Why DMI Does What It Does

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

 Discernment Ministries International

 Why DMI Does What It Does

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

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

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

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

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

The Field of Battle Is Two-Fold

From Without-

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Within-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Satanic Six Fold-Ministry

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

And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Eph. 4:11-12

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

The False Apostle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

False Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

False Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

False Shepherds

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

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

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

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

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

False Christ’s

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

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

For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:5,24

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

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

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

False Brethren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon

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

3. Obtained from www.apostolicministry.org

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

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

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

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

8. Obtained from www.whatsnewintheprophetic.com/PropheticMinistry

9. Obtained from www.prophetic-ministry.com

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

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Matthew 13:24-30

21 02 2011
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 2 – Matthew 13:24-30 – The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord, 2011 A.D.   In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost – By Rev. Mark Braden, Pastor Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

Discernment Ministries International

Matthew 13:24-30

Rev. Rev. Mark Braden, Pastor Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

The enemy has sown the tares. The devil roams the earth, going back and forth in it. He sneaks around among those in the Kingdom of Heaven. He sows tares among the wheat. That is to say he lies. His only weapon is falsehood. He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But he can not bite with physical teeth, for in this world he does not have that power. In this time he is chained. God has put limits on his power.

The devil’s mouth is filled not with teeth, but with false teachings. That’s how he attacks. He leads men by deceiving them to firmly believe wrong things about God. The tares that grow up among the wheat are men who believe wrongly, the product of false doctrine sown by the enemy.

You see wrong teaching about God isn’t harmless. There is a relationship between false doctrine and eternal death. Believing wrongly but fervently, men cling to their false beliefs and their superstitions and their own fallen reason. When confronted with the Truth, they reject it because they have come to believe something entirely different. That’s why there are denominations. That’s why there are false religions.

Now, until the harvest, there are tares mixed in with the wheat. Men who believe wrongly and teach false doctrine are mixed into the Church. Outwardly they look like wheat. Some tares wear clerical collars. Many are they that run but have not been sent. Many are they who prophesy to whom God has not spoken. For it pleases the devil that as many shocks of wheat as possible be ruined by the tares he sowed. Tares sap the nourishment from good soil. They compete with the wheat, their roots entangled with good roots. So the church today is beset with strife and conflict. It is the Church Militant. Our Lord Himself prophesied that it would be so.

It is not as if the Lord of the Church has left His Bride defenseless. He has given the Church His Word, the Sword, the Holy Scriptures, the only Truth. It is by the Word that the devils attacks are repelled. It is there that God reveals Himself, and there alone. But many will not study them or hear them. It is a terminal laziness that allows the devil’s bad seed to take root. For absent the Truth, falsehood grows like weeds – like tares. And many will not stand up in the face of false teaching to rebuke those tares that hold or preach false doctrine.

Perhaps you have known this laziness. Perhaps you have skipped the study of the Scriptures. Perhaps you have heard false doctrine from friends and family and co-workers, but because you have not know the Scriptures you have been unprepared to defend the Truth. Perhaps you have doubted, but have been lulled into a sense of complacency, accepting the devil’s lies that false belief and doctrine are not that harmful. So you have felt the tug of the roots of the tares as they have quietly crept in and invaded you. Repent, for on the last day men who believe wrongly will be separated from the Church and cast into the fire. But thanks be to God, He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turned from his way and live. God is a God of love. God is a God of life. This is the time of grace. Now the tares are not torn up, in mercy, that men be converted and come to faith. Now the tares are not torn up lest some of the wheat be uprooted with them. That is a demonstration of God’s great love and longsuffering. It is a demonstration of God’s great love for you.

That you be spared the fires of judgment, God gave His only-begotten Son to die for you. Though you were born a tare, in His mercy God came to you and saved you. He took on Flesh and lived a perfect life, a sinless, holy righteous life. And then the Son of God died as a tare, punished by men and by God as the worst sinner of all time. The cross was His threshing floor, as He was torn up and cast into the hell of separation from the Father and death. It is in His death that your sins are removed. It is by His Blood that your transgressions are covered. Believing in Him, believing that in love He died for you, none of the sins which you have committed shall be remembered against you, you shall surely live.

Now is the time of God’s grace. Now is the time when men are called to repentance and salvation. Now is the time when God showers upon fallen men the benefits of Christ’s perfect death and resurrection. Now is the time when He makes Christ’s righteousness your righteousness. For in His great mercy, God delays the harvest that His Gospel be preached to the ends of the earth.

Now God pours out upon you the saving waters of Holy Baptism. Now you hear His Word, and that Word works faith unto salvation. You hear the Gospel Truth that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and that believing in Him you have life in His Name. Now the Scriptures are taught, that the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. Now the Lord of the Church, the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, gives you to eat of His Body and drink of His Blood. In these ways He strengthens you to resist the tug of the tares, to prevail over the devil’s lies, to receive the forgiveness of your sins, and to grow up bearing fruit pleasing to Him.

Soon the Lord will let His angels come. Then they will be no false doctrine. Then the tares will be separated from the wheat. Then the True Church, the Good Seed that God sows, will be known. Then you, elect of God, holy and beloved, who by God’s grace endure faithful to the end, will receive the reward Christ won for you. And you shall not die, you shall surely live.

In the Name of the Faith, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

All Rights Reserved

Pastor Mark Braden serves at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (English District) in Detroit. It is our local church. The Zion web site has a great deal of information, sermons, links, etc. which are worthy of your consideration. To visit go to: http://www.ziondetroit.org

 





Dead Men Walking

15 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February  2008  Vol. 13  Issue 2 – Dead Men Walking – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Dead Men Walking

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Please forgive the somewhat abbreviated first article and the lateness of this specific newsletter it is all due to my work load at seminary. Since so many of you gave sacrificially for me to attend classes I feel it is my duty to God and our partners to do the best I can in them.

What was I trying to get across in the first article can be boiled down to the following — victory over the world, the flesh and the devil is experienced by those who have “died” to the world, the flesh and devil, i.e. are purposefully living the crucified life.

This type of message is not very popular and it has not been for probably 2,000 years. Certainly you will never hear any televangelists or other popular SINister teach about dying to self for the sake of expanding the kingdom of God. The teaching of the cross is as radical today as when Jesus and the Apostles initially taught it.

The important thing to keep in our minds is that this teaching is not for some people who have risen to some high degree of personal holiness, in fact, from what I read it seems that this teaching of “dying to live” is really spiritual boot camp, sort of Christianity “101” and really when looked at properly it becomes crystal clear why this teaching has to be foundational because almost all our “work” for the kingdom to be of any value has to flow from this basis of the crucified life. So allow me briefly to share with you some of the texts which will be GREAT ones for us all to ponder and mediate on during this Lenten season.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

The context of this verse is plain, Jesus is speaking to His followers about the need to “die” to ourselves. It is only when we die, i.e. get ourselves off of our hands, that we become free to focus on the needs of our neighbors. As long as we stay focused on our needs, our wants and desires we cannot and will not see the desperate needs of those around us. Regarding Himself Jesus said:

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:28

In His comment here Jesus is settling the dispute of who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. The greatest one is the one who serves all the others. Jesus came to serve humanity by dying for our sins. We as His disciples serve humanity by picking up our cross and following in Jesus footsteps (see Matt. 10:38) to the place of crucifixion and dying to self. The author of Hebrews tells us to “go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Heb. 13:11).

We know that this death to self took place in the waters of baptism:

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed form sin. Rom. 6:6-7

It is one thing to remember that one has been baptized, it is quite another to live out that baptismal life consciously. This seems to be how the Apostle Paul lived life — being aware of his death and new life in and by the power of Christ:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

Paul makes his comment in the context of a rebuke to the Galatians who were being misled into thinking they could start their spiritual life out by God’s grace and somehow complete it by their works. Paul calls them “foolish.” Please understand I am not advocating some systems of works or of human will power. Quite the opposite. What the Bible is calling for is: for us as the people of God to wake up to who we really are and by God’s grace live accordingly. The Apostle Paul says in another place—

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 1 Cor. 15:34

He reminds them again in his second letter to them that they are the righteousness of God in Christ and are now ambassadors of reconciliation to the rest of the world (2 Cor. 5:17-19).

I think it is time for many of God’s people to “wake up.” Wake up to the fact that in their flesh dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18) and we must realize that our flesh cannot be reformed or renewed that is why it must be crucified daily.

We also must wake up to who we are in Christ. I’ve stated this before but I want to say it again and really meditate on this FACT: What God did in our re-birth is vastly more powerful and superior to what Satan accomplished when Adam fell.

If the work of Satan and sin in the fall were more powerful than Jesus work on the cross, then logically Jesus would not have been victorious over the devil. Yet we know He was! He says to His disciples “REJOICE, I have overcome the world” (Jh 16:33). He overcame death, hell and the grave for you and I. He lovingly gives His victory to us if we will but accept it and lean upon the power of His Holy Spirit, our Divine “Helper” who indwells us to grant us grace to grasp hold of what is ours in Christ in the face of all temptation, trails and tests. Let’s work together with the Spirit of Grace and be the overcomers Christ so dearly paid for.

Let us close this Lenten mediation out with a quote from Dr. Francis Pieper:

God who creates faith, also produces sanctification by His infinite power (1 Thess. 5:23-24). But in this work of sanctification, the Christian also plays a part. In conversion man merely experiences the working of God, but in sanctification the Christian plays an active role; he cooperates (synergism of the new man)…In other words: it is the Holy Ghost who produces the activity of the new man; the new man remains the organ of the Holy Ghost. (Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III, p. 14) ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow  

 





The Axis of Evil

14 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 2 – The Axis of Evil – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Axis of Evil

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

(KJV)

One thing that is missing in my seminary experience thus far is any real discussion of spiritual warfare.

There is a thing called “victory” in living this Christian life. I am not referring to our ultimate victory when our bodies are fully redeemed from death and glorified. No, I am referring to living a victorious life in the midst of our fallenness. I readily acknowledge that I am a saved “sinner” or in good Lutheran parlance “simil Justus et pecator” (justified at the same time a sinner). Yet to me there seems to be an inordinate concentration on the reality of our “old man” and our fallen condition. The other side of the “coin” is just as real, i.e. our ability in and by Christ to be victorious over what I am calling in this article “the Axis of Evil”

In order to be a victor in a war, one has to understand who the enemy is, what are his tactics and discover his weaknesses and exploit them to the fullest. Too many Christians are simply ignorant of Satan and his devices when the Bible tells us not to be (see 2 Cor. 2:11). It is a fact that Jesus defeated Satan on the cross making an open show of him:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:14-15

Yet the New Testament is clear that we still have to contend with Satan and his forces in this life. We need to realize that although we have been delivered out of the dominion of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col 1:13) through the life giving waters of our Baptism and through faith in Gospel message of the cross of Christ; we still have an enemy to fight. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we need to:

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Eph. 6:11-13

Many Christians get no further then “we wrestle not” in their lives when it comes to contending with the enemies of their faith. It is my hope that as we begin this new year we all will stand victorious in God’s armor and by His power and to His glory over all the works of the evil one.

Some time back President Bush shocked the world and the politically correct by declaring North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as comprising an “axis of evil.” What the President meant was that these three nations were in league together to expand terrorism and increase their own power.

As Christians we too face an axis of evil comprised of (1) the world, (2) the flesh and (3) the devil. All three work in concert to keep us from growing spiritually and effectively shining as lights amidst a wicked and perverse generation. (Phil. 2:15).

Enemy Number One: The Devil

Satan marshals these forces together against us to keep us ineffective and shames us into silence about our Christian faith. For example, when you are at home and ou see your neighbors and you think “I should go and invite them to church this Sunday.” Immediately the thoughts come faster than machine gun bullets — “you can’t do that, who do you think you are? Religion is a private concern. What if they got offended?

Brothers and sisters let me tell you those thoughts come from Satan and his minions. Remember what Jesus said of him? Jesus in John 6 says “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.” In Rev. 12:10 Satan is called “the ACCUSER of the brethren.” So when Satan and his demons speak to your mind telling you, that you can’t or that you are not a good enough Christian to share Christ with others…simply remind the hosts of wickedness of a few things, one of my favorite verses is:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:15

Remind this LIAR that he has been disarmed and that Christ Jesus has triumphed over all his hosts by the cross! Tell him that you are baptized into Christ, and in Him you can do all things INCLUDING sharing your faith with your neighbors and friends. REMEMBER Satan goes about as a roaring lion, but he is not one! (1 Peter 5:8). He is a defeated foe whose ONLY POWER is to get you to believe the lies he tells you.

Usually Satan works along these lines, first he tempts us (he is called the “Tempter” in Matt 4:3) with some sins, when we give into his temptation he then immediately accuses us. In these cases his accusations are not lies because we did give into temptation and sinned. At this point most Christians are silenced by shame. The correct response is to immediately turn to Christ and confess our sin knowing that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our transgressions and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jh. 1:9). The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb. 4:14-16

As we grow spiritually and learn to depend upon God’s grace more and more Satan must employ other, sometimes more subtle means in order to attempt to defeat us. He must call upon another one of his “partners” in his axis to assist him in the battle.

Enemy Number Two: The World

The world, cosmos in the Greek and this term refers to everything that adorns this world-system and that is against the Kingdom of God. Our opening text tells us that the cosmos is comprised of (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life.

We all succumb to the Tempter (1 Thess 3:5) from time to time when he offers up the baubles of this decaying world before our eyes. Think about the programs and commercials on television almost all of which are directly opposed to godly living. The images projected tell us that we’d be happier with a new car, new husband or wife, bigger house, more money, etc…Satan uses the manifold pleasures of the world to blind us to that fact that we as the people of God are not “of” this world, we are “in” it but not of it. This world is not our home an our lives are to be lived as stewards of what God graciously gives us.

Yes we all fail and give into our sinful fleshly desire for the world but read what Jesus says of US!

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth John 17:14-17

Let me ask you one question — do you believe that the Father answered Jesus’ prayer? ABSOLUTELY! Jesus says we are not of the world any more than He is! In fact, He says that TWICE! We have to begin to see ourselves as Jesus does. Yes we are IN the world but we are NOT of it! Let us echo our brother Paul when faced with the enticements of the fading system of sin and say with him:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14

Our attitude towards the world is this: We are not it! We are set apart from it by the POWER inherent in God’s Word and by the means of His grace! Our boast is not in fleshly achievements bt only in the cross of our Lord Jesus through whose sacrifice the world has been CRUCIFED and I have been CRUCIFIED to the world!

As we renew our mind through the power of God’s Word (Rom 12:2-3) and allow His Word to set us apart from the world we begin to become bolder witnesses for our Lord and vessels fit for honor. (2 Tim. 2:21).

Enemy Number Three: our Flesh

The last axis of evil Satan calls upon is our fallen flesh. We all carry about with us that fallen man who was drowned in the waters of our baptism…yet as the late Professor Marquart said “the old man is a great swimmer.” Nonetheless what Paul says to us in Romans is true:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Rom. 6:4-6

This is the ongoing power of our baptism. Our old man WAS and IS crucified with Christ and henceforth we should not serve sin. Paul goes on to encourage us in the same chapter saying:

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Rom. 6:11-14

We all carry with us the fallen nature. Yet it is equally true that the old man died a real death just as we have received NEWNESS of LIFE through faith in Christ. I believe the new man recreated in Christ is stronger than the old man who is easily led by Satan.

The devil has no power over us at all! Jesus defeated him and his forces on the cross openly! The victory Jesus won on the cross was for YOU and for ME! We are in Christ and we share His Triumph! Never lose sight of the fact that Jesus won the victory for us, He had no need of victory He had not lost anything to the devil.

The world is not our home, we are to wear it as a very loose garment, knowing that we brought nothing into this life and we will take nothing with us when we leave apart from what we did for Christ. We are now citizens of God’s household (Eph. 2:19). Our joy is to shine as lights amidst this wicked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15).

The flesh is with us, but we MUST reckon it DEAD, because it really is. It will try to resurrect itself in the face of Satan’s temptations…but we are not to yield to its desires. The good news is by the virtue of our Baptism into Christ we are now empowered to be what God says we are in:

No, in ALL these things we are MORE then conquerors through HIM who loved us. Rom. 8:37

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30

 

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow  





Rhythm of the Saints – Celebrating Jesus Through the Church Year

8 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January  2008   Vol. 13   Issue 1 – The Rhythm of the Saints- Celebrating Jesus Through the Church Year – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Rhythm of the Saints

Celebrating Jesus Through the Church Year

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Sadly, one thing most “evangelical” and charismatic congregations have lost is the spiritual rhythm of the Church Year. Oh sure most congregations sill celebrate Advent, Christmas and Easter, but that is about the extent of it.

Our relationship to Christ and His Body becomes far more meaningful when we live and worship with a conscious awareness of exactly where we are at in the Church “Year.” I’ve come to have a deep respect for the flow of our services within confessional Lutheranism. Every aspect of the worship service is defined by where the Church is at in respect to the season of the Church Year. I’ve come to have a deep respect for the flow of our services within confessional Lutheranism. Every aspect of the worship service is defined by where the Church is at in respect to the season of the Church Year. By every aspect I mean the colors used on the altar and that are worn by the pastor (each color corresponds to a specific time in the Christian calendar), the theological content of the hymns that are sung during each season is specific to that time, even the portions of Scripture from the Old Testament, Epistles and Gospels concern themselves with the time of year along with most of the sermons delivered….all of these ingredients working together in harmony point to Jesus Christ! Since the Reformation the basics of the Church Year follow this pattern:

Advent: Advent marks the beginning of the church year and is a time of preparation for the Lord’s coming; which is what the word “advent” means: “coming”. We prepare our hearts and homes not only for the Lord’s coming at Christmas (His Incarnation) but also for His Second Coming, when He will come again in Glory. We make an evergreen wreath which symbolizes God’s eternity and our joyous hope of eternal life through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We place four candles around the wreath, decorate it and light one candle for each Sunday in Advent until four candles are lit, announcing brightly: “The Lord comes!” The first candle symbolizes Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the second, represents John the Baptizer who prepared the way for the Messiah’s coming by preaching repentance, the third candle is pink to depict a less penitent mood and represents John’s testimony to Christ, and the fourth candle represents the angel Gabriel foretelling Jesus’ birth. The color for Advent is purple, reminding us to reflect on our own sin and to turn back to God in repentance, seeking forgiveness, thus preparing our hearts for the Lord. Often a large, white candle (Christ Candle) is placed in the center of the wreath and is lit at Christmas.

Christmas: Following Advent we come to the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is next to Easter and Pentecost the highest festival in the church year. The Lord has come! Immanuel – God with us. We turn to God in thanksgiving that almighty God in thanksgiving, that almighty God loved us so much, that He sacrificed his own Son, Jesus Christ, to become man, live among us, take all our sin and guilt onto himself and pay the ultimate price for our sin: His death on the cross so that we need not be damned but have eternal life through faith in Him! What joy! Christmas celebrates Jesus Christ, eternal God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, becoming a human baby, thus starting His divine work of salvation.

Epiphany: The season of Epiphany starts on the festival of Epiphany on January 6th and extends over a period of between two and six weeks, depending on Easter being early that year or late. “Arise, shine for Thy light is come.” (Is. 60:1) This is the theme for Epiphany: Christ is the glorious, saving light of the world, illuminating the lives of us sinners caught in the darkness of sin. We reflect mainly on the Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, on Christ’s baptism and on the Transfiguration of Christ. Epiphany means “manifestation” and it refers to when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordon and Christ was revealed to all by the voice of His Father!

Lent: Lent is the period of about 6 weeks before Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with the climactic “holy week”, the week before Easter in which Maundy Thursday (where our Lord institutes the Lord’s Supper) and Good Friday (the day of our Lord’s death on the cross) are celebrated.

During the season of Lent the color violet or purple represent somberness and solemnity, penitence, and prayer. That is due to the somber mood created by the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. We contemplate His suffering and death on the cross He endured on account of our sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ wore a violet cloak just before His death. His mockers, knowing violet to be a highly valued color worn by kings, tauntingly clothed him in a King’s purple cloak and jeeringly called Him “The King of the Jews”. Violet is the color of inward reflection or repentance. Lent encourages one to be conscious of one’s sin and short comings and turn back to Christ to receive forgiveness and to be made at peace with God again.

Easter: Easter is, in contrast to the somber mood of Lent, a joyous festival. We celebrate the triumphant Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. All over the world we hear the joyous exclamation on Easter morning: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” We celebrate with such joy because Christ’s resurrection means that we also will be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:17 ff. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, so in Christ all will be made alive.” White is the color of Easter. What color, other than white, represents purity, innocence, absolute perfection, joy in its purest form and triumph over darkness as well as white does? None; only white does. White is the color of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; He is snow-white, without blemish, perfect. This perfect Lamb forgives us our sins, be they as dark and damning as they may, and we may have the comfort in His words: “Your sins are forgiven you” and know that He has made them as white as snow.

Ascension: After His resurrection at Easter, our Lord Jesus Christ stayed with His disciples for another 40 days. Then, in their presence, He ascended bodily into the glory of His Father in heaven. Luke reports in his Gospel: We are comforted by Christ that He went up into heaven to prepare a place for us there. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3). The post-Easter season, including Ascension, is therefore one of joy and spiritual excitement. Throughout thee days, sermons, readings, prayers and hymns reflect the mood of thanks and praise. The liturgical color for Ascension Day is white because it is a festival celebrating Jesus Christ.

Pentecost: Only 10 days after the Ascension of our Lord, 50 days after Easter, we celebrate Pentecost, the climax of the whole Paschal season. On this day, we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. Prayers and hymns at Pentecost are an invitation for the Holy Spirit to come to us and enter our hearts. The Holy Spirit calls us to faith through the Gospel and keeps us in faith. We are filled with joy, peace and hope. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we daily ask Him to come because we constantly push Him out through our sinfulness. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10). The liturgical color at Pentecost is red, symbolizing the flames that came to rest on the disciples’ heads. The mood is that of joy, thanks and praise, which carries over from Ascension.

Trinity Sunday: Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost, is a festival celebrating the Holy Trinity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one divine being. At the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Trinity is most clearly noted: Christ standing in the river, God the Father’s voice from heaven and the Holy Spirit descending on Christ in the form of a dove. There are a number of popular symbols which represent the Holy Trinity: the triangle, three interlocking circles, a triangle surrounded by a circle, the shamrock and others, each depicting the three persons of the Trinity equally. The liturgical color for Trinity Sunday is white, representing the purity of the Holy Trinity.

Season After Pentecost: The second half of the church year begins with Pentecost and ends on the Sunday before Advent. Whereas the church year begins with Advent and includes all the major church festivals like Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost, celebrating what Jesus Christ has done for us and our salvation, the second half focuses on Christ’s teachings and the Holy Spirit’s work among us. The liturgical color, therefore, is green. Green represents growth of the church and growth in faith. The overall focus in the “green period” is on the work of the Holy Spirit who “calls, gathers and enlightens” people. He brings them to faith, nurtures and strengthens their faith through Word and Sacrament. The “green season” concentrates on our response to what God has done for us. We therefore concentrate on missions, reaching out to the un-churched and announcing God’s Grace to the people that they may also be “called and gathered” by the Holy Spirit and receive the forgiveness of sins.

Reformation Day: Ok, I admit this celebration is not part of the ancient orthodox “Church Year” per se, yet we celebrate it because of what God restored through His servant Martin Luther. On Reformation Day, we commemorate the reformation of the church which began on All Saints Eve, October 31, 1517 in Wittenberg, Germany, when Dr. Luther an Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the university there, posted 95 points of discussion (theses) on the Castle Church’s door. What prompted Dr. Luther, was mainly the “letters of indulgence” which the Roman Catholic Church at the time was selling to the people, promising them forgiveness of their sins. It became so bad, that people were “buying forgiveness” for sins they had not yet committed! Dr. Luther deemed this to be an outrage as Holy Scripture clearly teaches that God alone forgives, and only a repentant sinner receives forgiveness and salvation from God by grace alone.

All Saints Day: On All Saints Day, we give thanks to God for the examples of faith of all those who have gone before us. This is not a celebration about certain “anointed” individuals such as is seen in Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, it is a celebration of all those who love and serve Jesus from a heart made pure by His blood.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow





Spiritual Formation

9 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 1 – Spiritual Formation – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Spiritual Formation

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My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Gal 4:19)

Since it is a New Year, and may it be a blessed and happy one to us all in the Body of Christ! It seems only fitting to begin the year off right, spiritually speaking. That means shoring up the fundamental disciplines which will draw us truly closer to our Lord and Savior and thus be more useful to the Master in His purpose.

THE CALL

Becoming Christ-like is not simply an automatic process that occurs in the lives of believers. I have learned over my twenty years of ministry that generally people are either actively growing in Christ, or have stagnated and become complacent with where they think they are in relationship with the Lord. There are those who have backslidden and drifted away from Him altogether. Notice in Gal. 4:19 the strong language that the Apostle Paul uses as he writes to his converts in Galatia. First, we know they are Christians because he addresses them as “my little children” as opposed to a term for a mature child. Here we find Paul again in the spiritual pangs of childbirth for his disciples. Why? Obviously, they had not been developing spiritually as they should have been. (1) Thayer in his Lexicon says “i.e. whose souls I am striving with intense effort and anguish to conform to the minds of Christ.” Being formed into the image of Christ, like childbirth is an arduous, at times, painful lifelong process with the goal of becoming conformed to His very image. The Apostle reminded the believers in Rome when he penned these familiar words regarding God’s eternal purpose for His children:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29)

Every Christian is somewhere along the path of having Christ Jesus formed in them. Some are further along than others. When it comes to spiritual growth and maturity the bottom line is simply this —we can grow as deep into Christ and allow His Spirit to bear bushels of fruit unto the glory of God through our lives….as much as we want, or perhaps better put—will allow Him to produce. Salvation is totally the work of God apart from any and all effort of man. Dr. Martin Luther in his Small Catechism regarding sanctification gives the following answer to the third question in his section concerning the Apostles Creed:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, Sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true. (2)

Sanctification is also the work of God, but in this area He provides the means whereby we may grow, but it is up to us to partake of these means of grace in order to grow thereby.

As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:2).

Spiritual growth comes by the desire within each of our hearts to grow more and more into the image of Christ. You can be seventy years old, never missed a Sunday worship service and still be a spiritual infant. (3) On the other hand, you can be a fairly young Christian whose spiritual growth far outstrips those twice his or her age. Why? Because unlike their elders they were not merely hearers of the Word but actually did what was taught to them by faithful men of God.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he behold himself, and goeth his way, and straightway fretted what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:22-25).

So as we consider spiritual formation it is vital to keep in mind two realities. First is what is generally referred to as “positional truth.” This refers to our position in Christ due to His work and His work alone. We are already sanctified by His blood [Heb. 10:10]. God the Father sees us as pure, holy and spotless in Christ. That is our position. The other reality is what is commonly referred to as “experiential truth,” or our experience throughout our spiritual life. The goal of the Christian is to both know God and glorify Him in all we do; (4) this comes when our experience in this life begins to line up with our position in Christ.

This is where the issue of spiritual formation, Christian growth, discipleship, maturity comes into play. How do we go about making what the Bible says is our position a living reality or experience in our daily lives here in a fallen world amidst a fallen people (which includes ourselves)? How do we become, what we really are?

I suppose it really boils down to how bad do we want to grow spiritually? How heavy a price are we willing to pay to be like Christ in this life? Are we willing to mortify our fleshly desire as Paul challenges the Christians of old to do?

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Col. 3:5)

Paul uses two different words for mortify in these texts. In his letter to the Romans the Greek word for mortify is transliterated thanatoo and it means to render extinct or by death to be liberated from the bond of anything, literally to be made dead in relation to (something). (5) To do such a mighty work as to destroy once and for all certain deeds of the body it takes nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, better translated the Spirit of Reality (John 16:13). (6)

To the Colossians Paul uses another term for mortify, here he uses the Greek term which is transliterated nekroo. Thayer in his lexicon says of this word that it means to deprive of power or destroy the strength thereof. (7) I heard one preacher say that it meant to “put to death by starvation” which is an accurate description of what Paul is getting at in his admonition to the Colossians.

Spiritual Formation demands much from those who truly seek to become vessels of honor and useful to the Master. I know it is unpopular in many pulpits today, yet the following text stands true:

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

Not every Christian is equally useful to our Master (all are equally loved). Who is it that determines who is useful and who is not? The individual believer “if a man therefore purge (ekkatnalpo, cleanse thoroughly) himself from these he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use”! The cleansing is from iniquitous actions mentioned in the previous verse. (see v. 19). From Paul’s two statements we learn a great deal. First and foremost, we note that it is the work of the Spirit that works in us by God’s means of grace to mortify the deeds of our flesh. Secondly, we see that we too have a role to play and are not just passive “pawns.” In fact Paul says that we are co-laborers with God (1Cor. 3:9), although in context he is referring to the Apostles work with God in building the Church I believe it can also be extended to all Christians who are seeking with pure hearts to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

The genuine work of spiritual formation is a joint-effort between God and man (1 Cor. 3:9). The Spirit of Grace working molding (Jer. 18:9) and transforming the sinful, yet willing souls of people made righteous in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) who have decided to pick up their cross (Matt. 16:24) and follow their Master to Golgotha, the place of death and that from that death true life, bountiful eternal fruit is borne which brings glory to our Father.

Before we launch off into the deep let me emphatically state that in order to grow we must die.

He must increase, but I [must] decrease. (John 3:30)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour. John 12:24,25,26)

In the first text cited John is referring to his own ministerial influence, yet I believe it can also be legitimately applied to our lives too. In order for Christ to “grow” in us, the little Pharisee who sees himself or herself as king or queen of his or her life must decrease. In fact, our Master makes it even more plain by taking something everything around Him understood, a seed. His listeners knew that as long as the seed was not buried in the ground and “died” it would never produce any level of harvest at all. Yet if it would die the result would be new life that brings forth much fruit, i.e. many more seeds which will reproduce and eventually fill the earth with good fruit.

The False Pathways Offered

Sadly, there is a great deal of pseudo-spirituality being offered to the Church that has no basis in Scripture. There is a very obvious reason why there are so many ‘false paths’ beings offered by so many Christian leaders. Many of the “seeker” Christians are beginning to feel the emptiness in their “worship” services. All the hoopla, banners, dancing and shouting are simply not bringing these seekers closer to Jesus. So they are hungry to really grow to know the Lord and unfortunately the enemy, Satan, is more than willing to fill the void he created through their false worship with now false pathways to alleged intimacy with God.

Some of these practices run the gamut of vision quests, sweat lodges, walking in labyrinths to attain inner understanding. Never heard of walking a labyrinth as part of spiritual formation? It is all the “rage” for many in the Church. Here are a few quotes for you to consider:

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

The most basic metaphor for walking a labyrinth is that of Life’s Journey. Walk the labyrinth while mindful of your life. Envision your life’s goal. Walk to your destiny and see what you learn. Pay attention to the sights and sounds. Do you feel lost at any time? If so, where in the labyrinth did it occur? What does that mean? Do you like one part of the labyrinth more than another? Why? What do the turns represent in your life? Do you resist some turns and like others. When you are outdoors notice subtle changes in the terrain—the ups and downs. Notice any synchronicities such as an overheard word or a bird’s song. Consider all of your experiences in the labyrinth in relation to your life’s journey. What does the labyrinth teach you about your life? (8)

The purpose behind the spiritual disciplines is to bring into harmony the outer expressions of our worship with the inner reality of what we are doing. It is a very dangerous to go through the motions without having a knowledge of the reality of what we are doing. (2 Timothy 3 “having a —form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

We can outwardly kneel, cross ourselves, eat the Body and Blood of the Lamb at His table, sing the songs, lift up holy hands, dance and give and all of it be a mere “form” of godliness denying the true power and transforming presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in it all.

It is dangerous because we think we have done something spiritual, yet in actuality all we did was go through the motions and left the congregation feeling more than a little self-righteous. Another example of a commonly followed false path is one that comes to the Church from Rome Catholicism.

Centering or Contemplative Prayer

Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila…It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. (9)

This obvious quotation comes from the roman Catholic persuasion and there is a renewed interest in the early Roman Catholic mystics and their visions and how they obtained them. Go to any Borders bookstore or Barnes and Nobel and you will find shelves of books on and by various Roman Catholic mystics. Anyone with half sense can see where all the dreams, visions, revelations given to these “saints” and “Popes” have doctrinally brought the Roman Catholic Church today, almost totally bereft of any remnants of the Gospel at all. As we consider a few titles in print it is important to define what mysticism is:

The word “mysticism is derived from the Greek word mustikos, meaning one initiated into the mysteries. Eventually, it was used in Christian circles as the branch of Christian theology that believes in the direct communion of the soul with God. In *pantheistic context it usually refers to one who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain absorption into the Ultimate. (10)

Allow me to digress, Dr. Norman L. Geisler (who is one of the primary authors of the previous and following quotations) was one of my Professors at Michigan theological Seminary (MTS) and he has written extensively on mysticism {along with just about every other issue facing Christians today, I consider the man to be a genius an I counsel anyone to carefully weigh any of what he teaches}. The article goes on to say:

A Private Religious Experience. Religious experiences are of two basic kinds: general and specific. The first is available to all persons, and the latter are unique to only some…Mystical experiences are private by nature. This does not mean that others cannot have similar experiences. It simply means that the experience is unique to the one having it. Also, the general public does not have such experiences at any time. (11)

The underlined portion hit’s the problem head-on. People can claim to have seen anything, been anywhere yet in each case they are private in nature and thus are subjective and non-verifiable. (12) For example, there is not another living person who can verify Mr. Hagin’s, Jesse Duplanis, Mary K. Baxter’s, Choo Thomas, Roland Buck, Dr. Eby and the other “trips” to heaven or hell these internationally known speakers write and hold conferences on. These authors alone went on the trip and their reports are either accepted or rejected by the Church, sadly tens of thousands believe these unsupported accounts which often contradict the Bible.

Mystical Experience Is Not Objective. By their own admission, the experience mystics have- are not public but private. As such, then, they ate subjective and not objective. But subjective experiences have validity only for the subject experiencing them. Mystical Experiences Are Not Testable. Since mystical experiences are without an objective basis, they are also untestable… (13)

If one is honest the entire charismatic renewal is based in subjective experiences. Whether it is the individual (ecstatic speech) prayer language one receives or the visions given while doing carpet time. (14) are subjective and totally unverifiable.

As you read some of the following titles you will see the obvious emphasis on the mystical, the subjective regarding knowing and fellowshipping with our Lord. You will find most of these books in your local book stores. Each promises means and methods to experience the divine!

Boyd, Gregory A. Seeing is Believing: Experience Jesus Through Imaginative Prayer. Baker 2004

Chryssavgis, John Light Through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition Orbis, 2004

Allen, Joseph J. Inner Way: Toward a Rebirth of Eastern Christian Spiritual Direction Eerdmans, 1994

Dr. Waal, Esther. Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness. Liturgical Press, 2003

Macquarrie, John Two Worlds Are Ours: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism. Fortress Press, 2004.

Penrose, Mary E. Refreshing Water From Ancient Wells: The Wisdom of Women Mystics. Paulist, 2004

Taylor, Brain. Becoming Christ: Transformation Through Contemplation. Cowley Publications 2002

Cutsinger, James S. Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2003.

From these few titles (I could list over one hundred) we see a common thread, a renewed interest in mysticism. Boyd’s “imaginative prayer” is nothing more than what we called visualization within charismania. Pastor Paul Cho of the largest congregation in the world teaches extensively on visualization which he has termed the “fourth dimension”. (15) Cho would have people believe they can have whatever they want if they can conceptualize it deeply enough. Not to mention that nowhere does the Bible suggest we conjure up in our own minds what Jesus looks like, I.e. create a “Jesus,” then imagine ourselves sitting down with our imagined Jesus and holding a dialog with Him. This is akin to the New Age occult practice of seeking a “spirit guide” to talk with and gain wisdom from.

Currently there is also a renewed interest in the spirituality of the various branches of the Eastern Orthodox Churches by seeker “evangelicals.” Mysticism runs rampant throughout the eastern “Church,” and people hungry for new “deeper” spiritual experiences are flocking back to what they believe are churches which are more ancient and thus must be a truer reflection of the original Church.

There are some commonalities with most of the forms of today’s modern versions of spiritual formation. Primarily they all are not based upon the authority of the Holy Bible. For these folks the Bible is not enough. It is not, at least in their minds, going to get them that direct-connect they are seeking with the Lord. These spiritually hungry masses are seeking to experience union with Christ or the Holy Spirit and the pathways being offered promise to give people methods by which they can have such encounters.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the Bible never encourages anyone to seek to have visions, trances or out-of-body experiences? When experiences of this type did occur it was always unexpected on the part of the recipient and it was granted by God for a specific purpose in His divine plan for either Israel or the Church. Let me cite just a couple examples:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings; With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another.” “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isa. 6:1-6

The Prophet Isaiah was not seeking an “audience” with the Ancient of Days. God chose to reveal Himself to Isaiah and when He did note that Isaiah immediately saw his own filthiness and sinful condition in the brightness of God’s glory. He did not have a halleluiah shouting dancing “Pentecost” in God’s presence. On the contrary he had a sense of his unworthiness. Here is an example from the New Testament:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” this happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guest. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure

I challenge anyone to read through from Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ and show me one example of a believer seeking to have some form of “spiritual” experience. In every case where an angel or angels appear or a theophany of our Lord appears it is always for extremely important reasons and they all came unexpectedly to the recipients.

There is an important difference between seeking the Lord and seeking to have some type of ecstatic experience which is what the false pathways offer people.

Next month we will begin a biblical look at the discipline of prayer, what it is, what can we expect from it, does it have limits. We’ll consider some of the common errors taught on this matter as well. So stay “tuned” campers, our journey has just begun.

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Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. I do not mean to be offensive to those with legitimately/organically slow or retarded children. God bless those families who struggle daily with lifelong mental retardation. However, spiritually thinking if you have someone who is 50,60 or 70 years old and they are still a ‘babe’ in Christ, then frankly they are spiritually retarded…or even more seriously, their pastor is spiritually retarded because he has not brought his portion of the Lord’s flock to maturity. Sadly, I’ve known many “seasoned saints” who were basic babes in Christ Jesus in their doctrinal foundation and fellowship with Christ and His people. Brothers and sisters this not ought to be. ALL of us should be on a track of what is called in the Detroit automotive industry as “C.I.” which stands for continual improvement.

2. http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.html

3. Please understand I am in no way implying our seasoned saints are not mature. In fact, in our own congregation it is the elderly Christians who are the most faithful and active in Bible study, giving and serving. My point is simply that church attendance does not automatically equate to spiritual growth.

4. The Shorter Westminster Catechism’s first question asks “What is the chief end of man? The answer is —”Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

5. Obtained from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_001.html

6. http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?book=Rom&chapter=8&verse=13&strongs=2289&page=

7. Time well spent is time studying all the titles and names given to the Holy Spirit. As with each aspect of the Godhead, each name given reveals to us some aspect of the divine nature. One of the most potent titles given to the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Reality, which at least to this author means that it is He that brings life and illumination to the Holy Scriptures and makes “real” all that means of grace God has given unto His Church.

8. http://www.lessons4living.com/rituals.htm Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

9. http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm

10. Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Book House, 1999.

11. Ibid p. 516. Underlining added for emphasis.

12. For example, every book apart from the Bible, that has been written about heavenly visits or trips to hell for that matter are all subjective. The individual having the alleged experience relates it in a book or tapes series and either people believe them or not. Sadly, multitudes believe these subjective experiences over the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Here are some specific examples: Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind. Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Hell, Dr. Eby, Didn’t You Read My Book!, Pastor Roland Buck’s Angels on Assignment, Choo Thomas, Heaven Is So Real.

13. Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Book House, 1999, p. 516. Underlining added for emphasis.

14. Carpet time refers to the time that a person spends in an altered state of consciousness during a service. This experience is usually brought on through the laying on of hands by the “anointed” speaker/pastor/prophet.

15. Tracy and I heard Paul Cho teach his occult doctrine “live” via Robert Tilton’s monthly satellite broadcast to the church where I was serving as Associate Pastor in Ann Arbor when it was a fresh revelation to Mr. Cho. Cho’s concept boiled down to its essence is that if you can imagine it, you can create it. Naturally, he wrote a book about it called “The Fourth Dimension” and now I have recently learned there is even a volume two — “The Fourth Dimension Vol. 2, David Yonggi Cho, Paul Yonggi R. Whitney Menzano” Published by Bridge-Logos out of Gainsville, FL. You can visit bridge logos.com to order a copy (why waste your money?)