hell. Can’t you see they’re already there – in the hell you have created for them and continue to create for yourselves and others all over the planet? We redeemed and reconciled all humanity at Calvary.” '
His thought and teaching began to take a form called the gospel of inclusion - all are already saved whether Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, etc., even homosexuals. He no longer preached ‘holiness' and the consequences of sin (hell). There was no longer teaching of the need for repentance by an individual and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for redemption of our sins. He went so far as to announce in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, it was reasonable to believe that satan could go to heaven if he would simply repent and tell God “I competed with you, but I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Another belief is that punishment would occur for sin after death, however, it would be remedial and corrective based on level and it would not be for eternity.
As this was introduced to the congregation at the church, membership began to slowly wane and he lost so many members until there was not enough support and the church building went into foreclosure in 2006. He also predicted in about 2006 that the gospel of inclusion would be accepted within the next five years and it is actually occurring in many circles of Christianity. The doctrine is considered a variation of ‘universalism’, and there are currently churches with the name. He lost his standing in 2004 in the joint College of African-American Bishops, and was declared a ‘heretic’ or false teacher. At the same time, Bishop Pearson’s popularity began to increase: television interviews, publishing of a book and re-building of the church. In Tulsa, two Episcopal churches called ‘All Souls Unitarian Church’ and ‘Trinity Episcopal’ embraced and allowed him and the members to meet in their buildings; however, that also was discontinued after a time.
Bishop Pearson became interim overseer of Rev. J. Coleman’s Christ Universal Temple church in Chicago about mid-2009 and preached the gospel of inclusion – Jesus in not the only way, there are multiple ways to commune with God. Paul warned in II Corinthians 11:4…' for if he that cometh preach another Jesus..or another Gospel which ye have not accepted …to be careful as not to be beguiled as the serpent subtlety to Eve.’ I attended the Sunday service in Feb. 2010, after my mother began going the year before, and the opening declaration of the word was to ‘Father / Mother’ God… a message that appeals to all. The implication of the teaching I heard is that by rising to a higher consciousness, like Jesus, we can attain a place in God by ‘right’ thinking. This is in line with the new age thought or eastern religions. My impression based on what I observed was that the congregation used a booklet (possible written by him) that replaced the bible. One way to keep people deceived/ignorant and manipulate them is by blinding them to the Word of God! He possessed the ability to teach error to those who listened and did not know scripture or relationship. God answered my prayer that my mother would no longer received the ‘damnable’ teaching, and he was removed by the leaders, maybe the Board of the church in January of 2012. At some point, he either moved and/or started a church in Atlanta, GA area thereafter. I saw on the internet that he had written a bible of the doctrine of inclusion. It should be noted that he is currently ‘pastoring’ another church in Chicago, IL.
The other disciple of Christ that eventually fell into the doctrine of hell and deception was Pastor Jim Jones who is now deceased. Pastor Jim Jones began his ministry in 1953 in Indiana, and after his ministry grew, he eventually moved with 100 devoted congregates to Northern California. His focus of teaching included the need for racial brotherhood, with the church instrumental in feeding the poor and finding jobs. He later 'headquarted' the church(s) in San Francisco and became a very influential religious and community leader. He was ordained by Disciples of Christ (a mainline denomination) and at one point had a membership of 8000, composed on mainly poor African-Americans. Over time he was able to garner support from political leaders of the day and assist in getting them voted into governmental roles. Through his direction, the city created a fund for families of slain policemen killed in line of duty. He began to fund various individuals, groups or projects that he considered worthy causes or a means to valid his reputation, after newspaper accounts of corruptions such as: NAACP, Mr. Willie Brown, then-governor Jerry Brown, and Mayor George Moscone.
As he continued to grow in power and influence, he reportedly began to assume a ‘messianic-type’ presence in the temple and was called ‘Father’. In an article run in the New West magazine, he was accused of ‘faking healings and extremely coercive fund raising that pushed members to liquate their assets and hand over the money to the church’. As the membership grew, it offered social programs, jobs and health care. He eventually purchased land in the country of Guyana (remote jungle), and was able to convince 1000 followers to move their families, possessions, belongings to a place he created called ‘Jonestown’. Much was written by the press and those that ‘defected’ from the temple after he coerced members to kill themselves and their children with a cocktail mixture of cyanide and Kool-Aid in Nov. 1978. It was through a type of brainwashing, fear, and abuse that he would do this. Prior to this event, he commanded some of the military-types to kill the Congressmen Leo Ryan, NBC News correspondents and other that had come to investigate and were attempting to leave via a flight (included a female member that wanted to leave).
If we look at how satan operates, he used the same tactics to cause followers to be deceived and trusting. They began to see him as a type of christ or savior and were convinced that the ‘world’ was a bad place to continue to live. Pastor Jones was afraid that he would lose his power as members began to share with the outside world what was happening inside the ‘camp’ of Jonestown. It was reported that he broke up families, punished anyone that may have questioned or criticized him, had sexual relations with members and forced other activities between members, etc. By all accounts he was clearly a ‘false prophet’ and a wolf in ‘sheep’s clothing’ that Jesus warned to be careful and not follow! Similar in nature to Bishop Pearson, he made himself to be a type of ‘god’ with the authority to teach a doctrine that ‘detours’ from the Word of God. When you contradict the God of the bible with a word that diminishes holiness and the need for cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus – His son, you have the making of a doctrine that comes from hell! It is disguised with human intellect. It say’s we can have life independent of the Son. No need to live a daily walk dependent upon Holy Spirit. The grace that took place at Calvary is cheap and anyone can be acceptable and redeemed back to the Father.
I was unable to pray for Pastor Jones because I was not born again and neither did I have an understanding heart; however, I began praying about (10) + years ago for Bishop Pearson when I caught wind of the deception of his heart. I had personally witness through media and in person, his ministering under the anointing of Holy Spirit prior to the turning of his heart. It was not until I began the study that I learn about what occurred, and would suggest there is more than what is on the surface.
Returning to my original thoughts – a few descriptions of the state of the person: > II Tim 3: 1-9 Form of godliness > Heb 6: 4-8 Impossible to renew unto repentance > II Pet 2: 17-22 Entangled and overcome > Heb 10:26, 29 Willfully sin..trample blood of Jesus > Tit 1: 15-16 Conscience defiled > Rev 3:5 Blotted out book of life > Phil 3: 18-19 Become enemies of the cross of Jesus > Gal 1:7 Perverts the Gospel
What is very sad is that according to II Pet 2: 17-22, the current state of the person becomes worse than the latter – before he/she ever knew the Lord and professed salvation through the blood of Christ. Those that fall away from the faith will inevitable no longer walk in agape love of God, lack of unconditional love towards a brother or sister and lose revelation of the truth, then deception comes (I John 2:8 – 11). As in the example of Pastor Jones, who convinced the followers (of Christ) to commit suicide with a spiked Kool-Aid solution - this was not pure love, but control and pride manifested – Lucifer!
One of the means by which a general who is a child of God falls is through power (vain glory) and influence. He/she takes glory from the Lord and allows people to heap it upon themselves without making the correction. Another stronghold is when he/she is in some kind of sexual sin/pornography either actual or in matters of the heart. Deception occurs when either or both of these conditions exist.
In a related personal story, some time ago, I had enjoyed a level of popularity at the church I attended and began to receive accolades from members for my ability to pray and my level of sensitivity of the Spirit, especially during services. I was engaged in several phone calls from family, and new (since moving to KCMO) and old friends to prayer. I began to complain to the Lord that I did not have time for all of the calls and activity. God had placed upon my heart to initiate an ongoing fellowship with the women of the church whereby we’d meet, going from house-to-house and share our faith, experiences, struggles, etc. which was very effective. I operated in ‘vain glory’ over a period of time, and to some degree saw myself as the center of attraction. At the job, I took on more responsibility, and experienced a level of success and autonomy. People were calling on me and I became a type of 'go-to' employee. I was involved at International House of Prayer in their evangelism ministry and really moving in the power of God. I let the applause and attention go to my ‘head’, and then slowly began to shift my attention. It got to a place where I began to lose focus on Jesus; my pastor refused to allow me to exhort in the prophetic unctioning I received (operation of the gift) and little by little the calls wane.
Eventually, I started to break down emotionally and experience a type of crisis! I shared with a limited number of friends, but emotionally things from my past began to creep up....I saw myself as a failure and questioned my salvation. It was to a place at the ‘crescendo’ of the crisis that I thought I could no longer 'represent' a true believer/witness – there was something wrong with me. I wanted to die, and did not believe I could go on! It is truly amazing how the mind can be derailed through the tricks of the enemy satan and how delusion takes place...what is not real becomes reality! Needless to say, through God's grace, much prayer and council, confession, etc., I experienced restoration. What was also needed was humility. A fall comes as a warning before destruction when operating in the pride of life. (Prov. 16:18). And so even though I do not equate myself as a 'general', I have experienced some of those areas that spiritually can derail a child of God/warrior (intercessor)! Needless to say, I've heeded the warning of Apostle Paul. Also I'm very cognizant of leaders in the body of Christ and how it is so important to pray for the men and women and be discerning of any signs of these characteristics that can subtly creep in.
(Note: writing initiated 1-8-2010)
REFERENCES: The Fall and Rise of Carlton Pearson The Dallas Morning News, USA- Selwyn Crawford March 3, 2006 Wikipedia- Internet Encyclopedia
Making Sense of the Nonsensical: An Analysis of Jonestown www.guyana.org/features/jonestown.html
The Rise and Fall of Jim Jones Rick Ross November 16, 2002