Be Careful What You Ask For

27 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 5 – Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Be Careful What You Ask For

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Jesus was known to be a peripatetic rabbi, in other words, He was a Teacher who walked around and taught His disciples using natural examples to explain spiritual truths.

For example, while walking and a flock of birds flies over Jesus may have pointed up at them and said “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, an yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:26).  However, during this walk to Jerusalem Jesus was not speaking in Parables. He did not use any illustrations such as Jonah (Matthew 12:40) or tearing down the temple (John 2:19) told them as plainly as possible, so that they would not misconstrue what He was saying, as they were apt to do at times. He told them, point blank” “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise. “ Jesus prophesied to them exactly what would occur and in what order it would transpire.

Let’s not gloss over what Jesus has revealed. First, He said that He will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. This means someone close to Him, someone who, until the betrayal was considered a “friend” will sell Him out to His enemies. Secondly, He will be condemned to death by these religious leaders. Then He will be handed over to the Gentiles, which in and of itself was spiritually defiling.

These Gentiles will (1) MOCK JESUS, (2) SPIT ON JESUS, (3) FLOG JESUS and (4) KILL JESUS. Three days later Jesus prophesies that He will rise from the grave.

Notice that Jesus does not announce this forthcoming reality to all the people following Him, He took the 12 aside, his closest disciples and told them. The 12 had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry. These are men who had literally left everything to follow Jesus. Men who had heard the demon cry out “I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

You would think that after making such a declaration that His closest disciples would offer some compassion towards their Master considering His fate. Show some concern over what Jesus was surely facing just a couple short miles up the road they were walking on. At least begin to weep and be sorrowful regarding the betrayal, humiliation and torture soon to come. After all, these are His closest ministry associates. Remember Jesus had the “3,” then the “12,” and then the “70.” Here He was speaking to the 12. If anyone should have been devastated by His words, surely it would be these men.

But no. In fact, it seems as though Jesus’ words have sailed right over their heads!

As soon as Jesus is done explaining His forthcoming passion to them, 2 of His inner circle, 2 of His dearest friends, the son of thunder step up and ask Jesus to “do for us whatever we ask.” There was no doubt they believed Jesus to be the promised Messiah of Israel. And since they were on the road to Jerusalem they expected His Messianic glory to be revealed there they wanted to secure for themselves a prominent place in the about-to-be-realized kingdom. Sure they were in Jesus’ inner-circle now, but who knows about the future kingdom; they did not want anyone getting ahead of them in power and authority.

Jesus looks from one brother to the other and says “what is it you want Me to do?” Immediately they speak up and ask “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” They were asking for nothing less than the preeminent place of honor that any human could possibly ask for or receive.

They also could not have asked for anything more self-serving than that either. They did not hear anything Jesus said about His passion all they wanted was for Him to quit talking long enough so they could make their request to Him.

Aren’t we so often like James and John? Aren’t we more concerned with uplifting ourselves in the eyes of God showing Him how “righteous” we are and showing others how “pious” we are versus being focused on God’s plan?

James & John wanted GLORY, they could not hear the message of the forthcoming CROSS. Nobody wants the CROSS but everybody wants the CROWN.

Suffering for Jesus? Are you nuts? As Kenneth Copeland has said many times “He suffered in my place, He did the suffering so I do not have to.” That is the Word of Faith cult and much of American Evangelicalism in a nutshell. The only problem with this belief is that it is unbiblical! Word of faith & American Evangelicalism’s focus on the theology of glory denies plain biblical teachings such as:

Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” TROUBLE, HARDSHIP, PERSECUTION, FAMINE, NAKEDNESS, DANGER, SWORD—sounds more like the THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS doesn’t it.

What about 2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL be persecuted.” Living for Jesus Christ will cause the world to persecute you. Ask yourself “how much persecution am I suffering because of my testimony of Jesus?” I believe the times are coming in this country shortly when we ALL will have the opportunity to answer that question.

Look at how Jesus turns the tables on James & John, or as my sainted mother says “hoist on their own petard.” He asks them the following question “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

Without thinking about what Jesus was asking of them they impulsively respond “we can.” This is why I titled this article “Be Careful What You Ask For.”

Jesus nails them by saying “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” James and John would get the cross after all. They would get to drink the bitter cup of suffering and death that was to be Jesus’. However, who will sit on His right and left hand side was not up to Jesus. Those places of honor belong to those for whom they had been prepared! In the lingo of Jackie Gleason; “Kaprow, right in the kisser.”

James and John would eventually learn that the way to any privileged position in the kingdom of God is obtained NOT by grabbing for power but by relinquishing it through suffering and death.

Remember the scene, Jesus has pulled the 12 aside and spoken to them of His Passion. Then James and John step up and make their SELF-SERVING request. Where do you think the other 10 disciples were? They were listening to the entire dialog, probably thinking “I was going to ask Jesus that later on myself when I got Him alone.” Peter was probably standing there with his hand inching back towards the knife on his belt. This much we know for sure the 10 were INDIGNANT with James and John.

Jesus, as He always did, saw this as a teachable moment, for His disciples and pulls them together and begins to teach them about how to truly advance in greatness. The way to greatness in the kingdom of God is not at all like the way of advancement in the world, in fact, the way of Jesus is diametrically opposed to that of the world and if you and I, as God’s people will simply take His Words to heart we will be so much further along in expanding the Kingdom of God. Jesus says: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.”

Worldly leaders govern by coercion, domination, and by “divine fiat” due to their status as “leaders.” Jesus says NOT SO WITH YOU! Jesus says, “whoever wants to become GREAT among you must be your SERVANT, and whoever wants to be first must be SLAVE of all. “

Please note that Jesus does not say anything negative about wanting to be great. I want to be a great preacher; I want to be a great shepherd to the flock under my care…I did not say “I am great” but I am striving to be the best I can be. Who wants to be mediocre? I hope everyone who serves God is striving to be the best they can be in their vocation. Whether it is playing the organ, mowing the grass, making a lunch or dinner for the congregation or working at the Post Office. We are commanded to do whatever we do “to the glory of God.” EXCELLENNCE GLORIFIES GOD not MEDIOCRACY!

This is how Jesus views MEDIOCRACY: He says in Rev. 3: 15-16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Lukewarm discipleship is intolerable to Jesus. It is one thing He CANNOT stomach and He was about to spit these lukewarm Christians out of His mouth and He has not changed His attitude towards lukewarm pew sitters to this very day and in our very midst!

My dear brothers and sisters I am not judging anyone. However, I am urging each one us to ask ourselves some HARD questions. Am I really doing ALL I can to serve my Lord by serving others? Or do I do “just enough” to stay on the church role? When Church activities are scheduled do I set my agenda aside in order to be a blessing to others by participating in local church activities?

How about in regards to our giving and support? Do we give what is leftover to the work of the Lord, or do we prayerfully determine exactly how much we can give? These things are relatively easy and if YOU and I are unwilling to do the Simple & easy things, what if we must face martyrdom one day? Utimately the Lukewarm will get left behind or as Proverbs 1:32 says “The complacency of fools will destroy them.” Luke-warmness and complacency are REAL SPIRITUAL DANGERS. May none of us grow lukewarm or complacent in these last days!

Jesus plainly tells us the way to greatness, AKA “usefulness” in God’s Kingdom and that is being a servant not a Lord to others. This means you and I have to consider the needs of others first before our own.

Why? Because it is not about your desires or mine, it is about serving and supporting others. It is about being a slave to all and a slave does not have the authority to exercise their own opinion about anything. — And YOU and I are slaves of Christ, we are slaves of righteousness as such our opinions do not count. We are in the work of HIS KINGDOM, not concentrating on setting up our own. Oh, how often and how quickly we forget this!

I know this rubs your flesh and my flesh the wrong way; it is certainly not the “America” way nor the corporate way to succeed in business. But remember Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:5 “You shall be like God.” Ever since then mankind has been striving to be “God” to rule & reign over others whether it is in the family, at school or on the job and yes even in Church!

You want to be like God? GREAT!! Then look to Jesus who says to His disciples: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”

If God the Son came to serve, then what is our excuse for not being like-minded? Matthew 10:24 says “ A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.”  If God the Son came to give His life as a ransom for many, what is our excuse for NOT denying ourselves, picking up our cross and following His example?

Oh I know our flesh cries out “it is my time off, it is my money, I earned this, I can do with it as I please, no one is telling me what to do, on and on and on.”

This is why we must continually remind ourselves that like James and John we too can drink the cup of suffering. The cup is still being offered to whosoever wants to be like Jesus. James and John drank of it after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, so that cup of willingly suffering for the benefit of others is available to us all and to be a true blessing to someone else always demands a sacrifice.

And in order to drink the cup we must remind ourselves that like James and John we too have died like Jesus in baptism. Because only one who knows they have died to themselves is in any position to live for others.

The blessedness of this reality comes by knowing that you and I are dead to ourselves this frees us to be concerned with the needs of those around us.

The blessedness comes from leaving our needs and our desires in the hands of God and by losing our lives for the sake of Jesus and His kingdom we suddenly find the TRUE-LIFE God has promised to all who would be GREAT in His Kingdom. ♦

Copyright 2009  Robert S. Liichow

THE WAY “UP” IS DOWN

“…If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. “

Mark 9:35





Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned?

25 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2009 – Vol. 14  Issue 5 – Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned?

By Chris Elrod

Last Thursday night I got “the call”. My friend and fellow Lakeland pastor let me know that the news about Todd Bentley…the news that had circulated around Lakeland for weeks…was finally about to break. For months it had been rumors…with very little hard facts to back it up. Local church leaders had been hearing things about Todd…and Ignited Church…that caused us to question even more the validity of the “revival”. Then the truth began to come out bit by bit…first to Lakeland…then the world…and now Todd’s wife was in Canada getting help while he was “floating around” the United States trying to get his head together. Yes Todd had been convicted of molesting a 7-year-old boy in Canada. Yes Todd was legally separating from his wife. Yes there is an another women involved. Yes this was not the first time Todd had been involved with another woman. Yes Todd and Ignited Church had failed to address concerns …many being voiced by their own denomination and people that support such Charismatic outpourings…about the heresy being preached and displayed at the “revival”. Yes there was not one single medical document to prove that any healings had actually taken place. Yes the media could find no one…not one single person…to come forward and say they had been healed during the “revival”.

As the fall out continues and more facts are beginning to emerge about everyone involved with this mess, I have begun to ask myself some pretty hard questions. Did I handle this correctly?

When the first news began to break around here about Todd, healings and the revival…I went to see it for myself. In all I attended four separate “revival” meetings over a two month period. I also watched countless hours of the events on the internet. I witnessed Todd hollering “BAM” a lot. I witnessed “verification teams” in the parking lot carefully choosing people deemed candidates for “healing” while turning many others down. I watched ushers push ill children away from the state area because they had not been reproved for “healing”. I heard stories about pixie-dust spreading angels and conversations with the Apostles in some abstract heavenly cabin. I saw leg drops, high kicks, head punches and every other Wrestlemania cliché under the sun. I heard anonymous crazy stories about people being healed and others being raised from the dead. I heard and saw many strange things…but nothing that even remotely kept with sound doctrine. Every Biblical discerning bone in my body showed me that there was nothing going on at the “revival” that was in keeping with God’s Word.

I began to speak out against the revival, Todd and Ignited church to our people. Mainly it was through our Journey Groups, one-on-one conversations, phone calls and emails. However, I was advised by several other pastors not to speak out against it publicly because “I might be speaking against something that God is actually doing” (I wasn’t questioning God…I was questioning Todd). Therefore I never addressed it from the pulpit because our pod cast is heard by hundreds of people all over the world. I never blogged about it because I get a 1,000+ hits on a normal day. I dodged the questions about the “revival” from other folks all over the world. In essence I protected my flock from the three-ring circus and hoopla…but did nothing to protect the body as a whole.

Hindsight they say is 20/20. It now turns out that all of the rumors were true. It now turns out that the Scriptural discernment was correct. It now turns out that this was the same hyper-Charismatic craziness without accountability that the leadership of the sponsoring church is known for. The three ring circus has been packed up, the tents have been taken down, the moral failure has been announcement, everyone involved is pushing back and thousands of hurting people are left questioning God and their salvation. The question that I now have to ask myself…the question that will haunt me for quite a while is…did I sit on the sideline while the playing field burned? Should have I blogged about it…spoken out about it publicly…done more to get the word out to the rest of the world that this whole thing was about Todd and not God? I took care of my own house…but should I have done more to take care of the entire neighborhood?

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Discernment Ministries International rejoices that Pastor Elrod’s vocal cords have been “loosed” to speak the truth and expose error. Sadly, as DMI shared a few months ago, Mr. Bentley is in the process of being “restored” by another self-proclaimed apostle and he will no doubt be unleashed upon the Church to prey on the desperate and ignorant in our midst.

Pastor Elrod’s last sentence is very meaningful to me because he has stated exactly what the problem is within the Church today. Too many pastors are content to feed their flock and DO and SAY nothing about the ravening wolves attacking millions of professing believers. The mindset is sort of like “you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.

The sad fact is that the heretics and blasphemers are affecting all of us. Oh maybe not directly in our local congregations, but I know very few people who do not have family members, who are “faithfully” being instructed in error by Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and others. There are very few Christian television programs that are doctrinally sound, and very slim pickings on Christian radio as well. Just go to your local Christian bookstore and see whose books they are promoting or how much shelf space is dedicated to the charismatic movement.

John Donne said it best when he said “no man is an island,” and so it is within the church. We are our brother’s keeper and God expects (and will hold us accountable) for us to warn those who are in sin {Eze. 3:18} and error. We are to rebuke those who are misleading others (Titus 2:15}. We are to correct those who err {2 Tim. 4:2}.

Brothers and sisters more than ever with what is transpiring within the Church and politically that “TRUTH MATTERS.” Our voice in Teaching Truth and Exposing Error was almost silenced recently due to a lack of financial support.

Because of a faithful few DMI has been able to get the newsletter back in circulation…BUT our website is still own and we would really like to see it up and running again so that millions of people can have access to literally 1,000’s of pages of documentation showing the abysmal lack of biblical support for the madness infecting millions of professing believers.

WE NEED YOUR FAITHFUL SUPPORT LIKE NEVER BEFORE. PLEASE HELP KEEP OUR “VOICE” FROM BEING SILENCED

 





The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

22 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 4 – The Word Of Faith Cult & the Atonement – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

The Easter Issue

Due to the faithful sacrificial giving of several individuals Discernment Ministries International is able to print another issue of Truth Matters. A dear couple has committed to help DMI get the website back online and with their (and others) help in a short time our web site will be back up on the Internet “Teaching Truth & Exposing Error.” We thank God for all our partners and especially give Him thanks for those individuals who heeded our recent plea for financial support. Truly Easter is a time of “resurrection.”

His servant and yours,

Rev. Bob Liichow

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The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

By Bob Liichow & Moreno DeBallo

Since it is Easter time I thought it would be beneficial for us to study what is being preached, taught and unfortunately believed by millions of professing Christians around the world regarding the atonement of Jesus Christ.

There are some issues which we as Christians can disagree upon, things we Lutherans call “adiaphora” or “things indifferent,” such as the wearing of vestments, the exact age of communing a child, when Christmas is celebrated, length of a worship service, etc.

However, there are certain core beliefs which all Christians must agree about in order to be considered genuine believers. The atonement of Christ on our behalf is one of those central doctrines of the Church.

Unfortunately the Church has been deluged with a blasphemous heresy regarding the atonement for over forty years now. Many of the most prominent charismatic televangelists believe and teach what shall be shared in the rest of this article.

Lest anyone think that their favorite televangelist surely does not teach such error allow me to cite just a few of the most well know purveyors of this damnable poison: Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Hagin Jr. , Fred Price, Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jessie Duplantis, Jerry Savelle, Norval Hayes and Charles Capps to name just a few.

On the cross the satanic nature entered Jesus at the point of spiritual death upon the cross. It was then that He literally became sin and was separated from God. The spiritual death of Jesus transformed Him from a man into a mortal and satanic creation. Kenneth Copeland ‘enlightens’ us, “See you have to realize that He (Jesus) died; you have to realize that He went into the pit of hell as a mortal man made sin. But He didn’t stay there, thank God. He was reborn in the pit of Hell and resurrected.”   (54)

Furthermore, we are told by Copeland that while in hell Christ’s “…emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit…” (55)  was tortured by Satan and every demon in hell without legal right. The reason given by Copeland as to why Jesus could not be detained in hell is that Jesus was not an actual sinner but was only made sin as the result of the sins of others, plus the fact that Satan had forgotten this detail Copeland says, “The Devil forgot to take into consideration that Jesus hadn’t sinned Himself but, rather had merely become sin as a result of the sin of others.” (56)  I don’t know how stupid Copeland thinks Satan is, but it is very difficult to perceive how the wisest of God’s creature could simply forget such a truth. Where is the evidence to sustain all of this in Scripture anyway? Conveniently, what Copeland and others fail to find support for in the Bible is attributed to personal conversations with God or His Son, as has so often been the case with other espousers of ‘new truth’.

This apparently was the opening God had been awaiting. We are told that God spoke forth words of faith into hell, and as Copeland articulates: “…that Word of the Living God went down into the pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wrack spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He began to look like something the Devil had never seen before. He began to flex his spiritual muscles…Jesus was born again–the first born from the dead.”   (57)

This is nothing but sheer fantasy. Copeland twists the meaning of first born from the dead (Col. 1:18), from that of pre-eminence, to the false notion of Christ’s being born again. What possible need would Jesus, the sinless and Holy Son of the Holy God have to be born again? This teaching, perhaps more than others we have discussed, does away with the truth that Jesus is unchangeable, and strips Him of His eternal deity!  (Heb. 13:8).  This false teaching unveils Copeland’s ignorance and distinct lack of understanding of Biblical terminology, his total disregard for Bible scholars, the most eminent theologians and Church history. Not surprisingly, these sources are often ridiculed by Copeland and other Faith leaders.

The fable does not end here. Charles Capps teaches that the outcome of all this was the birth of the Church! Capps says, “Jesus was born again in the pit of hell. He was the firstborn, the first begotten, from the dead. He started the church of the firstborn in the gates of hell…He went down to the gates and started His Church there…The Church started when Jesus was born again in the gates of hell.” (58)  Not only was the Incarnate Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ born again in hell, but according to Capps, the very Church of Christ can trace its roots to the gates of hell!

This teaching is so preposterous that I will give only the briefest response by answering with the truth that the birth of the Church, as any Christian knows, began on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2.

Best-selling author Benny Hinn gives this piece of ‘revelation knowledge’ to his hearers: “My, you know, whoosh! The Holy Ghost is just showing me some stuff. I’m getting dizzy! I’m telling you the truth–it’s, it’s just heavy right now on me…He’s (referring to Jesus) in the underworld now. God isn’t there, the Holy Ghost isn’t there, and the Bible says He was begotten. Do you know what the word begotten means? It means reborn. Do you want another shocker? Have you been begotten? So was he. Don’t let anyone deceive you. Jesus was reborn. You say, ‘What are you talking about?’…He was reborn. He had to be reborn…if He was not reborn, I would never be reborn. How can I face Jesus and say, ‘Jesus you went through everything I’ve gone through, except the new birth?”   (59)

Despite Hinn’s claims to divine revelation, the word begotten does not mean reborn. The true meaning of the word begotten is simply born, or to be born. It has nothing to do with being reborn. A moment of basic Bible study will reveal that Jesus is referred to as the only begotten from the Father (NASB), or, the one and only Son who came from the Father (NIV) (John 1:14; cf. John 1:18; 3:16), which stresses the unique nature of our Lord, Hebrews 1:5, “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee,” is a reference to Christ’s resurrection. God raised up Christ from the dead and imparted life to His body, and, as Albert Barnes notes, “By His own power restored Him; and hence is said figuratively to have begotten Him from the dead.” (60) (cf. Psa. 2:7; Acts 13:33). The resurrection was a type of begetting to life, or its beginning (Rev. 1:5).

Copeland accentuates the issue (note his subtle changing of the word firstborn to reborn), by saying “It is important for us to realize that a born again man defeated Satan…Colossians 1:18 refers to Jesus as the firstborn from the dead…He was the first man to be reborn under the new covenant.” (61)

The original Greek word for firstborn (prototokos), speaks not of being born again, but of primacy; headship and pre-eminence. Colossians 1:18 (cf. Rom. 8:29), simply denotes Christ’s supremacy over all creation, as the context of Colossians 1 will bare out (cf. Col. 1:15). The remainder of v. 18, …among the dead, is a reference to Christ’s bodily resurrection, not of a mythical spiritual death from which He needed to be reborn. Michael Moriarty expounds: “Scripture is clear that the term ‘firstborn’ is used to refer to the physical birth of the first child born into a family, but also speaks of a person’s position, rank or status. For example, in Israel the firstborn son has special birthrights and privileges. He succeeded his father as head of the house and received a larger portion of the inheritance; these were his birthrights. The nation of Israel is also called God’s ‘firstborn’ and received special blessings and privileges as compared with the heathen nations (Ex. 4:22). In this same way Jesus is called the firstborn (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:6). The term has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus being born again; such an option is completely foreign to the Biblical text and is much closer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ understanding of this word (firstborn = first created), than it is to orthodox Christianity’s.  Jesus Christ is the Pre-eminent One, the first Heir to all creation. The N.T. calls Jesus the firstborn in reference to His exalted position and firstborn right of inheritance. He is first in rank and has first place in everything. ‘ And He is the Head of the body, the Church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” (Col.1:18).   (62)

Kenneth Hagin, who on occasion has denied that he has ever taught such things, clearly does so in this statement, “Why did He (Jesus) need to be begotten, or born? Because He became like we were; separated from God. Because He tasted spiritual death for every man….Jesus was the first person that was ever born again.”   (63)

Gloria Copeland, in her book God’s Will, says, After Jesus was made sin, He had to be born again…(Therefore) Jesus is a born again man. This is the same new birth that the Good News of the Gospel still offers to any man who will accept it.” To teach that Jesus needed to undergo a new birth is to teach that He at one time had an unregenerate and sinful nature, which is precisely what these Faith teachers would have us believe. It is to deny the indisputable fact that Jesus is the eternal God and has always been God.  According to Hebrews 13:8, Jesus cannot change in essence. He is eternal. There is no beginning, no end and NO INTERRUPTION to His Godhood! (cf. Mal. 3:6; John 5:26; Phil. 2:6).

As we approach the next chapter, one may be thinking, ‘where are all these extraordinary teachings leading to? The following statement made by Kenneth Copeland will show exactly where. It will take us to the precipice and then plunge us head first into an age old lie. The Serpent’s lie!! Copeland declares: The Spirit of God spoke to me and He said, “Son realize this. Now follow me in this and don’t let your tradition trip you up.’ He said, ‘Think this way–a twice born man whipped Satan in his own domain.’ And I threw my Bible down…like that. I said, ‘What? He said ‘A born again man defeated Satan, the firstborn of many brethren defeated him.’ He said ‘You are the very image, the very copy of that one.’ I said, ‘Goodness, gracious sakes alive!’ And I began to see what had gone on in there, and I said, ‘Well now you don’t mean, you couldn’t dare mean, that I could have done the same thing?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of God that He did, you could’ve done the same thing, cause you’re a reborn man too.”  (64)

If ever there was an absolute departure from the Word of God, from the most basic understanding of what the Bible teaches, this is it. Kenneth Copeland, a mere man, not only claims that he could have redeemed mankind by defeating Satan in hell, but he dares attribute this nonsense as being communicated to him directly by the Holy Spirit!!

If Copeland could have redeemed us, then we also could have done the same thing. We could all have been our own saviours were it not for our lack of knowledge! The Christian is to be on guard against false doctrine, especially when it is presented to him with a smile and in an authoritative manner, Oftentimes, such ‘new truth’ is presented to the eager listener as God’s very own Words.

Thus far, we have investigated the Faith movement’s claims that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough to atone for our sins; that Christ had to die spiritually for every man; that He took upon Himself the satanic nature; and that He needed to suffer the agonies of hell and become born again in order to acquire the redemption of mankind. And the outcome of all this, so Kenneth Copeland believes, is that, “He (Jesus) was the pattern of a new race of men.”   (65)

One always needs to be aware of the origins of a doctrine and where it leads. Perhaps the underlying reason for this massive straying from Scriptural soundness on the part of Faith leaders, has been to lead us to the subject at hand: The Deification of Men!

No words can better illustrate what the Faith leaders teach concerning the rebirth and what it means for us, than the following statement made by Benny Hinn:

“When you were born again the Word was made flesh in you. And you became flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone. Don’t tell me you have Jesus. You are everything He was and everything He is and ever shall be…It (the new man) says, ‘I am as He is.’ That’s what is says…As He is, so are we in this world. Jesus said, ‘Go in My name go in My stead.’ Don’t say, ‘I have.’ Say, ‘I am, I am, I am, I am, I am.!   (66)

Most recently, Hinn has declared, “When you say, ‘I am a Christian,’ you are saying, ‘I am mashiach’ in the Hebrew. I am a little messiah walking on earth, in other words. That is a shocking revelation….May I say it like this? You are a little god on earth running around.”   (67)

The Faith movement and certain charismatics hold that upon being born again, Jesus’ divine nature returned to Him, and subsequently every born again person has also been infused with God’s own nature. 2 Peter 1:4  is the verse that is quoted to prove that we have the nature of God,”…that by these (promises) you might be partakers of the divine nature…” Note that Peter here has said that we might be partakers of His divine nature not essence. The verse is simply saying that we may become partakers of God’s attributes, His divine qualities not His divinity for God has said,” …I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me”  (Isa. 43:10).

In order to better understand who Copeland says we are, we need to grasp just who he believes Adam was. Copeland believes that:

“God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself and in the Garden of Eden He did just that (Adam) was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even…Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as JesusAdam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh.” (68)

The Faith movement does not adhere to the Biblical teaching of Adam and what happened at the Fall. They believe that Adam inherited Satan’s nature at the Fall and that this was our condition before becoming born again partakers of the divine nature. Kenneth Hagin expounds on this concept and believes that not only was Adam God manifest in the flesh, but that we are all just as much incarnations of God as Jesus was!! Hagin states, “Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” (69)   It would appear from this statement that Satan’s lie in the Garden of Eden, “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5), has taken on yet another façade. Hagin’s claim divests the word incarnation of its unique reference to Jesus Christ (John 1:14), and turns a one time act into a daily occurrence!

Hank Hanegraaff makes the observation that the whole idea of an incarnation only makes sense if a person existed prior to having a physical body, He explains: “….while the bible clearly declares Christ to be pre-existent (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5), nowhere in Scripture do we find the concept of human pre-existence. In fact, human pre-existence remains a concept relegated largely to such cults as Mormonism. The fact that Christians are indwelt by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (John 14:17,23) in no way implies that the Bible endorses the concept of incarnation for Christians.”   (70)

It is unsettling enough that many such claims are coming out of the Faith movement. What is of greater concern however, is the fact that they are being all too readily accepted as Christian teaching, which should make the disciple of Christ wonder just what is happening in Christianity today. One has commented that the Faith movement has infiltrated Christianity, not unlike the New Age invasion of the world’s affairs. If there are any who doubt that the Faith leaders are proclaiming that all Christians are gods, please read on.

Kenneth Copeland makes the bold announcement that, “You don’t have a God living in you, you are one!”  (71)   And again, “God has been reproduced on the inside of you.” (72)  Kenneth Hagin also promotes this tenet when he says, “This eternal life He came to give us is the nature of God.” He then adds, “It is in reality, God imparting His very nature, substance, and being to one human spirit…Zoe, then, means eternal life, or God’s life. This new kind of life is God’s nature…Even many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real incarnation…Jesus was first divine, and then He was human. So He was in the flesh a divine-human being. I was first human, and so were you, but I was born of God, and so I became a human-divine being!”   (73)

Hagin here elevates himself to the rank of a god. His view is that we are all god-men as was God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The view is similar to Nestorianism, a 5th century heresy which was condemned by Church leaders at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431. Michael Moriarty explains: “This view, developed by the scholarly monk Nestorius (ca. 381 – ca 452), taught that the Word did not actually become flesh (John 1:14) but only united Himself to a human being. Christ was in effect a God-bearer rather than the God-man. Nestorius ended up making Christ out to be a man in whom, in Siamese twin fashion, the divine and human natures were combined in a mechanical union rather than in an organic union of natures, Hagin’s view of the incarnation is very similar to the fifth-century Nestorian heresy.” (74)

The concept which teaches that, at conversion, we become spirit-gods who merely reside in human bodies is Gnostic in origin and is also touted by Gloria Copeland. She states in her article ‘A Fast Brings New Direction’, in Christian Life magazine, “When we are born again we become a spirit being in a flesh body.”

Gnostic belief held that material creation is evil, but the sparks of divinity have been encapsulated in the bodies of certain ‘spiritual’ individuals who have been destined for salvation.

Kenneth Copeland makes his views quite clear when he says, “You need to realize that you are not a spiritual schizophrenic—half God and half Satan–you are all God.” (75)   One can easily identify whose fingerprints are impressed upon this teaching and others that we have mentioned specifically in this chapter, for they all promote the Devil’s lie to Eve in the Garden”…ye shall be as gods…” (Gen 3:5).

There has not been much analysis of these teachings in this issue of Truth Matters because they are self-damning. However, we will take a closer look at the most poplar passage from Scripture applied by Faith teachers to support their ‘little-gods’ theory, John 10:31 – 39. In v. 34 we see Jesus addressing the Jews and saying, “Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods?” Jesus is here responding to his opponents with an ironical use of Psalm 82:6, where God condemns the unrighteous judges of Israel for their self-righteous attitude and pride. These judges sinned by showing partiality towards the wicked rather than defending the weak. Psalm 82:7 is one verse you will never hear from the mouth of Faith leaders. After calling these judges gods, God says in the next verse, “But ye shall die like men…”

Jesus was reminding the Jews that the Scriptures called Israel’s judges gods, not because they were in any way divine, but because of their roles as representatives of divine justice. Moses and the judges in Exodus were also referred to as gods because they, like God, held the power of life and death (Ex. 4:15, 16; 6:28 – 7:2; 21:6; 22:8,9). The word gods is used symbolically to show that the judges were the representatives of God. God told Moses in Exodus 1, “I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”, an obvious reference to Moses’ being as a god, not literally divine. Walter Martin comments on John 10:34, “Jesus mocks the people as if to say, ‘You all think you’re gods yourselves. What’s one more god among you? Irony is used to provoke us, not to inform us. It is not a basis for building a theology.”   (76)

The idea that we, or any created being can be like God is a lie of Satan’s. It was this very desire–to be like God– that brought the fall of Lucifer (Isa. 14:14). There is only one God– there shall only ever be one God (Deut. 5:35,39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 7:22; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5,6; 21:22; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; Gal. 4:8). No one is as God is, neither is anyone even remotely like God.

The Faith movement doctrine which purports that being born again means we become as Christ was–a God-bearing people–a new race of men, was also presented to the Church during the 4th century, and is known as the Appolinarian heresy. John 1:12,13 is used as a proof text that we share God’s divinity. The fundamental difference between Jesus as the Son of God and the Christian as a son of God, is that He is the only begotten of God, and we are adopted sons. Contrary to Copeland’s claim that “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God”, the Bible tells us that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son (John 3:18; 1 Jn. 4:9). Jesus remained the second Person of the Trinity when He became flesh. We are not an incarnation we are not gods in the flesh. We are never spoken of in Scripture as being incarnations of God. The notion that man is, or ever will be, a god is only ever spoken of in Scripture as idolatry and blasphemy.

These declarations of men are more at home with the ravings of Orange People guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who once exclaimed, “When you call Jesus, really you have called me. When you call me, really you have called Jesus.” (78) Or that of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Transcendental Meditation fame, “Be still and know that you are God.” (79) Faith teachers have yet another infamous comrade in Jim Jones, who taught, “It is written that ye are gods. I’m a god and you’re a god…until I see all of you knowing who you are, I’m gonna be very much what I am—God, Almighty God.”

As this article has shown the Word of Faith cult is teaching another Jesus and another non-biblical view of the atonement of Jesus Christ. As Christians we can disagree about many things, but when it comes to the Person and Work of Christ we can not accept any divergent view that deviates one iota from the Apostolic teachings held by the Church for the last two thousand years. Mr. Copeland and his ilk have placed themselves outside the boundaries of the Church and must not be considered genuine Christians until they repent and recant their heretical teachings concerning Jesus Christ and especially His work on the cross. ♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

54. K. Copeland, audiotape #00-0303, op, cit.

55. K. Copeland, “Believer’s Voice of Victory” program 21 April 1991. This massage was originally delivered at the Full Gospel Motorcycle Rally Association 1990. Rally at Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas.

56. K. Copeland, audiotape #00-0303, op. cit. Side B

57. K. Copeland, “The Price of It All”, Believer’s Voice of Victory 19, 9 Sept. 1991; 4-6

58. C. Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, op. cit p. 212-213.

59. B. Hinn, “Our Position in Christ, Part 1”, Orlando, FL: Orlando Christian Centre, 1991, videotape # TV – 254

60. A. Barnes, op. cit. p. 461

61. K. Copeland :Jesus our Lord of Glory”, 3 op. cit.

62. M. Moriarty, op. cit. p. 375

63. K. Hagin, How Jesus Obtained His Name, Tulsa: Rhema audiotape #44H01.

64. K. Copeland, Substitution and identification, K. Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #00-0203, Side B

65. K. Copeland, audiotape #00-303, op. cit.

66. B. Hinn, “Our Position in Christ” #2 The Word Made Flesh”, Orlando, FL. Orland Christian Centre, 1991 audiotape #A031190-2 Side B.

67. B. Hinn, “Praise-a-Thon” program on TBN, 6 November 1990.

68. K. Copeland “Following the Faith of Abraham 1” , Side A, Fort Worth, Texas K Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #01-3001.

69. K. Hagin, “The Incarnation”, The Word of Faith magazine, 13, 12 (Dec. 1980); 14

70. H. Hanegraaff. Op. cit. p. 176.

71. K. Copeland, “The Force of Love”, Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, n.d. audiotape BCC-56.

72. K. Copeland, “the Force of Righteousness”, Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Minstries, 1984, p 12.

73. K. Hagin, Zoe: The god-Kind of Life, Tulsa, OK Faith Library, 1981 p. 40.

74. M. Moriarty, op. cit p. 332

75. K. Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory, march 1982, p. 2

76. W. Martin, “Ye Shall Be As Gods” The Agony of Deceit, ed. M.A. Horton, Chicago: Moody, 1990. P. 97.

77. K. Copeland, How We Are in Christ Jesus, fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, n.d. p. 24.





The Cult of Personality Is Crumbling

20 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 2 – The Cult of Personality Is Crumbing – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Cult of Personality Is Crumbling

By Rev. Bob Liichow

The following article is written by Gillian Flaccus – Associated Press Writer on 2/1/2009. The highlighting italics and underlining were added by DMI for emphasis.

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – Once one of the nation’s most popular televangelists, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller is watching his life’s work crumble. His son and recent successor, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, has abruptly resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. The shimmering, glass-walled mega church is home to the “Hour of Power” broadcast, an evangelism staple that’s been on the air for more than three decades.

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County Property to pay off debts. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle’s Club members – who supply 30 percent of the church’s revenue – for donation and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.

“The final months of 2008 were devastating for our ministry,” the 82-year old pastor wrote.

The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it’s clear that the elder Schuller’s carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly. It’s a problem common to personality driven ministries. Most have collapsed or been greatly diminished after their founders pulpit or died.

Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University. Schuller, with a style that blends pop psychology and theology, has a particularly devoted following, she said. “Viewers are probably much less likely to give when it’s not their preacher they’re giving to,” she said. “There’s something about these televised programs where people develop a certain loyalty.”

Today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape is also to blame, said Quentin Schultze, a Calvin College professor who specializes in Christian media. Church-based televangelism led by powerful personalities filled TV in the 1980s, but now only a handful of shows remain, he said. Among the struggling ministries are those of Oral Roberts and the late D. James Kennedy of “The Coral Ridge Hour” TV show. “I don’t see a scenario for maintaining a TV-based mega church anymore. The days of doing that in the models of Schuller and Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts are over,” Schultze said. “It’s amazing to me that the ‘Hour of Power’ was able to keep going as long as it did.”

Through a spokesman Schuller Sr., his family members and other cathedral officials declined to comment. The younger Schuller, 54, did not respond to an e-mail requesting an interview. The elder Schuller, who called his weekly show “America’s Television Church,” founded his ministry in a drive-in-theater after moving to Southern California in 1955.

He studied marketing strategies to attract worshippers and preached a feel-good Christianity, describing himself as a “possibility thinker” and spinning his upbeat style into a 10,000-member church and a broadcast watched by millions worldwide. The church’s main sanctuary, the Crystal Cathedral, is a landmark designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, with a spire visible from afar amid Orange County’s suburban sprawl. Thousands make the pilgrimage to see where the broadcast is filmed before a live congregation. The Schullers consider the church a family business and the younger Schuller’s 2006 appointment was sanctioned by the Crystal Cathedral’s parent denomination, the Reformed Church in America.

But the church announced on Nov. 29, that Schuller Jr. had resigned as senior pastor, just a month after he was removed from the church’s syndicated broadcasts. In a news release, Schuller Sr. said: “Robert and I have been struggling as we each have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry.” The church since instituted a rotating roaster of high-profile guest preachers, including Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area mega church, and evangelist Luis Palau.

Schuller Sr.’s daughter and sons-in-law remain involved in the church, some in key roles. But Juan Carlos Ortiz, the interim senior pastor, hopes to appoint a senior pastor with no ties to the Schuller family within two years.

On the church Web site, concerned members and TV fans have posted hundreds of comments protesting the upheaval, with some indicating they have stopped giving or will leave altogether.

Several angry viewers have launched petitions to get the younger Schuller back. Melody Mook, a 58-year-old medical transcriptionist from El Paso, Texas, said she stopped her $25 monthly donation and is looking elsewhere for her spiritual needs. She said she dislikes the guest pastors. “I feel hurt and confused and I’m not sure that I want to sit and watch when I know there’s problems beneath the surface,” she said. “You feel like you’re in somebody else’s church every Sunday.” Others said they felt betrayed that the Schullers couldn’t put God before their family spat. “They have not been forthcoming at all,” said John Dewart, an insurance agent from New Jersey who’s watched for 30 years. “Why can’t a father and son work together for the glory of God.? That’s my big question.”

(End of Article)

For years, even when I was a raving charismatic one thing I always disagreed with was the practice of naming ministries, later I learned were really SINistries ) after the people who started them. When you put your name on something it points to you and if you are in ministry my advice is for you to always point to Jesus Christ the One who are supposed to be serving.

So the article by Flaccus should not come as any surprise. When various so-called works of God that are built upon fallen men or women will begin to crumble and fall when their founders begin to die off. I can promise you that any work that is bearing the name of a man will bear some of the marks of a cult of personality. I am referring to works men name after themselves, not names given by others posthumously.

For example, Oral Roberts reported that no less than God Himself told him never to touch the “three G’s.” The three g’s are (1) the gold, (2) the glory and (3) the girls. Well Oral seems to have been obedient with number 3, he is the husband of one wife with no hint of adultery. He failed with number one, he is phenomenally wealthy and number two he did name his university after himself, i.e. “Oral Roberts University,” and his SINistry is called “Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” So is it any wonder with Oral and his deathbed that his son Richard is having trouble keeping the ORU ship afloat not to mention the television aspect of the work? After all, these things bear Oral’s name and not Richard’s. At best he stands in the shadow of his allegedly anointed father, a shadow Richard never could nor will outgrow.

Benny Hinn Media Ministries, is one of the “official” names of Mr. Hinn’s moneymaking machine. When he dies it will not continue. Why not? Because it is built around Mr. Hinn there is no “ministry.” The same can be said of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Jerry Savelle Ministries, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, Ed Dufresne Ministries, Marilyn Hickey Ministries, ad nauseam.

None of the above were created to live any longer than their flawed founders, apart from their specious books and tapes. None of them has any plans to really continue after the deaths of their namesakes. These leaders are not interested in raising up disciples because their operations are one-man shows. NEVER FORGET THIS FACT! It is all about Benny Hinn, Kenny Copeland, Joyce and Jesse.

Perhaps the one exception to the rule might be Marilyn Hickey Ministries. Marilyn is getting pretty long in the tooth so to speak and is not in the best of health. So a couple of years back she brought her daughter Sarah along side her. However, Sarah lacks the abilities her first-grade teacher mom has in communicating to audiences. She does try to use the same aphorisms and gestures as Marilyn but she ain’t Marilyn and when Marilyn dies that work will decrease to infecting people on a local church level as opposed to the current global level of infection.

I suppose in retrospect it is somewhat of a good thing that these SINisters thought only of themselves when they got started out. Because they have a built in self-destruct button in the form of their death (and I do not care how much faith you have, there is still one death per person).

In closing, I find it interesting that I cannot find one biblically sound television ministry that is named after a living person, man or woman. Names have meaning names indicate things and point people in certain directions. Biblically, names are important and often have prophetic meaning. Thus, I think the very act of consciously naming of a work (that is supposed to be about Jesus) after oneself speaks volumes abut the direction that work will take. Jesus’ words are as true today as they will be forever when He says “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” 

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow





Why I love the Liturgy

19 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 2 – Why I love the Liturgy – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I love the Liturgy

By Vicar Bob Liichow

Every Church is “liturgical” to one degree or another. It is impossible to escape having some set format of worship. Even the charismatic extremists who declare that they worship God in spirit and truth {see John 4:24} end up with some regular worship style.

No matter what denomination you are in there is a set format even in places where they pride themselves on having no “liturgy” they still fall into certain rhythms each Sunday. Offerings are taken at a certain place, so many songs are sung, the sermon is preached here, an altar call is given now, etc.

So the question for us to begin to consider is whose “liturgy” is it we are practicing? Did it come from the direction of God or the creativity of man? One of the things charismatic extremists pride themselves on is striving to practice New Testament Christianity and having a New Testament Church, i.e. having what they consider to be a style of church that is patterned after the Book of Acts. Really what it can be boiled down to is having a format that includes the use of the sign-gifts and accepting the role of restored prophets and apostles giving immediate direction from God the Spirit alone with new revelations and insights from Him. I will readily admit that was part of the history of the early church, but it was not the format of worship expected to be carried on until the return of Jesus for His people.

One thing about God is that He is very specific in all His dealings with mankind. When God interacts with man He does not leave it up to mankind’s fallen abilities to come up with ideas on how God’s will is to be accomplished. A good example of this is seen in God’s dealing with Noah in building the ark,

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood: make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. Genesis 6:13-16

Notice that God did not simply tell Noah to build a “big boat.” He gave him a specific design to follow. God told him what type of wood to use, what type of sealant to caulk the joints with and the exact specifications regarding its size and how many floors it was to have. Noah obeyed God and followed His directions to a “t” and in the end he and his family were saved. There is little dispute over the fact that the ark is a type of the Church; ergo the Church is built and established according to the direction of God. Probably another more familiar example in the Old Testament is found in Exodus 25:

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Have them make a chest of acacia wood-two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Exodus 25:8-16.

Notice again that God reveals to Moses exactly how His house of worship is to be constructed. God did not leave it up to Moses to be “creative.” God was so exacting in His details that He even gave specific instructions as to the colors used, the size and weights of the implements and the location of each piece of furniture, etc. It is a fascinating study when one looks at every aspect of the Tabernacle and one can easily see it fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The very structure they worshipped around was a picture of Christ.

As with Noah we see that God had a specific design in mind. He did not tell Moses “worship Me anyway you want.” He gave Moses detailed instruction not only on how the tabernacle itself was to be built, but also specific instruction on how He was to be worshipped within the context of the tabernacle. From the tabernacle in the wilderness up to the Herod’s temple in the life of Jesus we find God’s people worshipping Him according to the pattern (let’s call it the liturgy) He Himself established.

In fact, it is only fair to warn my “anti-liturgical” brethren that they are in somewhat of a surprise when they get to heaven. How so? Where do you think Moses got the pattern for the tabernacle?

In heaven there is the true tabernacle or temple. There is an actual place within heaven where God is worshipped by innumerable angels and people from every tribe, tongue and nation {see Rev. 5:9}. When we get to heaven God has a liturgy for divine worship and a divine temple in which every facet of it undoubtedly declares His awesome splendor as did the copy Moses built on earth, corrupted as it was being made of cursed materials. After all if every part of the earthly tabernacle pointed to Christ how much more the original? If God gave Moses specific directions on how He was to be worshipped do you think when you get to heaven that it will be a free-for-all? I think not because God does not change {see Malachi 3:6} and this is the God who directed the apostle Paul to write “let everything be done decently and in order” {see 1 Corinthians 14:40} so our worship of the Ancient of Days shall be done in an orderly, but no doubt exuberant manner.

Liturgical worship goes back to the Jews and was carried over into the Church by saved Jews. The Jews had a specific format in their temple worship, in the local Synagogues and even at home during the sedar meals or Passover celebration. The order of liturgy used in the Synagogue was this: 1) a reading from the Torah; 2) a psalm; 3) a reading from the Prophets; 4) a reading from Psalms; 5) a reading from the historical writings; 6) a psalm; 7) interpretation of the Word by the Rabbi; 8) the Shema or O.T. creed; 9) the Sanctus and 10) a closing prayer. Conservative Synagogues follow this pattern of worship to this day.

The early Jewish Christians continued to go to the Temple at the hours of prayer {see Acts 3:1} and continued to practice the Jewish liturgy but in light of what Christ had done for them by His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. Acts 2:46 reminds us they were in one accord daily in the temple. In Acts 5:20 we read that the angel commanded them to go speak in the temple “all the words of this life.” Please keep in mind that Jesus never rebuked the Jews regarding temple worship, He himself went to the temple and into synagogues to worship and teach {see Matthew 13:54}. Oh yes He drove out the money-changers on two occasions but they were in the outer courts and were not part of orthodox Jewish worship.

The early believers in Christ continued to the tradition of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue. To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism,

The early believers in Christ continued in the traditions of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue. To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism, the Eucharist, the Agape meal, and others. Baptism was also present in Jewish religious practice as a personal repentance for sin. Baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, was transformed in both meaning and content by our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism became not only a repentance for one’s sins, but being baptized in the name of the Trinity now also assured forgiveness and incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church. Baptism was the once and for all initiatory rite whereby one received the Holy Spirit and came into the Church. (1)

Over time as the Church to include both Jews and Gentiles the liturgy was shaped and re-shaped to focus solely on Christ Jesus while incorporating aspects from the ancient Jewish format,. Historically the Orthodox Church has always been liturgical and still is. Liturgical worship is the original worship format of the earliest Christians who met in homes and which became more formalized as the Church grew and became accepted.

For the first three hundred years of its existence, the Christian Church was illegal and frequently persecuted. Therefore, very ancient liturgical documents before the fourth century are quite limited because the early Church was not “producing” liturgies but focusing on celebrating the Eucharist and surviving persecution. (2)

In the East

Some of the earliest writings concerning liturgical worship can be found in the following texts: The earliest rises in the Eastern Church include the Jerusalem liturgy of St. James, the Alexandrian liturgy of St. Mark, the East Syrian liturgy, the West Syrian liturgy of Antioch, the Armenian liturgy, and the Coptic liturgy and scholars agree all of these agree more than disagree with one another. All of these liturgies were written in the very late 300’s and early 400’s A.D. Liturgical formats began to be written down and codified once the Church was no longer an “illegal” cult and could practice its worship openly, but also as a means to stop heresies and false practices. Two of the earliest liturgies that are still in use today in the Eastern Churches are those of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil.

In the West

The early Church had two main centers of influence, Constantinople (east) and Rome (west). Both centers had formed liturgies reflected their cultures while adhering to some of the ancient Jewish format. We can gain some insight into early western liturgical practice in the following

Who stands in front of the assembly)—presumably the bishop or his designate — preaches a homily. After the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward the president improvises a prayer of thanksgiving or Eucharistic in which all assembled participate with their acclamation of Amen. From the texts of all the later Eucharistic prayers that come down to us, we may assume that this presidential prayer was not freely invented, but followed standard structure and form similar to the Jewish hodayah prayer of praise and thanksgiving. (3)

Around 251 A.D. Latin replaced Greek in the liturgy and a more direct Roman language was used as opposed to the more flowery Greek in the eastern liturgies. The Roman Presbyter Hippolytus gives some detailed accounts of these early Roman liturgical practices.

So we see that from the days of the house church in Jerusalem to those more organized in the Grecian communities up to those communities in Italy and Spain that worship has always followed a liturgical format.

Copyright ©  2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litECLitWEC.jsp on 02-09-09

2. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEOLitEarly.jsp#Heresies on 02-09-09

3. Ibid. Underlining and bolding added for emphasis

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SADLY

January’s donations were down over 60%. Please prayerfully continue your support So we can continue to publish God’s Truth and expose Satan’s lies.





The Need For Discernment

17 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2009 – Vol. 14  Issue 1  – The Need For Discernment – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Need For Discernment

By Rev. Bob Liichow

In these last days many within the Church are being swept away by unbiblical enthusiasm. False doctrines are taught with unfailing regularity on television to a global audience. Many deny the Trinity; others declare that Jesus ministered only as a man and never as God. Millions believe that salvation is possible only when one has been baptized by immersion in Jesus name only. Numerous popular errors abound concerning physical healing, financial prosperity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the myriad of false doctrines were not enough there are a plethora of false practices impacting the spiritual lives of many professing Christians. These include things such as being slain in the spirit, speaking in other tongues, holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, and making animal noises. Some boldly proclaim that God is filling believer’s teeth with gold and platinum; others declare that God is manifesting gold dust and gem stones in their services. Several congregations are now reporting angel “feathers” miraculously appearing during worship!

You may wonder how it is possible for Christians to be misled by such false doctrine and practices. To begin with it is nothing new. Satan has always twisted God’s Word to misled people (ask Eve). Both the Old and New Testament are filled with warnings about the danger of counterfeit spiritual teachings and practices. Let me cite a few scriptural examples:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-16

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 peopleMatthew 24:10-11

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 24:24-25

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, 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. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:10-11

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. 2 Peter 2:1-2

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

These are just a few of the texts that warn us to be aware of the reality of being misled by false prophets, teachers, and apostles. The question is how do we keep from being led astray? The answer lies in hiding the Word of God in our hearts. David said “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psl. 119:11). From the beginning God told the Israelites how to discern the truth from error in their daily lives by keeping the Word of God ever in the forefront of their mind.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Virtually every waking moment of their lives was to be saturated with God’s holy law. It as not just something they did for a couple of hours on the Sabbath. Their discussions were filtered through the lens of God’s law. When they rested and sat around the hearth they spoke of His ways, when they walked to work, again they talked in light of what He had commanded. Their last words at night were His words and the thoughts in their minds as they drifted off to sleep were His precepts. Thus if someone came and presented something off kilter to them they would immediately recognize it as false and reject it. Why? Because, the way to keep from being deceived is to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

Today as God’s people nothing has changed. We too are to live lives saturated by the Word of God. Out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak. Listen to yourself and others, what do you and they speak about the most? Whatever it is I can assure you that it is what fills your hearts. I’m not talking about becoming some phony-baloney super-saint. Yet I am saying that our words are to be seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6) and full of grace.

This does not happen automatically as part-n-parcel of your baptism. No it comes from a lifelong pursuit of renewing our minds according to God’s Word (Rom. 12:2). It takes diligence and desire on our part. This is why we are encouraged to “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)

So as this New Year begins make the most of every opportunity to dig into the Word of God by becoming involved with your congregation’s Sunday school, mid-week Bible study and any other venues they have for digging deeper into the Word of our Lord. Make it a point to read good solid spiritual books. A good way to impress the Word on your heart is to listen to the Bible in your car or at home (in fact DMI will give anyone Bible CD’s to anyone who requests them).

As you faithfully make use of all the ways God has given us to grow in His Word you will find yourself among those who ”…are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. “ (Hebrews 5:14).

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

 





DMI’s Annual – Calendar of Kooks

16 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 1 – Calendar of Kooks- by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

DMI’s Annual – Calendar of Kooks

Over the last several years DMI has produced a limited amount of calendars. Each year we have had a specific theme. This year’s calendar features the —

“Loony Ladies of Televangelism”

Each month will be a darling of charismania in full color! The calendars themselves will feature important dates of the Church Year, birthdays of infamous heretics, frauds and fakes (great for ice-breakers). Everyone should know the birthday of Marilyn Hickey, right?

Anyone who is anyone in charismatic televangelism will be featured and maybe a few you do not know. These are limited editions, not available in stores (for obvious reasons) and rather expensive to produce. After all we are talking about 12 full color pictures and heavy weight covers, etc…

The 2009 Calendar can be yours for a mere

$30.00

(Look I know between you and me that is a lot for a calendar but they cost DMI around $20.00 to produce and mail).