Christ For Us and In Us
Rev. Robert S. Liichow
One of the most difficult tasks for humans to accomplish is that of balance. It seems to be part of our falleness to gravitate from one end of a spectrum to the other. Many heretical teachings are at their core true doctrine which have been wrest from their proper orbit and transformed into something they never meant. An example would be the Person of Christ Jesus. We believe, teach and confess that Jesus Christ is completely divine and completely human apart from sin. The heretic will take one true aspect, e.g. the humanity of Christ to such a degree as to deny His divinity. Other heretics make Christ to be only divine and not a true man.
This creaturely habit of focusing on one thing to the neglect of others is seen throughout the Church world. Some groups are very well established in our justification on Christ’s merits alone, such as our own LCMS. Some denominations have focused in on the changed life or sanctification, which is laudable. Still others focus on works of mercy and charity. Several of the more questionable sects focus on healing and deliverance from demonic powers, speaking in other tongues and dancing in the aisles.
Within the Church there are two pathways through which all Christians use in order to relate and benefit from what our Lord Jesus Christ has provided for us through His work on the cross (Colossians 1:20). He is currently performing on a ministerial level as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) and Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). Both paths are clearly seen in the New Testament and they both have the same goal, the reception of the goods gifts of Christ, fellowship with Him and usefulness to others. Yet these ways of relating to Jesus are not equal and if the lessor path is taken at the neglect of its superior then the disciple is open to great deception.
As people we are either looking for Christ within ourselves, from which we get our term enthusiasm (en-thëo) or we look to Him outside ourselves (extra-nos). The tricky part is that these are not either or propositions, they are both and. Yet due to our inherent sinfulness few believers ever attain a proper understand of the relationship of these two realities in their spiritual walk.
Christ In You!
In popular American evangelicalism the focus of the messages are almost completely enthusiastic in nature. The emphasis is on the texts which deal with the reality that Christ does indeed reside in us, here are just a few examples:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
These texts are most certainly true and they mean what they say and they say what they mean. Christ dwells in us when He makes us His own. Enthusiasts add to this position the following biblical texts:
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Cor. 3:16
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he
hath given us. 1 John. 3:24
If words mean anything in their context it is beyond dispute that Christ indwells the believer as does the Holy Spirit. If these passages were not enough fuel to fan the flames of fervor, let me add yet more!
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Co 6:16–18
Not only can a biblical case be presented for Christ dwelling within us as well as the Holy Spirit, one can also declare that the Father also is in us as well. Note Jesus does not say in this text that the believer will go to heaven; He says He and the Father will come to him, and it is the Father who is quoted by Paul in his reference to the Corinthians.
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 1 Cor. 6:17
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater
is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.1 John 4:4
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:12-13
These marvelous statements of eternal truth are important facts for the children of God to receive and as with all scripture, they are to be fully embraced but they do not comprise the whole of the Christian message or life. These texts, like all of God’s Word are extremely powerful and beneficial when understood in their proper context. When misapplied these same verses are used by our Adversary the devil (1 Peter 5:8) through mouths and actions of the false apostles, teachers and prophets. Through these counterfeits Satan entraps and ensnares the unwary (2 Peter 3:16). Leading them by their senses they are turned within themselves into an ever deepening gyre of error. Sadly, the enthusiast begins using subjective experience as the foundation for he or her spiritual life as opposed to the objective Word of God.
The verses I have cited comprise the basis for what we Evangelicals call the “theology of glory.” I know of what I say, I preached these very texts from this perspective for many years as a sign-gift enthusiast. The messages would go something like this and for at least 1.5 hours —–
Since God is in us, what manner of lives ought we to be living? Jesus said out of our bellies shall flow RIVERS of living water. Ask yourself, is anything flowing out of me? Some folks can’t even detect as much as a trickle coming out of them! The very power of God literally radiated off of Peter to the degree that sickness itself had to bow its knee in his presence because he KNEW who he was, a MOBILE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST THE GREATER ONE. Look at Paul, a man on fire with the Spirit. So much so that they could just take pieces of the very clothing he wore and put it on sick people in other towns and sickness and demons fled, read it yourself in Acts 19:12 If time permitted I could tell you how Stephen was supernaturally teleported in Acts 8:39— what’s the title of that book, oh yeah, The ACTS of the APOSTLES.
No one can convict me of preaching anything that is untrue (at least on the surface) in the above “sermon.” Out of our bellies shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38), and the Holy Spirit did heal people once via Peter’s shadow, even as special miracles (Acts 19:11) were wrought by the hands of Paul on at least one occasion.
Reading these pericopes as historical events is a perfectly legitimate use of the texts. The error begins when these verses are presented as (1) manifestations of doctrine and (2) as normative. Entire false doctrines have been built around some of these texts. Sign-gift SINisters have made over a BILLION dollars hawking a false teaching regarding the alleged “point-of-contact.” There are firms that exist to do nothing but send out religious fetish objects to people’s homes on a weekly basis. For example, Robert Tilton, Marilyn Hickey, Peter Popoff, TBN, Leroy Jenkins, Oral Roberts (deceased) etc. DMI has the only book in print dealing with this specific error entitled “Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Point-of-Contact?”
The “glory-grabbers” become ensnared into almost exclusively focusing on “God within,” it is heady stuff indeed. After all, didn’t Jesus say we would do the works He did and greater works (John 14:12)? Yes, He did. Have we not received the same Holy Spirit that Jesus was filled with (John 7:39; Acts 1:8)? Yes, we have. Then why aren’t we healing the sick, raising the dead, casting our demons and cleansing the lepers (Matthew 10:8), isn’t this the disciples mandate given to them by Christ? So it would seem. Lastly, Jesus said that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). So brothers and sisters, where is the GLORY? The King and His kingdom reside within us. All the power of God, the glory of God, the wisdom knowledge and understanding of God are all within the believer! We somehow live in a paradox. We have the power within us, yet we as the Church we seemingly experience “power failures” when it comes to actually manifesting the true (δύναμις)
power of God (Acts 10:38) like Jesus especially when it comes to signs, wonders and miracles.
With Signs Following
Before departing earth our Lord Jesus gave His disciples the following directive:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall
follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall
speak with new tongues; They shall
take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:15-18
Jesus said signs SHALL follow them that believe. Signs are proof or validation of faith for the enthusiast. No signs? Then one must have a very weak or nascent faith. What is the remedy for this “powerless” Christian life? That is the $64,000 question!
God is within me as His own dear child according to His Word, but where exactly is He and how can I work with Him to such a degree where He can flow powerfully through me? Where is His inner kingdom located in my heart? How do I experience it and Him in my life? Since the Holy Spirit is within me and He is to show me things to come (John 16:13) how come I keep making mistakes? Since God is in me, why at times do I feel alone or depressed? Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27) so how can I learn to hear with my spiritual ears the voice of my Good Shepherd? These are all questions I have asked myself when I was initially exposed to the theology of glory. The same answer was given — turn within and begin the journey inside yourself.
The methods by which to achieve the goal, union with God, varied from Gnostic revelator to revelator. The so-called “Healing Revival” of Post WWII was spurred on in large part by a small book written by Franklin Hall entitled “Atomic Power with God through Prayer & Fasting.” Hall taught that through long fasts the Christian could come into contact with the Divine within and release His “atomic” power to heal and deliver the multitudes. Every revivalist read Hall’s book, practiced his ascetic practices and then went forth declaring themselves forerunners of the soon returning Christ Jesus. Some of the Pentecostal leaders affected by Hall’s enthusiasm included: Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, T. L Orborn, Myrtle Beale, A.A. Allen, and William Branham. Fasting has long been practiced by Christians as well as non-Christian cults.
Fasting is a powerful tool period. Mohammad alleged that he received a divine visit from the arch angel Gabriel who whispered to him to Koran. Where is the world today because of his fast? Various books have been written based on revelations given during long periods of fasting. For example, DMI exposed the lies of Mary K. Baxter in her globally best-selling books “The Divine Revelation of Hell” and “The Divine Revelation of Heaven.”
Fasting is a biblical principle (see Isa. 58:6-11; Mat. 6:16, 2 Cor. 11:27) however the Bible NEVER sets fasting out as a “method” or a “tool” to be used by people to find God within themselves. Fasting is NEVER used as a means to gain spiritual power and to teach that it is places such instruction firmly in paganism.
Ramble On and on
Prolonged times of “praying” in other tongues is one of the most common techniques for stilling the conscious mind and becoming “open” to inner direction. I used to pray between 2-3 hours per day in other tongues for many years which I assume was not all that unusual for tongue-talking people. Tongue-talkers have all been taught that when they speak in tongues aloud in certain settings that this is in fact a manifestation of each individual’s supernatural prayer language. Enthusiasts interpret the following text to refer to praying in other tongues:
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 1 Cor. 14:14-16
During this time I was uttering “mysteries” in the spirit, communicating directly to our Lord within my heart. Nobody (including myself) knew or understood what I was saying and thus no one could ‘derail’ the spiritual strategies being unleashed by me and the Holy Spirit! Speaking in other tongues will alter your consciousness and it does shut down your conscious mind to a great degree which is not a good thing in that it can open oneself up to satanic mental attacks.
If you don’t like to fast and have not yet received the “baptism” in/of The Spirit and do not speak in other tongues fear not you have other options for turning within and finding the Greater One within you!
Silence on the Set
Run silent, run deep (a little submariner lingo) is appropriate to describe those who silence their vocalizing and hopefully by shutting their mouths from chatter they can still their own “inner chatter” enough to hear the voice of God within their own hearts. DMI receives a newsletter from a group calling themselves “The Friends of Silence.” This is an inter-faith cult dedicated to turning within via silence and hearing from God as He or She is perceived by the hearer. The Quakers since their inception have strongly emphasized the “inner-light” and their meetings were (and still are) silent affairs until or unless someone had received an insight which they would share with those gathered. Various Roman Catholic orders take vows of silence in order to focus on their inner light.
The Music of the Spheres
Music has an integral role in altering the consciousness of humanity. Every pagan religion I am familiar with makes use of music, often accompanied by specific dances, to get in touch with the gods. We’ve all seen the old movies with the “voodoo drums” whipping the devotees into frenzy. Nothing new there, the priests of Baal did it too, about 1,800 years earlier than RKO. Certain forms of music can place people into trancelike states and can certainly open make them susceptible to being misled.
In a former congregation (Jubilee Christian Church, Detroit MI was known as a “warfare church” led by a restored apostle, Ellis Smith a Rhema graduate) we would sing for at least an hour. The first peppy part was called “praise” and the latter portion of our time was spent singing soft, slow emotional choruses repeatedly, this we designated as “worship.” During this segment of the service the lights would be lowered, hands would be lifted and the people were eased into a place of mental susceptibility and that when the lights were raised (we’d look up and open our eyes and behold the pastor at the pulpit) we were ready to receive revelation knowledge.
What do you think occurs when a person has been fasting for a few days and when not eating, spending that time praying in other tongues comes to church? This person comes expecting to encounter the divine within, around and upon (Isa. 59:21) themselves. With the addition of ecstatic dancing, protracted throbbing music combined with singing repetitive ditties at full volume which later shifts into soft emotive crooning in a darkened room that person has been cleverly primed and programmed ready to receive the “present day truth” (2 Peter 1:12) flowing from the anointed vessel up front. Due to the implementation of various mystical practices whatever is being taught somehow now bears witness (συμμαρτυρέω – confirming testimony) with the zoned-out mind (Rom. 8:16) of the disciple. Such people are taken captive by cleverly designed fables:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Reading about spiritual power is one thing (author’s love this), fasting on your own, praying on your own is most assuredly a regular part of the interior
work but one of the quickest means to attain your goal of union with God within is by impartation.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: John 20:21-22
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established; Rom. 1:11
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 1 Tim. 4:14
According to most of today’s sign-gift enthusiasts Christians must receive the Holy Spirit at some point after their conversion. Being “filled with the Spirit” is seen by them as a second or at least a subsequent experience with God which must be received by the individual. How does one receive the Spirit?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:13
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. Acts 19:4-7
Having laid hands on over 1,000 people to be “filled” with the Spirit I can attest that we broke it down into two simple steps: (1) Ask the Father to give you the Holy Spirit and (2) I would lay hands on them and command them to speak in other tongues (and I would begin to “pray” in tongues over them). Around 90%+ of the people responding to the altar calls did in fact mutter some disjointed syllables and went home happy and dazed stepping onto the road that leads within.
Not only was The Spirit purported to be given via laying on of hands (a foundational Christian doctrine, see Heb. 6:2), but we taught that one or more of the nine sign-gifts were also bestowed in this manner (1 Cor. 12:4-11) and of course we believed as the Bible does teach that physical healing can flow through the laying on of hands (Mark 16:18, Luke 4:40; Luke 13:13; Acts 28:8). Since the revival excesses of the late 1940′s the belief in ministry gift/offices could be imparted via the laying on of hands swept the enthusiasts. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to meetings held all over the globe by “restored” prophets and apostles[INCLUDE PHOTO IN NEWSLETTER HERE IF SPACE ALLOWS]. In these meetings they declare that they will be imparting spiritual gifts, signs and wonders will occur, miracles will flow! The advertisement is from one such meeting that promises attendees will hear a “now Word” for the Church and receive “activation” and “impartation” from the prophets in attendance!
The internet is filled with reports, testimonies, videos and audio files of what people experienced after hands were laid on them during the latest eruption of enthusiasm. People coming to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF, which my wife and I personally videotaped while in attendance at one of their spiritual drunkards conferences) and Brownsville (the Pensacola revival) had hands laid on them and all of them fell onto the floor and went immediately into long periods of altered states of consciousness which became known as “doing carpet time.” When returning to some semblance of normality people reported meetings personally with Jesus, being called into foreign mission work, others reported an intimate personal one-on-one time with the Lord God of all creation and yet others reported feeling healed emotionally, etc. Naturally, all of these reports cannot be verified and are totally subjective in content. Yet this fact has not stopped people from acting on what they have “received” mystically, often with tragic results.
When you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you
All of the aforementioned techniques or disciplines have the same goal; which is to bring the practitioner into direct
experiential communion with God as He exists within them. None of those who are actively seeking to experience the “God within” believe in the total sufficiency of the scriptures. The Bible is simply not enough for the enthusiast. There has to be “more” and since they have rejected the sole authority of the Bible (objective divine truth) there is nowhere else for them to turn but inside of themselves. The Bible is for these people a guidebook, a map of where God has been:
The difference between the truth of God and revelation is very simple. Truth is where God’s been. Revelation is where God is. Truth is God’s tracks. It’s His trail, His path, but it leads to what? It leads to Him. Perhaps the masses of people are happy to know where God has been, but true God chasers are not content just to study God’s trail, His truths; they want to know Him. (Introduction, bold type added).
By studying the Bible one can at best know about God. There is a vast difference between knowing God and knowing about God. Knowing God comes through direct power encounters and through biblical study. These power encounters are usually of a variety which cannot be found within the context of the dusty moldy pages of God’s past tracks.
Mr. Tenney wrote a book entitled “The God Chasers” and these above quotes are from his book. Tenney is a hugely influential Oneness (a modalistic heretic) Pentecostal that crossed denominational lines and revved up another bunch of sign-seekers to turn within! Note the low view of the Bible and by extension, the Author of the Bible held by Mr. Tenney and those who follow him. The Bible simply shows us where, past tense, God has been. The Bible is just a collection of dusty moldy stories of God’s past tracks!
The power encounters these fledgling mystics will experience will not be able to be verified by looking to the Bible (those dusty moldy pages)! Variations of this statement are trumpeted by most of the best known globally influential revivalists preying on God’s gullible sheeple today. I heard John Arnott (former pastor of TACF) cite the following text to explain the total lack of biblical support of the manifestations in his church meetings that I challenged him about:
And there are also many
other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. John 21:25
The fact that there is absolutely NO BIBLICAL SUPPORT for what the enthusiasts are doing is no longer a hindrance because they base their new doctrines on information “revealed” while in some form of altered state of consciousness. These novel beliefs and practices have greater weight than the authority of the Bible in their lives. This is easily proven by simply engaging an enthusiast in a discussion in which you demonstrate that what they are engaged in (for example being slain in the spirit) is not biblical and they reject the biblical evidence in favor of their experience. Those who’ve gone this far are literally adrift on an uncharted speculative cesspool of fleshly imagination and demonic activity.
Dear brothers and sisters our God does indeed reside within us, His Word is true and we can embrace this truth warmly. There is nothing in the New Testament that directs us to turn within and seek for God within the chambers of our hearts. The manner in which we relate to our God is simply through faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6
We walk by faith and not by sight; we take God at His Word and rely upon what He has handed down to us in the Bible period end of story. These people of self-proclaimed great faith are totally moved by what they see, what they hear and what they feel how is that biblical faith? It is not.
The very foundation for all genuine faith is the Word of God. When one supplants God’s Word in favor of inner-experiences then one’s foundation has become shifting sand and great will be the destruction of their spiritual house:
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:47-49
Space does not permit me to go into the many very tragic results of people we know personally who turned within and got “lost.” The majority of them are completely out of the Church, some no longer Christians (but still highly “spiritual”). Next month we will consider the other manner in relating to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of the Father and risen King. Selah.
Christ For Me
Extra Nox “Extra nos means that your salvation and standing before God are never dependent on how much faith you have. They aren’t determined by how many sins you’ve committed. It’s not based on whether you feel happy or sad. It isn’t about if it makes you feel good or not. It’s not attached to your attitude or even how much sleep you got. The extra nos of Jesus and His gifts means that you can rely on them even when you don’t feel like relying on them!