Truth Matters February 2014

23 03 2014

Prophecy, the Gift that “Says” Something Part Five

By Rev. Bob Liichow

1 Corinthians 12:10 (KJV 1900) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: Of all of this listing of nine spiritual gifts the vocal gifts are the easiest to be abused and frankly “faked” by people.  When it comes to the working of miracles or divine healing either things actually happen that can be quantified or they do not.  For example, when Benny Hinn commands people to “be healed” or “rise and walk” and the people do not (nor have they ever done so due to Hinn’s SINistry) then a decision must be made; either Hinn is to blame or the sick person.  If someone stands up and declares that the Lord has “shown them” three people in the audience that need deliverance (a word of knowledge) — and no one comes forward or if someone does and they are not “delivered” what does that demonstrate?  It is impossible to fake a healing (apart from the use of shills, which does happen), just as it is impossible to reveal something about someone to the individual that is not true, i.e. “The Lord says you have a daughter” and the person is not married and chaste. However, when it comes to the vocal gifts can people discern if in fact: (1) they actually possess such vocal gifts and (2) that others are genuinely being used by the Holy Spirit to speak?  After all, if a person is speaking in an “unknown tongue” how is anyone else supposed to be able to understand it?  Thus, who is to say authoritatively that one does not have the genuine gift apart from knowing all languages? Concerning these specific gifts the apostle Paul goes to greater lengths to bring correction to the people regarding speaking in tongues because it seemed to be problematic to the congregation whereas the other gifts are simply cited.  For some strange reason these vocal manifestations have proven “problematic” throughout the entire history of the Church.  As has been the pattern let’s begin with some definitions.

The Gift of Prophecy

Prophecy is a supernatural utterance in a known tongue. Divers kinds of tongues is supernatural utterance in an unknown tongue.  Interpretation of tongues is a supernatural showing forth of that which has been said in an unknown tongue.1 But the gift of prophecy is when words of English are given to an individual’s spirit, by the Holy Spirit—as the Spirit wills.  And words of English in a known language begin to boil up out of your spirit, supernaturally.  That is when the gift of prophecy comes into operation. . .The spiritual gift of prophecy comes boiling out of an individual, and sometimes, it will nearly lift you out of your seat.  It builds up, and it comes to you supernaturally. . .Brother Kenneth E. Hagin was sitting in the congregation, and he said, ‘Boy! Norvel, I tell you, that blasted against the wall.  I said, ‘I know it, Brother.  It didn’t even sound like me.  I could not believe what was coming out of me.2 DMI has covered in prior writings that according to the sign-gift enthusiasts there are various degrees of the expression of the prophetic gift.  Hagin, Hayes, Copeland et al. declare that there is the so-called “simple gift” of prophecy, which any Spirit-filled Christian can utter to one another personally or maybe in a small group.  Also there is the gift as expressed by a pastor and/or one in the “prophetic office.”  In their belief system both types of prophecy, personal and corporate come from the Holy Spirit but it is only the secondary type of utterance by “God” that carries true gravitas.  Is this what the Bible teaches regarding the prophetic gift?  Is there a lessor and greater manifestation of prophecy depending upon the human mouthpiece?  What does the apostle Paul have to say about this gift? As we have covered in the previous issues Paul’s approach in this letter is one of correction.  The Corinthian Church was a carnal group in every area whether it was having a divisive spirit, suing one another, sexual immorality, and abuse of Christian liberty causing weaker brethren to stumble.  For some reason most sign-gift folks seem to think the Corinthians got it “right” somehow when it comes to these spiritual gifts.  Paul’s tone in his writing does not change one iota (or any “alphas” either I suppose, a little Greek humor) and after listing the gifts he brings yet further correction to the Church at Corinth. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:11–12 (KJV 1900)

GIFTS DO NOT EQUAL MATURITY!

The people in Corinth ranked people’s value and/or spirituality by the charismata he or she manifested.  Some people desired the gifts that others had (envy), those possessing such gifts saw themselves as superior (pride) and others felt of no value at all (despair).  Paul addresses all of these attitudes when he describes the Church as a body in 1 Cor. 12:27-30. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 1 Corinthians 12:27–30 (KJV 1900) The Church is one Body but many diverse parts.  Just as in the human body each part is vital to the overall health of the body, even so in the Church.  The gifts and callings are initiated by God (Romans 11:29).  It is God who calls a man into the holy ministry, the role of the people is to validate that divine call by acknowledging and accepting the ministry of Christ through that servant.  The Church is built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner stone (read Ephesians 2:19-22).

The fact that Paul assigned ordinal numbers (first … second … third) to the first three gifts suggests that these may have been relegated to a lesser role by the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 12:21–24). Those three kinds of gifted members—apostles … prophets … teachers—probably were rated lower than those who had the more spectacular gift of tongues. But the first three gifts may have been greater (v. 31) because of their extensive value to the whole body of Christ. This may be why he listed them first and then said that the church should eagerly desire (v. 31) the exercise of those gifts in the assembly (cf. 14:1–5). Gifted apostles, prophets, and teachers characteristically ministered to a whole church, and so would engender unity and mutual edification. The gift of tongues, on the other hand, suited the Corinthian penchant for self-expression and the pursuit of personal freedom. This self-centeredness also afflicted the church in other areas (e.g., eating sacrificial foods, women in worship, celebration of the Lord’s Supper). Love for others was an essential need in the Corinthian church, and to that fundamental attribute Paul then turned to pay eloquent tribute.3

It seems the Corinthian’s were exalting some gifts and gifted people are downplaying others.  Paul continues his exhortation by asking a series of rhetorical questions — “Are all apostles? Are all prophets . . .?”(v.29) NO.  “Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (v. 30) NO.  As the citation by Walvoord and Zuck states it seems the Corinthian’s were coveting what was dramatic and self-directed over the gifts which were really needful, such as the foundational work of the apostles and prophets.  Paul tells them if they must “covet” spiritual gifts, at least covet the “best” (most profitable for the church) gifts.  Higher than all these gifts is manifesting the love of God. Some Bible commentators try to “punt” on the issue of prophets by simply relegating them to the Old Testament and the Apostles to the New Testament birth of the Church.  As tempting as this approach may seem (it does simply things a lot if you go that route) it does not represent the plain teaching of the New Testament concerning the prophetic ministry. Paul tells the Corinthians that God has placed in the Church first apostles and then prophets (v.28).  To the Ephesians he writes:

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; Ephesians 2:20 (KJV 1900)

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; Ephesians 3:5 (KJV 1900)

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Ephesians 4:10–12 (KJV 1900)

At the beginning of the Church there were recognized God-sent prophets, such as Agabus who is the only named “prophet” in the N.T (Acts 21:10).  We also read of an example of some young women who prophesied (Acts 21:9) but were not designated as female prophets per se .  The only N.T. reference to a female “prophetess” is found in Rev. 2:20, and she is a false prophet whom the church is rebuked for listening to! The two specific “ascension gifts” of apostle and prophet were given by our Lord to lay the foundation of the Church.  Once the foundation of a “house” has been laid what happens next?  The superstructure is then built upon (up on) the foundation that has (past tense) been laid.  There is no longer any need to rebuild the foundation once it has been laid.  This is exactly what every restorationists group, sect or cult has attempted to do —- re-lay the original foundation, as if this was even possible! We know from the O.T. what the role of the prophet was and there is no reason to believe that it changed in nature during the founding of the Church. What is fascinating in the N.T. is that the prophetic ministry was not written down for us.  Unlike the O.T. the Church does not have any “major and minor” prophets.  It seems that a portion of what the prophetic gift did was to reveal things to people that only God, certainly not some “stranger” would know:

But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. 1 Cor. 14:24-25

At this point in time there was no canon of scripture collected for the Church; apart from the O.T. writings which Corinthian Gentiles would not be familiar with.  This fact may help explain the supernatural manner in which God was working by His Spirit in and through His servants. The Bible tells us the prophetic role was indisputably foundational and important but it is the writings of the apostles that were preserved by the Holy Spirit and nothing remains of anything (apart from Agabus) of the N.T. prophets. Of all the three categories of gifts here (basically, those that do something, reveal something, or say something) it is the vocal gifts that Paul spends the most time on correcting.  The gift of prophecy garners much of his attention:

Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1 Cor. 14:29–34

In this pericope Paul is addressing the public use of the gift of prophecy.  If several people have been graced with this gift, fine and dandy, but the underlying principle is the revealing of God’s will, the instruction and comfort of the people gathered. Note also that just because someone may have the gift of prophecy does not give them carte blanche to say anything and mislead the people.  Whatever is prophetically spoken is to be judged (30.109 ἀνακρίνω; διακρίνω: to make a judgment on the basis of careful and detailed information—‘to judge carefully, to evaluate carefully.’)4 as to whether or not what is being shared is from the Lord. As to the who are the “ye all can prophesy” refers to is simple — Paul is still speaking of those prophetically gifted NOT all Christians.  We know this because he continues to speak to prophetic “order.” In v. 32 he lets them know that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. This is a crucial point to keep in mind.  In the pagan world then and now people worked themselves up into ecstatic frenzies and while out of their minds but into the spirit they would speak.  The Corinthians were no doubt influenced by the various cults and oracles in their city and may have believed that those who had a prophetic gift were “expected” to behave in certain ways under the influence of the ‘gods.’ Paul says not so, The Living God is a God of order and not confusion.  He does not speak through His vessels giving conflicting messages (as is very common today among the so-called restored prophets), nor does He shout over the top of several others engaged in “revealing” something.  God’s ways are those of order, clarity/certainty and peace in ALL church congregations. The comment regarding the role of women is also still within the context of prophesy and public ministry.  The women simply were to keep silent during the service.  They were not to prophesy publicly or teach the men of the congregation.  Paul mentions the women because the Corinthians had problems understanding their proper roles as men and women in the totally new social family called the Church. We are told of the future of the gift by the apostle when he states: Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 1 Cor. 13:8-11 After showing the excellency of walking in love (God is love) over expressing the gifts of the Spirit we read that these gifts are temporary in nature and they will come to an end when they no longer serve the purposes of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church (Col. 1:18). Prophetic utterances in the Church will be done away with —- 2673.  καταργέω katargĕō, kat-arg-eh´-o; from 2596 and 691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless) –abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.5 The purpose of prophecy (and to some degree other tongues + the interpretation) was to reveal a portion of the mind/will of God to those gathered.  At that time they had no canon of scriptures; at best they had Paul’s letter(s) and their own leaders.  What the Corinthians had then was a partial revelation, which Paul did not denigrate, but he tells the people they are moving towards (teleos) the “perfect” or full revelation and when that has come, all these partial bits of understanding will cease.  We know that Paul was speaking of the time when God’s revelation would be a complete record.  How do we know this?  Because of what Peter says in his second letter the following: For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2 Peter 1:16-20 The more sure word of prophecy is that which is recorded for all time and for all people in the writings of the Holy Bible.  Personally I believe the perfect (complete revelation) ceased the moment the last word was spoken & transcribed by the last living apostle.  True, the letters were not gathered and agreed upon until many years later, but they were completed much earlier and I believe that was all that was necessary.  The chart on page nine gives us a little idea of the various gatherings of the writings of the New Testament. Paul makes it abundantly clear that these dramatic gifts will cease but that the power of God’s love, which is superior, will never cease. Love will always “trump” gifts because love is the fruit of the spirit.  Fruit is produced over time, it requires patience, pruning at times and fertilizing and it is FRUIT that we have been appointed to bear (see Matthews 13:23; John 12:24) in our lives: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-24 God has commanded all of His children to be fruitful and multiply, both literally and spiritually.  He does not command us to be “gifted” supernaturally.  Jesus said that the world would know we were His disciples by our love (John 13:35) not by our alleged giftedness. When it comes to the prophetic gift/office the New Testament has more to say to the Church by way of warning us about the inherent danger associated with the pseudo-prophets. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15–20 (NASB95) Jesus warns His disciples to beware, i.e. BE AWARE of the reality of false prophets. They dress up just like the followers of Jesus, they will look like sheep not something else.  How will we know them?  Discerning these frauds does not come by looking at their gifts which can be counterfeited to some degree by Satan but at their fruit, which cannot be faked because it comes from within the heart, which is either dead or alive unto God.  Death produces nothing alive, it produces only more death.

The Inherent Danger in the Restored Prophetic Voice

If I can get you to believe that I have been called to hear from God on the behalf of the Church and individuals such as your “needy” self then I can (and often will) absolutely control your life.  Some of the most tragic events in the history of the Church have occurred when people relied on people claiming to be restored prophets sent to guide their lives.

All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 24:8–12 (KJV 1900) In speaking of the end of time our Lord reinforces His earlier message concerning these tares among the wheat —- “and MANY false prophets SHALL rise.” ‘Many’ in the Greek (πολλοί/polloi) refers to a great number and He uses the same word regarding those who will be led astray.  From these two statements alone the Church it seems should expect numerous false prophets and that hosts of people will be deceived by them. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  Behold, I have told you before.  Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. Matthew 24:24–26 (KJV 1900) In the same discourse our Master gives further insight regarding the danger these SINisters (pseudo-Christs and pseudo-prophets) will pose for His people.  Not only will there be a whole bunch of these frauds released upon the Church but they will be fueled with demonic powers.  The word for ‘great’ is megas in the Greek from which we get our word “mega” — mega signs and wonders will be such an astounding nature that they could potentially deceive even the elect (but they will not). I think it is fair to translate “false Christs” into meaning more than just individuals who proclaim themselves to be Jesus Christ (DMI has covered several of these blatant idiots in the past) but it also can refer to those who are “falsely anointed,” i.e. the unseen power operating in and through them is not from the Holy Spirit but a demonic influence. Jesus has warned us repeatedly that these counterfeit ministry “gifts” are coming (beware 7:15, I have told you 24:25, believe it not 24:26) and not to fall prey to them.  Our Lord’s warnings have largely gone unheeded by the Church from its inception. 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. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Peter 2:1–3 (KJV 1900) Here the Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter warns of false prophets and false teachers (I have yet to meet a restored prophet who does not also teach).  As his Lord told him “many” polloi, SHALL follow their direction.  Their words will drip with honey and they will teach the people doctrines the people want to hear for the purpose of transferring the hearer’s money into their pockets.  It is because of these tares and their way of life/lifestyles that the Gospel is spoken evil of.  The world sees people like Paul Cain, Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn and Rev. Ike (all call themselves prophets) and wants nothing to do with the “Church” because of their foolishness.  Isn’t it odd how the world does not seem to be fooled by these people, only the Christians? Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (KJV 1900) At the end of his life on earth John the beloved warns His Master’s flock not to blithely believe everything that is being proclaimed.  We are told to test, to examine what is offered as to whether or not it is genuine (remember Paul’s exhortation earlier for those “sitting by to judge” the prophecies).  Why does he tell us this?  Because MANY false prophets were already alive and active in the world and attacking the Church at the time of John writing this letter. John’s direction was for the Church to test the prophecies and do not believe what every spirit is saying through whatever yielded/gifted vessel.  How were they to test the spirits and the words delivered?  Does what is being shared agree with the teachings that have been handed down?  When he penned this letter John’s life was almost over and the “faith” had been delivered to the saints. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3 Jude, often considered the brother of James the Just was not an apostle and wrote this letter later on when the foundational doctrines of the apostles were in place.  How were people to test “prophetic” utterances and those bringing them?  They were to look to the teaching of the apostles which the people had an understanding of or some access to the texts.  I believe my argument is buttressed further by the example of the Bereans: These were more    noble   than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11 Once the cannon of scriptures was set down there was and is simply no need for a “prophetic” word from the Lord.  God has already spoken what more needs to be said? God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Hebrews 1:1–2 (KJV 1900) Yes, God once spoke through the prophets, but now He has spoken to us directly through His Son and the apostles have recorded all that the Spirit brought back to their remembrance to share (see John 14:26) with the Church.  The eternal Word of God is totally sufficient for the Christian to live a fruitful life of godliness in service to their neighbors. The Church does not need anyone to stand up and declare “thus saith the Lord” when we have in our laps, the complete revelation of what God has “said” to humanity. The gift of prophecy and the role of prophets are over.  The foundation has been laid 2,000 years ago and God, the Master Builder, has been building on this foundation ever since. In closing, The Church does not need a “now word” or a “new word” from the Lord.  The Church needs simply to be faithful to the faith that has been delivered unto us.  We need to be doers of the Word, not chasing after some other highly suspect and uncertain proclamations.

Athanasius (b. 296) Origen (b. 185) Irenaeus (b. 130) Marcion* (b. 85)
Matthew Matthew Matthew
Mark Mark Mark
Luke Luke Luke Luke
John John John
Acts Acts Acts
Romans Romans Romans Romans
1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 2 Corinthians 2 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Galatians Galatians Galatians
Ephesians Ephesians Ephesians Ephesians
Philippians Philippians Philippians Philippians
Colossians Colossians Colossians Colossians
1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy 1 Timothy 1 Timothy
2 Timothy 2 Timothy 2 Timothy
Titus Titus Titus
Philemon Philemon Philemon Philemon
Hebrews Hebrews Hebrews
James James James
1 Peter 1 Peter 1 Peter
2 Peter 2 Peter 2 Peter
1 John 1 John 1 John
2 John 2 John 2 John
3 John 3 John 3 John
Jude Jude Jude
Revelation** Revelation Revelation

End Notes

1. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts.  Faith Library Publication, Tulsa, OK. 1991, p.121

2. Hayes, Norval. The Gift of Prophecy. Harrison House Publishers, Tulsa, OK. 1980, p. 6, 7, 8

3. David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 534.

4. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 363.

5. James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament

A Current Example of the Prophetic Madness

This deluded soul, David E. Taylor told his congregation and the world that “God” had revealed to him the winner of the Super Bowl.  Even with a fifty-fifty chance he guessed wrong and ended up (1) lying in the name of the Lord he says he serves, (2) embarrassing the Church which he represents as a public minister by being exposed as one deceived and deceiving others. For whatever reason he decided to promote this specific revelation from “God” on a global basis.  One can only surmise that he did so in the hopes of expanding his influence among the hugely competitive prophetic marketplace.  Here is a statement from his website: David E. Taylor is first and foremost, a friend of Jesus Christ, which allows him to serve in all the five-fold ministry offices, in which the offices of apostle, prophet and healing evangelist are the most notable. These offices enable him to conquer spiritual territories and dethrone demonic princes and their principalities in different cities and regions he goes to on behalf of a breakthrough for God’s church the Body of Christ.  They serve to equip, empower and launch sons and daughters into God’s vineyard, to minister Jesus Christ and demonstrate His Latter Rain Glory to this generation. This man, who was completely wrong about his word from “God” would have people believe that he is an omni-competent healing evangelist!  Folks, it is people like this who bring shame and ridicule upon the Body of Christ and rightly so in cases like these if we, the Church, do not do all we can to rebuke this man in love and bring correction to him. Much of the foolishness taking place in the Church today is due to the tolerant attitude and silence on that part of those who are orthodox Bible believing Christian leaders.  Many solid pastors vacillate between on of the following three men: Wonderfully pious words to try to live by if you are an ostrich.  The love of God compels us to warn our brothers and sisters of the grave spiritual danger they are facing by listening to the myriad of false teachers and false prophets. ious words to try to live by if you are an ostrich.  The love of God compels us to warn our brothers and sisters of the grave spiritual danger they are facing by listening to the myriad of false teachers and false prophets.  Pastors especially are charged with guarding their portion of His flock by feeding them the pure Word of God.  It is only through a steady diet of sound teaching that we will become equipped to discern truth from error.  This implies first that pastors must teach sound doctrine and secondly, that the flock will be faithful not only to hear but to act upon the glorious truths shared!





Truth Matters January 2014

9 03 2014

Part Four on Ecstatic Speech
by Rev. Robert Liichow

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles…”
The Apostle Paul

This has been somewhat of a longer rabbit trail than I usually take our readers down but it is important to have some working knowledge of the so-called “sign gifts” of the Holy Spirit, since so many people are claiming divine abilities on a global basis. As Christians we are called to give an answer (apology) for what we believe (see 1 Peter 3:15). I admit the context of Peter’s statement is directly pertaining to our hope within us, eternal life; however, we should be able to defend all of our beliefs regarding our faith. Last month we briefly considered the three gifts that supposedly “reveal” something, yet as we discovered two of these three gifts are never defined for the Church and thus no one can honestly claim to possess gifts which we cannot even define according to the Bible itself.

The Gifts that Do Something

    The next triumvirates of gifts are often referred to as the “power gifts” or supernatural abilities to perform various tasks.

The Gift of Faith

As with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, these are supernatural abilities and not mere human abilities on steroids or something. Thus the “gift of faith” is not the gift of believing the Gospel; although the ability to believe is not a human endeavor either (see Eph. 2:8) it too is a gift. Yet the gift of faith to receive Christ Jesus is not the same as the gift of faith spoken of here by Paul. All Christians are recipients of the gift of faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace. This gift of “faith” is an additional gifting that enables the recipient to believe God with an unshakable resolve. The enthusiasts among us define this gift as follows:

The gift of faith is a gift of the Spirit to the believer in order that he might receive miracles . . . Those who operate in special faith, the gift of the Spirit, can believe God in such a way that God honors their word as His own, and miraculously brings to pass the desired result.

God gives a believer a gift of power because there is something that He wants to do. It is always to bless somebody or help somebody. Or, God can give a believer the gift of power to stop something that is evil . . . He will give you the gift of faith: the amount of power to get the job done. . .

The gift of faith may be defined as the special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians with extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, power, and presence so they can take heroic stands for the future of God’s work in the church. The spiritual gift of faith is exhibited by one with a strong and unshakeable confidence in God, His Word, and His promises.

Πίστις is the Greek word for faith in this text and it simply means to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance in God and His promises. The book of Hebrews the eleventh chapter gives us a plethora of examples of Old Covenant people who overcame through the gift of faith. In simplest terms the gift of faith would be the divinely granted ability to believe the unbelievable in the face of all adversity based upon nothing more than faith in God and His promise(s).

The Gifts of healing

    This gift, like all the others, is supernatural and has nothing to do with medical science or serving in the vocation of a doctor or nurse. The reason I stress the supernatural facet of these charismas is because there are those among us who would relegate these gifts and many supernatural biblical events to really “natural” occurrences, i.e. there is an anti-supernatural vein in our Body.

    The gifts of healing —

The gifts of healings are manifested for the supernatural healing of sickness and disease without any natural source or means.

It’s a plural gift because many things cause sickness. Some sicknesses are caused by accidents. Some are caused by personal neglect. Some sicknesses are caused by bodily abuse. Some sicknesses are caused by organic ailments. Some are caused by a spirit of infirmity or actual satanic oppression.

Tracy and I were taught by Mr. Hayes (above), Robert Tilton and many others that there was a specific “gift” of healing for every disease and ailment afflicting mankind. Robert Tilton claims to have a “gift” for healing people’s back problems. T.L. Osborn claimed to have a divine healing gift for people with deafness. He once claimed to have healed 99 deaf people in one village (naturally this occurred somewhere overseas). The gifts of healing is the second most abused of these nine gifts cited here by Paul, the first being speaking in other tongues (I promise we will get to this gift eventually). The following is a more theological consideration:

23.138
ἴαμα, τος: (derivative of ἰάομαιa ‘to cause to be well again, to heal,’ 23.136) the capacity to cause someone to become healed or cured—’the power to heal, the capacity to heal.’ ἄλλῳ δὲ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων ἐν τῷ ἑνὶ πνεύματι ‘and to another man the same Spirit gives the power to heal’ 1 Cor 12:9. In some languages it may be difficult to speak of ‘giving the power to heal.’ A more natural form of expression is ’cause to be able to heal.’

The Bible is filled with examples of how our God healed people supernaturally. We naturally read of our Lord Jesus Christ HEALING ALL who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Peter and John on their way to the temple to pray healed a lame man who was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22). In Acts 5:12-16 we read the account of the people in Jerusalem and surrounding towns bringing their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits — and ALL of them were healed. Acts 9:32-35 shares the account of the man with paralysis whom God healed via Peter. Paul healed the father of Publius of a fever and dysentery in Acts 28:7-9. We see in the founding of the Church a great display of the power of God and a careful examination of the healing accounts will demonstrate that many of them were part of the redemptive history of God towards a specific people group. For example the people of Lydda and Saron “turned to the Lord” through the signs confirming Peter’s preaching. Healing(s) as with everything our Lord does is not without a purpose, everything that happens is a part of the tapestry of our existence in this life, including sickness and healing.

Why This Gift Is Abused

Two forces work together to cause this gift to be abused by unscrupulous people. First, sickness and death are universal to us all. There is absolutely no one born of man that has not suffered the ravages of sickness and eventually succumbed to death itself. Secondly, the Bible seems to be replete with examples of God’s divine healing and miracle power setting people free from the ravages of sickness and death.

People who are very ill or have dying loved ones will virtually do almost anything, believe anything and give whatever is asked of them in order to receive their healing. What is it worth to see your wife healed from Lyme’s disease or your child delivered from leukemia? Is a donation of $50, $100, $5,000 enough to “prove God” of the sincerity of your faith when the healer asks for it?

    By taking biblical examples and inserting stories (lies) of the tremendous outpouring of healing in the last meeting in the other town the SINister works the people up into an altered state of consciousness rendering them devoid of critical thinking. Loud music, lighting, the psychological dynamics of masses of people in confined spaces, the subtle manipulation of wish fulfillment and the natural smarmy charisma of the SINister him or her all work together forming a synergy of deception on those in need and a huge payday for the fake healer.

    The question really is, does God still heal people today? My answer is, simply yes He does, but He does so according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will and not at the command of any man or woman. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

    Does God heal through healing evangelists? No. To begin with there is no such ministry in the Bible. There is the ministry of an evangelist (see 2 Tim. 4:5), but even Timothy, the evangelist, needed to take some wine for his stomach ailments (see 1 Tim. 5:23) but there is no such designation as “healing evangelist.” Aimee Semple MacPherson, Kathryn Khulman, A.A. Allen, William Branham, Oral Roberts, T. L. Osborn, Peter Popoff, W. WV. Grant, R.W. Schambach, Benny Hinn, etc. are ALL FRAUDS, LIARS and DECEIVERS. They possess no healing gifts at all.

    What is miraculous about the so-called “healing” evangelists is that NONE of them can offer any independent verifiable PROOF that people have been or are being healed under their SINistries and yet still have huge followings and reap millions of dollars each year they are in existence! One would think after a year or two of non-miracle crusades people would have quit listening to Mr. Hinn or others. Yet almost 20 years later, they still flock to his false promises and lies, leaving sick and much poorer spiritually and financially.

The Working of Miracles

One can “fake” healing by simply paying shills to claim they have been healed in the meeting. Miracles are a different manifestation altogether.

Although they are often lumped together healing and miracles are not the same. A healing is when someone is sick, say with cancer and after prayer it is totally gone, no trace, nothing on the X-ray. A miracle might be someone without an arm or a leg that suddenly has a new arm or leg appear on their body, they were not sick, merely missing a limb in this hypothetical case. A better example might be when the dead are raised. Paul raised a young man (Eutychus) from the dead who fell out of a third story window due to Paul’s long sermonizing (see Acts 20:7-12). Eutychus received a miracle, not a healing.

When the working of miracles is in manifestation, there is a divine intervention in the ordinary course of nature.

What is the working of miracles? Well, there are a lot of different kinds of miracles, but it’s a power gift, where power from God is sent from heaven down to earth to do something that’s beyond the natural, beyond the natural thinking of a man.

BUBBLE BURSTING ALERT!!

Very few people were ever used by our God to work miracles, the list is very short. Start at Genesis and go through to The Revelation and jot down: (1) who God used and (2) what was the miracle about, you end up with a pretty short list. What is more, when you consider the nature of the miraculous events in the Bible they are all of significance to the redemptive history of God’s people.

If you listen to any of the “purveyors of power” on the circuit today you will be given the false notion that miracles were occurring left and right in the daily lives of the believers. There are many books in circulation concerning miracles, let me cite just a few:

“I Believe in Miracles” – Kathryn Kuhlman
“Miracle Signs & Wonders” – Marilyn Hickey
“The Price of God’s Miracle Working Power” – A.A. Allen
“Chaos of Miracles” – LaDonna C. Osborn
“Miracles Just Don’t Happen” – Lester Sumrall

What the above books attempt to do is basically to reduce the definition of what is a miracle according to biblical standards, by watering down the definition the miraculous becomes commonplace. I have heard Marilyn Hickey say many times how she “prays” for a closer parking space at the mall and then when a space opens up close to the door she proclaims it a “miracle.”

Bible miracles include manifestations like parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-22), walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33), turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), blindness coming on a blasphemer (Acts 13:11), etc. Can Mr. Hinn, Dollar, Copeland, Meyer, Price or anyone else point us to an actual miracle in their SINistries? NO, they cannot do so because despite all their testimonies of the great things “God” is doing through them, they can produce NO evidence of any divine healing or miracles.

In the New Testament miracles either validated the personal ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ or authenticated the ministry of the apostles:

I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in
all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 2 Cor. 12:11-12

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4–5

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.  For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:19–20

Only those divinely authorized by God can perform miracles. I agree with what fellow I.O.H.H. member, Dr. R.C. Sproul says on this topic:

If anybody can perform miracles, if a person who’s not an agent of divine revelation can perform a miracle, then obviously a miracle cannot certify an agent of revelation. Let me say it again. If a non-agent of revelation can perform a miracle, then a miracle cannot authenticate or certify a bona fide agent of revelation. Which would mean that the New Testament’s claim to be carrying the authority of God Himself, because God has certified Christ and the Apostles by miracles, would be a false claim and a false argument.
So what’s at stake here is the authority, the authenticity, and the truthfulness of the Bible itself. That’s why I have this tight definition, and why I don’t expect miracles, because I don’t expect to find Apostles running around today. So the narrow miracles, they stopped at the end of the Apostolic age.

This is why we are warned several times about the danger of being misled by those proclaiming the ability to work miracles which are really nothing but false signs and wonders:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22–23

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:  For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Mark 13:21–22

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. Acts 8:9–10

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.  And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?  And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:13–16

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

What is truly amazing to me is how desperate the extremist “faith” people are in seeking to either feel or see something or be involved in doing something phenomenal and sadly, they often base their faith on these tangible experiences. Yet the Bible plainly teaches that our faith is based on what we have not
seen or felt. I agree with Sproul that the time of those performing biblical miracles ended with the death of the apostle John.

As was stated earlier miracles were performed to validate Jesus earthly ministry and those of His chosen apostles. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven; He sent the 12 and at the death of the last apostle there is nothing more to validate miraculously.

How can anyone hold a “miracle crusade” due to the divinely sovereign act in manifesting a miracle? It is the height of PRESUMPTION (not faith) to declare what the Holy Spirit is going to do on any evening or moment for that matter. The Spirit gives His gifts as HE WILLS (1 Cor. 12:11) not when Mr. Hinn or Copeland demand an appearance or manifestation of them.

I openly challenge any of the living self-proclaimed miracle workers to please provide DMI with just one independently verifiable example of a miraculous event tied directly to their organization. I know the atheist James Randi has a $1,000,000 prize for the first person who can perform a miracle in his laboratory, as of today (12-30-13) the money still sits in Randi’s account.

In closing this section out, please understand I am not saying that our Lord does not move supernaturally on our behalf or in our lives, He most certainly does. When my daughter and I were T-boned by a semi at about 60 mph, destroying our very small Saturn and we got out without a scratch that was the mercy of God. That was not a “miracle” it was an answer to prayer as I cried out to our Lord immediately and He spared our lives. If we loosen our definition, then we lose biblical authority. So yes, our Lord answers prayers, heals people, grants faith in the impossible at times, but there are no godly miracle workers roaming the land today, only wolves in sheep’s clothing. Selah.

Endnotes

  1. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Faith Library Publications, Tulsa OK. 1991, p. 102
  2. Hayes, Norvel. The Gift of Faith. Harrison House. Tulsa OK. 1980, p. 16
  3. Obtained from http://www.gotquestions.org/gift-of-faith.html#ixzz2oyhSZ27l
  4. One of the almost impossible positions to attain in this life is that of BALANCE!  We tend to make everything supernatural (charismatic extremists) or we deny the power of God and make everything natural (some neo-evangelicals).
  5. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Faith Library Publication, Tulsa OK. 1991, p. 115
  6. Hayes, Norvel. The Gifts of Healing. Harrison House. Tulsa OK. 1980, p. 5
  7. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 268.
  8. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Faith Library Publication, Tulsa OK. 1991, p. 108
  9. Hayes, Norvel. The Gifts of Healing. Harrison House. Tulsa OK. 1980, p. 5
  10. The International Order of Heresy Hunters, is a small elite by invitation only cadre of truth-tellers.  One can be invited by submitting a check for $25 to DMI and a certificate suitable for framing will come your way.
  11. Obtained from http://www.ligonier.org/blog/does-rcsproul-believe-miracles/. Bold type added for emphasis