Happy “Fathers Day” Gift Issue

12 06 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2010 – Vol. 15  Issue 6 – “The Happy Fathers Day”  Gift Issue – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

THE HAPPY FATHERS DAY GIFT ISSUE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The month of June is indeed a blessed month. Not only do I get to celebrate Father’s Day but also my birthday (the 16th!) From one father to another I give to all the DMI family a free book this month to enjoy reading during these lazy hot days of June. This book will help equip you to answer some of the charges leveled against those of us who stand up for biblical truth. Enjoy!

Will the Real Pharisee Please Stand Up!

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Chapter 1

Name Calling

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”

One would think that leaders who are supposed to have been initiated into the high realms of sanctification and anointing due to revival would naturally be more spiritually-minded. Having arrived at a level of godly development beyond that of their non-charismatic brethren one would not expect them to stoop to the childish level of name calling…yet this is one of the most commonly employed tactics by the leadership of today’s so-called revival.

The Dreaded Title of Pharisee

In every revival meeting my wife and I have attended (which is quite a few) we have heard a litany of derogatory names used to describe anyone who dares disagree with their beliefs and practices. Their favorite term is that of “Pharisee.”

A Pharisee is anyone who has the gall to look to the Bible and only accept what is contained contextually within its pages. Here is a direct quote from the Toronto Blessings Page on the Internet:

Many passages of Scriptures seems to cast laughter as undesirable, and most Pharisees uses these Scriptures to forbid laughter at Toronto Blessing meetings.

Those who truly and honesty do not see holy laughter in the context of Scripture are reported as being so traditional as to forbid non-Biblical practices in the Church! I have yet to hear anyone publicly admit that there are Christians who out of a pure heart and honest motive simply do not agree with what is happening.

All of those who do not endorse the revival have evil motives attributed to them. Michael Brown, one of the leading writers for the revival chastises the non-supporters in this fashion:

How many worldwide awakenings would have taken place this century if church people had not stood in the way of God? Very few revivals have ever finished their God-appointed course. Very few outpourings of the Spirit have ever reached their potential. Man is always getting in the way!…Our denominational pride has stifled many a move of the Spirit.

 Which church people was Brown referring to? Obviously the “Pharisees,” the people who refuse to submit themselves to subjective experiences which fall outside of the Biblical perimeters.

What is more shocking than the name-calling is the lack of theological understanding of God that Michael Brown possesses. This is “shocking” because he is the head of the new bible training center at the Brownsville Assembly of God!

Mr. Brown has an incorrect view of God’s sovereignty. To him man is capable of stopping a sovereign move of the Spirit! The Lord wanted to send revival, but the ole mean Pharisees stopped Him and His Spirit by refusing to budge from the Word of God (forgive the sarcasm). If this were possible then man would be more powerful than God. Let’s consider some Biblical texts and see if God’s will is ever thwarted. (Bold type and underlining added for emphasis).

Daniel 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

The king in the above text had lost sight of a crucial facet of the character of God – He is totally sovereign in His actions and is accountable to no one. “None can stay His hand”, so if He sends revival then there is no one alive who can stop His will to revive His people. None.

Deut. 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible which regarded not persons, nor taketh reward:

2 Chron. 20:6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

There are multitudes of Scriptures which prove beyond any discussion that God is sovereign. That He accomplishes all the good pleasure of His will. The Bible plainly states there is none that can stop Him. Yet the revivalists of yesterday and today continue to preach a “god” who is less than the God of the bible. Their god is one whose will and desires are thwarted by men and women who, obviously, are mightier than God at least in this respect.

Charles Finney was one of the forerunners of this misconception about the sovereignty of God. He said that it has always been the ministers who have stopped God’s revival.

Now it is remarkable that so far as my knowledge extends, all the seasons of great revivals with which the church has been blessed from the very first, have been broken up and the revival influence has been set aside by an ecclesiastical and sectarian jangling to preserve what they call the purity of the church and the faith once delivered to the saints. I believe it is to be a truth, that ministers as a class, have always been responsible for the decline of revivals.;

As the saying goes “the fruit does not fall far from the tree” and Michael Brown echoes the same incorrect concept that Finney originally harbored. Finney held a “limited” God view, which is not surprising since many theologians consider Charles Finney to be a Pelagian in regards to his doctrinal stance.

When the term Pharisee is used by today’s leaders it is often referring to other Christian leaders with a seminary education. Anyone who has gone to school for several years. Undergone the rigors of learning the original languages. Taking a few years to write a thesis and later a dissertation are somehow generally of no value to God. According to Rodney Howard Browne, the “Holy Ghost Bartender,” believers are often ruined by their seminary education.

Too many people allow their education to make them unstable. I’ve noticed people, prior to going into seminary, who are totally qualified for the work of God, totally anointed, but they come out after several years of seminary totally ruined.

Is that right? Unstable as in incapable of being used? I for one thank God for the seminary education I am undertaking, it has rendered me impossible to be used by the trickery of men, as I was prior to learning something about the God of the bible.

What does the Holy Ghost Bartender mean by qualified? When Rodney and his family go to the doctor how qualified does he expect his doctor to be? I assume the “call” to be a doctor must be all that is needed in order to set up a practice. On the contrary, I am sure he wants the most highly trained physician who got the highest grades and who graduated at the top of his class. When Rodney builds a home, I suppose the architects desire to draw is sufficient to license him as an architect.

Rodney, like everyone else demands the highest level of training possible from anyone he deals with, from cook to auto mechanic. Now if a mere medical doctor obtains from eight to ten years of training how much more should those who minister God’s eternal Word strive to obtain as much training and education as possible?

This is the mind set of Charismatic’s in general. Just being “called” is sufficient to start a church, get up in front of 1,000’s and teach, to write books and hold seminars. Do not loose sight of the fact that the majority of today’s charismatic leaders have little or no theological training. People such as Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Charles Capps, Marilyn Hickey, and many others have not graduated from seminary, do not read the original languages, etc. Yet they are qualified to teach millions of people the Bible!

Most of today’s leaders hold the wrong belief that God mainly uses the Scripturally ignorant to do mighty works…because somehow a sound theological education gets in God’s way. Speaking of the Azusa Street revival Brown says-

God had not chose an established mission where this could be done. They were in the hands of men; the Spirit born again in a humble ‘stable’ outside ecclesiastical establishments. God often moved through homely and unlikely vessels to show us we do not have it all.

He goes on to speak about Jesus choosing fishermen and a tax collector and not the religious leaders of His day. What Mr. Brown does not seem to understand is that these ignorant fishermen and tax collector, did not remain in the condition of spiritual or Scriptural ignorance for long.

To begin with they were Jews, and as such they had memorized the first five books of the law since childhood. Secondly, these ignorant simple folks, spent seven days a week for a little over three years with the Lord God, the Living Word. They did not take summer vacations away from Christ. In short, the original disciples (who later became apostles) received the most intensive on-the-job Biblical training ever given to any man! The amount of time they spent with Jesus would equate to approximately nine years of schooling. If one spent as much time in seminary as they spent with Jesus one would end up with a Master’s degree and two doctorate degrees. The bottom line: The fisherman might have started out somewhat ignorant, but they did not remain in that condition.

Mr. Browne also chooses to ignore historical fact – all the genuine promotions of the Body of Christ have come at the hands of highly educated, theologically trained individuals. Almost all of the early Church fathers were educated theologians. It was these men who set forth in systematic form the major doctrines of Orthodox Christianity. The Reformation was headed up by two men in particular, Martin Luther and later John Calvin– – – both men of huge intellect and unwavering desire to please God.

The men today’s revivalist’s love to cite were also men of great background, Jonathan Edwards for one, and John Wesley for another. Both of these men saw value in theological education. The Wesley’s started the concept of Sunday school, they were advocates of Biblical learning.

Furthermore, the text today’s revivalists cite like a mantra is Paul’s statement:

1 Cor. 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

They will say Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. However, Paul was not stating an either-or principle. One can have knowledge and love, they are not mutually exclusive. This possibility is not considered by those anointed with the revival spirit. They automatically assume if one has theological knowledge then they are devoid of love. Then on top of it, the same “loving” leaders heap aspersions upon those who do not agree with them!!

If this is an example of a heightened passion for Jesus then they can keep it to themselves, because it does not seem to be the fruit of the spirit the Bible speaks of.

Chapter 2

A Personal Testimony

On Wednesday August 20, 1997 my wife and I attended the Signs and Wonders Conference in Toronto held by Rodney Howard Browne. The first words out of his mouth were a mockery of those in traditional non-charismatic Protestant churches. Because their worship is different from his, the length of their services is shorter, the emphasis is placed in other areas he declared them “spiritually dead.” At 9:30 p.m. some people got up and left. As they left Rodney began to ridicule and make fun of them he assumed they were leaving (like many others had been doing in other locations) due to the various bizarre manifestations occurring throughout the sanctuary. He had no earthly idea why those folks were leaving! Then at the offering time he made more snide remarks that now is a good time for others to leave so they can get blessed at some local “eatery.”

None of these comments were called for at all. Rodney is the father of the holy laughter movement and has been drenched in this so-called anointing, yet it has not made him more loving or tolerant to those who differ from him.

Another example of name calling is seen in Pastor John Kilpatrick’s prophecy against Hank Hanegraaff. What was brother Hanegraaf’s crime? He did not (and does not) believe the revival today is of God. So what was the loving response of America’s vortex of revival power, a.k.a. Brownsville Assembly of God? Here is a portion of the text sent to me (Please read appendix One which was sent to me via e-mail)

…And Mr. Hanegraaff, I want to say to you, before you get back on national television and start spouting off at the mouth again about something of which you know nothing of, you’d better be careful, because God said, “Vengeance is Mine. Saith the Lord.”

And I want to say something else to you. If you want to keep any kind of a semblance of a ministry, you better back off from this revival and what God is doing. You better back off, because I’m going to prophesy to you that if you don’t and you continue to put your tongue in your mouth on this move of God, within 90 days the Holy Ghost will bring you down. I said, within 90 days the Holy Ghost will bring you down.

This portion gives a legitimate insight into the gist of the prophetic word to brother Hank.

When the 90 day period was almost over Pastor Kilpatrick repented and said he was in the flesh and asked forgiveness, which I know Hank extended to him long before he asked for it. I trust Pastor Kilpatrick was sincere, but it is curious that it took the Lord all that time to get him to admit he was in the flesh when he made that hideous statement. Keep in mind Kilpatrick was in revival services every night for all those days. He (in his eyes) was in the midst of the direct flow of the Holy Ghost and in the manifest presence of God and yet the Lord could not get through to him to make it right immediately! (I guess a Pharisee might think that he waited as long as he could and upon seeing his word was not going to be fulfilled he had to eat crow. After all hank’s book  Counterfeit Revival was listed as number seven on the bestseller list at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids when I last visited there).

This is simply another example of the leaders, the stewards of today’s mighty revival stooping to name calling and fear tactics. I have personally heard Pastor Kilpatrick of Brownsville, Pastor John Arnott of Toronto, and father Rodney all make cutting remarks of those who oppose the manifestations of the revival.

All of the alleged intimacy with the Lord, and personal ministry by the Spirit to their spirits has not produced the true fruit of the spirit spoken of in the Bible. Where is love? The turning the other cheek? Where is the longsuffering and patience? It is non-existent!

Frankly, it is just such behavior on the part of these leaders which is as much of a stumbling block as are the bizarre manifestations to many people looking at the revival.

Our ministry operates an apologetics/polemics web site (http://www.newdiscernment.org) and we get a great deal of e-mail. I want to cite an example of a typical e-mail from a supporter of the revival. I have withheld the author’s name to spare him any further embarrassment, but I have left his spelling alone:

I am an elder in the body of christ presently involved in the evangelizing of the lost training of leaders and elders relationally, ordaining of elders, church planting, school of ministry,church discipline, imparting the supernatural dimension of the kingdom of god as he leads, restoration of the apostles and prophets, five fold ministry, the tabernacle of david, the prophetic and apostolic movements, restoration theology, etc…each year we recognize, raise, and release hundreds of students through our school and personalized training ministry. no one has to pay for it, no one has to be a part of Your ministry. freely we receive, freely we give, you say that you do not believe in apostles and prophets. I say that you are extremely pharisaical and legalistic, restricting meanings of the scripture to support your contention and frustration to be right first of all, can you honestly disprove of present day apostles and prophets? What scriptures do you wrestle with to support your claims? can you define for me jesus the apostle, the twelve apostles, the post_ascension apostles, the 70 who were apostolic like but not apostolic in like but not apostolic in life, and the many apostles of the spirit today? in our school, we give a fair and plenary approach of the bible defining the bible, the word of god being it’s own interpreter. we teach the restoration of the church and divine order. We teach and train believers in the work of the ministry as recorded in Ephesians 4:11_16; 1 cor. 12, romans 12:4_8 etc…we believe that all expressions of ministry grace belong to the body of christ and flows out of the headship of jesus. not out of religion and legalism. we have confirmed in the ministry numerous ones with the call and anointing of apostleship on them. Understanding well (over 23 years of teaching ministry and a teacher of greek), that apostles are often alluded to as missionaries let me just say that all missionaries do not possess the wisdom, anointing, or calling to apostleship many today, travel to leper camps, food for hunger centers, orphanages, and such yet never understanding the depth or life of an apostle; thus being sent generically overseas to be what the religious bored (no misspelling here) made them to be. Selah! many are taught in cemetaries without the apostolic release of elders and the impartation needed to go ye therefore, holding to their limited degrees of titular authority, professional, and not anointed. and to make matters worse, they are sent out with a piece of paper by a rather staunch, cold, and impersonal advisory bored, assuming that this is the door for their expected avenues. only to operate the ministry from the heights of their lofty intellect, how sad! and you say that there are is no need for apostles? i would like to go on recored as having to say that your dogmatic and schismatic beliefs to further draw the body of christ apart with your Calvinistic,hyper_dispensational,ultra_nebula, pre_millennial theory of ministry is quite comical and obsurd. to think that your primary intentions personally is to re_write and to re_define holy Scriptures.

In one e-mail I was called: (1) dogmatic, (2) schismatic, (3) Calvinistic (I am a Lutheran), (4) hyper-dispensational, (5) extremely legalistic, and (6) extremely Pharisaical. What called for all this vitriol? The simple fact that I do not see what is taking place in the revival services in the context of Scripture. So I do not support the revival on that grounds.

On Saturday August 23rd 1997 I received another response to the web site from a “disciple of Christ” who prayed that I would be born-again. I need to wake up to the fact that the Holy Spirit was using Benny Hinn and what God only uses people who are mentally dead, a.k.a. brain dead!

Chapter 3

Will the Real Pharisee Please Stand Up!

The Biblical Pharisee’s get a negative response from the Lord Jesus, and rightly so. Why did Jesus respond to them in the manner that he did. There are several reasons, and I just want to consider a couple of them. Underlining added for emphasis.

Mark 7:9 And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (NIV)

Matthew 15:6-9 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Here are two examples of why Jesus upbraided the Pharisees of His day. They had added their non-Biblical practices (traditions) to the Scriptures. By dong so they had rendered what God had plainly said in His Word of no effect:

Akuroo, from Greek 1 (a) (as a negative particle) and Greek 2964 (kuroo); to invalidate:_disannul, make of none effect.

Let me ask you a simple question. Who has added unbiblical practices (traditions) to the Word of God and thus reject the plain teaching of Scriptures which do not support such traditions? The answer is quite simple – it is today’s charismatic extremists who have supplanted God’s Word by their practices.

Allow me to cite some of the many man-made traditions used in almost all charismatic ministries which have no basis in Scripture at all.

  • The practice of being drunk in the spirit. this is the belief that the Holy Spirit will come upon a person and render them totally inebriated in the same manner as alcohol does. Please read another pamphlet I wrote entitled: Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Drunk In The Spirit?  There is nothing in the bible at all to even remotely support this tradition of men.
  • The practice of being slain in the spirit There is not one instance in the entire Bible of where hands were laid on another person and their physical body was overcome by a mystical force and they fell to the ground. This is the manner in which 99% of all slaying takes place in services today. Yet this tradition is fully endorsed by all Charismatics, even though there is not one contextual verse to validate this tradition.
  • The practice of holy laughter Again, another non-biblical practice. They know this and appeal to past revivals as validation that this is what happens when the Lord moves by His Spirit. They fail to recognize the past revivals are not the standard by which Christians are to judge faith and practice. The Bible alone is our guide. Those manifestations were spurious in the past and they are spurious today. Again, a tradition of men, not a Biblical practice or godly tradition.
  • The doctrine of sacred dance There are no New Testament examples of god’s people dancing before the Lord as David did. In and of itself dancing may be a legitimate expression of joy on the part of individual believers. But now dancing has become a means by which the presence of God is ushered in by ministers of dance. Dance was never an avenue used in the bible as a means to approach God or as a ritual by which God is enabled to approach His people. Dance in that context is strictly a pagan practice and not a godly one. Again, an example of a doctrine of men. Dance is now also a means to obtain healing, conduct spiritual warfare, and intercede for the lost – – – dance never was used to do any of these thing in the Canon of Scripture. All of these things are regularly practiced in pagan cultures today.
  • The doctrine of restored prophets and apostles It is now commonly taught and practiced that God has restored to the Church the ministry of apostles and prophets. Yet the Bible plainly teaches that these two ministries were foundational Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; Once the foundation was laid their ministry was finished. You read of no apostolic succession in the New Testament. You never read of Paul or Peter saying who will receive their apostolic mantle.

Today there are thousands claiming to be prophets and hundreds claiming to be apostles! In total contradiction to the Word of god and the history of the Church. In the past all who claimed such ministries were proven to be flakes and liars. Men and women such as Montanus, Irving, Dowie, and Branham to name a few.

 

  • The Music Ministry as a means to usher in God’s presence Music in charismatic circles is not just an expression of love back to God from His people. It is a mystical tool by which God’s very presence is ushered into a service. It is a tool that transforms the worshiper and takes them into the realm of the spirit. Along with the music and dance is the charismatic concept of rebuilding the Tabernacle of David. Some ministries are striving to build places of praise and dance before the Lord 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By this work, God will manifest Himself in these locations. Again, total nonsense, mysticism, and extra-Biblical practice/tradition.

These are just a few examples that I know about from my own experience. Many of these things I have not only personally experienced, but have taught others as restored truth. I could add doctrines/traditions of spiritual warfare via other tongues, fasting for spiritual power, revelation knowledge, unique definitions of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc…

Who has added traditions to the Bible? Who by their traditions have gone further and further away from Biblical Orthodoxy? It is today’s charismatic extremists, not those who take the sola Scriptura stance!

For today’s charismatic extremist to call others who uphold Christian Orthodoxy as being Pharisaical is simply an unfounded charge meant to divert attention from their departure from the Scripture.

Here is the format of a typical response we get at DMI as we try to reason who those involved in charismania. First, they begin by calling us the usual litany of names. We respond that name calling is not very productive, why not discuss specifics, since we both are Christians. Secondly, they then go into what I term “level two” defense mode and they cite what is fast becoming their favorite verse:

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

It is now commonly held among many in the sign-gift movement that the Bible does not contain all that Jesus did and taught. Thus how can we say that these manifestations are not of God? Such a belief holds wide open the door which would allow anything not specifically named or shown within the Bible to be seriously considered as being from God! A unique argument, but one that does not stand even a small amount of logic. If you subscribe to such a belief then you must realize that it –

 

  • It impugns the wisdom of God – God obviously left out important examples when He gave us His Word.
  • It denigrates the sufficiency of Scripture – The Bible is no longer the sole guide. There are traditions outside the bible which are valid. How do we know they are valid? Because today’s leaders tell us they are.
  • Subjective fruit – alone has become the means by which these extra-Biblical practices are judged.

Yes, I will admit that the Bible does not contain all that Jesus did or taught. However, I believe wholeheartedly that the bible does contain all I ever need to know about knowing God and about faith and practice. The Reformation was fought over the concepts of sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, and sola Christus. Now those of us who hold to these hard won truths are considered Pharisees by those who have added to the Scriptures their own traditions of men, and in some cases demons.

What we have taking place in today’s charismatic renewal is a placing of man made traditions on an equal par with the Scripture. This is identical to the Roman Catholic view.

The sad truth of the matter is this – if anyone is guilty of being Pharisaical today it is those in the charismatic revival camp. A camp I was part of for years and I am well aware of the elitist mind set we harbored. We always saw ourselves in terms of being “God’s remnant” or His “overcomers.” We saw ourselves as the “Zion of God” and others as merely being “Jerusalem.” After-all we were “Spirit-filled” and others were just low-wattage Christians. Kind of reminds me of the following text:

Luke 18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Some may say “that is not our attitude,” to which I say “I certainly hope not.” However, with over fifteen years and drinking from the last five moves of the “Spirit”, I have been in enough conventions, private pastor’s seminars, leadership meetings, etc…where this mind set was clearly enunciated.

In closing, I urge that we pray for those who are caught-up in the current frenzy of unbiblical practices, manifestations, and beliefs. May the Lord grant them to see the error of their ways and come back to Orthodox Biblical Christianity.

May we, who by the grace of God, have been spared or delivered out of this darkness respond to our brethren by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and correcting those who oppose themselves with a spirit of humility (2 Tim. 2:26).  

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

Oringinally Published by Truth Matters Press in 1997 revised 2010

( All colored highlights and some bolding and underlining not in the original)

Appendix

John Kilpatrick’s April 6, 1997 Prophecy Against Hank Hanegraaff and John Kilpatrick’s apology issued to Hank Hanegraaff on June 18, 1997. It looks like John Kilpatrick has a change of heart 74 days into the 90 day Prophecy he issued on April 6, 1997, against Hank Hanegraaff. Does this make John Kilpatrick a false Prophet? You make the call.

John Kilpatrick’s April 6, 1997 Prophecy Against Hank Hanegraaff

And Mr. Hanegraaff, I want to say to you, before you get back on national television and start spouting off at the mouth again about something of which you know nothing of, you’d better be careful, because God said, “Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord.” And I want to say something else to you. If you want to keep any kind of a semblance of a ministry, you better back off from this revival and what God is doing. You better back off, because I’m going to prophecy to you that if you don’t, and you continue to put your tongue in your mouth on this move of God, within 90 days the Holy Ghost will bring you down. I said, within 90 days the Holy Ghost will bring you down.

John Kilpatrick’s apology issued to Hank Hanegraaff on June 18, 1997

I called you (and by implication, others) a devil and that was wrong. I said, “Let Hank Hanegraaff and all the othe devils, etc” _ that was wrong of me. I ask your forgiveness. When I said “I’m going to prophesy as a man of God that the Lord bring you down in 90 days “ I was not speaking that as a prophet but as a shepherd putting something in the ears of God. I do not say “Thus saith the Lord”, it was a “Thus saith John Kilpatrick,” putting these words into God’s ears in the context of the message I was bringing. Let me reemphasize again that was me speaking….in April I got in the flesh and lashed out at you. I want to emphasize also that I did not wish you any harm personally. I was talking about your ministry, I was saying, “God bring down your platform for crying out and associating us with a cult.” I did not nor do I wish you any harm. I ask your forgiveness if you thought I meant any harm to you personally. Honesty, before the Lord, I had your platform in mind, not the person Hank Hanegraaff. This is by no means to be interpreted as an attempt to wiggle out of a prophecy. I would like to grant you the right to continue to count down the days and continue to comment about the 90 days. It’s ammunition that I gave you in April I only want you to know _ it was me speaking that and not a “thus saith the Lord.”

(As I stated earlier in this booklet, it only took 74 days of intense revival services for the Lord to get through to John Kilpatrick that he was wrong and in the flesh! Amazing, but I am glad the Lord did finally get through to him!)

NOTES

1. Brown, Michael. The End of the American Gospel Enterprise. Destiny Image, 1989.

2. Finney, Charles. Reflections on Revival (Minneapolis: Bethany House), 1979, pg. 94

3. Brown Rodney. Apostles Are Coming. Revival Ministries International 1997 pg. 19

4. Brown, Michael Second Wind, Spring 1997 Pg. 11

5. The statement was too long for this booklet, but the above gives a legitimate insight into the gist of the prophetic word to brother Hank. Taken in part from an e-mail sent to me from the Internet.

6. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance on the NavPress CD Rom

Oringinally Published by Truth Matters Press in 1997 revised 2010

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Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3

22 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 11 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3 – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 2 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The “Ministry” of the Catchers

This phenomena has caused the need to develop a “new” ministry within the church, that of the Catcher. No matter where you go, whether it is to a revival service at Toronto, Pensacola or a Vineyard Fellowship you will encounter the ministry of the Catchers. This is an actual “ministry” within charismatic fellowships and people are trained in how to fulfill this duty (it is often done by the ushers within a local assembly).

A catcher is a man who stands behind those receiving prayer. Their job is to “catch” the people who are being slain in the spirit. The catchers job is to make sure the person being “blessed” does no harm to themselves or those around them. Charismatic congregations even have written guidelines for catchers:

Tips For Catching People:

1. Do not touch the person being prayed for, but reassure them that there is someone behind them.

2. You don’t have to take a hold of their shoulders as if you are going to help God.

3. As the person moves down, move back and then facilitate their move.

4. Men- be careful when touching women.

5. Get them to fall back, not forward.

6. Catchers – ONLY catch, do not pray. Do not wave your hands only stand and be ready to catch.

7. Please do not push or pull anyone over. God does not need any help and it will ultimately backfire.

8. Do not hold anyone up by grabbing their shoulders or upper back.

Let me begin by asking a rhetorical question. If the power of God is knocking people down and placing them in an altered state of consciousness for the purpose of spiritually blessing them, then why do these churches employ the use of catchers?

The answer is quite simple —- if people are falling flat on their backs from an upright position they are very liable to hurt themselves or others.

We previously read that extremists explain this manifestation as being the result of encountering the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. If this is so, He is not mighty enough to see to it that those He sovereignty knocks down are unhurt by His blessing?

These churches employ catchers because: (1) they know people fake being slain many times. (2) They lack faith in their own stated beliefs. Obviously God is not big enough to safeguard His people.

In our former church along with the male catchers we had sisters who came along beside or behind the catchers with large sheets of material. Their ministry was to place these sheets over the women’s legs and bodies. Why? Because many times when women would be slain in the spirit they would fall in very immodest positions.

We had events where when some unfortunate women fell their dresses would be hiked up their bodies quite a bit, and their legs would be splayed out at inappropriate angles. When the Lord choose to embarrass His daughters in this manner we had to be there to quickly cover up their shame. Does this really sound like something the Lord God would do to His daughters?

Not only can being slain in the spirit prove to be embarrassing to a woman, it can prove deadly as well. Mrs. Ella Peppard died as a result of someone falling on her who had been slain in the spirit.

The ushers quickly pulled her off the stage and sat her in a pew where she cried out in pain for 20 minutes….The woman’s family alleged the ushers refused to call an ambulance because an ambulance would not look good at a miracle service. A lawsuit was settled out of court. Hinn says he never knew the woman was injured or he would have sought medical help.

According to charismatic theology the Holy Spirit will place women in morally embarrassing positions, and at times allow some people to be hurt and/or killed.

I know from past experience (I used to be a catcher) that when there was no one standing behind a saint receiving prayer nine times out of ten they would not fall down. This alone is proof to me that what is taking place is not a sovereign move of the power of God. There is a power involved at times but it is not of God.

3

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

I began by citing Stanley Burgess’s definition in the first chapter and it is a good one except for one point – he says it is a relatively “modern” expression. His statement is not correct. People have been allegedly falling under the power in the United States since the early 1760’s. It was a common expression among the Shakers. There were groups before the Shakers in Europe, which had this same manifestation:

The Convolutionaries

The extreme exercises of the “convolution Aries” startled Belgium and France. The grave of a young Jansenist clergyman, Francois de Paris, in the cemetery of Saint-Medard in Paris, because the scene of reputed marvelous cures. Multitudes flocked thither for healing. Strange bodily agitations seized the devotees. They fell in shakings and convulsions, threw themselves about on the ground, screamed, and assumed unusual and often unseemly postures.

The Shaker’s

Later on in the mid seventeen hundreds in America the Shaker cult also had people falling under the power. Their bodily agitations or exercise were various and called by various names, as the falling exercise…The falling exercise was very common…The subject of this exercise would, generally with a piercing scream, fall like a log on the floor, earth, or mud, and appear as dead.

The Shakers were a cult group led by a woman named Ann Lee. Many of the manifestations which are common to charismatic extremism, were first practiced by the Shakers. Since the Shakers were a pagan cult the source of their manifestations could not have been the Holy Spirit.

The Shakers were very evangelistic in their zeal to propagate their false doctrines & practices. Shaker evangelists were involved with the Cane Ridge “Revival,” and brought their manifestations (which they called “signs”) with them and infected the meetings.

People Were “Slain” During the Cane Ridge Revival

It was during the Cane Ridge meetings that we see more examples of the manifestation of being slain in the spirit. The underlining is added for emphasis:

The scene to me was new and passing strange…Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered…Then the woman who had first stated shouting let out a shrill of anguish. Methodist John McGee, seemingly entranced, made his way to comfort her. Someone (probably his Presbyterian brother) reminded him this was a Presbyterian church; the congregation would not condone emotionalism! Later John recalled, “I turned to go back and was near falling; the power of God was strong upon me. I turned again and, losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house shouting and exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy, and the floor was soon covered with the slain” people were falling in ecstasy.

This eyewitness of the Cane Ridge excess described the people falling in “ecstasy,” but is this necessarily a good thing? Pagan religion has long been given over to ecstatic forms of worship (see 1 Kings 18:28). The Oracle at Delphi breathed in the fumes which rose from the ground and in an ecstatic state uttered prophecies which directed the lives of many people.

ECSTASY The state of being in a trance, especially a mystic or prophetic trance. The derivation of our word “ecstasy” (from the Greek ek, out plus stasis, state) suggests an out of body state (2 Cor. 12:2,3) or the state of being out of control.

From what I have personally witnessed and experienced being slain in the spirit is a condition in which the individual’s normal rational mental state is suspended, and that person is for a period of time literally out of control. During the Shaker meetings and at Cane Ridge we find multitudes of people capitulating their volitional sensibilities over to an experience which was so great it physically overwhelmed them. However, it was also noted by the orthodox Reformed ministers at Cane Ridge, that a person simply getting slain was not a true indicator of spiritual regeneration, “They noted that some who “fell” had within six months gone back to the world.”

The Ministry of Charles Finney

After the Cane Ridge revival the experience of being slain in the spirit became common in many revival meetings. One evangelist in particular whose revival meetings were patterned after the emotional excesses of Cane Ridge was Charles Finney. In many of his meetings people were slain in the spirit:

Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all of their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closets.

The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell

Finney was not particularly concerned with scriptural precedent, he was interested in getting result and fostered the belief that revival was not a sovereign move of God’s Spirit, but that revivals could be planned and worked up by the use of what he called new measures.

The Ministry of Maria Woodworth Etter

Being slain in the spirit was one of the ordinary signs in the ministry of Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) the trance evangelist.

Yesterday during the afternoon meeting the Lord Jesus bowed the heaven and came down. Many went under the power. Two women and a girl were struck down unconscious, and lay on the floor…The second woman lay unconscious for about two and one-half hours, with both arms raised to heaven. When she was recovering she sang praises unto God in the spirit.”

Her ministry manifestations began in 1885, 21 years before the Azusa “revival.” She received a spiritual renewal at a Friends meeting in 1879. Here is a woman, who received some type of spiritual power from a Quaker meeting. Keep in mind that the Society of Friends, the Quakers, were originally a non-Christian group (although many people unknowingly lump them in with Christian groups).

Maria would go into trances, people came to her while she was in a trance state and allegedly got “saved.” She would lay hands on others and place them in a similar trance-state.

The Ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson

The practice of people being slain was not widespread in Pentecostal circles after Etter’s death. It became more commonplace through the ministry of another woman minister named Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). Sister Aimee was also a traveling evangelist and she too had people fall out under the power in her ministry—

One of these was a Sunday school teacher at the city’s largest Protestant church. After Aimee touched him, he dropped to the floor trembling and speaking in tongues. The next day, the wife of a leading citizen had a similar experience, and scores of people came to the altar for counseling. The day after that, “Three were slain under the power and through speaking in tongues,” Aimee said.

Aimee was very controversial to say the least. She is the Founder of the Foursquare Gospel denomination. She later died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. To this day charismatic believers ignore the fact that she was a divorcee and most likely faked her own kidnapping in order to spend time in an adulterous liaison in 1926. Yet the power of God is supposed to have flowed mightily through during her life!

The Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman

The next major figure whose ministry is responsible for making the practice of being slain in the spirit part-and-parcel of charismatic healing and miracles services was Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976).

Kathryn committed adultery with a married man, who left his wife and children to marry Kathryn. A few years later Kathryn divorced him and never remarried. She died of heart disease in 1976. I bring these distasteful facets up because it show some of the character of these mighty Pentecostal/Charismatic giants of the faith. I am not saying these people were not saved, nor that they did not sincerely repent of their sins. However, character does matter in ministry.

Apart from the well-documented healings, the most sensational phenomena associated with Kuhlman was “going under the power” (sometimes referred to as “slain in the Spirit”) as people fell when she prayed for them. This sometimes happened to dozens at a time and occasionally hundreds.

Her ministry was international in scope. Well received by many Pentecostal’s and the fledgling charismatic renewal movement of the 1960’s.

I have witnessed Mr. Kenneth Hagin have a long line of people hold hands and he lay hands on the head of the first person and then the entire line fall down. I have personally seen Benny Hinn whirl around and “throw” a wave of anointing in his meetings and multitudes have fallen, as if shot on several occasions. As recently as August 1, 1997 my wife and I were at the Toronto Airport Church and we witnessed multitudes being slain in the spirit as John and Carol Arnott laid hands on people.

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted By Charismatic Christians Today

This experience is almost universal to all charismatic’s. If you know any, ask them if they have ever been slain in the spirit and what it was like.

This practice and manifestation is accepted de facto due in large part to the following:

  • The long history behind it, i.e. God has always done this.
  • Their own subjective experience of it, they got “blessed.”
  • They have been taught that the Bible clearly teaches this is a legitimate experience of what takes place when God’s power comes on an individual.

Slain- Carol Arnott

As with holy laughter today’s revivalists strongest case is that of historical precedent. Yet when anyone takes an honest look at the history of this manifestation, they see a historical background of occultism (with the Shakers), aberrant mystics like Maria Woodworth-Etter, and ministers of dubious character such as Aimee McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman. The historical case is not sufficient, nor will it ever be, to overrule the plain teachings of the Bible.

From an exegetical view point the revivalist have even less support. None of the texts they cite as “proof” for this practice can be legitimately applied. All of the texts have to do with divine encounters which were extremely important to the plan of God either for Israel as a nation or for the Church. It is not enough to locate texts which denote someone falling and then interpret them to refer to being slain in the spirit. All of their comparisons are at best apples-to-apples. None of the writings of the Early Church Fathers indicate any such manifestation as part-and-parcel of normal Christian experience, in fact, they never mention it at all. One would think that these writers would have recorded some evidence of this manifestation in their writings if it was a genuine experience given by the Holy Spirit, especially one that alleges to bestow ministry calls, visions of the Lord, emotional and physical healing. Yet the historic record of the Church for almost 1,700 years is totally silent on this matter.

As I have already stated the history behind this practice is extremely questionable at best. The earliest references we have of it in America come from the Shakers, a non-Christian cult of necromancers. The familiar spirits (demons) told the Shakers at the same time in their various communes that they, the spirits, were leaving the Shakers and going to visit the “world’s people,” and would do so by various manifestations. This did occur and many Christian sects, unsound in doctrine were open to such forms of enthusiasms, and this deception continues to this day. The practice of being slain in the spirit is less than four hundred years old, and has had only marginal acceptance at best in the past. However, this has changed in our time.

Now with rapid growth of neo-Montanism with the Church this practice is now a common, sometimes weekly experience for literally millions of people professing the name of Jesus Christ.

The sheer numbers of people submitting to an experience does not validate it as biblical. Truth is not determined by consensus. Truth is revealed to us by the written Word of God. The Westminster Confession of Faith states what the Christian’s relationship to the Bible ought to be:

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:

God’s Word along is the standard by which we live. His Word contains all things necessary for salvation, faith and life. These things are expressly set down in the Bible, or “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” This deduction however is not accomplished by violating the principles of hermeneutics and wresting the texts from their context in order to attempt to make them fit one’s experience.

This is exactly what today’s revivalists have done regarding being slain in the spirit. This experience is not mentioned once contextually in the entire Bible. Every text the revivalists site as proof of their non-biblical practice has been taken from it context and misapplied.

The revivalists have failed both historically and biblically to make their case that this manifestation is the result of the Holy Spirit or the glory of God coming upon an individual to such a degree their physical bodies cannot withstand it. And thus fall to the ground in some form of a trance-like condition. With this in mind we must seek other explanations.

Learned Behavior

There is an undeniable element of learned behavior with this phenomena. A minister gets up and preaches, towards the end of the message he or she will begin to make allusions to what people may see or experience while being prayed for. Often some of the texts we have considered will be sited to validate what the congregation will see or personally experience. The catchers are called forward and then an alter call is given. The first people are lined up with catchers behind them. Hands are laid on the people and some of them begin to fall into the arms of the catchers. The other people are observing this behavior. When their turn comes, they too fall down.

This is the basic pattern of ministry I have personally observed for over fifteen years, it was the pattern I also used while in full-time charismatic ministry. Although not done consciously, I and other ministers, were setting the state by psychologically preparing the people in advance. On the part of the people, they wanted to get blessed, they wanted a stronger “anointing” or deeper walk with Christ. Seeing others fall, they too fell. Many times I knew as a minister that people were simply “faking it.” How? When people came up for prayer I would notice them quickly look behind them to make sure there was a catcher there to “catch” them when they fell. These fakers, came knowing in advance that they were going to fall, and they wanted assurance they would be caught. 

(TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH!)

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

* Color-highlight and some bolding are not in the original book by Robert S. Liichow.

 

 

 

 

 

 





The Discipline of Prayer –Part Two

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

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Prayer — Part Two

By Rev. Bob Liichow

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

Matthew 6:9-13

 “After this manner therefore pray ye:

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

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

The Second Petition

“Thy Kingdom Come”

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

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

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

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

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

The Third Petition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fourth Petition

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fifth Petition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sixth Petition

“And Lead us not into temptation”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seventh Petition

“But Deliver Us From Evil”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Notes

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

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid