From Darkness To Light
by Roger Oakland
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As Paul, an enemy of God, was journeying on the Road to Damascus, carrying out his mission to condemn Christians and have them put to death, suddenly, and unexpectedly, he was confronted with a bright light and the Lord’s voice asking, “why persecutest thou me?”  It was an experience that would change him for eternity. From one who persecuted followers of Jesus, to becoming a committed follower himself, he became the greatest evangelist who ever lived, by the grace of God. His calling was to “open” the eyes of the people and “turn them from darkness to light” that they might “receive forgiveness of sins.” 
Christianity is about following Jesus Christ and abiding in Him and in His Word. It is recognizing who He is and what He has done, repenting from our sins, and inviting Him into our lives to take over our lives. When we become part of the family of God, we have been saved by grace, not by works, and we are called to be servants who share this good news with others. Spreading the gospel is the call for every believer. In Scripture, we see a pattern to spread this good news – first in our homes, then to surrounding areas, and ultimately throughout the world. 
Shortly after I was saved, at the age of thirty, I experienced a profound call of God upon my life. From that point on, my life has been an adventure as I have sought to follow this same pattern as described in the Bible of spreading the gospel – first at home, then to the surrounding area, and finally to the uttermost parts of the world. In time, God broadened my calling to deal with deception and exposing the wiles of the devil - first in the world, and then in the church. Satan’s plan to deceive man has sent, and continues to send, billions to hell. Satan hates those who shine the light of the Word and expose the kingdom of darkness. His plan is to take as many humans as he can with him to hell.
Jesus warned Paul that he would face opposition from all sides. When a believer begins to expose Satan’s domain, Satan will do all he can to wipe that believer out. This opposition can come through various arenas, even through family and friends. Even still, while Paul faced tremendous opposition, Jesus was with him and delivered him from the Jews and the Gentiles as promised. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Paul stated in his letter to the Romans. While the going can get tough for the committed believer, Jesus remains with us when all hope seems gone.
Personally, I can relate to the opposition Paul faced as a witness for Jesus Christ. The longer I have been in the ministry with a call to shine the light of truth on deception, the greater the opposition I have witnessed and experienced. One thing I have observed, especially in the past few years, when one confronts deception in the name of Christ with regard to modern-day apostasy, it is often proclaiming “Christians” who can be the most ruthless, especially when the light of the Word begins to expose their devious plans.
Taking the Gospel to Dark Places
A number of years ago when I started to warn about the deception taking place in the name of Christ, I was confronted by numerous critics, especially from the Calvary Chapel movement who I was very involved with at the time. Many were upset with me because I would not embrace the false Jesus that Mel Gibson was promoting in his film The Passion of Christ.
In fact, many pastors were furious with me over this issue. Yet, I could not keep silent. This Jesus who Mel Gibson was promoting was the Eucharistic Jesus that the Roman Catholic Church promotes. This Eucharistic Jesus is “another Jesus” that is part of “the lie” Paul warned about in 2 Thessalonians,and Jesus described in Matthew 24. 
Several pastors contacted me and told me to take their names off the Understand The Times mailing list. They all said that the film had been endorsed by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and therefore I should do the same. The Passion of the Christ, they said, will be the greatest evangelistic tool to ever come out of Hollywood. Countless numbers will be saved, they said. And yet it was Mel Gibson himself who later admitted that the film was meant to lead people to the Catholic Eucharistic Christ and to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a co-redemptor and co-mediator.” 
Tickets were purchased and entire congregations flocked to movie theaters to see “Jesus” on the big screen. For the script for the film, Gibson had turned to Anne Catherine Emmerich’s book The Dolores Passion of Christ. Emmerich was a Catholic mystic who claimed she had a front seat to the crucifixion by way of a vision.
Though many insisted that I stop with my warnings, I could not; rather I wrote the book Another Jesus? The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization to warn those who would listen. Few did.
After Mel Gibson’s Passion evangelism fiasco, the word “discernment” within the Calvary Chapel movement seemed to be looked at in a negative way. While in the past, church-growth methods had always been frowned upon, now many pastors started to look for ways to embrace church-growth methods. Maybe the Bible is insufficient to reach the postmodern generation, some considered. Maybe the time has come to add or take away from the inspired word according to the teachings of Peter Drucker, it was once stated from the pulpit of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Whereas Rick Warren had once been frowned upon, many pastors began to look his way for answers.
While some attempts were made to put the brakes on the seeker-friendly, purpose-driven, emergent church, market-oriented brand of Christianity that many Calvary Chapel pastors were embracing, it seemed fewer and fewer were listening. A power play was in the process of happening to reshape Calvary Chapel into a re-invented form of Christianity for the twenty-first century.
Finally, when I wrote the book Faith Undone, published by Lighthouse Trails, all hell broke loose. The cost of speaking out against Mel Gibson’s Roman Catholic Jesus waned in comparison to the cost I suffered when confronting Rick Warren’s purpose-driven, three-legged stool combined with the emerging church’s Road to Rome movement.
What Satan meant for Evil
There comes a time when those who are called to warn should walk away when their message is rejected. While it may seem to some that I am a slow learner because of my long-time persistence in trying to help Calvary Chapel, I did finally realize the time had come for me to step out of the way, move on, and allow God to expose the deception unfolding in Calvary Chapel. During this process, my health deteriorated from all the pressure I was under. In my testimony book Let There Be Light that has been just published by Lighthouse Trails, I share the details of what happened to me and how I was only a breath away from death. God got my attention.
For those who followed Understand The Times during that time, you will know that the ministry was under incredible attack. Our web master, Ron Pierotti, also suffered greatly with a brain tumor and the surgery that kept him alive. For a while, it looked like Understand The Times was over. For eight months, I was confined to bed for most of each day and was isolated to my home. I would often dream that I was back in ministry speaking from a pulpit only to wake up and realize I had been dreaming. My heart was wrenched in two.
However, over the past two years God has miraculously brought me back to life. He has healed me. He has given me a whole new vision to take the gospel to those who are poor and want to hear, especially in third-world countries. What Satan meant for harm, God used for His glory. Now I can thank God for those who attacked and slandered me as God has used this to redirect my life.
We who live in North America have no idea what it is like to be a Christian in a third-world country. Satan has blinded many proclaiming Christians in the Western world that everything is OK as long as we go to church, listen to Christian radio, and attend the odd Bible Study.
Most of us have never taken the time to consider the needs of Christians who are so poor they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Maybe it is time for a reality check. Has North American Christianity lost focus and become nothing more than big business? While there are some ministries that reach out to the poor, mega-church mentality has taken over. The goal often has been to attain more property, more power, and more prosperity while people have been forgotten for the sake of material gain. In the name of purpose driven, the sheep are being told they can make a difference when instead they are being led down the road to Rome with a social gospel that unites all religions.
What the world needs is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s as simple as that. There are pastors who love Jesus Christ who are ministering in third-world areas that have absolutely nothing. They cannot even feed their own children. They live in conditions that most of us have never seen. They also face the ongoing problem of their countries being saturated with false doctrines and a false gospel from popular Christian leaders and teachers from America especially. Yes, not only are churches in America becoming more and more deceived, they have exported their apostasy to third world countries.
The openness to the truth by pastors that I observed on a recent trip to Kenya overwhelmed me. They were like sponges soaking up every verse of the Bible I shared. All of this has caused me to wonder if God is opening the doors in these last days for discerning Christians to go and minister to those who want to hear, leaving those who don’t want to hear behind in their heretical mire. And now I wonder if God is redirecting the ministry of Understand The Times in such a manner.
North American-style Christianity is fulfilling Bible prophecy. Doctrines of demons are preparing the way for the harlot. But while this is underway, God is opening doors to very dark places with the light of the Word. Should we not be about the Lord’s work and proclaim the light of the Word into these dark places while there is still time left and while hearts there are open?
If you are investing in a mega church or a Christian organization that operates like a corporation seeking to become wealthier and wealthier, maybe it is time for you to consider investing in a missionary outreach that will take your support directly to where the poor and the needy can be impacted, and where the preaching of the Word of God is heard and embraced. While many mega churches in North America have cut their missionary budgets because of a “weakened economy,” they say, they continue to build their dens of greed, lust, and power.
God will expose those who are using Christianity as a means of building carnal kingdoms. He is not mocked; whatever a man sows that will he also reap. And God sees all things. Remember, look up, for our redemption draweth nigh - Jesus is coming soon! While it is yet day, let us make a difference that will count for eternity.
 Acts 26: 14
 Acts 26:20
 Acts 9:16
 Romans 8:31
 2 Thessalonians 2:11
 Matthew 24:5
Understand The Times is an independent non-profit organization in
Canada and the United States.