Doctrine; How Important Is It Really?

30 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – April 2005 Vol. 10 Issue 4 – Doctrine: How Important Is It Really? – by Robert J. Shipe

Doctrine;  How Important Is It Really?

 When the Holy catholic Church confesses the second article of the Apostles Creed it states:

“I believe in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

These historic and profound words which have been said throughout the ages of Christianity, and which are taken from the Holy Word of God tell us about the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, the Holy One from God. Our faith in Him, whom God sent to “take away the sins of the world,” is our only way to eternal salvation and heavenly home “whose kingdom has no end.”

The second article of the creed properly and truthfully describes Jesus, and we Christians adhere to and have total faith in these words when we confess this important teaching or doctrine of the universal church. Doctrine? Is this statement of faith that we confess in the Divine Service doctrine? Or is the idea of the creed being a doctrine of the church just a quirk, something that just happens to be true but really is not indicative of the God-Man Jesus Christ? Can we go even further? Can we rightfully state and prove that Jesus’ very essence, His entire being including His ministry, was firmly grounded in doctrine? If the answer to this question is “yes” then we must ask ourselves; do we need to adhere to ALL doctrine of the church laid out in the confession of the Lutheran church, or only to really important doctrines such as justification and the Trinity? Does all doctrine point directly to Christ, and is all doctrine really important? Or, as many in the Lutheran church today believe; is doctrine talked about too much, causing a stifling of growth. What follows is a brief look at some of these questions.

Let’s look at the very first question from above: Is the Apostles Creed doctrine? If such things as creation, the Trinity, virgin birth, the resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit, the church and eschatology are considered teachings, then we would have to say that the creed is full of doctrine. There probably would not be too much debate on this, even from those who may disagree on the other aspects of doctrine stated in the previous paragraph.

The disagreement comes with the next question: Is the creed being a doctrinal statement just something that happens to be true but is not consistent with the ministry and very essence of Jesus? In the very first book of the Bible God reveals to us that because of man’s fall He will send a Savior into the world to cleanse man from his sin (Genesis 3). In this very first book, God has already revealed to us the doctrine of original sin and justification in direct connection to the Christ. This doctrine of justification (both objective and subjective) is consistent throughout the Old Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is also consistently revealed to us when the Old Testament talks about the “Spirit of God” and with the prophecy of the coming of the Christ through the written word of the prophets.

The New Testament is filled with doctrine pointing directly to Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus can be directly traced to every teaching of the church catholic as it is laid out in the confessions of the Lutheran church, The Book of Concord. From Article I, the doctrine of God, to Article XXVIII, The Power of Bishops, each and every doctrine of the church is related to Christ. Any doctrine not relating to Christ, is no doctrine at all but adiaphorous, meaning that a teaching is neither commanded nor forbidden scripturally.

When the church errs on one doctrine, it becomes a snowball effect with other doctrines becoming weak. For instance; if the virgin birth is rejected then the deity of Christ will be questioned, which in turn will effect the doctrine of the Trinity, the atonement of Christ, the justification of the sinner, eschatology and finally our very salvation itself. Even if we take a certain doctrine and err on only one part we are in danger of the same results. When the doctrine of objective justification is rejected, that is, when it is stated that Jesus came into the world not for all of mankind but only for believers, we have also erred on the doctrine of election and predestination, which only God knows. The sacraments themselves become a questionable focus point on this issue of denying objective justification. In the Epitome of the Book of Concord we read;

“God assures us of this gracious election not only in mere words, but also with His oath, and has sealed it with His holy sacraments, of which we can remind ourselves and with which we can comfort ourselves in our greatest temptations and thus extinguish the flaming darts of the devil.” (Formula of Concord Art. XI paragraph 13).

Of course the Bible is full of objective justification doctrine. John 3:16 is one example among many. Listen to what Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). So it is not only important to adhere to a doctrine, but to adhere to it completely and unequivocally. It is also important that if “basic Christian doctrine” such as The Trinity and justification by faith alone are adhered to then all other doctrine also needs to be adhered to because all doctrine is tied together.

In many Lutheran churches today while the creed may be confessed every Sunday (though here in Michigan there are many Pastors who do not think the creed is even necessary) it is not thought upon as an important doctrine of Christianity. While this may not be openly taught, it is clearly perceived with the absence of such teaching and preaching.

In fact it can be safely said that very little doctrine (which can be argued is almost always Gospel) is taught at all. Why? Why would doctrine of the Church catholic which has already been shown to be so crucial to and inclusive of the very work and person of Jesus be suppressed and even despised by many churches today? The answers are as varied as the number of missing doctrines themselves.

Many in the Lutheran church believe teaching doctrine and adhering to it takes away from the ministry of Christ. They believe that the Christian’s focus should be on Christ and the way He lived His life. This type of thinking has spawned the ever-popular W.W.J.D. bracelets, “What would Jesus do? Of course our focus needs to be on Christ, but instead of focusing on what He WOULD do, we need to focus on what He did and continues to do for us.

By focusing on what He did for us (justification) and what He continues to do for us (the preaching of His word and the administration of His sacraments) the faith built by His gifts will produce in us good works (sanctification). Justification, the sacraments, sanctification are all-important doctrines that are directly tied together with the ministry of Christ. By teaching and adhering to the doctrines of Jesus the ministry of Christ does not suffer because, as has already been shown with confessing the creed, the ministry of Christ IS doctrine.

In the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to teach and Baptize all nations, or all people. He tells them to teach the nations “everything I have commanded you.” If we focus on only the law (what would Jesus do), we are only focusing on those things which cannot save us because the law always condemns us and shows us where we have failed (the second use of the law, mirror). The gifts God gives to us produces faith, which can and do save us. So the ministry of Christ does not suffer but comes alive and comforts the sinner since he knows and understands the doctrines Jesus teaches AND lives.

Let us not forget that Jesus had some very strong things to say about His coming atoning sacrifice in John Chapter 6. If ever there was an opportunity for “church growth” it was when Jesus was feeding the 5000. When Jesus had said this “hard” teaching many of His followers turned and left Him. Did Jesus run after them shouting “Wait, let me meet your needs. I didn’t really mean what I said?” No. Instead He turned to Peter and wanted to know if he too wanted to leave with the rest. Peter answered for all the ages by saying; “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Jesus’ words are His teachings, His doctrine for the believer to learn, adhere to and follow. Because we fail so miserably in following and living Jesus’ teachings make it even more important to know, understand and confess those teachings.

Another reason why doctrine is not taught and is even despised in many of today’s Lutheran churches is because many believe that doctrine is too hard to teach, especially to children. Words such as “original sin,” “justification,” “sanctification,” “sacraments,” “Trinity,” “absolution,” and “eschatology” are too “theological” and obsolete they argue. While some of these words are not found in the Bible, their concepts are. Jesus taught all of these doctrines, not to the scholars of the day, but to fisherman, tax collectors and the like. Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman were hardly brilliant women, but Jesus didn’t shy away from teaching any of them important doctrines of His ministry. It could arguably be said that the smartest person Jesus taught certainly was not the easiest, at least by theological and cultural standards; Paul of Tarsus.

Now it may be argued that it was the Christ who was doing the teaching, God Himself explaining His doctrines to all these poor miserable sinners and certainly we cannot compare our wisdom with His. This is no doubt very true, but how about the people who were taught by the disciples? These were mere men teaching people who never hear the Gospel. Romans, Hebrews, Corinthians, Ephesians, and the like, even if they were intelligent, had no idea what these teachings meant, but they were still taught all these doctrines. In fact, how could Christianity have grown if they weren’t taught? Of course, Christianity grows solely by the Holy Spirit and that too is a doctrine, an important doctrine, of the church.

Children too need to be taught the doctrines of Jesus. Of course it wouldn’t be practical to use phases like “justification” with a 4 year old (though with the Holy Spirit anything is possible), but the teaching itself can and must be taught. Let’s look once again to the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to Baptize and teach “all nations.” This includes children as well as adults. It is interesting that while the Lutheran church Baptizes babies, many Lutheran Pastors really believe children cannot learn important doctrines of the church. It seems as though they are adhering to only half of the Great Commission. Many studies have been done to suggest that children, even at an early age, can understand teachings precisely because of their uncomplicated state. Jesus Himself gives children a lot of credit when He rebukes His disciples about their attitude toward little ones. Experts agree that a child learns a sport much easier than an adult. The same is true about playing a musical instrument. Cannot the same be said about the teaching of Christian doctrine? “Watered down” and “dummied down” theology is not only an insult to the believer, but it is lazy catechesis and many times “bad” theology as well.

A third and even more cynical argument against the teaching of doctrine is that it is not even needed at all. In fact these people claim that creeds and dogmas interfere with the church and its development and activity. It is interesting to note that the two main groups who hold this position are the very liberal (Modern theologians, who look to reason and science), and the very conservative (fundamentalists including many Baptists and those who belong to non-denominational churches).   While the former are just plain doctrinal or do not teach any doctrine because it does not exist, or fit their reason; the latter claim that creeds, doctrinal statements or confessional writings are merely “doctrines of men.” Those who hold to the liberal view (including many in the Lutheran church, the E.L.C.A. synod in particular) do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. This essay assumes that the Bible is truly the word of God and is inerrant. If the Bible is not Divinely instituted, if it is not actually the word of God, if it does contain errors, then the source of all Christian doctrine is flawed, and it can be argued that all doctrine IS the doctrine of men. This is not the case however. In his translation of Francis Pieper’s book “Christliche Dogmatik” John Theodore Mueller states:

“Our divine Savior accepted no other norm than Holy Scripture, and He invariably rejected the traditions of the Pharisees and the ‘reasoning’s’ of the Sadducees. When He declared His divine doctrines and refuted errors, He constantly based His teachings on the immovable foundations of the written Word of God. Thus at the beginning of His minister He met the temptations of Satan with the emphatic assertion ‘It is written’ Matt 4,4 and He adhered to this principle throughout His ministry. Cp. John 5,39; Matt5, 17-19; John 8,31; etc.”

Against the view that creeds and confessional writings are just the doctrines or traditions of men, not only can we use the above quote, but Mueller further states:

The Christian Church, which has for its source of faith only the infallible Word of God (Eph. 2,20), must under no conditions acknowledge as right and legitimate any dogma, or doctrine, which is not a clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Or we may say; The dogma of the Christian Church is the doctrine of the Holy Bible.”

This is not to say that only what is found in creeds and confessional writings are to be thought of as the only doctrine of the church, as some who call themselves “confessional Lutherans” believe. We must not be confused about which book (The Bible or creeds and confessional writings) interprets which, Mueller again:

“The question is not: Is this or that doctrine clearly stated in the Confessions? But: Is this or that doctrine set forth in God’s dogma, even through not a word is said about it in the Confessions of the Church Dogmas (Creeds and confessions) have a rightful place in the Christian Church provided they teach the doctrines of God and not the doctrines of means. In its creeds the Christian Church has never developed the Christian doctrine, but only declared the express doctrine of Holy Scripture in its full truth and purity against the errors of heretics and schismatics. Thus, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the like, are not declarations of new, man-made teachings, but the very doctrines of Christ, and His apostles set forth in Holy Scripture.”

We must remember that creeds, doctrines and confessional writings are to accurately reflect the teachings of Scripture. Any doctrine not taken from Scripture is either adiaphorous (not commanded in Scripture) or it is not truly the doctrine of Christ’s teaching (heresy).  So the question remains; Do the confessional writings of the Lutheran church set forth by Melanchton, Luther, Chemnitz and others clearly proclaim the doctrine of Holy Scripture? Or are these writings, along with the creeds of the Church just opinions of legalists who wanted to push their “opinions” on the church at the expense of Christ’s ministry, therefore impeding the work of Christ and stifling the growth of Christianity? We need look no further than the confessions themselves when they say:

“We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated. Since in ancient times the true Christian doctrine as it was correctly and soundly understood was drawn together out of God’s Word in brief articles or chapters against the aberrations of heretics, we further pledge allegiance to the three general creeds; the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as the glorious confessions of the faith-succinct, Christian, and based upon the Word of God-in which all those heresies which at that time had arisen within the Christian church are clearly and solidly refuted.” (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm paragraphs 3&4).

In his book, “A Summary Of Christian Doctrine”, Dr. Edward W.A. Koehler is quite candid, but correct with these excellent observations concerning true and false doctrine as it relates to the Church in general, and the Lutheran Church in particular: “When we say that the Lutheran Church is the true, or Orthodox Church, we do not mean to say that it is the only saving church, or that all its members are true Christians and will unfailingly be saved. Membership in the Lutheran Church is not identical with membership in the invisible Church. But we do mean to say that all its official teachings agree with the Word of God and are, therefore, positively true, and that all doctrines differing from them are heterodox and false Insistence on purity of doctrine is by no means narrow-minded bigotry on the part of the Church. A false doctrine can never produce a right faith, nor can false teaching direct us in the right way (Matt. 15:9).  Beside “trembling” at God’s Word (Is. 66:2), and not daring to depart from its teachings, we know that we can accomplish the purpose of this Word only if we most conscientiously continue in its teachings; for the effect our teaching has on the hearts and the lives of men is determined by the content of what we teach. False doctrines create a false faith in those who accept them, and only the right doctrine can create the right concept in the mind and the right faith in the heart. To make men disciples of Christ the Church must teach ALL that Christ has commanded, and nothing but what He has commanded.” (Matt. 28:20).  As heresies and heterodox teachings are still being spoken within the church today, it would do us well to listen to these words. If these words are taken seriously, if Scriptural doctrine is continuously taught, believed, and confessed, then the Church, as it was set forth in Scripture, and taught by Christ, will remain the truly Christian and catholic Church. ♦

 

About the Author His name is  Robert J. Shipe.  He is 44 years old and lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He attends St. Marks Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where he serves as an elder, lector and usher at St. Marks. His web site address is: http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/shipe.htm

Bolding and color added for emphasis.




The Purpose of This Series

29 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – March 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 3 – The Purpose of This Series – by Rev. Robert Liichow

The Purpose of This Series

Our purpose in writing this series of articles is to help “arm” the Body of Christ with the truth concerning a dangerous and fast growing cult in the midst of the Church. The Word of Faith is a cult.  They preach another Gospel, another Jesus and obviously are hearing from another spirit.

Each of these issues is only a taste of what these heretics are teaching to millions  of professing Christians. It is our deepest prayer that you will take advantage of the books available exposing these people for who they are.

DMI exists to help educate, warn and refute these and other heretical trends attacking the Body of Christ. We are very thankful for the regular support we receive but we really do need many more of our readers to step-up and help us fight this war for God’s truth which is why our motto is:

Teaching Truth & Exposing Error

In May Rev. Liichow will be speaking at a conference in Minnesota. He and his wife, Tracy, will be driving, staying at a hotel and eating (on occasion). If past history has proved anything, these conferences are very valuable to those who attend, but a great financial drain to the ministries, who make the presentations. Please pray about giving towards the expense of going to this conference now, so that in May DMI will have been able to produce its materials.  Thank you.





Sacred Cow Number Two – Jesus Ministered Only As A Man

29 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – March 2005 – Vol.10 Issue 3 – Sacred Cow Number Two – Jesus Ministered Only As  A Man – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Jesus Ministered Only As A Man

scancow20050001

This month’s heretical heifer is as crucial to the Word of Faith (WOF) belief system as the “Rich Jesus” cow we cooked on the Barbie last month. The Rich Jesus paved the way for a whole host of false teachings regarding financial prosperity. After all, since Jesus was extremely wealthy, and we are His disciples then logically, we too should be as wealthy as Jesus was during His ministry. Without flogging a dead cow, let me just say there is absolutely nothing wrong with financial prosperity, but it is no more a sign of God’s blessing than being poor is a sign of His curse. Enough said on that topic.

A Brief Definition of Heresy

Often we are tempted to call any and all false doctrine or aberrant teaching “heresy” when technically it is not.

Material heresy  is the belief in or the teaching of biblically unsound doctrines surrounding Jesus Christ out of simple ignorance. Many local teachers within the WOF cult are material heretics, they are just ignorant of God’s Word and repeat what they have heard others more highly esteemed than themselves have taught them at conferences or on cassette or video.

Formal heresy   is far more serious and it generally refers to the teaching of people who have been approached with the truth in love to correct their errors (see Matthew 18). These individuals reject the grace of God He offers in correcting their errors and they continue to hold to them and teach them to others. Sadly, many of the main leaders of the WOF movement fall into this category of heretic. “Formal heresy, a mortal sin, occurs if the person knows his error is contrary to the Church’s teachings, therefore those of Christ, yet continues to hold it. (1)

Originally heresy referred to errors regarding the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. These Christological heresies are included in the following errors, some of which still plague the Church today in more modern garb. The following chart gives us just a glimpse of some of the more “popular” errors regarding the person and work of Christ. This chart is in no way complete, but it does show some of the major purveyor’s of Christological heresy.

From this short chart it is easy to see that errors regarding our Lord swing from denying His deity to only seeing Him as divine. The battle over who the biblical Jesus was, what He accomplished on the cross and who He is as exalted Lord is still a source of bitter debate and division.

scanheresydoc20050001

Heresies still abound surrounding our Lord which is why ministries like DMI exist to uphold the truth of God against the flood tides of error.

As Christians we can “agree to disagree” on some minor points of our faith whatsoever, no glossing over areas of dispute, no going along to get along. The Holy Spirit through Paul was quite clear when He said:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtly, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Cor. 11:3-4

In this text alone we read of the very real danger of having our minds corrupted by evil teachers who preach another Jesus than the biblical Jesus. One can receive a counterfeit spirit and not the Holy Spirit, and people can believe another gospel which is in reality not good news at all, but news that can lead the follower to eternal destruction. Keep in mind this was written to the Corinthians, a church which was known for having all the sign-gifts of the Holy Spirit manifesting on some level in their midst, i.e. they saw themselves as being very spiritual and Paul warns them that they too can be deceived. Not the Corinthians only, but Paul had to warn his flock in Galatia:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But through we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Gal 1:6-9

Again, false teachers had come in behind Paul and taught a perversion of the gospel of Christ. What was Paul’s response? If we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than we have already preached let him be anathema or damned. (3)

Today the Head of the Church is again under attack by heretics who are on a massive global scale boldly proclaiming another Jesus than that taught in the Bible. Their version of who Jesus is, what He did and how He did ministered is a serious and damnable departure from biblical orthodoxy and it is time that this heretical heifer is led to the slaughterhouse and turned into hamburger!

How the WOF Movement Arrived At Their Beliefs Regarding Christ Jesus

Although the heresy that Jesus ministered only as a mere man and never as God is trumpeted most loudly by the WOF cult, it did not originate with them. Actually it was Kenneth E. Hagin who stole (he was a well documented plagiarist) (5) this aberrant idea from two men in particular and then a host of others taught “Hagin’s” error on a global basis. The sources are a Finis Dake and E.W. Kenyon.  From these two men this polluted stream of doctrine has become widely accepted by millions of professing Christians.

It is well beyond the scope of this article to detail the intricacies of Dake and Kenyon which led to the sad state of affairs within much of the sign-gift sects today, but I will briefly give a synopsis of how we got to the place of demoting the Second Person of the Godhead to a mere man.

When God created the earth and placed man on it He did so for them to exercise dominion over His creation (see Gen 2:21). Originally man and woman were created as much like God as was possible:

They were created miniatures of God in attributes and powers and could exercise their powers and attributes like God, but only in a limited and finite way. They had to learn by experience the free exercise of their faculties as to right and wrong, walk in the ways of God and be content with their own creative limitations in strict obedience and submission. Being like God in body, soul, and spirit they naturally could enjoy the same feelings, emotions and desires as God and have perfect fellowship with Him in their mutual administration of the universe. (6)

He must be created as near like Deity as possible, in order to be God’s child and heir…Man, after the fall, in his condition of spiritual death, could not know what the image of God was, without a revelation from Him…Your body is not you. Your mind is not you. You have a mind which you use. You possess a body which you use. Your mind and body are merely instruments of your spirit, the real YOU…Man was created as nearly like the Father-God as was possible. Man was to be God’s companion and under-ruler. His dominion reached to the utmost star and planet. His dominion was as far reaching as Christ’s rule shall be when He shall take over the dominion of the universe.   (7)

Dake and Kenyon believed that Adam was a “little god” a term you hear frequently in WOF circles.   Furthermore the role of Adam and Eve was to rule the universe with their Father. Kenyon adds to the picture the startling (but not original) view that we are not our bodies, nor are we our minds. The “real” person is the spirit which inhabits this tabernacle of flesh. My question is simply this—how does one know if one is hearing from their spirit or their mind? Various books and tapes have been published to help the confused charismatic grow to the place of receiving direct revelation knowledge from the Holy Spirit, bypassing their minds altogether!

Man was created to function on God’s level. Adam walked on that level in the Garden of Eden; but when he disobeyed God, he fell from his position of fellowship and oneness with God. It took Jesus coming to earth as a man to reclaim the authority that Adam gave over to Satan…As a born-again believer; you have the same spiritual capacity that Jesus has. If you spend time studying and mediating in God’s Word and living in the Word the way Jesus did, then you can have every ounce of faith, wisdom, and understanding operating in you that Jesus had during His earthly ministry. It is available to you because the Holy Spirit is available to you. (8)

Watch Video of  Paul Crouch and Kenneth Copeland on TBN say and agree that: “They are ‘little gods’   Make no mistake about it, this is what the WOF movement teaches:

The biblical account of man’s creation never says that we possess the attributes and powers of Almighty God. Nor does the Bible teach that we were created to function on “God’s level.” It does say that we are created in the likeness and image of God:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:26,27

The Hebrew word for image is tselem and it means resemblance. Likeness is Demuth and simply means similitude. The dominion that God delegated to man did not include ruling the universe with the Almighty, but taking stewardship over the earth from whence he had been formed. Certainly nothing is taught in this text about man being a tri-partite being. Kenyon is the man who coined the familiar phrase “high treason” when it came to the fall of Adam:

“The sin of Adam was the crime of High Treason. God had conferred upon him the authority to rule the universe. This Universe-wide dominion was the most sacred heritage God could give to man…Adam turned this legal dominion over into the hands of God’s enemy Satan.”    (9)

Without beleaguering you with a lot of WOF folly, let me restate their belief thus far. Adam was created as close a duplicate of God as was possible on God’s part. God’s plan was for Adam to co-rule the universe with Him. Adam was created from the dust of the earth and thus for anyone to have legal authority in the earth one had to have a physical human body, one like Adam’s. When Adam sinned he lost the dominion mandate, the authority to rule the universe, he gave this “sacred heritage” to Satan when he sinned.

The result of Adam’s high “treason” was that now Satan was the God of this world (see 2 Cor. 4:4). Charles Capps, a prominent WOF teacher says the following regarding Adam, Satan and the fall:

“Things we see on earth today are perversions of nature. They came about when Adam bowed his knee to the outlaw spirit and turned his authority over to Satan. Then Satan became god of the world system and perverted the things God had created…When Adam turned his authority over to Satan, Satan became the God of the world system…He (Satan) had no authority on earth until he tapped into man’s power and authority. (Adam had given his own God-given authority over to Satan). Someone might ask, “Why didn’t Satan just go over and pick the fruit and eat it?” He couldn’t do that. Satan is a spirit being, and spirits have no authority in earth without a body…Man’s body gives him authority on earth. Satan tapped into man’s authority by using the body of the serpent. He tempted Eve through the serpent and caused Adam to commit high treason. “   (10)

Almost everything I have quoted is pure fabrication on the part of these ignorant false teachers and heretics. Yes Satan beguiled Eve (see 2 Cor. 11:3) and yes Adam sinned by disobeying the commandment given to him by God. NOTHING is mentioned about any transfer of authority from Adam to Satan. NOTHING is mentioned that one needs a physical human body to operate in the earth. We know God is a Spirit (see John 4:24) and He created the earth and did so without a human body! We know that angels are not human beings and possess angelic bodies and they have been in operation in the earth throughout the Bible. The Lord slew all the firstborn of Egypt in an evening (see Exodus 12:39). The Angel of the Lord slew (see 2 Kings 19:35) 185,000 Assyrians in an evening again without the need of a human body.

However fanciful this concept is, it is crucial in the formulation of why Jesus Christ had to come as a man and minister only as a man and not God, but we can’t get to our main topic yet. We still have some “doctrinal doo-doo” to quote Paul Crouch, owner of the Trinity Broadcasting System, to wade through before we can get to our subject.

Please understand, according to these heretics, Adam has now become the slave of Satan, there has been a transfer of natures, man now possesses the nature of Satan having lost the nature of God. Satan now is “god” of this world system and he has control of Adam, Eve and their progeny to operate in and through. Where does this leave the Ancient of Days? Charles Capps brings forth the answer:

“God needed a legal way to get back into the affairs of earth, so He made a covenant with Noah…You may ask, “Why did God have to make a covenant with Noah?” Noah had a body, and it gave him a certain amount of authority on earth. God limited Himself in what He could do because of what He had said and done in Genesis 1:26-28…Satan had gained ascendancy in the earth by gaining Adam’s authority, and God was left on the outside. God couldn’t come here in His divine power and wipe them out. He had to move in an area where it would be ruled legal by the Supreme Court of the Universe…God gained entrance back into the earth through the covenant He made with Noah.” (11)

Satan was now ruler of the earth, Almighty God was “left on the outside” and because He is a Spirit being, He has no authority or egress into the planet He created! According to WOF cult the “legal way” Capps and others speak of is the use of a human body, get one of those and then you can operate in this earth realm. Note also that Capps says the God had limited Himself according to His actions in Genesis 1:26-28.  There is NOTHING in those texts, which say anything at all that Capps says that God limiting Himself whatsoever. Also, I am wondering who sits on the bench of the “Supreme Court of the Universe.” My biblical understanding is that there is One God who exists in Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I know of no one else to whom the Triune God must be accountable to other than Himself.

Another very curious, but important aspect Capps does not clarify is how it was that God was able to even approach Noah in the first place! God had no body, no authority; Satan was now Noah’s “god.” So how is it that God could find a man who being spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins (see Eph. 2:1) could enter into an agreement, which is what a covenant is, with the Living God. Nonetheless, God was somehow able to cut a deal with Noah.

“God gained entrance back into the earth through the covenant He made with Noah. He was still limited in what He could do because of His Word. He started putting things into motion through the covenant. “ (12)

The WOF cult not only has a heretical view regarding Christology, but their view of theology is just as heretical. They teach that God is a limited being and that through His Word He has placed Himself under certain self-limitations. It is taught that our prayers either release God or they bind Him. (13) This makes man more powerful than God on earth. That is sheer foolishness, yet well over a million people believe it. Another popular book buttressing this ignorance was written by John “the bagman” Avanzini (he is always trotted out by Paul & Jan Crouch when they need to bilk the gullible out of more money). (14)

Once God had made His covenant with Noah He was later on able to approach another man named Abram and to make him an offer he could not refuse. Capps puts it this way:

God was setting the stage for the greatest manifestation of love the world had ever know. God was saying, “I’m going to prove the Covenant I made with Abraham is legal. I’m going to prove, once for all, that Abraham will keep My Covenant.” So, He demanded that Abraham sacrifice his only son…He asked for his only son (the one God said would be heir to all….Abraham performed his part very well. God called it done; and in the Supreme Court of the Universe, it was written as done; that Abraham gave his son (Heb. 11:17-19)…Now God could give His Son for the world! Abraham’s obedience in offering his son made it possible for God to offer His Son, Jesus, as the Eternal Sacrifice for eternal redemption … Abraham’s obedience to the Covenant gave God the legal entry into the earth to redeem man with His Son, Jesus. (15)

It was due to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son that God the Father the right to send His only Son and sacrifice Him on our behalf. However, in order to get to the place where Jesus could be born of a virgin God had to begin to speak faith-filled words concerning Jesus, His birth, His ministry and even His death through other willing human beings called prophets.

You will find, as you study your Bible, that God never did anything without saying it first. This was hundreds of years before the prophecy [concerning the virgin birth] came to pass. This is the way God’s faith works! God framed the worlds with words. He was framing this and setting it in motion by saying it through His prophet: A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. The Bible tells us it is impossible for God to lie. Why? Because He releases sufficient faith in every word He speaks to bring it to pass.   (16)

For hundreds of years God through His prophets framed everything about His Son’s mission up to that fateful day when the angel met the Virgin Mary and spoke to her. What was her response? Luke 1:38:  “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. The virgin birth is really no big mystery at all according to the WOF cultists. It happened because Mary operated according to spiritual law. Let theologian Capps (16) continue to make it clear to those who still consider the incarnation a great mystery:

“God had found a woman who said, “Behold (look), You have found her. You have found the one. Be it done unto me according to they word.” It was the Word that was made flesh. Mary conceived the Word of God in her heart…Here is what the Spirit of God said to me about that situation: ‘Mary conceived the Word sent to her by the angel (God’s Word) and conceived it in the womb of her spirit. Once it was conceived in her spirit, it manifested itself in her physical body. She received and conceived the Word of God in her spirit.” (17)

The voice Capps identifies as the Lord goes on to tell Chuck that if His people will simply do what Mary did, receive the promises of God’s Word and conceive them in their spirits (not their minds) then they too will obtain the manifestation of that which they have spiritually conceived. New cars, health, wealth, and spiritual gifts whatever a person can believe for spiritually versus mere mental ascent or “want” they can have. This is how our Lord Jesus was born. Mary simply operated in eternal spiritual laws that govern not only the universe but also God Himself, since He too must use faith (I’m unclear what the object of His faith is) to accomplish anything.

Nine months later the first Christmas festivity is celebrated in a manger at town called Bethlehem. Now according to WOF heterodoxy God was once again in the planet and this time legally, because He came in an “earth-suit,” (a Copeland phrase for the body) or to us low-wattage believers, a physical human body that gave Jesus authority on the planet.

The “Man” Christ Jesus

When Jesus was born we know from last month’s Truth Matters  (18)  that He was born into a home of wealth and privilege. What most Christians do not understand is that when He donned His earth-suit He totally set aside, emptied Himself of all His divine attributes, power and abilities and operated ONLY as a man and NEVER as God. Here are some additional citations from the masters of mayhem:

We know Jesus wasn’t the son of Joseph. He was the Son of God. The majority of religious teaching today tells you Jesus healed the sick in order to prove He was the Son of God. Do you realize that Jesus was thirty years of age when He was baptized? Until that time, He had not healed one person. He had not raised anyone from the dead; He had not done one miracle-not one!…The real reason Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons was because He was anointed with the Holy Ghost to destroy the works of the Devil…He stripped Himself of His divine power. He didn’t use any power inherent in Him as God’s Son to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, or destroy the works of the Devil…The power Jesus used in His ministry was not something He brought from heaven with Him. It wasn’t inherent in Him as being the Son of God. Jesus came to earth as a man. He did not take the nature of angels nor the nature of God in His divine power. He took on the nature of man…He came to earth to operate as a man, anointed with the Holy Ghost. Because He was in the earth as a man, He could legally destroy the works of the Devil. (19)

The true Biblical teaching of the Kenosis of Christ is that in taking human form He divest Himself of His divine attributes or at least the power to use them, having laid aside His God-form…if Christ had retained all divine attributes or the free use of them in becoming man, then of what did He empty Himself? And how could we harmonize all the many limitations of His earthly life with the fact that He was equal with God in every sense?…Christ claimed no power or exercised no personal attribute of deity apart from the full anointing of the Holy Spirit. If his works were through the anointing of the Spirit, then they could not be through the exercise of His own natural attributes of deity. (20)

This is the major heresy that all the former quotes have been leading up to —Jesus Christ ministered as a mere man anointed by the Holy Spirit. He did absolutely nothing according to the WOF cult, by virtue of being God the Son. They do not deny that Jesus was God, but what they teach is a view not held by the Church for 2,000 years. He so divested Himself of His deity that He in His ministry was merely a man “anointed” with the Holy Spirit.

Watch Kenneth Copeland teach the error:  – Jesus Ministered ONLY as a Man,

Due to this heretical concept of Christ Jesus it naturally leads to further error which is what I believe was Satan’s goal all along, it leads back to the original lie of “ye shall be as gods.”

Man has been created so nearly like God that it was possible for God and man to become united eternally in one individual…God can dwell in these human bodies of ours. God can impart His life and nature to our spirits and dwell in our human bodies…If the incarnation is a fact, Christianity is supernatural. Every man who has been born again is as incarnation…The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth. (21)

As a born-again believer, you have the same spiritual capacity that Jesus has. If you spend time studying and mediating in God’s Word and living in the Word the way Jesus did, then you can have every ounce of faith, wisdom, and understanding operating in you that Jesus had during His earthly ministry. It is available to you because the Holy Spirit is available to you…Your spirit is just as big as God’s because you are born of Him. (22)

Copeland blasphemes even further in one of his most infamous discourses with his ‘god’ when he says the following:

The Spirit of God spoke to me; and He said, ‘Son, realize this”(Now follow me in this, Don’t let your tradition trip you up.) He said, “Think this was: A twice-born man whipped Satan in his own domain.” And I threw my Bible and I sat up like that, I said, “What”? He said ‘A born-again man defeated Satan. The first-born of many brethren defeated him.” He said, “You are the very image and the very copy of that one.” I said, “Good-nee gracious sakes alive!” I began to see what had gone on in there. And I said, “Well, now You don’t mean—You couldn’t dare mean that I could’ve done the same thing.” He said, “Oh yeah! If you’d know that —had the knowledge of the Word of God that he did, you could’ve have done the same thing. Because you’re a reborn man too. (23)

I hope you can see where this long train of error is leading and led millions of people. Since Jesus ministered only as a man anointed with the Holy Spirit and He told His disciples that they would do His works and even greater works (see John 14:12) then once we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit then we (through Bible study and mediation according to Copeland) will possess the exact same spiritual capacity and ability of Jesus! In fact, according to some alien spirit he misidentifies as the Holy Spirit, Copeland or any born-again person could have made the atonement for our sins if they simply knew what Jesus knew! That my brothers and sisters is enough to answer the question whether or not the WOF movement is a cult or not, it is a cult and I believe many of its top leaders are not genuine Christians at all.

It is obvious to me and anyone who has studied Pentecostal and sign-gift history that NO ONE has ever come remotely close to doing the same works as Jesus, especially in the realm of divine healing, miracles and even lifestyle. Copeland has been preaching this lie for close to forty (40) years now and what proof can he show us that his doctrine is true? Neither could Hagin (recently deceased) or Kenyon, Dake, Hinn, Meyer, Savelle, Branham, Coe, Lake, Dowie and the list can go on for pages. NONE of these people who taught it in the past or are now teaching it in the present could or can demonstrate it in their own lives! Why not? Because it is a false doctrine and God does not honor false doctrine!

This heretical heifer is based on the false premise that Jesus ministered only as a man and ceased to operate as God. Is this possible?

….the Bible is completely clear that God cannot cease to be Himself, that Jesus never gave up His deity, that the Trinity has always been just that, one God eternally existing in three equal Persons, Who are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.   (24)

For considering themselves to be “Word” people these folks have sure missed some obvious truths in the Gospels. If Jesus were not operating as God then how could He forgive sins? He did not forgive them by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed,: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; they sins be forgiven thee. And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. Matthew 9:1-3

There was no doubt in the minds of the scribes that Jesus was claiming to be God and doing ONLY what God can do, forgive our sins. We have the event of Jesus “seeing” Nathanael under the tree:

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said, unto him, Before that Phillip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shall see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. John 1:47-51.

Again, there is no mention of the Holy Spirit revealing this information about Nathanael to Jesus. Nor did Jesus correct Nathan when he declared Jesus to be the Son of God, He did not respond “oh no Nathan, I’m just a prophet anointed with the Holy Spirit. Follow Me and you’ll learn how to do these works too.” One of my favorite texts proves that Jesus ministered as God in His earthly ministry.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John 10:27-33

A.T. Robertson’s says the following about the statements made by Jesus regarding His sheep:

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life. This is the gift of Jesus now to his sheep as stated in 6:27,40 (cf. 1 Jo 2:25; 5:11).  And they shall never perish. Emphatic double negative with second aoist middle (intransitive) subjunctive of apollumi to destroy. The sheep may feel secure (3:16; 6:39; 17:12,; 18:9)    (25)

This is in the present tense when Jesus said it and He did not say that the Holy Spirit was the One giving them eternal life, but He Himself. The religious leaders knew exactly what Jesus meant when He stated that He and the Father were one (John 10:30) they knew Jesus was claiming to be God and they picked up stones and were ready to kill Him for the sin of blasphemy. Crenshaw answers the WOF cult’s insistence on Jesus being only empowered by the Spirit and never functioning as deity:

It is true that Jesus lived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and did not do miracles except after the Holy Spirit came on Him at His baptism. But this emphatically does not imply that He was not God nor that He was not functioning as God. Because the Holy Spirit performed a certain act does this mean that Jesus in His deity could not do so also? How in the name of all that is biblical and rational could Jesus be God and not function as God?…To maintain that He did not function as both God and man denies the Person of Christ by maintaining that He did not have two natures (God and man) that if He used one of the natures meant that the other nature was voided in some way. Jesus was both God and man, functioning both as God and man…If these men had studied their Bibles and church history, they would have known that they had joined the ranks of the heretics and that these issues had been settled in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea and especially in A.D. 451 at the Council of Chalcedon. In this latter Council, the biblical position of the two natures of Christ was stated to be ‘without mixture,” without change, without division, and without separation.’ In 1600 years we have not improved this statement, nor can we. (26)

In the face of almost two thousand years of recorded Church history the leaders of today’s WOF cult, which is massive and growing rapidly has chosen to reject the orthodox stance of the true Christian Church.

The WOF cult probably comes closest to falling into the ancient heresy of Nestorius. He taught that Jesus performed His works by the power of the Holy Spirit and not His own inherent divine power (sound familiar?). Let me cite Crenshaw again on this point—”The early church fathers recognized that such a position took away the deity of Christ and that He was one person in two natures, which in turn took away our salvation.”

The leaders of the early Church recognized the danger of such beliefs and convened a Council in Ephesus in 431. Those in attendance represented the entirety of the undivided orthodox church. Here are just two of the statements they declared as a result of their meeting:

IF anyone shall say that Jesus as man [His humanity] is only energized by the Word of God [His deity], and that the glory of the Only-begotten is attributed to him as something not properly his let him be anathema.   (27)

IF any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Ghost, so that he used through him a power not his own and from him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was his own Spirit through which he worked these divine signs; let him be anathema. (28)

 I stand on very  firm theological ground when I declare that anyone who teaches that Jesus ministered only as a man anointed with the Holy Spirit is damned; because I am merely restating the position of the Church from its inception.

The leaders within the WOF cult take their error to even more damnable depths concerning the atonement for our sins by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but that steak will have to be served in next month’s issue. Let me conclude the brief history of this error by citing the definition of Chalcedon On the next page regarding our Lord Jesus:  ♦

Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow

scansign0001

 

The Definition of Chalcedon

Following then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul {meaning human soul} and a body. He is of the same reality as God as far as his deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as his humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted. Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity, and now in these “last days,” for us and behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is God-bearer in respect of his humanness.

We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-begotten–in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the “properties” of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one “person” and in one reality {hypostasis}. They are not divided or cut into two persons, but are together the one and only and only-begotten Word {Logos} of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us; thus the Symbol of Fathers {the Nicene Creed} has handed down to us. (29)

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.defide.com/heresy.html on 2/20/05

2. Obtained from http://kevin.davnet.org/articles/heresy.html on 02-23-05

3. Obtained from http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/monothel.htm 2-23-05

4. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says of this verse: “a thing devoted to God without hope of being redeemed, and if an animal, to be slain; therefore a person or thing doomed to destruction 2a) a curse 2b) a man accursed, devoted to the direst of woes. Obtained from CD Rom BibleWords Ver. 4.0035 p 1999.

5. Liichow, Robert Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Kenneth Hagin, But Were Afraid to Ask: details his intellectual property theft in detail, along with his false visions, unfulfilled prophetic words. It is available from DMI for $12.00 which includes postage and handling.

6. Dake, Finis Jennings. God’s Plan For Man. Lawrenceville, GA 1997, p. 385 Underlining and bolding added.

7. Kenyon, E.W. The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption. Old Tappen, NJ 1969 pp. 17,18,20,21 Underlining added.

8. Copeland, Kenneth Walking in the Realm of the Miraculous Fort Worth, Tx. Pp 15,16 Underlining and bolding added.

9. Kenyon, E.W. The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption. Old Tappen, NJ 1969 p. 26 Bold type added.

10. Capps, Charles Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School Tulsa, OK 1984, pp. 29,30,44, bold type and underlining added.

11. Ibid. pp. 50,51 Bold type and underlining added.

12. Ibid p. 51 Underlining added.

13. Capps, Charles Releasing the Ability of God Through Prayer, Tulsa OK, 1978. This book details our authority over “God” in that we control what is allowed to happen on the earth through our faith-filled words/prayers or fear-filled doubt-ridden statements of unbelief. Man is in control, not God.

14. Avanzini, John  Moving the Hand of God. Tulsa, OK 1990. We move or stop the hand (a Hebraic euphemism for authority) of God by both our words and giving in Avanzizi’s case.

15. Capps, Charles Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School Tulsa, OK 1984 pp. 71,72,73. Ibid pp. 76, 77 bolding added.

16. A couple of years ago on the Believer’s Voice of Victory, Kenneth Copeland’s television broadcast he had Charles Capps on for an entire week. Their discussion concerned the end of time and soon return of Jesus. During that broadcast Mr. Copeland called Capps “the greatest living theologian.” I am sorry I do not have the day or date of that broadcast. You are welcome to contact Mr. Copeland and ask him if my statement is true.

17. Capps, Charles. Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School. Tulsa, OK 1984, pp. 81,82

18. Last month DMI stomped into hamburger the sacred cow that Jesus was extremely wealthy as were His disciples. If you just joined us this month you can order last month’s issue, just send us $1.00 to cover coping and postage.

19. Capps, Charles,   Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School, Tulsa, OK 1984 pp. 89,90,91,93 Underlining and bold type added.

20. Dake, Finis Jennings. God’s Plan For Man. Lawrenceville, GA 1997 pp. 386, 387, 388. Underlining and bolding added.

21. Kenyon, E.W.  The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption. Old Tappen, NJ. 1969 p. 151 Underlining added.

22. Copeland, Kenneth Walking in the Realm of the Miraculous. Forth Worth, TX pp. 15,16 Underling added.

23. Copeland, Kenneth “Substitution and Identification”, cassette tape #00-0202. Bold type and underlining added.

24. Crenshaw, Curtis, I.  Man As God The Word of Faith Movement, Memphis, TN. 1994 p.326

25. Bible Works Software, A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures

26. Ibid p. 309

27. Obtained from

http://www.aroundomaha.com/ecf/volume37/ECF37THE_THIRD_ECUMENICAL_COUNCILTHE_htm

28. Ibid.





A Brief Note of Thanks

25 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – February 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 2 – A Brief Note of Thanks – by Rev. Robert Liichow

Just a brief note of thanksgiving to our Lord for the faithful partners He has raised up! You are continually held up in prayer in our daily family devotions. We have several goals for the ministry this year, but this article proved to be too long to go into them in this issue.

We are also grateful for those who sent in their subscription renewal’s, as I shared in the last issue DMI “profits” less than $2.00 per subscription per year. So we are asking that many of our subscribers would please prayerfully consider-becoming monthly partners at whatever level they can afford.  If we all give something, then DMI will be able to expand its outreach on many levels. May the true presence of Christ fill your households this Lenten season and always.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Truth Matters   P.O. Box 15639  Detroit, Michigan 48215

Email: heresyhunter@hotmail.com





Sacred Cow Number One – Jesus Was Very Wealthy

23 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – February 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 2 – Sacred Cow Number One – Jesus Was Very Wealthy – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Sacred Cow Number OneJesus Was Very Wealthy

scancow20050001

Over the next several months the Lord willing, DMI will be writing a series of articles designed to kick over several sacred cows within Charismania. (1) The term “sacred cow” has its origin from Hinduism where the cow is viewed as a sacred animal. (2)   Today it is an idiomatic term for a cherished idea that cannot be questioned or negated. One such major “sacred cow” is the doctrine that our Lord Jesus Christ was extremely wealthy. This false doctrine is accepted and taught by every major Word of Faith (WOF) teacher and televangelist.

The conviction that Jesus was very rich is not an ancillary teaching it is a central core dogma for literally hundreds of thousands of professing Christians. It is so central a concept that when it is demolished many other teachings can no longer be supported, which is why it qualifies as a sacred cow for many sign-gift extremists. After all, if Jesus was not wealthy then the rest of the various teachings on prosperity fall down like a house of card.

Through my research I cannot unequivocally say who originally came up with the wealthy Jesus idea, but it does seem to have taken root during the so-called “Healing Revival” of Post World War II. Earlier divine healers were well known for their personal wealth and riches. Aimee Semple McPherson was know for her opulent lifestyle. (3)   I personally remember Lester Sumrall commenting on how John Alexander Dowie used to have tubs of money and lived very well in his city, Zion, Illinois.

When the new batch of healers came around after WWII it seems they took their financial cues from those “giants” upon whose shoulders they humbly stood. Healers such as A.A. Alan, Jack Coe, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, William Branham were wealthy people. Those who followed them in the early 1960’s to this day such as Kathryn Kuhlman, R.. Schambach, Benny Hinn, W.V. Grant, Peter Popoff and Robert Tilton  are (or were in the case of Kuhlman who is dead) extremely wealthy individuals. Not to mention a host of WOF teachers, as opposed to those claiming healing ministries. These people too are extremely wealthy and openly display their wealth. This list would include people such as: Paul and Jan Crouch, T.D. Jakes, Leroy Tomkins, Ken & Gloria Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Fred Price, Jerry Savelle, Norvel Hayes, John Avanzini, etc.

Where Did the Doctrine of Wealthy Jesus Come From?

I believe this false teaching came about by necessity. Somehow, these phenomenally wealthy individuals who claim to be serving Christ and His sheep had to create some form of “biblical” support for their lavish lifestyle. Ergo, the teaching that Jesus and His disciples were wealthy developed.

Once the fake-healers and false teachers could show their followers, who by-in-large were and are biblical fundamentalists, a Wealthy Jesus by twisting biblical texts, then they could explain away their wealth as a natural by-product of following the Savior! As a result of creating a wealthy Jesus an entirely new, formerly untapped vein of revenue could now be mined by these unscrupulous preachers and what is commonly called the “Prosperity Gospel” was invented. (4)

The concept that Jesus was rich and that God wants you to be rich too,  proved to be so popular every sign-gift healer/preacher/teacher/pastor has written books on the topic. Here are a few  examples from the DMI archives: Attach You Lack by Oral Roberts; Financial Prosperity by Elbert Willis; The Blessing of Obedience by Norvel Hayes; Dare to Be A Success by Robert Tilton; The Power to Create Wealth by Robert Tilton; Sowing In Famine by Jerry Savelle; God’s Answer to Insufficient Funds by Rod Parsley; The Laws of Prosperity by Kenneth Copeland; God’s Debt Free Guarantee by John Avanzini; It’s Not Working Brother John by John Avanzizi; The Miracle of Seed Faith by Oral Roberts; Lifestyles of the Rich and Faithful by Fred Price.

How They Biblically “Prove” Jesus Was Rich

As the old saying goes “the best defense is a good offense” which is just what Mr. Avanzizi attempts to do in his attempt to counter the genuine version of the biblical Jesus when he stated:

“I don’t now where these goofy traditions creep in at, but one of the goofiest ones is that Jesus and His disciples were poor. Now there’s no Bible to substantiate that. (5) Let me explain from memory and my background as a former Word of Faith Pastor/Teacher how I was taught that Jesus and His followers were rich.

His Birth

We have to start with the birth of Jesus. Remember the wise men that came to worship Him and they brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (see Matt. 2:11) ? Forget the Christmas card images, there were not just three wise men, but a whole caravan and they brought a tremendous amount of riches with them that they gave to Jesus. Joseph was a carpenter. What we’d called a “skilled tradesman” today. He had enough money to buy a house and establish a carpentry business for two years before Herod sought to kill Jesus. Vs. 11 clearly says they were in a “house” not in the manger by the time the wise men got there. Obviously Jesus came from a fairly well off family. The only reason He was born in a manger was because Joseph could not rent a room, not because he could not afford one! When the angel appeared and warned Joseph to take his family and flee to Egypt until Jesus returned after Herod’s death many years later. After that point Jesus took up the profitable trade of being a carpenter like Joseph. Jesus was rich from His very birth, given heaps of gold and extremely valuable incense. What is more, Jesus learned a valuable trade, carpentry (ever see how much a carpenter makes per hour these days?) and He worked at this trade for several years. What do you think Jesus did with the money He made from selling His works? He tithed, gave and God blessed Him for it! “

www@simpletruths.net

www@simpletruths.net

Keep in mind that 99.9% of what I am writing above is a pure reading into the text The facts are 1) we do not know how many wise men came to worship Jesus, any number given is pure speculation which has no place in biblical doctrine. 2) Nor do we know the amount of treasure they gave the Christ child. 3) We have little background on Joseph apart from his genealogy (see Matt.1:1) and we know Joseph was a carpenter. 4) There is nothing that says they lived off the treasure given to them while in Egypt. 5). Yet Jesus was viewed by others as the carpenter’s son (see Matt 13:55).  In that time it was traditional for sons to follow their father’s trade, so I will accept that Jesus did probably work as a carpenter for some period of time. However, to equate what carpenter’s were paid in Jesus’ day with what a “union” carpenter makes per hour today is the height of folly. 6) Jesus fulfilled every aspect of God’s law which would have included tithing, but that does not equate with being materially wealthy. (6)

His Ministry

Jesus began His official ministry after being baptized by John, coming out of the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit and choosing 12 disciples. In order for Him to do all this He had to have money, and a great deal of it. Elbert Willis (7) states the WOF view very specifically in the following citation:

Many people say, ‘Well, Jesus didn’t have prosperity. He didn’t have any money. He had twelve disciples and seventy others with Him. They were not working, but they were serving Him. That equate eighty-three men. And their families? Have you ever heard a pauper having a treasure? Do you have so much money that you need a treasurer to keep up with it? (8)

To begin with the Bible does not say that Jesus was a “pauper” nor does it say He had so much money that He covered all the living expenses of eighty-three men and their families. The Bible mentions nothing about Jesus financially providing for these men’s families. The families of these chosen disciples continued to work as they had before one of their sons was called to follow the Master. Then Elbert makes mention, as do all prosperity preachers, about the fact that Jesus had a “treasurer.” Here is a statement by the grandfather of greed, Oral Roberts:

Second, we know Jesus was not poor because He needed to have a treasurer. According to John 13:29, a disciple by the name of Judas Iscariot was Jesus’ treasurer. Now a treasurer is needed by a person who must deal with large sums of money that have to be accounted for, write checks, make purchases and pay bills, taxes and debts. You ask, “Did Jesus have that kind of money? Yes, or He wouldn’t have needed a treasurer. He had so much that later Judas stole from the treasury.   (9)

The problem with their concept stems around their reading more into the word “treasurer” than should be, it is an exegetical error on their part. They carry today’s concept and read it back into the text. They had no paper currency in those days, they had coins. It is hard to imagine that Jesus was so wealthy that Judas alone could have lugged around a very heavy bag of gold, silver and copper coins all day long (gold is rather heavy, or so I am told). All that is meant by the passage is that Jesus had appointed Judas to be in charge of whatever money they had. The Greek word for “bag” , which according to strong’s Concordance is defined as “a small box for other uses, a purse to keep money in”. (10) Hardly the impression today’s prosperity preachers give their followers. They like to make such a big deal out of the fact that Judas carried the money bag that Mr. Copeland gives the following “revelation” concerning Judas and the purse:

Jesus knew the spiritual law of giving and He operated it proficiently. He gave to the poor at such an astonishing rate that when Judas left the room during the Last Supper, some people thought that he must be going to give to the poor. Do you want a hundredfold return on your money? Give and let God multiply it back to you. No bank in the world offers this kind of return! Praise the Lord!”

It is beyond the scope of this article to deal with the WOF doctrine of spiritual laws, (prosperity is just one of them) but there is nothing stated in the Gospels that our Lord manipulated spiritual laws of any sort. I am sure that our Lord gave to the poor, but there is nothing that says that “He gave to the poor as such as astonishing rate” because if this were the case, then according to Copeland Jesus would have received 100 times back on every denarii’ He gave away. As an aside: if this spiritual law is biblical then why aren’t more televangelists giving money away at an astonishing rate. The only thing that is astonishing is that people are so biblically dull that they give millions to these shysters who keep far far more than they ever give away!

His Clothing

Jesus wore designer clothing. Naturally one must realize that Jesus as a man who fulfilled the Law walked in the blessings of Abraham (see Deut. 28:1-14) would only wear the best clothing available.

John 19:23 says “He had a seamless robe’ Roman soldiers gambled for it at the foot of the cross. It was a designer original. It was valuabe enough for them to want it…And then there are Christians that have a poverty complex that says “Well, I feel guilty about having nice things.’ Jesus didn’t. (12)

I’m telling you, Jesus wasn’t poor, and He didn’t wear no rags, either. Like we march in on these Easter little plays that we do at our church, with those raggedly sheets on. Jesus didn’t have no rags on.  He wore designer clothes, honey! (13) uniquely made and different from the ordinary. But Jesus clothes were even better than that. (14)

That is all Jesus said to them is, ’Come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men’ They went ’Wooo right!’ And they followed him! Why? The boy was dressed in  an Armani Suit! He was wearing Berlini shoes!  Come on now! Why do we know that? Because He hung on the cross at Calvary they gambled for His clothes. They tossed dice for His underwear! You think anybody here would gamble for your underwear [Laughs]? You could have some pretty fine DNKY underwear, but you ain’t got anything that I’m gambling for [Laughs]! He was dressed fine! The rich will always follow the rich. The poor will follow the rich. But the rich will never follow the poor! So, how do we get these strange notions and these strange attitudes? Where does that come from except religious attitudes that kept the body of Christ poor! Amen? (15)

The above statements would be humorous (and such teachings are usually delivered in such a fashion to the devotees) if it were not so blatantly false and misleading. This concept is mouthed by every WOF preacher and televangelist.

Because Jesus wore the best, than that gives them license to wear Armani suits and spend over $1,000+ on a pair of shoes. In fact, Bishop T.D. Jakes buys his shoes in Detroit from another Bishop who owns a very upscale haberdashery. My wife and I personally witnessed Robert Tilton raise over $1,000 for a pastor so he could go and buy some “decent shoes to preach in.”

His Message

“Not only did Jesus come from a wealthy family and He no doubt was a member of the Galilean Amalgamated Carpenters Union, but He wore only the best clothes and much of what he taught centered around financial prosperity. I realize this may be new insights to many of you but hear the revelation knowledge from today’s anointed:

“The very first thing on Jesus’ agenda was to get rid of poverty! Would you like to know why some people, including ministries, never get out of poverty? Its not because they aren’t smart. Its because they don’t have windows of opportunity. It because they’re not anointed. If you’re not anointed, poverty will follow you all the days of your life. His first objective was to get rid of poverty. (16)

What Duplantis is referring to is the first message Jesus preached in Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor… Jesse goes on to say that the Gospel message to the poor is that they do not have to be financially poor any longer. He and others teach that Jesus was not addressing spiritual poverty, but financial lack. What is good news to a poor person? That they can become rich! Jesse goes as far as to say that Jesus was more interested in preaching financial prosperity than opening the eyes of the blind because He mentions it first in His message!

Markus Bishop in his book, Our Covenant of Prosperity in the section entitled “Jesus Came To Reverse the Curse” writes this about the same text:

“Not only has God anointed Jesus, but He has appointed Him. He had commissioned and commanded Him to preach the Gospel, the Good News, to the poor. And Jesus wasn’t talking here about the ‘poor in spirit.” He was talking about preaching the Good News to those who were experiencing financial difficulty, poverty and lack. He was saying, ‘God has sent Me to preach the Good News to the poor.’ What is ‘good news’ to the poor? That they would be redeemed from financial poverty. (17)

All of the prosperity pimps twist this verse and make the central theme of the Gospel message of Christ redemption from the “curse” of poverty. There is not one reputable theologian, commentary writer or scholar who agrees with their aberrant abuse of the text. John Gill’s and Mathew Henry’s commentary say the following regarding Luke 4:18:

because he hath anointed me; or “that he might anoint me”; the Ethiopic version renders it, “by whom he hath anointed me”, for it was with the Holy Ghost he was anointed, as to be king and priest, so likewise to be a prophet: hence he has the name Messiah, which signifies anointed: and this unction he had, in order to preach the Gospel to the poor: in Isaiah it is, “to the meek”, which design the same persons, and mean such as are poor in spirit, and are sensible of their spiritual poverty; have low and humble thoughts of themselves, and of their own righteousness; and seek to Christ for durable riches and true righteousness, and frankly acknowledge that all they have and are, is owing to the grace of God: and generally speaking, these are the poor of this world, and poor in their intellectuals, who have but a small degree of natural wisdom and knowledge: to these the Gospel, or glad tidings of the love, grace, and mercy of God in Christ, of peace, pardon, righteousness, life and salvation by Christ, wre preached by him, and that in so clear a manner. (18)

Thirdly,  What his work was. He was qualified and commissioned, 1. To be a geat prophet. He was now entering upon Observe, (1) To whom he was to preach; to the poor; to those that were poor in the world, whom the Jewish doctors disdained to undertake the teaching of and spoke of with contempt; to those that were poor in spirit, to the need and humble, and to those that were truly sorrowful for sin; to them the gospel and the grace of it will be welcome, and they shall have it, Mt. 11:15   (19)

No commentary I researched agrees with the interpretation given by WOF movements’ sinisters. (20)  If Jesus’ message was really one of how to become financially wealthy why did He proclaim that “blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the kingdom of God” in Matthew 26:11? How could there be any poverty when Jesus fully preached the Gospel and equipped His ministry term to go out and do likewise?

I can imagine my conversation with Mr. Copeland regarding prosperity. It might go something like this: “Well, Mr. Heresy-hunter” how do you explain the encounter Jesus had with the rich, not poor, but RICH young ruler?” I’ll first allow Mr. Copeland to give us his insights:

“Whenever I read something that seem contradictory to this, I immediately stop and straighten my thinking. The truth is hidden in some way and I rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal it to me…Here is how the Lord revealed the truth to me: As I read Mark 10:20, And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed FROM MY YOUTH, the Lord spoke to me and said, “See this is why he was rich”….When the rich young ruler walked away, Jesus said; ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!’ Then an interesting thing happened. The next verse says, ‘And the disciples were astonished at his words.’ We have taken it for granted that Jesus and His disciples didn’t have anything. But the Bible describes Peter, James, and John as professional fisherman. They owned more than one boat and they had household servants! When Jesus spoke those words, it shook them. (21)

According to Copeland “this was the biggest financial deal that young man had ever been offered, but he walked away from it because he didn’t know God’s system of finances.  (22)   In Copeland’s warped mind Jesus was really offering this man 100 times what he currently was worth. Copeland even says that Jesus was offering this man apostleship, but the man missed it because he had many possessions. Please do not lose sight of the fact that Copland claims to have obtained his insight into this text by divine personal revelation from the Holy Spirit.

If one takes time to read the entire discourse the true meaning becomes very plain. Jesus exposed where this man’s heart was. He loved his possessions more than Jesus. Hew was unwilling to part with them and he certainly was not willing to take up his cross and follow Jesus to be crucified.

This is why Jesus goes on to make the following comment: Mark 10:23 “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!”  He repeats Himself in the next verse by saying”…how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!”   To make His point even stronger in vs. 25 over Master says “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

His disciples were astonished because in those days being wealthy was a sign of God’s approval and blessing and if the rich could not make it in, even one, like the rich young ruler who seemed to keep the Law, then what hope did they have?

In and of themselves they had no hope of salvation. Their wealth (or lack thereof), and their attempts at keeping all of God’s law perfectly would not grant them entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus knowing their anxiety and concern tells them simply in vs. 27 “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Man cannot save himself, but with God all things are possible even the salvation of the rich! The rest of the chapter leads into the 100-fold nonsense commonly twisted by Copeland and others to mean if you give $10 then God will give you back $1,000 (talk about voodoo economics!).

The 12 Were Rich

You don’t think that Jesus would choose 12 poor men to be His representatives do you? What kind of kingdom ambassadors would penniless beggars be? Also, why would 12 rich men follow some poor guy? No, Jesus chose 12 highly successful businessmen, sort of the prototypical “Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association.” Think about it for a moment, Matthew was a tax collector, sort of like being a CPA today, a man use to handling large sums of money. Copeland just informed us that Peter, James and John were professional fishermen with several boats. Although nothing is ever actually stated about the personal wealth of any of the original 12 in the biblical text, that does not matter to these men because it bolsters their false teachings on personal financial wealth.

In summary we now understand according to the prosperity preachers that Jesus was born into a well to do family, was given a huge amount of treasure by a large caravan of wise men, that He was a professional carpenter and that he wore only the finest clothing. We see that His main message was how to break the curse of poverty off of poor people. Lastly, we also have learned that His original followers, hand-picked by Jesus, were also wealthy businessmen of various types.

This is the Rich Jesus which is presented on a regular basis on Christian television and radio. This is the version of Jesus taught about in national and international crusades, in hundreds of books, audio and video tapes series by men and women who hold sway over the spiritual lives of literally millions of professing Christians. Now, let’s consider what the Bible actually shows us concerning the biblical Jesus.

We must always have “sola Scriptura” as the overriding principle of our spiritual understanding. Everything we know for certain is found within the Bible. Any other non-biblical source is not to be considered authoritative and where the Bible is silent we too had best keep silent or at least be honest enough to admit that we have wandered into the realm of speculation, which at times may even seem to be logical, but it is still speculation, and non-authoritative. The vast majority of what the so-called prosperity preachers proclaim is either speculative in nature, outright invention or a twisting of the biblical texts they cite.

His Birth

We know little of Joseph and his family other than he came from Nazareth up to Jerusalem for the census and to pay his taxes. The fact he paid taxes does not mean he was wealthy, poor people to this day (including yours truly) pay taxes. What it does mean is that Joseph was an honest man and obeyed both God and the civil authorities.

We are not told of how much wealth/treasure the wise men gave to Jesus and his family. Nor do we know how many of them came to worship the Christ child. They were a small enough group to effectively slip away from King Herod’s grasp (see Mat.2:12). In the next verse we are told that the angel of the Lord told Joseph to take his family to Egypt. They stayed there until Herod died, which many commentators say was approximately two years after he slaughtered the children. We have no idea where in Egypt Jesus and His family went.

From historical records we do know something of the carpentry business of that day and even a bit about the area Jesus grew up in from archeology. Carpenters were not the highly paid “skilled craftsmen” in the same vein as our union member carpenters are today. To make such comparisons is sheer folly.

Archeological excavations of Nazareth from the 1950’s show the village of Jesus’ day were occupied by poor agricultural people. As Jesus grew up he worked in the trade of a carpenter not a trade know for its wealth. How did Jesus become rich with a step-dad who was only a carpenter? There is absolutely no indication anywhere that he was wealthy from his family or from traveling with His disciples. By the way, He took no tithes. (23)

Nothing in the biblical record states that Joseph was wealthy, or that they became wealthy from the gifts given to them by the wise men. Nothing is stated about Joseph having a thriving carpentry business which was profitable or that Jesus became wealthy as a carpenter.

His Ministry

Above I cited a quote from Elbert Willis who would have us believe that Jesus was so wealthy that He supported eighty-three (83) men and their family for the duration of His ministry! Nothing in the bible even remotely suggests this. It is pure fabrication on Elbert’s part to bolster his other teachings on why it is God’s will for the rest of His children to be wealthy like Jesus was. Read what Jesus had to say concerning His cousin John:

And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. Luke 7:24-25

Doesn’t it strike you as more than a bit strange, in light of prosperity teachings, that John the cousin of Jesus would be poor? Yet by all accounts he was at best an ascetic. Didn’t Jesus give to the poor “at an astonishing rate” as Mr. Copeland teaches? The Bible says in Mark 1:6   And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey…”  This is hardly a prophetic picture of someone “wearing the best, eating the best and driving the best.”  Let’s very briefly consider the picture of the servants of God by the author of the book of Hebrews:

And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourging, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy: ) they wandered in desserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: Hebrews 11:32-39   (24)

Here is the famous “hall of faith” and in reading it what do we see? That the true servants of God were mocked; scourged, imprisoned; stoned (with real rocks); cut in half; killed by the sword; and they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins {a far cry from Armani and Gucchi}. We read what God’s opinion was — “of such the world was not worthy.” These prophets were destitute, afflicted and tormented. How is this possible with the scenario that the Gospel “pimps” have put forward? If anyone walked in covenant with God it had to be these O.T. believers. Yet, what was their reward? Far from blessing, it seemed that all the weight and curse of sinful mankind fell upon them. Any in-depth study of the Hebrew and Greek will demonstrate that these faithful servants of God were anything but operating in the “blessings” of Abraham!

Regarding His ministry if Jesus taught the “100-fold” return on one’s giving as is alleged by the opines of opulence then why do they restrict the flow to 100 times ones financial giving?  Our Lord mentioned families, houses, and lands (see Mark 10:30) in the same text, PLUS persecutions. These aspects of Jesus’ teaching they blithely skip over.

In Mark 15:41 we read that women followed Jesus and “ministered” to Him, in the Greek the word is from which we get our term deacon of deaconess. Robertson gives more grammatical insights regarding their ministry to our Lord:

Followed him and ministered unto him. Two imperfects describing the long Galilean ministry of these three women and many other women in Galilee (Lu 8:1-3) who came up with him to Jerusalem. (25)

Jesus had material support from these women and others who followed Him, He was not “supporting” His disciples and their families. What about His teaching concerning wealth and poverty? Let the Master answer for Himself:

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me Mark 10:21. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed: for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:13,14

Jesus did teach about giving and living sacrificially for the sake of others. He never taught that those who give will necessarily receive a return on their giving in this life. He did (and does) teach us to give to those who ask, (see Matt. 5:24) expecting nothing in return. He wars His followers concerning the various dangers which can creep into a life and choke the Word of God:

And these are they which are sown, among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful,. {lusts: or, inordinate desires}. Mark 4:18,19.

In Mark 10:24 again He reminds His disciples “how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” Jesus was not against the rich as some “liberation theologians” would have us believe, nor was He “pro” poverty either. He taught a balanced message that was predicated on the principle of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matt. 6:33) and the things you have need of your heavenly Father will supply. If Jesus was rich then why didn’t He have enough funds in His treasury to feed the five thousand a simple meal?

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Phillip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And his he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Phillip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Jesus said, Make the men sit down. No there was much grass I Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him. There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes; but what are they among so many? And in the place so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. John 6:5-10.

Apparently they did not even have 200 pennies in their treasury to feed these hungry folks. Jesus did not rely upon money, He looked to His Father in heaven, the real “Source” of all humanities needs and gave thanks and worked a miracle.

How do the gurus of greed deal with the account of Jesus and His disciples picking the kernels of wheat from the field to eat on the Sabbath?

And it came to pass on the second Sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plunked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day? Luke 6:1-2

Why weren’t Jesus and His “boyz” sitting down at the Four Seasons or The Stork Club, feasting on roasted lamb with mint jelly while knocking off a few bottles Judean Roederer Cristal Rose-Limited champagne? Instead we find Him wandering through a corn field eating the gleanings which were left for the poor (see Lev. 19:9). How do these masters of money parse the following teaching of Christ?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:19-21

This image of Jesus is never taught by those who make merchandise of God’s greedy and gullible saints:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of {pernicious ways: or, lascivious ways, as some copies read} And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; whose judgment now of a long time lingered not, and their damnation slumbered not. 2 Peter 2:1-3

These false teachers exist to make the people of God nothing more than a means to provide for their very lavish lifestyles. The huge conventions, radio and television broadcasts are little more than means to sell their books, tapes, videos and of course ask for “seed-faith” gifts…all the while promising the people 100 times back on what they give or in some cases the promise divine healing, restored marriages, salvation of lost family and friends. They vary their “pitch” depending upon the audience and all of these people are MASTERS at zeroing in on precisely what hot button to push to open folks wallets.

His Clothing

I have never heard so much made out of so little. Matthew 27:35 “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” There are several explanations why the Roman soldiers threw dice for His garments. The Bible itself gives us the main reason—to fulfill the prophecy in Psalms 22:18.

The Roman soldiers gambled for His garments because they were poor themselves, this is a historical fact and possibly they thought that since Jesus had the reputation of being a miracle worker possibly his clothes may have contained some form of magic power. They may have heard about the woman with the issue of blood who (in their minds) merely touched the hem of His garment and was healed instantly (see Mark 9:20-21).   Soldiers being poor are a well documented fact the other comments are my own mere suppositions.

This much is certain there is nothing stated about His clothing that set Him apart from others due to His fine duds, in fact, those who did not know Him could not pick Him out of a crowd (see John 18:4-5).

His 12 Disciples

Prosperity Pontificators teach that Jesus hand picked only wealthy men. What does the biblical record show us? If Peter owned a successful fishing business then why after the resurrection of our Lord did he say:

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” This does not mean they had none on them at the time; they had NO money. These are words out of their own mouths recorded by the Holy Spirit through their hands as Scripture. Acts 3:6

Or prior to Jesus’ death when it came time to pay the temple tax, did Jesus call Judas over and reach into the very deep and heavy bag of gold, silver and copper coins?

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money, that take, and give unto them for me and thee. {a piece….or a stater; it is half an ounce of silver, in value two shillings and six pence, sterling about fifty five cents}. Matthew 17:27

Not only didn’t Peter have the tax money neither did Jesus. Now if Jesus was so very wealthy, then why did this type of a miraculous provision have to be made? How do these pilfering profiteers answer James the brother of Jesus when he says:

“Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”   James 2:5

What about the Apostle Paul, true, he was not one of the original 12, but he was a genuine apostle and he was not wealthy. He says: as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.2 Cor. 6:9-10

To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor working with our own hands.” 1 Cor 4:11-12 But what things were gain to me these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Paul a Pharisee was quite rich yet he gave it up for a life to follow Christ. Phil 3:7, 1:1

Paul wrote approximately two-thirds of the New Testament and yet he describes his life as a faithful servant of Christ as living with (1) hunger; (2) thirst; (3) poorly clothed; (4) beaten; (5) homeless; as (6) poor; and (7) having lost everything for the sake of gaining Christ Jesus. NONE of this matches up with the false teaching of a Rich Jesus and Wealthy Disciples.

These men and women are teaching lies either out of ignorance or out of sheer greed. In either case God’s people who buy into these lies in the end hurt themselves spiritually because they have been led further from the true Christ of the Bible. Many people end up shipwrecked in their walk, with Christ because of being taken by these religious con-men. DMI deals with people in both of these categories on a regular basis.

Like all pyramid schemes the only people the “law of prosperity” work for are those who are propagating them to an eager (and often greedy) audience who want to believe it is God’s will for them to be wealthy. How are they to arrive at that status? Simple—GIVE and GIVE and GIVE to these false teachers. Attend all their seminars, buy all their books and tapes, and “sow your biggest financial seed” into every appeal letter they have mechanically sent out to you via a huge computerized mass-mailing company. Oh yes, make sure and NEVER DOUBT the man/woman of God, if you do then you have “dug up your seed” and will have to start the whole process over again.

Now, being set free from such foolishness and darkness it amazes me that more people are not waking up to the FACT that this stuff just is not working in the lives of the rank-and-file. After 30+ years of teaching this, if it were true then the Church should be filled with thousands of multi-millionaires. Yet the only ones becoming millionaires are Benny Hinn; Kenneth Copland; Paul & Jan Crouch; Joyce Meyer; Bob Tilton; Peter Popoff; John Avanzini; Oral & Richard Roberts; Juanita Bynum; Paula White; T.D. Jakes; and Don Stewart to name just a few who teach these lies. ♦

Copyright © Rev. Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. “Charismania” refers to people who have given themselves over totally to the more extreme beliefs and practices on the fringe of the sign-gift/Pentecostal movement. Not all Pentecostal or Sign-gift Christians believe the sacred cows which will be dealt with over the next few months.

2. Some trace the cow’s sacred status back to Lord Krishna, one of the faith’s most important figures. He is said to have appeared 5,000 years ago as a cowhead, and is often described as bala-gopala, “the child who protects the cows” Another of Krishna’s holy names, Govinda, means “one who brings satisfaction to the cows.” Other scriptures identify the cow as the “mother” of all civilization its milk nurturing the population Obtained from http://www.uwec.edu/geography/Ivogeler/w111/articles/Hinduism’s%20Sacred%20Cow.htm  on 01-27-2005.

3. Bahr, Robert. The Least of All Saints, The Story of Aimee Semple McPherson. This is an insightful and fascinating book about one of Pentecostalism’s most prominent female evangelists and pastors.

4. I am well schooled in this particular sacred cow being a graduate from Robert Tilton’s Bible School in the mid-1980’s. Mr. Tilton, is still on television, bilking God’s ignorant and desperate sheep out of millions of dollars. Tilton has mastered this false doctrine and raised it to a literal art form of sorts.

5. Hanegraff, Hank, Christianity in Crisis, Harvest House, 1993, p. 187

6. Tithing was a law or a principle we had to follow if we wanted God to financially prosper us. 10% off the gross (not the net) was expected, along with offerings. If this law was carried out faithfully on every dime that came into our hands then and only then would the windows of heaven be opened and God would pour out so much money we would not have room enough to hold it all (see Mal. Ch. 3). Any biblical scholar will point out that there were several types of tithing required under the law and much of it had little to do with giving money.

7. A good book on this topic is entitled The Lie of the Tithe available at http://www.gotosimpletruth.com/Tithing/tithe4.html. ( added: See you tube video below)

8. Many people are not familiar with Ebert Willis. I have met him on a few occasions and have literally 100% of his tapes and books. He was one of the “purest” of the WOF teachers. He actually believes what he teaches and lives by it. Elbert was so hardcore that once he spoke at Rhema and delivered a famous sermon entitled “Wet Water Walkers or Dry Boat Sitters.” It was so tough on the Hagin crowd, he was never invited back to speak again.

9. Willis, Elbert Financial Prosperity Fill the Gap Ministries, Lafayette, La 1975, pp. 19-20

10. Oral Roberts. “How I Learned Jesus Was Not Poor, page 16 Underlinging added for emphasis.

11. Obtained from http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=1101&version=kjv on 01-27-05

12. Copeland, Kenneth The Laws of Prosperity Kenneth Copeland Publication, 1974, pp. 66-67

13. John Hagee, Praise-A-Thon, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) November 5, 2004. Bold type added for emphasis.

14. Creflo Dollar Crusade, Feb 9, 1999. Information obtained from http://www.geocities.com/Bob_Hunter/dollar.html.

15. Oral Roberts. How I Learned Jesus Was Not Poor, page 24

16. Dr. Thomas C. Anderson, Praise The Lord, “TBN, August 21, 2004 Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

17. Jesse Duplantis, Voice of the Covenant Magazine, Pg. 5 Nov. 1997

18. Bishop, Marcus Our Covenant of Prosperity Harrison House Publishers 1997, pp. 47-48.

19. Obtained from http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/luke/gill/luke4.htm Underlining added for emphasis.

20. Obtained from http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/luke/mh/luke4.htm Underlining added for emphasis.

21. My research included the Geneva Commentary, Jamison Fausett Brown, Darby, Johnson, McGarvey Pendleton, Wesley and Lightfoot.

22. Copeland, Kenneth The Laws of Prosperity Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1974 pp. 63-65.

23. Ibid. p. 64

24. Obtained from http://www.letusreason.org/Wf15.htm on 02–2-05 Underlining and Bold type added for emphasis.

25. Robertson’s Word Pictures BibleWorks CD, ver. 4.0.0035p. 1998 Underlining added for emphasis.





Soli Deo Gloria

18 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter -January 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 1 – Soli Deo Gloria – by Rev. Robert Liichow

scansoliDeoGloria0001

The Reformation reclaimed the Scriptural teaching of the sovereignty of God over every aspect of the Believer’s life. All of life is to be lived to the glory of God. As the Westminister Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” This great and all consuming purpose was emphasized by those in the 16th and 17th Centuries who sought to reform the church according to the Word of God. In contrast to the monastic division of life into sacred versus secular perpetuated by Roman Church, the reformers saw all of life to be lived under the Lordship of Christ. Every activity of the Christian is to be sanctified unto the glory of God.   (1)

This last of the five Reformation solas is really the capstone of them all because it points us back to the source from which the other four we’ve studied come from, that being Almighty God. The Cambridge Declaration gives us a very succinct statement on this glorious truth when it states:

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel. (2)

I especially enjoy the inclusion of the negative proclamation that God cannot be properly worshipped “if our worship is confused with entertainment.” Entertainment is exactly what the majority of charismatic extremist and today’s so-called evangelical churches worship portion of the service consists of.

As a recovered charismatic extremist pastor I can speak from experience when I say that our church services were divided up into basically four segments. First, we began with “praise” which consisted of fast paced songs and refrains written to get the people’s emotional juices going. The praise portion of the service was when the band would really begin to “rock out.” Some of us would get out into the aisles and dance (yes I used to cut-the-rug quite a bit in those days). People would clap in time to the songs, most of which were man-centered,  i.e. we sang about how good we felt about Jesus or how good He made us feel.

There was little theological content in anything we sang. The praise portion was where you’d hear the loud shouts of “halleluiahs” and the like. This specific type of singing would continue for a minimum of fifteen minutes to half an hour or more, depending on the congregation. (3)

After getting the people emotionally stimulated the worship team (we did not have a choir, most charismatic churches and many seeker-sensitive churches  do not believe in them, they smack of the dreaded traditionalism) would slow the tempo and we’d then enter into the second phase of the service called “worship.” Worship differed greatly in emotional content and rhythm. In our congregation the lights would be lowered to almost total darkness apart from the words on the screen. Allegedly, this was to help the people focus on “God” and not the person standing next to them.

These songs also lacked a strong theological basis yet in most cases they were directed towards God. Many of the songs were little more than refrains which were sung over and over again. This technique is really a form of hypnotism and helps those engaged in worship (and we were strongly encouraged to give over selves over totally to “God” during this portion of the service) empty their minds.

If you have ever attended a Benny Hinn non-miracle crusade you will see Mr. Hinn and his musicians utilize the same technique to get the people to swallow-and-follow whatever he is teaching. In our church, the dimmed lights, the repetitive chanting of simple refrains would go on sometimes as long as an hour.

Then the lights would begin to brighten and lo-and-behold the Pastor was standing behind the pulpit and the third portion of the service began with the delivery of the message. The Cambridge Declaration also mentions that God cannot be truly worshipped when the proclamation of the Law and Gospel is neglected and is replaced with messages on self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment. In fifteen years of active charismatic ministry in various leadership roles I never once heard the term “Law and Gospel.” Although in no way could we be considered liturgical in the confessional understanding, we did have our own form of preaching through our lectionary. Our charismatic “lectionary” consisted of sermons on: the nine sign-gifts of the Holy Spirit; financial prosperity; divine healing, submission to authority; the anointing; revival; the office of the restored prophet and apostle, etc. (4)

The fourth section of the church service was the alter call. This is here the pastor or visiting guest speaker do all they can to cajole the attendee to make a decision to receive Christ. During this phase of the service in our church we had four specific aspects which were usually mentioned: 1) salvation 2) rededication, i.e. backsliders to repent and renew their commitment to the Lord; 3) divine healing, where hands were laid on folks who usually got slain in the spirit at this point of the service; 4) baptism in/with the Holy Spirit, a second work of grace by which the individual was instructed on his or her need to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit and the proof they had in fact received the Spirit was that they would speak with other tongues. (5)

The reason I take time to go through these four aspects common to most charismatic congregations is that “worship” is seen as only one part of what is done, it is a specific moment in the service itself. We did not have the understanding that fro start to finish the entire service was to be an act of worship. Nor did everything we did point to Jesus Christ and His work alone on our behalf. A great deal of what was done and is currently being done in congregations such as these can genuinely be considered as man-centered entertainment and not done for the glory of God alone.

The preacher may be exalted after the service (as he is led away by his armor bearers) “oh, wasn’t pastor Jakes so anointed this evening!” The singer or musicians are often praised with uproarious hand clapping and hooting and hollering for more. People are lifted up and “glorified” but often God is alone in some back corner, only given lip service.

What Does It Mean to Give Glory To God?

Thomas Watson, a Reformed Confessional theologian made the following comments about the first question of the Westminister Short Catechism :

Q 1: What is the chief end of man?

A : Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Here are two ends of life specified.

1. The glorifying of God.      2. The enjoying of God.

1. The glorifying of God. ‘That God in all things may be glorified’ (1 Peter 4:2) The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. ‘Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31). Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is asserted, that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

When we speak of God’s glory, the question will be moved, What are we to understand by God’s glory?

There is a twofold glory: [1] The glory that God has in himself, his intrinsic glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun: he is called the ‘God of Glory’ (Acts 7:2). Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature’s honour is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God’s glory is such an essential part of his being, that he cannot be God without it. God’s very life is in his glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which he will not part with; ‘My glory I will not give to another’ (Isa. 48:11). God will give temporal blessings to his children, such as wisdom, riches, honour; he will give them spiritual blessings, he will give them grace, he will give them his love, he will give them heaven; but his essential glory he will not give to another. King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to Joseph, and a gold chain, but he would not part with his throne. ‘Only in the throne will I be greater than thou’ (Gen 41:40). So God will do much for his people; he will give them the inheritance; he will put some of Christ’s glory, as mediator, upon them; but his essential glory he will not part with; ‘in the throne he will be greater.’ [2]  The glory which is ascribed to God, or which his creatures labour to bring to him. ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name’ (1 Chron. 16:29) And, ‘Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit;’ (1 Cor. 6:20) The glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up his name in the world, and magnifying him in the eyes of others. ‘Christ shall be magnified in my body’ (Phil. 1:20).

What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection,  4.Subjection. This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.

[1]. Appreciation To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of him. ‘Thou, Lord, art most high forevermore.’ (Psa.92:8). ‘Thou art exalted far above all gods’ (Psa. 97:9) There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prma causa, the original and springhead of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God, where we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers’ (Psa. 8:3). To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.

[2]. Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship.  ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ (Psa. 29:2). There is a twofold worship: (1) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honour. ‘Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth’ (Gen. 23:7). Piety is no enemy to courtesy. (2) A divine worship which we give to God as his royal prerogative. ‘They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground’ (Neh. 8: 6). This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire (Lev. 10:1). The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, ‘according to the pattern in the mount’ (Ex. 25:40). He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here everything must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.

[3]. Affection This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved (Deut. 6:5). ’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.’ There is a twofold love: (1) Amor concupiscent, a love of concupiscence, which is self-love; as when we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God. (2) Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his tresure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is superlative; we give God the best of our love, the cream of it. ’I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate’ (Song of Solomon 8:2). If the spouse had a cup more juicy and spiced, Christ must drink of it. It is intense and ardent. True saints are seraphims, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was amore perculsa, in fainting fits, ‘sick of love’ (Song of Solomon 2:5). Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.

[4].  Subjection  This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore, they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh (Matt. 2:11). So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we stick at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy, and say to him as David to King Saul, ’Thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine’ (1 Sam. 17:32) A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but goes its circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God, has not only his affections heated with love to God, but he goes his circuit too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience. (7)

When Christians live lives of Soli Deo Gloria, they live consciously for their King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every aspect of their Sunday service is worship from the first words spoken to the benediction given. Everything points to Jesus Christ, His perfection, our imperfection, and the grace the Father has provided freely in giving us His only begotten Son.

What is more is that the early Evangelical Christians saw the entirety of their lives as mere extensions of what they participated in on Sunday. All of their life was, and rightly so, viewed as a form of worship and a way to glorify their Lord in even the most mundane aspects. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul when he exhorted:

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the mane of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col. 3:17

 

This is the practical goal of this sola as Herbert Samworth says the following:

The Reformers also taught that it was possible to live victoriously and serve God in the world. This is the meaning of soli deo gloria. God receives all the praise for one’s salvation and, out of thankfulness, one dedicates their entire life to the service of God. That service of God might consist in different types of work but was united in the Person Who was served. In contrast, the Roman Church taught that the clerical life was the only life that truly could please God. Thus one had to withdraw from the world in order to live for God. The Reformers, while stressing that salvation was entirely of God, were equally determined to show that one honored God by living for Him. (8)

God is to be given the glory in all we do and say, for it is in Him that we live and move and have our being (see Acts 17:28). Sadly, this is not the case in the vast majority of the most well know charismatic “ministers.” The question which needs to be asked at the end of any spiritual endeavor is, who was glorified? Man or God (it will always be one or the other)? Here is an account given by Oral Roberts:

“Brother Roberts told his two visitors, “I want you men to know that my vow to God is to touch neither the gold nor the glory. I am sure God will meet the needs of my forthcoming ministry in an honorable way. And all the funds will be handled in the highest manner. (9)

That sounds humble, and possibly Mr. Oral Roberts even meant it when he said it. However, history has proven that he has broken his vows to God regarding touching the “gold and the glory.” To begin with Mr. Roberts is a multimillionaire. He and his remaining son, Richard (his other son committed suicide and his daughter died in a plane crash) own multiple homes and Oral sits on the boards of may prominent businesses in Tulsa, not to mention all the property his “ministry” owns.   Secondly, regarding the glory it seems that whenever a minister does anything to take the focus off of God and places people’s minds and hearts on himself, he has attempted to take God’s glory to some degree. EVERYTHING Roberts has created bears his name! Allow me to cite a few examples; “The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” then later we had “Oral Roberts University,” and even “Oral Roberts Publishing.” His pictures and more than a few statues adorn the campus bearing his name. Isn’t this touching the glory a bit?

Frankly, any ministry which is named after its founder garners more than a little scrutiny from me. Such as Benny Hinn Ministries and Benny Hinn Media Ministries; Kenneth Copland Ministries; John Hagee Ministries; Marilyn Hickey Ministries; Joyce Meyer Ministries; T.D. Jakes Ministries Inc.; Jesse Duplantis Ministries; Jerry Servalle Ministries International; Creflo Dollar Ministries; Jimmy Swaggat Ministries; Peter Popoff Ministries; Leroy Jenkins Evangelistic Association. This list could go on for pages. Note that each of the ministries (or sinistries as a brother as called them) point directly to themselves. None of them have biblical names or even names which simply designate who or what they are about! What is more if you get their magazines (which I highly recommend) you will see their pictures on every other page. It is possible to get some literature that may mention the name of Jesus once or twice, but the founder’s name forty or fifty times.

Mr. Hinn is a classic case study in being a psychopath and fraud. It is no mistake that Mr. Hinn has instructed his mass choirs (my wife and I have been a part of several of them) to sing “How Great Thou Art” as Hinn ascends to the platform to begin his dog-and-pony show This is not done coincidentally, sure the song is about how great God is, but while the desperately ill and devotees are caught up in the song…there appears God’s man of faith and power the divine healer of the hour in his bright white suit & Nehru collar. Who is really receiving the glory, who is really the great one? God or Benny Hinn? Benny when pressed will confess that God is the Healer, since this is true, then why do people need to come to his miracle crusades? Well because God has chosen Benny as His conduit for miracles of healing. I urge our readers to go visit http://www.pfo.org and purchase he most recent copy of “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn.”   It is the seminal work exposing this man for exactly what he is. Also the Trinity Foundation has some outstanding videos/DVD’s exposing this fraud, visit them at http://www.thedoormagazine.com

None of the above mentioned organizations live for the glory of God and His glory alone. They exist to enlarge their sphere of spiritual influence by any means necessary. The messages they preach are devoid of any mention of Law or Gospel What is a shame is that millions of people are being led astray by these biblically illiterate preachers, who in some cases are outright charlatans, teaching their followers to live lives of selfish shallow pseudo spirituality. Well did the prophet Isaiah prophesy of such people when he said:

Wherefore the Lord said, Foreasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, [even] a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall perish, shall be hid. Isa. 29:13-14

There is a great deal of excitement in the praise and worship aspect of charismatic services and revivals. Everything from smoke machines, dancing of all forms (including a form of conga-line/Jericho march two-step), banner waving pageantry, dramatic skits, dance ministries 9with women and men in varying degrees of immodest dress at times), not to mention the use of emotional testimonies thrown into the mix. All of these elements equal “worship” and are supposedly done unto the glory of God. Yet God is far from such nonsense, as well intentioned as it might be in some cases.

The Lord through the prophet says that these people do draw near to Him with their mouths, they even say the right words, i.e. got the “God-talk” down to a science. Yet for all their religiosity they fail and miserably so. Why?  Their hearts are far from God.  The Hebrew word for “far” (rachag) to become far or to become distant.   This heart distance fro the Lord was not an overnight experience, but a process begun in their lives by following the doctrines (precepts) of men versus adhering faithfully to the Word of God.

What is the Lord’s response to those who act religiously, but are in reality far from Him? He says that He will proceed to do a marvelous work a true “wonder” (those in the sign &wonders movement have received one from the Lord’s hand and do not even know it) among these apostates. The wisdom of their wise men (teachers) shall perish (ahad) has a very strong Hebraic meaning including: to be destroyed, to vanish, to be exterminated. The understanding (hiynah) which is defined as understanding or discernment of their leaders shall be hidden from them!

Some may wish to argue that the context of the text is referring to Israel, which is correct; however, it can be legitimately applied to those in the Church because our Lord applied to the religious leaders of His day and He is the Head of the Church today (see Col. 1:18)  so it can be applied to erring leaders in our time. If you want to see a great example of what I have been writing about then all you have to do is get on-line and watch and listen to a Bonnie & Mehesh Chavda service about “ushering in the glory” at http://www.maheshchavda.com/video/ushering_in_the_glory-april_2004.asp

See Video here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKHaRYeJdBU     (It could disappear at anytime, like the TBN clip recently did, so see it while you can! )

Make no mistake as was stated earlier in the article by Watson that God will never share His glory with us. Yet so many conferences, books and tapes are produced about how we can tap into the glory of God versus teaching the flock how to live lives that bring glory to our Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria  must become the heart motivation of God’s people once again. There needs to be a genuine revival within the Church where God’s people again become humbled by the fact that all we are and all we have are because—of grace alone, by faith alone, in the work of Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone and thus to God alone belongs all the glory…which we dare not even attempt to touch or usurp. Selah.   ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Strawbridge, Gregg, Ph.D This statement came from a document was originally written for the 1993 Reformation Celebration at Audubon Drive Bible church in Laurel, Ms, as part of a worship service and can be found at http://www.fivesolas.com/5solas.htm. Underlining added for emphasis

2. You may read the entire Cambridge Declaration on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals located at http://www.christianity.com/ace.

3. Our former congregation, Jubilee Christian Church, was known as a warfare church because of our praise and worship which was consciously used as a tool of spiritual warfare against the principalities and powers over our city. We based this practice on Ps. 149:6-9 [let] the high [praise] of God [be] in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; Ps. 149:7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, [and] punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written; this honor have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD

4. These messages would comprise a year’s worth of teaching. The list may vary a bit depending on what flavor of charismatic church you attend. Our church was a syncretism of Word of Faith doctrines and newer prophetic/apostolic restored teaching. Some church’s would have regular series of spiritual warfare, demons and deliverance, sign and wonders, etc.

5. DMI offers a book entitled: “Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

6. My wife, Tracy, and I operated the prayer room for people seeking the baptism. We laid hands on approximately 1,000 people the vast majority of whom left muttering some form of gibberish which made them and us feel very good. When someone would fail to begin to speak ecstatically we then went into encouragement mode and told them they might begin to speak when they were alone in prayer or we’d be glad to minister to them again next Sunday.

7. Watson, Thomas, Westminister Shorter Catechism. Obtained from http://www.bpc.org/resouces/watson/wsc_wa_001.html Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

8. Samworth, Herbert. What Was the Reformation? Obtained from http://www.solagroup.org/articles/faqs/faq_0034.html.

9. Roberts, Oral My Story. Tulsa, OK Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, 1961 p. 73

10. I recommend people get their free materials, get on their mailing list because you will begin to build an original source collection of teachings, failed prophecies and a huge collection of “Spirit” empowered fetish objects, aka “point-of-contact” items. Plus you will become well versed in their lingo and fundraising techniques.

11. BibleWorks ver 4.0.03 p. For Windows, 1998 BibleWorks, LLC Software Hebrew cited from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

12. For those who love the word of god and want to understand its proper place in our lives DMI is offering a CD entitled “Sola Scriptura” delivered by Rev. Liichow on 01-02-2005 (its different from the article).

13. Ibid

14. ibid 





Sola Scriptura

17 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – December 2004 – Sola Scriptura – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The Cambridge Declaration

THESIS ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURAscantri20040001

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

The above statement is a good reaffirmation of what was originally voiced by Dr. Martin Luther when he, as a Roman Catholic monk, stood before the governing authorities of the Church. The following is a brief summation of that encounter:

Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church and father of the Protestant reformation, was publicly rebuking the Catholic Church for its unbiblical teachings. The Catholic Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication (and death) if he did not recant. Martin Luther’s reply was “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning – unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, – and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!” (1)

What Luther and the reformers who followed his lead were saying was that Holy Scripture alone was the only true and infallible guide for all Christian’s faith and practice. Furthermore, that any traditions within the Church had to have their basis within the context of the Scriptures. Traditions are valid only when they are based on Scripture and are in full agreement with Scripture. Tradition that are in contradiction with the Bible are not of God and are not a valid aspect of the Christian faith. (2)

The Reformation was at its core a fight to get back to the Bible and discard a plethora of manmade doctrines and traditions which had been increasing over the years in the Church. At this point it is helpful to begin by defining our terms so that we understand how the following term “doctrine” is being used.

The word “doctrine” in the Greek is: {did-akh-ay’} Meaning 1) teaching 1a) that which is taught 1b) doctrine, teaching, concerning something 2) the act of teaching instruction 2a) in religious assemblies of the Christians, to speak in the way of teaching, in distinction from other modes of speaking in public. (3)

Doctrine simply means “teaching.”  The question before us is what is the source of the teaching we are adhering to? It is important for us to always remember that according to the Bible there are only three sources of doctrine impacting our lives at any time. Hopefully we are building our lives on the doctrine of God.

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,   Hebrew 6:1

Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Titus 2:10

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9

The Bible speaks much of the doctrine of God and of Christ (who is God) and this doctrine is found only within the pages of the Bible, it is not found outside of the Scriptures themselves. As Christians we have no other authoritative source that we can point to and say “this is the Word of the Lord.” The Bible also speaks of the doctrine of men. In the following citation we read of our Lord rebuking the religious leaders of His day:

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to [his] father or [his] mother, [it is] a gift, by whatsoever ever thou mightiest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, [he shall be free]. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:4-9

Manmade religious tradition will always supersede the authority of God’s commandments, it is simply part of our fallen nature to attempt to exalt ourselves above God. Manmade teachings and practices may seem religious and appear to promote the worship of God but this is simply not the case. Jesus reminds the religious leaders and the crowd surrounding him of what the prophet Isaiah said regarding people who attempt to draw near to God with their mouths and endeavor to honor God with their lips, yet their hearts are far from Him! The Apostle Paul addressed the same issue of the danger of false manmade doctrine in his letter to the Church at Colosse:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ… Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Colossians 2:8, 20-22

From the inception of the Church, various false teachers, false prophets and false apostles have tried to supplant the authority of Scripture by adding their own teachings and practices in an attempt to gain power over the spiritual lives of God’s people and to destroy the foundational doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

There is yet one more source of doctrine, which must also be considered and that is the doctrines of devils. This one in particular is often the source of the false doctrines of men:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1 Timothy 4:1-6

Expressly is used only once in the entire New Testament and here we read of the Holy Spirit stating unequivocally that in the latter times some people shall depart or fall away from the true faith in Christ and His work alone. What causes this apostasy? These individuals give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, that word can also be translated as demons.

How do demons teach? Obviously they speak through people who are open to them.  The examples that Paul cites specifically are doctrines of devils. The first one is the doctrine which forbids marriage. To this day the Roman Catholic Church forbids both its priests and nuns to enter into marriage. The Shaker cult forbade their members to marry and demanded people get divorced who joined their ranks. Other sundry cults and sects have also forbidden marriage among its members. The Bible clearly denotes this as a doctrine of devils. The other area Paul cites concerns dietary regulations. For many years the Roman Catholic Church forbid people to eat meat on Friday (I am not sure if this practice is still being enforced). Many other groups demand strict vegetarianism and some “Hebrew” roots cults demand strict dietary adherence. Obviously, Hasidic and Orthodox Jews still keep the Old Covenant dietary laws too. Any group that demands that their members abstain from eating anything that God has created to be enjoyed is promulgating a doctrine of devils.

The sign of a “good minister” is one who puts his portion of Christ’s flock in remembrance of what the Bible has taught, nourishing or feeding the flock in the words of faith and good doctrine. In verse 13 Paul exhorts Timothy to give himself over to reading, to exhortation and doctrine. Verse 16 he warns this young Pastor to “take heed” of his spiritual well being, the doctrine entrusted to him and to continue in them! I like Robertson’s commentary on this verse:  1 Tim 4:16(6)

Thus we see that according to the Scriptures there are three sources of teaching; God; man; and devils. The realization that Luther came to was that much of what was being presented as the doctrine of God was in fact nothing more than the commandments of men and doctrines of devils. He came to decry the fact that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had elevated its own traditions to a position of either equaling the authority of the Bible or even superseding it. The next quote is from a Roman Catholic web site giving their view of Martin Luther:

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) is to be given the credit for inventing the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Bible Only or Bible Sufficiency). He had separated himself from the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, and thereby so doing lost all authority regarding Church matters. He then turned to the Bible, a book as the sole source of authority. Can a book ever be a sole source of authority?

The above Roman Catholic apologist considers Sola Scriptura a false doctrine and that Luther had the audacity to turn from the traditional authority of the Pope and Roman Catholic traditions and look to the confines of the bible, “a book” the author says, “as the sole source of authority.”  (7)

This article is not about Martin Luther nor is it a polemic against Roman Catholicism (RC) as a religion. What is important to notice is that even to this day RC upholds its traditions as equal in authority with the bible and when the Bible and tradition do not agree it seems that manmade doctrines and those of demons prevail. Let me cite just a few extra-biblical traditions concerning the Virgin Mary within the R.C.C. These are taken directly from their own catechism in use today.

The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue and merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (CCC491) (8)

 The Bible never teaches any such thing! Mary was chosen by God to be His vessel through whom our Lord was born, but she too was born in sin and shaped in iniquity (see Psl. 51:5).  She needed to have her sins washed away by the blood of Christ just as all who would be saved. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (CCC493) (9)

No, Mary was a sinner as we all are. If she did not, then the Apostle John is a liar when he says in 1 john 1:10  “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” They teach at the time of her death Mary was taken spiritually and physically into heaven:

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven… (CCC974) (10)

There is nothing scripturally to base this claim upon. The Bible speaks of Enoch being taken up and Elijah riding off to heaven in a chariot of fire but no mention is made concerning much at all about the life or death of Mary after the resurrection of Jesus.

…the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix (CCC969) (11)

Mary is prayed to which contradicts the plain teaching of the bible when we are told by the Apostle Paul to Timothy in his first letter to him:

For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:5,6

In fact, within the R.C.C. there is a strong movement afoot to see to it that Mary is elevated to an even higher status, to that of being the Co-redemptrix:

The Blessed Virgin Mary is to be called Queen not only on account of her divine motherhood but also because by the will of God she had a great part in the work of our salvation…..In this work of redemption the blessed Virgin Mary was closely associated with her Christ…Just as Christ, because he redeemed us, is by a special title our King and Lord, so too is Blessed Mary, our Queen and our Mistress, because of the unique way in which she co-operated in our redemption. She provided her very substance for his body, she offered him willingly for us, and she took a unique part in our salvation by desiring it, praying for it, and so obtaining it…–Ad Coeli Reginam. (12)

The entire cult of Mary within the R.C.C. is an abomination and a blasphemy. These are not minor issues that we can agree to disagree about. Teaching that Mary played a vital role in our redemption is teaching a doctrine of devils; one which reduces the centrality of Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God who alone bore the sin of the world.

These are only some examples of non-biblical traditions that the R.C.C. practices, such as the infallibility of the Pope when he makes declarations from “Peters” seat in the Vatican. Or the belief in purgatory where the partially saved sinner goes to have the rest of their sins purged away by fire. Not the mention the practice of indulgences which are still being given.

It is easy to understand why the R.C.C. took such a violent stance against Luther and all those reformers who followed him. The R.C.C. knew that if the Bible ever got into the hands of the “common man” in a language they could read and understand that the R.C.C. would lose the stranglehold it had on the souls of millions of people.

The printing of the Bible by Guttenberg in German and Luther pointing people to the Bible as the only rule for faith and practice shook the very foundations of the R.C.C.

The medieval church assumed that Scripture, the church’s tradition, and scholastic theology were identical in content. Any tensions between Scripture and tradition were resolved by the use of the Quadriga, the medieval system of biblical interpretation which recognized four levels to the truth of Scripture: literal, topological, allegorical and anagogical. Great respect for the authority and content of the Scripture could thus coexist with a theology and practice quite different from the Scriptures…When the authorities refused to acknowledge the authority of the apostolic tradition in Scripture over the ecclesiastical tradition, the Reformers loyally continued to assert the apostolic tradition against those who claimed apostolic succession. (13)

In other words when the R.C.C. was faced with their own human traditions which did not agree with a plenary reading of the Scripture they created a system by which they could make the Bible agree (more or less) with their manmade doctrines. The Reformers refused to accept this and stood with Luther asserting that the Scriptures Alone, Sola Scriptura was the only authority to be submitted to when it came to faith and practice within God’s Church. One of the most succinct statements of the sufficiency of Scripture is found in the introduction of the Formula of Concord:

Thus understanding of the significance of the confession is also stated explicitly in the introduction of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord. ‘In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of Old and New Testaments and all other writings is maintained, and Holy Scripture remains the only judge, rule, and norm, according to which as the only touchstone all doctrines should and must be understood and judged as good or evil, right or wrong.” (14)

Today as Evangelicals and Protestants in reading the above statement we might respond, “So what’s the big deal? Of course, the Bible is our only guide.” After all, don’t all Evangelicals and Protestants agree with Paul’s statement to Timothy in:

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  2 Timothy 3:16

God has revealed Himself to us through His Word and He has given us the Bible as the only concrete source by which we are to measure every spiritual experience, doctrine and practice. The Word of god is an unwavering arbiter on all matters concerning the life of faith.

…the knowledge of god is not therefore at the mercy of human forgetfulness or mystical notions of spirituality. God has given Scripture and the church to connect the once-for-all act in Jesus Christ with the present act of the Holy Spirit, who is the presence and power of the risen Lord. God calls His church into being by the word of the gospel and by His presence as the Holy Spirit equips and empowers His people for His service. To His church He entrusts the Scriptures, the prophetic and apostolic witness to Jesus Christ, the bearer of His word. (15)

In 1860, Charles A. Hodge wrote an article on the value of Sola Scriptura in his book Outlines of Theology, the following comments come from the chapter heading “The Rule of Faith & Practice.” this chapter is written in somewhat of a catechism format with a question stated and then answered. The following citation is from question six and fifteen:

6. What argument do the Scriptures themselves afford in favor of the doctrine that they are the only infallible rule of faith?

1st. The Scriptures always speak in the name of God, and command faith and obedience.

2nd Christ and his apostles always refer to the written Scriptures, then existing, as authority, and to no other rule of faith whatsoever. (Luke 16:29; 10:26; John 5:39; Rom. 4:3; 2Tim 3:15).

3rd The Bereans are commended for bringing all questions, even apostolic teaching, to this test. (Acts 17:11; see also Isa. 8:16).

4th. Christ rebukes the Pharisees for adding to and perverting the Scriptures  (Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:5-8; see also Rev. 22:18, 19, and Deut. 4:2; 12:32 Josh 1:7.

15. What is meant by saying that the Scriptures are the Judge as well as the rule in questions of faith?

‘A rule is a standard of Judgment; a judge is the expounder and applier of that rule to the decision of particular cases,’ The Protestant doctrine is –

1st That the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

2nd  (1) Negatively. That there is no body of men who are either qualified, or authorized, to interpret the Scriptures, or apply their principles to the decision of particular questions, in a sense binding upon the faith of their fellow Christians.

(2) Positively. That Scripture is the only infallible voice in the church, and is to be interpreted, in its own light, and with the gracious help of the Holy Ghost, who is promised to every Christian (1 John 2:20-27), by each individual himself; with the assistance, though not by the authority, of his fellow Christians. Creeds and confessions, as a form, bind only those who voluntarily profess them, and as to matter, they bid only so far as they affirm truly what the Bible teaches, and because the Bible does so teach. (16)

The battle regarding trusting in the sole authority of the scriptures has been going on ever since God’s Word was written down as an eternal record of His truth. This explains the stern warning given in the Bible concerning tampering with its contents:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD.”  Deut. 4:2

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deut. 12:32

Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Prov. 30:5-6

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book. Rev. 22:18,19

Not only is the R.C.C. (and some mainline Protestant denomination) guilty of violating the above texts so is every “Bible-based” cult. Many within the charismatic movement directly violate the above Scriptures also. I have already mentioned several examples in the R.C.C. so I will briefly mention some examples in a few of the cult groups.

The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit, aka the “Moonies” have supplanted the bible with Mr. Moon’s revelation called “The Divine Principle.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka The Mormons, although using the Bible, their main focus of faith and practice is found in “The Book of Mormon,” “The Pearl of Great Price” and “Doctrines and Covenants.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own perversion of the Bible called “The New World Translation” which has been highly redacted to support their ungodly beliefs. The Children of God (now called the Family of Love) uses the “Mo Letters” as their guide. The Church of Christ Science, aka Christian Science, uses Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures.” The Christadelphians use “Key to Understanding the Bible.” All of these cults use the Bible but in reality have placed it below the interpretation and/or further revelations of the founders of the cult. The Bible is in no way the sole authority in any of these cult members lives.

I mentioned some mainline Protestant denominations. As many of our readers know there has been an ongoing battle over the use of “inclusive” language in newer translations of the Bible. This inclusive language is nothing less than deleting certain words and phrases from the original manuscript evidence the church has in its possession. Not only are these apostates subtracting words from the original Greek and Hebrew text, they are adding their own words to these newer paraphrases of what cannot really be considered the Word of God. The United

Methodist Church is one such mainline historic Protestant denominations who seek to be more politically correct and culturally relevant will also join the chorus of those whose fidelity is not to God but to the approval of fallen humanity. This “new” translation of the Bible is called “Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and is being published by the International Bible Society and is a revision of the NIV.

The 26 scholars’ statement was released Feb. 1. Meanwhile, a list of more than 100 “inaccuracies” in the TNIV was compiled by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a daylong review of the TNIV Jan. 31. A 25-page document listing the translation objections is posted at the organization’s Internet site, www.cbmw.org   (17)

The scholars (18) who examined this latest perversion of God’s Word were no spiritual lightweights nor were they supporters of the “King James Only” debate. Sola Scriptura implies having an accurate translation of the Scripture to begin with! This changing of God’s Word is very dangerous because it will mislead some people into thinking they are standing by the principle of Sola Scriptura, when it is not God’s Word, but man’s they are standing upon. The result will be disastrous for these peoples spiritual lives because they will discover that they have built their spiritual house upon sand and not the true rock of Jesus Christ, the Living Word (see Matthew 7:24-27).

Earlier I mentioned just a few examples of R.C. traditions and doctrines which have taken away from the rightful authority of God’s Word, but within the Protestant Church there are many traditions and practices that also do not bow their knee to God’s Word as final arbiter either.

I will cite just a few that I am personally knowledgeable with the fast growing and pervasive sign-gift movement.

Although Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations pay lip service to adhering to Sola Scriptura in reality they do not. For example, virtually every Pentecostal and Charismatic Church teaches as dogma the experience of being slain in the spirit. (20) There is neither contextual biblical support for this teaching nor any valid biblical example for the experience. This teaching and practice is completely manmade. The same can be said of their definitions for the gift of the word of Knowledge and the gift of the word of wisdom (see 1 Cor. 12:8). The Bible never explains what these gifts were or how they manifested themselves in the life of the early church. The definition for these two gifts were restored to the Church by a man named Howard Carter, a Pentecostal evangelist who claimed God revealed them to him while he was in prison! (21) Mr. Carter also claimed to possess all nine of the sign-gifts. His definitions have become the accepted Pentecostal definitions from the sign-gifts. Over a million professing Christians flew into Toronto to receive the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit in the form of holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, prophetic animal sounds and movements. (22) These so-called manifestations of the Holy Spirit spread rapidly around the world and are generally accepted as being valid demonstrations of God’s power in the midst of His people, Even though there is not one shred of biblical support for any of these spiritual enthusiasms.

When I have confronted those who endorse these practices and ask them to show me in the Bible where they can be found their only response is—”Well, brother you know what the Bible teaches don’t you? And they proceed to cite the following text as support:

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   scanbook0001

There answer is that what is occurring now in their revivals (I also failed to mention the alleged manifestations of gold teeth, gold dust, angel feathers and jewels  being manifested in revival services) are simply part of what Jesus did in His earthly ministry but are not recorded in the biblical text. That response is extremely troubling because if one takes that approach to the Bible then you can allow anything to take place and point to John 21:25 as ones biblical support.

This type of response impugns the sufficiency of Scripture. To hold to such a position is to say that God left out things (such as these manifestations) which are needful for Christian growth and a closer more dynamic fellowship with God.

The secondary response given is “look at the good fruit being brought forth in the individuals lives.” Having been totally enmeshed in charismatic extremism for many years I can honestly say that I have yet to see any benefits from these practices in individuals’ lives or that of congregations that have embraced such practices. In fact, I’ve noted quite the opposite in those participating in practices not endorsed by God’s Word. Our ministry produced a book entitled “Fruit Proof,” which is over 100 pages long and consists of eyewitness accounts given by Pentecostal and sign-gift believers who went to revival services to get the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit and instead left oppressed and disheartened. Many congregations have literally been split and the sheep scattered when the local church leaders brought in these new gifts, which turned out to be curses. Good fruit is at best subjective. The Moonie, Mormon or Mohammedan can point to members in their groups whose lives have been transformed by their embracing of the cult or false religions demands.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust 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 3:13,14.

Paul reminds this young pastor to stick to the scriptures which can make one wise unto salvation which is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. He declares that all scripture is given by God and is profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction and (4) instruction in righteousness. That by the faithful proclamation of the Bible those who hear and obey will grow spiritually and be equipped for good works. Then he solemnly charges Timothy before God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to “preach the word.”  I believe Paul is warning this pastor not to get caught up in the latest fad or gables. (he warned Timothy earlier of this in 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; and then again in 2 Tim. 4:4). Why? Because Paul knew by the Spirit that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine. Robertson says the following about this text:

2 Ti 4:3 – A time when . One of the (out of season) times. Will not endure ( ). Future middle direct) of ( ). “Will not hold themselves back from” (Col. 3:13). Having itching ears ( ). Present middle (causative) participle of ( ), late and rare form of the Attic ( ) to scratch, to tickle, here only in N.T. “Getting the ears (the hearing, ticked.” The Vulgate: has . Cf. the Athenians (Ac 17:21). Clement of Alexandria tells of speakers tickling the ears of those who want to be tickled. This is the temptation of the merely “popular” preacher, to furnish the latest tickle. (23)

These words of the bible fit so many of today’s Christians. They run from conference to conference, from fad to fad. As a former charismatic extremist I saw this firsthand and was guilty of it too. People went from Toronto to Pensacola seeking the new wind of the Spirit. After that they became “God Chasers” (24) from there they tried implementing the “Prayer of Jabez.” Once Jebez’s prayer grew stale the herd moved onto trying out “Cat and Dog Theology” (I kid you not) and after that failed to satisfy their itch they are now becoming “Purpose Driven”. (25)

The largest church in America is the Lakewood Church in Dallas led by Joel Osteen (you might remember him from a couple of issues ago). Joel stated in the article in Charisma magazine that people are not interested in theology…the knowledge of God. Thirty thousand people with itching ears and a “pastor” who can’t wait to scratch them.

Not only does the Apostle Paul warn the Church about the danger of being carried away from the sure anchor of our souls, the Word of God, the Apostle Peter also warns us:

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves sift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingered not, and their damnation slumbered not. 2 Peter 2:1-3

Teachers abound on both radio and television proclaiming damnable heresies and due to the biblical illiteracy of believers in the Church “many” follow their heretical teachings. Due to the heretics and those who follow them true orthodox Christianity will be (and is) spoken evil of by those outside the faith. All one must do is look back to the scandals of the 1980’s when the PTL scandal was revealed and Jim Bakker was shown to be immoral, then came revelations about Mr. Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, Larry Lea, Jimmy Swaggart and W.V. Grant. Now recently we learned that Paul Cain is a homosexual and alcoholic and that Paul Crouch, President of TBN, may also have been engaged in homosexual activity. The various healing frauds, often lead to the death of their followers. They have perpetrated false promises on God’s gullible sheep. Over the years, people like Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, A.A. Allen, Hobart Freeman, Jack Coe, William Branham and of course, Mr. Benny Hinn have peddled false hopes and produced no documented miracles.  All of these people have literally made merchandise out of the people of God and over the years bilking them out of over a billion dollars!

Some may say that I have set up a straw-man argument by citing the more notorious peddlers of God’s Word, but this is not the case. All of the above mentioned individual are (or were) leaders within Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal. These people are the “giants’ of this brand of belief and trust me when I say the fruit does not fall from the tree regarding these leaders.

How and why is this occurring today?   The answer is very simple; people have departed from looking to and relying upon the Scriptures alone. The Bible is no longer enough to satisfy their souls. Multitudes want to experience something mystical; they want to receive an impartation of power; they want a personal word from “God” through one of the multitudes of restored prophets and prophetesses. The simple exposition of Scriptures is not enough for this generation which Jesus referred to in His own day (and applies to ours):

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: Matthew 12:39

In the latest issue of the Issues Etc. Journal, Pastor Todd Wilkins authored an article entitled “The Fad Driven Church” in which he gave the following example of a pastor being purposed driven versus biblically led:

Mark Jones has been a pastor at Metropolitan Family Fellowship in Ventura since 2004. ’I feel a little betrayed. I mean, I’ve pretty much based my entire ministry on Warren and Hybel’s stuff, I don’t know what I’m going to do now. And I can’t imagine what I’m going to tell my congregation. It’s not like my congregation is going to put up with just interpreting Scripture every Sunday. That’ll hold their interest for about two seconds. (26)

Many pastors have departed from teaching biblical messages and are relying instead on whatever the latest church growth guru is peddling. Whenever anyone teaches or believes things which are not scripturally sound, i.e. doctrines based upon the context of the scripture they are headed for deceptions. Several very popular preachers have based their ministries outside of the godly confines of the Bible. These people are claiming to have been taken to heaven and/or hell. The Bible warns us of such people:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind, {beguile…: Col. 2:18

Mary K. Baxter initially wrote The Divine Revelation of Hell in which she says that Jesus took her on a personal tour of hell for 40 days. That book sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is now in several languages. People bought into her folly to such a degree Mrs. Baxter went on to pen The Divine Revelation of Heaven and most recently The Divine Revelation of Glory. These books are filled not only with outright lies but they contradict the Bible numerous times. Yet because of her alleged vision and experience she has gained an international following and is seen by many as an expert of the heavenly and hellish realms.

Jessie Duplantis wrote Heaven, Close Encounters of the god Kind, another international best selling book, available in 99% of the Christian bookstores. In his book Jessie denies he complete atoning work of the cross (we have to do some additional works when we get to heaven in order to perfect ourselves). He denies the sufficiency of Scripture and denies its infallibility not to mention teaching pre-incarnation human souls, heaven as a literal planet and a whole host of error and even blasphemy. Yet Mr. Duplantis is a regular teacher on TBN and travels world ide sharing his vision and other Word of Faith heresies.

These are just two examples of people who’ve based much of their ministry on their alleged encounters in the unseen realm; I could cite a dozen more people. My point is simply to demonstrate what occurs when people place their faith in anything or anyone, no matter how persuasive they may be, outside of the Bible.

God’s Word and His Word alone is our only guide for faith and practice. Any dream, vision, doctrine, manifestation or practice must be validated ithin the context of the Bible. If it fails this test than such matters must be avoided, those teaching/practicing them warned and if they persist in them, then it must be taken to the Church and God’s people made aware of the leaven in their midst. ♦

“IT IS WRITTEN”

Sola Scriptura,  Scripture Alone

scansolascroll0001

Copyright © 2004   Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. You can read the entire Cambridge Declaration written on April 20, 1996 by visiting the following web site http://www.reformed.org/documents/cambridge.html

2. Obtained from http://www.gotquestions.org/sola-scriptura.html December 3, 2004 Bold type and underlining added for emphasis

3. White, James R. Scripture Alone Bethany House Publishers 2004

4. Reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p 1999 software

5. Liichow, Robert Blessing or Judgment goes into great detail examining the charismatic Shaker cult and is an excellent resource for any Christian to have who is interested in knowing the origin of today’s revival manifestations.

6. Robertson’s word picture reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p. 1999 software

7. Stanley, Bob, May 1, 1999. Obtained from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/sorigin.htm on December 1, 2004

8. Obtained from http://www.reachouttrust.org/article/world/catholic.htm Underlining added for emphasis

9. Ibid. 10. Ibid 11. Ibid

12. Pope Pius XII, Ad Coeli Reginam Underlining added for emphasis.

13. Uanbeck, Warren A. Marburg Revised, A Reexamination of Lutheran and Reformed Tradition. Augsburg Publishing Home, 1966, pg. 16 Underlining added for emphasis

14. Ibid p. 17 Underlining added for emphasis.

15. Ibid p. 19

16. A.A. Hodge Outlines of Theology. Electronic edition obtained from http://www.homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/aahsolascrp.htm

Underlining added for emphasis

17. Obtained from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=12653 on 12/13/04

18. The 26 scholars who have stated their refusal to endorse the TNIV include two Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents. R. Albert Mohler. Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Semiary and Paige Patterson of South-eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, along with Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz, and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Harold O.J. Brown of Reformed Theological Seminary; R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries; John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and Raymond C. Orlund Jr. of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga.

19. I prefer to use the term “sign-gift movement” versus the more common phrase “charismatic movement,” when referring to the larger group because all of God’s people are charismatic in that we have all been gifted by the Holy Spirit with differing gifts.

20. DMI offers the only book in print (to our knowledge) that deals exclusively with this and the other practices cited in this article. These books can be purchased from our web site.

21. Truth Matters has dealt with Mr. Carter in past issues. To learn more about this man you can purchase his book entitled “Questions and Answers on Spiritual Gifts

22. These are all historically detailed and biblically refuted in our two books: The two Roots of Today’s Revival” and “Blessing or Judgment.”

23. Robertson’s Word Pictures reference obtained from Bibleworks for windows, release ver. 1999 software.

24. Tommy Tenney wrote the “God Chasers” which became a small industry with follow-up books, tapes, tee-shirts, devotional guides, etc. Few Christians seemed to mind that Tenney is a Oneness Pentecostal who denies the Trinity, believes in salvation through water Baptism in Jesus name only. He can be seen on a regular basis on TBN.

25. Rick Warren has written several books around the theme of being “purpose driven” and these books have also spawned an industry around them. Many struggling churches think using his curriculum will be their salvation and result in a population explosion.

26. Wilkins, Todd Issues, Etc. Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, 2004, p. 4 underlining added for emphasis.