Truth Matters December 2013

31 12 2013

Part Three on Ecstatic Speech
by Rev. Robert Liichow

The apostle Paul continues bringing divine correction to the young church at Corinth. Last month we noted how Paul’s entire letter has been one of rebuke concerning many issues in their midst (see 1 Cor. 8:12; 10:6, 7:14; 11:17) and for some strange reason sign-gift enthusiasts want to take the church at Corinth as the example of how the sign gifts are to be used. As we shall see the Corinthians were as wrong about the spiritual gifts as they were concerning the Lord’s Supper, the role of women, their own carnality and divisiveness.

He begins his discourse by saying he does not want them to be ignorant (ἀγνοέω, to lack information) implying that they did not possess the correct information about the Holy Spirit and His gifts. In vs. 3 Paul lays out what I consider a governing principle regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts will always glorify Jesus Christ and not curse His holy name.

It may well seem amazing that the Corinthians should need instructing that such awful language could not be uttered by any one speaking “in the Spirit of God.” It is evident, however, that such expressions had been uttered by persons who were, or seemed to be, carried away by the impassioned impulse . . . So terrible an outrage on the conscience of Christians could never have passed unchecked and unpunished, except from the obvious inability of the young community to grapple with the new and perplexing phenomena of an “inspiration” which appeared to destroy the personal control of those possessed by it. . . They would not like to call any one to task for things spoken in a condition which they regarded as wholly supernatural.1

Obviously some of the Corinthians while in some state of ecstatic bliss were calling Jesus accursed. Such statements never came from the Holy Spirit and never will. Proclamations like these come from the demonic realm or from some fleshly pretender aping what they think is spiritual.

In vv. 4-8 Paul begins to give some clarity to the Corinthians concerning how the Holy Spirit operates and why the gifts exist and he does so in beautiful Trinitarian language. In verse 4 we see there are various (diversities) gifts but they all come from the one Spirit. There are various (differences) of serving others (administrations) but the same Lord. Lastly, verse 6 informs the reader that there are various ways God’s power operates, but it is always the same God who makes it possible.

Verse 7 is very important and is easily lost sight of — the purpose for any spiritual gift is right here: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (the common good).” Before Paul even begins to list the gifts he has informed his readers that the gifts in all their variety come from God and anyone under the power of the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ in what is said (I might add what is done as well). The reason God gives His children gifts is for the benefit of others! It is not to “bless” the one who has been entrusted with a gift, nor is said gift supposed to be used to “lift up” the gifted individual by that person or those who fawn over him or her.

Something to Think About

The temptation for self-aggrandizement or hero worship is a genuine danger regarding the “sign-gifts.” Consider in our times people like Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn. These men profess to possess healing gifts and yet neither can independently verify any miraculous healing due to their SINinstry. They have gotten wealthy off the desperate needs of people seeking relief by a fraudulent claim of being gifted when they clearly are not. Imagine what manner of men they would be if they possessed the genuine gift of healing via the power of the Holy Spirit?


Before we consider the gifts themselves, let’s not ignore the underlying context in vv. 8-12 which points to the Person of the Holy Spirit as Initiator. Three times Paul uses the phrase “same spirit” (8, 9, and 11) to emphasize that the gifts and their manifestations are up to the Holy Spirit. It seems that Paul is emphasizing the centrality of the Holy Spirit’s role in disseminating the gifts and then their operation through those He has given them too possibly due to some people claiming that their gift(s) came from Jesus or maybe the Father. This is speculation on my part, but considering the Corinthians earlier claim to be of “Apollos” or of “Paul” (see 1 Cor. 1:12).

The Sign Gifts Themselves

I am willing to give our sign-gift enthusiastic brethren credit where it is due when considering these gifts specifically. They have spent one hundred (100) years trying to discern and define these gifts, more so than any other movement within the Church’s history. However, as an evangelical catholic (aka LCMS) I must confine my comments to the Bible Itself as the authority. Where I agree with the Pentecostals is in the following chart breakdown of the nine sign gifts. It would seem that these nine gifts do seem to fit into a pattern of 3 gifts X 3 categories per se. I love the symmetry, but the Pentecostals depart from the Scriptures in defining some of these gifts.

The Nine Sign-Gifts As Shown in 1 Corinthians 12
The Gifts that Reveal Things
V.8 The word of wisdom Revelation Bible is silent?
V.9 The word of knowledge Bible is silent?
V. 10 The discerning of spirits Reveals the inner spirit motivating a person. Or demonic activity
The Gifts that Say Things
V.10 Prophecy Verbal To reveal, inform, proclaim
V.10 Divers kinds of tongues Speaks an unknown message
V.10 Interpretation of tongues Reveals what was said in an unknown tongue
The Gifts that Do Things
V.9 Gift of Faith Power Ability to believe the unbelievable
V. 9 Gifts of Healing Healing(s)
V. 10 Gift of Miracles Miracles are not just healing

When considering ANY of the gifts of the Spirit we must first acknowledge that these gifts are divine in origin. These are not normal human abilities, nor are they nascent seed gifts which develop over time and use. When the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit are in manifestation, “God” is working immediately in that context of ministry through His chosen vessel.

The Gifts That Reveal Something

The Word of Wisdom

In this listing of the gifts we read about the three gifts that would, logically, seem to reveal something. First we read of the word of wisdom and that is all he ever has to say about this gift! No one knows exactly (1) what this gift was or (2) how it was manifested at Corinth.

Fortunately, Pentecostalism has supplied some definitions to the Church that God seemed to have left out of the bible. These gifts, which have hitherto remained undefined and seldom referenced in two thousand years of recorded Church history . . . came back into the Church via Alfred Howard Carter. Carter was a Pentecostal minister who was in prison in Wormwood Scrubs England as a conscientious objector in 1917. While there he claimed the Holy Spirit revealed to him all nine gifts cited in 1 Cor. 12 and bestowed all nine of them on him. In his books, Questions and Answers Concerning Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Gifts and Their Operation he shares with his readers what each gift is and how is operates. This insight was supernaturally bestowed on him at a time when he admits to almost going insane in prison. Mr. Carter’s definitions were accepted by Pentecostals and to this day his definitions have been parroted by all the other sign-gift teachers:

“The gift of the word of wisdom is a word of God’s knowledge of what is going to take place in the future, a divine revelation of future events.”2

“On the other hand, the word of wisdom always speaks of the future.”3

“this is a direct supernatural act of the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom to a specific believer at a specific time to deal with a specific situation. So there is that kind of general wisdom that we all have, but there are times when God grants unusual wisdom, it’s a spiritual thing.”4

“The definition of The Word of Wisdom is: A Supernatural revelation of the plans & purposes in the mind of God that deal with the future. This is not a Gift of human wisdom or the “wise” kind of wisdom. With this Gift only part or a fragment of information is given. God is all knowing but he only gives us what we need to know at any given time.”5

Pentecostals seem to agree that the gift of the word of wisdom is a revelation by the Holy Spirit of some future event. This is pure speculation on their part. Honestly, we are not told what this specific gift was or what its purpose was. According to their definition this spiritual gift differs little from the gift of prophecy which can be either a (1) foretelling or a (2) forth telling or proclamation. Once Carter came up with a definition then some enthusiastic people began to claim they had this gift; again based on his novel classification.

The Word of Knowledge

Dovetailed with the word of wisdom is the word of knowledge. As with all the spiritual gifts, this gift is spiritual not a natural ability. It concerns itself with some form of supernatural knowing (γνῶσις/gnosis) that is not available under normal circumstances.

“The revelation of the word of knowledge brings is always present tense or concerning something that has happened in the past.”6

“It is part of God’s knowledge, a supernatural manifestation from heaven to a believer that comes into us. It lets us in on information and shows us things the way they are RIGHT NOW. It deals with facts.”7

“The definition of The Word of Knowledge is: A Supernatural revelation of certain facts in the mind of God that deal with the past or present. This is not a Gift of human knowledge or the “smarts” kind of knowledge.”8

This is the only time this phase is also used in the entire Bible. We are given no examples of its use or manifestation in or out of a worship service. Everything written since the death of John the Apostle about these two gifts is conjecture. There is no biblical proof that proves the word of wisdom is insight into the future nor is there anything indicating that the word of knowledge is a revelation of a past or current event.

Let’s confine ourselves to the FACTS. We know these gifts existed and were understood by the recipients of the letter from Paul. We know biblically that there is a distinction between wisdom, knowledge. Wisdom is basically the proper application of knowledge to bring about the best outcome. One cannot be “wise” without the information to discern and act upon. Knowledge is simply raw data, it is the facts. One can possess knowledge but not possess wisdom (i.e. the educated “fool”).

These two gifts of the Holy Spirit granted (as He willed) believers wisdom and/or knowledge for the “profiting” of the entire congregation. How these insights were given is not shared. We do not know if God revealed His wisdom/knowledge in a vision, like Peter or in a dream like Joseph or simply “dropped” the revelation into their minds immediately during the service. Since we do not know really what or how these gifts operated it seems to be the height of hubris to claim that one possesses such gifts! How do they know? What is the authority upon which they base their claims? This much is certain, it is not biblical authority.

The Discerning of Spirits

Many people err from the get-go with this gift. It is not the “gift of discernment,” there is no such “gift” it is called the discerning of spirits.

“The discerning of spirits gives supernatural insight into the spirit world. ‘To discern’ means to perceive by seeing or hearing. Therefore, discerning of spirits is the same as seeing or hearing in the realm of spirits.”9

“Sometimes the person actually physically sees the evil spirit at work in the person or situation.”10

I concur with the above definitions for the most part because they seem to fit the language Paul uses. This gift, when in operation, is the supernatural ability to correctly judge the spirit behind what is being done or said. Unlike the word of wisdom/word of knowledge we have some biblical examples of discerning of spirits:

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? John 1:47

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Acts 8:23

How did Jesus “know” the inner condition of Nathanael? Jesus discerned his spirit as did Peter with Simon the sorcerer. Another example is when Paul, after several days turns to a possessed woman and casts out the spirit of divination (Acts 16:18).

This gift when in operation enables the person to discern between what is of the Spirit of God, the human spirit or a demonic spirit. It is obvious that currently within the ranks of our sign-gift enthusiasts this gift is NOT in operation. If it were, then how do they explain Benny Hinn, the Crouch’s and all the nonsense that is believed and followed by the multitudes of sheeple?

End Notes

1. The Pulpit Commentary on First Corinthians 12:3.

2. Hayes, Norvel. The Word of Wisdom, Harrison House, Tulsa Ok. P. 3 1979.
3. Hagin, Kenneth E. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, Faith Library Publication, p. 88, 1991
4. Hocutt, Brad. Obtained from http://seatedprophetic.wordpress.com/the-holy-spirit-his-gifts/gift-of-the-word-of-knowledge-the-word-of-wisdom-the-discerning-of-spirits/

5. Hagin, Kenneth E. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, Faith Library Publication, p. 88, 1991.

6. Hayes, Norvel. The Word of Knowledge, Harrison House, Tulsa Ok. P. 3, 1980.

7. Obtained from http://seatedprophetic.wordpress.com/the-holy-spirit-his-gifts/gift-of-the-word-of-knowledge-the-word-of-wisdom-the-discerning-of-spirits/

8. Hagin, Kenneth E. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, Faith Library Publication, p. 89, 1991.

9. Obtained from http://hannahscupboard.com/ST-discerning-spirits.html

10.

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Truth Matters September 2013

26 09 2013

The Alien Work of God
by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

    This article in a way completes the previous three. We have considered the glorious work of redemption specifically as it involved Christ in us, Christ for us and us in Christ. We’ve noted how everything that Jesus did, He did on our behalf. Our Redeemer has paid the ultimate price to “buy us back” by His death on the cross and by grace through faith in Him we have been delivered from the wrath to come (see 1 Thess. 1:10).

    Many years ago when I would teach about the attributes of God I would say that our God was “as loving as He is wrathful, as just as He is merciful,” etc. which was my way of trying to convey that our God is perfectly “balanced” in His being. Such statements and beliefs are false. If all of these moral attributes existed in equal parity then we would have no way of knowing moment by moment how God will respond to His people. According to my former concept God might love us the one moment and then equally as wrathful towards us the next. Needless to say, this is not the picture that the Bible portrays for us about the True and Living God.

    As human beings we have within us a well of emotions that we can draw upon at a moment’s notice. We can be happily clicking along in our car and in an instant we can become angry at someone who cuts us off suddenly. Many view God in the same light —- God is loving, but step out of line and “whammo” He is right there to club us and cast us into hell. Hopefully this short article will stimulate our readers to further study concerning the wrath of God.

For the LORD will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed–strange is his deed! and to work his work–alien is his work! Isa. 28:21

    Martin
Luther wrestled to correctly understand these two seemingly conflicting emotions expressed by God; His merciful grace and His judgment. Luther made a clear division between what he called God’s “proper” work of grace and His “alien” work of judgment. Martin rightly understood that God’s approach to humanity is always wise and for our best, thus His judgment and wrath must too be for our advantage as well. However, because of our fall into sin our flesh (sarx) is so evil that no good thing dwells within us (Rom. 7:18) and our flesh cannot be saved by God’s proper work of grace. Thus it is necessary for it to be saved by His alien work — “God must destroy our ungodliness in order that we might be saved” (Luther’s Works, vol. 16, pp. 233-234).

The Wrath of God

    How are we to understand the wrath of our God? The Bible is replete with examples of God’s wrath from the deluge of the great flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God’s people enslaved in Egypt, Babylonian captivity, Roman occupation and later diaspora of the Jews are just a few examples of God’s judgment. Let’s begin by defining wrath:

WRATH. The permanent attitude of the holy and just God when confronted by sin and evil is designated his ‘wrath’. It is inadequate to regard this term merely as a description of ‘the inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe’ or as another way of speaking of the results of sin. It is rather a personal quality, without which God would cease to be fully righteous and his love would degenerate into sentimentality. His wrath, however, even though like his love it has to be described in human
language, is not wayward, fitful or spasmodic, as human anger always is. It is as permanent and as consistent an element in his nature as is his love.
R. V. G. Tasker, “Wrath,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 1250

 


 

There are seven Hebrew words used to describe the wrath of God, His anger and how He expresses it. I have included these somewhat lengthy definitions for you to possibly explore at a later time. Here are some of the most common words used in Hebrew:

736a חָרוֹן (ḥārôn) heat, burning (of anger). 736b חֳרִי (ḥŏrî) heat, burning (of anger). This word is related to a rare Aramaic root meaning “to cause fire to burn,” and to an Arabic root meaning “burning sensation,” in the throat, etc. The Hebrew verb is always used in reference to anger. The meaning of the root differs from such words for “anger” as ʾānap, zāʿam, and qāṣap, in that it emphasizes the “kindling” of anger, like the kindling of a fire, or the heat of the anger, once started. The verb and its derivatives are used a total of 139 times.

133a אַף (ʾap) I,
nostril, face, anger. The double pe in the plural shows its derivation from ʾānēp. ʾānēp is used to express the Lord’s attitude of anger toward the covenant people when they have sinned, e.g. Moses (Deut 1:37), Aaron (Deut 9:20), the people (Deut 9:8). Men acknowledge God’s prerogative, but plead that he not continue to be angry.

2058 קָצַף (qāṣap) I,
be displeased, angry; fret oneself. 2058a    
קֶצֶף (qeṣep) wrath. The verb qāṣap is used to give pointed expression to the relationship between two or more persons, one or both of which can be said to feel anger (ʾap), have wrath (ḥēmâ), indignation (kaʿas), or express anger (ʿebrâ). Deuteronomy 9:19 presents a good case. Moses, referring to the golden calf incident, says he was afraid of the anger (ʾap) and wrath (or displeasure) (ḥēmâ) with which God was wroth (qāṣap) against Israel. It can be said then that here, as in most of the other thirty-three instances where this verb appears, qāṣap refers to the relationship developed, held or expressed in various ways when there is anger, heat, displeasure held or felt within one because of what another has said or done. It is said eleven times that men were wroth, (e.g., Pharoah, Moses, Naaman, Philistine princes). Twenty-three times it is said that God was wroth, whether against the heathen or against his covenant people. Of the six main synonyms referring to anger, the strongest, probably, are qeṣep which often refers to the Lord’s anger, and ḥēmâ and ḥārôn both of which refer to a burning and consuming wrath. The noun ʾap taking its meaning of “anger” from the dilation of the nostrils is the most widely used word of the class. It is used for anger both of God and men and often with verbs like “kindle” ḥārâ. The word ʿebrâ emphasizes the overflowing or excess of anger. It and the weaker words zaʿam “indignation” and kaʿas “vexation” are not used as often.

References for the above words and definitions:
Leon J. Wood, “736 חָרָה,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 322.

 

 


 

 

 

The Greek New Testament does not use as many subtle linguistically nuanced terms as the Hebrew, just two words mainly used:

3709-11.    ὀργή
orgē; a prim. word; impulse, wrath:—anger(6), wrath(30). ὀργίζω
orgizō; from 3709; to make angry:—angry(4), enraged(3), moved with anger(1). ὀργίλος
orgilos; from 3709; inclined to anger, passionate:—quick-tempered(1)
Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998). DBLHebr Swanson, A Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament).

2596-97 θυμός (thymos), οῦ (ou), ὁ (ho): n. masc.; Hebr 678, 2771, 2779; 2372; TDNT 3.167—1. 88.178 fury, wrath, anger, rage (Lk 4:28; Ac 19:28; Ro 2:8); 2. 25.19 intense desire (Rev 14:8; 18:3). θυμόω (thymoō), θυμόομαι (thymoomai):3013; 2373—88.179 be extremely angry (Mt 2:16)
James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). TDNT Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

 

Various Theological Positions Regarding the Wrath of God

In the Authorized Version the Hebrew and Greek words for wrath appear 201 times in 197 verses in the Bible. 153 times wrath and its various cognates are found in the O.T. and 48 times in 46 verses in the N.T. From a simple reading of the Bible it would seem that God is portrayed as a wrathful and vengeful deity in the Old Testament and a loving merciful God in the New due to God’s wrath being mentioned almost three times as often in the O.T. When it comes to considering the wrath of God there are several different understandings and what follows comprise the major points of view.

Denial:

    Seeing that the Bible is replete with examples of God’s wrath this point of view is fairly rare but it does exist. Some believe that the concept of “wrath” is simply unworthy of God. As early as about 313/314 Lactantius wrote “De ira dei” one of the very few Christian books devoted to considering the wrath of God. He argued against the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers of his day who believed that nothing good comes to us from Him nor any evil. Today such a denial of God’s wrath is found within the denomination of Christian Universalists, Unitarians and the Church of Christ Science, i.e. Christian Scientists.

The Error of Marcion:

    Marcion was the son of a Bishop, whom some say was excommunicated by his father for immorality; regardless of his lineage this much is certain of him and his followers:

Heretical sect founded in A.D. 144 at Rome by Marcion and continuing in the West for 300 years, but in the East some centuries longer, especially outside the Byzantine Empire. They rejected the writings of the Old Testament and taught that Christ was not the Son of the God of the Jews, but the Son of the good God, who was different from the God of the Ancient Covenant. They anticipated the more consistent dualism of Manichaeism and were finally absorbed by it. As they arose in the very infancy of Christianity and adopted from the beginning a strong ecclesiastical organization, parallel to that of the Catholic Church, they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known.

Marcion denied that the God shown in the O.T. was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The God of the O.T. was vengeful, wrathful and cruel; “but the Old Testament was a scandal to the faithful and a stumbling-block to the refined and intellectual
gentiles by its crudity and cruelty, and the Old Testament had to be set aside
.” Marcion taught that the god of the O.T. was a demiurge, a god and not the Supreme God. However, this left Marcion with the problem of what to do with all the N.T. citations of O.T. passages, history tells us that he did what President Jefferson would do later with His Bible —- “Marcion had to account for those passages in the New Testament which countenanced the Old. He resolutely cut out all texts that were contrary to his dogma; in fact, he created his own New Testament admitting but one gospel, a mutilation of St. Luke, and an Apostolicon containing ten epistles of St. Paul.”

Marcion viewed God as a deity of simple goodness and he excluded His other attributes, especially His wrath. Regarding our redemption he posits that God delivers humanity from a rival God, the Creator God of the O.T. Because of his lack of understanding the true nature of God he erred in virtually all areas of Christian orthodoxy. He denied the resurrection of the body as well as denied the second coming of Christ to judge the living and the dead. After all, “the good God, being all goodness, does not punish those who reject Him; He simply leaves them to the Demiurge, who will cast them into everlasting fire.”

It is easy to understand why Marcion’s views were popular and hard to eradicate because it painted a very humanistic and idealistic deity who was ALL loving and NEVER angry or wrathful. The Lord of The Church raised up capable men to stand against Marcion, his doctrine and those who later followed him. Thanks be to God for men such as St. Justin the Martyr, Irenaeus (the patron “saint” of all heresy hunters), Rhodon, Tertullian, St. Hippolytus of Rome,  St. Epiphanius and others who all “Taught Truth and Exposed Error,” especially the errors of Marcion.

Effectus vs. Affectus

    This view comes to The Church via C.H. Dodd who in his Moffatt commentary on Romans put forth the notion that we (theologians) have been misinterpreting the concept of God’s wrath and anger. According to this view talk of God’s wrath is too anthropomorphic and that the Apostle Paul never uses the verb ‘to be angry,’ with God as the subject. In this interpretation it is acknowledged that God’s wrath was the passion of anger in the original O.T. settings, however by the time of the Apostle Paul it had come to denote an impersonal process of cause and effect. The wrath of God is the inevitable result of sin.

In Paul the wrath of God describes not ‘the attitude of God to man’ but an inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe. In the long run we cannot think with consistency of God in terms of the highest human ideals of personality and yet attribute to Him the irrational passion of anger.

    Dodd’s viewpoint created a lot of debate and today any serious discussion of the wrath of God will refer to him and to A.T. Hanson, who helped develop Dodd’s belief that God’s wrath is only a reaction to our sin. Those who agree with Dodd assert that the wrath of God is to be understood “purely as effectus, as the effects or consequences of sin, rather than affectus, as a prior emotion or feeling on God’s part.” Furthermore, this belief states “the wrath of God is wholly impersonal and does not describe an attitude of God but a condition of man.”

    DMI agrees with Dodd inasmuch as we are confined to understanding God in human terms. Being human we have no other way to relate to anything or anyone. The thing to keep in mind when we talk about “God” is that the terms we use are analogous versus univocal statements.

If theologians wish to say Paul’s language of wrath is anthropopathic, then so is any discussion about His love as well. Just as we must be careful not to equate human love with all its distortions, conflicts and imperfections to the perfect love of God, this is equally true as we consider His wrath. By agreeing that our understanding of God’s wrath (or love) is anthropopathic does not in any way deny the corresponding reality of these passions in God.

God’s wrath must not be considered in a crude, literal fashion because His divine wrath is very different from the expressions of the wrath of fallen man. God’s wrath is not some irrational passion or frivolous anger.

God’s wrath against sin does not mean . . . that he is likely to fly off the handle at the most trivial provocation, still less that he loses his temper for no apparent reason at all. For there is nothing capricious or arbitrary about the holy God. Nor is he ever irascible, malicious, spiteful or vindictive. His anger is neither mysterious nor irrational. It is never unpredictable but always predictable, because it is provoked by evil and by evil alone.

    In considering the wrath of God we must understand that wrath is not fundamental to God in the same manner that love is. Isaiah called God’s rising up in wrath-filled judgment as His “strange work” and His “alien work.” God is love (1 John 4:8) but we cannot say “God is wrath.” Love is one of the fundamental eternal divine attributes of God. Wrath on the other hand is an out working of the character of God in His response to sin. Before God created anything He was love and this love was active in the Trinity and wrath was nothing more than a potentiality. Wrath is not an attribute of God the way that love, righteousness or holiness are. His wrath is His response to something outside of Himself.

    Dodd’s position has much that is worthwhile in considering; however there are some problems with this view. First of all it places wrath in a category that is not a feeling or emotion, an “affect” of God. They teach that God does not have any personal feelings like “displeasure,” however; they teach that His love is personal which is indicative of a faulty hermeneutic. Furthermore their theology does not leave any place for God to have any displeasure with the sinner, only their sin. They cannot make any type of distinction between the wrath of God as expressed against sinful behavior and His wrath against sinners themselves.

    There seems to be a form of incipient deism in Dodd’s line of thinking. If God’s wrath is simply part of His “moral order” and a by-product of sin and not something that is actually willed by God, then this is a deistic concept. Also, Dodd and his followers are not immune from the problems of being considered neo-Marcionists. As you read earlier, Marcion argued for a different “God” in the O.T. and N.T. Dodd saw wrath and punishment as an impersonal byproduct of God’s moral order and that God is disassociated from them. Dodd saw God as operating one way in the O.T. and a totally different way in the N.T. making the comparisons of Marcion compelling. Dodd sees that God’s anger disappears in the N.T. and God’s love now becomes all embracing.

What Is the Biblical Position?

As Christians we must deal with the text itself and let the Bible speak for itself. To begin with there is only one true God, the same God in both the Old and New Testaments. There is no difference between the O.T. and N.T. regarding the nature of God. What is true of Him in the Old is equally true of Him in the New. The chart of the Hebrew words shows the nuances that surround this word. The six major words used in Hebrew for the wrath of God are used a total of 406 times, another scholar (Morris) extends his listing to over twenty words that are used over 580 times! There is a connection between the proclamation of the wrath of God and the whole message of the O.T.

God’s wrath is His displeasure and His venting of it is because of His holiness, righteousness and justice. By His very nature He is intolerant of sin and any impurity. What we read in the O.T. is that the wrath of God is both affectus and effectus. When our God places a punishing judgment on people He does so personally, not impersonally or coldly.

In reading the events of when God unleashed His wrath we read that His wrath was indeed fully personal and we also read that His mercy also becomes as fully personal — “for mercy is the action of the same God who was angry allowing His wrath to be turned away. The anger of God signifies his emphatically personal character.”

Does the N.T. paint a picture of a non-wrathful God as Dodd and his followers assert? Dodd went as far as to say that the wrath of God does not appear in the teachings of Jesus. Oh really? As I noted earlier in the article in the Greek N.T. there are only 2 words used for wrath. Dodd made his statement based on the actual non-use of the word for wrath by our Lord in the Synoptic record. However, if you look at the entirety of Jesus` teachings you find that our Lord spoke quite a bit about the coming judgment of God against all evil and evil doers.

Space does not permit me to examine the abundance of proof regarding the wrath of God in the Gospels but here are some illustrations to study on your own. First, keep in mind that Jesus taught and warned people of the dangers of hell more frequently than He spoke of the glories of heaven. Hell, which is the unending outpouring of God’s wrath upon sinful individuals, is an obvious reality and danger for humanity. This fact alone disproves Dodd and his followers regarding their understanding of the teachings of Christ.

Consider some of the parables. We read of the Master handing the servant over to the jailers to be tortured (see Matthew 18:34). In the story of gathering people for the wedding feast and the Master is angry again at how some of those invited respond (see Luke 14:21). Even John the Baptist asked the Pharisees “who warned you to flee the wrath to come? (See Matthew 3:7) Someone had warned the Sadducees and Pharisees that the wrath of God was coming or that warning may have been simply “arrived at” through a study of the Bible and from their study they knew they were in serious trouble with God.

No wrath in the Gospels, or really in the N.T.? What translation do these people read? Have they forgotten that when our Lord returns, He comes as Judge? He will separate the sheep from the goats (see Matthew 25:32-46). Guess where the “goats” go? ”    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (v.41).

The wrath of God is not personal? Again, I would urge those who hold such a position to also re-read the Book of the Revelation. If one does not see the wrath of God in the JUDGMENTS He pours out on the earth as His personal response to sin and sinners, then they are either truly blind or they are being dishonest with the texts. The books are opened and people are JUDGED according to their (personal) works (see Revelation 20:12-13).

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Romans 1:18

I begin to close with another proof, this time from the Apostle Paul who writes that the wrath of God is indeed personal. His wrath comes from heaven, its origin is not earthly but comes from God Himself. His wrath is against ALL ungodliness and the unrighteous actions of men (who are individuals) who are suppressing God’s truth.

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died FOR US, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together WITH HIM. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

Paul also makes it perfectly clear that the saints will not ever experience the wrath of God because He has not appointed us unto wrath. Instead of wrath He has drawn us to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who died FOR US that we might obtain salvation and life everlasting. Now as His brothers and sisters we live our lives IN HIM and WITH HIM and FOR OTHERS, even as we have been studying over these last months. Outside of Christ Jesus there is only the certainty of a “guilty” verdict from our Holy God and with that sentence unremitting punishment in hell. In Christ there is only the certainty of grace, mercy and unremitting joy as we stand before our Father and Lord in the full expression of His effulgent glory all because of what Jesus has done for us!





Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part I

18 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – October 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 9 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

Part 1 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Sorry for the delay, but I am seeking to give back to our readers and supporters for their faithful support. So for the next few issues I will be reprinting some of our books in the newsletters, i.e. keep the next couple of newsletters and you will end up with one of our books to share or give to others! I am starting with some of the fundamental “doctrines” of modern neo-Montanism, aka the charismatic movement of today. This first installment deals with the dogma of being slain in the spirit. It is a phenomena common to virtually all sign-gift believers and thus this information is of vital importance in your reference libraries. Please share this information with your friends and family!

Introduction

This booklet will set forth the charismatic attempt to prove Biblically that the manifestation of being “slain in the spirit” is in fact Scriptural. However, it will become evident to the reader that what they have done is to twist the Scripture, wrest it from its context, in a vain attempt to validate the emergence of fleshly and demonic activity in their midst.

To those who have not ever been to a charismatic service the terminology may be unfamiliar so I will begin by defining the terms. Then we will examine their apologetic, the historical background of this manifestation, and consider what the Bible actually teaches regarding the issue at hand.

Chapter 1

Being “Slain in the spirit”  The Phenomena Defined

Being slain in the spirit denotes the phenomena that occurs when hands are laid on an individual and they swoon or fall to the ground in an altered state of consciousness. One can be slain without hands being physically applied, but that is more the exception than the rule. Generally people “fall out” due to direct ministry of another, either individually or in a group. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements defines the experience this way:

A relatively modern expression denoting a religious phenomenon in which an individual falls down; the cause of this is attributed to the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon is known within modern Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal under various names including “falling under the power,” “overcome by the Spirit,” and “resting in the Spirit.” Within the discipline of the sociology of religion “slain in the spirit” might fall under the general rubric of possession trance.”   (1)

As a former charismatic pastor and teacher I can personally testify that in the course of ministry my wife and I have laid hands on over 1,000 people for various reasons. Many times when praying for people’s physical healing we would lay hands on them and they would fall down on the ground for a period of time and then regain their senses, stand up and return to their seats.

I can further testify when many times when people fall it is due to a genuine power entering into them or at least affecting their body to the degree they cannot stand. I have fallen down many times and I was not “faking” it. I felt a power, a tingling, something akin to electricity flow into me and upon yielding to this power I would fall down.

How is this explained?  There are a variety of ways to explain this manifestation. We will examine these possible answers towards the end of this book. I believe it is only fair to allow our sign-gift brethren to give their explanation first.

Chapter 2

TACF’S Apologetic

The Toronto Airport Church Explanation

The Toronto Airport Church Fellowship (TACF) says this occurs when God’s presence comes on the human body. The body simply cannot stand the weight of God’s presence and thus fall.    (2)

Falls are commonly much less violent and may be backward (common) or forward (less common and in my observation more frequent in pastors and ministers). Falls may be associated with further violent movements, with head-banging, tremors, movements suggestive of epilepsy, but commonly with a total absence of movement. Subject may have no experience beyond a pleasant sense of calm, may experience visions, or may feel they are being crushed. One man told me he felt as though a massive weight was crushing the life out of him, making it impossible for him to breath…Many people may be affected simultaneously. When this is so, the precise timing suggest supernatural choreography rather than mass hysteria.    (3)

Toronto’s answer is that when a person is slain in the spirit it is simply a physical response to the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the individual. What does the Pensacola vortex of revival have to say about this matter?

There are several incidents in the Bible which demonstrate that the immediate presence of God is more than the human body can physically stand. One of the most significant examples is John 18:4-6, where we read of Jesus’ arrest. When Jesus identified Himself to the soldiers who were arresting Him, we’re told they “drew back and fell to the ground.” These troops (who were pagan unbelievers and only view Jesus as another criminal to arrest) were involuntarily smitten by His moment unleashing of His inherent power as God. Even these ungodly men could not physically stand up in the presence of His holiness and glory. (4)

Again, we read of the “fact” that the human body just cannot stand the presence of God and so human bodies fall down. Let me ask two questions:   (1). if this is true then why don’t those laying hands on people fall too? If God’s presence is manifest why doesn’t everybody fall? (2). In the account in John, Jesus, the completely unique One, did unveil His glory by stating “I am.” The sinners did fall down backwards (keep this fact in mind for later on). However, the account does not say the believers fell down, it is remarkably silent about anyone else being slain in the spirit.

The Toronto Blessing FAQ (5)

Revised April 1997

Scriptures quoted from King James Version unless otherwise stated

FALLING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT – this is when we fall to the ground because we can no longer remain standing when the power of God is on us!!! Sometimes we remain on the ground from several minutes up to several hours, our body simply cannot move very much because our flesh is corrupt and cannot stand in God’s full presence!!

II CHRONICLES 5:11-14: And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy [place]: (for all the priests [that were] present were sanctified, [and] did not [then] wait by course: Also the Levites [which were] the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Herman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, [being] arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers [were] as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: that [then] the house was filled with a cloud, [even] the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

MATTHEW 17:5-7: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

JOHN 18:5-6 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am [he]. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.

ACTS 9:3-4: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?

 

A Biblical Examination of the Revivalists Argument

To begin with whenever you make comparisons for them to be honest correlations you must compare “apples to apples.” None of these texts resemble anything remotely close to what happens when believers are slain in the spirit today. My wife and I have observed less then 10 people fall under the power with no human intervention of some variety in 30 years of combined charismatic experience. When people get slain it is due to the direct ministry of another person, not a sovereign act of God.

Invariably, charismatic people fall down when hands are laid on them. There are no examples of people falling down when hands were laid on them in the Bible.

In 2 Chronicles 5:11 we read of the dedication of Solomon’s temple. In that dispensation God manifested His presence in a tangible manner to His covenant people Israel.

This case was no exception, God manifested His presence to demonstrate His approval of the Temple. After that initial service, His presence was confined to residing above the ark of the covenant.

Note also that the priests were outside of the temple when God’s glory filled it. There is nothing stated which indicates that the priest fell down at all.

Matthew 17 gives us the incident where Jesus took Peter, John and James up to the mountain top where He was transfigured before them. There is nothing in the text which indicates that God slayed them in the spirit. The text states “they fell on their face, sore afraid” it does not saythe presence of God was so strong they could not stand,” nor does it say, “the power of the Holy Spirit knocked them on their faces.” It says “They fell,” Peter, John, and James chose to fall.  Why?  They were afraid! It was a voluntary act on their part, not a sovereign act of God upon their bodies. Please note also, that at no time were they unaware of their surroundings, i.e. they did not loose consciousness, which is common with today’s manifestation.

Also, in Mark and Luke’s account we read of Peter seeing Moses, Elijah and Jesus and then Peter speaking with Jesus. These two accounts do not even mention them falling down at all. It does mention them being afraid, but no falling. It is textually impossible to validate what happens in charismatic services today from Matthews account.

The last text they use to shore up their doctrine is the account of Paul encountering the Lord on the road to Damascus. What is interesting in the Acts 9 account is that only Paul is slain, i.e. falls off of his horse. The men with Paul, were (1) speechless, (2) heard a voice, (3) saw no one, and (4) did not fall down. Another facet of this account is the fact that this extraordinary manifestation is Paul’s call into apostleship. This text cannot legitimately be used to prove the machinations taking place in charismatic circles. No one laid hands on Paul and caused him to be slain. According to the Biblical record this was not a regular occurrence in his life or ministry. Paul himself never testifies to laying hands on anyone and having them slain in the spirit, nor do any of the other writers of the New Testament, or Old Testament for that matter. Paul never lost consciousness, his faculties were very sharp, he was able to speak, he rationally answered the Lord.

On the following page John White uses the following two verses in his book When The Spirit Comes With Power to justify falling down under the Holy Spirit’s power:

Daniel 10:9-10 But the sound of his words came to my ears, and on hearing his voice I went into a deep sleep with my face to the earth. Then a hand gave me a touch, awaking me, and putting me on my knees and my hands.

Rev. 1:17 – And when I saw him, I went down on my face at his feet as one dead. And he put his right hand on me, saying, Have no fear; I am the first and the last and the Living one;

In the event in Daniel chapter 10, we encounter the writing prophet at the banks of the Tigris. He alone sees the angelic being who has come to deliver to Daniel a sweeping revelation concerning the prophetic economy of God. This Old Testament account is totally devoid of any comparison of what takes place in Pentecostalism. First, Daniel was a writing prophet and as such the Lord manifested His Word to those prophets in various ways (dreams, visions, divine appearances, etc). Secondly, Daniel’s experience was unexpected, whereas today people fully expect to be slain in the spirit. The purpose of the angelic appearance was to reveal a significant prophetic word to God’s prophet, Daniel’s falling down had nothing to do with the divine message, it was at best a tangential response on Daniel’s part.

Next, while Daniel was overcome the angel touched him and gave him strength. This is something we do not see in today’s services. I have seen multitudes fall, but none receiving supernatural strength. Note also that Daniel fell face forward, almost one hundred percent of charismatic’s who are slain fall backward, thus the reason for catchers (more on the ministry of catchers in a later chapter).

There simply is no legitimate manner in which this verse can be used to shore up a doctrine of being slain in the spirit.

The text in Revelation 1:17 also fails to meet the test when examined. John the beloved was an apostle of the Lamb. Fist of all, there are no more apostles today. Secondly, John saw the resurrected Lord which was the reason he fell. The purpose for the Lord Jesus appearing to John was to give him the final installment of the canon of Scripture. John was given a revelation of immense importance. Please note that John never lost consciousness and that he also fell face forward.

Comparison Chart

The falling of people in today’s services, especially in this latest revival has no relationship whatsoever to the few Biblical accounts they attempt to use to prove their beliefs. Every text they have tried to use is taken completely out of its context and these leaders are guilty of wresting the Scriptures in a vain attempt to validate their practices.

The leaders of the Holy Laughter movement prove nothing by the Scriptures they use except that they do not know how to properly interpret the Scriptures. They are attempting to compare apples-to-oranges and not apples-to-apples. The simple fact of the matter is that they have no biblical context to prove what is happening is in fact the manner in which God moves by His Spirit. Try as they might the best they can do is to twist the Scriptures in an attempt to make “a round peg fit into a square hole.” The Biblical accounts and what transpires today simply do not compare with one another.

Pastor John Arnott said the following during a revival meeting we attended at TACF (paraphrased) regarding people laying on the floor (after being slain in the spirit) who were screaming aloud:

1. The Holy Spirit could be expelling demons from the person, so we say “more Lord.”

2. The Holy Spirit is bringing back past painful memories to heal them, and the person is screaming out in agony, so we say “more Lord.”

3. The Holy Spirit is blessing the individual so tremendously they are screaming out under His power, we don’t want to stop that do we?

4. The person is simply faking it to fit in.

5. The Holy Spirit is doing a prophetic work in the person’s life & we do not want to interfere with that do we? (6)

The only problem with John’s definitions was that he used absolutely no Scriptures to validate any of his five points. In fact he contradicted himself on the video when he said that upon asking people what was happening to them while on the floor the people responded “we don’t now, but we know the Lord was doing something.” If individuals who have been slain in the spirit did not know what was taking place how in the world does John Arnott?

The following apologetic for being slain in the spirit is taken from the following web page on August 25, 1997: http://www.revivaltimes.com/manifest.htm– they use the same proof texts as TACF and other extremists, this shows the paucity of their argument.

Falling

People are skeptical when they see a person falling on the floor. This is really not hard to understand, as so many have been pushed over. Hands were laid so hard on them, that they either had to walk back or fall over. Others have come to think that unless you fall down, you have not received. This is not true. The Holy Spirit can minister to you anywhere, and in any way He pleases. I purposely lay my hand very lightly on peoples heads. If they fall, they will know that I did not push them over. It had to be the Holy Spirit or themselves.

Why do people fall?

Well, evidently they found it was impossible to stand up any longer. They just felt their knees become weak and fell down. Sometimes the glory of God is so great that we are overwhelmed and consequently fall prostate before the Lord.

Is Falling in the Spirit scriptural?

There is no direct reference to what we have termed being slain in the Spirit; However, there are references in the Bible of people who could not stand for the glory of God

1 King 8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

Another indication of falling in the Spirit is when Saul of Tarsus had the encounter with God on the road to Damascus. When the light shone on him, he fell to the ground and lay there until God had finished talking to him.

Acts 9:3-4 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?

The author gets an “A” for honesty, he admitted there are no direct references to the man-made doctrine of being slain in the spirit. What is puzzling is that he (and multitudes) of others are willing to submit themselves to highly questionable practices which have no Scriptural basis and attribute them to God. They have no Scriptural method by which to judge the origin of their experience, and assume it must be the Holy Spirit.  On what basis?  Because it happens in a church service? Because a minister lays their hands on them? Because they have seen others do it? Or because they have been told this is of God by leaders? These are not the criteria by which we judge our spiritual lives and practice. We are to look to the Word of God alone as the first and final court of appeal.

Revival Glory’s Explanation of the Experience (7)

In revival people often fall on the floor. Termed “slain in the Spirit” by some, and “falling under the power” or resting in the Lord” by others, one does not have to look long to see that something is happening inside those “horizontal before the Lord.” Such was the response of people like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28; 3:23), Daniel (Daniel 10:9), and John (Revelation 1:17). After the ark was brought into Solomon’s temple, “the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filed the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14), perhaps indicating that these priests had “fallen under the power” of God. The Holy Spirit seems to do a wide variety of things in a person’s life during this time: a renewed understanding of God’s holiness, an inward healing of emotions, anointing for ministry, a giving of direction for life, a refreshing of God’s love, and in limited cases, the giving of a vision from God. [Bold type and underlining added for emphasis].

Revival Glory’s definition adds that the Holy Spirit seems to do a wide variety of spiritual works in the slain person’s life. Six things are cited, but not one verse is given to substantiate these claims. Five of the works attributed to being slain in the spirit are found within the context of scripture apart from any paranormal experience. All six, minus the vision from God, come to any believer through a reverent study of God’s Word, no more no less! To the extremist simple Bible study is not as “sexy” as having a power encounter or becoming the center of attention by laying front of the congregation in some form of enthusiasm and/or alleged spiritual rapture.

A person “overcome” by something, but it is not the Holy Spirit!

Rev. Liichow’s book  will be continued in the next issue.

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

* (color highlight, some bolding and underlining are added for emphasis, and do not appear in the original book by Robert S. Liichow)

 





From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised! (Ok, but how?)

7 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 7 – From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised!  – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised!

(Ok, but how?)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The manner in which we worship God is extremely personal and obviously every person and religious group believes it is doing “it” the right way. Anyone or anything that is different from the way we do it is usually denigrated by us. There are at least three reasons for this reaction. First, we believe we are worshipping God correctly, ergo anything different from our way is automatically wrong. Secondly, denigrating other practices helps to psychologically bolster our own position by creating an “us-and-them” mentality a subtle form of elitism. Thirdly, as fallen people it comes naturally for us to tear down than to build up.

I believe there is another way to rightly consider the worship of our God. The lens I want us to look through is taking place biblical? Many forms of worship may not be from our specific cultures or traditions, but that does not make them necessarily wrong only different. The only valid question to be asked is the way or method people worship biblically acceptable and if so we must not criticize them.

Regardless of what flavor the brand of Christianity being practiced does through the centuries one of the constants has been the role of music in the worship of the Lord God. Music can be one of the highest forms of emotional expression available to mankind and it is as varied in its presentation as are the cultures from which it springs.

The nascent early Church expressed itself musically by initially following the format of Jewish worship including its music; after all these were Jewish believers. The Psalms were set to music and without a doubt King David, who is often referred to as the “sweet Psalmist of Israel” was a keen musician and a great lover of music and he commanded the use of a wide variety of musical instruments in the worship of Jah:

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. The musicians Herman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benajah were to play the lyres according to alamoth, and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneish, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith. Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it. Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat,Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark. 1 Chron. 15:16,19-24

Jewish worship was (and still is among the Orthodox Jews) very expressive, animated, loud and joyful. Read First Chronicles 16 entirely and you will see where David dedicated a Psalm to Asaph and in vs. 36 we read the people verbally said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord” during their praising of God. I mention this because in most LCMS congregations such verbal declarations are unheard of (this is true in most mainline denominations) but such responses are indeed biblical.

Many times our understanding of the Bible is hindered by our lack of knowing the original languages. (1) This is especially true when it comes to our English word “praise.” When we come across this word we mentally default to our personal definition or experience of what praise means or is to us. Although this is something we all do it can be a very dangerous way to study the Bible and it can and has led to many misunderstandings and false doctrines. Never assume important reoccurring words have one simple direct translation into our language from their original languages because they do not. Good examples of this are the Greek words for “love.” There are four major Greek words for specific types of love and we err if we interpret them incorrectly.

The Seven Major Hebrew Words for Praise

When we think of praising our God often we think of the various styles of music we sing in praise of/to Him. However, music although preeminent and central to worshipping the Lord is only one of the ingredients which work together with others in honoring God. It behooves us to take a look into the Hebraic words we simply translate as praise in our English translations. There are no less than seven Hebrew words which are used to denote the praising of God.

1. YADAH: to worship with the extended had; the giving of oneself in worship and adoration. To lift your hands up unto the Lord. It carries the meaning of absolute surrender as a young child does to a parent – “pick me up, I’m all yours”. Scripture: Gen. 29:35; 2 Chron. 7:6, 20:21; Psalms 9:1; 28:7 Psalms 33:2, 42:5,11, 49:18; Isaiah 12:1.

Strong’s Concordance number 3034 yadah; a primitive root; used only as denominative from 3027; literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands). Yadah in practice – Lift my hands to Him and say how I am surrendering myself to Him. The New Testament gives us the directive to lift up our hands in worship and prayer in 1 Tim. 2:8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” The word “yadah teaches us that it is perfectly biblical and acceptable to lift up our hands in worship to God.

2. TEHILLAH: to sing, to laud. A spontaneous new song. Singing from a melody in your heart by adding words to it. This refers to a special kind of singing-it is singing unprepared, unrehearsed songs. Scripture examples: Psalms 22:3, 34:1, 40:3, 66:2; 2 Chronicles 20:22.

Strong’s Concordance number 8416 tehillah; from 1984; laudation; specifically (concretely) a hymn, praise, adoration, thanksgiving (paid to God). Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” might be an example of this type of praise.

3. BARAK: To kneel or to bow. To give reverence to God as an act of adoration. It implies to continual conscious giving place to God. Blessing the Lord and extolling His virtues. There is a sense of kneeling and blessing God as an act of adoration in the word BARAK. Physical application – To bow, kneel or to do this with the intent in my heart that He is my King and I yield to Him.

Strong’s Concordance number 1288 barak; a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the King, as treason). It is biblical and is legitimate to kneel before God while praising Him.

4. HALAL: The Strong’s Concordance gives us a good working definition, its number is 1984 halal; a primitive root; to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence, to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate; also to stultify; This word is used over 110 times in the Old Testament. Some scriptures using halal include: 1 Chron. 16:4, 23:5,30, 29:13; Heh. 12:24. From halal we get the word hallelujah. Halal songs are loud and clamorous in expression and are very emotional demonstrations of joy and celebration.

5. TOWDAH: To give worship by the extension of the hand in adoration or agreeing with what has been done or will be. This word is commonly found in connection with sacrifice-applying the giving of thanks or praise as a sacrifice before reception or manifestation. Thanking God for something that I don’t have in the natural, i.e. an expectant faith. Towdah implies agreeing with His Word – faith in His Word. This form of praise goes in operation just because His Word is true. Scriptures: Psalm 42:4, 50:23; Jer. 17:26.

Strong’s Concordance number 8426 towdah; from 3034; properly, an extension of the hand, i.e. (by implication) avowal, or (usually) adoration; specifically, a choir of worshippers: KJV — confession, (sacrifice of ) praise, thanks (-giving, offering). Today as Christians the only sacrifice we are told to give to the Lord is the sacrifice of praise as seen in Heb. 3:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

6. ZAMAR: “To sing with instruments”. To make music accompanied by the voice. One of the musical verbs for praise in the book of psalms. It caries the idea of making music in praise to God as in Psl. 92:1. The word ZAMAR also means to touch the strings, and refers to praise that involes instrumental worship as in Psl. 150. The one word is usually translated “sing praises”.

Strong’s Concordance number 2167 zamar; a primitive root [perhaps ident. With 2168 through the idea of striking with the fingers]; properly, to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument I.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music.

7. SHABACH: to address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout! Proclaim with a loud voice, unashamed, the Glory, triumph, power, mercy, love of God. This word implies that testimony is praise. The phase “shout unto the Lord” can be understood as the action of SHABACH. It is not just being loud. You should have the attitude of putting your whole being into it, an attitude of being totally uninhibited. Scripture citations: Psalm 117:1, 63:3-4

As you can see the word “praise” in our Bible refers to a great divergence of adorational (2) expression presented to and accepted by our Lord. All of these seven terms can and often do incorporate music. My dear brothers and sisters the bottom line is simply this — there is no one right “right” way to give praise to our God. Any one or all of the aforementioned seven expressions are legitimate. Here are some additional references to how the people of Israel worshipped The Ancient of Days:

Singers and singing ( 1 Chronicles 15:16-27 & 25:1-7)

Musicians and instruments (1 Chronicles 23:5, 25:1-7)

Ministry of Levites before the Ark ( 1 Chronicles 16:6, 6:37)

Recording (1 Chronicles 16:4, 28:12, 19)

Thanking the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:4, 8, 41)

Praise ( I Chronicles 16:4, 36)

Psalms (1 Chronicles 16:9, Psalms 98:6)

Rejoicing and joy (1 Chronicles 16:10, 16,25,31)

Clapping hands (Psalm 47:1, 98:8, Isaiah 55:12)

Shouting (I Chronicles 15:28, Psalms 47:1, 5; Isaiah 12:6)

Dancing (1 Chronicles 15:29; 2 Samuel 6:14, Psalms 149:3; Psalms 150:4

Lifting up hands (Psalms 134; 141:2) (Lamentations 3:41)

Worship (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalms 29:1-2, 95:6)

Seeking the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:10-11, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

Spiritual sacrifices (Psalms 27:6, 1 Peter 2:3-5, Hebrews 13:15,16)

Saying Amen (1 Chronicles 16:36)

There is one very important fact that cannot be overlooked when considering these expressions of praise in worshipping our God. All of them are to be the result of an intense love for God; they are quite simply an outward manifestation of heartfelt devotion to the Savior. All of these manifestations can be a genuine spiritual expression or merely one’s flesh trying to appear spiritual.

Worship In Spirit & In Truth   (John 4:24)

The charismatic movement has embraced all of these biblical forms in their worship services (and yes added a few of their own). No one can rightly say that what they are doing is unbiblical because it is not. Admittedly, clapping, dancing in the aisles, shouting “glory to God,” etc. is not for everybody, but that does not make it “wrong” it only makes it different.

Spirit and truth are the two guidelines for genuine worship. Coming out of the charismatic movement I have seen all types of fleshly activities which frankly are virtually unavoidable due to our human condition. For instance, I can dance before the Lord or I can dance to be seen by those around me and secretly hope they deem me as spiritual because I appear to be caught up in the spirit. One way a leader can place some governance on the exuberance without putting out the “fire” so to speak is to challenge the people by asking them if they (sticking to my example) dance before the Lord at home when no one is watching but God. This same question can be applied to all these outer forms of praise.

Another issue is what I’ll call the “herd mentality,” in other words doing something simply because everyone else is doing it. I’ve been in services when one person may suddenly take off running around the sanctuary and before you know it ten or twenty others are following that person. Good exercise, without a doubt. Spiritual worship? Maybe it was for the initial runner, probably not for the others. Person “A” lifts his hands up to the Lord and in his heart he is crying out “I surrender myself to You Lord.” Babe in Christ. “B” sees “A’s” actions and posits “hmm, this is what spiritual people do, so I will raise my hands too” without any inner surrender to God, just the outward action.

At other times I’ve been in services where the praise leader begins to command the congregation to “clap your hands,” or “shout to the Lord” and this is wrong because it violates the principle that such expressions come from the heart not from outside the worshipper. It is also a subtle form of manipulation and I have seen worship “leaders” get people to do all sorts of things that normally they would not do which violates the command of Jesus regarding “in spirit” or from the heart.

This much is certain the act of praising God is multi-dimensional. It is first and foremost a private one-on-one communion between the individual and his God. If one is not connected to Jesus Christ by grace through faith then they cannot and are not worshipping God. This intimate love relationship is usually expressed corporately in worship with other lovers of the Living God. For example, I am singing a hymn to my Lord yet others around me are also singing the same hymn to Him, so we have both an individual and corporate experience going on. The focus of all worship is to be on our Triune God, who He is, what He has done on our behalf, what our response is to His love and not on what other people are doing or not doing around us. Anything that pulls my attention away from God during this sacred time is of the flesh. Speaking from my own experience the most precious times in worship is when I lose sight of myself and those around me and I am completely focused on Christ.

Everybody thinks their way is the “right” way to Praise the Lord

It is only natural to believe that the manner in which we worship the Lord is indeed the only proper way to do so. The Bible clearly states in Prob. 16:2 “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”

When it comes to worship formats we must be honest with ourselves and ask some penetrating questions. Generally the manner in which we worship is dictated by our culture. I have spent the last year being somewhat mentored by confessional Lutheran pastors who firmly believe any worship format other than theirs is not of God. They decry any form of what they consider “contemporary” worship formats which includes the use of various instruments (guitars, drums, keyboards, etc) and uses songs not found in the standard hymnal. The truth is what these ultra-Germanic culture and expression founded in 15th century practice. That is fine and dandy if that is your culture. Te problem arises when you attempt to place Germanic culture in an African setting and force people from a totally different culture to accept the Germanic practice as the correct one. (3)

African-American Christians often worship God in a vastly different format than do, say LCMS Christians. Does that make the African-American believers wrong? No, it does not, it make them different based upon their culture and life experience as a people. The same can be said for Hispanic people, Native American Christians or Asian disciples.

After sitting under some very rigid teachers during the last two years all I can do is shake my head in wonder and sadness. These poor souls miss the beauty and freedom that is our biblical heritage in Christ when it comes to worshipping our gracious Lord. The complaints and finger pointing usually come from those who have no idea how vast a landscape of emotional expression is pained by our simple English word praise when it is studied in the Hebrew. We must never forget that our God is a lot bigger than our cultures, denominations and understanding and as long as what is being offered unto God as worship does not violate the given biblical practices then let us humble our hearts before Him and worship Him in the beauty of holiness, however it may be expressed.♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. This is one of the reasons why I stress the importance of sitting under well educated pastors. Although I do not claim to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar I have taken (and pasted ) my courses in both original languages so I have at least a rudimentary understanding of what I am studying.

2. Ok, I admit “adorational” is not a formal word, I made it up, but then the Apostle Paul coined some words too

3. I use Africa merely as an example, it can be as simple as trying to make African-American “German” when it comes to worship. Frankly this practice is nothing more than racism regardless of who practices it.





The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

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

Discernment Ministries International

The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

The Easter Issue

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

His servant and yours,

Rev. Bob Liichow

__________________________________ 

The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

By Bob Liichow & Moreno DeBallo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





The Need For Discernment

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

Discernment Ministries International

The Need For Discernment

By Rev. Bob Liichow

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

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

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

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many peopleMatthew 24:10-11

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:24-25

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

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

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 2 Peter 2:1-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

 





The Need For Diligence

16 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 1 – The Need For Diligence – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Need For Diligence

By: The Rev. Vicar Robert S. Liichow

Ah the New Year. Always a time of forgetting the past years failures and looking with hope to new beginnings! Probably most of us make voiced or unvoiced commitments at the beginning of the New Year. As Christians we often make promises of renewed faithfulness in serving the Lord, in attending Church, in our Bible study times as well as our financial stewardship and prayers.

You are no doubt familiar with the Samuel Johnson’s old adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” by which he meant that it was not enough to mean well one had to follow through and do well also. Jesus says more or less the same thing in the following teaching:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the steams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had this foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

The contrast is simple, two people hear the Word of God, one acts upon It and the other does not. In another place Jesus was speaking about the manner in which people respond to God’s Word by teaching:

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:14-20

Good intentions! Some people receive the Word with JOY but last only a short time. The reason why people last only a short time is obvious. Other outside forces enter into their lives whether it is trouble or persecution because of the Word of God or worries about this short temporal life, the false god of mammon or simply the desire for other things apart from what God provides in His Word enter into life and suddenly all our spiritual “good intentions” fly out the window.

How can we avoid these pitfalls? How can we keep our resolutions of faithfulness to our Lord? First of all, we have to admit that in and of ourselves we cannot. This is why we fail in our New Year’s resolutions; we try to accomplish them by our own will power. We run into the problem that the apostle Paul stated when he said:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this boy of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! Roman 7:21-25

On our own we will not fulfill our best intentions. Our will at its best is still tainted by sin and in the end it will always fall short of the glory of God. What then is the answer? Thanks be to God we can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13). Apart from our Master we can do nothing (John 15:5) but since we have been born-again we are now one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17) and by His enabling grace we can do those things which please Him.

Remember that God has ordained us unto good works and He expects us to walk in (Eph. 2:10) them. Certainly to have a more earnest prayer life, consistent Bible study and faithful church attendance and giving are part of the good works that God will gladly bless as we seek His grace to walk in them.

Some practical ideas regarding keeping your spiritual commitments is simply begin to do them. If you need to get up earlier in order to begin your day with prayer, then ask the Lord for the ability and desire to not hit the “snooze” button and take that extra 10 minutes I have always been taught that it takes around 30+ days to produce a habit. If you will begin and be faithful at it then before you know it your body will respond to getting up a bit earlier and spending time in prayer. Not only that God Himself will reward you for your diligence (Matthew 6:6). The same is true for Bible study. There are many good plans available for reading through the Bible in a year. Again, this does not take a large portion of your day, actually probably less than half an our. Simply set the time apart from your devotional study and keep that time as “sacred space” in your life. Another spiritual practice anyone can engage in is using your time driving to listen to the Bible on cassette or cd, Bible teachings, godly music or anything that elevates your soul towards heaven (all of the aforementioned beats listening to the “top 40” countdown!). Making use of your time in the car is a great way to fulfill what the following text says in Ephesians:

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Church attendance is mandatory in the sense that we need one another. There are no “Lone Ranger” saints and those few I’ve run into have ended up spiritually shipwrecked. God ordained the church and He places each one of us in the Body of Christ where it pleases Him (1 Cor. 12:8)— note that the Holy Spirit did not say “where it pleases us.” Paul told Timothy to be diligent to the reading of scripture and teaching of the Word, which is good advice for us too. Some people complain that there are no good churches in their area, which today is sometimes the case. However, I know if people had to drive 45 minutes or more to their job 5 days a week they would do it and be on time! How much more valuable and necessary is it for us to receive our spiritual feeding as well as be available to be a blessing to others in that local body? Yet most of us can find a solid Bible-based congregation in our area and I suggest that once you have found it become involved in the life of that body. If you already have a church home perhaps now is a good time to examine your involvement. Are you using your god-given gifts and talents there; are you making the most out of every opportunity to grow?

In closing let me exhort all of us to dig deeper this year and make sure of our spiritual foundation in Christ. I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I believe the church is going to face some hard times this coming year and some serious pruning is going to be done by the Husbandman of the Vineyard. Personally I do not mind the hard times because I know that historically that is when the true believers shine the brightest…in the darkest times. So let’s all be more diligent to make the most of the given allotted to us that when we appear before Him we shall not be ashamed.  ♦

Copyright  © 2009 Robert S. Liichow