Why DMI Does What It Does

27 07 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 7 – Why DMI Does What It Does

 Discernment Ministries International

 Why DMI Does What It Does

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

“We praise God that, despite the large amount of poison, He still saves so many people at the same time we remember our sacred duty to witness against every false doctrine whenever we can.”  CFW Walther, Essays for the Church, Volume 1, 178.

I was recently at Concordia seminary, Fort Wayne explaining to their Vicarage Department why I was no longer pursuing a position as a pastor within the LCMS. Instead I shared with Professor Pulse the great need to (1) educate God’s people of the dangers from within and without and (2) to the need to help equip the sheep with the biblical tools they need to give a defense for what they believe. I shared that my goal was to continue the fruitful ministry the Lord entrusted to me by hopefully starting a ‘Recognized Service Organization’ (RSO) within our Synod dedicated to warning, educating and equipping congregations within the LCMS about the dangers impacting the church. Professor Pulse agreed there was (1) currently no one doing this type of outreach and (2) there is indeed a great need for such work.

I was however disappointed to learn that the two Apologetics/counter-cult type courses that were offered to pastors in training are no longer offered at any Lutheran seminaries. What is more I have yet to work with any congregation that was well educated and equipped regarding the current trends sweeping away many souls.

For over sixteen years I have dedicated my meager abilities to “Teach Truth and Expose Error” and it has been at times exhilarating as well as very depressing. Exhilarating in that I have seen many people come out of doctrinal darkness and false practice by the grace of God. Depressing, because of the lack of support from local churches and individuals in battling the very things that are destroying them!

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:27-31

The Field of Battle Is Two-Fold

From Without-

Paul in his address to the Ephesian elders warned them of the battle to come when he departed. Nature abhors a vacuum, and evil spirits know how to make the most of a “clean and swept” house (see Matthew 12:45). One avenue to assault against the sheep is from outside of the Church that Paul designates as “grievous wolves” —

To begin with cultic activity is pandemic in the world. Christianity is no longer merely competing with the views of the major world religions (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.). Today, the Church is competing with literally 1,000’s of new belief systems, many of which are very sophisticated technologically and extremely evangelistic in delivering their message.

These non-Christian cults have multitudinous websites, Blogs, Public Access television programs, cable programs in the form of infomercials and a growing army of devotees actively spreading their version of salvation. A good example would be the church of Scientology. A highly published Christian Apologist was told by Zondervan Publishing House, the largest Christian book publisher in the world, to remove the chapter he had written about Scientology, simply because that cult is too powerful and they have the capability to sue organization into bankruptcy (this is what happened to the Cult Awareness Network, which is now owned and operated by Scientologists). Due to the many high profile musicians and movie actors in Scientology their cult is growing in popularity and power. What is your church doing to combat their false message? Ask yourself a simple question, “is my church equipping me to biblically and effectively challenge their beliefs”? When was the last time your church offered a course or seminar on the cults, their beliefs and how to refute them from a loving biblical perspective?

Do the brothers and sisters you worship with weekly understand what Islam believes? Do they know its history, why the Shiites fight the Sunni and both of them fight the Sufis. We may have a Latter Day Saint for a President of the nation. It might surprise you to learn that Christians have more in common with Islam than we do with Mormonism—is your church educated to know why this is true?

The church is currently under a massive attack from without. Not just the overt non-Christian cults, but also by our culture. The homosexual movement has been growing by leaps and bounds. It was not that long ago when being a homosexual was one of society’s darkest secrets. Not only was it a shameful secret, but was classified as a psychological ailment and a crime of sexual deviancy in most states. In less than twenty years (20) homosexuals are touted as ‘normal’ and thus should (and do) have the same rights as heterosexual citizens. Gay pride floods our parades, our military and virtually every television sitcom has at least one openly queer character.

Our own government has been moving in rapid fashion against the Church under the Obama regime. The church is going to be forced to pay for birth control pills and abortions. Bible believing Christians are now listed as potential terrorists by our government. Do not be surprised if/when they rescind tax breaks for Churches. Obviously, Hollywood television programs and movies, the music industry conspire to works against the cause of Christ. When was the last time you saw a Christian portrayed in a good light in a film or program? Ask yourself, are you, your church family and friends biblically prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you (see 1 Peter 3:15)?

From Within-

What is even more troubling is the rapid expansion of heresy and aberrant teachings within the Church. What’s worse is that the vast majority of this nonsense flows from America! Never in the history of the Church have the people of God suffered from such a massive infestation of false teachers, false prophets and false apostles.

The “Christian” bookstore has become one of the most spiritually dangerous places for the child of God to set foot in. The list of Christian best selling books include such titles as Good Morning Holy Spirit, The Divine Revelation of Hell, God Calling, The God Chasers, Heaven Is Real and other books filled with false teaching, blasphemy and in many cases outright lies.

“Christian” Television offers the world a perversion of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. TBN, a global network, serves up a regular diet of heresy and error through people such as Jessie Duplantis, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kim Clement and others. Televangelism is alive and well on the airwaves proclaiming a false gospel of health & wealth. Peter Popoff, Don Stewart, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey and Robert Tilton (to name just a few) are still broadcasting on a regular basis and raking in close to a combined BILLION dollars a year to support their lavish lifestyles (wonder why Senator Grassley was interested in some of these Gospel pimps?).

The televangelists do not provide any financial reports, but it is estimated based on what has been revealed that altogether they siphon off close to a billion dollars a year tax-free from legitimate Christian work. Where does this money go? It goes to pay for mansions, private jets (many televangelists own several), running their SINistry machines. Very little goes to feed the hungry, build orphanages, medical clinics, locally based outreach, etc. These people promise much, but they deliver nothing but false and unfulfilled promises.

The elderly, infirmed, work-at-home mom’s & dad’s represent the “mission” field of the televangelists. These Christian folks, who are lonely, want some “Christian” teaching & fellowship have no choice except to watch and be influenced by a myriad of false teachers, prophets, apostles, brethren and false evangelists. If such viewing comprises the majority of spiritual input, then it makes sense that these people would be deceived into believing what they see and hear — because the televangelists ALL preach the same errors on television, ergo they ‘confirm’ their own doctrines by pointing to one another as additional witness (see 2 Cor. 13:1). I have relatives who actually go to sleep with TBN on!

The problem with the people who have risen up among us speaking perverse things is that we live in a time when pointing this out is politically incorrect and this notion has crept over into the Church in a big way. The lambs of our Lord suffer under these blind guides because the leaders in the Church are very busy perfecting their place in the monkey line —” see no evil hear no evil speak no evil,” others are working on Oscar winning performances akin to “Sgt. Shultz” on television who was known for saying “I know nothing” when questioned about questionable activities.

Some swimming in the river of denial say “let the Lord handle it,” or “I’m taking the high ground and walking love towards them” — all-the-while people are being misled regarding who our Lord Jesus Christ is, what He did, what is our response to be to Him for His great gift, etc. By keeping silent error increases. The apostle Paul rightly said to the Galatians regarding the false teachers assaulting their faith:

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Gal. 5:7-9

These folks were hindered from obeying the Lord because they listened (how faith comes) to false teachers. Paul warns them that the little leaven (error) will infect the entire loaf unless dealt with.

 A few years back Tracy and I marveled at the ignorance of a leading charismatic pastor, John Arnott, who answered a question regarding spiritual deception in this manner, “I have more faith in God’s ability to bless than in Satan’s ability to deceive,” words to that effect. Arnott got many hearty ‘halleluiahs’ from the crowd for his pious sounding words. But what sayeth the Scripture?

The Satanic Six Fold-Ministry

When I start out as a young charismaniac the teaching of that day was about the “five-fold ministry.” This is taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and buttressed with a few other texts:

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. Eph. 4:11-12

Sign-gift people are restorationists and as such believe that today’s Church is supposed to operate exactly like the early Church but with more power in these last days. They believe that God has restored back to the Church the specific office of the (1) Apostle, and (2) Prophet. The other three (3) Evangelist, (4) Pastor and (5) Teacher have always been with the Church. This teaching goes as far as to declare that unless a local congregation receives spiritual input from all five ministry gifts they will remain deficient and non-effective in the last great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit and power. Many books have been written regarding the work of the restored five-fold ministry and this concept (which is wrong for many reasons) is widely held by countless sign-gift folks. They believe for example, that the apostle is one who operates in all the other four ‘offices.’ I would like to briefly mention the other side of the coin, which NONE of the charismatic luminaries has touched on to any great degree; that of the demonic counterfeits.

The False Apostle

Chief Apostle Dr. Eric vonAnderseck believes that the church needs living apostles today to bring the church into the unity of the faith. By his apostolic stewardship the church is again receiving one doctrine of Christ, one faith, and one restored blueprint of truth. Apostle Eric is establishing the true testimony of Jesus Christ as the record of faith to mature the church unto a perfect man, to bring the church to the fullness of Christ. (Eph.4:13)   (2)

God is changing the look and feel of Apostolic and Prophetic ministry as it is now functioning in the church. A new dynamic of the ministry of Apostles and Prophets will soon be revealed through Jesus Christ, the giver of the Five-Fold ministry gifts. Interestingly enough is that the new dynamic is the same pattern given for Apostles and Prophets in the Holy Scriptures. (3)

The ministry of the apostle is the latest act of restoration by the Holy Spirit according to the enthusiasts. My wife and I personally experienced the rise of the apostolic which was “birthed” by the proclamation of the restored prophets! We saw individuals who started out as street evangelists become pastors, who later became prophets and then were elevated to the role of apostle and others who jumped the ranks from pastor to apostle, including one of our former pastors, Ellis Smith. If you Google “prophetic movement” you will get a return of 4,670,000.

According to the enthusiasts the ministry of the apostle is the culmination of the restoration process. They believe that these men and women (although Jesus chose no female apostles, nor did the early church) are the ones through whom God will pour out new revelations, give directions for the Church both locally and globally. These people are the forerunners who will initiate the forthcoming manifestation the sons of God (see Romans 8:19)  by imparting spiritual gifts of power.

One of the most recent examples of this belief was the ‘elevation’ of Todd Bentley to the office of apostle. The whole debacle can be seen and heard on YouTube, simply input ‘Todd Bentley’ and you will get back over 3,800 videos. The fact is this: Mr. Bentley has no legitimate biblical education. He is a convicted child molester, (4), and shortly after his elevation it was discovered that the Church’s newly minted “apostle” was in the midst of a sexual affair with another female anointed vessel. Now a few months later Todd is divorced, remarried and back on the stage with the FULL BACKING of today’s so called restored apostles and prophets (many of whom can be seen on his elevation video prof-a-lying over Todd). (5) There is one good video of Todd where he is rebuked by 4 people during a meeting, which he ignores and belittles, if you get online you can go to the following address and see men rebuking Todd biblically – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_tRwgItUFo.

These roving wolves are nothing new to the Church. From its inception Satan raised up tares among the pure wheat o0f God to deceive and mislead the sheep; to lead them to hell and not to heaven.

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

Paul is defending his genuine apostleship against those who were claiming that they were in fact the true apostles to the Corinthians. Three times Paul uses the Greek word

Paul lets us know that these pseudo apostles are people who disguise their true motives; they masquerade as Christians which should not surprise us because Satan and his demons always attempt to appear in an appealing and tempting form. So it is no big mystery that his servants will appear as ministers of righteousness — they will reap what they sow. Our Lord commanded the saints who did not simply “swallow-and-follow” whatever they were taught, but they checked out those who claimed to be apostles:

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. Rev. 2:3

Discernment Ministries International has been putting these people to the test and we have found them to be false apostles and DMI is doing all it can to warn the body of Christ about the grave spiritual danger these frauds present to our spiritual wellbeing. Today’s crop of so-called apostles fails the biblical test set forth in Acts:

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Acts 1:21,22

What is more, Jesus and the early Church never chose a woman to be an apostle, ergo any women today who claims to hold such a position is obviously extremely deceived and thus deceiving all those who follow her, regardless of how well-intentioned she may be. (7)

This new crop fails the true seal of apostleship in the area of genuine signs and wonders. Paul, in defense of his ministry said:

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

False Prophets

Today, there is no doubt that God is restoring the prophetic ministry to the church as never seen before. Prophets are springing up from everywhere and people are more than ever aware of the prophetic ministry as never before. (8)

The polemical aspect of the heresiologist’s work is decried by many in the church today. Many people think those of us involved in apologetics, polemics and counter-cult works are simply wasting our time. After all, if someone wants to call themselves a “prophet” what business is it of mine or yours? Christian love demands a response to (1) the lies told in the name of the Lord who saved them and (2) warn the undiscerning to the spiritual danger facing them if they warn the undiscerning to the spiritual danger facing them if they follow these blind guides.

False prophets are the frontline “battle tanks” in Satan’s arsenal. Through them Satan has sent more souls to eternal damnation than through almost any other means. Think a moment — Islam was started by a false prophet. Close to a billion souls, praying five times a day heading towards the pit of destruction. Today Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, and the source of virtually all the world’s current problems. How about Joseph Smith? He convinced many that he was a prophet of our Lord. The result?  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a cult which is being rapidly accepted as a “sect” within Christianity! None less than Joel Osteen, America’s mega-church pastor, who speaks to millions weekly accepts Mormons as Christians. If Mitt Romney becomes President then expect to see a massive push to mainstream Mormonism into acceptance as part of the Church. Jim Jones took hundreds with him to hell, they died believing he was a prophet.

Today virtually all sign-gift believers (500 million, ¼ of the professing Church today — no small number) believe that God has restored true prophets back to the Church today. While there is no agreement on who is or is not a prophet and no unity regarding the function of today’s prophets they do seem to agree that this is a necessary ministry in order for Christ to return.

 This means that 500 million people believe that God has placed men and women in the Church to hear from God on their behalf, relate these revelations to the recipients and then empower them to fulfill the revelation by imparting ‘the anointing’ to devotee. This means that 1/4th of the Church today is not relying on the Scripture alone to give them guidance, instead they are placing their faith in the words spoken by the false prophets and prophetesses.

It boggles the mind that this many people can accept the word and direction of someone who is not necessarily expected to be 100% accurate (how one knows what to accept or reject is purely subjective). Below is an example of this unbiblical belief (the bible accepts nothing less than 100% accuracy for God’s prophets):

There is a creative realm to prophecy and the prophetic ministry. If you say ‘God, I don’t want to be making this stuff up.” That is doubt!” Now remember that without faith it is impossible to please God. Like any new thing you are trying to learn, it takes time. It takes time to become good at expressing what you see in the spirit. It is because you must sort through all the impressions and prophetic pictures that come to mind. You must take time to learn how to interpret them. If you are going to move in the prophetic ministry, then you must be willing to be made a fool for Christ. Does that sound familiar?  Have you ever done something that you thought you heard God tell you to do?  You must be willing to make mistakes You will learn what not to do through experience. That is the price. (8)

The Prophetic Movement is the hotbed of all forms of enthusiastic excess such as, holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness and the other revivalism nonsense was birthed in prophetic congregations. Today the leaven has spread to now include things such as “prophetic dance.” Dancing certain dances are a form of prayer, will cast out evil spirits, as a form of worship. There is also prophetic prayer, prophetic worship, prophetic mantles and all sorts of pagan practices being accepted as part of legitimate Christian worship! The prophetic (pathetic) movement is a dangerous deception and it is a powerful force to contend with.

False Teachers

As with the other counterfeits that church has always been beset with false teachers. The Apostle Peter warned the church when he wrote:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And MANY WILL follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness THEY WILL EXPLOIT YOU with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 2 Peter 1:1-3

The only change today in the fulfillment of this text is that they no longer do it in “secret.” today the false teachers rove the globe spewing forth a myriad of deceptive teachings on physical healing, financial prosperity, the gifts of the Spirit, and redemption itself is twisted by these liars.

These tares are especially dangerous because God’s people have been taught to respect and believe the Bible. However, this is where the average believer often stumbles. Someone stands up and preaches something using biblical texts and says “its in the bible.” What is required on our part is to be well grounded in Christian doctrine. Most Christians are not adequately prepared to properly discern truth from error (what else explains the millions in spiritual bondage today?).

The major televised SINisters preach another Gospel, proclaim another Jesus and offer people another spirit, not the Holy Spirit. Out of a godly concern for the Church on a regular basis DMI exposes the false doctrines of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar, TBN, Jesse Duplantis, Fred Price, Joel Osteen and a host of others who oppose Christ and themselves. DMI has contacted many of these individuals by registered mail documenting their errors and asking them to recant their false teachings. To date none of them have done so. Having followed Mathew 18 to some extent, DMI now takes the concern to the Church.

False Shepherds

The small letter to Titus gives us some insights into the motivation of the false minister in the following:

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths MUST BE STOPPED, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. Titus 1:10-11

False shepherds care nothing for the souls that are under their “care.” The sheep on the other hand have a somewhat innate trust in their pastors by virtue of their office alone. They are motivated by greed and pride (which is why so many SINistries are named after their human leader(s). The majority of sign-gift leaders are self-taught and self-appointed; few have any legitimate theological education and training. Tracy and I experienced tremendous spiritual abuse under two Rhema graduate “pastors” ( one man was also a prophet and the other was elevated to role of apostle) and over the years have counseled numerous victims of wolves masquerading as pastors. Ezekiel reveals another key indicator of the false shepherd:

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?   The weak you have not strengthen, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. Eze. 34:1-5

Every charismatic pastor I have known personally have “fed” themselves at the expense of their flocks. This is very evident especially in urban ministries where the pastors all live in as close to a mansion as can be obtained, drive very expensive cars and wear fashionable clothing. However, the people they serve live at or below the poverty level. Due to being literally bewitched by these Gospel pimps the people accept this burden willingly.

False Christ’s

The word of Faith cult has redefined “Christ” to refer to the anointing that was upon Jesus, ergo the text “I can do all things through Christ…” (see Phil.4:13) is read “I can do all things through the anointing” —a BIG difference in meaning. They look to the power of God and not to the God who supplies the power.

We are warned that there would in fact be falsely anointed people who claim by virtue of the accompanying signs and wonders as verification that they speak and work for the Living God.’

For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. 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. Matthew 24:5,24

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

Few Christians will be deceived into thinking that someone is in fact the Lord Himself (although DMI has covered a few of them out-front antichrists including Sun Myung Moon, the aging ‘Korean’ Jesus and the most recent ‘Hispanic’ Jesus name Jose Luis de Jesus), but they seem to have no problem believing the claims to possess the power of Christ’s Spirit.

Benny Hinn is probably the best known living purveyor of power. After twenty years of holding ’miracle crusades’ the only miracle he can prove is the miracle of people continuing to attend his lame meetings. I can prove under oath in court that more people have physically died during Hinn’s meetings than he has ever healed. In fact, Mr. Hinn who by now should have a Quonset hut full of medical testimonies to divine healing — but he cannot verify one miracle. What is more Hinn is on record as a false prophet, adulterer and a liar (I do not say these things lightly). Yet the multitudes still flock to his meetings. There are many others claiming to impart the power of God. DMI covered the latest crop of deceivers in the last two issues of Truth Matters.

False Brethren

And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: Gal. 2:4

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. Titus 3:10

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son if anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 1:11

The Church is filled with wheat and tares and while we are commanded to believe the best (1 Cor. 13:7) we are also commanded to be aware of those around us. Sometimes false brethren sit in the pews and after the service they pull individuals aside and begin to discuss what is wrong in that local congregation. Tracy and I have run into people who simply ‘flit’ from church to church causing problems and sometimes splitting congregations.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Romans 16:17

False brethren are probably best considered as the ‘little foxes that destry the vine” (see SoS 2:15) as opposed to the SINisters, who also fall into this category. These are the folks who invite congregation members to their house for a little ‘home Bible study’ apart from the knowledge and direction of the pastor with the goal of sowing discord among the brethren. This is especially true, sad to say, for many ‘sign-gift’ devotees who believe it is their mission to get as many people out of their former denominations by infiltrating their former churches and sheep steal. Perhaps you’ve encountered these people.

In closing this out, let me simple warn you to keep an eye on your youth groups. Why?  Because our youth are directly targeted by charismaniacs. Youth are vulnerable and thus susceptible to wanting anything other than what their parents offer. The enthusiasts know that their future lies with the youth and not their parents. A word to the wise: Keep a sharp eye on what is taking place in/with your youth at church.

We’re very briefly considered some of the main avenues of assaults by Satan and his demons against our Christian family. Probably everyone reading this issue has a relative or friend who is enmeshed in some form of charismatic extremism, some “bible-based” cult, or possibly just a plain ole secularist. Discernment Ministries International was created to help educate and equip the saints of God to make a stand for God’s Word and by Its power rescue those who oppose themselves (2 Tim. 2:25) and are in danger of eternal damnation.

By the grace of God good fruit has been produced by DMI and by His grace in the days ahead we will expand our outreach and continue to Teach Truth & Expose Error!

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon

2. Obtained from http://www.apostleeric.com on 6-30-12.

3. Obtained from www.apostolicministry.org

4. Understand that I am not saying the Mr. Bentley has not repented of his former sins, or that Jesus has not forgiven him. I bring this up because it is part of the public record and sadly, pedophiles, according to research seldom change, may Christ have genuinely changed Bentley.

5. Prof-a-lie is a term I co8ined to describe the action of an enthusiast standing up and uttering some sweet sounding lies in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek New Testament, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, Logos Research).

7. Again, I am not making statements regarding anyone’s eternal state before our Lord. He knows, all you and all I can do is to examine their fruit and see if it meets biblical standards. If not they must be rebuked and hopefully restored to soundness.

8. Obtained from www.whatsnewintheprophetic.com/PropheticMinistry

9. Obtained from www.prophetic-ministry.com

10. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1 Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domain electronic ed. Of the 2nd edition (New York: United Bible Societies 1996), 415

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“HEARING” THE VOICE OF GOD

23 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 4 – “Hearing the Voice of God – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing the Voice of God

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

One of the most frustrating things for me as a charismatic extremist was hearing the various testimonies of my teachers regarding hearing the voice of God. All of these men and women made it abundantly clear to us mere sheep that they were in fact in daily, if not, moment-to-moment communication with the Ancient of Days.

Usually their sermons or lessons began with statements like “ I was in prayer the other night and the Lord said to me ‘son why don’t you explain what faith is to My people’ and I said yes Lord and He opened my eyes to the scriptures like never before.” Obviously, we as the hearers upon hearing this statement buckled down in our seats, got out our pens and took notes on what was divinely revealed to the speaker (you can insert almost anyone’s name e.g. Ken Hagin, Copeland, Savelle, Dollar, Price, Jakes, White, Meyer, Dupantis, Hayes, et al.). After their stirring words we little sheep would wander to our homes wondering what did it take to actually “hear the voice of God”? We were literally in awe of people like Kenneth Hagin senior who said on a regular basis that God was more “real to him then his wife.” Also, Mr. Hagin was a man who claimed to have had at least seven (7) direct face-to-face encounters with the risen Christ, during which encounters Mr. Hagin was given revelations which became some of the body of his teachings {doctrine}. Obviously Mr. Hagin and many of our other teachers had a relationship with Jesus Christ that we did not have. Hagin used to share an anecdote that went something like this: “A man told me he was afraid of anyone who said God spoke to them, I answered him back and said I was afraid of anyone who God didn’t speak to!” In context let me add that Hagin was not talking about God speaking through His Word, he meant God speaking directly to us as individuals. Hagin’s position was that it was normative for God to speak to His children.

This obviously lack of intimate fellowship with the Godhead that our teachers seemed to have led many of us “on-fire” saints (me included) on the “hunt” for obtaining such an equally close fellowship with our Lord and Savior. After all, who does not want to “hear” the Holy Spirit say directly to them “go this way, turn left on Elm, “ or marry this woman,” or “accept this job position, it is My will.” Hearing from “God” on that level would take all of the guesswork out of life. If a person could hear so clearly from the Lord it would equal an error-free life (something God nowhere promises any of us in His Word) assuming the individual heeded everything the Lord told Him directly.

I’ll let you in on one of charismania’s dirty little secrets. A large portion of what charismatic teachers offer to those who will follow can be condensed into the claim that they (the teacher) possesses some spiritual experience which can be anyone’s if they will learn how to “tap in” as their teacher did. This experience can include some of the following examples: receiving revelation knowledge, receiving divine healing; walking in divine life; increasing the anointing in one’s life; achieving financial prosperity among other claims. Naturally merely attending a conference will probably not give one any of the above abilities. Thus the seeker is urged by the SINister or his or her shills to purchase books, tapes and DVD’s on the experience being sought, all of which happen to be for sale, authored by the SINister just outside the arena (all major credit cards accepted).

Apart from the extraordinary gifts, such as the power to heal or work miracles, every charismatic teacher claims to hear directly from God. The old expression “from God’s lips to my ear” would be wildly accepted by these people. Most Christian’s will accept that they will probably not work miracles or heal the lame, but at least they can hear from God can’t they?

The question is a simple one —does the Bible teach that the children of God would in fact hear His voice and be led by Him directly and individually? It does not matter how many people vociferously declare that God speaks to them directly to their spirits. As discerning Christians we must always go back and look at what the Bible teaches concerning this or any other matter being foist upon us.

Really the challenge is in the court of the charismatic extremists to prove to us biblically that it is the practice of God to speak individually to His children. The spiritual enthusiast has two general responses to this challenge. The popular response today (at least since the Holy Laughter paranormal manifestations) has been well expressed by Jack Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor who went off the spiritual rails so to speak:

God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible.

According to Dr. Deere, John Arnott and a host of other charismatic leaders God speaks to His children all the time, gives them guidance, but it is of such a type that cannot be verified biblically. The best they can say is that any supernatural direction given, whether through dreams, visions, apparitions or voices will not violate the Bible!

This is the same type of argument that John Arnott (former pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Church i.e. vortex of the holy laughter nonsense) gave me personally in our e-mail correspondence. Mr. Arnott in answering my concerns regarding all the non-biblical manifestations my wife and I eye witnessed in his congregation was simply to begin by citing John 21:25

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25 (KJV)

Arnott’s response to me was simply that what was taking place in the outpouring of the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit was nothing new, it just was not recorded in the Bible for us to read about. Holy Laughter, making animal noises, being slain in the spirit, uncontrollable jumping, jerking and running are simply part of the “many other things” Jesus did as well !!!

I responded by asking Arnott how can we know that what is happening is biblical if the Bible is silent on this specific matter? What are we to use as our guide pertaining to spiritual matters? His response was to direct me to all the good fruit being borne by the revival, the joy, the laughter, the changed lives of those undergoing these manifestations.

In the words of the arch-heretic Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt!” If the best Arnott can do is point me to subjective paranormal experiences that some people were undergoing as proof that it was “God” at work then he has a great deal to learn about religious experiences. I can take Arnott to various ashrams where the same manifestations are being experienced by the devotees of various power gurus and these followers will give passionate explanation of how their lives have been changed.

Appealing to anything other than the Bible as the final arbitrator of doctrine and experience is to leave oneself wide open to demonic deception, delusion, and disappointment. What today’s charismatic enthusiasts want the Church to do is simply accept their teachings, experiences and practices on the power of their word alone, not on the authority of God’s Word.

I warned Mr. Arnott that he and those like him were in danger of becoming a cult due to their going down the same pathway all the Bible-based cults have gone. The reason we call them “Bible-based” cults is due to their claim to believe in the Bible, however God has given them further revelation whether it is in the form of the New World Translation of the JW’s, or the Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, The Scripture Keys to Science and Health or the Mo Letters. So for these cults it boils down to a formula like — The Bible + new revelations/writings {guess which ends up being authoritative }. Many charismatic are in the same place — The Bible + new revelations, fortunately the Bible still seems to hold ultimate authority in may of their lives.

The second response to our apologetic challenge is a finally turning to the Bible and cherry pick examples that seem to fit their particular belief or practice. In the case of our topic, they will show us people God talked to and use these examples to attempt to prove these encounters as normative. This is GREAT! Always guide the discussion with these misguided folks back to the Bible, because we both can agree that it is God’s Word and as Christians It is binding on our lives. So then the weight is upon us to prove our position is in fact – the biblical one.

Who “Heard” the voice of God?

Old Testament

Adam & Eve: Obviously we can start with them. They not only heard the voice of God, but also walked with Him in the cool of the garden (Genesis 2:3). Obviously none of us can use Adam and Eve as our examples of fellowship with God since after they sinned and were kicked out of the garden their face-to-face communication ceased with the Lord.

Noah: Yes Noah heard from God directly. Since it had never rained on the earth until the flood I’m sure the Lord had some things to make clear to Noah, such as the directions on building the ark and who to place within it. (Gen. 6:9). Noah conversations with the Lord can hardly be normative since it involved the salvation of mankind.

Job: Only towards the end of the book of Job (Job 38-42) do we read of Job having a divine communication from the Lord.

Abraham: Over the entire span of his long life Abraham heard directly from the Lord in various manners only 16 times, hardly a daily ongoing conversation between The Ancient of Days of the patriarch of the faith!

Sarah: She only was spoken to once, which she initially denied saying what she had said (read Gen 18).

Moses: He holds the “record” of hearing from God, but then leading a few million Jews no doubt required quite a bit of direction. We read are approximately 85 times when God spoke to Moses. Again the majority of these times had to do specifically with the economy of God and the leading of God’s people.

Aaron: Moses’ brother and first high priest, he heard from God about 14 times, again always involving serious matters.

Joshua: The man who replaced Moses and led the people across the Jordan — again only around 13 or so experiences with the “voice of God” in his life.

Samuel: The great prophet of the Lord, we know at the beginning of his ministry the Lord spoke to him and he did not even recognize the Lord’s voice (1 Sam. 3) How the “word of the Lord” came to him and the other prophets we are not always told. We do know that in Samuel’s time the “word of the Lord was rate” (3:1) and there were few visions. What I am focusing our attention on is direct, personal communication from God to individuals.

David: The sweet psalmist of Israel, you’d think he would had daily running conversations with the Lord (like Hagin, Copeland, and others claim), But, no, go read the accounts of his life again and you’ll find less than 12 direct encounters Person-to-person.

Solomon: One of Israel’s most blessed kings, wisest of all O.T. personages, he only had 3 experiences hearing directly from the Lord. (read 1 Kings, 3:5-14; 9:2-9; 11:11-13).

My brothers and sisters there are many other O.T. examples I could cite, but these examples should make it very clear that people in general never personally heard God’s voice. Even God’s specially chosen vessels, rarely heard His voice and when they did it was regarding salvation’s history in some form or another.

The charismatic belief that throughout biblical history God is just chattering away to His people simply doesn’t stand up to any close examination of the Bible. Of course many within the charismatic movement will point that we are “New Testament” believers, ergo we should consider the New Testament as our “norm.” Ok, let’s take a quick look through the New Testament.

New Testament

Again our sign-gift inclined brethren would have us believe that under the new covenant we find our heavenly Father speaking to His children on a regular basis, leading and guiding them via personal speaking, dreams, visions and even angels. However, as Christians we must allow the Bible to be our guide, not subjective personal experiences. We know that during Jesus’ ministry when God spoke it was at times considered thunder by those who heard it (see John 12:29). On the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, John and James did hear the audible voice of God they were speechless (see Mark 9). There is absolutely no evidence that “God” apart from the personal earthly ministry of Jesus, God and Son, ever spoke internally to any of the disciples in the Gospels.

As a former charismatic I’d be quick to argue that the Book of Acts is really the template for the Church and that’s where will find God speaking to about everyone. I also used to believe that miracles were commonplace and were being wrought by just about every Miriam, Peter and John. Folks the truth is, as with hearing the voice of God, very few people were ever used by God throughout the entire Bible to work a miracle. Think about it, write them all down and you will have a very short list. Common sense dictates that if miracles where commonplace then they would cease to be “miraculous.”

Well if one reads the Book of Acts carefully one will discover that the vast majority of the times we read of God speaking directly or even indirectly, say through an angel, less than twenty times and the majority of these times were involving the Apostle Peter and Paul. The few others so specifically guided by God were folks like Agabus (a prophet), Cornelius (whose salvation was a catalyst for the Gentiles), and Ananias (who went to pray for a man named “Saul”.

What is remarkable about each occurrence is that none of these individuals were seeking to hear from God directly! God was the One who reached out to them. Also keep in mind that none of these people were ever taught any formula, hidden keys, or method on how to hear from God (which is a very popular subject in almost all Christian bookstores & conferences). Even more astounding is the FACT that no one is ever counseled to seek to hear God’s voice.

A simple truth that really “blew” my mind in seminary was when I learned from Dr. Eugene Mayhew that the Book of Acts is a historical account of what took place in the early Church and NOT a template on how to do Church. This was contrary to everything I had been taught as a sign-seeking believer. However, once you realize this is true you see that everything that took place in Acts is not normative nor to be expected in the daily life of Christians today.

Some may respond “but brother Liichow doesn’t the Apostle Paul tell us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14)?” Yes, but the text does not say “those who hear from God directly are the sons of God.” In fact, this text does not tell use exactly how God’s Spirit will lead us. Sign-gift folk insert voices, dreams, visions, visits from Jesus and /or angels into the text in invisible ink. They may assent that this text does not say exactly how the Spirit will lead us but will often counter with another text, this time from the Gospels. “Didn’t Jesus say that ‘My sheep hear My voice’ so obviously His true hear from God!” The context of John 10:16 is regarding sheep and goats and the fact that untimely there will be one flock (Jew & Gentiles together) under one Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus is not speaking about some private conversation(s) He will have with His sheep. Compare this text with Romans 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Add to this “how shall they hear without a preacher’? (Rom. 10:14). Jesus was not speaking about Him personally talking with His sheep. Oh yes He does “call” us but He does so generally through the foolishness of preaching or even through our baptism.

Some Charismatic Comments

“In June God gave us a vision of the world with silver and gold bands covering the entire globe —we began to understand that God was telling us to take the message…” Charles and Francis Hunter, How to Heal the Sick, Hunter Books, pg. 1.

“I could hear the Spirit of God challenging me, “You’ve approached it wrongly. You’ve worked on the wrong end of the thing. You fasted and you prayed that I would do something and I’ve done all I’m ever going to do…” Kenneth E. Hagin, The Art of Intercession, Faith Library, pg. 47

My Father said to me (oh, I could hear His voice so plainly as He spoke to me), ‘Son, you don’t know how that delights My heart…You know, He said to me, ‘I made man so I’d have someone to fellowship with. I made man for My companion…I’ll put this way (and He said it is just these words), I made man so I’d have someone to pal with,’ “ Kenneth E. Hagin, Growing Up, Spiritually, Faith Library, pp. 64-65.

“The Spirit of God spoke up on the inside of me and said, ‘She has been holding fast to the problem al of these years. If she had prayed in faith she wouldn’t have prayed all those other 24 years…But she has bound Me from the situation by the words of her mouth.” Charles Capps, Releasing the Ability of God, Harrison House, p. 38.

“I asked the Lord, ‘Why did the centurion have that kind of faith…The Lord said, ‘He was a military man who understood authority because he was under authority. If you will teach My people to understand authority as this man understood authority, they will operate in the same kind of faith.” Charles Capps, Authority, Harrison House, p. 5

“Just this Pat: God is telling me to go and share the message of His power an the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Mrs. Peale.” Pat Robertson & Jamie Buckingham, Shout It From the Rooftops, Logos, p. 66

Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER… He told me how I would be able to detect diseases by vibrations on my hand. He went away, but I have seen him several times since then.” Gordon Lindsay, William Branham A Man Sent From God, Voice of Healing, p. 77.

The BIG Question

These are just a very few examples of some instances where well known charismatic leaders are relating a little of their personal conversations with the Lord. In the same arena we have to also include today’s restored prophets and the “word of the Lord” they proclaim to congregations and individuals (that also is a common charismatic way to hear from God). The question for either individuals hearing from God or from the mouth of an alleged restored prophet is the same: “Why isn’t the words you’ve received from God authoritative?” In other words if God is indeed speaking then what is said should be transcribed and placed in the back of the Bible, right? Since when does God’s “word” cease to become God’s word to us? Also, if the words received in whatever manner (through a neo-Montantist prophet, dream, and vision or audible voice) is not elevated to such a level, then what good are they?

Our sign-gift brethren have a problem on their hands (as does anyone who says they have heard directly from God) and their response is to say that these words are a combination of both our flesh & the Lord which is what many leaders suggest having mature believers discern the wheat from the chaff so to speak. They say this is the biblical pattern as taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:29. This text says let 2 or 3 prophets speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said. That’s fine considering at the time there were still prophets in the Church as well as false prophets! The Corinthians being sign-gift driven needed to be told to “judge” what was being told them in the name of the Lord. Plus there is nothing in the text to indicate that the “others” ere discerning if part of the word given was of God and part of the flesh. Biblically either one was a true prophet, 100% accurate or one was a false prophet. From the record of scripture it seems most likely that the “others” were judging whether the person speaking was in fact from God or our enemy.

When it comes to the accuracy of today’s so-called prophets and their prophetic declarations virtually every charismatic leader will defend the blatant error, lies and unfulfilled statements given out in God’s name as being simply part of the “growing process” we all undergo in our God-given gifts! Just as one develops as a pastor or a Bible teacher even so one develops as God’s prophet. Oh really? Pray tell where is that in the Bible? There is nothing to indicate that the prophets developed from one level of accuracy to another. Daniel was not 5 % accurate as a young man and about 80% as an old man. What nonsense! Yet this explanation is commonly handed out to those who dare question the inaccuracies of today’s plague of prophets.

All of us who have thought that God was speaking to us and directing us in some area of life have had to admit that it was not God after all. I remember before I was married another sister in our congregation “heard from the Lord” that I was supposed to marry her. God had told me nothing about it and I told this deceived sister she was in error. She later went on to marry someone else and would gladly admit today she was not hearing from God. Other couples said they both heard from God to marry and now are divorced, what happened to the “plan of God” (I can assure you His plan never includes divorce).

There is a method by which we ALL can hear from God, but I have run out of space to go into this month. Stay tuned for Part Two! (Below are some examples of the many books out there to mislead the unwary).♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

28 12 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – October  2007   Vol. 12 Issue 10 – THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE – Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

As we studied last month all of the aberrant practices and false doctrine stem from an incorrect interpretation of the Scriptures. In fact, all errors in “Bible” based cults can be traced back to using a faulty hermeneutical system. Every Christian should understand and apply some basic hermeneutical principles when they study their Bible. Unfortunately most pastors do not equip their people with the skills necessary to become good Bereans. Sadly, many pastors across America have little or no theological training and thus they lack any real understanding of how to correctly teach the Bible of to their congregations (Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar are just two examples) and we end up with a case of the blind leading the blind.

Apart from incorrect biblical interpretations with all its attending problems there is another difficulty plaguing God’s people and that is the widespread practice of accepting personal spiritual experiences as authoritative. Millions of professing Christians readily accept the subjective “revelations” of various leaders, or their own private experiences as being as valid as the written Word of God.

The Word of God is seen as not being the only guide for many Christians. It is not viewed as complete and totally sufficient when it comes to faith and practice. Many people are augmenting the Bible with extra-biblical data that is proclaimed as “new” revelations from the Holy Spirit through a host of roving self-proclaimed Apostles, Prophets and revivalists. Admittedly this is not a new problem; in fact the Apostle Paul spoke of people who were misplacing their faith in alleged mystical experience:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not see, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Col. 2:18,19

It seems that people have a propensity to be drawn away from the objective truth of God’s Word into their own fallen subjective experiences.

 Today we see this enthusiasm for experience over God’s Word vividly in the Charismatic movement. For example the recently departed Kenneth E. Hagin built a great portion of his SINistry on his alleged face-to-face encounters with our risen Lord. Many of these he wrote about in great detail in his book I believe In Visions.

 

Another widely followed heretic, Jesse Duplantis expanded his influence tremendously after publishing his farcical tale about going to heaven in his book Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind. Jesse regales his readers with not only a very detailed account of “heaven” but also shares about his visible experiences with angels, he and his car being teleported across the state of Louisiana and other bizarre experiences.

Mary K. Baxter wrote a book which plunged her into charismatic fame & fortune about her being taken to hell on forty (40!) consecutive evenings allegedly by Jesus Christ. The Divine Revelation of Hell has been reprinted several times and in over ten languages. The book is filled with graphic details of what awaits the damned soul and Baxter claims thousands of people have come to faith in Christ due to her book! If that was not enough she went on to write another spurious tome entitled The Divine Revelation of Heaven and then another book called The Divine Revelation of Glory.

Discernment Ministries International was among the first Apologetic ministry to expose the nonsense in Cho Thomas’ book Heaven Is So Real about her rapturous transport to heaven. Thomas reveals to us that there is death in heaven when Jesus takes her fishing and kills the fish and cooks it for her.

Every one of these books (and there are many more I could mention) has sold well over 100,000 copies each, and all of them are printed in foreign languages for wider consumption by the sign-seeking crowd (don’t forget there are videos, DVD’s, and cassettes of these accounts by authors for sale too). The authors go all over the world sharing their experiences with untold numbers of people.

These examples demonstrate my concern that people are leaving the sufficiency of the Scriptures to listen to someone’s latest experience. I can tell you that DMI receives a great deal of vitriolic email from devotees of these deluded heretics. Some of the gentler complainers say things like “don’t you believe God can take someone to heaven? Look at the Apostle Paul for example!”  Yes, let’s consider Paul for a moment:

I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor. 12:3-4

Virtually all commentators agree that Paul is writing about an experience he had being caught up to heaven. What is interesting about his account is that he does not share any of what he saw or heard.  Why not?  Today when someone says they were taken to heaven they create an entire “ministry” out of their experience. Paul did not relate any of his experience precisely because it was just that…his own “experience” and as such would not benefit others.

Here is what the NIV Commentary says about this part of Paul’s life:

What Paul head (and saw?), human words were inadequate to relate (v.4b). Furthermore, he was not permitted to try to share the content of the revelation, perhaps because it had been designed for him alone, to fortify him for future service and sufferings (Ac 9:16; Ro 8:18). Glimpses the NT does give of the coming glory are intended to strengthen faith and promote holiness (cf. 2 Pe 3:10-14;p 1Jn 3:2-3) not satisfy curiosity.

Nothing that Hagin, Duplantis, Cho or Baxter wrote about strengthens faith nor does it promote true holiness. What all those books do is to point to the human authors and imply that they are special vessels chosen for these last days to prepare the Church for the return of Christ. Nothing in their mythological writings do anything to encourage their readers to get into the Holy Bible and let God speak to them via its inerrant pages.

As I stated earlier this phenomenon of people promoting doctrines and practices that are based on their personal experiences is nothing new. During the Evangelical Reformation led by Martin Luther he constantly had arguments with various sects of what he termed “enthusiasts.”

Enthusiasm clings to Adam and his children from the beginning to the end of the world –fed and spread among them as poison by the old dragon. It is the source, power, and might of all the heresies, even that of the papacy and of Mohammed. Therefore, we should and must insist that God does not want to deal with us human beings, except by means of his external word and sacrament. Everything that boasts of being from the Spirit apart from such a word and sacrament is of the devil. (1)

The enthusiasts then as today looked within to feel something or to attempt to hear God speak to them directly and personally apart form the Holy Bible. This is exactly what is taking place on a massive scale within the charismatic movement. I’ve been involved in many meetings where the “Spirit” began to move in a mighty way so much so that the Word of God was never preached. These meetings were declared to be of the highest order! Various people “prophesied” the so-called word of the Lord, others were slain in the spirit, some danced in the aisles, others just sat and watched the show. 

One well accepted restored-prophet, Bill Hamon carries with him a 5 inch 3 ring binder filled with 100’s of “personal” prophecies that have been uttered over his life for the last 40 years. Obviously he takes these extemporaneous words to be true or why collect & carry them?

What does the Bible say?

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:1-3

Yes God did speak through the prophets in the past. Yes God spoke in various ways, by dreams, visions and at times angels or through Theophanous. However, in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter knew of his impending death (2 Peter 1:13-15) so what he said was vitally important to him as a pastor. He reminds his readers that he was with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and he actually heard the voice of God speak. Yet what does he then tell the Church?

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: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:19-21

Even though Peter was there in person to hear God’s voice he goes on to tell the Church that they have a more sure word of prophecy (the written Word) and they would do well to take heed to It a a light that shines in a dark place. Peter does not preach his experience but points to the Word of God and warns them to take heed of the Word.

Why this emphasis Peter, what is the big deal?

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

The problem today is that the “more sure word” is now deemed passé and there is a desire to seek what is termed “present day truth” (see 2 Peter 1:12) by the charismatic extremists. This is alleged truth that is arrived at through mystical or metaphysical means, i.e. subjective belief as opposed to the objective inerrant truth set out in the Bible.

One very popular charismatic heretic, Tommy Tenney, wrote a hugely popular book entitled The God Chasers. Tenney denigrates the written Word of God and expounds that people need to seek a direct encounter with God. Here are some of his comments regarding the Bible:

We just keep going through the motions, lighting the lamps and shuffling from dusty room to dusty room as God was still speaking to us. (2)

There’s no need for me to preach [the Word] if God shows up in His glory. (3)

They [the early disciples] walked and talked with Him in such a rich level of intimacy that it wasn’t necessary for them to pour over dusty love letters that were written long ago. (4)

Folks Tenney’s comments are the voice of millions enmeshed in charismatic extremism. Note the very low view of holy scripture—the books of the Bible are “dusty rooms” that we shuffle through with the mistaken belief that God is still speaking to us through these biblical letters! Tenney echo’s the statements of many of today’s revivalists by saying there is not even a need to preach the Word of God if “God” shows up, i.e. some paranormal manifestations or unchecked emotionalism breaks forth. Lastly, Tenney says that the early church members communed with God on an intimate one-on-one basis APART from pouring over the “dusty old love letters” that were written long ago. What does my book of dusty old love letters say in response to Mr. Tenney and the other heretics?

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. Therefore, many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. Acts 17:11-12

The people in Berea heard Paul preach and then they went immediately to those dusty old love letters to validate by objective truth what Paul was proclaiming. What was the end result? MANY of them believed the gospel that Paul preached!  ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes:

1. Oswald Bayer, Theology The Lutheran Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007, p. 53

2. Tommy Tenney, The God Chasers, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 1998) p. 31.

3. Bid. p. 44 Underlining and bolding added for emphasis

4. Bid. p. 74 Underlining and bolding added for emphasis.





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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do People Follow Him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Is No More Sin

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

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

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

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

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

There Is No Devil

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

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

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

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

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

James also was deceived somehow into teaching that Satan exists

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

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

There Is No Hell

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

There Is No Need to Pray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

2. Ibid

3. Ibid

4. Ibid

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

6. I paraphrased that comment.

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





The Next “New” Move?

1 09 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 6 – “The Next “New” Move? By Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Next “New” Move?

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In the May issue of Truth Matters I took the readers through a brief look at what happened to the leaders of the last revival referred to as “The Toronto Blessing” or “The Pensacola Outpouring.” I also stressed the reality of how most sign-gift believers and Pentecostal people are on a continual pilgrimage seeking to become a part of the current move of the holy Spirit.

Once the last so-called revival (Holy Laughter/Sign & Wonders) died out and most of the initial leaders either got booted out of their pulpits or left when the people and money dried up. This left millions of people wondering “what is the next move of the Spirit?” I felt like screaming “EUREKA I’VE FOUND IT”! In the June 2006 issue of Charisma magazine, I believe I have discovered what some “big hitters” are calling the next movement which they claim redefines what Church is. The tag line of the article reads as follows:

“Who said Christians have to meet in a traditional building with a pulpit? Innovative Christians today are Redefining Church.”

On page 32 of Charisma it reads, God is Out of the Box,” introducing this new and exciting ministry trend simply called the house church. Basically what this means is that certain people, usually disillusioned with their former congregational life and their position in it, have left the traditional church and banded together in small groups that meet in homes. Let me cite from the beginning of the article:

Not everyone at her home church follows Christ, including her husband, a disillusioned former church member….who accepted Christ in 1978, but quickly faded away from a church she found cold and formal….’I didn’t want to participate in what I saw going on in the name of Christ, ‘ Weger says of her shunning of traditional congregations for more than 25 years. (1)

It is immediately evident that Weger’s initial concept of the Church was faulty. It is not about her it is about the worship of Jesus! It is obvious from the following statement that in her mind her needs were not being met.

Years ago when Weger was hurting and collapsed in tears at her old church, she says several leaders walked by without speaking [to her]. (2)

Understand that Weger is a sign-gift person, so the church she attended years ago was undoubtedly a charismatic congregation where, and I speak from personal patoral experience, it was not at all an uncommon sight to see people weeping before, during and after services. Did these “several” leaders even see her? Were they involved in a discussion among themselves as they passed? Was weeping a common occurrence in that congregation? Did she follow up this possible slight by going to any of these leaders and ask for an explanation, telling them that they had offended her?

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matthew 18:15

I am sure that she did not, she simply took the offense as a sign that her church was cold formal and uncaring. Like many little kids, she took her “ball and went home and started her own church. How do I know this is what happened? To begin with she does not share in the article that she followed the simple biblical pattern for conflict resolution. Secondly, in my varied positions of over twenty three years in congregational leadership I have yet to see but a handful of Christians enact the Matthew 18:15 principle. It is easier to run to the pastor and “tattle” on someone who has seemingly wronged you, or tell a “prayer partner” which somehow sanctifies the gossip.

Allow Me to Digress A moment

I am off topic here but this is vitally important to all our spiritual lives. When you have been offended by someone then in obedience to Christ’s own command go to that person first. Nine times out of ten you will learn that the person who “hurt” you was not even aware that her or she did do. Often you will learn that it was not their intention to hurt you (I know from some comments on sermons I’ve delivered). In fact, you may even discover that you were wrong in feeling hurt in the first place and that it is you who ought to be asking forgiveness from the one you are addressing. Or, if the person was indeed in the wrong then he or she should say they are sorry and ask your forgiveness. If this does not happen then our Master lays out the next steps to be taken. For the life of me I do not know why people do not follow this simple commandment. At least 90% of the problems within the life of any congregation would be squelched if this was followed. Instead people go to others first, then like the old telephone game by the time the message reaches the accused offending party it is totally overblown. What is the result of such behavior?

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled: Hebrews 12:15

People get offended and simply ignore or refuse to work with the “accused” in community life. (3) More times than not people leave that congregation and take their unhealed wounds to another place of worship and often cause problems in the new congregation due to past unresolved issues.

End of Digression

Weger is totally against traditional churches and seems to have a low opinion of those who still remain “in the box.”

Ironically, today Weger says the hardest people to discuss Jesus’ love with are traditional church members. (4)

Obviously not everyone who attends Church is a genuine Christian, yet the Bible clearly states the following:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14

She gives no further clarification of her statement, but she is implying that either non-Christians or the new breed of house church folk are easier to discuss the love of Christ with! Non-Christians cannot understand biblical truth, so how can Christians be harder to talk to about the One who saved them? As for me, this certainly has not been my experience in talking about Jesus to my brothers and sisters.

Grandiose claims are being made for these small independent house churches. The Charisma article goes as far to declare it as an actual movement called the “house-church movement” (as if we need another movement). Here is the next tag line for the article:

The Revolution now upon us is a complete paradigm shift, taking us back to the time of Christ. It is going to be a lot bigger than the Reformation” James Rutz, author of Megashift

Oh really? Casting off all traditional orthodox structure, having no biblically trained pastors and sitting around in small disaffected groups singing Kumbaya is going to be bigger than the Evangelical Reformation? I sincerely doubt it, Charisma magazine doesn’t:

Judging by the house-church movement that is exploding across North America, Weger’s story can be repeated millions of times. (5)

What is the basis for the claim of “millions” of house-church groups in America today? Enter “big hitter” number one, George Barna. Mr. Barna is best known for his poll taking and statistical data is the source for deeming this an “exploding” movement:

Christian demographer George Barna estimates 8 percent to 9 percent of adults in the United States—22 million to 24 million people—are now involved in some form of house church. (6)

Anyone who has ever taken a class on statistics knows how inaccurate the results can be. I’m willing to wager that no one reading this newsletter was polled. I know we were not asked. I wonder where he gets his data, or is it as he says an “estimate.” It should come as no surprise that Mr. Barna himself has left traditional Christianity and is part of this so-called house-church movement.

In the minds of these people they see the Church as a failure. A common expression I used to hear is “it isn’t working anymore,” the “it” being the Church. Whenever you hear comments like that, or, “we need to do things a new way,” don’t blithely accept those comments. Instead, challenge them. Ask the individual to define what is not working? How do you measure success? I know in America success means bigger numbers and better stuff, we often call that growth. There is a HUGE difference between numerical and spiritual growth my brothers and sisters. What is the “new way?” Is the role of the Church to conform to a fallen society’s ever-changing mode (what I call dumbing-down) or are we called to be salt (see Matt 5:13) and light (see Matt. 5:14) and by God’s grace change society?

The next “big hitter” who surely recognizes a move of the Holy Spirit when he sees it is John Arnott:

John Arnott, former senior pastor of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship says, If we are going to reach the world for Jesus, we need a completely new model of ‘doing church,’ Arnott wrote in the most recent issue of House2House magazine. (7)

Arnott must one day stand before God and give account for facilitating the deception of millions of people who flocked to TACF to obtain the “new wine” that was allegedly being poured out. When the wine stopped flowing, it seems that Mr. Arnott had to get going…somewhere else. Now he is an advocate for the house-church movement. I guess he can only find a handful of people willing to follow him at this point.

Another significant player in this latest fad is Neil Cole, a church planter for the Grace Brethren denomination. He has started at least 700 of these house-churches.

After leaving his traditional pulpit seven years ago to launch a church in a coffeehouse, Cole says the network that sprang up from that effort soon led to Christians meeting every day of the week in Long Beach. (8)

Latte and a lectionary (opps, they don’t know what one is), or how about espresso and a short exhortation, maybe some java and jubilation? Cole goes on to reveal his heart in the following statement:

I think the most significant breakthrough is the concept that Christians can hear and obey God without an established leader telling them what to do…We have removed a lot of filters between God’s people and God’s voice. (9)

God speaks to us only through His Word, and so it is true that all Christians can “hear” God through His Word and without a doubt all Christians should obey what God says in His Word. The great danger I see in this movement is that of the blind leading the blind. There are rules for interpreting the Bible, it is called hermeneutics.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation   2 Peter 1:20

Faulty biblical interpretation has led to the creation of every Bible-based cult, sect and aberrant group in the world. All of the heresies today, all of the biblical errors being taught and all of the false practices stem from an initial improper interpretation of the scriptures.

What filters have been removed? I assume the role of an educated pastor and biblically trained elders. In Cole’s mind what is keeping God’s people from true communion with God is the leadership He Himself has ordained. The sad reality is that Christian people still have to deal with their own sinful flesh and this flesh abhors being told what to do by anybody, including God. Just tell your teenager to please clean up his or her bedroom! It is so much easier when we do not really have any authority over us to listen to and obey. So the house-church movement is very appealing to people who want no one to have any spiritual oversight in their lives. Yet God’s Word says:

Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17

Yes I know there are limits to our obedience; we obey our leaders inasmuch as they are preaching the true Gospel. That is a given. But recognize that we are to obey and we are to submit ourselves to pastoral leadership. This is not the case in the house-church movement because they have no recognized leaders per se. These house-church groups say they are based on Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14:26:

Felicity says the typical format in their network in an Acts 2 style of fellowship–breaking of bread, prayer and praise and worship…Many house-churches offer women an opportunity for full participation in congregational life. (10)

Acts 2 is indeed a historical reality, but nowhere are we told that it is the pattern for how church is to be done.  To begin with in Acts 2 the original (genuine) Apostles were the leaders. Those who were converted came and listened to their teachings (maybe Cole would consider them a filter between God and His people). It was a time of “come as you are an say what you will.” The Apostles taught and made disciples educating them doctrinally. They were raising up leaders to go and lead others in the true Christian faith. Another group in Canada says:

We try to [follow] 1 Corinthians 14:26, which says everyone brings a word [or] prophecy, says Zdero, who wrote a book on the global house-church movement two years ago. ‘Our house-church meetings are like spiritual potlucks, where everyone brings something. (11)

On the surface, apart from the context of 1 Cor. 14 Zdero would seem to be following a biblical pattern for how a church service is to be run. The Apostle Paul is addressing the abuses and carnality of the Corinthians and how their “services” had devolved into self-edification versus the building up of all the people. Naturally both Dale and Zdero do not mention Paul’s admonition in the same letter in which he commends the women to be silent (see 1 Cor. 14:34)!

I have been apart of countless home Bible studies, which in general were great times of fellowship. I have also seen what happens without properly educated leaders and everyone brings out their own subjective interpretation of a text, or shares a dream they think God gave them, or utters an alleged word of prophecy from the Lord. It is nothing but chaos, which is why the Apostle Paul was teaching them on how to bridle in some excess enthusiasm.

As with all excesses the first thing to get tossed aside is the objective truths of the Bible. “Doctrine divideshas long been the cry of the charismatic movement. To which I have responded ‘you bet your sweet bippy it does it is supposed to!” According to Cole he is seeing a melding of various Protestant and charismatic people within house-churches:

He says he has never seen such a strong blending of multiple backgrounds in advancing God’s kingdom. Despite often being divided in the past, both groups must bring their strengths and weaknesses to the table in the house-church movement and acknowledge that their agreements are more important then their issues, Cole says. (12)

In other words, doctrinal issues are divisive and thus doctrinal truth which separates people is deemed unimportant. What is deemed more important than doctrinal truth is whatever can be agreed upon by the diverse group. Ergo, subjective group-think replaces doctrinal foundations. The following adage is true for the house church movement—”If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” In these groups there can be no agreement on the meaning or method of water baptism, there cannot be agreement on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. What can they agree about? Even something as seemingly simple as “we believe Jesus Christ is Lord” is fraught with thunderous doctrinal implications. A Modalist heretic, like T.D. Jakes will declare Jesus is Lord, but does not acknowledge the reality of the Trinity. Even simple statements of belief have at their core doctrinal significance. On the other hand if one is willing to never dig deeper beyond the “God-talk” and get to the meaning and import of the statements made, then one can be happy in such a group. I will coin a new term:

“SHALLOWNESS SELLS  ©

How did this movement start to get traction? That depends on who you ask. I believe the independent spirit and anti-denominational teachings fostered by the Latter Rain movement of the 1940’s had a great deal to do with it. I also believe the lack of feeling connected in the mega-churches led many people to feel like nothing more than a number. Out of 30,000+ members, how many does Joel Osteen know personally? Even in a congregation of 1,000 how many people can actually get time to talk to their pastor? These huge mega-churches try to meet the need of feeling personally connected by having home groups. These home groups undoubtedly led many of the leaders to think “humm, I can do this on my own, apart from the mother church.” Thus man’s natural fallen tendency towards independence and the lack of a true sense of belonging hae gone a long way in forging this house-church movement.

Ken Walker, author of the Charisma article is honest enough to expose the most dangerous inherent weakness within this movement; one that I believe in the long run will send these people back to the stability of traditional orthodox Christianity. Here Walker quotes Jacobsen who supports this movement with reservations:

Likewise, one glaring weakness of house churches is that many are governed by authoritarian leaders. Often there are leaders who couldn’t ‘cut it’ in a traditional church, so they form a group to follow in a smaller setting, Jacobsen says. (14)

Regardless of the setting, someone will rise to leadership. As Walker astutely points out often these leaders were deemed unfit to lead within an orthodox setting. Jacobsen further states:

I would say a lot of house-churches are incredibly unhealthy. They’re led by people who have their ego all twisted up. If it’s manipulative, the smaller the environment the more dangerous it is. (15)

A tremendous amount of spiritual abuse can and does occur in these small group settings. People who join come with the attitude that the traditional church has failed and can easily be led into a “siege” mentality where ‘their little group’ are the only true Christians. Kreider, another semi-proponent of house-churches admits the following:

In the past, Kreider says, house church movement is reactionary towards the traditional orthodox Christian Church. These groups are most often formed by wounded and hurt people who are dysfunctional to some degree. The depth of their dysfunction will determine the level of control or spiritual abuse within their group. Isolated?  Without doubt, there is no one to appeal to beyond the little house-church and its members. This movement is based totally on being independent from organized historic Christianity. That is their whole intention, to do their own thing, in their own way without having to submit to any spiritual authority. Heresy? Well technically heresy really deals with Christology, its more accurate to say faulty biblical interpretation and false doctrines of one sort or another will abound in these groups, since everyone can share their own understanding of the biblical texts.

Discernment Ministries International encounters many Christians who have been sexually abused by church leaders, others who’ve been taken advantage of financially and others who are simply disgusted with the foolishness they heard being taught and practiced. These people have told us that they no longer attend any church and are not planning to go back. They explain that they love Jesus Christ, read His Word, pray and support mission outreaches (like DMI in some cases).

Brothers and sisters if there was ever anyone who had more than enough reasons to throw up his hands and walk away from the “church” it would be me. I can fully empathize with those who have been deeply wounded. I even support taking some time away from church to allow the Holy Spirit to work through God’s Word to begin the healing process, but that process will never come to completion until you get connected back into a solid biblically based congregation.

Staying away from congregational life is simply burying your God-given talents that God gave you to bless your brothers and sisters; not to mention the rich blessings that come from receiving the unique fragrance of Christ that all His sheep emanate.

Let me close by saying there is no perfect church in this life. Some are much better than others and I urge anyone who does not have a local church to not give up. Begin to visit congregations, ask the leaders hard questions, talk to the members and see what (if anything) the Lord is doing in their midst. I am so glad that we did not give up on the church and are happily ensconced in a Traditional confessional Evangelical congregation. Is it a perfect church? Nope. But the people are sincere, the doctrine and practice is as biblical as it gets and our leaders are men of integrity. God ordained the creation of the Church, Jesus is still the Head of the Body of Christ and the Spirit of grace is still working through the proclamation of the Gospel (from pulpits) and sacraments.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhort one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25  ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 

End Notes:

1. Charisma,  God is Out of the Box,  June 2006, p. 53. Underlining and bold type aded for emphasis.

2. Ibid

3. In one church I was preaching at one women fell out with another sister, both of whom headed committees and neither one spoke to one another for over a year. Yet they came to church regularly, served on their committees which ceased to work together as they previously had done. In short, it was a very ugly mess.

4. Charisma, God is Out of the Box,  2006, p. 53. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

5. Ibid p. 54 Underlining added.

6. Ibid. p. 54 Underlining added.

7. Ibid. p. 54

8. Ibid. p. 54 Underlining added.

9. Ibid p. 54 Underlining added.

10. Ibid p. 56 Felicity is “Felicity Dale” a wife of a house-church group in England and author of several books on this topic.

11. Ibid. p. 56

12. Ibid p. 58. Underlining added.

13. The problem with the home group/mini-churches is that they are run by lay people with little to no theological training. They did have a spirit of hospitality which I applaud. At the mega-church my family attended the home groups were organized around felt-needs. There were really no “restrictions” on what group members attended. When a member had a problem or issue they were in theory to go to their home group leader for help since they would probably not get a meeting with one of the several pastors on staff. That’s fine if your home group leader had the capacity to help. In our experience we noted that problems cropped up occasionally when a group would veer off course and teach things our church did not agree with. Each group had more or less autonomy in what they studied. It might have been more effective if these groups simply all focused on the prior sermon and how to apply it to their lives.

14. Charisma, God is Out of the Box, June 2006. P. 60. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis

15. Ibid. p. 60

16. Ibid. p.60 Underlining added.





Tragedy in Uganda – The Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

29 07 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – 2001 –  Tragedy in Uganda — As Many as 700 Dead & Murdered: The Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God –  (A Post-Catholic Movement) – by Robert S. Liichow

This issue has been devoted to explaining why the local church needs Apologetic Ministries built into their vision of ministry. Our local church, Grace Community Church, has gone to Uganda on two occasions to work with local evangelicals and teach some of their youths how to play baseball. Currently we have no idea if any of their friends or family were caught up in this latest bible-base cult group. The following information was gleaned from CNN and others on-line news sites.

The History of the Group—

This cult was started in the middle 1990’s by a woman name Cledonia Mwerinde, she was a former prostitute. She was assisted by a former Roman Catholic priest name Joseph Kibweteere.

At one point the group operated a school which housed almost 300 students. The school was closed in 1998 when the government investigated it and determined it did not meet adequate standards for food and housing.

Their Beliefs—

The members of the movement were commanded to communicate only by gestures. They were permitted to vocalize only when singing or preying.

It is currently believed that the mass deaths were a result of Kibweteere’s prediction that the world would end on December 31, 1999. This date was revised to 12-31-00 after the earlier date passed without event.

Kibweteere’s beliefs in the end of the world was allegedly based on a conversation he claims to have had with both Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Mary is suppose to have told him that the world was going to be destroyed because its people were not adhering to the Ten Commandments.

The End Results?—

The death count linked to a Christian doomsday sect climbed ever higher Wednesday—to nearly 700 — in what officials say is one of the largest mass murders in recent history. Authorities initially called the conflagration a mass suicide. But within days, investigators discovered six strangled, mutilated corpses in a pit latrine on the compound, triggering a murder investigation.

Days after the fire, 153 more decomposing bodies were found buried in a Buhunga village compound belonging to the sect. Then, on Friday, police discovered the first Rugazi mass grave when they came to inspect Kataribabo’s compound. Investigators found the bodies in the house after Kataribabo’s nephew, Bart Bainomukama, told them his uncle had said he was digging a pit for a refrigerator. A hole driven through the floor quickly revealed a human leg. That led to the discovery of the 81 additional corpses.

Three Other Incidents of Bible-Based Cults In Uganda

The Holy Spirit Movement—

A violent Christian cult led by “prophetess” Alice Lakwena, who led a failed uprising against the government from 1985 to 1996. Followers often died in suicidal attacks, convinced magic oil would protect them from bullets.

The Lord’s Resistance Army —

Led by Joseph Kony, its goal is to run Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments. It is notorious for kidnapping Children and using them and using them as soldiers and sexual slaves.

The World Message Last Warning —

This doomsday group was started by Wilson Bushara, it was disbanded by Ugandan police last September after the leaders were charged with rape, kidnapping, illegal confinement and murder.

The Future For Evangelism?

The internet is one of the fastest growing means that is reaching across man-made borders. The genuine gospel of Jesus Christ can be effectively shared in nations which do not permit evangelism. ICCDM is working towards increasing our influence in cyberspace. Will the Church lag behind in this arena too?