About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Proceed With Optimistic Caution


Cerinthus was a first century heretic.  Among other false doctrines he taught was his belief that Jesus was born from a human mother and a human father, thus denying the virgin birth of Jesus.  He asserted that Jesus became divine when He was water baptized and then forfeited His divinity prior to His death, a heresy that is still taught by some today. 


The Apostle John was a leader of the community of believers in Ephesus, the city where Cerinthus lived and taught.  Polycarp, a second century church leader and a student of John, recorded what John said after he saw Cerinthus in a Roman bath.  "Let us flee lest also the baths fall in since Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside." 


Anyone familiar with church history knows that not only heresy, but other aspects of our sinfulness inflict the church during a time of revival.  I admit that sometimes the infliction is satanic but more often than not it's just a product of our fallen human nature that is manifested in various ways.    


I was actively involved in the Charismatic Movement and the Jesus People Movement of the 1960's and 1970's, which I view as being valid revivals.  In both movements, however, I saw things that steered segments of those movements into Biblical error, which in 1972 I warned a group of zealous young Jesus People about.  I was immediately rebuked by an older man for my negativity and my so-called lack of faith.  If my warning had been taken seriously maybe some of those young believers would not have faded into faithlessness.  It might have prevented others from joining a cult like the Children of God.     


During the height of the Jesus People Movement a group called the Children of God (COG for short) swept its way across America, Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world, including the city where I live.  With its emphases on Bible memorization, communal living, taking Jesus to the streets, and forsaking all for Jesus, the COG looked impressive to many of us church-going youths who wanted to experience what we understood to be New Testament Christianity, something we felt was lacking in the traditional church.  It was not until some of my friends; including those I had warned earlier, joined the COG that we discovered its sexually immoral lifestyle and a dictatorial authoritarianism that robbed the lives of some of my friends for decades.            


My point is simple.  When we pray for revival we must be aware of the inevitable pitfalls that will come our way.  When we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit we must be prepared for Cerinthus-like distractions, abuses, and a host of plain old unbiblical weirdness.  When we experience the rush of revival we must exercise our Bible-based, God-given common sense discernment, and move forward with optimistic caution. 


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