The Discipline of Fasting

29 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – The Discipline of Fasting – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Fasting

By Robert S. Liichow

A few months ago I began a short series concerning the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life and I take up that “baton” again this month and most likely next month as well. By way of a reminder it is important to keep in mind that all of the spiritual disciplines are meant to be tools for transformation in our fellowship with our Lord. These disciplines have been used by God’s people in both the Old and the New Testament and they are all plainly seen in the Scriptures. It is very important for me to stress that these disciplines are not “laws” or “promises” or a means to make God do something for us. Biblical mediation, daily prayer, service to others, Bible study and fasting are simply ways in which we can draw closer to the One who loves us the most and through our communion with the Lord, hopefully we will reflect His light back to those around us.

In the past, as a charismatic extremist we were taught a great deal about fasting and we used to fast for considerable periods of time. Sadly most of our efforts were unrewarded. Even though we were involved in an activity which is deeply rooted in the Scripture, our motives for fasting were incorrect and the goals we were seeking were not those that our Lord would have had us seek after. Most books on the subject of fasting deal with fasting as a means to gain spiritual power (aka an increased anointing) or as a means to seek the other 8 sign-gifts the Apostle Paul mentioned in First Corinthians 12. (1) Let me cite a few book title on the topic of fasting from the charismatic camp:

Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting; Franklin Hall (2)

Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting by Derek Prince

Commonsense Guide to Fasting by Kenneth E. Hagin

Destroying the Works of Witchcraft Through Fasting; Ruth Brown

The Miracle Results of Fasting  Dave Williams

The Power of Prayer and Fasting (10 Secrets of Spiritual Strength). Ronnie Floyd

Keys to God’s Grace: The Hidden Joy of Prayer, Fasting, and Almgiving (Practical Christian Living), Word Among Us Press

God’s Chosen Fast, Authur Wallis

Prayer and Fasting: The Master Key to the Impossible. Gordon Lindsey

Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, Elmer L. Towns

The charismatic movement has long attached claims of everything from divine revelations, supernatural powers, strategic level spiritual warfare to every changing the course of history through the discipline of fasting and yet none of these claims can be supported biblically.

Since fasting concerns food, it behooves us to begin our consideration of this often neglected spiritual discipline by looking at how God considers food itself. Let me share four aspects of food that we usually don’t consciously think about when we sit down to “nosh.”

Enjoyment — The variety of tastes found in creation is not an accident. God gave us such a wide variety of food and a highly developed taste system, so that man would find pleasure in eating. Sometimes Christians, especially when we have been raised in more legalistic churches, have a hard time believing that we are allowed to enjoy anything! Food is meant to be a source of joy (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25; 5:18). And so are a lot of other things in God’s creation. We are allowed to enjoy our food.

Sustenance— Even in the garden of Eden, Adam needed food to sustain his life and give him energy to do the tasks God had assigned him (sorry Word of Faith supporters, Adam was not a “god”). Plants were given to Adam and Eve for this purpose; Genesis 1:30. Later on (after the flood) man was allowed to eat the flesh of animals for the same purpose: Genesis 9:3. Both plants and animals are God’s provision for our nourishment. I might add, that there is nothing spiritual in the Christian sense about being a vegetarian.

Fellowship –Genesis 18:1-8 gives us one of the first examples of fellowship and food. All through the Old Testament the people of God came together for fellowship over food. God made food for fellowship. He even commanded that some of the sacrifices offered to Him at the temple were to be shared with others. These were communal meals –meals in which the whole community sat down and ate together (see Deuteronomy 12:6,7,18) Families still find a resource of love, fellowship, discussion, and understanding when they come together to eat.

Worship– Food also is a source of worship. We should be very conscious of the fact that food is a gift from God (Matthew 6:11 & 1 Timothy 4:3b-4). In fact, Paul says that every bit of food “should be received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:3). Hence, every meal becomes an occasion for thanksgiving. When we put food to our mouths at the beginning of the meal (Acts 27:35) and when we sit back in our chair with satisfaction (Deuteronomy 8:10), our natural reaction should be a God-ward gratitude. According to the Bible one of the aspects of food was that it was created to be a reason for thanksgiving and worship.

As you can see, food has a central place in our daily existence. The fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “give us this day our daily bread,” and we are told of an upcoming wedding feast that all believers will participate in according to Rev. 19:9. Today cook books abound in every bookstore. There are not just cooking programs but now entire channels devoted to cooking. I remember one Pentecostal pastor preaching about how growing up due to all the legalism folks could not do anything…but eat, which probably explains why many of us (myself included) are overweight today. Hold this thought as we look at what fasting is not!

What Fasting Is Not!

First, Biblical fasting is not mere abstinence from eating. Certainly one forgoes eating food during a fast, but if that is all one does then one has not truly fasted.

Secondly, fasting is not a physical or psychological discipline; it is a spiritual discipline that does engage both mind and body.

Thirdly, fasting is not dieting. I am not denying that Fasting can have a physical and possibly some psychological benefits, but that is not the purpose behind why believers fast.

Fourth, God never encouraged fasting for solely discipline or self-denial reasons. Some of the monks and spiritual hermits used fasting in this manner, some people within the church still misuse fasting this way. However, that is not a Biblical reason for fasting. God has a higher purpose in mind for fasting.

Fifth, fasting is not a manipulative tool –Sometimes fasting is viewed as an attempt to twist God’s arm or to win His approval. But God doesn’t respond to pressure. An example: “In the morning some of the Jews made a plan to kill Paul, and they took an oath to not eat or drink anything until they had killed him. They went to the leading priests and the older-Jewish leaders and said, ”We have taken an oath not to eat or drink until we have killed Paul” (Acts 23:12,14). Using fasting in a manipulative way was done by the people in Jeremiah’s day too. God said, “Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; through they offer burn offerings and grain offering I will not accept them. I will destroy them with the sword, famine, and plague” (Jeremiah 14:12). Fasting didn’t move God one iota. A.A. Allen is an example of someone who claimed to have told God that he would fast until God came and personally spoke to him. (3)

Lastly, fasting is not meant to be a hypocritical religious exercise. By Jesus’ time fasting had become a very important part of the Jewish life. Perhaps overly important would be a better way of saying it. According to the account in Luke 18:12a we know that the Pharisees fasted twice a week. Historically the Jewish market day in Jerusalem was on the 2nd and 5th day. Everyone from the countryside came to town on those days to buy and sell their produce and animals. Naturally, it was on these two days that the Pharisees chose to hold their fasts.

The Pharisees would walk through the streets with their hair disheveled; wearing old clothes and at times they would cover themselves with dirt. They’d also cover their faces with white chalk in order to look pale; and they would dump ashes over their head as a sign of their humility! For the Pharisees fasting had become a “look-at-how-spiritual-I-am” exercise. It was hypocrisy. Remember, there was and is nothing wrong with fasting, but the attitude of the heart of those engaged in this (or any spiritual practice) is of supreme importance.

What Fasting Is

We looked at what fasting is not, lets focus on what is actually is according to the Scriptures. The Greek word for fasting is isnesteia — a compound of ne (a negative prefix) and esthio which means “to eat,” ergo in its widest sense fasting means to not eat.

Why did people in the bible, “not eat?” Leviticus 16:29 says that fasting is synonymous with “afflicting one’s soul.” We gain some insight here about how the Hebrews viewed fasting. Fasting is more than just “afflicting one’s body”, It is “afflicting one’s soul.” In other words, fasting to the Hebraic mind fasting is something that our soul participates in Fasting is denying my “self” with the fullest concept of self being considered. It is denying not only my own body, but also my own wants. It is a way of saying that Food and my desires are secondary to something else. Fasting is “afflicting one’s soul” —a willful act of self-denial. But it is not only an act of self-denial and here is where the monks and hermits were wrong.

Biblical fasting is “not eating” with spiritual communication in mind. We know this because fasting is always connected with prayer in the Bible. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast (biblically speaking) without praying. A good working definition for fasting would be the following. Biblical fasting is the deliberate abstinence form food for a spiritual reason. The biblical reason for fasting is communication and fellowship with the Father through prayer. (4)

Why Fast?

To begin with Jesus expects His disciples to fast, and when we do so we are to be sure our motives are correct.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen, and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus says “when” and not “if” you fast, He assumes His followers will fast from time to time in their spiritual lives. The fasting that is approved to God is that which is done in secret and without any outward display of piety. When we fast in accordance with God’s will we are also given a promise by our Lord “your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” What type of reward? Considering the context of what our Master is saying the reward will be regarding the matter you are seeking God about during your fast.

God said, “When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you” (Jer. 29:13-14) When a man or woman is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, they are demonstrating that they mean business, that they are seeking God with all their heart. It is all too easy to get caught up in the affairs of this life and become sidetracked from seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We are reminded in Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Fasting is one of the tools in our spiritual toolbox to help us refocus on what matters most, our walk with Christ.

When we deny ourselves food to focus on God and His will for our lives demonstrates humility on our part. Fasting graphically reminds us of how dependent we are upon our Lord for not only daily “bread” but spiritual manna too. This is why fasting is equivalent to the phrase “to humble oneself before the Lord” (Psalm 35:13; 1 Kings 21:29; Ezra 8:21). When a person is really concerned about the things of God, he will humble himself before the Lord.

Sometimes people will ask “how do I know when to pray and fast versus when to just pray”? That is not a question that someone else can always answer for you. In God’s word we find fasting connected with a very troubled spirit or an anxious heart before the Lord. In the Old Testament fasting was also a form of grieving over the death of someone. Here are a few biblical examples of when and why people fasted in the Bible:

1). The Israelites fasted, in the conflict between the other tribes with the tribe of Benjamin, on account of the wrong suffered by a Levite’s concubine. (Jug. 20:26).

2). Ahab fasted when Elijah prophesied the destruction of himself and his house. (1 Kings 21:27).

3). Jehoshaphat fasted at the time of the invasion of the confederated armies of the Canaanites and Syrians (2Ch. 20:3).

4). People fasted in times of bereavement, the people of Jabesh Gilead, for Saul and his sons (1 Sa 31:13; 1Ch. 10:12).

5). At times all the nation would fast on occasions of public calamities (2Sa 1:12, Ac 27:33).

6). The believing Jews fasted in Babylon, with prayer for divine deliverance and guidance. (Ezr 8:21,23).

7). Daniel fasted on several occasions; one example is the account of the captivity of the people, with prayer for their deliverance (Da 9:3).

8). The Apostle Paul fasted, at the time of his conversion (Ac 9:9).

9). The disciples fasted at the time of the consecration of Barnabas and Saul (Ac 13:2-3).

10). Fasting occurred with the consecration of the elders (Ac 14:23).

As you can see there are biblically many reasons why people fasted. The Occasion for a Fast is Voluntary: Surprisingly, a particular day for fasting was commanded in Scripture only once– on a Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The fast on the Day of Atonement was connected with a deep mournful spirit in confessing sin. Now in the New Covenant, Jesus Christ has become our atonement offering, so we no longer even need to observe the Leviticus 16 Day of Atonement! In all the rest of the bible there are no other Scriptures which command fasting at a specific time or on a specific occasion. There is no hard and fast “rule” to when it does seem that whatever the reason it is generally a serious matter that requires your focus on prayer and Bible study.

Naturally when the topic of fasting is brought up people often ask how long they should fast. I have met some individuals who’ve claimed to have fasted for forty days but I sincerely doubt their truthfulness, There are only three people in the entire history of God’s dealing with mankind who went on a forty day fast; there was Moses (Ex.24:18; 34:28; Dt 9:9, 18) Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and our Lord Jesus (Mt. 4:2; Mk 1:12,13; Lk. 4:1-2). These were supernatural fasts, miraculous events in and of themselves. Interestingly it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The prophet Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks (Dan. 10:2-3) and the end results of his fasting and praying was a panoramic vision of history. These are all well known examples of extraordinary fasting and not the common experience of God’s people.

As a general principle Christian should fast when he or she feels the Spirit of God leading them to fast. The Length of a Fast is Voluntary: In addition to the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32) you can see examples of one day fasts in Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 1:12; and 2 Samuel 3:35. The Jewish day was counted from sunset to sunset, so this meant that the fast would be broken that is, food could be eaten) after sundown.

The Biblical principle here is that the length of time you fast is determined by your own desires and the occasion or purpose of the fast. The duration can be that which the individual or group feels led to set. There is a great deal of freedom in the Lord here. However, the more common practice of a “normal fast” appears to be one-day.

How You Spend Your Time While Fasting is a Personal Decision Too: In the bible, fasting often occurs as something you do while carrying on your everyday activities! We have an example of soldiers involved in the activity of warfare sometimes fasting (1 Samuel 14:24). Also we read about the sailors on the ship with Paul fasting (Acts 27:33).

Lastly, fasting does not negate our responsibility to be obedient to God. We cannot fast and pray expecting God to bless when there is known sin in our lives. Genuine fasting will always cause us to examine our hearts. Fasting will never cause God to love you one bit more, however it is a tool that can be used to help us love Him more!

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Looking back on past experiences it is interesting when I consider that I never met anyone who desperately sought the gifts of hospitality (Romans 12:13), or of governments (1 Cor. 12:28) or helps in the same texts. No people always sought POWER, either the working of miracles, a specific gift of healing, the gift of supernatural faith, the word of knowledge or word of wisdom or of prophecy

2. Hall’s book on prayer and fasting was greatly responsible for what was originally know as the New Order of the Latter Rain movement of post World War II. Every major charismatic leader of the late 1940’s and 1950’s was influenced by Hall’s unbiblical teaching regarding fasting and prayer. Most of today’s charismatic extremist practices can be traced back to many of Franklin Hall’s teachings. Although his book have long been out-of-print DMI does offer the in PDF format or on a CD.

3. A.A. Allen, as well as Oral Roberts, Gordon Lindsey, T.L. Osborn all claimed that their long fasts resulted in God granting them what they wanted which in their cases was ‘miracle working power,” yet history has proved all of these en to be liars regarding having any supernatural miracle working power.

4. When I say “communication” with the Father I am not implying the Almighty God will directly speak to you. God communicated His will to us through His Word and sacraments period. It is right to expect God to speak to us through His Word which His Spirit will illuminate to us while we pray and fast.

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Jerry Falwell Dies At 73 — Gone But Not Forgotten

27 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – Jerry Falwell Dies At 73 -Gone But Not Forgotten – Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Jerry Falwell Dies At 73 —Gone But Not Forgotten

Tuesday May 17, 2007

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Although we do pray for his family in their time of loss, there are some other facts to remember concerning this late televangelist. Although the cartoons I’ve added are satirical, they do convey some very questionable actions on the part of the late Rev. Falwell. In the first picture we see him being embrace by a true antichrist in the form of “Rev.” Moon, who declared that Jesus appeared to him and told Moon to complete His mission because He (Jesus) failed by being crucified! Falwell spoke up for Moon (and so did some other evangelical ministers) when Moon was facing jail due to tax evasion. Some years later Moon came and bailed out Falwell’s Liberty University which was about to go under by paying off all the debts. Falwell should have let the school go under if God would not speak to the hearts of His people to support it. Falwell by accepting Moon’s money did nothing but help legitimize this abusive cult leaders name. Maybe Jerry justified taking Moon’s money under the umbrella of the “wealth of the wicked being stored up for the just.”

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When the Jim Bakker scandal was nearing its conclusion Rev. Falwell stepped in to “help” by offering to run PTL & Heritage Village in the event Jim Bakker went to jail. Falwell did not like the Bakker’s, in fact, he despised Jim and Tammy. All he was interested in was getting his hands on their television network (the largest Christian one at the time) and their lucrative mailing list. You can read about Falwell’s unethical activities in Tammy Faye’s book “Tammy Telling It May My Way.” This picture is of Jerry going down the famous PTL waterslide dressed in his suit because he would not “want to give offense.”

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Naturally who can forget the Tele-tubby debacle where Falwell pontificated that one of the characters was a homosexual in 1999 (Tinky Tinky “>Winky was seen carrying a purse!) Falwell was seen as a legalistic pietistic buffoon by the world due his strenuous declaration of the danger Tinky Winky posed to the preschoolers of America!

 

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Jerry’s foot in mouth aliment continued when he declared after the Twin Towers were destroyed that it was God’s “judgment” on America for our sins. He received, and rightly so, tremendous criticism for his statements and later retracted them.

 

 

 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Phil 1:27

  





Bob the “Bully”

27 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – Bob the “Bully” – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Bob the “Bully”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

“Nowadays any one who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is at once suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term “pure doctrine” has been proscribed and outlawed…If any one goes to the extreme, as it is held to be, of even fighting for the pure doctrine and opposing every false doctrine, he is set down as a heartless and unloving fanatic.”

C.F.W. Walther, September 11, 1885.

Dr. Walther made the above statement over 125 years ago in his book “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.” (in fact all his quotes are from that book) and I have learned over the years of involvement in this type of ministry that his words are truer today then when he initially spoke them. It is the responsibility of every minister, as our ministry motto says to “teach truth and expose error.” Yet when any minister does this he is indeed called a “heartless and unloving fanatic,” and that is putting it mildly compared to what I am called on a regular basis by those who walk in doctrinal darkness. Walther goes on to say:

There is no question, then, but that both, yes, both these efforts are necessary: to defend the truth and to oppose every doctrinal error.

Walther’s position is most assuredly the biblical one as we read stated in Jude:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3

When I embarked upon this facet of ministry over ten years ago I did not expect the vitriol, personal attacks and unreasoned arguments that were to come. Initially, I assumed that others involved in charismatic extremism would rejoice and embrace the truth when it was showed to them as my wife and I did. It did not take long for me to realize that biblical truth (pure doctrine in Walther’s words) is fought against and often out rightly rejected by the ones who should be embracing it. The following e-mail is merely that latest of many attacks DMI endures form those who call themselves Christians. This “sister” wrote us regarding our article about Joel Osteen:

The greatest Christian sin is not adultery. Adultery is one of the greatest wicked acts. It’s not stealing. Stealing is a terrible thing because it puts others at a disadvantage. It’s not lying. This is the worst kind of deception and must be condemned. It’s not murder. This is inhuman. It’s not prayerlessness or lack of Bible reading. It’s not absconding church services. This is because Christians do not commit any of the above sins. What then is the greatest Christian sin? The greatest Christian sin is judgment. How? True, because judgment is only reserved for the judge or for the King and in our case God. It’s God’s privilege to judge and we cannot share that honor. I pray that God will help me not to judge in these entire short messages. I write….

How incredibly arrogant you are. Again nothing but judgment from someone who thinks he is so above every thing and everyone including God…Your response was no surprise and is typical of someone who can’t see the forest for trees. Sham on you! Funny thing is God and the universe will find a way of humbling you. It’s called the two by four between the eyes and it happens to those whose arrogance clouds their real vision and keeps them from loving kindness. When it happens I hope you will see that attacking others is not Christian, nor is it kindness. It is arrogance at it’s worst. You’ve taken something you’ve incorrectly interpreted and spun your own arrogant view on it and use it to bear false witness against those you have NO RIGHT to judge. I agree you will not stop being a bully or being arrogant. Your motivation is jealousy and hatred. I just wanted you to know that your lies and hateful behavior will never reach those of us who love unconditionally the way God and Jesus do.

Note how the writer says the “greatest sin” is judging another person. First of all, this is not the greatest sin in the Bible and if it was then she is extremely guilty of this. Note the following judgmental statements: (1) incredibly arrogant you are, (2) thinks he is so above every thing…including God, (3) a bully, (4) motivation is jealousy and hatred and (5) lies and hateful behavior. Fortunately for sister Bailey, these 5 spiritual deficiencies of mine will NEVER reach her or those like her who “love unconditionally.” In responding to her I kept asking what specifically had I written concerning Mr. Osteen that was factually wrong, or what comments I had written that were hateful towards him in any way; she never answered me. I also told her that neither I or DMI doubts the sincerity of Mr. Osteen nor do we doubt that he loves Jesus. However his sincerity does not abrogate Mr. Osteen’s lack of biblical education or the lack of sound biblical preaching to the congregation Osteen, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren and others all fit perfectly in with another comment by C.F.W. Walther:

The worst offenders in this respect are the so-called rationalistic preachers, who with diabolical audacity mount Christian pulpits and instead of preaching Christ, the Savior, to all sinners, recite their miserable moral precepts for a virtuous life and fill ears of the people with their empty bombast.

I guess Walther would have been excoriated by sister Bailey too as a bully and filled with envy. Pray that our Lord mercifully opens Ms. Bailey’s ears to the truth and all those like her. She is just one of the many emails DMI receives each month. Pray for us too, that we will stay the course and continue to teach truth and expose error.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





Happy Birthday

26 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters -June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – Happy Birthday – by Tracy Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Happy Birthday

Be encouraged on your birthday! I know that your ministry is often misunderstood by the very people you are so passionate to reach and even by those who are unconcerned in the Church. This is why I say be “encouraged” like David, you have to “encourage” yourself in the Lord” ( 1 Samuel 30:6) when discouragement comes against you. Your labor is not in vain! Remember what you have told our partners in ministry from time to time:

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shown toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10

Your loving wife

Dear partners, please pray for my husband and stand with us in prayer that our gracious Lord will continue to open hearts to His truth and to raise up faithful partners in ministry. All of us know that when we do anything for our Lord there is opposition. Yet it seems to me that our enemy stridently fights against this specific facet of ministry. Pray for all those who are engaged in Apologetics and counter-cult work. Bob puts on a brave face, but I know he gets discouraged at times. He likes to come across as the “Heresy-hunter” and he calls himself “Bobcat” to his friends but really the picture at the bottom is more like him. So say a prayer for him on June 16th,

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Sincerely,

Tracy Liichow





Here We Go Again

25 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – Here We Go Again – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Here We Go Again

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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Want to get a charismatic extremist salivating? Just tell him or her that “revival” is on the horizon! Charisma magazine has a section entitled the “Prophetic Edge” and in the April 2007 issue the article is entitled, “Get Ready to Serve” written by Steve Hill. His article starts with the following words:

SOMETHING POWERFUL IS ON THE HORIZON. The Lord is equipping His church for the greatest outpouring the world has ever seen. We must do everything possible to prepare our hearts and to train others for this soul-saving revival. We also must be willing to be used by the Lord in new, unfamiliar ways. (1)

Hill’s History

Allow me to refresh your memory concerning Mr. Hill. He is the individual who is often cited as God’s instrument for the so-called revival at the Brownsville Assemblies of God (BAG) church in Pensacola, Florida. According to the BAG mythology here is what they claimed took place. The Pensacola church has been divinely appointed by God to be the catalyst of revival according to some prophetic words given by a couple of recognized charismatic leaders. In 1993 Dr. Paul Cho, pastor of the world’s largest congregation in Korea was in the United States and was praying for revival:

He did so, and the Holy Spirit told him to point his finger at the map. As he did, he felt his finger drawn to the Florida panhandle and to the city of Pensacola. “I am going to send revival to the seaside city of Pensacola, and it will spread like a fire until all of America ha been consumed by it,” said the Lord to Dr. Cho, Dr. Cho shared his experience with others and the word predictably spread to many of the pastors in the Pensacola area. Some time later, a Mobile, Alabama, Church of God pastor (70 miles away from Pensacola) inquired of Dr. Cho. “Dr. Cho, there’s been a rumor that you have prophesied a great revival in America to begin in Pensacola, Florida. Is there any truth to this?” he asked. “No rumah! No rumah! No rumah! Said Dr. Cho in his broken English “Received vision; revival will com!” (2)

Cho’s “leading” of the Spirit sounds more like someone using a planchet on a Ouija board as opposed from hearing from God. Not to mention the fact that what Cho allegedly received from the Holy Spirit did not come to pass. The fire did not spread throughout all America, nor was all America consumed by it. The revival did spread to many charismatic and Pentecostal congregations and the fruit produced by it was nothing less than spiritual heartache, disappointment, church splits and fanaticism. (3) Secondly, I have personally sat under Cho’s preaching and his English is not broken, if anything, he speaks English better than many Americans, so the “broken English” is not true either. Make no mistake about it my friends, God is not inaccurate and His true prophets were absolutely correct when they spoke under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Cho was not hearing from the Holy Spirit, so his direction had to be coming from another source and given the paranormal way in which Cho describes this leading, we know that it had to be a demonic spirit that was his guide.

John Kilpatrick was the pastor of BAG during the revival. What he failed to tell people outside the congregation was that he sent his wife and leaders up to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) prior to the actual assigned start date of the BAG revival. TACF was the North American vortex of enthusiasm and fanaticism and the holy laughter revival had already been in full gear for several years prior to the BAG “outpouring.” He sent these key leaders to TACF to get the blessing and get some idea of what they should expect at BAG. So Kilpatrick had primed the pump, his people had been fed a spurious prophetic word and thus were expecting a “revival” to visit them. Their leaders (unbeknown to many congregations members) had already bought into the delusion being meted out at TACF and the stage was set for Mr. Hill to arrive.

Hill arrives at BAG on Fathers Day June 18, 1995 and he brings the revival with him! A “sovereign” move of the Holy Spirit begins as Hill and other BAG leaders lay hands on the seekers. Those responding to the alter call begin to exhibit all the bizarre manifestations common to the TACF revival. Keep in mind that Florida is a long way from Canada so to these Pensacola Pentecostals manifestations such as uncontrollable laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit from protracted times, shaking, hopping, arms flapping for hours ere “new” to many of them. (4)

To this day, BAG, Kilpatrick and Hill declare that what took place at Pensacola was completely different than what was taking place at TACF. What they are reluctant to admit is that BAG leaders went to TACF and brought that brand of madness back to Pensacola and simply waited for Hill to arrive. Nor does Hill admit that he himself received the “blessing” while attending meetings at Holy Trinity Church in Brompton England just prior to coming to BAG. The truth is that what took place in Pensacola was simply an extension of what was already happening in Toronto. The BAG revival was a fully coordinated and orchestrated event. One thing both revival centers do agree about is that these revival manifestations, also referred to as the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit are highly transferable from one anointed vessel into a person seeking the experience.

Kilpatrick declares that the Holy Spirit has fallen on their congregation and he agrees to allow Mr. Hill to continue to preach. The news spreads initially throughout the Assemblies of God denomination and many members come to BAG and fro there the news spreads to other Pentecostal and charismatic people. At the height of the madness BAG reported the following statistics:

…approximately 3,000-4,000 visitors attend the revival each night. According to Evangelist Steve Hill, who has preached over 650 messages, the Brownsville Revival has had over 1,720,000 visitors to the services and over 108,000 have responded to the altar calls. The Revival has attracted visitors from over 17 foreign nations and boasts about 100 foreign visitors a night. (5)

The revival fire sputtered to an end by 2000. It seems that five years is historically about the extent of any Pentecostal “revival.” One can only sustain peak emotionalism for so long and the spiritual junkies seek ever increasing doses of transcendental highs. (6) Once the crowds (and offerings) began to dwindle and the manifestations became passé, Hill was the first leader to abandon ship. Lindell Cooley, the worship leader at BAG was the next to leave and by 2003 Kilpatrick himself resigned (or was asked to leave). Cooley and Hill both became pastors of their own congregations and Kilpatrick started his own “evangelistic” association. I might add that the same thing took place at TACF when the fire turned into cold ashes. John Arnott resigned as senior Pastor and started his own outreach.

Interestingly enough the Brownsville revival website does not mention much about all the controversy surrounding their move of the Spirit. They fail to mention the acrimonious split that occurred between BAG and the revival “Bible School” that had been birthed during the revival:

This group of students is particularly unique. With such a flood of interest in the school’s Fall session, this may be the only opportunity for such a small group of only 120 to commune together with the Holy Spirit and learn under tutors and elders while being in the midst of the mighty outpouring of Revival fire. (7)

The school started with big hopes but shortly became a divisive issue the school ended up leaving the church and establishing itself down the road. Also these leaders failed to mention the scorching articles written about the revival in the Pensacola News Journal. A series of articles uncovered the following facts about the two main leaders, Kilpatrick and Hill:

The two ministers we investigated were the two who are most in the spotlight: John Kilpatrick, the pastor of the revival church, and Steve Hill, the revival’s evangelist Both live in Alabama, not Florida. Alabama’s records are not easy to access and track, but when we finally got the property records together, we could prove that the revival had provided those two men with dramatically improved lifestyles and successively large and more luxurious homes. Their primary source of revenue is the nonprofit corporation each one created

We uncovered the ways the ministers turned Brownsville Revival into a million-dollar industry, and we uncovered the facts that contradicted their statements about how the money was used…We found and exposed the falsehoods in the public image that the evangelist [Hill] had constructed for himself…We debunked the revival leaders’ claims that they were performing miraculous healings. We tracked down a number of people the revival touted as “cured” and found none had medical evidence, such as lab tests, X-rays, or doctor’s examinations, to corroborate the cure…We exposed the origin of the revival, showing it was a planned and orchestrated event. A well-edited videotape of the first revival service appears to support the leaders’ claims that the revival was a spontaneous act of God. But close and attentive viewing reveals how it was manipulated to make the public believe the revival was spontaneous. (8)

Mr. Hill’s salvation testimony is riddled with exaggeration and outright lies but it does make for “exciting” reading, after all, God needs our help form time to time…ask Abraham. His claims of divine healing and miracles also proved to be false when given closer scrutiny. Hill reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars from the BAG outpouring and yet provided little if any genuine spiritual adulation began to dry up Hill knew it was time to head on down the road and form his own church, which he did in Dallas, Texas.

Now seven years later Hill is back and proclaiming that God is equipping His church for the GREATEST OUTPOURING the world has EVER SEEN! He says in his article that “a fresh evangelistic anointing is about to rest upon true believers.” Considering the lies, fraud and deception fostered by Hill in the prior greatest outpouring, I guess he will miss out on this upcoming greatest outpouring…since it is only for true believers. (9)

Hill is at best a semi-Pelagian and this heretical position stresses the roll of man in every aspect of redemption. We can see the man-centered emphasis in his article

However, we can’t ignore those who are starving for fresh bread and fresh water from heaven. Their deep[ hunger pains can only be satisfied as we offer more of God’s presence, power and prophetic insight. We can do this by allowing the Lord to show up in our church services….without restraint. The world is craving a touch from the creator. We must provide the atmosphere and the opportunity for miracles to take place… I believe God is going to empower us by sending a new wave of revelation as a foundation for operating in the prophetic… (10)

To begin with the world is not “craving a touch from the Creator,” I guess Evangelist/prophet and now Pastor Hill has forgotten the following elementary Bible truth:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understand, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one Romans 3:10-12

No one comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ of their own volition. The Father draws us to His Son by the working of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). We are saved by GRACE alone through faith alone. The faith that saves is itself a GIFT from God (Ephesians 2:8) and not of human works.

Hill does not mention how “we” are to go about offering more of God’s presence, power and prophetic insight. He does not mention the reality of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper as means of God’s grace and presence. Nor does he ever mention the proclamation of the Gospel, which is the power of God unto everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). God’s Word is the infallible and totally sufficient prophetic insight, yet Hill means a fresh new revelation flowing from a restored prophet.

Hill says it is our job to provide the “atmosphere” and “opportunity” for miracles to take place. Just what does that mean? Talk about subjectivity! He does not state how we are to create this atmosphere and opportunity for miracles. He failed to produce such an atmosphere at Pensacola, maybe he has obtained some new “mystical” insight during the last seven years that he lacked back in the mid 90’s.

Hill says “I believe God is going to empower us…” but he does not say what he bases his faith on. His entire article does not cite one biblical text at all! He goes on to pontificate on what will characterize this next greatest outpouring. The new and unfamiliar” ways that God will empower His people seems to be in the arena making us peripatetic psychics:

He will reveal to us the depth of their cravings as if we were watching a documentary on starvation…

The spiritually sensitive are going to experience revelation knowledge of those who are dying of spiritual malnutrition and disease.

Hidden secrets with be revealed to the believer, and out of a heart of compassion, he or she will share them [the hidden secrets] with the lost to prove that Jesus Christ is alive. These words will be so direct and precise that conversations will take place. (11)

According to Hill during this next greatest outpouring God’s true saints are going to share these revelations that will be so “direct” and “precise” that people will be converted by our sharing them! What utter nonsense! Does Hill have any scriptures, even out of context to back up his assertions? No, none whatsoever. The Bible does say the following:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper tan any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21

It is the Word of God that reveals the content of men’s hearts, not man mystically “anointed.” It is the seeming (to the world) foolishness of preaching the living Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to convict the world of sin and draw people to Christ, not some demonstration of power. NEVER FORGET the Jews saw daily miracles for forty years in the desert and yet died there in UNBELIEF (Hebrews 3:19) Miracles do not create faith! Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God (Romans 10:17) Marin Luther rightly stressed that God moves through His Word and sacraments and any other alleged “moving” of the Spirit apart from these means is demonic.

Hill, like Schuller places the emphasis on mans actions and not God’s drawing power through proclaiming the Gospel. Hill states:

My favorite prophetic words have always been those that are given outside the church walls. These are divine appointments that reach into the lives of people who often know nothing of biblical principles and doctrine. All they know is that some brave heart just read their mail. (13)

He closes his pronouncement of the coming greatest world revival by saying such “divine appointments” will be commonplace in the days ahead of us and that “these words fitly spoken, will literally shock the unbeliever into reality. (14) What he is describing is more akin to encountering the occult work of the TV psychics John Edwards or Sylvia Browne than any biblical accounts of people encountering the reality of their sin in the light of God’s holiness. In fact, according to the new reformation of Schuller the reality of personal sin is a barrier to accepting the grace of God in Christ. “Once a person believes he is an ‘unworthy sinner,” it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Christ Jesus.” (15) My friends let me state unequivocally that unless a person is brought to despair through seeing themselves as sinful they will not cry out “God have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13, NIV)

What Does the Bible Say About Revival?

Hill ha made the bulk of his money off of revivalism, which is possibly why he is proclaiming the coming greatest revival in human history. Who better to ask then the man seen as responsible for the Pensacola Outpouring? If I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Hill I would ask him the following questions. “Didn’t the people at Azusa street in 1906 declare that what they were experiencing was the final fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy? Or, how about, “didn’t restored prophets declare that what was taking place in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1949 was really the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy?” maybe I should ask, “wasn’t 1967 declared by the Roman Catholics to be the beginning of Charismatic Renewal in the Church?” These sign-seekers have made as many false predictions as the Jehovah’s Witnesses! Or maybe I could ask him about all the supposed “moves” of the Holy Spirit beginning with the Pentecostal movement of 1906, the New Order of the Latter Rain of 1949-52, possibly the Charismatic movement of 1959, possibly the Word of Faith movement, the Prophetic movement of 1980, the Apostolic movement of 1990, the Signs and Wonders movement of 1995-onward? More moves than Exlax my friends! In the face of all these unfulfilled deception ridden and experience driven non-revivals Hill has the audacity to declare the “greatest” revival is just around the corner!

Personally, I would rather enquire of the scriptures and see what they indicate regarding the last days. Does the Bible state that the Church and world will experience a world-wide soul-saving revival or not? Are there any prophetic statements that (in their context) indicate a great sweeping move of the Spirit prior to the return of Christ? I will simply cite a few of the biblical texts and let you draw your own conclusions:

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. Matthew 24:10-12

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:23-25

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their action deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kind of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. The perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, ratherlovers of pleasure  than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3: 4

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

In these eight passages do you read anything about a great world-wide soul-saving revival”? I read of the love of most people growing cold, of the danger of false Christs (truth Matters just dealt with one last month), false apostles, false teachers, and false prophets. At no time in recorded Church history have there been as many people claiming to either be a restored apostle or prophets as there are today. (16)

Deceivers are going about seeming to work signs and wonders which are not from God. Claims of holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, heavenly jewels, and even angel feathers abound in thousands of congregations.

People claiming to be ministers exploit those who follow them and making merchandise out of God’s gullible sheep. Countless numbers of professing Christians have indeed heaped up teachers who teach them exactly what they want to hear versus faithful teachers who will teach them what they need to hear.

Revival? Sorry Mr. Hill I do not know what translation you are reading that gives you any idea of such a thing. The truth is the people who claim revival do so apart from scriptural support. Hill’s article, as I noted, does not mention one verse of scripture. Why not? The answer is simple, there aren’t any for him to cite. He and others must declare that the “Lord” has given them insight regarding the coming revival(s) supernaturally apart form the Bible.

In closing to my charismatic brethren I would remind them of the old saying “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” Don’t get fooled again by this man with an abysmal track record. Don’t be deceived by a man who would break the Third Commandment and lie in the name of the Lord God. No my friends, my advice is simply this—keep your eyes focused upon Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith and pray for Mr. Hill and those who would be beguiled by him and others promising much but producing nothing of enduring value.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes

1. Underlining added for emphasis, Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

2. Bold type added for emphasis, Brownsville Revival Organization, Home page: http://www.brownsville-revival.org/index/php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=163/ accessed on April 9, 2007.

3. This book can be purchased form DMI for a donation of $10.00 plus 3.00 shipping and handling Roert Liichow, Fruit Proof (Detroit: by the author, 1999

4. Rev. Liichow has written separate booklets on each of these manifestations all of which can be purchased from DMI individuality or a set.

5. Religious Movements, http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Brownsv.html. Accessed on April 7, 2007).

6. I speak from experience as a former charismatic and revival participant I know that one cannot “live” off of yesterday’s spiritual experience.

7. “Brownsville Revival Magazine,” http://www.victorious.com/BRMagazine/brsmopen.htm accessed on April 7, 2007

8. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis, Gannett, May, 1998, http://www.gannett.com/go/newswatch98/may/nw0515-1.htm accessed April 7, 2007

9. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

10. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14 Underlining added.

11. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

12. Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Texas Word, 1982), 64

13. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

14. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

15. Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Texas Word, 1982), 64

16. A simple Google search on the Internet on the word “apostle” displays over 8 million web sites and “prophets” displays over 24 million. Certainly not all of these site are run by so-called restored prophets and apostles, but thousands of them are.





THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

23 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – The Toronto Deception By a Former Toronto Vineyard Pastor

Discernment Ministries International

THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

It has taken me nine years to actually come to the place where I would write this story. Part of the reason was because I was not fully convinced that it is appropriate to speak out against weaknesses in the body of Christ publicly. Another reason is because it has taken years of soul searching to become convinced that what happened in the Toronto Airport Church was actually all bad or at least more bad than good!

For the past number of years I have called it a mixed blessing. I think James A. Beverly called it this in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing 1994. Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been the dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrine of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.

After three years of being in the thick of the Toronto blessing our Vineyard assembly in Scar bough (East Toronto) just about self destructed. We devoured one another, with gossip, backstabbing, division, sects criticism etc. After three years of “soaking” praying for people, shaking, rolling, laughing, roaring, ministering at TACF on their prayer team, leading worship at TACF, preaching at TACF, basically living at TACF we were the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know. I remember saying to my friend and senior pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in 1997 that ever since the Toronto Blessing came we have just about fallen to bits! He agreed!

My experience has been that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12 was much more common in our assembly, before January 1994 (when the Toronto blessing started.) than during this period of supposed Holy Spirit visitation. During 1992-1993 when praying for people we would experience what I believe was genuine prophesy, deliverance and much grace and favour from the Lord. After the Toronto Blessing started, all ministry time changed, the only prayers were ‘More Lord MORE’, the shouting of ‘Fire’ the jerky shaking of the body with the ‘ooh ooh OOH WOOOAAH’ prayer. (I kid you not!)

On January 20th 1994 about 15 people from our church traveled over to Toronto Airport Vineyard in order to listen to Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from the USA. John Arnott had called our senior pastor to invite us. He communicated that Randy had been to the Rodney Howard Browne meetings and that the stuff had broke out in his church in the following weeks. John was hoping that something might break out with us too. We were only too happy to travel over. We were a church plant out of the Toronto Airport and we started in 1992. In those days there were three Vineyard Churches in Toronto. One Down Town church, Scarborough vineyard church to the east and the AirPort Church. We were one big happy family. Because we were small in number we did special meetings, conferences etc, together.

The year before most of our leadership teams joined and had headed to Nicaragua for a short term missions trip. We had genuine love and fellowship with each other. Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception. They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic. I am guilty of this sin also. I have preached renewal in Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and here in Canada. I am genuinely repentant and in writing this story I would ask you the bride and body of Christ to forgive me. Especially the Pentecostal/charismatic Christians among you, for you are my immediate family theologically. I am an evangelical Christian, I always have been but I do not believe in the cessation of the spiritual gifts at the end of the apostolic era. I believe that it was my evangelical roots (my Family are Baptists and I was born again in the Presbyterian Church) that started to open my eyes to problems with this so called renewal In hindsight I look back and think how could I have been so blind? I laughed at people acting like dogs and pretending to urinate on the columns of the TACF building. I watched people pretend to be animals, bark, roar, cluck, pretend to fly as if they had wings, perpetually act drunk and sing silly songs. How I thought that any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible. I suppose in my mind I reasoned that as long s they did not teach any thing in direct violation to scripture then it was what we called the exotic. This is a buzzword for manifestations that could not be justified from a biblical perspective. I was taught from the pulpit that we had two options. The order of the nursery full of life and messy or the order of the graveyard, very orderly but dead! As a young immature pastor I wanted life with mess. I failed to remember that God wants us to become mature and grow up in him.

I became disconnected by the prophetic words that came forth especially one by Carol Arnott in which she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex! I was shocked in my spirit and thought how can one compare the love of God with sex? When we suspected that demons were running riot in our services John Arnott would teach that we should ask are they coming or going. If they are leaving then that is ok! John would defend the chaos by saying that we ought not be afraid of being deceived, if we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill us then how could Satan come and deceive us? This would make Satan very strong and God very weak! He said that we needed to have more faith in a Big God to protect us than in a Big Devil to deceive us. This sounded very convincing but was totally contrary to scripture for Jesus and Paul and Peter and John all warn us about the power of deceiving spirits and especially so in the last days. Again we did not love God enough to obey His Word and the result was that we opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy upon us!

Finally the penny dropped for me a I was rolling around one night ’drunk in the Spirit’ as we would say. I started singing and as I rolled around the floor the Nursery the Rhyme ’Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.’ came to mind. I sang this in a mocking spirit and instantly my heart told me this was a demon. Instantly I repented and was in total shock. How could a demon get into me? Did I not love God? Was I not zealous for the things of God? Was I not nuts about Jesus? I knew that as unclean spirit had just manifested through me and I was guilty of great sin. After this experience I stayed away from TACF. I did not go back there any more. I did not possess the conviction to denounce the whole experience but thought that we were failing to pastor the Blessing well enough.

Even after I stopped going over to TACF, I had to pastor the fruit of it. One example was when some of our people returned from a meeting there asking us if we had all received the golden sword of the Lord? I asked them what they were talking about thinking that it was some prophetic reference to the Holy Scriptures but they said, ’no its not the Bible, it’s an invisible golden sword that only the really pure can receive. If taken in an unrighteous fashion then the Lord would kill you. But if you are holy enough to receive it then you can wield this sword and it will heal aids, Cancer etc. and bring salvation. How one wielded this sword was by pretending to have this invisible sword in your hand and motioning to strike people with it when in prayer! I thought while even in deception at this time that the TACF had become Looney bins! This was purportedly first received by Carol Arnott and then given to the ones holy enough to receive it! Another thing was the golden fillings in the teeth. We had people in our assembly peeping down one another’s throats looking for the gold fillings that God had placed there to show how much he loved them! In all my time there I only heard one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party in the Lord! After one year into the blessing, I spoke out at a pastors meeting and said ‘guys we have shaken, rattled, rolled, laughed cried and bought the tee-shirt. But we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism so what’s the deal?” I was soundly rebuked – who was I to expect to see fruit when the Lord was healing his broken people? We had been legalistic long enough and god was spending this time restoring his wounded and freeing us from legalism I was told not push the Lord and the harvest would come in his time.’

So there is my story. I could go on and document much excess, folly, sin and latter day reign teaching that manifest from the prophetic end of this blessing but others have already done that. We sang about Joel’s army and the billion soul revival as if it were one of the Ten Commandments, and as always it was just around the corner. Next month, next year etc. Jesus said that when the son of man returns will he find faith upon the earth ? And if he dies not return when he does no flesh would be saved but for the sake of the elect he comes. This is a far cry fro the dominionism, that is being taught all through the vineyard/prophetic/spiritual warfare movement. I honestly think that they think they are going to take over the whole world! While in the Vineyard I embraced a life verse from the Apostle Paul the phrase do not go beyond what is written!

To finish I just want to say sorry for the damage, that I have personally done by teaching things that are not correct biblically. I repent before men as I already have before God. I will not excuse my falling into deception. I did not bother to test things when the scriptures commanded us to do so. Everyone who was there when this thing started knows that what I write is true, they would just come to different conclusions especially if they are still promoting the ‘river!’

To those in te river I would say swim out, there are things living in the water that will bite you real good! I love the people of TACF and the Vineyard movement but I think that we have much to answer for and may the Lord open your eyes sooner rather than later. I suspect that when this letter goes online I will get bombarded by emails from both camps, some damning me for still believing in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and still walking in deception and some old friends damning me for exposing dirt or being negative about the Lords anointed! Well, the Lord knows my heart and by his grace he will guide me into all truth as I seek to know Christ and him crucified! I would call on all who read this to pray that the Lord would open the eyes of all who have been involved in this deception. Whether leader or follower, we are loved and the Lord is a forgiving God. He says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I believe we are like the church in Laodicea, we think that we are rich, have prospered and need nothing, we do not realize that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the Counsel of Jesus and buy gold refined in the fire (which is his suffering, not a false spirit!) white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance and thank the Lord that he is, for it will lead us to true restoration with our Father! If God has forgiven me and opened my eyes then he can do it for all those caught in deception too. I will finish with a warning from Paul, he says if you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall.

Sincerely, Paul Gowdy

Personally having been redeemed form charismatic extremism I applaud brother Growdy for his honesty and brokenness to share his testimony. My wife and I were present when Mrs. Arnott gave her infamous “golden sword” prophecy and saw firsthand the effect it had on the thousands present at that service. I pray our gracious Lord continues to restore Paul’s soul and that he has found safe haven in a biblically sound congregation. His testimony simply affirms what DMI has been saying for over the years. Literally hundreds of thousands of professing Christians have bought into a belief system which is not only biblically unsound but also spiritually damaging.

Sadly to date charismatic extremism shows little decrease in momentum and in some of its man facets in growing rapidly. Due to the growth of such gross doctrinal error DMI needs your support more than ever and we ask that you would pleas pray for our portion of Christ’s ministry and to also put “legs” to your prayers by financially supporting our work to His glory.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow





Jesus Christ Is Back & Living “Large” in Houston!

20 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 4 – Jesus Christ Is Back & Living “Large” in Houston! – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Jesus Christ Is Back & Living “Large” in Houston !

I know this will comes as a shock to almost all of you, it was to me. Some how the Church has missed the return of Jesus Christ! Jesus is back on earth living a very prosperous life in Houston, Texas. Seems that now Joel Osteen has some real competition to run against.

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Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda claims to be the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh and destinies in his hands. Maybe I should begin with a little background on Jose:

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is a 60 year-old former heroin addict and convict who believes that he is the living incarnation of “Jesus Christ, the Man… the second coming of Christ.” The Pueto Rican-born Miranda claims that in 1973 he had an “epiphany” — a revelatory manifestation of a divine being. He says that he doesn’t know why God picked him. Still, Miranda once believed that he was the reincarnation of the apostle Paul. Then two years later he proclaimed himself as Jesus Christ. “God merged with me [and]…the resurrected Jesus…integrated/infiltrated himself within me.” (1)

Jose seems a little confused; first he believes he is the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul, then a couple of years later he says that the “spirit” of Jesus merged with his spirit making him Jesus Christ (talk about upward mobility). He also readily admits to being a former drug addict, ex-convict, enjoys scotch whiskey and has been married twice (so far).

Miranda formed his own ministry in the mid-80s, Crescendio en Gracia (Growing in Grace Ministry’) or “God’s Government on Earth.” While currently headquartered in a Miami, Florida warehouse, Miranda travels with a security team of nine bodyguards. He claims that his followers, largely Hispanic, reside in more than 20 countries, primarily in Central and South America, as well as the United States. His people call him everything from apostle to Jesus Christ man, giving him their entire savings, cars, businesses, and estates, including a million-dollar home in a gated community. (2)

Naturally Miranda has a website where one can see various television interviews he has given and other televised testimonies from those who have been bewitched by him. Unfortunately, the website doe not provide any clear doctrinal statement. If those with computer/internet access desire to they can visit http://www.cegenglish.com  and tune in on Wednesday at 8 PM (EST) and hear Jose’s teaching live! The website makes the following claims regarding their savior:

As the last manifestation of God in the flesh, He has established the Government of God on earth as written in the Gospel and NEVER does telethons for his radio or TV programs.

He has promised that every religion including Catholics, Protestants, Jewish, Mormons, etc will end as their leaders are corrupt in teaching an expired doctrine.

Worldwide followers—The CHURCH—recognized and proclaimed him as the LORD, and revealed to all nations that HE IS GOD (Rom. 16:25).

Let’s consider these claims one by one. The first claim they make is that Jose is the “last” manifestation of God in the flesh. How many prior manifestations of God in the flesh have there been? I know of only one, the Lord Jesus Christ who conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died on the cross, descended into hell and was raised from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven. He shall come again to judge the living and the dead and of whose kingdom there shall be no one.

Jose has established the government of God on earth as written in the Gospel? Oh really? Has Miranda begun to fulfill the sayings of the Biblical Jesus in Matthew 25:

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matthew 25:32-33

Sorry Jose, you don’t fit the description of what the retuning King will do. Nor does he fulfill the word spoken by the holy angel to the disciples at the ascension of Jesus in Acts: “Men of Galilee” they said, “ why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.Acts 1:11

If words mean anything, then the real Jesus will come back to earth in the same manner in which He left. He will return and descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17

The return of Jesus comes with a loud command and the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God Almighty. The dead in Christ rise first and then those believers living will also be caught up in the air to meet Jesus. Has any of this taken place yet? Obviously none of this has taken place and I have yet to find any explanation on Miranda’s part to answer why, if he is Christ, he has not fulfilled his own word?

Another aspect of “God’s government” is seen in the following judicial action on the part of the true Judge of all flesh:

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet,” 1 Corinthians 15:21-27

Has death been destroyed? Is Jose getting older each day (how can God age?). Whom has Miranda raised from the dead, since resurrection comes from the Second Adam? Answer—no one!

Next his duped disciples inform us that there will be no telethons for his radio and TV broadcast, I guess this is a swipe at the TBN and 700 Club leaders who continually pimp their followers via telethons.

Furthermore, Miranda ha promised to end all other religions, which since he is saying he is the return of Christ, would be natural. What is not stated is exactly how he is supposed to end all forms of the existing Church along with Judaism and the Mormons. The reason given for the need to end these groups is because all their leaders are corrupt and are teaching an “expired” doctrine. I certainly can find doctrinal error in all the groups he mentioned. However, I would like to know how a doctrine, which by definition is an expression of absolute truth, can become expired? If something is true then it is eternally true. Truth does not expire, nor grow old. It is either accepted humbly or rejected outright. Miranda opts for rejecting the truth outright; after all, the man is claiming to be the return of Christ as well as the antichrist at the same time.

His website has the following statement on the top of its main page. This is a quote from the newspaper La prensa of El Salvador;

With over 30 countries already reached, more than 350 educational centers, Now own radio and television satellite channels, 300+ radio and television programs, an entourage of over 300+ faithful pastors, and a ministry of over a million followers growing in numbers everyday…The nations are shaking as the man Christ Jesus is leading the biggest reform the world has ever seen. (3)

What nations are shaking? What is the “biggest” reform the world has ever seen? Since he claims to be the returned Jesus Christ that would make him the Prince of Peace also; is the world at Peace? Has the Arab/Israeli conflict ended? Is the war in Iraq over? If Miranda is God in the flesh, then he is supposed to be sitting on David’s throne ( in Jerusalem) and ruling the nations with a rod of iron:

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:15-16

My family and I have heard Jose “preach” live from his website and there was no “sharp sword” proceeding out of his mouth, in fact, he is probably the poorest preacher we have had to misfortune to listen to. He was not broadcasting from either the New Jerusalem or the old one; he was in Nicaragua (I think) speaking. This of course leads me to another question to ask this admitted antichrist — “where is the New Jerusalem??” When Jesus returns He comes back with the saints with Him from heaven. Where are they? I’m sure these are just little niggling details with which Miranda cannot be bothered, although I will submit them to his website in the hope the Word of God can be planted in the heart of whoever reads his email and God’s Spirit can use that Word to bring them to conviction and led them into the truth. This statement is followed by an even more outlandish and blasphemous declaration on the main page:

And now…The man Christ Jesus, Dr. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, is coming to the USA! The King of kings and Lord of lords has arrived in America! (4)

I can find absolutely no information regarding Miranda’s educational background. By his own testimony he was in jail a a teenager, well let “Jesus” explain himself:

Do Jesus’ beginning was anything but grand. Born in Puerto Rico, de Jesus grew up poor, living in government housing. H stole for a living to pay for his teenage heroin addiction and admits to eight felony charges that put him behind bars for nine months. Like many, de Jesus says he was born again in prison. From there he moved to the United States, where he became involved in church youth groups, and eventually a minister in Boston. But it was a vision, de Jesus says, that turned him from man of God to being God. (5)

My point is simply this —when did this fraud obtain the requisite education in order to earn a doctoral degree? From what I have ascertained he has not even graduated from high school, let alone progressed onto college, then after successfully completing four years of college education and then at least two more years of post-graduate work (Masters degree level, I know of where I speak) then going onto two to four years of doctoral work is not proven by him, his website or anyone else. Where and when did he become “Dr.” Miranda? Even his degree is false!! He has no problem blaspheming God by declaring that he is the King of kings and Lord of lords. As I have shown you with just a few texts, he is not even close.

Why Do People Follow Him?

The $64,000 dollar question is how does an ex-con get a million people in ove twenty nations to believe he is really the return of Jesus Christ? I believe the answer is found in three area.

First, the majority of these initial dupes come from Latin America which means they most likely come from a rather strict form of Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism and possibly Santeria which is a form of voodoo mixed in with Roman Catholicism. In other words those following Miranda have no solid Biblical foundation. They were nominally “religious,” steeped in legalism, superstition and in many cases probably under educated. This is why being established in the truth of God’s Word is paramount. The only way to detect a lie is to know the truth. TRUTH MATTERS!

Secondly, a million plus people follow him because of what he teaches.

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 swift 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

Miranda does not claim any miracle working power, no divine healing, no imparting of spiritual gifts to his followers, ergo, people must be buying into the beliefs he has set before them.

There is a possible third reason why people follow this obvious (to us) fraud and deceiver:

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

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In context, Paul is referring to the actual antichrist, as opposed to the “spirit of antichrist” which has beset the Church and world from the inception of the Church. However, since Miranda claims to also be the antichrist then let him take what is written about him to heart. His followers have no rue doctrinal foundation, nor when approached with the truth seem to have any openness to it, i.e. he and his followers do not love the truth. Due to their rejection of the truth of God (read Romans chapters 1-3) this allows them to believe a lie and the end result of believing a lie {regarding salvation} is damnation. I recognize that this may seem harsh, and it is, but it also demonstrates the holiness of God and the desperate need humanity has for the truth. The following is a brief synopsis of what he was offered as “doctrine” so far.

There Is No More Sin

Since Jesus died on the cross the problem of sin has been done away with. Since there is no more sin then people are free to live anyway they want (as long as they tithe to Miranda) without any concern of eternal consequence. Obviously, such a message is hugely popular to spiritually dead people who hate God, His Law and who love sin and lawlessness. Did Jesus destroy sin on the cross? Yes and no. Through the substitution atoning death of Jesus the consequence of sin and the power of sin were destroyed, but not the reality of sin. When a person comes to faith in Jesus the consequence of sin has been paid for by Jesus. His death and victorious resurrection have also freed us from the power of sin…yet sin still exists because we are still fallen people. The Apostle John states it very clearly when he says:

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.   1 John 1:5-10

Truly we have been made the righteous of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) but we still sin and thankfully we can confess our sins and our Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Anyone who proclaims a message of sinless perfection in this life or that sin does not even exist is a liar and strives to make our Lord a liar too.

What is interesting is that Miranda was asked in an interview if murder was a “sin.” He said it was not a sin, it might be a violation of man’s law and thus the person would be subject to the penalty of violating man’s law, but it was not a sin! Does anyone else see the logical disconnect in his position? If one violates the laws of man that person will face the judgment set forth by man for that broken law. Yet for some reason he fails to see (or won’t admit) that if one violates the holy law of God then that person will be held accountable to the eternal Judge who will sentence that person to eternal damnation. This is why Jesus came and died, to redeem us from the curse of the law by taking our place and receiving our punishment.

People love darkness and hate the light (read John 3:19) because their deeds are evil. Miranda’s sinless message appeals to the abundant evil in the hearts of the multitudes of the fallen.

There Is No Devil

The devil is just a mythical creation of false religious to keep people in line. I believe C.S. Lewis made the comment that the biggest trick the devil ever pulled was to get people to believe he did not exist. Logically if there is no sin and there is no devil or demons then there is no evil in the world. The Apostle Paul seemed to believe there was a literal devil:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness ; whose end shall be according to their works. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high placesEphesians 6:11-12

Peter believed in a literal devil that was still at work in the post resurrection days of Jesus:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8

James also was deceived somehow into teaching that Satan exists

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double minded. James 4:7-8

In this text James demolishes two of Miranda’s false teachings by proclaiming that the devil exists and that sin is a reality! This is a perfect verse to keep in mind when you come across a Mirandite.

There Is No Hell

This comes as no surprise since virtually every other Bible-based cult proclaims the same lie. The Mormons do not believe in eternal damnation nor do the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Without going into great detail suffice it to say that we are warned about the reality of hell and eternal damnation if we do not place our complete trust in Jesus Christ.

There Is No Need to Pray

I assume that since Jesus Christ is here on earth there is no need to pray any longer. Even though the Apostle Paul said:

Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; Colossians 1:9

It seems odd to me that an individual who initially claimed to be a reincarnation of the Apostle Paul would be so ignorant of what Paul taught. How can these things be? Our Lord gave us the “Lord’s Prayer,” which we considered last month. All the writers of the Epistles touch on prayer and yet the returned Jose says “prayer is unnecessary.” Make one want to say “hmmmmm.”

To those of us who have been brought to the true saving knowledge of Jesus Christ this man and his claims are ludicrous. Yet to a growing number of people he is being viewed as the savior. With a million followers Miranda can become very dangerous, oh not to the Church, even the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church (read Matt. 16:18), but dangerous to the masses of unsaved people we’ve yet to reach.

Jim Jones only had a few hundred and we saw the end result of following this mad man. Miranda poses the same type of threat to his followers. The question boils down to whether this man is merely a con artist who is bilking those ignorant enough to follow him, or he is really convinced he is Jesus Christ. If he really believes what he says, then he is extremely dangerous because he is delusional and psychotic which could lead him to direct his followers to harm themselves or others. This is exactly the concern amng some theologians and counter-cult experts:

Miranda esteems himself above Jesus of Nazareth, His responses during interviews are startling: “I am greater than him…I teach better than him…I won’t die. Even if you tried to kill me! I wil be president of the biggest government that this earth has experienced. I’m going to change the whole world.”

These statements are both frightening and disturbing to authorities. Daniel Alvarez received his Masters Degree in Theology from Harvard Divinity School and serves as a Florida International University religion professor. Alvarez sees Crescendio en Gracia as having all the makings of a destructive cult with Miranda fitting into the classic mold of a cult leader who requires total submission by his followers. Cult authority, Rick Ross (Rick A. Ross Institute of New Jersey), agrees the Growing in Grace fit’s the basic profile of a dangerous cult which thrives on persuasion (brainwashing) and ultimately exploitation of its members. (7)

DMI is prepared to confront him if (when) he comes to the Detroit area. We have a very large Hispanic community and he no doubt wants to tap into this “cash cow.” We may expand this article and put it into another format to hand out to people who come to hear what he has to say. If he is coming to your area, DMI will be glad to send you copies or put the file on disk so you can print it out to distribute. In any event, please pray for those who have been deceived that God’s Word may break through to them and bring them to repentance. Also pray for the Church, that we as God’s ambassador’s of reconciliation would get outside of our four walls on Sunday and begin to aggressively speak the truth in love on every occasion that presents itself to us.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.allabourtcults.org/jose-luis-de-jesus-miranda.htm on 3-21-07. Underlining and bold type added.

2. Ibid

3. Ibid

4. Ibid

5. Obtained from http://www.abcnews-go.com/Primetime/story?id=2925021&page=1

6. I paraphrased that comment.

7. Obtained from http://www.allaboutcults.org/jose-luis-de-jesus-miranda.htm.





“Dem” Bones

19 10 2009
Truth Matter Newsletters – April 2007  Vol. 12 Issue 4 – “Dem” Bones – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

“Dem” Bones

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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Walking into Borders bookstore you cannot miss the prominent display of the book titled The Jesus Tomb co-written by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino. This books claims to be possibly the greatest archeological find of all times. A documentary was filmed by James Cameron and shown on the Discovery channel entitled “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” Although just recently coming out the story begins over twenty years earlier:

The story began in March 1980 when Yosef Gat, an archaeologist employed by the IAA, surveyed a burial chamber on the south-eastern approaches of Jerusalem. The area was being developed into the latest suburb of the city, East Talpiot, and bulldozers had uncovered an archaeological site. Mr. Gat found a standard-looking Jewish tomb dating from the era of King Herod, the Jewish king known for his ambitious building works and for his murder of infants at the time of the birth of Jesus. After crawling into the necropolis Mr. Gat found the main chamber had been silted up with soil and debris, with six “kokhim”, coffin shaped spaces leading off the main chamber where human remains were housed. According to Jewish rites, bodies would be left for a year or so to decompose in the “kokhim” before relatives came back to gather the bones and store them in ossuaries. Mr. Gat found 10 ossuaries bearing inscriptions. Some were in anicent Greek and some were in Hebrew. One inscription said “Jesus, son of Joseph”, another said “Mara” a common form of Mary, and another said “Yose”, a common form of Joseph. (1)

To those seeking reasons to reject the claims of Christianity this “discovery” was all they needed. Cameron and others took the attitude of “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.” Even the head archeologist, who was Mr. Gat’s boss does not accept the rationale of Cameron and the other unbelievers:

Mr. Gat died several years ago. His boss, Prof Amos Kloner said that while the names together had “a certain power” they are standard. At least three other ossuaries have been found inscribed with the name Jesus and countless others with Joseph and Mary,” he said. The 10 ossuaries were taken initially to the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum outside the Old City of Jerusalem. Nine were catalogued and stored but the tenth was left outside in a courtyard. That ossuary had subsequently gone missing. The story went cold until two account of the discovery were published by Israeli academics in the mid 1990s. Pro Kloner wrote the second one in the IAA’s in-house magazine Atiquot in 1996. It sparked publicity, most notably a BBC program shown that Easter produced by Ray Bruce called The Body In Question . However, Prof Kloner said there was no way the tomb housed the Holy Family. “It is just not possible that a family who came from Galilee, as the New Testament tells us of Joseph and Mary, would be buried over several generations in Jerusalem”. (2)

As an aside I always wonder what new “discovery” the lovers of darkness will come up with around Christmas and Easter. It seems that every year or so something is produced to attempt to dissuade people from placing their trust in Jesus Christ. So I am not surprised with the recent attempt to discredit the biblical facts regarding the physical resurrection of our Lord. There are numerous archeologists (some of them not even Christians) who refute the claims made in the book and documentary on other than a biblical basis. Let me remind you that it was not too long ago when another ossuary was discovered that had written on it “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Immediately the many evangelicals jumped on this find as proof the Jesus had brothers and sisters. Naturally, the Roman Catholic archeologists denounced this find due to their manmade doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.

In my opinion the evangelicals were (are) just as wrong then as Cameron is now in pointing to some object apart from the Holy Bible in order to prove their case.

Brothers and sisters in both cases of “dem bones” or any other object outside the writings of Scriptures are not what we base our faith on. I don’t care if it is the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Grail or the spear of Longinus…our faith is to rest on what the Bible says.

I am not denying that there is massive evidence of an archeological, scientific and historical nature to augment the claims of Scripture but ultimately our faith must rest in the testimony of the Scriptures alone.

I want us to briefly consider the biblical evidence which demonstrates that these bones could in no way be those of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Testimony of Jesus—

To begin with if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He was a liar, a false prophet and anything else He had to say should be discounted, which naturally, is the goal of those who are still at enmity with God. Jesus prophesied that He would rise from the dead:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!Matthew 20:18,19

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:19-22

Jesus spoke several times about the fact that He would physically sire from the dead. The Jewish leaders had no difficulty understanding what Jesus said to them, they did not believe Him, but they knew what He was talking about. After He did rise from the grave the disciples via the ministry of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26) remembered that Jesus had told them He would rise from the dead. His claim to rise from the dead was validated by a myriad of witnesses.

The Testimony of the Angel of the Lord—

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is to here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:5,6

The Testimony of the Disciples—

There he said to Thomas, Put your finger here: see my hands. Reach out you hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” there Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you ma have life in his name. John 20:27-31

Thomas and those around Him saw Jesus bearing the same marks in His body that He had received at the hands of the Roman soldiers.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast,” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They know it was the Lord Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:12-14

Jesus appeared to Peter and others and made them breakfast. He ate with them, told them to handle Him: He said them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:38-39

The first Easter morning Jesus appeared first of all to Mary Magdalene and the other women: So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:8-10

Jesus appeared to some of the disciples as they walked along the road to Emmaus: They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked alone with them; Luke 24:14-15

The Eyewitness Testimony of over 500 people—

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, through some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 1 Cor. 15:6-7

Our Lord appeared not only to the apostles, the other disciples, but more than 500 other men, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul penned this letter and thus these people could be located and asked for their testimony.

The Birth of the Church Testifies to the Physical Resurrection—

Here is something to ponder. The celebration of Pentecost had been transpiring since it was inaugurated hundreds of years earlier, why was the event mentioned in Acts different? The fact that Christ Jesus rose from the dead was the ushering in of the ministry of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had promised would happen in Acts 1:5

The Apostle Peter announced in his sermon that this unique manifestation of the Spirit was due to Jesus being raised from the dead:

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. Acts 2:29-33.

Peter was speaking to a mixed multitude, but many of the people listening were from the surrounding area and they were convicted by his words because they were true. The Jewish leaders could easily have produced the corpse of Jesus proving He was dead, but they did not. Why? Simply because the tomb was empty and the best solution they could come up with was to bribe the soldiers guarding His tomb and have them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen His body (Matthew 28:11-14).

The Testimony of the Apostle Paul—

Keep in mind that Paul’s conversion was without a doubt dramatic. He, one of the most highly educated men of his (or any) day was an avid persecutor of the Church, yet suddenly he encounters the risen Christ and becomes the premier advocate and evangelist for the Gospel:

…and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Cor. 15:8

Apart from the Apostle John all of the writers of the New Testament were martyred fro their faith. Why would God fearing Jews knowingly blaspheme their God, because if what they taught about Jesus was a lie, then they were surely blaspheming God. Facing certain death why didn’t they recant their testimonies and simply, (in some cases) bow their knee to the statue of Caesar and declare he was really “lord” and not Jesus? One would think that when faced with a rather unpleasant death one would reconsider and tell the truth in order to spare their lives. They did not. Why not? Because they knew they were telling the absolute truth and they were secure in the fact that their Redeemer lives because they had seen Him, talked with Him, sat under His ministry for another 40 days before He ascended back to the right hand of God the Father.

I know that Dr. Martin Luther said that the church stood or fell regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but I would disagree. I believe the church stands or falls on the basis of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why the world tires so hard to discount the reality that Jesus did in fact physically rise from the dead. Dan Brown and his book The Da Vinci Code (and the others books that followed), the “Jesus Seminar,” and most recently the alleged bones of Jesus all are just a few desperate attempts to dissuade and deceive people into believing that Jesus did not rise from the grave.

If Christ had not been raised from the dead it would be as the Apostle Paul said:

But if it is preached that Christ had been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is o resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ had not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile: Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men1 Corinthians 15:12-19

In fact, I have got some sobering news for Mr. Cameron and the other doubters and skeptics one day, maybe sooner than many expect this same Jesus who was physically raised from the dead will return and they will see Him and stand before Him. I know this because God’s Word tells me so:

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11

The risen Lord of glory is coming back and this time as the Judge of all flesh and He will separate the sheep from the goats (see Matthew 25:32). The sheep (believers) will be ushered into eternal bliss and the goats (nonbelievers) will be cast into outer darkness and eternally damned. Brothers and sisters, this Easter let us echo the ancient liturgical refrain “He is risen, He is risen indeed!”

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Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Obtained from http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1790456/

Post on March 19, 2007.

1. Ibid. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.





The Discipline of Prayer –Part Two

17 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – March 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 3 – The Discipline of Prayer — Part Two – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Prayer — Part Two

By Rev. Bob Liichow

We began to consider the majesty of the Lord’s prayer last month and this month we will briefly look at the remaining six petitions given to us by Jesus in this stunningly rich prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13

 “After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. They will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

On the surface what Jesus gave to His disciples is a seemingly simple prayer. Yet the breath of this prayer is astoundingly wide and encompasses the entirety of man’s existence. I will be citing very heavily from Dr. Martin Luther and his commentary on the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Book of Concord. Whatever you may think about Luther. I believe you will agree that he had great insight into the Lord’s Prayer. My comments are in Blue, Luther’s are in Black.

The Second Petition

“Thy Kingdom Come”

But just as the name of God is in itself holy, and we pray nevertheless that it be holy among us, so also His Kingdom comes of itself without our prayer, yet we pray nevertheless that it may come to us, that is, prevail among us and with us, so that we may be a part of those among whom His name is hallowed and His kingdom prospers. [ Luther’s insight flies in the face of a great deal of current teaching concerning the kingdom of God in charismatic circles. It is commonly taught that we the Church, can either hasten or delay the coming of God’s kingdom. This hastening or delaying is done through either our positive or negative confessions or actions. Those who teach a brand of “Dominion Theology” say that it is up to the Church to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. This false doctrine espouses the belief that we are to Christianize every nation and then hand a restored would back to Jesus at His return. This global restoration and dominion will be allegedly led by a large number of “restored” prophets and apostles. Some of the more well know people who teach this false view include: Earl Paulk, Dr. C. Peter Wagner, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Bickle, John Paul Jones, Don Nori, Mahesh Chavda and others.]

But what is the kingdom of God? Answer: Nothing else than what we learned in the Creed, that God sent His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life and salvation against sin, death, and an evil conscience, fro which end He has also bestowed His Holy Ghost, who is to bring these things home to us by His holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power.

Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us, and that His name be so praised through the holy Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted it may abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may fine entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun.

For the coming of God’s kingdom to us occurs in two ways; first, here in time through the Word and faith; and secondly, in eternity forever through revelation Now we pray for both these things, that it may come to those who are not yet in it, and by daily increase, to us who have received the same, and hereafter in eternal life. All this is nothing else than saying: Dear Father, we pray, give us first Thy Word, that the Gospel be preached properly throughout the world; and secondly, that it be received in faith, and work and live in us, so that through the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost Thy Kingdom may prevail among us, and the kingdom of the devil be put down, that he may have no right or power over us, until at last it shall be utterly destroyed, and sin, death, and hell shall be exterminated, that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.

From this you perceive that we pray here not for a crust of bread or a temporal, perishable good, but for an eternal inestimable treasure and everything that God Himself possesses; which is far too great for any human heart to think of desiring if He had not Himself commanded us to pray for the same. But because He is God, He also claims the honor of giving much more and more abundantly than any one can comprehend, — like an eternal, unfailing fountain, which the more it pours forth and overflows, the more it continues to give, — and He desires nothing more earnestly of us than that we ask much and great things of Him, and again is angry if we do not ask and pray confidently.

The Third Petition

“They Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”

Thus far we have prayed that God’s name be honored by us, and that His kingdom prevail among us; in which two points is comprehended all that pertains to the honor of God and to our salvation, that we receive as our own God and all His riches. But now a need just as great arises, namely, that we firmly keep them, and do not suffer ourselves to be torn there from.

For no one believes how the devil opposes and resists them, and cannot suffer that any one teach or believe aright. And it hurts him beyond measure to suffer his lies and abominations, that have been honored under the most specious pretexts of the divine name, to be exposed and to be disgraced himself, and besides, be driven out of the heart, and suffer such a breach to be made in his kingdom. Therefore he chafes and rages as a fierce enemy with all his power and might, and marshals all his subjects and, in addition enlists the world and our own flesh as his allies.

If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon upon having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies, who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he shall have peace; but he must risk what whatever he has upon earth — possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life.

[ Luther taught salvation by grace through faith alone, but it was not a cheap grace, nor was it a faith that does not produce works. Many today hold only to a theology of glory and cannot accept the reality of the theology of the cross. The early evangelicals understood that they would have to suffer attacks fro their stance on the Gospel. Consider well what Luther says here in light of the teachings of Joel Osteen, Paula White or Jesse Duplantis.]

Hence there is just as great a need, as in all the others, that we pray without ceasing: “Dear Father, Thy will be done, not the will of the devil and of our enemies, nor of anything that would persecute and suppress Thy holy Word or hinder Thy kingdom; and grant that we may bear with patience and overcome whatever is to be endured on that account, lest our poor flesh yield or fall away from weakness or sluggishness.”

Behold, thus we have in these three petitions, in the simplest manner, the need which relates to God Himself, yet all for our sakes. For whatever we pray concerns only us, namely, as we have said, that what must be done anyway without us, may also be done in us. For as His name must be hallowed and His kingdom come without our prayer, so also His will must be done and succeed although the devil with all his adherents raise a great tumult, are angry and rage against it, and undertake to exterminate the Gospel utterly. But for our own sakes we must pray that even against their fury His will be done without hindrance also among us, that they may not be able to accomplish anything and we remain firm against all violence and persecution, and submit to such will of God.

Such prayer, then, is to be our protection and defense now, is to repel and put down all that the devil, Pope, bishops, tyrants, and heretics can do against our Gospel. Let them all rage and attempt their utmost, and deliberate and resolve how they may suppress and exterminate us, that their will and counsel may prevail: over and against this one or two Christians with this petition alone shall be our wall against which they shall run and dash themselves to pieces. This consolation and confidence we have, that the will and purpose of the devil and of all our enemies shall and must fail and come to naught, however, proud, secure, and powerful they know themselves to be. For if their will were not broken and hindered, the kingdom of God could not abide on earth nor His name be hallowed.

The Fourth Petition

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

[In this petition I want to draw your attention to how marvelously Luther expands this simple petition to encompass every aspect that of life that goes into God providing for us daily bread. Also not how Luther often mentions the negative aspect which are wrapped up in our prayer to our heavenly Father].

Here, now, we consider the poor breadbasket, the necessaries of our body and of the temporal life. It is a brief and simple word, but it has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes with it. Therefore you must open wide and extend your thoughts not only to the oven or the flour-bin but to the distant field and the entire land, which bears and brings to us daily bread and every sort of sustenance. For if God did not cause it to grow, and bless and preserve it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to set upon the table.

To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread. Now for our life it is not only necessary that our body have food and covering and other necessaries, but also that we spend our days in peace and quiet among the people with whom we live and have intercourse in daily business and conversation and all sorts of doings, in short, whatever pertains both to the domestic and to the neighborly or civil relation and government. For where these two things are hindered [intercepted and disturbed] that they do not proper as they ought, the necessaries of life also are impeded, so that ultimately life cannot be maintained. And there is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for temporal authority and government, as that by which most of all God preserves to us our daily bread and all the comforts of this life. For though we have received of God all good things in abundance we are not able to retain any of them or use them in security and happiness, if He did not give us a permanent and peaceful government. For where there are dissension, strife, and war, there the daily bread is already taken away, or at least checked.

Let this be a very brief explanation and sketch, showing how far this petition extends through all conditions on earth. Of this any one might indeed make a long prayer, and with many words enumerate all the things that are included therein, as that we pray God to give us food and drink, clothing, house, and home, and health of body; also that He cause the grain and fruits of the field to grow and mature well; furthermore, that He help us at home towards good housekeeping, that He give and preserve to us a godly wife, children, and servants, that He cause our work, trade, or whatever we are engaged in to prosper and succeed, favor us with faithful neighbors and good friends, etc. Likewise, that He give to emperors, Kings, and all estates, and especially to the rulers, of our country and to all counselors, magistrates, and officers, wisdom, strength, and success that they may govern well and vanquish the Turks and all enemies; to subjects and the common people, obedience, peace, and harmony in their life with one another, and on the other hand, that He would reserve us from all sorts of calamity to body and livelihood, as lightning, hail, fire, flood, poison, pestilence, castle-plague, war and bloodshed, famine, destructive beasts, wicked men, etc. All this it is well to impress upon the simple, namely, that these things come from God, and must be prayed for by us.

But this petition is especially directed also against our chief enemy, the devil. For all his thought and desire is to deprive us of all that we have from God, or to hinder it; and he is not satisfied to obstruct and destroy spiritual government in leading souls astray by his lies and bringing them under his power, but he also prevents and hinders the stability of all government and honorable, peaceable relations on earth. There he causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war also lightning and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc. In short, he is sorry that any one has a morsel of bread from God and eats it in peace; and if it were in his power, and our prayer (next to God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a farthing in the house, yea, not even our life for an hour, especially those who have the Word of God and would like to be Christians.

Behold, thus God wishes to indicate to us how He cares for us in all our need, and faithfully provides also for our temporal support. Although He abundantly grants and preserves these things even to the wicked and knaves, yet He wishes that we pray for them, in order that we may recognize that we receive them from His had, and may feel His paternal goodness toward us therein.

The Fifth Petition

“And Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

This part now relates to our poor miserable life, which although we have and believe the Word of God, and do and submit to His will, and are supported by His gifts and blessings is nevertheless not without sin. For we still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among men who do us much harm and give us cause for impatience, anger, revenge, etc. Besides, we have Satan at our back, who sets upon us on every side, and fights (as we have heard) against all the foregoing petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a persistent conflict.

[This insight regarding our sinfulness is also rejected by many in the Church today. Among the charismatic and the so-called modern evangelical community is a negation of the reality of sin. Either some form of incipient perfectionism is taught {which gained a foothold in the Church today through that damnable heretic Charles Finney} or sin is simply not preached about because it is a “negative” confession. Luther correctly understood what it meant to be declared righteous in the sight of God and that our righteousness is in fact an alien righteousness, one that is reckoned to our account due to the work of Christ. Many, especially within the word of Faith cult, teach that the Christian actually becomes righteous and can attain sinless perfection in this life.]

Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and ever before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness. For since the flesh in which we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in evil and omission by which the conscience is thrown into unrest, so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is ceaselessly necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again.

But this should serve God’s purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble. For in case any one should boast of his godliness and despise others, God has reserved this prerogative to Himself, that the person is to consider himself and place this prayer before his eyes, and he will find that he is no better than others, and that in the presence of God all must lower their plumes, and be glad that they can attain forgiveness. And let no one think that as long as we live here he can reach such a position that he will not need such forgiveness. In short, if God does not forgive without ceasing, we are lost.

It is therefore the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us what we daily deserve, but would deal graciously with us, and forgive, as He has promised, and thus grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer. For where the heart is not in right relation towards God, nor can take such confidence, it will nevermore venture to pray. But such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the [certain] knowledge of the forgiveness of sin.

But there is here attached a necessary, yet consolatory addition: As we forgive. He has promised that we shall be sure that everything is forgiven and pardoned, yet in the manner that we also forgive our neighbor. For just as we daily sin much against God and ye He forgives everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice toward us, etc. If, therefore you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives you; but if you forgive, you have this consolation and assurance, that you are forgiven in heaven, not on account of your forgiving, — for God forgives freely and without condition out of pure grace, because He has so promised, as the Gospel teaches, — but in order that He may set this up for our confirmation and assurance for a sign alongside of the promise which accords with this prayer, Luke 6:37: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Therefore Christ also repeats it soon after the Lord’s Prayer, and says, Matt 6,14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, etc.

The Sixth Petition

“And Lead us not into temptation”

We have now heard enough what toil and labor is required to retain all that for which we pray, and to persevere therein, which, however, is not achieved without infirmities and stumbling. Besides, although we have received forgiveness and a good conscience and are entirely acquitted, yet is our life of such a nature that one stands today, and to-morrow falls. Therefore, even though we be godly now and stand before God with a good conscience, we must pray again that He would not suffer us to relapse and yield to trials and temptations.

Temptation, however, or (as our Saxons in olden times used to call it) Bekoerunge, is of three kinds, namely, of the flesh, of the world, and of the devil. For in the flesh we dwell and carry the old Adam about our neck, who exerts himself and incites us daily to in chastity, laziness, gluttony and drunkenness, avarice and deception, to defraud our neighbor and to overcharge him, and, in short, to all manner of evil lusts which cleave to us be nature, and to which we are incited by the society, example and what we hear and see of other people, which often would and inflame even an innocent heart.

Next comes the world, which offends us in word and deed, and impels us to anger and impatience. In short, there is nothing but hatred and envy, enmity, violence and wrong, unfaithfulness, vengeance, cursing, raillery slander, pride and haughtiness, with superfluous finery, honor, fame, and power, where no one is willing to be the least, but every one desires to sit at the head and to be seen before all.

Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word and works of God to tear us away from faith, hope and love and bring us into misbelief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which are shot most venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil.

Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations which every Christian must bear, even though each one were alone by himself, so that every hour that we are in this vile life where we are attacked on all side, chased and hunted down, we are moved to cry out and to pray that God would not suffer us to become weary and faint and to relapses into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible to overcome even the least temptation.

This, then is leading us not into temptation, to wit, when He gives us power and strength to resist, the temptation, however, not being taken away or removed. For while we live in the flesh and have the devil about us, no one can escape temptation and allurements; and it cannot be otherwise than that we must endure trials, yea, he engulfed in them; but we pray for this, that we may not fall and be drowned in them.

Therefore we Christians must be armed and daily expect to be incessantly attacked, in order that no one may go on in security and heedlessly, as though the devil were far from us, but at all times expect and parry his blows. For though I am now chaste, patient, kind, and in firm faith, the devil will this very hour send such an arrow into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy that never desists nor becomes tired, so that when one temptation ceases, there always arise others and fresh ones.

Accordingly, there is no help or comfort except to run hither and to take hold of the Lord’s Prayer, and thus speak to God from the heart: Dear Father, Thou hast bidden me pray; let me not relapse because of temptations. Then you will see that they must desist, and finally acknowledge themselves conquered. Else if you venture to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent’s head, which if it gain an opening into which he can slip, the whole body will follow without check. But prayer can prevent him and drive him back.

The Seventh Petition

“But Deliver Us From Evil”

In the Greek text this petition reads thus: Deliver or preserve us from the Evil One, or the Malicious One; and it looks as if He were speaking of the devil, as though He would comprehend everything in one so that the entire substance of all our prayer is directed against our chief enemy. For it is he who hinders among us everything that we pray for the name or honor of God, God’s kingdom and will, our daily bread, a cheerful good conscience, etc.

Therefore we finally sum it all up and say; Dear Father pray, help that we be rid of all these calamities. But there is nevertheless also included whatever evil may happen to us under the devil’s kingdom –poverty, shame, death, and in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. For since the devil is not only a lair, but also a murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. Therefore, there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch enemy without ceasing. For unless God preserved us, we would not be safe from him even for an hour.

Hence you see again how God wishes us to pray to Him also for all the things which affect our bodily interests, so that we seek and expect help nowhere else except in Him. But this matter He has put last; for if we are to be preserved and delivered from all evil, the name of God must first be hallowed in us, His kingdom must be with us, and His will be done. After that He will finally preserve us from sin and shame, and besides, from everything that may hurt or injure us.

Thus God has briefly placed before us all the distress which may ever come upon us, so that we might have no excuse whatever for not praying. But all depends upon this, that we learn also to say Amen, that is, that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard and [what we pray] shall be done. For this is nothing else than the word of undoubting faith, which does not pray at a venture, but knows that God does not lie to him, since He has promised to grant it. Therefore, where there is no such faith, there cannot be ture prayer either.

It is, therefore, a pernicious delusion of those who pray in such a manner that they dare not from the heart say yea and positively conclude that God hears them, but remain in doubt and say, How should I be so bold as to boast that God hears my prayer? For I am but a poor sinner, etc.

The reason for this is, they regard not the promise of God, but their own work and worthiness, whereby they despise God and reproach Him with lying, and therefore they receive nothing. As St. James says [1,6]: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. Behold, such importance God attaches to the fact that we are sure we do not pray in vain, and that we do not in any way despise our prayer.

I believe it is possible to spend many months mediating on this prayer and all its ramifications and Dr. Luther’s insights have certainly broadened my understanding and increased my appreciation of the Lord’s Prayer. Now during our Sunday services when we as a congregation pray the Lord’s Prayer it mean so much more to me and I hope that this brief exposition on it gie you a solid foundation upon which to build a rich life of prayer.

End Notes

1. Luther, Martin The Book of Concord, This text was prepared by Allen Mulvey for Project Wittenberg. The entire text is in the public domain and can be downloaded or read in its entirely at http://www.icinet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/catechism/web/cat-12.html.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid





I Can’t Hear God Anymore – Life in a Dallas Cult

17 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – March 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 3 – I can’t hear God Anymore – Life in a Dallas Cult – A Book Review – Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

I Can’t Hear God Anymore

Life in a Dallas Cult – A Book Review

DMI always strives to speak the truth and expose error even when that error is found to be in a leading Apologetic ministry. Several mouths ago I received an email from Doug Duncan who worked for many years with Ole Anthony. Anthony is he founder of the Trinity Foundation as well as the leader of an independent Christian commute in the inner city of Dallas, Texas.

Many of us may remember Ole and his organization when they ere used by PrimeTime Live in their expose of televangelist Robert Tilton, Larry Lea and W.V. Grant Jr. Due in large part to the work of Ole and the Trinity Foundation Mr. Tilton was basically run out of Dallas and his once mega-church was turned into an empty building Larry Lea left his leadership position and eventually Mr. Grant went to jail on tax evasion charges. This work was well documented and frankly having been associated to some degree or another with all three ministries I can say Ole was doing the “Lord’s work” in his expose of them.

Over the years DMI has worked with the Trinity Foundation by supplying Anthony with materials we received from various religious scam artists. We also receive The Door religious satire magazine which is published by the Trinity Foundation. From time to time I would receive an e-mail from Doug Duncan and occasionally from Ole.

A few months ago I received an email from Doug with an attached newspaper article in which the Trinity Foundation and especially Ole Anthony were shown in a very bad light. Doug mentioned that his wife Wendy had recently published a book about her life (and to some extent Doug’s) as a member of Anthony’s commune. I asked for a copy to read and upon reading her book it seems that Ole, in spite of the good work he has done in exposing religious frauds, has been leading an aberrant group, spiritually abusing the members and teaching a wide variety of false doctrines.

The Dallas Observer article described Ole and his commune by saying:

And of their leader, a tall charismatic man named Ole Anthony. Many of those curled on the sofas in the office of the Trinity Foundation had been with him for more than a decade. They were idealistic young Christians, drawn in by his energy, brilliance and demand for complete transparency. They’d given up their money, their careers and for some, their own wills to follow Anthony, just as he followed Jesus, albeit in his own idiosyncratic way. No one who met Ole (pronounced O-lee) Anthony ever forgot him. Though his blond hair had turned white his eyes were still the same piercing blue, and they zeroed in on listeners with a ferocity that could be unnerving. Everyone in the room had come under his withering glare at one time or another and they loved him for it, or said they did. (1)

I underlined a couple of points in the above citation that bear keeping in mind. First of all, the people who got involved with Ole and his group were young Christians, i.e. people with no genuine biblical foundation. Upon meeting Ole (whom I’ve met personally) they were bewitched by his very strong personality and intelligence. It doe not take too much these days to point out the disturbing flaws, fakes, frauds and religious shysters within and without the Church. It was easy for Ole to draw away some disciples unto himself by offering to these ignorant sheep something totally different from the Americanized perversion of Biblical Christianity. Sadly, these believers had nothing to weigh Anthony’s doctrines against and they were misled. Until Wendy’s book was published there was no real exposure of much of what was taking place in the commune. The Dallas Observer article continues:

They lived on “the Block,” a row of old prairie-style houses off Columbia Avenue in East Dallas, where they studied, ate and worked together. Some had taken a vow of poverty and worked as “Levites” for Trinity, an old fusion of church, shelter and public foundation dedicated to its role as a religious watchdog.

Last month, former Trinity member Wendy Duncan, now Doug Duncan’s wife, published a book called I Can’t Hear God Anymore. Doug, who was once Anthony’s roommate, married Wendy and left the group in 2000. Her book calls Trinity a cult. She claims that Anthony subjected his followers to “hot seats” scathing verbal attacks that were supposed to be cleansing but brought them under his control and scarred some so deeply that they will no longer pick up a Bible.

But allegations that Trinity is a cult began as early as the late ‘70s and have surfaced numerous times since, often by members’ families, sometimes by the media. In 1989, Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News wrote, “there are times when even to its members the foundation looks like a cult of personality.”

More then a dozen former Trinity members interviewed by the Dallas Observer agree that Trinity bears many cult-like traits:

  • Zealous commitment to a domineering leader not accountable to any authority.
  • Discouragement or punishment of dissent and doubt.
  • Use of mind-altering techniques such as denunciation sessions–the infamous hot seats.
  • Dictation by leadership of how followers should act, sometimes in great detail.
  • Breakdown of personal boundaries, such as denying members permission to marry.
  • Encouraging a sense of elitism or special status for the group.
  • Fostering an “us vs. them” mentality.
  • They claim that Wendy Duncan’s book is accurate and that Anthony’s influence caused enormous damage to their lives.
  • ‘Ole used intimidation to get his way,” says Rick Beamer”
  • Robertson, a Dallas radio DJ and voice actor who belongs to Trinity off and on starting in the ‘70s “It’s his will in the guise of the group’s. (2)

All of the bulleted points in the article are the common denominators of any abusive cult group. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the various aberrant doctrines and practices, however I do urge you to first, pray for Ole Anthony and those who remain under his spell. Secondly, if you are interested in a good eyewitness account of how someone who loves the Lord can end up in a cultic group for years before being liberated I think you will find Wendy Duncan’s book a compelling read.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes 

1. Whitely, Glema. The Cult of Ole, The Dallas Observer.

2. Ibid.

Wendy’s book is Available a:      scanWENDYSBOOK0001  

http://www.dallascult.com

$14.95 plus shipping





Rekindling An Extinguished Flame (Making Money Off A Memory)

15 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 2 – Rekindling An Extinguished Flame (Making Money Off A Memory) by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Rekindling An Extinguished Flame

(Making Money Off A Memory)

By Rev. Bob Liichow

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This month’s issue of Charisma magazine had several things which caught my eye, but two advertisements really speak to where the emphasis is within the Charismatic Movement today. On page 62 of the February, 2007 issue of Charisma you can read the following information from a three-quarter page ad:

A.A. Allen’s

Miracle Valley

Resurrected

Resurrection Glory Tent Revival

February 21-25th, 2007

‘Miracles, Healings, Signs and Wonders once again at

Miracle Valley, Arizona.

A Generation later God is now restoring this massive

Well

Of Glory and Power! (1)

Naturally, two names come to the forefront when you consider A.A. Allen’s legacy, R.W. Schambach and Don Steward both of which can be seen on “Christian” television on a regular basis. Schambach is a regular guest on TBN and is brought out especially during Beg-a-thons because he appeals to the “old school” Pentecostals due to him being one of the last roving tent revivalists. Don Stewart has his own television broadcast. Both men will on occasion mention A.A. Alan’s name in passing to let their viewers know they walked with a General of Pentecostal power. Roberts LIARdon devotes an entire chapter to A.A. Alan in his book “God’s Generals.”

As I read down through the Charisma ad, which has a large picture of A.A. Allen in the upper left corner, I expected to read that either R.W. or Stewart were going to be speakers or hosting the event due to their being Allen’s former right and left hand men. Yet neither person is involved with the “Resurrection Glory Tent Revival.”

Could this be because the ad states that “God is now restoring this massive well of Glory and Power,” meaning that Allen’s mantle of miracle power did not fall upon Schambach or Stewart? With the death of Allen did the “masive well” of God’s power run dry and only now is being restored? First, we would have to agree that at some point there was a massive well of power in Miracle Valley, AZ. Secondly, we’d have to agree that the well through which this miracle power flowed was no less than Asa A. Allen.

I find a couple of interesting comparisons between charismatic extremists and Roman Catholicism. First, both groups believe there is or can be places where God moves specifically. For the Roman Catholic it may be dipping in the water at Lourdes, France or staring at the Sun on a hilltop in Medjugorie, Bosnia-Hercegovina. For the charismatic extremist it might be Azusa Street. CA. or the graves of Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman. Benny Hinn visits both tombs to re-charge his alleged anointing. (2) It seems that the final resting place of A.A. Alen’s is the latest place where people can come and receive miracles, healings and signs and wonders once again! A second comparison between these two groups is the belief in some form of “apostolic succession.” For the Roman Catholic that belief is centered on the office of the Pope. For the extremist it is a belief that God’s power can be bestowed from one anointed minister into another lesser anointed one. This is why many younger ministers will often mention how hands were laid upon them by some past (or current) man or woman of faith-N-power! I might as well add a third comparison between these groups of professing believers, that of the power of human mediators. For the Roman Catholic it can be a host of deceased saints, the Virgin Mary being the greatest of all mediators in their minds. Charismatic extremist televangelists foster the belief that their prayers are especially efficacious. Oral Roberts built an empire based on this misguided belief. Ever since he built his prayer tower he has used it as a tool to garner millions of dollars from God’s gullible saints. I mean, after all , if Oral is going to shut himself in with God to pray for me specifically, then surely God will answer my prayer request (along with other millions or so Oral will personally bring “before God.”). Hinn does the same thing on his television broadcasts when he and his guest or henchman will all lay their hands on the huge stack of prayer requests and prey on., I mean pray “for” God’s needy saints.

Since the advertisement states that “once again” this massive well of glory and power is being restored it behooves us to ask the question was A.A. Allen ever such a well of glory and power during his ministry?

A Little Stroll Down Memory Lane

It has been over thirty years since Allen died so many of our readers may not remember or even know who he was back in the day, as we like to say on the eastside of Detroit regarding the past. As the old adage says, “those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it” is certainly true regarding Allen and all the fake-healers that preceded and proceeded from him.

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Allen claims to have received Christ at a Methodist meeting in 1934 and within a couple of years he became part of the Assembly of God (AOG) in 1936 and began ministering with them at that point. While an AOG Evangelist Allen in the mid to late 1930’s Allen claimed to have shut himself literally in a closet and fasted and prayed asking the Lord for the secret of His power. Allen claimed that God honored his prayers and revealed to him what the price tag was for miracles:

‘…When the last requirement was written down on the list, God spoke once again, and said: ‘This is the answer. When you have placed on the altar of consecration and obedience the last thing on your list, you shall not only heal the sick, but in My name shall you cast out devils, you shall see mighty miracles as in My Name you preach the Word, for behold, I give you power over all the power of the enemy…At last, here was the price I must pay for the power of God in my life and ministry. THE PRICE TAG OFFER THE MIRACLE-WORKING POWER OF GOD! (3)

“God” revealed to Allen thirteen works he had to do and when he had done all 13 of them, then God’ power would flow in his life. Allen only revealed eleven of the thirteen to is followers, saying that the last two had to do with “pet sins” in his life.

However, it was not until he participated in an Oral Roberts tent miracle revival meeting in 1949 that Allen got into the flow amidst a field of almost 200 other roving healing revivalists:

While attending an Oral Roberts Tent revival in 1949, Allen felt a burden to reach the lost with the miracle-working power of God and he soon hit the revival trail. Allen would be part of the “Golden-Era of Tent Evangelism,” that flourished between the end of World War Two and the mid-1960s. (4)

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I can’t say for a certainty whether or not Allen “felt a burden” or not. When we consider his history and the fruit he brought forth it seems more likely that he believed he could do what Roberts did. Allen saw the large offerings being taken by Roberts, saw him lay his “anointed” right hand on the sick in healing lines, heard the standard Pentecostal revival preaching (Roberts was still Pentecostal at that point in time, he later left the Pentecostals and became a Methodist) and no doubt thought “I can do that too.” So Allen transformed himself into “A.A. Allen, healing evangelist” with the AOG. Allen stayed with the AOG until 1955 when they defrocked him and took his ministerial license away due to him being arrested in Knoxville,TN on a drunk driving charge. Instead of facing the charges in court, he jumped bail and fled the state (R.W. Schambach was with Allen as they fled the state). (5)

In true Latter Rain style (keep in mind by 1955 the New Order of the Latter Rain was in full gear) Allen simply re-ordained himself and started up as an independent ministry calling it the “Miracle Revival Fellowship,” along with the biggest tent of all the tent revivalists, he hit the road and hit pay dirt.

In 1955 Allen purchased a tent for $8,700 that would seat over ten thousand people , and Allen was soon one of the major healing evangelists on the revival circuit. Allen’s revival meetings were similar to the other leading evangelists of the time (such as Jack Coe, Oral Roberts, and William Branham) where there would be an extended time for music and testifying, then a sermon, then an appeal for those in need to come forward and be prayed for. Allen opened his revival meetings to all races, and his interracial meetings drew criticism, but Allen used the criticism as a platform to preach upon. (6)

Later Allen cut the tent up and sold pieces of it as point-of-contact devices saying that the tent had absorbed healing power from all the miracles that transpired under it (and you thought some Roman Catholics were superstitious)! In 1958, Allen purchased the largest of all the tents on the circuit, he bought Jack Coe’s tent which seated 22,000. Coe had died in 1956, so Allen got the tent for a good price, but he was “visionary” enough to see the future of revivalism. Not long after he purchased the huge tent, Allen was given 1,280 acres of land in Arizona by Urbane Lienen Decker. This large tract of desert land was soon to become Allen’s headquarters and he renamed this land “Miracle Valley.”

Miracle Valley, Arizona, is at the base of the Huachuca Mountains in the southeast corner of the state. There, Allen had his own airfield, a Cessna 150 aircraft, a record company (with 47 albums going), a 3,000 seat church, and a telephone prayer center. He appeared on 58 radio stations daily, and on 43 TV stations weekly…Miracle Magazine, a monthly publication with a circulation of 350,000 was produced and printed at Miracle Valley. (7)

Allen saw the future was in radio, television and print media’s and he was one of the first of the modern “televangelists.

Allen became one of the first to develop a national television ministry and broadcast prophecies and deliverances from demons over the airwaves. Allen is credited with helping to start over four hundred churches and led a revival in the Philippines. Allen also founded a Bible School in Miracle Valley, to fulfill his visions; ‘a place where thousands could be trained up to deliver the Word of God to the multitudes in need’. At a revival meeting on Jauary 1st, 1958, at Phoenix, Arizona Urbane Leign Decker, a recent convert and Spirit filled, approached Allen and offered him 1280 acres (5.2 km) of the finest land in Arizona, free of charge and with no strings attached. Within days a deed was recorded in the name of A.A. Allen Revivals, Inc. at the Cochise County Courthouse. (8)

Allen was pulling in around 4 million a year, which back then was a great deal of money, naturally I realize this in no way compares to Mr. Hinn’s one hundred (100) million + dollars per year today. Yet back in the late 1950’s and through the 1960’s a million dollars was a lot of money. In 1969 reporters from Look magazine wrote an article on Allen. These reporters concluded that Allen’s greatest miracle power was his unique ability to separate bills from billfolds. Let me cite James Randi again regarding this “power” of Allen:

He was very good at that. In his heyday, he claimed he sent out over 55 million copies of his publications from his mail room every year. He sold water from his Pool of Bethesda in Miracle Valley to customers all over the world. Said Allen of this commodity, ‘People are being healed instantly while they sip it as an act of faith’ Containers of plain dirt from the valley were also sold though no instructions went along with them. The reverend displayed demons in glass mason jars, sealed up safely and looking very, very dead. Allen told the faithful that those the preserved specimens might look to some insensitive, unbelieving folks like ordinary toads, snakes, and spiders, they were actually disease demons. (9)

Delivering folks from demons was one of Allen’s stock-in-trade shticks. However, Allen could not deliver himself from the demon of alcoholism and substance abuse. What is sad is that those closest to him did nothing to stop his self-destruction. R.W. Schambach and Don Stewart had to have known about this problem in Allen’s life, but both have kept silent and denied his alcoholism to this very day. I suppose they did not want to kill the “golden goose” by confronting the man of faith-and-power with his own “demons.”

During 1969 Allen was a sick man who according to Roberts LIARdon suffered from a severe arthritic condition in his knee. Somehow Roberts failed to mention the revelations in the Look article which proved Allen to be a fraud. Instead he tries to paint a sympathetic picture of a man in so much pain that he must take strong addictive drugs to combat it:

In fact, it is documented that his personal physician, Dr. Seymour Farber, prescribed Percodan, Seconal, and Valium to ease the pain and for insomnia brought on by the severity of the pain. (10)

On June 11, 1970 Allen checked into the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. He made a phone call to a close friend at 9:00 P.M. who was alarmed by whatever or however Allen spoke to him, so much so that he drove over to the Hotel and got the manger to open Allen’s room with the master key. According to the Coroner’s report A.A. Allen was declared officially dead at 11:23 P.M. that evening. In the room was a bottle of whiskey and numerous bottles of prescription drugs. According to the death certificate (which DMI has an official copy ofSee at End of article) Allen died of “acute” alcoholism and fatty infiltration of the liver.” In the words of Paul Harvey, “now you know the rest of the story.”

Brothers and sisters, there is no independent recorded evidence of any creative miracles or divine healing in Mr. Allen’s ministry. We do know he was extremely sensational, so much so that almost every other revivalist stayed away from him due to his wild unsubstantiated claims. It is a fact that he jumped bail and fled TN due to a DUI charge. We know that his wife left him around 1962 in a legal separation. We know he was being sued for over $300,000 in back taxes in 1967. We know his doctor had him on highly addictive drugs, which I believe, combined with his drinking, eventually caused his death on June 11th, 1970. A.A. Allen was not a man of wonder-working power or of miracles and signs and wonders.

Yet these documented facts do not seem to matter to those holding the “Resurrection Glory Tent Revival” on the Miracle Valley property later this month. Since Schambach and steward are not involved in this meeting, who is you might ask? It is being sponsored primarily by David Herzog and his wife Stephanie. If you go to their web site www.thegloryzone.org you can read about their miracle ministry! On their site they claim jewels from heaven are manifesting in some of their meetings. They show pictures of people with their mouths gaping open showing the “gold teeth” God has supernaturally given them, etc…In other words they, like the man they esteem, Mr. Allen, seem to be totally caught up in the sensational and not the Scriptural. Naturally, on their web site there is no proof given for any of the testimonies or pictures on their web site. DMI has looked into various alleged reports of gem stones and gold teeth and we have yet to find any proof of such things. So be aware a new generation of frauds, fakes and thieves are being raised up to fill the place where Allen on stood.

Just When You Thought It Could Get No Worse

As if propping Allen up as a miracle worker was not bad enough, Charisma on the adjacent page sells a full page advertisement to “Mel Bond.” (Who you might rightly ask is Mel Bond?) According to his Ad he is a “last day Apostle of signs and wonders.” What is more, Mr. Bond is holding a school of signs and wonders, here is a portion of the ad:

Sound the Alarm

New School of Signs and Wonder

I am building an army equipped with the ministry of signs and wonders to go to the world and openly on platforms demonstrate the power of God by healing the blinded eyes, deaf ears, crippleness, incurable pain and the dead corpses to rise, ALL INSTANTLY THAT THE Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:12-14).   (11)

DMI is in fact “sounding the alarm” that another flake is on the loose. I’m sorry if I do not sound very merciful towards Mr. Bond, but I have yet to see the Scripture so openly and obviously twisted and misstated as his ad proclaims. What is worse is that this nonsense passed the inspection of the Editors of Charisma magazine. They see no problem at all with the above statement. Bond goes on to say the following:

According to God’s Word, God is waiting on the ministry of Signs and Wonders to bring in the masses throughout the world and then the rapture will take place (Joel 2:28-32; Rev. 4:6; 5:9). In this one week of schooling I will teach & demonstrate (1 Cor. 2:4,5) in the classroom how to see in the spirit world, how to feel God’s anointing, how to place God’s anointing into physical bodies for instant miracles, and how to release God last days anointing for Signs and Wonders. At the end of the week together, you will have learned to do the same. (12)

Oh really? Where does the Bible speak of a “last days anointing? It seems in order to move this hitherto unknown anointing one simply needs to attend Mr. Bond’s class? It is not a question of the sovereign good pleasure of God, nor is it up to the Holy Spirit to bestow His gifts as He wills (1 Cor. 12:7). No, friends in these dark and evil last days it takes only a week of instruction by one of God’s restored Last Day Apostles {drum roll please} “Apostle Mel Bond.”

In Matthew 12:39 Jesus answered His crowd saying “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” God has never used signs and wonders to create saving faith in people. The Israelites saw daily miracles and yet the entire generation could not enter into the promised land due to their unbelief, except Joshua and Caleb. The genuine Apostle, the Apostle Paul said that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). The same Apostle said that the Gospel is the POWER OF GOD unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).

Last Days Anointing for Signs and Wonders?

Mr. Bond claims that the rapture cannot and will not occur until the “ministry of Signs and Wonders” brings in the masses of lost throughout the world. Oh really? What saith the Scriptures?

Jesus asks quite clearly that when He returns to earth will He find faith (Luke 18:8)? It is a rhetorical question with the answer of “no.” Our Lord also says that in the last days the love of most will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). How does Mel deal with texts such as the following:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:22-23.

For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. {Possibly interpreted ‘I am the anointed’}. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Matthew 24:5,10,11

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. Luke 21:8

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  2 Thess. 2:9-10

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  2 Timothy 4:3-4

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2 Thess 2:3

Sorry Mel and anyone else who is counting on some great tidal wave of revival and soul-winning to occur that will precipitate the return of our Lord. If such a thing were true then the return of Christ depends upon the Church and not God’s will; which is exactly what Bond’s ad implies when it states that “God is waiting on the ministry of signs and wonders.” I’m sorry but did I miss something in reading my Bible? Where exactly is a “ministry” of signs and wonders mentioned and moreover where doe the Bible declare that anyone can be taught to flow in the supernatural gifts of the Spirit?

A plain reading of the Biblical texts show that the very end of times (which has been going on now for almost two thousand years) is a time of apostasy from genuine faith, a time when men {and women} will declare themselves to be anointed by God, a time when the love of most will grow cold towards God and each other. It will be a time of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders to deceive those seeking a sign versus the God behind the sign. The end times will be a time when multitudes will gather to themselves teachers that suit their own fleshly lusts and desires, i.e. people teaching things they want to hear as opposed to what the Bible actually teaches. Humm…maybe we are in those times.

Let me close out this sad episode of deception by letting you know that Mr. Benny Hinn, not to be outdone by an “unknown” like Mel Bond also is now offering a “Signs and Wonders School of Ministry.” Unlike Bond’s Mr. Hinn offers his school online and at a cost. Mel Bond’s school is free: the only cost is room, board and travel to his home base located at 140 N. Point Prairie, Wentzville, MO. So all DMI Missouri readers, if you live near Wentzville consider these dates: March 26-30 or October 22-26 of this year to attend a week of classes on how to become a super-raising the dead and lifting wallets saint of the Most High!!

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 

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End Note

1 Charisma, February, 2007, p. 62. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

2. In an April 7,1991 sermon, Hinn revealed that he periodically visits Kuhlman’s grave and that he is one of the few with a key to gain access to it. He also visits Aimee’s grave. Where he says: “I felt a terrific anointing…I was shaking all over…trembling under the power of God…’Dear God, ‘ I said, ‘I feel the anointing…I believe the anointing has lingered over Aimee’s body.” Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/bhinn.html on 01-2007

3. Liardon, Roberts God’s Generals, Tulsa, OK: Asbury Publishing, 1996, p. 390.

4. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._A._Allen on 01-28-07

5. Randi, James. The Faith Healers, Prometheus Books: Buffalo, New York. 1987, p.85

6. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._A._Allen on 01-28-07 underlining added for emphasis.

7. Randi, James. The Faith Healers, Prometheus Books: Buffalo, New York. 1987, p.84

8. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._A._Allen on 01-28-07

9. Randi, James. The Faith Healers, Prometheus Books: Buffalo, New Yor. 1987, p. 87.

10. Liardon Roberts, God’s Generals, Tulsa, OK: Asbury Publishing, 1996, p. 408.

11. Charisma, February, 2007, p. 63. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis

12. Ibid. Italics, underlining and bold type added.





The Discipline of Prayer

14 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 2 – The Discipline of Prayer – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Prayer

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Like so many other genuine expressions of Christianity, something as seemingly simply as prayer has been turned into a set of rules, principles, keys, and methods by various aspects of charismatic extremists. Allow me to cite a few examples from the books in the growing DMI archive:

The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson

Releasing the Ability of God through Prayer, Charles Capps

Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, Derek Prince

Praying to Get Results, Kenneth E. Hagin

The Interceding Christian, Kenneth E. Hagin

Prevailing Prayer to Peace, Kenneth E. Hagin

The Art of Intercession, Kenneth E. Hagin

I Prayed, He Answered, William L. Vaswig

Prayer Fasting, “Apostle” Kingsley A. Fletcher

Practicing the Prayer of Presence, Adrian van Kaam & Susan Muto

Prayer Your Foundation for Success, Kenneth Copeland

Praying Beyond God’s Ability The Enigma of Unanswered Prayer, Roy Hicks

Prayer Hindrances, Fear Worry Doubt, Charles Capps (3 tape series)

Atomic Power With God Through Prayer & Fasting, Franklin Hall

Moving the Hand of God Putting Memorial Prayer to Work for You, John Avanzini

These books, and many others I did not cite involve techniques which can be condensed into the simple belief that through using these techniques you can get God to do whatever you want Him to as long as you can find a snippet of a Bible text to quote back to Him. The majority of charismatic books on prayer are little more than tracts about confessing the answer you want from God, which makes prayer more or less a practice of positive confession.

Naturally, there are a whole host of books written about the benefits and necessity of “praying” in other tongues. Almost every charismatic Christian believes that it is the will of God for each of His children to have their own prayer language. The emphasis on this is so strong that for fifteen years 90% of my time spent in prayer, was done by me in my private prayer language. I once took some time in seminary to figure out how many hours I had spent praying in other tongues and I came up with over 5,000 hours (keep in mind at one point I was single and used to pray 3-4 hours a day in tongues). The sad reality was brought home to me while studying First Corinthians taught by Dr. H. Wayne House at Michigan Theological Seminary. I learned that exegetically I had no leg to stand on regarding a private prayer language, there simply is no such thing taught by the Apostle Paul. Yet all the prater meetings I attended and led were basically groups of individuals praying loudly or softly in other tongues…because after all we ere speaking mysteries in the spirit realm and thus Satan could not know what we were saying to God, ergo, he could not inhibit God’s work on our behalf. What was troubling to me is that when the scales of ignorance dropped off of my eyes I realized three important facts: First, I did not know either what I was praying about, since it was just as much a mystery to me as it was to the devil and his demons. Secondly, since I really had no idea what I was saying, or who I might have been praying for I had no way of knowing if my prayers were even answered by God. Lastly, even though I’d leave those times of praying in tongues feeling GREAT, the truth was that I was not developing any real communication with my Lord. When I stopped praying in tongues I realized that I was nearly speechless before the Lord as far as genuinely pouring my heart out to Him in prayer. In short, I honestly did not know how to pray much at all. Oh I thought I was pulling down principalities, powers and dominions over neighborhoods and cities. I could go on for hours “in the spirit,” yet when it came to being transparent with myself before my God I was at a loss.

I believe this is the same sort of experience the disciples had being around The Master during His earthly ministry. Jesus was (still is) a man of prayer this is plainly shown throughout all four Gospels.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, Matthew 14:23

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. Mark 6:46-47

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Luke 9:28,29

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. Luke 11:1

“Lord Teach Us to Pray”

This is where we begin our consideration of the spiritual discipline of prayer. It seems obvious that the disciples took note of the manner in which our Lord relied upon prayer as His “connection” between Himself and His heavenly Father. They saw their Master often either leaving them to be alone to pray, or rising early in the morning to spend time alone with His Father in prayer. In short, what they noticed was that the prayer life of Jesus was not (1) formal, (2) ritualistic, (3) repetitive, (4) dull and (5) nonproductive. Until the breaking forth of Jesus’ ministry none of the rabbis, scribes, or Pharisees ever referred to Almighty God as “Father” in their prayers or teachings. This was a radical concept which brought our Lord into conflict with the ruling religious minds of His day.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, o that your giving may be in secret. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:3-8

Jesus, in Matthew and other places in the Gospel, hammer’s home a point formerly unstressed to the Israelites, that of God being their “father.” Unlike today, back then most people knew they were sinners and that God was holy, thus their relationship to Him was not seen generally of a father relating to his children. God was wholly “other” to the average Israelite and to dare call Him “Father” was blasphemy and an attempt to rise oneself up to His level. The religious leaders understood perfectly that Jesus was declaring Himself to be God’s Son because of the familial terms He used of Himself and the god the Jews were supposed to be worshipping.

I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you tone me?” We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33

It is vital to understand the times in which Jesus lived in order to realize just how radical the prayer He was about to teach His disciples was and still is today when it is really delved into. What we call “the Lord’s Prayer,” is really better named “the Disciples Prayer,” because they asked our Master to teach them to pray. It is really a very simple prayer which is broken down into seven petitions. Because of its seeming simplicity, the tremendous depth and majesty of what Jesus taught His disciples often goes unappreciated by many in the Church today. Sadly, from my own personal experience I know that the majority of charismatic congregations do not pray the Lord’s Prayer as a part of their worship service and virtually all of the so-called “evangelical” congregations do not do so either. In my studies I have found the commentary of Dr. Martin Luther in his Large Catechism on the Lord’s Prayer to be the best available and I will be citing it almost exclusively.

The First Petition

“Hallowed be Thy name”

Jesus begins by teaching His disciples to pray in the following manner —”Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9). The first two words had to have blown the disciples minds; they had never dared address the Lord God of Israel in such an intimate manner, yet this is exactly how Jesus taught them to pray.

“hallowed” is just an Old English term for “holy.” First and foremost Jesus stresses that His disciples remember the Second Commandment in which we are told to be sure we do not take the Lord’s name in vain or profane His name in any way. God’s name is always holy in its nature, but often in our use it is not holy. So we are directed by God the Son to pray that His name become holy among us. How so?

Answer, as plainly as it can be said: ‘When both our doctrine and life are godly and Christian.’ Since we call God our Father in this prayer, it is our duty to always to act and behave ourselves as godly children, that He may not receive shame, but honor and praise from us…In the first place, then, God’s name is profaned when people preach, teach, and say in God’s name what is false and misleading. They use His name like an ornament and attract a market for falsehood. That is, indeed, the greatest way to profane and dishonor the divine name. Luther’s comments teach us that not much has changed regarding the battles raging around and within the true Church:

To hallow means the same as to praise, magnify, and honor both in word and deed. Here, now, learn what great need there is for such prayer. Because we see how full the world is of sects and false teachers, who all wear the holy name as a cover and a sham for their doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1), we should by all means pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and cry out and call upon God against all people who preach and believe falsely.

Jesus begins by teaching us that God is our Father and as His children we want to do all we can to make sure that our Father’s name is honored and praised by all we do and say. Those who abuse God’s holy name for gain are to be exposed, openly rebuked and if unrepentant then shunned as blasphemers. ♦

To Be CONTINUED NEXT MONTH

Copyright © 2007 Robert S. Liichow





Spiritual Formation

9 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 1 – Spiritual Formation – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Spiritual Formation

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My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Gal 4:19)

Since it is a New Year, and may it be a blessed and happy one to us all in the Body of Christ! It seems only fitting to begin the year off right, spiritually speaking. That means shoring up the fundamental disciplines which will draw us truly closer to our Lord and Savior and thus be more useful to the Master in His purpose.

THE CALL

Becoming Christ-like is not simply an automatic process that occurs in the lives of believers. I have learned over my twenty years of ministry that generally people are either actively growing in Christ, or have stagnated and become complacent with where they think they are in relationship with the Lord. There are those who have backslidden and drifted away from Him altogether. Notice in Gal. 4:19 the strong language that the Apostle Paul uses as he writes to his converts in Galatia. First, we know they are Christians because he addresses them as “my little children” as opposed to a term for a mature child. Here we find Paul again in the spiritual pangs of childbirth for his disciples. Why? Obviously, they had not been developing spiritually as they should have been. (1) Thayer in his Lexicon says “i.e. whose souls I am striving with intense effort and anguish to conform to the minds of Christ.” Being formed into the image of Christ, like childbirth is an arduous, at times, painful lifelong process with the goal of becoming conformed to His very image. The Apostle reminded the believers in Rome when he penned these familiar words regarding God’s eternal purpose for His children:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29)

Every Christian is somewhere along the path of having Christ Jesus formed in them. Some are further along than others. When it comes to spiritual growth and maturity the bottom line is simply this —we can grow as deep into Christ and allow His Spirit to bear bushels of fruit unto the glory of God through our lives….as much as we want, or perhaps better put—will allow Him to produce. Salvation is totally the work of God apart from any and all effort of man. Dr. Martin Luther in his Small Catechism regarding sanctification gives the following answer to the third question in his section concerning the Apostles Creed:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, Sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true. (2)

Sanctification is also the work of God, but in this area He provides the means whereby we may grow, but it is up to us to partake of these means of grace in order to grow thereby.

As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:2).

Spiritual growth comes by the desire within each of our hearts to grow more and more into the image of Christ. You can be seventy years old, never missed a Sunday worship service and still be a spiritual infant. (3) On the other hand, you can be a fairly young Christian whose spiritual growth far outstrips those twice his or her age. Why? Because unlike their elders they were not merely hearers of the Word but actually did what was taught to them by faithful men of God.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he behold himself, and goeth his way, and straightway fretted what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:22-25).

So as we consider spiritual formation it is vital to keep in mind two realities. First is what is generally referred to as “positional truth.” This refers to our position in Christ due to His work and His work alone. We are already sanctified by His blood [Heb. 10:10]. God the Father sees us as pure, holy and spotless in Christ. That is our position. The other reality is what is commonly referred to as “experiential truth,” or our experience throughout our spiritual life. The goal of the Christian is to both know God and glorify Him in all we do; (4) this comes when our experience in this life begins to line up with our position in Christ.

This is where the issue of spiritual formation, Christian growth, discipleship, maturity comes into play. How do we go about making what the Bible says is our position a living reality or experience in our daily lives here in a fallen world amidst a fallen people (which includes ourselves)? How do we become, what we really are?

I suppose it really boils down to how bad do we want to grow spiritually? How heavy a price are we willing to pay to be like Christ in this life? Are we willing to mortify our fleshly desire as Paul challenges the Christians of old to do?

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Col. 3:5)

Paul uses two different words for mortify in these texts. In his letter to the Romans the Greek word for mortify is transliterated thanatoo and it means to render extinct or by death to be liberated from the bond of anything, literally to be made dead in relation to (something). (5) To do such a mighty work as to destroy once and for all certain deeds of the body it takes nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, better translated the Spirit of Reality (John 16:13). (6)

To the Colossians Paul uses another term for mortify, here he uses the Greek term which is transliterated nekroo. Thayer in his lexicon says of this word that it means to deprive of power or destroy the strength thereof. (7) I heard one preacher say that it meant to “put to death by starvation” which is an accurate description of what Paul is getting at in his admonition to the Colossians.

Spiritual Formation demands much from those who truly seek to become vessels of honor and useful to the Master. I know it is unpopular in many pulpits today, yet the following text stands true:

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

Not every Christian is equally useful to our Master (all are equally loved). Who is it that determines who is useful and who is not? The individual believer “if a man therefore purge (ekkatnalpo, cleanse thoroughly) himself from these he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use”! The cleansing is from iniquitous actions mentioned in the previous verse. (see v. 19). From Paul’s two statements we learn a great deal. First and foremost, we note that it is the work of the Spirit that works in us by God’s means of grace to mortify the deeds of our flesh. Secondly, we see that we too have a role to play and are not just passive “pawns.” In fact Paul says that we are co-laborers with God (1Cor. 3:9), although in context he is referring to the Apostles work with God in building the Church I believe it can also be extended to all Christians who are seeking with pure hearts to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

The genuine work of spiritual formation is a joint-effort between God and man (1 Cor. 3:9). The Spirit of Grace working molding (Jer. 18:9) and transforming the sinful, yet willing souls of people made righteous in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) who have decided to pick up their cross (Matt. 16:24) and follow their Master to Golgotha, the place of death and that from that death true life, bountiful eternal fruit is borne which brings glory to our Father.

Before we launch off into the deep let me emphatically state that in order to grow we must die.

He must increase, but I [must] decrease. (John 3:30)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour. John 12:24,25,26)

In the first text cited John is referring to his own ministerial influence, yet I believe it can also be legitimately applied to our lives too. In order for Christ to “grow” in us, the little Pharisee who sees himself or herself as king or queen of his or her life must decrease. In fact, our Master makes it even more plain by taking something everything around Him understood, a seed. His listeners knew that as long as the seed was not buried in the ground and “died” it would never produce any level of harvest at all. Yet if it would die the result would be new life that brings forth much fruit, i.e. many more seeds which will reproduce and eventually fill the earth with good fruit.

The False Pathways Offered

Sadly, there is a great deal of pseudo-spirituality being offered to the Church that has no basis in Scripture. There is a very obvious reason why there are so many ‘false paths’ beings offered by so many Christian leaders. Many of the “seeker” Christians are beginning to feel the emptiness in their “worship” services. All the hoopla, banners, dancing and shouting are simply not bringing these seekers closer to Jesus. So they are hungry to really grow to know the Lord and unfortunately the enemy, Satan, is more than willing to fill the void he created through their false worship with now false pathways to alleged intimacy with God.

Some of these practices run the gamut of vision quests, sweat lodges, walking in labyrinths to attain inner understanding. Never heard of walking a labyrinth as part of spiritual formation? It is all the “rage” for many in the Church. Here are a few quotes for you to consider:

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

The most basic metaphor for walking a labyrinth is that of Life’s Journey. Walk the labyrinth while mindful of your life. Envision your life’s goal. Walk to your destiny and see what you learn. Pay attention to the sights and sounds. Do you feel lost at any time? If so, where in the labyrinth did it occur? What does that mean? Do you like one part of the labyrinth more than another? Why? What do the turns represent in your life? Do you resist some turns and like others. When you are outdoors notice subtle changes in the terrain—the ups and downs. Notice any synchronicities such as an overheard word or a bird’s song. Consider all of your experiences in the labyrinth in relation to your life’s journey. What does the labyrinth teach you about your life? (8)

The purpose behind the spiritual disciplines is to bring into harmony the outer expressions of our worship with the inner reality of what we are doing. It is a very dangerous to go through the motions without having a knowledge of the reality of what we are doing. (2 Timothy 3 “having a —form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

We can outwardly kneel, cross ourselves, eat the Body and Blood of the Lamb at His table, sing the songs, lift up holy hands, dance and give and all of it be a mere “form” of godliness denying the true power and transforming presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in it all.

It is dangerous because we think we have done something spiritual, yet in actuality all we did was go through the motions and left the congregation feeling more than a little self-righteous. Another example of a commonly followed false path is one that comes to the Church from Rome Catholicism.

Centering or Contemplative Prayer

Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila…It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. (9)

This obvious quotation comes from the roman Catholic persuasion and there is a renewed interest in the early Roman Catholic mystics and their visions and how they obtained them. Go to any Borders bookstore or Barnes and Nobel and you will find shelves of books on and by various Roman Catholic mystics. Anyone with half sense can see where all the dreams, visions, revelations given to these “saints” and “Popes” have doctrinally brought the Roman Catholic Church today, almost totally bereft of any remnants of the Gospel at all. As we consider a few titles in print it is important to define what mysticism is:

The word “mysticism is derived from the Greek word mustikos, meaning one initiated into the mysteries. Eventually, it was used in Christian circles as the branch of Christian theology that believes in the direct communion of the soul with God. In *pantheistic context it usually refers to one who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain absorption into the Ultimate. (10)

Allow me to digress, Dr. Norman L. Geisler (who is one of the primary authors of the previous and following quotations) was one of my Professors at Michigan theological Seminary (MTS) and he has written extensively on mysticism {along with just about every other issue facing Christians today, I consider the man to be a genius an I counsel anyone to carefully weigh any of what he teaches}. The article goes on to say:

A Private Religious Experience. Religious experiences are of two basic kinds: general and specific. The first is available to all persons, and the latter are unique to only some…Mystical experiences are private by nature. This does not mean that others cannot have similar experiences. It simply means that the experience is unique to the one having it. Also, the general public does not have such experiences at any time. (11)

The underlined portion hit’s the problem head-on. People can claim to have seen anything, been anywhere yet in each case they are private in nature and thus are subjective and non-verifiable. (12) For example, there is not another living person who can verify Mr. Hagin’s, Jesse Duplanis, Mary K. Baxter’s, Choo Thomas, Roland Buck, Dr. Eby and the other “trips” to heaven or hell these internationally known speakers write and hold conferences on. These authors alone went on the trip and their reports are either accepted or rejected by the Church, sadly tens of thousands believe these unsupported accounts which often contradict the Bible.

Mystical Experience Is Not Objective. By their own admission, the experience mystics have- are not public but private. As such, then, they ate subjective and not objective. But subjective experiences have validity only for the subject experiencing them. Mystical Experiences Are Not Testable. Since mystical experiences are without an objective basis, they are also untestable… (13)

If one is honest the entire charismatic renewal is based in subjective experiences. Whether it is the individual (ecstatic speech) prayer language one receives or the visions given while doing carpet time. (14) are subjective and totally unverifiable.

As you read some of the following titles you will see the obvious emphasis on the mystical, the subjective regarding knowing and fellowshipping with our Lord. You will find most of these books in your local book stores. Each promises means and methods to experience the divine!

Boyd, Gregory A. Seeing is Believing: Experience Jesus Through Imaginative Prayer. Baker 2004

Chryssavgis, John Light Through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition Orbis, 2004

Allen, Joseph J. Inner Way: Toward a Rebirth of Eastern Christian Spiritual Direction Eerdmans, 1994

Dr. Waal, Esther. Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness. Liturgical Press, 2003

Macquarrie, John Two Worlds Are Ours: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism. Fortress Press, 2004.

Penrose, Mary E. Refreshing Water From Ancient Wells: The Wisdom of Women Mystics. Paulist, 2004

Taylor, Brain. Becoming Christ: Transformation Through Contemplation. Cowley Publications 2002

Cutsinger, James S. Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2003.

From these few titles (I could list over one hundred) we see a common thread, a renewed interest in mysticism. Boyd’s “imaginative prayer” is nothing more than what we called visualization within charismania. Pastor Paul Cho of the largest congregation in the world teaches extensively on visualization which he has termed the “fourth dimension”. (15) Cho would have people believe they can have whatever they want if they can conceptualize it deeply enough. Not to mention that nowhere does the Bible suggest we conjure up in our own minds what Jesus looks like, I.e. create a “Jesus,” then imagine ourselves sitting down with our imagined Jesus and holding a dialog with Him. This is akin to the New Age occult practice of seeking a “spirit guide” to talk with and gain wisdom from.

Currently there is also a renewed interest in the spirituality of the various branches of the Eastern Orthodox Churches by seeker “evangelicals.” Mysticism runs rampant throughout the eastern “Church,” and people hungry for new “deeper” spiritual experiences are flocking back to what they believe are churches which are more ancient and thus must be a truer reflection of the original Church.

There are some commonalities with most of the forms of today’s modern versions of spiritual formation. Primarily they all are not based upon the authority of the Holy Bible. For these folks the Bible is not enough. It is not, at least in their minds, going to get them that direct-connect they are seeking with the Lord. These spiritually hungry masses are seeking to experience union with Christ or the Holy Spirit and the pathways being offered promise to give people methods by which they can have such encounters.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the Bible never encourages anyone to seek to have visions, trances or out-of-body experiences? When experiences of this type did occur it was always unexpected on the part of the recipient and it was granted by God for a specific purpose in His divine plan for either Israel or the Church. Let me cite just a couple examples:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings; With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another.” “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isa. 6:1-6

The Prophet Isaiah was not seeking an “audience” with the Ancient of Days. God chose to reveal Himself to Isaiah and when He did note that Isaiah immediately saw his own filthiness and sinful condition in the brightness of God’s glory. He did not have a halleluiah shouting dancing “Pentecost” in God’s presence. On the contrary he had a sense of his unworthiness. Here is an example from the New Testament:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” this happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guest. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure

I challenge anyone to read through from Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ and show me one example of a believer seeking to have some form of “spiritual” experience. In every case where an angel or angels appear or a theophany of our Lord appears it is always for extremely important reasons and they all came unexpectedly to the recipients.

There is an important difference between seeking the Lord and seeking to have some type of ecstatic experience which is what the false pathways offer people.

Next month we will begin a biblical look at the discipline of prayer, what it is, what can we expect from it, does it have limits. We’ll consider some of the common errors taught on this matter as well. So stay “tuned” campers, our journey has just begun.

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Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. I do not mean to be offensive to those with legitimately/organically slow or retarded children. God bless those families who struggle daily with lifelong mental retardation. However, spiritually thinking if you have someone who is 50,60 or 70 years old and they are still a ‘babe’ in Christ, then frankly they are spiritually retarded…or even more seriously, their pastor is spiritually retarded because he has not brought his portion of the Lord’s flock to maturity. Sadly, I’ve known many “seasoned saints” who were basic babes in Christ Jesus in their doctrinal foundation and fellowship with Christ and His people. Brothers and sisters this not ought to be. ALL of us should be on a track of what is called in the Detroit automotive industry as “C.I.” which stands for continual improvement.

2. http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.html

3. Please understand I am in no way implying our seasoned saints are not mature. In fact, in our own congregation it is the elderly Christians who are the most faithful and active in Bible study, giving and serving. My point is simply that church attendance does not automatically equate to spiritual growth.

4. The Shorter Westminster Catechism’s first question asks “What is the chief end of man? The answer is —”Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

5. Obtained from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_001.html

6. http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?book=Rom&chapter=8&verse=13&strongs=2289&page=

7. Time well spent is time studying all the titles and names given to the Holy Spirit. As with each aspect of the Godhead, each name given reveals to us some aspect of the divine nature. One of the most potent titles given to the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Reality, which at least to this author means that it is He that brings life and illumination to the Holy Scriptures and makes “real” all that means of grace God has given unto His Church.

8. http://www.lessons4living.com/rituals.htm Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

9. http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm

10. Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Book House, 1999.

11. Ibid p. 516. Underlining added for emphasis.

12. For example, every book apart from the Bible, that has been written about heavenly visits or trips to hell for that matter are all subjective. The individual having the alleged experience relates it in a book or tapes series and either people believe them or not. Sadly, multitudes believe these subjective experiences over the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Here are some specific examples: Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind. Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Hell, Dr. Eby, Didn’t You Read My Book!, Pastor Roland Buck’s Angels on Assignment, Choo Thomas, Heaven Is So Real.

13. Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Book House, 1999, p. 516. Underlining added for emphasis.

14. Carpet time refers to the time that a person spends in an altered state of consciousness during a service. This experience is usually brought on through the laying on of hands by the “anointed” speaker/pastor/prophet.

15. Tracy and I heard Paul Cho teach his occult doctrine “live” via Robert Tilton’s monthly satellite broadcast to the church where I was serving as Associate Pastor in Ann Arbor when it was a fresh revelation to Mr. Cho. Cho’s concept boiled down to its essence is that if you can imagine it, you can create it. Naturally, he wrote a book about it called “The Fourth Dimension” and now I have recently learned there is even a volume two — “The Fourth Dimension Vol. 2, David Yonggi Cho, Paul Yonggi R. Whitney Menzano” Published by Bridge-Logos out of Gainsville, FL. You can visit bridge logos.com to order a copy (why waste your money?)





Kenny’s Birthday “Surprise”

5 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 1 – Kenny’s Birthday Surprise – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Kenny’s Birthday “Surprise”

On January 18, 2007 marks both forty (40) years of teaching heresy and by the mercy of our gracious God He has allowed Mr. Copeland to live to be 70 years old. Cashflow A. Dollar and John (son of Ken & Gloria Copeland) plan to surprise them on that evening with a small love offering from their devotees. Oh nothing big or elaborate, merely a token love gift of a —$2.5 million dollar check made out to the Copelands personally for their own use!

When DMI received this appeal letter, complete with DVD from Cashflow and his posse we were sickened beyond belief. The Copelands are among the wealthiest of all the televangelists and their SINistry just purchased at least 1 Citation X jet, KCM owns “Eagle Mountain” a defunct Air Force base they purchased some time back. What is more Kenny and his gang have never had to resort to the usual charismatic tactic of sending out a wide variety of gimmicks to raise funds. Why not? Because they did not and do not need the money.

DMI has no problem with giving a financial gift to ministers (gee wish we’d get more of them, guess I need a “beard” like Cashflow to beg for us), but 2.5 million dollars given to a couple of people who are filthy rich already, who have honestly done nothing but teach error and sow discord in the Body of Christ is a bit much.

Even though the letter is sent to us (and a million others on their mailing list) by their son John Copeland, the checks are to go to Cashflow’s Church until the big service!

A couple of things there to keep in mind: (1). DMI assumes Cashflow’s ministry will without a doubt keep the interest off the money given and (2) Cashflow knows that one day he will reap what he sows, I.e. his day is coming from the Copeland family to “bless” the Dollar family in Atlanta. It is kinda like the Cleveland mob, paying homage to the Chicago family, knowing that “one hand washes the other,” capice? DMI is sure (oh yeah) that Kenny will tithe to the poor from this largess, maybe make an additional payment on a condo, retreat cabin, home or two, possibly just purchase another antique car to add to his growing collection. Hey who said godliness is not gain? (Sorry to sound like a sour-puss, but nobody can spend a dime in hell which we pray is not Mr. Copeland’s ultimate destination).

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

See Related Articles:

The Jet Set http://discernmentministriesinternation.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/the-jet-set/

Benny HINN JOINS the Jet Set: https://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/benny-hinn-joins-the-jet-set/





Benny HINN JOINS the Jet Set

4 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 1 – Benny Hinn JOINS the Jet Set – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Benny HINN JOINS the Jet Set

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I guess it comes as no surprise, other than why did it take Benny such a long time to join the televangelist “jet set,” but that day has come. According to the Trinity Foundation Mr. Hinn’s SINistry are now the proud owners of a Gulstream private executive jet. His plane is bigger than Mr. Copeland’s new Citation X, but Copeland’s plane can fly higher and faster. Benny’s jet is not as big as Paul and Jan’s Canadaire, but it is newer.

In the minds of all these jet-setters, i.e. Mr. Copeland, Cashflow Dollar, the Crouches, Keith Butler, Benny Hinn and others… They are simply too important and their message or anointing are vital for the advancement of the Kingdom of God ergo that they cannot fly commercial. They must be able to leave at the drop of the hat as the Spirit leads them (or in case they have to blow town or a nation in a big hurry). Hinn’s plan was paid for, by the infirmed, poor and desperate people who think God will/can heal them through Hinn. What a shame. 

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

See Related Article: The Jet Set  https://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/the-jet-set/