Positive – Negative
by Bill Burkett
This was an open letter written by Bill Burkett and preached to the bishops conferences throughout Eastern Europe in the early 1990’s within months after the Berlin wall following the collapse of Russian Communism. I saw the dangers that would test the churches and their leaders speaking to many of them privately, warning them not to capitulate. Some listened but most did not. The churches in the East of Europe that had been isolated from the apostate churches of the west had no idea what bondage and upheaval their new freedom would bring! The churches in East Europe by the fall of Communism would be tested now spiritually. Working in those countries for 25 years before the changes came we watched as the churches were flooded by liberals and Charismatics splitting the churches and corrupting the doctrine of this precious persecuted church. They always tore the young from the old with their emotionalism and offers of freedom and breaking from the traditions of Biblical leadership. The doctrines brought in by American and other Charismatics of western cultures was often nothing but pure idiocy! One American group split a church over “Inhaling the Holy Spirit and coughing up the Devils in you.” The radical Upsala Charismatics from Upsala, Sweden came sweeping over Eastern Europe with a message to the young that turned them against the teaching of their pastors being told that “All of that traditionalism is bondage to the past.” They ravaged the churches of Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and Ukraine as well as many other countries of the East. Pastors stood by helpless watching their sheep’s being stolen and the churches torn. I plead with many pastors to pray and fast and stand up against the heretics in Jesus name. But most of them did not want to pay the price and do battle – the result was that they concluded it would be better to go along with them and allow the looseness and emotionalism rather than contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. One pastor told me while sitting in his home, “We just got tired of fighting.” But that is NOT the real truth – they just did not want to defend the faith any longer. They became weak and fainted which Jesus warned us NOT to do! If you love the truth you will fight sin and heresy, or anything that threatens to destroy the truth, until your dying breath!
Holiness and purity of life was to be put before all of these brethren as God’s final testing of the love of the church. You see, love for Jesus and love for the truth are synonymous! Jesus loved the truth and died for the truth. We must each be committed to do the same as He gave us example. Alas, many men I had such a high esteem for who stood against the Communists could not stand against the Charimsatics. They passed the first test and failed the last big test and joined the apostates who came to destroy the pure doctrine and put the church to its test. The apostates offer loud worship and praise to the Lord but He nor His faithful are deceived by that.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:46
As the Charimatics continued their campaign against traditional Biblical values the pastors became figureheads with no authority. The Charimatics were in and had effectively routed the traditional teacher/pastors and stripped them of their position in the churches. This caused many of them to join the apostasy in order to survive and remain in their churches. By watching the tactics of the apostates you could see a Satanic strategy in each church and in each country and region. Tradition became “bondage,” and separation from the world became “legalism” overnight. The takeover did not happen because the Charismatics had any power from God – they took over only where those pastors were weak and failed to put up a wall of prayer and do battle against the false teachings which are MANY! and easily disproved by the Word of God. The principles I shared with my Slavic brethren also apply many ways with our spiritual battles here in the USA and so we share them here. Men ought always to pray and not faint. (We are NOT to faint [ekkakeo], to be spiritless, weak exhausted.
And he wist not that the Lord had departed from him. – Judges 16:20
There is a balance of positive and negative truth in the gospel that is the key to its life changing and church building power. If we lose that balance of truth, we become like Samson:
It will not all happen at once, but once we start in that direction we will lose the presence of God by degrees as Samson’s life teaches us. It will happen – it has happened, and IS happening to us now.
One of the many philosophies of modern Laodicean Pentecost that has been quickly accepted by new and young Christians is the emphasis on positivism. That is, a positive rhetoric that intentionally eliminates negative or corrective teaching. This philosophy places importance on the idea that we must be positive in our presentation of the gospel if we want to be “successful” in reaching the unsaved for Christ. This all sounds very good to the inexperienced or those who are not committed to the truth of God’s Word. But upon careful examination of God’s Word and the life and words of Christ you soon discover it is heresy!
It is also very difficult for a faithful minister of the gospel to preach a positive gospel when sin has become a societal epidemic and evil men are on the rampage. The spirit of the Antichrist is fast taking hold on the world and worldliness in turn has invaded the church threatening to destroy the very nature of the gospel – the traditional apostolic emphasis on holy character and the dignity of godliness.
It was this very philosophy of positivism that had taken hold of the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14-17) in the first century of church history. Their obsession with success and prosperity reveals that they had lost all sense of moral judgment. They had become so blinded by their material state they could not see themselves any longer as God saw them. It is always good when we can see ourselves as God sees us. It is not what I think of myself that is important, obut what God thinks of me. This is exemplified perfectly in the fact that the Laodiceans saw themselves as rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, when at the same time God saw them as wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked! Apostates have placed so much importance on what they call, “positivism” that we only see God “loving us unconditionally, no matter how ugly and uncommitted we are – He STILL LOVES ME – AND NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE THAT!” And that is more apostate heresy which any casual reader of the Word of God knows is not the truth! (Matthew 7:22-23; John 14:24; Romans 11:22; 2 Peter 1:10; 1 John 2:3-4 etc., etc., etc..) It was not important to the Laodiceans what God thought because they were not comparing themselves with the Word of God. They had made the mistake of not making the Word of God the final authority in everything they did. It had become a fetish they paid homage to and regarded as sacred – but it was no longer being APPLIED seriously to their personal life. The result was that their values had become fleshy and sensual, centered on self serving philosophies. conforming to the world around them in order “to fill their churches with people.” They had succeeded in becoming a mega-church, but in their pursuit to get people into their building they ended up with a spiritually impotent socio-religious club. They had lost that vital virtue and their communion with God . . . AND DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT! (Revelation 3:17)
Note carefully these two conditions stated by Christ:
Verse 15, I KNOW . . .
Verse 17 THOU . . . KNOWEST NOT . . .
The Laodicean Church Today: Charismatic teachers want Christians to read the Bible through rose colored glasses so that we will see the world and its sinful culture traits in a way different than Jesus Himself viewed it and taught us in the parable of the sower. “Be positive,” they say, and “try not to be so different from the world. After all, you have a better chance of befriending sinners and bringing them to Christ if you avoid offending them.” Many have listened to this jargon and have taken on a Christianity that is foreign to the clear teaching of the apostles. Millions of believers are living by what we call “The faith of fantasy.” To be saved we cannot be viewing sin and worldliness under assumed beliefs, under imagined conditions, if the Word of God conflicts with your fantasies.
The world and how we are to relate to it are clearly set forth in Scripture in Jesus instructions to us. The world is not changed by how you look at it from a personal philosophical standpoint, but is exactly what the Word of God says it is – lost and depraved and damned! Cling to it and you will surely share its fate when the world goes, BOOM! Every apostle and writer in the New Testament including our Lord warns us to come out of the world and not even to touch it! (2 Corinthians 7:17; Colossians 2:21.)
The Laodiceans looked upon themselves and evaluated themselves according to their way of thinking, according to their own distorted value system and concluded that they were doing very well They said of themselves that they were “rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing. (Revelation 3:17a) This was not the conclusion of an individual but of the whole movement !
THE ENTIRE CHURCH OF LAODICEA WAS DECEIVED from the members to the leaders – all of them ! (Revelation 3:17b) They had a very POSITIVE materialistic outlook on everything . They declared that they “had need of nothing.” But when Jesus looked upon that same church He declared them to be a spiritual and moral disaster!
When they looked upon themselves, they saw that they had a very casual and positive outlook about their carnal life style. They were indifferent WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN REPENTING IN ANGUISH AND TEARS! But when Jesus looked at this materialistic church He saw that they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” and called upon them to repent. (Revelation 3:18-19).
Apostasy then, is not only a condition of backsliding that effects an individual Christian, but a state of mind that grips large numbers of believers within a church body. Apostasy occurs when we place ANYTHING above the pursuit of personal holiness and personal purity. Stop and think. If every Christian was only desiring to have the character of Jesus and pursuing the love of others and glorying God – then all of these others things we wrongly seek would be added unto us in God’s time. Selfishness, greed and politics will be denounced by the holy life as Jesus did.
Jesus was born of a carpenter, not a priest or a levite.
Jesus remained uncommitted to any religious power structure.
Jesus never belonged to or identified with the Pharisees.
Jesus never associated with or belonged to the Saducees.
Jesus never joined the Herodians or aligned with them.
Jesus ministry was an independent ministry never joined to any religious organization or religious power structure.
The Hidden Agenda of liberal fundamental preachers is to take us from the traditional values of the apostle’s doctrine into a more contemporary kind of fundamentalism more “up with the times.” But the liberal gospel is easy to discern. It places faith over obedience and prosperity over sacrifice; It emphasizes praise over secret prayer and fasting; And personality (flesh) over character (holiness).
They will assure us that they have not come to change us. But in private conversation they speak against our Biblical standards as being “bondage” and “a lot of silly tradition.” They have an agenda that includes winning the favor of our young generation of the church. Missionaries coming from America and other materialistic societies from the west to the former Soviet Union have this Laodicean mentality that evaluates everything in the church by numbers, money and results. This mentality is the enemy of spiritual truth and always sacrifices pure doctrine to achieve its Laodicean goals of success. It has no concern for the personal morals goals of holy perfection as taught by Jesus in Scripture. This is the mentality that corrupts the church!
Charismatics from the West came flooding into the cities of Russia and the former Soviet Union when the curtain fell. They said they were coming to tell these poor people about God – but alas, they brought something more than that, they were carrying the virus of the western materialistic culture with them, the apostate gospel spawned in the West. This gospel they believed in was formed in an environment of materialism and frivolity. These people also came with a secret intent to change the Slavic churches from being serious and reverent into their brand of spiritual freedom and positivism and the faith only (phony) salvation. They came feeling sorry for us in East Europe, thinking our serious tone of worship was because of our persecution for over seventy years under Communism.
But they were mistaken – our serious and broken spirit in our meetings is because we have learned the joy of total dependence on God. They came thinking we were backward and bound by senseless traditions. Their teachers speak openly against our traditions as “not being important” which is the initial way they disarm our young people and make them believe that what the pastors teach here in CIS is of little or no consequence. After all, haven’t we Americans and western Christians built huge churches that are wealthy and powerful? Is that not proof enough that we are right? Of course the answer is an unequivocal, NO! It is no proof at all!
If we continue to be naive and tolerate this gospel of western culture, God will hold us responsible for not challenging their heresy and defending what the Word of God teaches. Their objective (which they will fervently deny) is to replace the precious traditional faith of our Fathers which has been perfected by nearly a century of persecution into a religion of materialism and theatrics. They want to make us just like them when actually they should be taking lessons from us. This voice which you now hear discerns the Satanic scheme to corrupt the churches of East Europe. Their objectives will be primarily carried out through their influence on the youth of our churches.
All Satan has to do to corrupt the church is to get a hold of the minds of one generation of the church. Many of you reading these words will not now admit that this is true, but the time will come when you will see that what seems to be the wonderful teaching and Bible schools being set up by the Western culture churches will be the chief source of bringing doctrinal perversion, spiritual corruption and division to the body of Christ. Positivism will play a big part in this process.
There is a hidden plan to change our traditional values which we have received from Scripture and cast them off to take on their corrupted western cultural Christian lifestyle. The most unfortunate thing that could possibly happen to our churches of the CIS is for our pastors to not discern this subtle evil influence on the church and to allow these apostates to mingle freely in our churches and have open access to the minds of our young people. It is irresponsible for any pastor to allow the western visitors to beguile them and come under their influence for what may seem to be some kind of immediate material benefit. It is the ultimate spiritual effect that we must have the wisdom (from God) to discern.
These culturists bring a new philosophy of positivism and self esteem teaching that is contrary to apostolic teaching. It will be the unwise, the weak, the carnal and ambitious opportunists who see power and self advantage in making ties with apostates from the West that will fraternize with them.
This Laodicean teaching will have three effects on the churches which still hold to the traditional Biblical teaching of the apostles and the Fathers of our Pentecostal heritage;
1. It will bring a wave of worldliness into the church;
2. It will cause once pure lives to be corrupted and rebel against church leaders who hold traditional Biblical values and throw contempt on church government splitting churches (which is already happening), reverence for God and the holy life;
3. It will divide the church between the Philadelphians and the Loadiceans. This division will not be caused by those who will not leave holiness teaching but by those who want to force the church to change to the carnal and religious emotionalism lifestyle.
Any teaching on POSITIVISM that demands a departure from traditional Biblical standards of Christian life must be examined in the light of Scripture. Those who promote such teachings also place a strong emphasis on THE LOVE OF GOD to imply that God loves us and that we are not going to be punished by a loving God for a little worldliness. One of their favorite deceptions is, “God isn’t going to send anybody to hell for a little worldliness.” Its very true that a little worldliness will not send anybody to hell, but the spirit of rebellion against God and His Grace (Titus 2:11-12), the church elders and what the Bible teaches, will keep me out of heaven for the same reason Lucifer was cast out of heaven. It is not what I do that condemns me, it is my attitude toward church authority and the Word of God that will condemn me.
THERE WILL BE NO REBELS IN THE RAPTURE!
If God cast angels out of heaven when they rebelled against His Kingdom laws, do we think we can rebel against God and the things written in the Word of God and go to a heaven where rebels were cast out and are forbidden? Its not the THING itself that damns us but rebellion that separates us from God. It is that rebellion against God’s Grace that God hates. It is the rebellious spirit that puts it on and wears it in defiance of God’s Grace and insults God – it is that spirit that rebels against THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS. (Romans 8:2) THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS does not teach us to be worldly and to rebel against what the Scripture teaches – that is the sinful rebellious nature that conforms to the world and insults God. You can worship God until you lose your voice but all of that emotionalism and praise is no substitute for loving obedience to God’s Word. (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3)
Liberal teachers want us to believe that so long as we are emotional in our worship and praise of the Lord that we can ignore certain Biblical teachings and commandments that place discipline and constraint on our flesh nature. But praise and religious emotionalism are no sign of genuine Christianity or religion. The Christian who knows God the Father and possesses Jesus in the heart will praise Him, but praise without obedience and proper regard for the truth and teaching of the Word of God does not impress God. He rejects the praise, and the in the end, the praiser. There is much Scripture to make this very important fact true; THE PROPHETS SPEAK:
Isaiah 1:12-18 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? (13) Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. (15) And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. (16) Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; (17) Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. (18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Luke 6:46 – JESUS SAID, And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Matthew 7:21 – Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 15:8 – This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Sin:
Sin is rebellion against being governed by God’s laws. Have you not heard of the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS? For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2. When you become a Christian you are not FREE to do as YOU please. You have become a disciple under Christ, that is, one under discipline. How can these Charismatics make Christians believe that Christianity (Western style) means you are free in the flesh to be worldly? THE TRUTH: You come under the LAW OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS. You made a vow when you were baptized in water to follow Christ in death to the SELF and follow all of His teachings. You made Him your Lord and teacher. We are commanded (not asked) to, present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Not what is acceptable to you, but what is acceptable unto God), which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
False Teachers Do Not Want To Know About Negativism!
What The Bible Teaches About Positivism And God’s Love; Constraint is a very important element of divine Love (Gr. agape). Constraint of the flesh nature is the negative essential to achieving salvation. Romans 13:14b states the principle well, Make NOT (negative action) provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts (the desires, the longing for what is forbidden) thereof. Romans 13:14b The Charismatics and liberals from the West tell us, “We must be positive and not negative,” and that “we must not be against things, but for God.” But the Bible teaches that we ARE to be “against” some things; Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not AGAINST flesh and blood, but AGAINST principalities, AGAINST powers, AGAINST the rulers of the darkness of this world, AGAINST spiritual wickedness in high places. Agape Love Has A Negative Action: Note;
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth NOT; charity vaunteth NOT itself, is NOT puffed up, (5) Doth NOT behave itself unseemly, seeketh NOT her own, is NOT easily provoked, thinketh NO evil; (6) Rejoiceth NOT in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. God’s love constrains us to NOT do as many things as it teaches us that we should do.
Salvation Is Not All “Put On” – Christianity that only puts on without putting off is only half of a gospel. Note the “put offs” and the “put ons” in Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 4:22-31; Colossians 3:5-14. In salvation a negative attitude toward evil and corrupting influences of the world and in the church is as important as a positive attitude toward the holy life.
Many times it is as important to be against sin as it is at other times to be for godliness.
What Happens When You Accentuate The Positive And Eliminate The Negative? If you disturb the vital balance between positive and negative charges in electronic circuitry and then try building a nuclear power plant or a super computer with that corrupted formula for power, without any regard for the laws of opposite charges, you would have nothing but a costly, colossal and useless apparatus. When you accentuate the positive message of the Bible and eliminate the negative message you have a church apparatus that is costly, colossal but redemptively useless! Jesus came into this world for two reasons expressed in Scripture;
I. THE POSITIVE REASON HE CAME WAS TO REDEEM FALLEN MAN FROM SIN AND RESTORE HIM TO GOD. John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;
II THE NEGATIVE REASON HE CAME WAS TO DESTROY THE DEVIL AND PUT AN END TO THE BONDAGE OF SIN. Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness (chrestotes; gentleness, kindness) and severity (Apotomia; to get rough) of God: on them which fell (to fall from a higher place to a lower place), severity [He got rough]; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut of.
There are two sides to God, and there are two sides to the gospel.
First, Grace teaches us to DENY (that’s negative) ungodliness and worldly lusts; Secondly, it teaches us to LIVE (that’s positive) soberly, righteously and godly in this present life. (Titus 2:11-12)
Christians living in this modern world must be very careful that they do not get taken up with the world’s song of positivism that eliminates the very essential forces of negative disciplines upon the flesh nature. For if you live in the Spirit (that’s positive) you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (that’s negative).
We have always believed this balanced gospel message that comes to us from heaven and taught in the Word of God. Now that we are so close to our Lord’s return to Earth let us be careful not to receive this new unbalanced gospel of positivism being imported to us from the western cultures – and from hell in the form of a corrupting apostasy. Amen.