THE APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC MOVEMENT

31 01 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2012 – Vol. 17 Issue 1 – THE APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC MOVEMENT – Keith Gibson

 Discernment Ministries International

 THE APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC MOVEMENT

By Keith Gibson

 “I heard what I call the internal audible voice of the Lord…It was as clear as crystal. I heard the actual words. There was no guess-work. It was not impressions. It was the word of the Lord came to me. And the Lord said this, ‘I am going to change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the whole world in one generation.” (1)

 I was first drawn to begin looking into the new apostles and prophets by a question from some of the youth in our church back in 2003. I have been a pastor in the Kansas City area for the last 21 years. Additionally, since 2004, I have been the Director for the Kansas City office of the Apologetics Resource Center. Several of the young men in our church had friends who were becoming involved with a new ministry in town called, The International House of Prayer (IHOP). When I told them I would look into it, I expected to find nothing more than a typical Charismatic ministry. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

 My foray into the doctrines and practices of IHOP introduced me to some of the key leaders within the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement with which I had been completely unfamiliar. To say it was eye-opening would be a gross understatement. What I found was a movement literally intent on redefining the Christian faith.

 The majority of the Church has not taken seriously the claims of the modern apostles and prophets to be introducing a new paradigm into the Body of Christ. These claims are far more than idle boasts. Indeed the paradigm shifts have already begun in many segments of Christianity. To say that the movement has grown rapidly would be a gross understatement. The Identity Network an email list promoting the teachings of the new apostles and prophets boasts a daily readership of over 150,000 people. The Elijah List, a similar network, is read by over 130,000 individuals daily. The issues raised by the new prophets and apostles go far deeper than a mere debate over the cessation or continuation of spiritual gifts. Without intending to be alarmist, it is the contention of this article that many of the statements and teachings of leaders within this movement strike at the very heart of essential Christian doctrine and the nature of Christianity. This is no longer a Charismatic vs. Non-Charismatic issue.

 This article will attempt to evaluate the new apostles and prophets. It is not the intention of this article to insinuate that these teachers are not believers in Christ, but only to bring a corrective to much of their doctrine and a warning to the church at large. It must be noted that space constraints will require the evaluation to be overly general in nature. The movement itself is loosely affiliated and contains great diversity. However there are some common themes that may be noted.

 It is important to understand that the leaders of this movement consider themselves to be absolutely essential in the preparation of thee church for the coming of Jesus Christ. Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries arrogantly declares, “No ministry which rejects or avoids what is now happening in the restoration of the prophetic ministry will be able to truly fulfill its own calling and purpose in this hour.” (2) Notice the role that these modern apostles are to play according to the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA), “An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.” (3) Notice that these leaders are to “establish foundational government within the church”. In other words, the rest of the Body should be submitting to them and indeed will submit to their leadership as the church matures.

 Apostle Bill Hamon is even more direct when he writes, “…apostles and prophets must be restored before the Church can fulfill its predestinated end-time purpose on earth.” (4) He continues later in the same work, “The full restoration of apostles and prophets back into the Church will then bring divine order, unity, purity, and maturity to the corporate Body of Christ…..That will in turn bring about the end of this world system of humanity and Satan’s rule. The fulfillment of all these things will release Christ, who has been seated at the right hand of the thing will release Christ, who has been seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, to return literally and set up His everlasting kingdom over all the earth.” (5)

 With the roots of the current movement planted firmly in the Manifest Sons of God teaching of the Latter Rain Movement, many of these teachers boldly proclaim that the church will conquer the world for Jesus Christ and establish His government by subduing the nations. A few, like Hamon, still teach that the church reaches glorification and immortalization (victory over death) before Jesus returns.

 Issues and Concern

Though many red flags should have already been raised, the remainder of this article will examine the teachings of the new apostles and prophets and the impact of these teachings upon several key doctrinal areas.

 The Scriptures

 Without a doubt the most pervasive assaults by the modern apostles and prophets occur with regard to the inspiration, inerrancy, sufficiency and perspicuity of the Word of God. In order to be fair, it must be noted that the vast majority of these teachers are completely orthodox concerning the Scriptures if one only reads their doctrinal statements. When one examines their actual teachings however, a completely different picture results.

 Inspiration and Inerrancy

 In his extremely popular book, The Final Quest, Rick Joyner postulates four different levels of inspiration ranging from impressions (lowest), to open visions and trance states (highest). In this discussion, Joyner places the epistles of the New Testament at only the second level of inspiration. Concerning this level Joyner writes, “The next level of inspiration is a conscious sense of the presence of the Lord, or the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which gives special illumination to our minds. This often comes when I am writing, or speaking, and it gives much greater confidence in the importance or accuracy of what I am saying. I believe that this was probably experienced by the apostles as they wrote the New Testament epistles. This will give us great confidence, but it is still a level where we can still be influenced by our prejudices, doctrines, etc.” (6) (emphasis added)

 Notice that Joyner, in this alarming statement, has completely undermined the absolute authority of the epistles. While, according to Joyner, we can have greater confidence in them than if they were given by mere impressions, these epistles may still contain information that comes from the apostle’s own prejudices and personal doctrines. This would mean, at least theoretically, that we as believers now have the task of discerning which parts of the apostolic message are actually inspired by God and which are the result of the apostle’s flesh. Technically then, a believer would have the responsibility to set aside those parts of the New Testament that he determines to be from the apostle’s prejudice as opposed to the Word of God. Not only this, but Joyner claims that this level of inspiration frequently occurs for him when he writes and speaks. This would mean that many of Joyner’s words are on parallel with the New Testament itself. But it gets worse, for Joyner will also claim that he receives much of his information including that which is to be found in “The Final Quest, from the two levels of inspiration that are higher than that which the apostles received when penning the epistles. Though Joyner doesn’t draw the obvious conclusion, this would mean that the words of Joyner in works like “The Final Quest” actually possess greater authority than parts of the Bible itself. The result is shocking for if Joyner is correct, we can no longer evaluate his teachings based on the words of scripture but should actually evaluate some of the writings of scripture according to the standard of Joyner’s visions and trances.

 How far are Joyner’s comments from the writings of the true apostles, “Knowing this, that no prophecy is of any private interpretation. For prophecy did not originate with man but holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:20)

 Joyner is not alone in placing his words alongside scripture in authority. In her book, Heaven is So Real supposedly based on actual visits to heaven, Choo Thomas claims the following, “Like John, I had been called to write, and my mission was the same as his—to let people know that the marriage supper of the Lamb has already been prepared and blessed are those who are invited to be there on the last day.” (7) Elsewhere in the same book she writes, “Every word in this book is true. The words of Jesus have been transcribed exactly as He said them to me.” (8)

 Sufficiency

In a variety of ways, the modern apostles and prophets attack the sufficiency of scripture. Obviously, if the quotes already given by Joyner and Thomas are ture, then the scriptures are not teachers, doctrines are being invented on an almost weekly basis that have little or no foundation in the Word such as spiritual mapping, heavenly portals, spirit-ties, spiritual inheritances, judicial intercession, soaking and the list goes on and on. Studying the teachings of the new prophets one finds so many doctrines based on personal revelation that one wonders why we even need Bibles anymore.

 In some cases, the attacks are even more direct. For instance, Choo Thomas claims the following, “He wants me to serve as living proof of the Bible and His prophecies, because many people do not believe what they read in the Bible, nor do they believe that He is coming soon for His people.” (9) Elsewhere she writes “He had shown me how desperate many people are to know the truth about heaven, and I realized emphatically that my book would be the means whereby they could really know.” (10) Examine the words of Thomas closely. Her words will do what the Bible is unable to do. Those unconvinced of the truth by the gospel will be convinced by Thomas’s testimony. Those desperate pages of Holy Scripture but in the writings of Thomas.

 In her extremely popular book, “Journal of the Unknown Prophet”, Wendy Alec relates a word supposedly spoken by Jesus Himself concerning the teachers He is raising up in this generation. Jesus allegedly states, “For the Word alone is yesterday’s manna and even they [the prophetic teachers] have seen deep in their hearts that it is no longer enough to feed my people.” (11) Whether intentionally or not, Alec’s word compares the Scriptures to the worm-infested manna that the children of Israel experienced when they gathered more than they needed during the Exodus. Whether Alec’s vision is the result of an over-active imagination or an encounter with a seducing spirit one thing is certain, the Son of God would never speak of the Scriptures in such a manner.

 Perspicuity

The teachings of the modern apostles and prophets are destroying the church’s traditional understanding of the Bible. They have, in large part, rejected the historical-grammatical form of interpretation and have substituted a prophetic hermeneutic which allows the Bible to be manipulated to mean whatever the prophet says it means today. In this way, the Bible is no longer able to fulfill its function as the basis for truth and corrective against error but rather becomes merely the puppet of the apostle/prophet to advance his agenda. Therefore Mike Bickle can find in Micah 2:12,13 justification for the “breaker anointing.” (12) a doctrine completely unknown for the 2,000 year history of the church. Shawn Bolz can read Proverbs 6:31 and find authority to break off a “poverty spirit.” (13) Key doctrines of the new movement such as the restoration of the tabernacle of David, enthroning God through worship, spiritual mapping and countless other examples are all based on a poor approach to interpretation.

 The Decline of Doctrine

 In addition to the undermining of core doctrines, within the apostolic/prophetic movement there is an overall disdain for doctrine in general. Doctrine is unimportant. Doctrine is minimized. Doctrine is seen as that which divides. We simply need to follow Christ. For instance Francis Frangipane writes, “We have instructed the church in nearly everything but becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. We have filled the people with doctrines instead of Deity; we have given them manuals instead of Emmanuel.” (14)

 What the new apostles and prophets fail to appreciate is that doctrine is that which is believed to be true. To say that doctrine is unimportant is tantamount to claiming that truth is unimportant. While it is certain that some doctrines are more central than others and while we should acknowledge that the church has been too quick to divide over non-essentials, the answer cannot be found in minimizing doctrine altogether. Surely this is a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

 Additionally, the Christian faith has content. That is to say that when we affirm, for instance, that believing in Jesus saves, we are also understanding that there is a certain amount of content contained within such a profession. It is the Jesus of the Bible, the virgin-born sinless, Son of God, who died and rose again, who saves as opposed to the Jesus of the cults. Cults and even other world religions may speak of Jesus but the content they attach to the name is different. The minute one begins to answer the question, “Which Jesus?” one is dealing in doctrine. Furthermore, how is the church to be faithful to the command of Christ to teach converts to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20) without engaging in doctrinal instruction?

 Sound doctrine is vital to the health of the individual and the church. Our relationship with God must be founded upon truth. It is for this reason that the scriptures place a premium upon doctrine. Paul writes “Take heed to yourselves and to the doctrine for in so doing you will save both yourself and them that hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

 Yet today’s teachers consistently downplay the importance of sound doctrine. Consider a couple of examples from Mike Bickle in discussing prophets in general and William Branham in particular. First, Bickle writes, “Yes, prophetic people must be clear about major doctrines like the person and work of Christ and the place of the Scriptures. But on lesser points of doctrine, they might be misinformed.” (15) This statement doesn’t sound too bad, although it should be pointed out that if one were to consistently apply the standard of proper understanding of the place of scriptures to the modern prophets most of them would be rejected out of hand. But notice how Bickle equivocates as he discusses William Branham, “Branham ended up in some doctrinal heresy, although never to the extent of denying Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior or doubting the authority of the Scriptures. While affirming the deity of Christ, he denied the Trinity.” (16)

 So apparently to Bickle, the Trinity is one of those lesser doctrines around which a true prophet may be misinformed. Further study of Branham reveals that Branham taught that God gave His Word in three forms, the bible, the zodiac and the pyramids. He taught the serpent-seed doctrine and a host of other heresies. But none of these issues disqualify him as a true prophet in the eyes of Mike Bickle or other prophetic personalities.

 Another example of Bickle’s lack of appreciation for sound doctrine can be seen when he writes, “True Christianity is a dynamic relationship with a living God and it cannot be reduced to formulas and dry orthodoxy. We are called to embrace the mystery of God and not to lust after neatly tying up every doctrinal or philosophical loose end that we encounter.” (17)

 Here Bickle sets up a false dichotomy. It is trure that we do not want a dry orthodoxy but we should still desire orthodoxy. A passionate heresy is not more desirable. It is true that we cannot tie up every loose end but we can know some things for certain because God has clearly revealed them. We are called to a dynamic relationship but this relationship must be based on the truth that God has revealed lest we find ourselves worshipping a God of our own creation. And given the number of strange practices that Bickle has endorsed in the past such as the Toronto Blessing, one can only wonder how many aberrant things may be covered under the “mystery of God”.

 The Nature of God and the Person of Christ

There can be no more fundamental area of doctrine than that of the nature of God in general and the Person of Christ in particular. Even here one finds problems in the teachings of the modern apostles and prophets. We have already examined the willingness of those in this movement to endorse those who deny the Trinity. But sadly this is not all.

 The Weak God

Consistently, the picture of God painted by these new leaders is less than the majestic, sovereign God of the bible. Shawn Bolz for instance, tells of a God who has had some of the inventions He intended for His children stolen out of heaven by those practicing witchcraft. (18) Spiritual mapping advocates imply that God alone is not mighty to save unless the church first clears the spiritual atmosphere. Numerous members of this movement subscribe to the faulty views of E.W. Kenyon that God somehow lost dominion over the earth in the fall.

 A classic example of this weak God can be found in the writings of ICA member Dutch Sheets. Sheets writes, “Recently, I believe the Lord showed me what sometimes happens when we come to Him with a need, asking Him to accomplish what He says in His Word. In answer to our requests, He sends His angels to get our bowls of prayers to mix with the fire of the altar. But there isn’t enough in our bowls to meet the need! We might blame God or think it’s not His will or that His Word must not really mean what it says. The reality of it is that sometimes He cannot do what we’ve asked because we have not given Him enough power in our prayer times to get it done. He has poured our all there was to pour out and it wasn’t enough! it’s not just a faith issue, but also a power issue.” (19)

 Pay close attention. Notice that Sheets indicates that our prayers can line up with what God has already promised in His Word, may be according to His will, and that God may actually attempt to answer our prayer but be unable to do so because we have not given Him enough power through our prayers in order for Him to accomplish His will. So apparently God is not able to keep His own promises without our help. We have to give God the power to act.

 The Nature of Christ

 Modern apostles and prophets show a consistent confusion with regard to the person and work of Christ. For instance Rick Joyner states, “There is a tendency to continue relating ot Him as ‘the Man from Galilee.’ Jesus is not a man. He was and is Spirit. He took the form of a servant and became a man for a brief time.” (20)

 Whether intentional or not, Joyner’s statement is a complete rejection of the hypostatic union. Orthodox Christianity has understood for centuries that when the Second Person of the Trinity took to Himself a human nature, this was permanent union. Jesus is forever the God-man, fully God and fully man. Jesus did not come in some sort of rent-a-body that He discarded after the crucifixion. Either Joyner does not understand this or he is denying it. Further, Joyner’s statements have serious implications for the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Jesus for if Jesus is no longer man then in what way did He resurrect? Additionally, the scriptures link the ongoing work of Christ as intercessor to his humanity. (see 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 7:23-24 among others)

 Conclusion

In our brief discussion we have seen that current trends within the Apostolic and Prophetic Movement are undermining the historic Christian faith in regard to the place of Scriptures, the importance of doctrine and the nature of God and Person of Christ. If space permitted we could document similar issues with regard to the Person of the Holy Spirit, the atonement and the nature of the church. And we haven’t even mentioned the myriad of false prophecies made in the Name of our Lord.

 These are not incidental issues. The church can no longer be silent. The new Apostles and Prophets were not speaking in hyperbole when they promised to bring a new understanding of the Christian faith. If the Church does not begin to respond, the Christianity that is passed on to our children will bear little resemblance to the faith of our fathers. A.W. Tozer wrote, “The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him. We do the greatest service to the next generation passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian Fathers of generations past.” God enable us to “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. “

 

Copyright © 2012 Keith Gibson

 

End Notes

1. “Our Prophetic History” CD series, CD #1. Mike Bickle, 2002 Friends of the Bridegroom.

2. Joyner, Rick “The Prophetic Ministry”, 1997 Morningstar Publications (Charlotte, NC) page 53

3. Ibid, “FAQ” What is an Apostle? http://www.apostlenet.net/index.asp?action+faq

4. Op. Cit. Hamon page 57

5. Ibid page 59

6. Joyner Rick “The Final Quest” 1996 Whitaker House (New Kensington, PA) page 10 on page 133 of this same book, Joyner relates an encounter that he had with the apostle Paul that supposedly took place in heaven where Paul tells Joyner that the words in his epistles do not carry truths as powerful as the words of Jesus in the gospels. Essentially Paul says that his letters are not an inspired as the Gospel.

8. Thomas, Choo, “Heaven is so Real” 2003 Charisma House (Lake Mary, FL) page 129

9. Ibid page 153

10. Ibid page 177

11. Ibid page 124

12. Alec, Wendy “Journal of the Unknown Prophet”, 2002 Warboys Media page 84 Bickle, Mike “Contending for the Power of God” CD #42003 Friends of the Bridegroom

13. Bolz, Shawn “The Keys to Heaven’s Economy” 2005 Streams Publishing House (North Sutton, NH) page 88

14. Frangipane, Francis, “The House of the Lord” 1991 Creation House (Lake Mary, FL) page 36

15. Bickle, Mike “Growing in the Prophetic” 1996 Charisma House (Lake Mary, Fla) page 51

16. Ibid page 63

17. Ibid page 77

18. Op. Cit Bolz page 73

19 Sheets, Dutch “Intercessory Prayer” as quoted in “The Worship Warrior” by Chuck D. Pierce and John Dickson 2002 Regal Books (Ventura, CA) page 211 Joyner, Rick, “There Were Two Trees in the Garden” 1992 Whitaker House,

20. (New Kensington, Pa) page 59 emphasis in the original. It should be noted that Rick Joyner says that many people still consider this to be the best book he has ever written.

__________________________________________________

About the Author

 Keith Gibson is a fellow truth-teller, pastor and heresy-hunter. He is recently published a new book titled “Wandering Stars Contending for the Faith with the New apostles and Prophets.” It is published by Solid Ground Christian Books and you can order a copy by visiting their website located at http://www.solid-ground-books.com Their mailing address is

 Solid Ground Christian Books 6749 Remington Circle Pelham, Alabama 35124

DMI is thankful to brother Gibson for his willingness to submit an article for this issue and we pray that his book is well received and mightily used by God to open the eyes of His people.

 

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Reformation Sunday Sermon

29 11 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2010 – Vol. 16 Issue 10 – Reformation Sunday Sermon – Rev. Mark Braden, Pastor, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

Discernment Ministries International

Reformation Sunday Sermon

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

The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence. The violent take it by force. So speaks the Lord of the Church, the Lord of the Kingdom. It is not the Kingdom of Glory of which He speaks. No, thanks be to God, the saints are safe, at rest, in bliss and felicity, their souls in the very presence of God. No one takes them. They are eternally secure. It is not the Kingdom of Glory that suffers violence.

Nor is it the Kingdom of Power, that Kingdom by which God creates and sustains all things. Indeed, there is violence amidst that Kingdom, for God causes His rain to fall upon both the just and the evil. Like an ant taking throwing a punch at the sun, God’s good provision and prvidence are in no danger of man’s puny violence. It is not the Kingdom of Power that suffers violence.

But the Church, oh, the Holy Church on earth! She is the Church Militant, the Church at war, the Church beset by struggles, the Church that tastes of the sufferings of Her Lord, the Church that is the Kingdom of God on earth, for this Kingdom comes when God gives us His Holy Spirit. The Kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Of this Abel’s blood testifies. So too does the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, murdered between the temple and the altar. And which true Prophet did not endure the darts of violent tongues, the stones of angry hands, the sword or lance of proud and violent men. But sword and lance pierce them no more. They are the Church Triumphant. They dwell in the Kingdom of Glory.

Physical violence can only harm the body. But there is a violence that can harm the soul, a violence that opens the dark trap door to imprison men’s spirits, a snare to capture the wayward, a siren’s cry to beckon the ship too close to crushing rocks, a strange voice to lure the sheep away from safe pasture. That violence is false doctrine—wrong teaching about God and so wrong teaching about salvation. False doctrine is violence perpetrated against the Kingdom of heaven.

Among the chief lies of the devil is that doctrine doesn’t matter. He would have you think that what one believes about God is a personal thing, not subject to review by anyone. The devil teaches that anyone that would insist that there is a right belief and a wrong belief about God is simply not nice, uncompromising, inflexible, unloving, just plain mean.

But God’s Word teaches something very different. God’s Word teaches that there is a right and a wrong, there is Truth and there are lies. You see, teaching that fallen men can earn God’s favor by their works is a lie. It is a violence. It is contrary to the clear Word of God. And yet, by such false teaching, sinners would take the kingdom by force. They desire to wrest forgiveness and salvation away from God by the puny strength of their own works. So too the doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, monasticism, multiplying the Sacraments, Mariolatry, and prayer to saints. Matthew 11:12-15 The Festival of the Reformation, 2010 A. D.

So too the teaching that “real” Christians don’t suffer, but rather are rich and happy in the world inasmuch as they rightly believe. That’s where Robert Schuler meets the Pope. So too the teaching that a man born of human father can rule Christ’s Church on earth by Divine right. These false teachings, these sins, do violence to the Word of god. They lead men to seek salvation where it has not been promised. They are but lies born of the father of lies, and the harvest of their deceitful violence is fodder for hell.

Bad doctrine is always popular among sinners, however, for there is a little pope in each of us. Our old man is proud to don the triple tiara, to take rulership of the Kingdom by force. For each of us has been bold to invent our own justification for our false beliefs, to craft our own plan of salvation, in which we work together with God as equal partners. We have unseated, if it were possible, God from His heavenly throne, and sinfully appointed Him to be our “co-pilot”. We have granted ourselves indulgences by minimizing our sins, and have assigned ourselves penance to “work off” our sins and earn God’s favor. To the fallen flesh, it all makes sense. Each of us has desired to take the Kingdom of heaven by force.

The irony is, of course, that what men desire to take by force God freely gives–but never to men who believe they can take it by force. God freely gave His Son over to violent men. The King of Heaven suffered violence. They desired to make Him King. When He would not be an earthly king, a king of their own design beckoning to their whim and call, they took Him by force. For when the Son came, the vinedressers said “This is the heir, come, let us kill Him and the inheritance will be ours…” And the Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence as the King willingly allowed Himself to be put to death.

But what men could not take, God freely gives. It is in Christ’s death that sins are forgiven, and by which God, by grace alone gives the Kingdom of Heaven to men. For Christ indeed from death has risen, our new life obtaining, that men be justified, declared righteous in His sight because of Christ. And this God works by faith alone, in Christ alone. What men could never take God freely gives you — as the faith He works in you trusts in Christ.

By that faith you know that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. By this faith, Baptismal faith, God declares you forgiven, holy and blameless in His sight, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. He freely gives you the Kingdom.

This faith, this living, life-giving faith, is born of the Word of God by His Spirit. This faith seeks Truth in Scripture alone, for there God reveals His love for all men in Christ Jesus. This faith is fed and nurtured by God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament, not by what is earned or sold, but by what is freely given: His Body given for you, His Blood shed for the remission of your sins. This faith is fed and nurtured by right teaching about Matthew 11:12-15   The Festival of the Reformation, 2010 A. D.

Christ and salvation, by the Word preached in its purity and the Sacraments rightly administered, for true faith hungers to hear only what it already knows best — that man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law. Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus.

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

Amen.

Copyright ©2010





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

25 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 12 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 3 of 3 – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 3 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Slain in the spirit

“I have fallen “under the power” dozens of times That is why I can tell you, by experience, that the fear of man and the fear of missing out was always the strongest reason to fall to the floor. I did not want to look less willing than anyone else. Nor did I want my inability to yield to the moving of the Spirit to be interpreted as rebellion or unbelief. When you are standing in front of all your peers and respected leaders and they lay their hands on you, let me tell you, the pressure is on. Especially when you are up on stage and all expectant eyes are watching you. That is why many preachers have followed this pattern. They find more success with “manifestations” if they call miracle candidates up to the platform. The intimidation of the platform “weeds out” those who are uncertain. I can tell you by experience that it wasn’t the fear of God I was struggling with. It was the fear of not looking as spiritual as some of the others. Fear causes us to go with the flow even if it doesn’t make sense. “

Mr. Brooks admits to peer pressure and the need to conform to the group and expectations of the minister. People who fall and recognized as people who have fully yielded to the Holy Spirit in charismatic circles. Falling is a sign of spirituality. Laying on the carpet for hours would indicate a “deep” work of God in that person’s life.

It is evident that this is learned behavior because it does not occur with any regularity among non-charismatic or Pentecostal people. It is also easy to demonstrate the large number of people who fake being slain in the spirit by simply not having any catchers present. I know from past experience when there were no catchers available in the service, when prayer time came nobody fell out! If the Holy Spirit is indeed causing the people to fall, then He is certainly able to protect them from harm, i.e. there is no need for catchers if this is the work of God. Yet there are catchers because all of the ministers know people do fake it, and fake it quite a bit. They must indemnify themselves from possible civil litigation.

Hypnosis

Anton Mesner caused people to be slain in the spirit using hypnotic suggestions. Cited below are examples of Mesner at work:

He stares at one man and commands “Dormez!” The man’s eyes close, his head falls to his chest. A shudder runs through the other patients. He points his iron scepter at a nearby woman, she falls prey to his charms and cries out that tingling sensations are running wildly through her body. Eventually, these strange feelings begin to possess the others in the circle. Some even begin to flail and swoon about.

Mesmer would have soft music playing in the background, at times someone hidden singing softly, the room was filled with burning incense and were dimly lit. Mesmer’s assistants would gather those seeking this new experience and begin to hypnotize them.

Gradually the cheeks of the ladies began to glow, their imaginations to become inflamed; and off they went, one after the other, in convulsive fits. Some of them sobbed and tore their hair, others laughed till the tears ran from their eyes, while other shrieked and screamed and yelled till they became insensible altogether…They became calm, acknowledged his power, and said they felt streams of cold or burning vapour passing through their frames, according as he waved his wand or fingers before them.”

Mesmer’s original techniques have been improved upon since the late 1700’s but the effects of being mesmerized have stayed constant. He brought people into an altered state of consciousness through incense, music, and dim lighting. The people came knowing what to expect, he had publicized his powers prior to opening his salon in Paris. Combining these two elements he was able to cause people to become open to suggestions that normally they would not have acquiesced to.

Impartation

In today’s charismatic services many of Mesner’s techniques can be easily discerned. For example, in our former church, Jubilee Christian Church, the pastor would dim the lights during worship. The congregation would sing repetitious songs, sometimes for almost two hours. Often towards the end of the dimly lit worship service we would all begin to sing in other tongues. Then the lights would be raised and we as a congregation were open to receive whatever the pastor had impart to us. The elements of the dimly lit room, the mind numbing repetitious songs, combined with singing in tongues brought us as a people into an altered state of consciousness and openness to the suggestions from the pulpit. I must state that I do not believe this was done consciously by the pastor of that church, but the results were the same.

 

At Toronto much of this same pattern is followed. They have long periods of loud singing and dancing (protracted singing and dancing have long been used as means of entering trances states in almost every world religion). The same simple song refrains are sung over and over again. After this portion of the service is over there is usually a very short sermon given, then testimonies from various people on how the revival has transformed them, often examples When hands are laid on them, is it any wonder that they fall down? While the ministry is going on music is playing , they see others falling, laughing, shaking, and dancing. All of this has an undeniable influence on the attendee’s mind set. Thus, they too fall down and do carpet time or begin to join in the very infectious laughter. Now they too have got the “blessing.”

Slain TACF 99'

of the various manifestations are recited as well. Then it is ministry time, it is time to come and get the “Toronto Blessing.” People have traveled from all over the world to be at TACF, now is the moment they have been waiting for…now is the time for them to receive the revival impartation.

Demonic Activity

Many critics of the revival are content to leave this and other manifestations as purely fleshly exhibits of emotionalism gone wild, which is a valid judgment of much of what does occur in these meetings. However, as unpleasant as it may be to the sensibilities of many Christians there is another explanation which cannot be ignored, that of demonic influence. Dr. Kurt Koch has done extensive research on demon possession and here is an account he relates of a man who became demonically influenced when he was slain in the spirit, (underlining added for emphasis):

Mark (not his name) was a Christian in a church that he thought was formal and dead. He went to a Pentecostal church, where hands were laid on him, and he was what they called “slain in the spirit”. He was lying on the floor in a trance. When he came out if it, he was praising Jesus in a loud voice, and he continued praising. While attending this Pentecostal church, Mark also received a gift of tongues. The name of the spirit of the tongue was “Domenigaio, how many associates are with you in Mark?” I am alone,” When did you enter him?” “When he was slain in the spirit. Who sent you?” “The devil, from the pit.” Do you acknowledge our authority over you in Christ Jesus our Lord?” I do,” What is your commission from Satan?” To deceive.” How? “In his love for the Lord Jesus; ruin his faith; have him follow Satan.” You were posing as the Holy Spirit, weren’t you?Yes.”

According to Dr. Koch, this man came under demonic influence while he was in a trance state brought through being slain in the spirit. This deceiving psirit posed as the Holy Spirit and was cast out when Dr. Koch and his fellow ministers rebuked the evil spirit in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Biblically we see the demon activity can be quite diverse in operation.

Just as the Western psychologists are proffering ancient shamanistic practices in a guise which is more palatable to the uninitiated Westerners, so the professing Christian churches which peddle ‘religious fainting” have simply made the Possession-Trance state of shamanism more readily acceptable to the undiscerning sheep who attend their heated meetings. These are the true origins of the strange phenomena which are being so widely reported today and which are bringing the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ into so much disrepute.

Slain in the spirit

Larry Thomas is correct in tracing the practice of being slain in the spirit back to occult roots. At the beginning of this chapter I cited the Shaker roots of this practice, and they were unashamedly devoted to spiritualism. Rodney Howard-Browne, the man responsible for unleashing holy laughter on America admits the possibility of demonic activity in the manifestations:

I’d rather be in church where the devil and the flesh are manifesting than in a church where nothing is happening because people are too afraid to manifest anything…And if a devil manifests, don’t worry about that, either, Rejoice, because at least something is happening.

Mr. Browne’s attitude is unacceptable, he argues extremes, either we have manifestations in the church or we have nothing. This is a form of “the excluded middle” form of reasoning, he neglects the possibility of having a sound congregation without a fleshly or demonic manifestations. Why should Christians rejoice when the flesh or demons are manifesting? Should we not rather rejoice because they are not in manifestation at all?

Jessie Penn-Lewis (whose ministry or major writings we do not endorse) and Evan Roberts wrote a book entitled War on the Saints, which was written during the Walse revival, which preceded the Azusa revival by several years. They saw the work in Wales devolve into fanaticism and demonism and exposed it in a book. People have often recounted visions and other paranormal experiences while slain in the spirit, Lewis and Roberts give some insight on this phenomena:

When evil spirits are able to give visions, it is an evidence that they have already gained ground in the man, be he a Christian or an unbeliever. The “ground” being, not of necessity known sin, but a condition of passivity, i.e., non-action of the mind, imagination, and other faculties. This essential condition of passive non-action as the means of obtaining supernatural manifestations, is well understood by spiritist mediums, clairvoyants, crystal gazers, and others, who know that the least action on the mind immediately breaks the clairvoyant state. Believers not knowing these main principles can unwittingly fulfill the condition for evil spirits to work in the life, ignorantly induce the passive state by wrong conceptions of the true things of God. (bolding and underlining added for emphasis)

They realized that when people in the Wales revival became mentally passive, or suspended their rational thinking abilities through various spiritual exercises that deceiving spirits gained a foot hold in their minds. Peter encourages us to gird up the loins of our minds (1 Peter 1:13) and to be sober, not intoxicated by anything.

Satan is a real foe, he was defeated by Christ on the cross, yet we still contend against his wiles (Eph. 6:11). If there was no spiritual battle for us to fight then Peter and Paul would not have labored warning us about Satan and his workers. Submitting ones mind to non-biblical practices, such as entering into trance-states, could be an open invitation for deceiving spirits to enter into the minds of God’s people.

Some Biblical Examples of Falling Backwards

There are biblical examples of people falling backwards (keep in mind 99% of all those slain fall backwards). However, these verses are never cited by our sign-gift friends, upon reading them you shall know why. The following comes from Dr. Ken Motto on the topic of being Slain in the Spirit (http://www.scionofzion.com.htm ).

As we will see, in the Bible, falling backward is always associated with some type of judgment, which in itself is a strong warning of the final judgment in Revelation 20: The following Scripture passages shed light on falling backward:

(1 Sam 4:18 KJV) And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

(John 18:6 KJV) As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

These are two actual, historical events which show us that falling backward is a judgment. God also uses the word “backward” in conjunction with sin and rebellion.

(Gen 49:17 KJV) Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

(Psa. 70:2 KJV) Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

(Isa 1:4 KJV) Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

(Isa 28:13 KJV) But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

(Jer. 7:24 KJV) But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil hearts, and went backward, and not forward.

(Jer. 15:6 KJV) Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

(Lam 1:8 KJV) Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward.

Other verses that illuminate this teaching are found in: Gen. 19:26; Psalm 53:3; Luke 9:62; 17:32; Acts 7:39; Hebrews 10:38,39. In all these verses, back or backward is directly related to judgment. Those who believe they are being slain in the spirit are actually under the judgment of God. Satan comes as an angel of light and we must be aware of his counterfeit gospels.

Although some of the above cited texts have nothing to do with the actual practice of laying hands on people to receive some form of “spiritual blessing,” the context is certain — backward movement is biblically seen as a judgment from God and not a good thing.

It is my contention that since it is not a Biblical practice those who profess the name of Christ ought to have nothing to do with it. We should be even more concerned by such mystical encounters when such a manifestation are taught and recorded in various non-Christian cult groups and religions. May the Lord God bring His people out of superstitious ignorance and into the true light of His Holy Word. ♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

* (Color-highlighting and some bolding and underlining is added for emphasis and is not in the original book by Robert S.Liichow

End Notes

1. Burgess, Stanley and Gary B. McGee. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements Zondervan, 1995, pg. 789

2. Inside The Toronto Blessing is a new video (1997) in which various participants and even a medical doctor go into detail regarding why people fall under the power.

3. White, John, When The Spirit Comes With Power, IVP, 1988, pg. 95

4. Williams, Charles L. I’m Not Sure I Like What is Going On A pamphlet handed out at an Assemblies of God church in Grand Rapids MI. The pamphlet endeavors to explain the various manifestations which occur in a revival service.

5. FAQ refers to “frequently asked questions” in internet lingo.

6. Paraphrased from a August 1st video of the afternoon session at TACF 1997.

7. Revival Glory is a Pentecostal ministry whose Founder, Ruth Heflin, now deceased, brought Silvania Machado into the USA. Silvania is known for her alleged gold dust manifestation, which was proven to be fraudulent.

8. Obtained from the Revival Glory web site on 01-02-01 members. the globe.com/RevivalGlory/manifest/slain.html

9. Gott, en, Lois. The Sunderland Refreshing. Hodder & Stoughton. London, England. 1995, pg. 189

10. Fisher, G. Richard, Goedelman, M. Kurt The Confusing World of Benny Hinn. Personal Freedom Outreach Publication. Saint Louis, MO. 1995, p.26

11. Elmer T. Clark, Strange Sects in America, Abingdon Press, 1937), 88

Doris Faber, The Perfect Life The Shakers in America, (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1974), 90

12. Mike Sublett, Revival At Cane Ridge, taken from http://www.bstone/people.html,

13. Holman Bible Dictionary, WORLDSearch Bible Study Software CD ROM, (Austin: NavPress Software, 1994).

14. I was formerly a neo-Montanist minister and during almost twenty years of full-time ministry within the charismatic renewal movement I was “slain in the spirit” many times and laid my hands on about one thousand people, many of which were subsequently “slain in the spirit” once my hand were placed on them. I can testify that the experience is one in which the individual is truly “out of control” as the Holman Bible Dictionary defines ecstasy.

15. Iain H. Murray, Revival & Revivalism The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858, (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 167

16. Charles Finney, Memoirs (New York: A.S. Barnes & Co. , 1876), 44-45.

17. Ibid. 103

18. Iain H. Murray, Revival & Revivalism The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858 (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994) 243-247.

19. Etter-Woodworth, Maria. Signs and Wonders, Harrison House. 1916 reprint. Pg. 145

20. Burgess Stanley and Gary McGee. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. 1995 pg. 900

21. Bahr, Robert, Least of All Saints, The Story of Aimee Semple McPherson, Prentice Hall, 1979, p. 105

22. Burgess, Stanley and McGee. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. 1995. Pg. 529

23. The Westminister Confession of Faith, The Master Christian Library ver. 5 CD ROM, (Albany; Ages Software, 1997), 56

24. Ted Brooks, And We All Fall Down, obtained from http://www.west_teq.net/~tbrooks, on June 2, 1998

25. Obtained from http://www.mesner.com/docs/info/franz.html, on June 2, 1998

26. Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Poplar Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, (New York; Three Rivers Press, 1979), 339

27. Singing in other tongues was done as a congregation, the effect is the same as “praying” in tongues, ones rational thinking mind is silenced. We understood Paul’s word ‘the mind is unfruitful” (1 Cor. 14:14) as a good thing and tongues was an excellent method of silencing ones carnal mind.

28. Kurt Koch, Occult ABC Charismatic Movements and Demon Possession, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978) 33,34

29. Larry Thomas, No Laughing Matter. (Excelsior Springs: Double Crown Publishing, 1995), 148

30. Rodney Howard-Browne, The Coming Revival, (Louisville: R.H.B.E.A. Publications, 1991), 6

31. Jessie-Penn-Lewis with Evan Roberts, War on the Saints, (New York: Thomas Love, 1994), 149





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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 2 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The “Ministry” of the Catchers

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

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

Tips For Catching People:

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

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

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

4. Men- be careful when touching women.

5. Get them to fall back, not forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

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

The Convolutionaries

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

The Shaker’s

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

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

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

People Were “Slain” During the Cane Ridge Revival

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

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

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

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

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

The Ministry of Charles Finney

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

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

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

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

The Ministry of Maria Woodworth Etter

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

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

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

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

The Ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson

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

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

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

The Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman

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

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

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

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

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

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted By Charismatic Christians Today

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

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

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

Slain- Carol Arnott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learned Behavior

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

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

(TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH!)

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

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

 

 

 

 

 

 





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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 1 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

Introduction

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

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

Chapter 1

Being “Slain in the spirit”  The Phenomena Defined

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 2

TACF’S Apologetic

The Toronto Airport Church Explanation

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

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

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

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

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

The Toronto Blessing FAQ (5)

Revised April 1997

Scriptures quoted from King James Version unless otherwise stated

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Biblical Examination of the Revivalists Argument

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparison Chart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Falling

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

Why do people fall?

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

Is Falling in the Spirit scriptural?

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

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

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

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

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

Revival Glory’s Explanation of the Experience (7)

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

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

 





The Demotion of Christ & Exaltation of Man

12 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – Sept 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 9 – The Demotion of Christ & Exaltation of Man – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Demotion of Christ & Exaltation of Man

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

I once heard a preacher say that “It doesn’t matter what you are right about, if you are wrong abut Jesus.” This is a true statement. One can be orthodox in every sense, yet if he or she is wrong about the person of Jesus Christ, then all of their otherwise orthodox views are tainted and unacceptable.

I have been calling the Word of Faith (WOF) movement a cult for many years now and still DMI receives questions regarding whether or not it is really a cult or possibly just a “sect” within the Christian Church. In some ways this can be a difficult issue to answer because on the surface many of the people currently enmeshed within the WOF are sincere Christians, yet if we consider the actual teachings of the WOF leaders then we must conclude they are in fact a non-biblical cult. To help shed some light on why the WOF is a cult I am going to be presenting some articles proving why they have placed themselves outside of the Christian Church by their false doctrines.

There are area of doctrine which are not central to what the Church has confessed as the “holy, catholic and apostolic faith” from the beginning of Christianity. Areas that as Christians we can agree to disagree. Such areas might include how often one receives Holy Communion, the wearing of liturgical garments by the pastor, worshipping on Saturday or Sunday or perhaps even the mode of water baptism. Such things are called “adiaphora” by Lutherans, meaning things that do not matter especially regarding salvation. Other doctrinal issues cannot be given up to discussion such as the Person and work of Jesus Christ. This is where the WOF departs from Christianity and embraces heretical teachings, so much so that anyone who believes their (WOF) doctrines has placed themselves outside of the One True Church (una sancta.)

Jesus Ministered As Only A Man Never As God

One of the central fallacies taught by the WOF cult is that our Lord Jesus Christ stripped Himself of every vestige of divinity and ministered while on earth only as a man. The fact that Jesus was born a sinless man really does not figure into their mythology. They would certainly acknowledge it as a fact, but it does not matter when it comes to WOF Christology. Being virgin born and inherently sinless has no effect on how Jesus ministered [keep this fact in mind as you read on].

The WOF dogma goes like this: Jesus did not until He was baptized with the Holy Spirit in the river Jordan  (see Matt 3:16).  Only after He was endued with power from on high did He begin His miraculous ministry, starting with the changing of water into wine (see Jh. 2:11).

The following are two statements from the late Kenneth Hagin regarding this novel concept.

Of course, Jesus stands in a class by Himself, personally, and as Deity. But when it comes to ministry, Jesus does not stand in a class by Himself…Even though Jesus was the Son of God, and divine blood flowed through His veins, yet He was ministering on earth as a human being—a prophet anointed with the Holy Spirit.  (1)

Jesus id not minister with His divine attributes while He was on earth. He ministered as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. ….The Bible says that Jesus voluntarily laid aside His power and glory as the Son of God (Phil 2:6-8) and ministered as a man filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit—the same way we are to minister.  (2)

Mr. Hagin is not the only one who spouted such nonsense, all of his clones, like leaven spreading throughout a loaf of bread, parrot his false teachings.

He hadn’t come to earth as God, He’d come as man. He’d set aside His divine power. (3)

Citing Philippians 2:5-7, he states that the incarnate Christ “had no innate supernatural powers. He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit.

The heir to Mr. Hagin’s empire of error is Kenneth Copeland. He has taken Hagin’s errors and globally spread through his multi-faceted SINistry.

[Most Christians] mistakenly believe that Jesus was able to work wonders, to perform miracles, and to live above sin because He had divine power that we don’t have. Thus, they’ve never really aspired to live like He lives. They don’t realize that when Jesus came to earth, He voluntarily gave up that advantage, living His life here not as God, but as a man. He had no innate supernatural powers. He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit as recorded in Luke 3:22, He ministered as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. (4)

I’ve come to realize that none of the WOF cult leaders, i.e. Hagin(s), Copeland(s), Price, Dollar, Meyer, Duplantis, Capps, Hickey, Tilton, Hinn, Savelle, et all have an original thought in their heads.

Here is what Charles Capps has to say about the Person of Christ:

Now if there was any doubt about WHO has greater authority here, that should settle it! “Jesus was operating as a man, anointed with the Holy Ghost.”  (5)

All of these heretics stress that Jesus never operated as God only as a Spirit-filled man. According to their mythology, only human beings with physical bodies have nay authority in this earth realm. Adam was given authority over the planet, he committed “high treason” (in WOF terms) when he sinned and Satan took Adam’s authority when Adam’s nature became satanic. According to the WOF cult this is why demons must have people to operate through, they cannot operate apart from human bodies in the earth.

Allow Mr. Capps own words to “demote” Jesus Christ from God to man:

Jesus Christ was a man anointing with the Holy Spirit. Someone said, ‘I don’t understand why Jesus had to be born on earth. Why didn’t God just come down here, and destroy the devil? He couldn’t do that. It was illegal, because God had given dominion of the earth to man, Jesus must come in the form of a man, with the body of a man, with the feelings and ability of a man. He must approach the devil as a man. This makes it perfectly legal for Jesus to destroy the works of the devil. (6)

There is a significant problem that the WOF cult cannot explain regarding the fall of mankind. WOF teaches that through Adam’s sin spiritual and physical death passed to all mankind, so far so good. Since Adam’s “high treason” all humanity became spiritually dead and owned by Satan who had now become the “god” of this world (see 2 Cor. 4:4). God was on the outside looking in so to speak. He had lost any legal right to intervene in human affairs because man no longer belonged to Him and God had no human bodies to operate through or with. God eventually finds Abraham through whom He makes a covenant which allows God egress back into the world He created!

The significant problem with such drivel is where did God find someone who was not spiritually dead and enslaved to Satan to work with? Abraham was as dead as anyone else; he too belonged to Satan (according to WOF mythology). So how can a spiritually dead man make a decision to serve the living God? He can’t! This flaw is never addressed by any of the WOF teachers.

Leaving my question aside, they posit that because of Abraham’s obedience in offering Isaac up as a sacrifice (see Gen 22:2) God was legally able to bring His Son into the earth, born of a woman — thus having legal authority to operate on the earth. So Mary provided the physical body for Jesus and the Holy Spirit provided the anointing or spiritual power to do all that Jesus did in His ministry. But keep in mind that Jesus never operated as God the Son, only as the Son of God! “If Jesus healed the sick because of His divine power, then WHY did God anoint Him?” (7) Capps (and all WOF heretics) demote Jesus and EXALT man—

Yes—Jesus was the Son of God. Yes—He was deity in this earth. But He did not operate in divine power. He performed miracles by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. THAT SAME HOLY GHOST IS AVAILABLE TO YOU AND ME—TODAY!   (8)

When you accept this as truth then it is a very short jump (which all these false teachers make) to point out that we as born-again Spirit-filled people are to be doing exactly what Jesus did. After all, didn’t Jesus say “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (Jh. 14:12). Since Jesus ministered only as a Spirit-filled man then we as Spirit-filled men ought to do the same works!

These liars take this one verse and jump off with it promulgating a wide variety of false doctrines. The whole falsity of Christians being “little gods” comes from this error. Blasphemous teachings regarding the atoning death of Christ also flow from this polluted spout. Erroneous beliefs regarding the anointing and errant views of the Holy Spirit are also fruit of this poisonous tree.

If we ever wake up and realize who we are, we’ll start doing the work we’re supposed to do. Because the church hasn’t realized that they are Christ. That’s who they are. They are Christ. (9)  Every man who has been “born-again” is an Incarnation, and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an Incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.   (10)

It is easy to see how Jesus is demoted and man is exalted in WOF theology. We are not like Jesus, we are not equal to Him. His incarnation was totally miraculous; in His birth He was and is totally sinless. He is totally sinless. He was and is God and has never ceased to be God. He ministered as 100% God and 100% perfect man. You and I will never be “God” in any sense of the word other than being adopted into His family and united to Him in Christ Jesus…Our only claim to fame, well is that we don’t have any claim to make apart from being miserable sinners in need of the Savior.

If the WOF concept is correct then why hasn’t anyone done exactly or even come approximately close to doing the works that Jesus did? Surely Peter, James and John —men who were personally taught and who received the Holy Spirit, the breath of God if you will from the lips of Christ Himself (see Jh. 20:22), who heard Jesus say “greater works” and yet we have no record of them doing the astounding works of Christ in anywhere near the same measure as Jesus. What about the Apostle Paul who wrote almost two thirds of the New Testament. Certainly he was used by God to work signs and wonders (see 2 Cor. 12:12) but nowhere is it recorded that he did “greater works” in his ministry.

WOF would have people believe that Jesus was just ministering as an anointed prophet and that we too are to minister in the same manner. Well, if so, show us someone who either has or is doing so. Is Benny Hinn doing the works of Jesus? The answer is a solid NO! Has Copeland raised even one person from the dead? No. Has Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Charles Capps ever had multitudes in their meetings healed? Not one of them ever as had such success.

If these liars are as much as incarnation of Christ as Jesus was, then how do they explain the blatant sin in their own ranks? Jim Bakker, an adulterer, Robert Tilton a proven liar, swindler and adulterer. The “prophet” Paul Cain, an admitted homosexual and alcoholic. How about “healing” evangelist Leroy Jenkins, a convicted arsonist and drug abuser. Benny Hinn, a proven liar, false prophet, fake healer and dispenser of false hope and the list goes on and on If anything the people promoting this false doctrine of exalted man and demoted Christ are more egregious sinners than other partly because they refuse to acknowledge their inherent sinfulness.

Brothers and sisters I call the WOF movement a “cult” because they are one. At best they have to be considered a biblically-based cult and ranked in the same category as The Way International (11), The Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Mormons, The Moonies, The Children of God and all other groups that claim to believe the Bible and have some concept of Jesus Christ as some sort of Savior.

The next article of the newsletter is a copy of the Athanasian Creed which is one of the most concise expression of our orthodox Christian faith regarding the Trinity of the Godhead. Read it out loud slowly to yourself and then ask yourself does the WOF cult agree with the creed’s statements regarding the Person of Christ or do they confuse His essence and substance? I will give you a hint, they fail to pass the “smell” test when it comes to this creedal statement of faith and in doing so place themselves outside of the true Church.

I close by restating that there are many genuine Christians who are members of WOF congregations, people who do love Jesus but are ignorant doctrinally and have little to no true biblical discernment. I urge that we pray for those who wallow in doctrinal darkness and ask our gracious Lord to open their eyes and free them from spiritual bondage. I also ask that we pray for the leaders of this persuasive and beguiling cult that they will be brought to repentance and publicly renounce their errors even as I, by the grace of God, have done. ♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Hagin, Kenneth Hear and Be Healed. Tulsa; Faith Library Publications, 1987, p. 8

2. Hagin, Kenneth, Jr. God’s Irresistible Word, Tulsa; Faith Library Publications, 1989, p.36 Underlining added for emphasis.

3. Kenneth Copeland, “Question & Answer,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, August 1988, 8

4. On Jesus’ self-witness, see Robert L. Raymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah (Phillipburg, NJ; Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1990), 44-126

5. Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (August 8,1988) p. 8

6. Capps, Charles, Authority in Three Worlds. Tulsa, Ok. Harrison House, 1980 p. 111.

7. Ibid. p.85

8. ibid. p.89 Bolding and underlining added for emphasis

9. Ibid. p.98. Underlining added for emphasis

10. Hagin, Kenneth, “As Christ Is, So Are We” (Tulsa: Rhema), a cassette tape #44H06. Underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

11. Kenyon, E.W. The Father and His Family, Kenyon Publishing House 1968, p.100. Underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

12. The Way International is a charismatic, i.e. sign-gift practicing group that says it believes the Bible, promotes speaking in other tongues, divine healing, etc…Yet they deny the deity of Christ, the Trinity of the Godhead, etc.





THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

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

Discernment Ministries International

THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the Bible say?

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

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

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:19-21

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

Why this emphasis Peter, what is the big deal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore, many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. Acts 17:11-12

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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





Bob the “Bully”

27 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – Bob the “Bully” – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Bob the “Bully”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

“Nowadays any one who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is at once suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term “pure doctrine” has been proscribed and outlawed…If any one goes to the extreme, as it is held to be, of even fighting for the pure doctrine and opposing every false doctrine, he is set down as a heartless and unloving fanatic.”

C.F.W. Walther, September 11, 1885.

Dr. Walther made the above statement over 125 years ago in his book “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.” (in fact all his quotes are from that book) and I have learned over the years of involvement in this type of ministry that his words are truer today then when he initially spoke them. It is the responsibility of every minister, as our ministry motto says to “teach truth and expose error.” Yet when any minister does this he is indeed called a “heartless and unloving fanatic,” and that is putting it mildly compared to what I am called on a regular basis by those who walk in doctrinal darkness. Walther goes on to say:

There is no question, then, but that both, yes, both these efforts are necessary: to defend the truth and to oppose every doctrinal error.

Walther’s position is most assuredly the biblical one as we read stated in Jude:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3

When I embarked upon this facet of ministry over ten years ago I did not expect the vitriol, personal attacks and unreasoned arguments that were to come. Initially, I assumed that others involved in charismatic extremism would rejoice and embrace the truth when it was showed to them as my wife and I did. It did not take long for me to realize that biblical truth (pure doctrine in Walther’s words) is fought against and often out rightly rejected by the ones who should be embracing it. The following e-mail is merely that latest of many attacks DMI endures form those who call themselves Christians. This “sister” wrote us regarding our article about Joel Osteen:

The greatest Christian sin is not adultery. Adultery is one of the greatest wicked acts. It’s not stealing. Stealing is a terrible thing because it puts others at a disadvantage. It’s not lying. This is the worst kind of deception and must be condemned. It’s not murder. This is inhuman. It’s not prayerlessness or lack of Bible reading. It’s not absconding church services. This is because Christians do not commit any of the above sins. What then is the greatest Christian sin? The greatest Christian sin is judgment. How? True, because judgment is only reserved for the judge or for the King and in our case God. It’s God’s privilege to judge and we cannot share that honor. I pray that God will help me not to judge in these entire short messages. I write….

How incredibly arrogant you are. Again nothing but judgment from someone who thinks he is so above every thing and everyone including God…Your response was no surprise and is typical of someone who can’t see the forest for trees. Sham on you! Funny thing is God and the universe will find a way of humbling you. It’s called the two by four between the eyes and it happens to those whose arrogance clouds their real vision and keeps them from loving kindness. When it happens I hope you will see that attacking others is not Christian, nor is it kindness. It is arrogance at it’s worst. You’ve taken something you’ve incorrectly interpreted and spun your own arrogant view on it and use it to bear false witness against those you have NO RIGHT to judge. I agree you will not stop being a bully or being arrogant. Your motivation is jealousy and hatred. I just wanted you to know that your lies and hateful behavior will never reach those of us who love unconditionally the way God and Jesus do.

Note how the writer says the “greatest sin” is judging another person. First of all, this is not the greatest sin in the Bible and if it was then she is extremely guilty of this. Note the following judgmental statements: (1) incredibly arrogant you are, (2) thinks he is so above every thing…including God, (3) a bully, (4) motivation is jealousy and hatred and (5) lies and hateful behavior. Fortunately for sister Bailey, these 5 spiritual deficiencies of mine will NEVER reach her or those like her who “love unconditionally.” In responding to her I kept asking what specifically had I written concerning Mr. Osteen that was factually wrong, or what comments I had written that were hateful towards him in any way; she never answered me. I also told her that neither I or DMI doubts the sincerity of Mr. Osteen nor do we doubt that he loves Jesus. However his sincerity does not abrogate Mr. Osteen’s lack of biblical education or the lack of sound biblical preaching to the congregation Osteen, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren and others all fit perfectly in with another comment by C.F.W. Walther:

The worst offenders in this respect are the so-called rationalistic preachers, who with diabolical audacity mount Christian pulpits and instead of preaching Christ, the Savior, to all sinners, recite their miserable moral precepts for a virtuous life and fill ears of the people with their empty bombast.

I guess Walther would have been excoriated by sister Bailey too as a bully and filled with envy. Pray that our Lord mercifully opens Ms. Bailey’s ears to the truth and all those like her. She is just one of the many emails DMI receives each month. Pray for us too, that we will stay the course and continue to teach truth and expose error.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





The Next “New” Move?

1 09 2009

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

Discernment Ministries International

The Next “New” Move?

scanglobalhousechurch0001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow Me to Digress A moment

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

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

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

End of Digression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SHALLOWNESS SELLS  ©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 

End Notes:

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

2. Ibid

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

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

5. Ibid p. 54 Underlining added.

6. Ibid. p. 54 Underlining added.

7. Ibid. p. 54

8. Ibid. p. 54 Underlining added.

9. Ibid p. 54 Underlining added.

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

11. Ibid. p. 56

12. Ibid p. 58. Underlining added.

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

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

15. Ibid. p. 60

16. Ibid. p.60 Underlining added.





NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW

17 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – August 2009 – Need your support now – by Robert S. Liichow

NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW 

In fourteen years my wife and I have rarely had to appeal to our readers to give to our family specifically. Now that time has come.

My wife and I went away to celebrate our 26th anniversary by visiting my mother, sister, and her family in Southern California. We flew from Detroit as their guests, all expenses paid and I admit it was an exquisite time for Tracy (who has never seen the pacific ocean) and I.

Upon our return, Tracy went to work on Monday, as usual, only to be told that she was “laid off.” prior to our leaving she was told her lay-off date would be August 14th! So she and our household were surprised to learn Tracy would not have at least another full paycheck before her layoff. It seems that was not to be.

Tracy has since been looking into receiving unemployment compensation and food stamps to help keep our family “alive” regarding rent, food, insurance, etc.

My brothers and sisters DMI has depended upon God to meet our needs through our readers, website guests, blog visitors etc…Right now I am asking YOU, as the Head of DMI, if you will permit my family to utilize the financial gifts that come in this month to help offset our living expenses for this month? Honestly, we have nothing financially, apart from looming bankruptcy, in the way of savings, etc. Nor does DMI.

We, as many of you have known, live month by month, as we have for close to 15 years. This was with Tracy working 40 hours+, now that is gone and we have no “social-safety net” to fall upon apart from the generosity of God’s people. Please help my family during this time of need and may our gracious God bless and keep you in His truth.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 15639, Detroit, Michigan  48215

1thessalonians5_25prayforus1thess5

Proverbs 19:17

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

 





God’s View of False Teachers & Their Teachings

4 08 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 2 – God’s View of False Teachers & Their Teachings – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

God’s View of False Teachers & Their Teachings

DMI often receives e-mails from individuals who admit that even though certain individuals do teach false doctrines they are “alright” because after all, no one is perfect doctrinally. While we certainly agree that we are all sinners and none of us is perfect we disagree most vehemently with the concept that false doctrine and those who propagate it are harmless. There is no such thing as “harmless” false doctrine. I urge people to hold a very high opinion of the absolute seriousness of God’s view regarding false prophets, teachers and leaders in the Bible and history of the Church.

In theology proper one of the attributes of God is veracity which refers to truthfulness in His being and in all He does. The following definition will serve as a good place to begin our consideration of how seriously God considers those who prophesy or teach falsehoods in His holy name.

The apostle says, “Let God be true, and every man a liar”, (Rom. 3:4) this must be affirmed of him, whatever is said of creatures, he is true and truth itself.

1. God is true in and of himself; this epithet, or attribute, is expressive. 1a. Of the reality of his being; he truly and really exists; this is what every worshipper of him must believe (Heb. 11:6). Creatures have but a show of being in comparison of his; “Every man walks in a vain show”, or image; rather in appearance than in reality, (Ps. 39:6) but the existence of God is true, real and substantial; hence he has the name Jehovah, “I AM that I AM”; which denotes the truth, eternity, and immutability of his essence. What seems to be, and is not, is not true; what seems to be and is, is true.

1b. Of the truth of his Deity; he is the true and the living God; so he is often called, (2 Chron. 15:3; Jer. 10:10; 1 Thess. 1:9) in opposition to fictitious deities; who either have reigned themselves such or are feigned so by others; gods only by name, not by nature; of which there have been many; but the true God is but one, and in distinction from such who are called gods in a figurative and metaphorical sense, gods by office under God; as Moses was to Pharaoh, and as Kings, Judges, and civil magistrates be, (Ex. 7:1; Ps. 82:1, 6, 7). But the Lord is God in a true and proper sense.

1c. This title includes the truth and reality of all his perfections; he is not only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, and immutable, but he is truly so; what is falsely claimed by others, or wrongly given to them, is really in him; he is not only good and gracious, holy and just, but he is truly so; what others only appear to be, he is really.

1d. This may be predicated of each Person in the Godhead; the Father is the only true God, (John 17:3) through not to the exclusion of the Son, who is also the true God and eternal life; nor of the holy Spirit, who is truth; and who, with the Father and the Son, is the one true and living God (1 John 5:20, 6,7).–This attribute of truth removes from the divine nature everything imperfect and sinful: it is opposed to unrighteousness, (Deut. 32:4) and has the epithet of just or holy along with it, when God is spoken of in his persons, ways, and works, (Rev. 3:7, 6:10, 15:3, 16:7, 19:2) it removes from him all imputation of lying and falsehood; he is not a man, that he should lie, as men do; the Strength of “Israel will not” lie; yea, he is God that “cannot” lie; it is even “impossible” that he should (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29, Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18) this frees him from all deception, he can neither deceive nor be deceived. (1)

Truth matters to our God because He is at His core a being of truth. Whenever anyone stands up and proclaims what is false either intentionally or unintentionally (2) in His name as one of Hs ministers it is a grievous affront to His holy character. It is a very serious matter to stand before God’s people (or any people for that matter as His representative) and speak in His name. We should do so with fear and trembling, knowing we are flawed individuals and our best attempts are tainted by our sinfulness. Yet today myriads of “leaders” have lost their fear of the Lord and brazenly proclaim innumerable false prophetic words in the name of our Lord.  Men and women of every stripe think noting of teaching novel man made doctrines and those of demons (read 1 timothy 4:1) on a global scale. Those who follow their pernicious ways think little of the fact that their leaders err here and there doctrinally and “miss it” when they prophesy in God’s name. But what saith the Lord?

The Old Testament Witness Against False Ministries and Their Teachings

Deut 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of others gods, even that prophet shall die.

During the instructional phase of establishing the nation God warned His people regarding those who would presume to speak a word (an instructional directive in His name. If such a person dared to put themselves forth as a spokesman for the Lord, and was not, they were to be killed.

Some may say “surely you are not advocating stoning false and presumptuous prophets today.” No. I am not….but if the Church did stone false prophets then the Body of Christ would not be troubled by the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Cain, Kim Clement, Bernard Jordan, Paul Crouch, Rick Joyner, John Paul Jones, Mike Bickle and other liars. If we still did enforce stoning of false prophets I believe the televangelists ranks would have been thinned to almost non-existence. THANK GOD for His mercy!!

Lev. 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, [and] all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name [of the LORD], shall be put to death.

Not only did God require false prophets to be stoned to death, He also commanded that those who blaspheme His name be likewise stoned to death. This refers directly to taking the LORD’s name in vain, but it can also refer to blaspheming His name by speaking or teaching falsely using it. Anytime a minister gets up and says “The LORD told me” or “Thus saith the LORD,” and it is not in direct context of God’s written Word then that minister is in danger of having committed a presumptuous sin and attributing to the LORD that which He has not uttered, thus lying (blaspheming) in His holy name. It was and still is a serious matter.

The context of the following verses comes from Jeremiah, who lived during the last days of a decaying nation. He was the last prophet to Judah, the southern Kingdom, the northern ten tribes had already gone into captivity and soon Judah was to suffer seventy years of Babylonian captivity. His was a time of both spiritual and moral decay where God’s people preferred to listen to the sweet lies of the false prophets and reject the sure Word of the Lord from His true spokesman (sound familiar?).

Jer 5:30-32 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Jer 14:14-16 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name; I send them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters; for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

Jer 29:8-9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that [be] in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name; I have not sent them, saith the LORD.

Jer 23:32 Behold, I [am] against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them and, cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

The Lord speaking through Jeremiah reveals several things regarding false ministers. First and foremost, it is not a light matter when ministers misuse their office and take the Lord’s name in vain. On the contrary God considers it a horrible thing. The Hebrew word sha`arura means something horrid, disgusting, a horrible thing. (3)

God blames both the false prophets and ministers who rule by their own decisions versus leading by God’s Word (5:v. 31) and His people “My people love to have it so.” Those who proclaim lies in God’s name would have no effect if people would ignore and shun them. Sadly, then as today these people were and are embraced by many. In Jer. 14:14 that Lord plainly states these prophets are lying in My name! What is the end result? God will judge them and those who listened to them (14:v.16). Again, we read of a close connection between those who lie in God’s name and those who listen to their lies. Lastly, God is against them that prophesy lies and mislead His people because of the lies they tell.

Ezekiel ate the bitter fruit of Jeremiah’s prophetic words. He ministers as a captive of Babylon and yet even while the people were in captivity they still strayed from God’s ways and suffered from ungodly leadership!

 Eze 34:2-3 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? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock.

Eze 34:9-10 therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

God is against leaders who take care of themselves at the expense of the flock of God under their care. These false leaders were guilty of feeding and enriching themselves by preying on the flock. God said He would judge them and free His people from their tyranny. God does not change (read Mal. 3:6). He keeps excellent records and He will require those who lead in His name to give an account of how they treated His people (take heed Mr. Robertson, Mr. & Mrs. Crouch, and a host of others).

From these few citations in the Old Testament we can readily see that our Lord does not wink at prophets who “miss it” now and then in His name. Nor does He excuse leaders who make merchandise of the sheep and to some extent He does not overlook those who heed the messages of false prophets. The witness of the O.T. is sure, God is not pleased with anyone who lies or misleads in His name.

The Witness of Jesus Against False Prophets and Leaders

Some might try to argue that the O.T. texts come to us under the old dispensation and that now we are under a dispensation of grace and a better covenant based on better promises. To be sure we are children of the new and final covenant based on better promises (read Hebrews 8:6) This being the case then we’d do well to pay close attention to the One who established that better covenant sealing it with His shed blood.

Mt. 18:6-7 but whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

The word translated offend comes from the Greek word skandalizo from which we get our term “scandalize.” It is defined as meaning “to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall.” (4) Jesus is saying that if anyone is going to cause even the most immature (thus helpless) believer to stumble in their walk with Christ it would be better for that person to be drowned! It seems that to our Lord doctrinal purity matters quite a bit. In fact, He goes on to say that offences will come but Jesus uses the prophetic term “woe” to that man who causes the offenses! When the prophets in the O.T. declared “woe unto you” it meant that the nation or individual had become the object of the wrath of God.

As the true shepherd our Lord warns us in several places to be aware of those claiming to speak for God and to weigh carefully what we hear taught:

Mt. 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt true bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

We are warned to be alert, to be conscious of the reality of pseudo-prophets (false prophets). Why be warned? Because these people come looking like sheep, false prophets come dressed in Christian garb and talk the “God” talk. From all outward appearances they seem to be Christian. Yet what makes one a believer is not seen by long dresses on women, short hair on men and ten pound Dake or Scofield KJV Bible under their arms. (5) True Christianity begins in the heart as a work of the Holy Spirit. This is where the false prophet is detected. Not by how they look but what is on the inside, which is revealed to us by what they teach. Remember, it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (see Luke 6:45).

All of the false prophets, false teachers, false brethren and false apostles fall under the category of “tares” sown among the pure wheat of God by the enemy (see Matthew 13:25). The tare looks exactly like a stalk of wheat except it is empty inside and worthless. The end result of these false ministers? They shall be bound in bundles and burned (see Matthew 13:30).

In the same discourse regarding our need to be aware of the reality of false prophets Jesus foretells of their end:

Mt. 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Sadly, this reminds me of many leaders within the Signs and Wonders movement today. Many are quick to prophesy in the name of Jesus, some even are so bold as to hold “Prophetic Schools” teaching people how to become prophets! So called strategic level spiritual warfare and casting demons out of people (deliverance ministries) are all the rage today…all done in Jesus name. Open any issue of Charisma magazine and read advertisement after advertisement offering miracle crusades and meetings touting that the power of God will be in manifestation (for a price)….again all done in Jesus holy name. I fear that some of these people will hear the most dreadful words of all “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

In keeping with our times today our Lord’s warnings seem particularly appropriate:

Mr. 13:22-23 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

We are warned by the true Christ and true prophet that falsely “anointed” ones (Christos) along with false prophets shall come forth and bring with them signs and wonders the purpose of which is to seduce (“to cause to go astray” in the Greek) if possible even the elect of God. Jesus warns His disciples to take heed (blepo, to discern, perceive) regarding these liars. One of Satan’s biggest tools in his arsenal of deception is having a false message followed up with lying signs and wonders (read 2 Thess. 2:9). After all, isn’t the Word confirmed with signs and wonders following (read Mark 16:20)? Frankly, it depends on the Word (doctrine) being delivered and the nature of the so-called signs and wonders.

Mt. 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Regarding the Pharisees Jesus warns His followers to leave them alone because they are spiritually blind and those who follow them are equally blind. What is the danger in following blind guides? The blind leaders and their followers will end up falling into the ditch!

Mt. 16:11-12 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

It should be very obvious from these few texts that our Lord is extremely concerned about the nature of what is bring taught as doctrine and the character of those proclaiming to be prophets or teachers of the Law. Jesus knew that a little false doctrine (leaven) would, if left unchecked, spread and corrupt the entire loaf. Christ warns that we need to check out the biblical content of what is being presented to us as God’s truth and not to simply swallow-and-follow whatever is presented to us by individuals who claim some special anointing.

False leaders have not changed from Jesus’ day to our time. Jesus rebuked the lawyers saying:

Luke 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Lawyers in Jesus’ day were the interpreters of the law, they were the teachers of Mosaic Law.

52. Key of knowledge—not the key to open knowledge, but knowledge, the only key to open heaven. In Mat 23:13, they are accused of shutting heaven; here of taking away the key, which was worse. A right knowledge of God’s Word is eternal life (John 17:3); but this they took away from the people, substituting for it was their wretched traditions. (6)

Due to their man made traditions, practices and teachings which God had never instated these false leaders made the Word of God of no effect in the lives of the people they were supposed to be leading (read Matthew 15:6). They lay heavy burdens (works) on the people’s shoulders but would do nothing to liberate them (read Matthew 23:4) through the correct teaching of God’s Word.

Brothers and sisters, our Lord, yes precious Jesus, was NOT tolerant of ignorant, proud and blind spiritual leaders. He rebuked them at every turn. He warned His disciples of the danger these SINisters posed to the true spiritual growth and welfare of the disciples time and time again.

The Apostolic Witness Regarding False Leaders

Were the writing Apostles any less concerned about doctrinal purity and godly leadership? The Apostle Paul who the Holy Spirit used to write almost two-thirds of the New Testament said quite a bit about these issues. I will cite just a few examples:

Acts 20:27-30  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.

Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders at his departure reminding them how he warned them day and night for three years of the fact that the flock would be attacked from without and within. He urged these leaders to take heed to their own spiritual lives first and having done so they would be in position to help guard the flock that God had entrusted to them. The “wolves” could refer to those Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:15, people who outwardly looked like Christian leaders but who in reality would ravage the flock. He also mentioned the fact of leaders rising up who would teach things that would turn those who followed them from the right path. Later on Paul gives a similar warning to his disciple and pastor Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 Paul knows he is about to die (read v.6) and he is exhorting Timothy by first reminding him to preach the word in a steadfast manner. Paul uses some strong words in the Greek to Timothy:

Reprove (elegcho) means to: a. by conviction to bring to the light, to expose; b. generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted; c. to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation.

Rebuke (epitimao) meaning: a. to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely; b. to admonish or change sharply.

Exhort (parakaleo) define as: a. to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc; b. to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; c. to instruct, teach. (7)

 Paul knew that Timothy would face doctrinally illiterate people who would be easy targets for false teachers peddling an appealing message. This is why he exhorts Timothy to preach the Word of God and take a firm stand against those who are wavering in their faith or being misled by false teachers.

Nothing has changed! Pastors still face the same challenges, but many pastors are not preaching the full counsel of God’s Word, nor are they willing to reprove and rebuke people who are wavering in the true Christian faith. Somehow this is seen as “unloving.” Yet the end result is the same today as it was in Timothy’s ministry —people are being seduced by false leaders and are perverted, turned away from the right path, the narrow way of God’s Word.

Heresy and heretics are nothing new to the Church; as these texts amply prove false ministers have always plagued God’s people. Paul said that there must be heresies among us to prove who are the genuine (1 Cor. 11:19) believers.

What has changed is the unwillingness on the part of both leaders and laity to step up and speak out against the heretics and their false doctrines and practices in our midst. The Apostle Peter prophesied of our day when he said:

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

We are told to expect the advent of false teachers bringing in damnable (tisk tisk Peter, not to judge) heresies and many (pollus, a whole bunch of folks in the Greek) shall follow them. Because of these SINisters the “way of truth,” Christianity, will be spoken evil of. People like Mr. Tilton, Benny Hinn, Jim & Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Earl Paulk cause the world to speak evil of the Church. These false teachers covet followers and most importantly covet their money. Through their false doctrine (such as the false prosperity message) they reduce their followers to nothing more than giving units. Paul in his closing remarks in his letter to the Romans echoes Peter’s warning:

Roman 16:17,18  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

God commands that we identify those who cause divisions or schisms within the Church by teaching doctrines which are against the true teaching of Scripture. What is more we are to avoid them. Why? Because they are not servants of Christ but of their own desires and they will use the same language of the Church to deceive those with no sound doctrinal foundation for their spiritual lives. Jude exhorts his readers and us today of the necessity of contending for the faith:

Jude 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend (epigone,zesqai) for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The KJV is more accurate than many other translations when it says “earnestly contend” for the faith because it is truer to the Greek word. We are in a battle and the Church has to fight to keep the truth of God. This battle has been raging ever since Satan said “hath God said” to Eve back in the garden of Eden (see Gen 3:1).

The Witness of the Early Church Fathers & Reformers

In the Preface of his stellar work Against Heresies our Patron Saint, (8) Irenaeus stated the following:

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said in reference to this point, “A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, as it were, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver?” Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men, —because they outwardly are covered with sheep’s clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different…I do this, in order that thou, obtaining an acquaintance with these things, mayest in turn explain them to all those with whom thou art connected, and exhort them to avoid such an abyss of madness and of blasphemy against Christ. (9)

Irenaeus was not being mean spirited, spiteful nor was he causing division an strife by exposing the false teachers of his day. Quite the contrary, his goal was to be a faithful under shepherd and warn God’s people of the wolves in their very midst. He noted how these false brethren looked like sheep, spake God-talk but that the meaning behind their words were (and are to this day) vastly different from those of orthodox Christianity. For example, words like “faith, anointing, Christ, prosperity” are biblical terms yet in the mouth of Mr. Copeland, Hinn, Dollar or Crouch have vastly different interpretations than what they truly mean. Irenaeus wrote so that his reader(s) could in turn warn others. THIS IS THE EXACT SAME REASON DMI PUBLISHES TRUTH MATTERS EACH MONTH. Our hope is that you, our readers, will share what you learn with others.

In chapter VII of The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, Polycarp who was one of the Apostle John’s disciples wrote the following exhortation:

For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist,” and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning; “watching unto prayer,” and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplication the all-seeing God “not to lead us into temptation” as the Lord has said: “The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. (10)

Polycarp urges Christians to forsake the vanity of many and their false doctrines and to return to the word that was handed down to the Church from the beginning. At the very early stages of the Church false doctrines and false practices ran rampant. Is it any surprise then, now at the end of the age the Church still must be exhorted to return to the faith once delivered unto the saints? Clement wrote in Chapter XVI of his Epistle to the Corinthians of the fact that it was those who were unstable in the faith and taught false doctrine who were the cause of strife and tumult…not those who exposed them!

It is right and holy therefore, men and brethren, rather to obey God than to follow those who, through pride and sedition, have become the leaders of a detestable emulation. For we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclination of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults, so as to draw us away from what is good. (11)

Martin Luther in writing about the Second Commandment made the following bold statement:

It also belongs to this work to resist all false, seductive, erroneous, heretical doctrines, every misuse of spiritual power. Now this is much higher, for these use the holy Name of God itself to fight against the Name of God. For this reason it seems a great thing and a dangerous to resist them, because they assert that he who resists them resists God and all His saints, in whose place they sit and whose power they use, saying that Christ said of them, “ He that heareth you, heareth Me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.” On which words they lean heavily, become insolent and bold to say, to do, and to leave undone what they please; put to the ban, accurse, rob, murder, and practice all their wickedness, in whatever way they please and can invent, without any hindrance. Now Christ did not mean that we should listen to them in everything they might say and do, but only then when they present to us His Word, the Gospel, not their word, His work, and not their work. (12)

In keeping God’s name holy we are to resist ALL false, seductive, erroneous, heretical doctrines and EVERY misuse of spiritual power. To sit idly by and blithely say “no one is perfect” in the fact of known error is to defame God and sin against His holy name. I love the following quote from John Calvin “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

Those few of us who dare to speak out against heresy and heretics – are held generally in very low esteem by the majority in the Church. Yet as I have shown from the O.T. through the Reformation that it is the uniform testimony of God that we ARE to speak out against error wherever it is found, regardless of who is speaking it.

Yes we are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) , but we are to still speak it. Without doubt we are to correct others with humbleness of heart, knowing that we too may fall (Gal. 6:1), yet we still seek to restore our fallen brother. We are not exempt from rebuking those who sin before all (1 Tim 5:20) again with the hope of restoration, but also as a warning to others who may be wavering.

Like Irenaeus, according to my meager abilities and the grace of our Lord I am going to strive to be bolder in Teaching Truth and Exposing Error than I ever have before. I thank God for each and every one of you who supports our portion of His ministry and urge those of you who do not support us to join with us in this battle for the truth. What we and other Apologetic ministries do is totally in keeping with the will of God as I have shown in this short article. Our ability to engage the father of lies depends on the support we receive.

May our gracious Lord keep us all steadfast in His Word and may He continue to grant us grace to swim against the violent currents of blasphemy and doctrinal error that are sweeping so many of our brethren downstream. May we be empowered by the Spirit of Truth to reach out and rescue as many as we can from the spiritual bondage they see as liberty. In Jesus name, amen and amen. ♦

Copyright © 2006  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Gill, John A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 1 Chapter 22. Available online at the Dr. John Gill achieves http://www.phministries.org/books/gill/octrinal_Divinity/Book_1/book1_22.htm Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

2. I readily admit that many people DMI often takes to task for their propagation of false doctrine deception is just as spiritually harmful to the individual as intentional deception. The result is the same, God’s people are misled.

3. Harris, Archer, Watke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, Il. 1980, p.946.

4. http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/4/1138124504.html

5. Please understand my use of hyperbole here. I support modest dress and enjoy using the KJV, however I would not endorse Scofield or Dake as study Bibles due to the many errors in their notes.

6. Jamieson, Robert; A.R. Fausset; and David Brown. “The Gospel According to Luke” Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 19 Feb 2000. 25 Jan 2006.

7. Obtained from http://www.blueletterbible.org/mp_dir/words/3/1138394516-7859.html.

8. The International Order of Heresy Hunters of which this author is the Grand Pooh-bah has taken Irenaeus as our “Patron” saint…we don’t pray to him or burn candles in his honor, but we think he was an expert at ferreting out the tares from among the wheat.

9. Obtained from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.ii.I.html. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

10. Obtained from http://www.ccel.org/ecel/schaff/an01.iv.ii.vii.html underlining and bold type and italics added.

11. Obtained from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xiv.html emphasis added.

12. Obtained from http://www.ctsfw.edu/etext/luther/works03.asc





The Dreaded Curse of the charismaniac

30 07 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 12 – The Dreaded Curse of the Charismaniac – By Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International 

The Dreaded Curse of the charismaniac

The content of several recent e-mails to our ministry expose an untaughscanMEANFACE20050001t but often practiced doctrine within the charismatic extremist movement from which I was delivered, the dire practice of “cursing” those who oppose charismania for one reason or another.

Cursing someone is basically invoking the name of a deity or using supernatural power to cause destruction, harm or calamity to another person. Normally one associates cursing with voodoo, Santeria (1) or some other form of witchcraft and not with Christianity, especially not with folks who claim to have a higher “dose” of the Holy Ghost whose love is alleged to be shed abroad in their hearts. (see Romans 5:5) !

What is sad is that some professing Christians couch their curses in the name of our Lord Jesus. The usual manner for curses to be unleashed by charismaniacs (2) occurs in two basic ways. First, curses are proclaimed as an alleged prophetic directive from the Lord. The example I will shortly site from Mr. Hinn is a manifestation of this type of curse. Secondly, curses are uttered in the name of the Lord against those who disagree with someone, usually over doctrinal issues or against those who call into question not only the biblical teachings of someone but also their lifestyle. This second form is often simply unmasked anger or hatred for someone, but done in the name of Jesus to sanctify it. This variety is seen by the Charismaniac as a legitimate form of righteous anger as typified by Jesus overturning the tables in the temple (see Matthew 21:12) or His verbal excoriation of the Scribes and Pharisees (see Matthew 23:27). My first example is of the second type and was uttered by Mr. Paul Crouch, the Founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) against all the Christian Apologists who dared question Mr. Crouch and his cronies about doctrinal issues being transmitted globally via TBN.

That old rotten Sanhedrin crowd, twice dead, plucked up by the roots…they’re damned and on their way to hell and I don’t think there’s any redemption for them…the hypocrites, the heresy hunters, that want to find a little mote of illegal doctrine in some Christian’s eyes…when they’ve got a whole forest in their own lives…” I say, to hell with you! Get out of my life! Get out of the way! Quit blockin’ God’s bridges! I’m tired of this!…This is my spirit. Oh, hallelujah!” …There’s a spiritual application here….I want to say to all you scribes, Pharisees, heresy-hunters, all of you that are around pickin’ little bits of doctrinal error out of everybody’s eyes and dividin’ the Body of Christ…get out of God’s way, stop blockin’ God’s bridges, or God’s goin’ to shoot you if I don’t… let Him sort out all this doctrinal doodoo!….I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there! Don’t even call me if you want to argue doctrine, if you want to straighten somebody out…criticize Ken Copeland…or Dad Hagin. Get out of my life! I don’t ever want to talk to you…I don’t want to see your ugly face! (3)

See a Video here :

According to my research Mr. Crouch has never recanted or repented for such hatred and anger. Crouch says that those of us who question him regarding doctrinal issues are “damned and on their way to hell.” Obviously, Crouch has become the one who holds the eternal life and knows who is damned and on their way to hell (and he is not even a Calvinist!!). “There is no redemption for them,” my Bible says that God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die for sinners (read John 3:16) and in another place the Holy Writ says that our Father desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (read 1 timothy 2:4). So how can there be “no redemption” for us po’ heresy-hunters? “To hell with you…” when was the last time you pointed your finger at Christian brothers and sisters (or even outright sinners) and said “go to hell”? Hopefully never, but Mr. Crouch is on a higher spiritual plane than the rest of us and so the following dictum does not pertain to him:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. But that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph. 4:29

Crouch brings God into his tirade by declaring that those of us with legitimate doctrinal concerns regarding orthodox Christian dogma are blocking God’s bridges (aka TBN) and says we are guilty of dividing the Body of Christ. What is more if we do not stop challenging Crouch, Copeland, Hagin and others then “God’s gonin’ shoot” us if Crouch does not first.

See Video here – Paul Crouch: God’s gonna shot you if I don’t:

It seems various Christian Apologists were contacting TBN and contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints (read Jude 3) and Crouch was fed up with our calls, letters and e-mails. I say this because he mentions doctrine four times in his curse along with Copeland, Hagin, two unabashed heretics.

To the charismatic extremist the battle cry is “doctrine divides.” As long as one calls Jesus his Lord and believes He ascended back to heaven is all the doctrine one needs to inspect. Crouch is not upset by a little illegal doctrine in a Christian’s life, but he is upset by anyone who would dare to try to lovingly correct those who are in error. Crouch has obviously lost sight of what Jesus warned when He said

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Matthew 16:6,11-12

No one has perfect doctrine and no one in the Apologetic arena of ministry I know has ever made such a claim. Speaking for myself, the more I study God’s Word the more I learn how little I do know. However, there are cardinal doctrines which must be universally agreed upon in order to be considered a genuine Christian. These are the issues we are chiefly concerned about.

Jesus warns His disciples about the danger of false doctrine and we echo His warnings today to our brothers and sisters. There is no such thing as harmless false (illegal) doctrine. True, none of us is 100% doctrinally pure, but it is one thing to lack understanding concerning some facet of biblical truth and quite another to embrace something that is erroneous. The Apostle Paul rebukes the Galatians who were being bewitched by legalism. He reminds them—

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. Galatians 5:7-9

Crouch is very willing to “wink” at a little leaven (illegal doctrine), DMI is not. Truth Matters to God and His truth is worth fighting for. When you know God’s truth in a certain area and keep silent knowing your brethren believes a lie how are you walking in love towards them? Paul understood that everything produces after its own kind and thus he knew the danger of allowing the Galatians to cling to anything, no matter how small that was unsound biblically.

The following is another example of this type of curse directed at me personally in a recent missive of “love” from an alleged brother in Christ. Note the tone and language. Not only does this misguided soul violate the Holy Scriptures, he does not even take time to use his spell and grammar checker! Nor does he cite any specific examples of where our ministry has misrepresented Mr. Hagin. We stand by the well documented fact that he stole intellectually from E.W. Kenyon Finis Dake and other authors. We also do not recant that he was a false teacher and false prophet, all of which is well documented on our website and other websites and books if anyone cares to take the time to research. So enjoy the following e-mail and I believe it speaks for itself and helps answer why I am glad to consider myself an “X-charismaniac.” (Bold type and underlining are added for emphasis on my part- spelling corrected).

“Dear Robert, I just read your article on the web. It’s great that you are investigating religion, but you got the Kenneth Hagin situation wrong. I’m a born again Christian and realize that some people do not understand Kenneth’s ministry. I have an organization speaking against you since you don’t seem to know what you’re talking about.  He is not a false prophet at all. These things were revealed to him. No I will not argue with you, there are plenty of people on the forum who already think you have this all wrong. He was not a part of TV or TBN after the 80 since he was told not to go on TV by the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Your judgment is coming as well and you who don’t really know what you’re talking about. You have started a war—- but not with sweet innocent children but ones that can go into the spirit realm and destroy you. Think about it Jesus Christ won’t help you once the curse is upon you. PS we are born again Christians too.

This e-mail would be funny if this guy was not trying to be serious. It appears this man has an entire organization “speaking against me” (keep in mind curses are generally verbalized in order to be effective). It seems my judgment is coming due to the powerful curses released by these unsweetened negative nabobs of doom, despair and agony. Gee whatever happened to being harmless as doves (read Matthew 10:16) ?

Due to our exposure of Mr. Hagin we have started a “war” with bitter (as opposed to sweet), guilty (as opposed to innocent) Christians who can ascend into the spirit realm and destroy me.

Let me address his first accusation regarding my not understanding Mr. Hagin’s SINistry. Oh really?  We have almost every one of his books, untold numbers of his cassettes, videos and I have seen him in person, up close and personal, even been in prayer lines where he was imparting his special ‘anointing” so special it is not even mentioned in the Bible! No, quite the contrary, as a former Word of Faith Pastor/teacher I am extremely familiar with his doctrine and it is unsound biblically. His so-called visions and out-of-body experiences with Jesus are farcical.

What kind of a dolt is this guy?  Doesn’t he realize that after Crouch, and as you will shortly read ‘Benny the healer Hinn’ have cursed you…you’ve been cursed?  All I can say is, “hey take your best shot pal.”

I wish I had a dime for every time somebody was going to go up to the spirit realm (he must have been reading too much Mary K. Baxter or Howard Pittman) and destroy me, my family and marriage. Sounds more like witchcraft versus the character of Christ Jesus, who commanded us to turn the other check when struck (read Matthew 5:39). Golly, even Jesus Christ, God the Son Himself won’t help me (and by inference others) who dare to speak out against what we know to be false doctrine. I guess since “dad” Hagin assumed room temperature, speaking out against him has been elevated to the status of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (I think not).

I on the other hand must and do bless these misguided souls. We pray for all of them as well as the remaining Hagin family that our gracious Lord Jesus Christ will open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel and they will recant their false doctrines and pull the books that contain them from the shelves.

I wrote this man back and here is the less than godly response from our so-called brother. His language and hatred betray him. Read with sadness the following:

“We are human Christians not sweet get your –ass –kicked –by —religion–and the — Gov’t don’t care what you write about us. GET IT? And we still gave our lives to Jesus Christ. Even the devil was mad for the day of vengence, write more and get destroyed more. We do not accept your fake ass apology as PS ask the Lord Jesus Christ if we are not of HIM? You’ll be more than surprised and ‘17 million of us know you will not reveal when He truly answers you.’ Some people need to keep their mouth shut and their websites. The demonic attacks are ones you and your church can’t fight off,  judgment starts in the house of the LORD “

Uh, what planet is this guy from? I guess we counter-cult apologists, myself in particular, are sweet non-human Christians [sic] who get our “ass kicked by religion.” I readily admit that I am sweet, which beats being sour and bitter. I also confess that I am an alien and pilgrim on this planet (read Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11). I guess he did not read about the Apostle Paul getting his “ass kicked” by religion—

I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So [am] I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods. Once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [in] journeying often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, in perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:21-28

Paul must have been too sweet, innocent and passive when faced with such opposition. Why didn’t he go into the spirit realm and hurl down curses on those who withstood him? Maybe Paul was emulating the faith of those we read about in the following text:

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourging, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:35-38

Could it be that Paul had heard James or John recount their experience with the Samaritan villages who rejected Jesus?

And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw [this], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village. Luke 9:53-56

Mr. Crouch and others who proclaim curses desiring the destruction of their enemies do not know what spirit they are of. These folks have lost sight of the mission of Jesus which is salvation and not destruction.

Back to the e-mailed curse! In our response DMI did not apologize for anything we have written regarding the false prophet Kenneth Hagin Sr. What we did say was that we would “bless” him, and we did in our prayer time, I guess those coals get pretty hot when they get heaped on his head, ergo the vitriolic response. I need not ask our Lord if he is “of Him,” his fruit speaks loudly enough so we have no need to bother the Ancient of Days with such a question. If he wants to reject our prayers and blessings that is his right, but the bible says that “love believes the best” and obviously he is not walking in love because he doubts our sincerity. Again, pray for this misguided soul and may God have mercy upon him and those caught up in calling darkness light and light darkness. I pray God has mercy on the individual who sent the above email to us. Feel free to express your love to him; it seems he really needs a hug or something! His email address is atiragepro@gmail.com.

Let’s consider the type of curse that is given in the quasi-prophetic form. This one is very popular among the so-called restored prophets for obvious reasons. I will cite an example given by Mr. Hinn since he is one of the most widely known and accepted false prophets plaguing the church today. The following curse was literally growled by Mr. Hinn at a miracle crusade held in Denver, Co.

“Yes Lord I’ll do it! I place a curse on every man and woman that will stretch his hand against this anointing I curse that man who dares to speak a word against this ministry.”   (4)

See Video Here: Benny Hinn puts a curse on people:

Hinn would want us to believe that our Lord (the One who came to not destroy but save, the One who on the cross said :Father forgive them”) told him to curse every man and woman who comes against Benny’s alleged anointing and ministry! It is sad to think that people actually believe that Hinn has been sanctioned to curse people and since God is no respecter of persons other lesser “lights” in the extremist movement have taken to placing curses on those who disagree with them. This is a perfect example of the “little leaven“, (cursing in this case,) spreads to others in the Body if it is not dealt with biblically.

The Biblical Attitude Regarding Cursing

The Bible does have quite a bit to say regarding the matter of cursing our enemies. We read the following comment from the lips of Job:

If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul. Job 31:29-30

We all know what happened when Balak tried to pay Balaam to curse God’s people:

…Balak the King of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel, How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? Or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? Num. 23:7-8

Furthermore, we are commanded by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:14 to “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Mr. Crouch, Hinn, the e-mailer and others are in direct violation of God’s Word when they attempt to proclaim and place curses on others. In Luke 5:44  Jesus commands us to “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,”

What a shame that many in the sign-gift movement have spiraled down to this level of unbiblical diatribe and unwillingness to admit that many of their leaders have feet of clay and sinful hearts, like the rest of us. They too are in continual need of God’s forgiveness and mercy.  ♦

Copyright © 2005 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Santeria is one of the many syncretic religions created in the New World. It is based on the West African religions brought to the new world by slaves imported to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations. These slaves carried their own religious traditions, including a tradition of possession trance for communications with the ancestors and deities, the use of animal sacrifice and the practice of sacred drumming and dance. Obtained from http://sparta.rice.edu/~maryc/Santeria.

2. Charismaniac, a term I believe I coined but I could be wrong is meant to refer only to those people who embrace the latest pseudo-spiritual beliefs and practices such as holy laughter, strategic level spiritual warfare, being druck in the spirit, the heresies of the Word of Faith cult, aberrant faith healing practices and the like. DMI is not lumping all Pentecostals and charismatic/sign-gift believers into this category. DMI works with both Pentecostal and biblically sound sign/gift people who have not been carried away by the prevailing winds of false doctrine swirling around in their circles.

3. This is only a portion of a rather long rant by Mr. Crouch one can view him in action on various websites and videos. Transcripts of all he said zre also widely distributed on the internet. This portion was obtained from http://cnview.com/on_line_resources/paul_crouch_curses_those_who_contend_for_sound_doctrine.htm.

4. Obtained from http://www.christian-witness.org/archives/cetf1999/bhinnlower.html. There are many websites which show the actual video clips in which Mr. Hinn’s demeanor changes, his voice changes and he hurls his “Spirit-led” curse at those who oppose him and his ministry. The underlining has been added for emphasis.





Jesus Could Have Sinned! (According to Kenneth Copeland)

27 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – November 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 11 – Jesus Could Have Sinned! (According to Kenneth Copeland) By Robert S. Liichow

As I was waiting to take our daughter to school on Wednesday morning (10-26-05), I was surfing around the television dial and happened to stop briefly at Kenneth Copeland’s morning broadcast. He was speaking at one of his “Believer’s Conventions” and I heard him emphatically state that although Jesus was perfect and sinless, He could have sinned. After all, Adam was created perfect and he sinned, thus it was a real possibility that Jesus, God the Son, could have sinned and ended up in need of redemption Himself. Copeland held forth the basic belief of many Arminian preachers who posit that in order for the temptations to be real temptations Christ had to have had the option of sinning. Theologically this view is called “peccability.

Orthodox evangelical Christianity does not uphold this view and we hold to the theological position of “impeccability,” or that Jesus Christ could not have sinned. I like the manner in which our view is stated by brother Roy L. Howdyshell:

The purpose of the temptation was not to see if Christ could sin, but to show that He could not sin. The temptation came at a critical time: the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The temptation was designed to show the nation what a unique Savior she had: the impeccable Son of God. It is also noteworthy that it was not Satan who initiated the temptation but the Holy Spirit (Matt 4:1). If Christ could have sinned, then the Holy Spirit solicited Christ to sin, but that is something God does not do. (James 1:3). Christ’s peccability could relate only to His human nature; His divine nature was impeccable. Although Christ had two natures, He was nonetheless, one Person and could not divorce Himself of His deity. Wherever He went, the divine nature was present. If the two natures could be separated then it could be said that He could sin in His humanity, but because the human and divine natures cannot be separated from the Person of Christ, and since the divine nature cannot sin, it must be affirmed that Christ could not have sinned.

The theologian William Shedd makes the following seven statements regarding the impeccability of Christ and I believe they will prove an invaluable aid when this topic comes up (as it has a way of doing among Christians and cultists alike).

(1) The immutability of Christ (Heb. 13:8). Christ is unchangeable and therefore could not sin. If Christ could have sinned while on earth, then He could sin now because of His immutability. If He could have sinned on earth, what assurance is there that He will not sin now?

(2) The omnipotence of Christ (Matt 28:18). Christ was omnipotent and therefore could not sin. Weakness is implied where sin is possible, yet there was no weakness of any kind in Christ. How could He be omnipotent and still be able to sin?

(3) The omniscience of Christ (John 2:25). Christ was omniscient and therefore could not sin. Sin depends on ignorance in order that the sinner may be deceived, but Christ could not be deceived because He knows all things, including the hypothetical (Matt. 11:21). If Christ could have sinned then He really did not know what would happen if He would sin.

(4)  The deity of Christ. Christ is not only man but also God. If He were only a man then He could have sinned, but God cannot sin and in a union of the two natures, the human nature admits to the divine nature (otherwise the finite is stronger than the infinite). United in the one Person of Christ are the two natures, humanity and deity; because Christ is also deity He could not sin.

(5) The nature of temptation  (James 1:14-15). The temptation that came to Christ was from without. However, for sin to take place, there must be an inner response to the outward temptation. Since Jesus did not possess a sin nature, there was nothing within Him to respond to the temptation. People sin because there is an inner response to the outer temptation.

(6) The will of Christ. In moral decisions, Christ could have only one will: to do the will of His Father; in moral decisions the human will was subservient to the divine will. If Christ could have sinned then His human will would have been stronger than the divine will.

(7) The authority of Christ  (John 10:18). In His deity, Christ had complete authority over His humanity. For example, no one could take the life of Christ except He would lay it down willingly (John 10:18). If Christ had authority over life and death, He certainly had authority over sin; if He could withhold death at will, He could also withhold sin at will.

Mr. Copeland is simply parroting the very heresy that got Rev. Edward Iving (1792-1834) excommunicated from the Scottish Presbyterian Church in 1833. Irving was one of the early fathers of Pentecostalism and he was one of the earliest Pentecostals to believe God was restoring both prophets and apostles back to the New Testament Church, which naturally , he started. ♦

scanIVING20050001

 

Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow

 

 





TRUTH MATTERS and It Is Worth Fighting For

20 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – October 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 10 – Truth Matters and it is Worth Fighting For – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

TRUTH MATTERS

And

It Is Worth Fighting For

Maybe Paul should not have publicly rebuked Peter for playing the hypocrite before the Jewish believers (read Gal 2:11). Perhaps he should not have dared to “name names” in some of his epistles (read 2 Tim 4:14). Obviously Paul was emotionally overwrought and an alarmist when he told the Ephesian elders warning them night and day for three years with tears about the wolves from without and the danger of false brethren from within (see Acts 20:27:31).

Pelagius taught man’s will was totally free and that original sin was a myth, perhaps Augustine and Jerome should have agreed to disagree with him. What if Athanasius had said ‘well brother Arius has a different revelation of the Godhead, nothing to break fellowship over” instead of sounding the alarm and condemning the man as the heretic he was? Possibly Irenaeus was too harsh on the false prophets and teachers attacking the Church in his day, and he even had the gall to name the miscreants in his book “Against Heresies.”

What if Martin Luther seeing Tetzel selling salvation and said wow, what a shame, but what can one person do against an entire religious system? And walked away thinking “ the Lord will settle the matter”?  Where would we be today?

My dear brothers and sisters it is costly to take a stand for God’s Word in a world that grows spiritually darker by the minute. It is even more difficult to stand up for righteousness within the Church that drifts further from the secure anchor of their souls, the Word and sacraments.

We are fast coming to a time when the cry again is being sounded ‘who is on the Lord’s side?” (read Luke 11:23), which is it in your life and mine? To follow the Lamb is to be in the minority, it is to carry the cross outside the camp (read Hebrews 13:13); suffer humiliation and be considered a fool for forsaking all the “goodies” YOU COULD HAVE HAD, YET DID NOT FOR His names sake. To be a disciple means to take a stand for God’s truth regardless of what it may cost you in family, friends, or societal position. It means not being popular or in with the in crowd.

Like Abraham, we are pilgrims in this world, yes in it, but not of it…at least that is the way it is supposed to be. Is this true in your life and mine? Or have we become bewitched with the baubles and glitter of a system decaying before our very eyes? Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver, today too many sell Him far more cheaply I fear.

I wish I could write you and say “hey folks, its ok,” but I’d be lying. It is not “ok” not by a long shot. The Church is under attack just as Paul warned almost 2,000 years ago. False apostles, prophets and teachers make merchandise of the sheep and if anyone dares to raise their voice against them they are engulfed with cries of “you’re accusing the brethren; you’re causing division; who died and made you judge?”   Evil prevails when good men keep silent and I for one refuse to keep silent and allow evil to prevail in my generation.

Brothers and sisters, God has never used the “many” He has always used a select group. For example: He chose Israel not because of their great size and might, for exactly the opposite reasons “ The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye [were] the fewest of all people” (Deut. 7:7). When Gideon went out to fight, We know that God made a separation and sent all but 300 soldiers back home (read Judges 7:4) so that the victory would be clearly seen as coming from Him and not their own abilities and numbers. Our Lord Himself chose twelve men to turn the world upside down (read Acts 17:6). The early Church itself was small but it spread from Jerusalem to Judea, then Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth (read Acts 1:8)

Often Apologists are called “accusers of the brethren” by our detractor’s. Yet it is Satan who falsely accuses the brethren before God. We in the Church are called to judge those within the Church (1 Cor. 6:3). We are called to exhort (Titus 1:9) and rebuke with all authority (2 Tim. 4:2) when we see people departing from the standards of God’s holy Word. In fact, for Christians not to serve as watchmen on the wall would be a dereliction of duty.

Discernment Ministries International is one voice that God has raised up to stand as a watchman on the wall and shout out a warning to the Body of Christ saying “test the spirits to see if they are of God.” We are in the minority within a sleeping Church, one that we are striving to rouse from its slumber. DMI and others are swimming hard upstream against every wind of doctrine which so many lovingly are bodysurfing downstream on.

However, DMI cannot do the work alone I am sending out this appeal with the hope that God still has a legitimate remnant of people who are spiritually dissatisfied with the current religious status quo. That there are a people whose righteous indignation has been stirred up by the Holy Spirit to the degree where they will faithfully support a ministry that dares to say  “the Emperor has no clothes on” regardless of the cost.

DMI needs more faithful partners to help us expand our mission of Teaching Truth & Exposing Error. Won’t you join our ranks and get involved in the battle for the integrity of the Gospel?  We thank God daily for those He has raised up thus far, but we need many more people to wake up to the reality of the battle we are all involved in and help support those of us who’ve dedicated their lives to sounding the alarm. Please pray about supporting us, we need your help more now than ever. ♦

His servant and yours,

Rev. Bob Liichow

 Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow





Doctrine; How Important Is It Really?

30 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – April 2005 Vol. 10 Issue 4 – Doctrine: How Important Is It Really? – by Robert J. Shipe

Doctrine;  How Important Is It Really?

 When the Holy catholic Church confesses the second article of the Apostles Creed it states:

“I believe in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

These historic and profound words which have been said throughout the ages of Christianity, and which are taken from the Holy Word of God tell us about the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, the Holy One from God. Our faith in Him, whom God sent to “take away the sins of the world,” is our only way to eternal salvation and heavenly home “whose kingdom has no end.”

The second article of the creed properly and truthfully describes Jesus, and we Christians adhere to and have total faith in these words when we confess this important teaching or doctrine of the universal church. Doctrine? Is this statement of faith that we confess in the Divine Service doctrine? Or is the idea of the creed being a doctrine of the church just a quirk, something that just happens to be true but really is not indicative of the God-Man Jesus Christ? Can we go even further? Can we rightfully state and prove that Jesus’ very essence, His entire being including His ministry, was firmly grounded in doctrine? If the answer to this question is “yes” then we must ask ourselves; do we need to adhere to ALL doctrine of the church laid out in the confession of the Lutheran church, or only to really important doctrines such as justification and the Trinity? Does all doctrine point directly to Christ, and is all doctrine really important? Or, as many in the Lutheran church today believe; is doctrine talked about too much, causing a stifling of growth. What follows is a brief look at some of these questions.

Let’s look at the very first question from above: Is the Apostles Creed doctrine? If such things as creation, the Trinity, virgin birth, the resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit, the church and eschatology are considered teachings, then we would have to say that the creed is full of doctrine. There probably would not be too much debate on this, even from those who may disagree on the other aspects of doctrine stated in the previous paragraph.

The disagreement comes with the next question: Is the creed being a doctrinal statement just something that happens to be true but is not consistent with the ministry and very essence of Jesus? In the very first book of the Bible God reveals to us that because of man’s fall He will send a Savior into the world to cleanse man from his sin (Genesis 3). In this very first book, God has already revealed to us the doctrine of original sin and justification in direct connection to the Christ. This doctrine of justification (both objective and subjective) is consistent throughout the Old Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is also consistently revealed to us when the Old Testament talks about the “Spirit of God” and with the prophecy of the coming of the Christ through the written word of the prophets.

The New Testament is filled with doctrine pointing directly to Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus can be directly traced to every teaching of the church catholic as it is laid out in the confessions of the Lutheran church, The Book of Concord. From Article I, the doctrine of God, to Article XXVIII, The Power of Bishops, each and every doctrine of the church is related to Christ. Any doctrine not relating to Christ, is no doctrine at all but adiaphorous, meaning that a teaching is neither commanded nor forbidden scripturally.

When the church errs on one doctrine, it becomes a snowball effect with other doctrines becoming weak. For instance; if the virgin birth is rejected then the deity of Christ will be questioned, which in turn will effect the doctrine of the Trinity, the atonement of Christ, the justification of the sinner, eschatology and finally our very salvation itself. Even if we take a certain doctrine and err on only one part we are in danger of the same results. When the doctrine of objective justification is rejected, that is, when it is stated that Jesus came into the world not for all of mankind but only for believers, we have also erred on the doctrine of election and predestination, which only God knows. The sacraments themselves become a questionable focus point on this issue of denying objective justification. In the Epitome of the Book of Concord we read;

“God assures us of this gracious election not only in mere words, but also with His oath, and has sealed it with His holy sacraments, of which we can remind ourselves and with which we can comfort ourselves in our greatest temptations and thus extinguish the flaming darts of the devil.” (Formula of Concord Art. XI paragraph 13).

Of course the Bible is full of objective justification doctrine. John 3:16 is one example among many. Listen to what Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). So it is not only important to adhere to a doctrine, but to adhere to it completely and unequivocally. It is also important that if “basic Christian doctrine” such as The Trinity and justification by faith alone are adhered to then all other doctrine also needs to be adhered to because all doctrine is tied together.

In many Lutheran churches today while the creed may be confessed every Sunday (though here in Michigan there are many Pastors who do not think the creed is even necessary) it is not thought upon as an important doctrine of Christianity. While this may not be openly taught, it is clearly perceived with the absence of such teaching and preaching.

In fact it can be safely said that very little doctrine (which can be argued is almost always Gospel) is taught at all. Why? Why would doctrine of the Church catholic which has already been shown to be so crucial to and inclusive of the very work and person of Jesus be suppressed and even despised by many churches today? The answers are as varied as the number of missing doctrines themselves.

Many in the Lutheran church believe teaching doctrine and adhering to it takes away from the ministry of Christ. They believe that the Christian’s focus should be on Christ and the way He lived His life. This type of thinking has spawned the ever-popular W.W.J.D. bracelets, “What would Jesus do? Of course our focus needs to be on Christ, but instead of focusing on what He WOULD do, we need to focus on what He did and continues to do for us.

By focusing on what He did for us (justification) and what He continues to do for us (the preaching of His word and the administration of His sacraments) the faith built by His gifts will produce in us good works (sanctification). Justification, the sacraments, sanctification are all-important doctrines that are directly tied together with the ministry of Christ. By teaching and adhering to the doctrines of Jesus the ministry of Christ does not suffer because, as has already been shown with confessing the creed, the ministry of Christ IS doctrine.

In the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to teach and Baptize all nations, or all people. He tells them to teach the nations “everything I have commanded you.” If we focus on only the law (what would Jesus do), we are only focusing on those things which cannot save us because the law always condemns us and shows us where we have failed (the second use of the law, mirror). The gifts God gives to us produces faith, which can and do save us. So the ministry of Christ does not suffer but comes alive and comforts the sinner since he knows and understands the doctrines Jesus teaches AND lives.

Let us not forget that Jesus had some very strong things to say about His coming atoning sacrifice in John Chapter 6. If ever there was an opportunity for “church growth” it was when Jesus was feeding the 5000. When Jesus had said this “hard” teaching many of His followers turned and left Him. Did Jesus run after them shouting “Wait, let me meet your needs. I didn’t really mean what I said?” No. Instead He turned to Peter and wanted to know if he too wanted to leave with the rest. Peter answered for all the ages by saying; “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Jesus’ words are His teachings, His doctrine for the believer to learn, adhere to and follow. Because we fail so miserably in following and living Jesus’ teachings make it even more important to know, understand and confess those teachings.

Another reason why doctrine is not taught and is even despised in many of today’s Lutheran churches is because many believe that doctrine is too hard to teach, especially to children. Words such as “original sin,” “justification,” “sanctification,” “sacraments,” “Trinity,” “absolution,” and “eschatology” are too “theological” and obsolete they argue. While some of these words are not found in the Bible, their concepts are. Jesus taught all of these doctrines, not to the scholars of the day, but to fisherman, tax collectors and the like. Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman were hardly brilliant women, but Jesus didn’t shy away from teaching any of them important doctrines of His ministry. It could arguably be said that the smartest person Jesus taught certainly was not the easiest, at least by theological and cultural standards; Paul of Tarsus.

Now it may be argued that it was the Christ who was doing the teaching, God Himself explaining His doctrines to all these poor miserable sinners and certainly we cannot compare our wisdom with His. This is no doubt very true, but how about the people who were taught by the disciples? These were mere men teaching people who never hear the Gospel. Romans, Hebrews, Corinthians, Ephesians, and the like, even if they were intelligent, had no idea what these teachings meant, but they were still taught all these doctrines. In fact, how could Christianity have grown if they weren’t taught? Of course, Christianity grows solely by the Holy Spirit and that too is a doctrine, an important doctrine, of the church.

Children too need to be taught the doctrines of Jesus. Of course it wouldn’t be practical to use phases like “justification” with a 4 year old (though with the Holy Spirit anything is possible), but the teaching itself can and must be taught. Let’s look once again to the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to Baptize and teach “all nations.” This includes children as well as adults. It is interesting that while the Lutheran church Baptizes babies, many Lutheran Pastors really believe children cannot learn important doctrines of the church. It seems as though they are adhering to only half of the Great Commission. Many studies have been done to suggest that children, even at an early age, can understand teachings precisely because of their uncomplicated state. Jesus Himself gives children a lot of credit when He rebukes His disciples about their attitude toward little ones. Experts agree that a child learns a sport much easier than an adult. The same is true about playing a musical instrument. Cannot the same be said about the teaching of Christian doctrine? “Watered down” and “dummied down” theology is not only an insult to the believer, but it is lazy catechesis and many times “bad” theology as well.

A third and even more cynical argument against the teaching of doctrine is that it is not even needed at all. In fact these people claim that creeds and dogmas interfere with the church and its development and activity. It is interesting to note that the two main groups who hold this position are the very liberal (Modern theologians, who look to reason and science), and the very conservative (fundamentalists including many Baptists and those who belong to non-denominational churches).   While the former are just plain doctrinal or do not teach any doctrine because it does not exist, or fit their reason; the latter claim that creeds, doctrinal statements or confessional writings are merely “doctrines of men.” Those who hold to the liberal view (including many in the Lutheran church, the E.L.C.A. synod in particular) do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. This essay assumes that the Bible is truly the word of God and is inerrant. If the Bible is not Divinely instituted, if it is not actually the word of God, if it does contain errors, then the source of all Christian doctrine is flawed, and it can be argued that all doctrine IS the doctrine of men. This is not the case however. In his translation of Francis Pieper’s book “Christliche Dogmatik” John Theodore Mueller states:

“Our divine Savior accepted no other norm than Holy Scripture, and He invariably rejected the traditions of the Pharisees and the ‘reasoning’s’ of the Sadducees. When He declared His divine doctrines and refuted errors, He constantly based His teachings on the immovable foundations of the written Word of God. Thus at the beginning of His minister He met the temptations of Satan with the emphatic assertion ‘It is written’ Matt 4,4 and He adhered to this principle throughout His ministry. Cp. John 5,39; Matt5, 17-19; John 8,31; etc.”

Against the view that creeds and confessional writings are just the doctrines or traditions of men, not only can we use the above quote, but Mueller further states:

The Christian Church, which has for its source of faith only the infallible Word of God (Eph. 2,20), must under no conditions acknowledge as right and legitimate any dogma, or doctrine, which is not a clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Or we may say; The dogma of the Christian Church is the doctrine of the Holy Bible.”

This is not to say that only what is found in creeds and confessional writings are to be thought of as the only doctrine of the church, as some who call themselves “confessional Lutherans” believe. We must not be confused about which book (The Bible or creeds and confessional writings) interprets which, Mueller again:

“The question is not: Is this or that doctrine clearly stated in the Confessions? But: Is this or that doctrine set forth in God’s dogma, even through not a word is said about it in the Confessions of the Church Dogmas (Creeds and confessions) have a rightful place in the Christian Church provided they teach the doctrines of God and not the doctrines of means. In its creeds the Christian Church has never developed the Christian doctrine, but only declared the express doctrine of Holy Scripture in its full truth and purity against the errors of heretics and schismatics. Thus, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the like, are not declarations of new, man-made teachings, but the very doctrines of Christ, and His apostles set forth in Holy Scripture.”

We must remember that creeds, doctrines and confessional writings are to accurately reflect the teachings of Scripture. Any doctrine not taken from Scripture is either adiaphorous (not commanded in Scripture) or it is not truly the doctrine of Christ’s teaching (heresy).  So the question remains; Do the confessional writings of the Lutheran church set forth by Melanchton, Luther, Chemnitz and others clearly proclaim the doctrine of Holy Scripture? Or are these writings, along with the creeds of the Church just opinions of legalists who wanted to push their “opinions” on the church at the expense of Christ’s ministry, therefore impeding the work of Christ and stifling the growth of Christianity? We need look no further than the confessions themselves when they say:

“We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated. Since in ancient times the true Christian doctrine as it was correctly and soundly understood was drawn together out of God’s Word in brief articles or chapters against the aberrations of heretics, we further pledge allegiance to the three general creeds; the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as the glorious confessions of the faith-succinct, Christian, and based upon the Word of God-in which all those heresies which at that time had arisen within the Christian church are clearly and solidly refuted.” (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm paragraphs 3&4).

In his book, “A Summary Of Christian Doctrine”, Dr. Edward W.A. Koehler is quite candid, but correct with these excellent observations concerning true and false doctrine as it relates to the Church in general, and the Lutheran Church in particular: “When we say that the Lutheran Church is the true, or Orthodox Church, we do not mean to say that it is the only saving church, or that all its members are true Christians and will unfailingly be saved. Membership in the Lutheran Church is not identical with membership in the invisible Church. But we do mean to say that all its official teachings agree with the Word of God and are, therefore, positively true, and that all doctrines differing from them are heterodox and false Insistence on purity of doctrine is by no means narrow-minded bigotry on the part of the Church. A false doctrine can never produce a right faith, nor can false teaching direct us in the right way (Matt. 15:9).  Beside “trembling” at God’s Word (Is. 66:2), and not daring to depart from its teachings, we know that we can accomplish the purpose of this Word only if we most conscientiously continue in its teachings; for the effect our teaching has on the hearts and the lives of men is determined by the content of what we teach. False doctrines create a false faith in those who accept them, and only the right doctrine can create the right concept in the mind and the right faith in the heart. To make men disciples of Christ the Church must teach ALL that Christ has commanded, and nothing but what He has commanded.” (Matt. 28:20).  As heresies and heterodox teachings are still being spoken within the church today, it would do us well to listen to these words. If these words are taken seriously, if Scriptural doctrine is continuously taught, believed, and confessed, then the Church, as it was set forth in Scripture, and taught by Christ, will remain the truly Christian and catholic Church. ♦

 

About the Author His name is  Robert J. Shipe.  He is 44 years old and lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He attends St. Marks Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where he serves as an elder, lector and usher at St. Marks. His web site address is: http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/shipe.htm

Bolding and color added for emphasis.




Soli Deo Gloria

18 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter -January 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 1 – Soli Deo Gloria – by Rev. Robert Liichow

scansoliDeoGloria0001

The Reformation reclaimed the Scriptural teaching of the sovereignty of God over every aspect of the Believer’s life. All of life is to be lived to the glory of God. As the Westminister Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” This great and all consuming purpose was emphasized by those in the 16th and 17th Centuries who sought to reform the church according to the Word of God. In contrast to the monastic division of life into sacred versus secular perpetuated by Roman Church, the reformers saw all of life to be lived under the Lordship of Christ. Every activity of the Christian is to be sanctified unto the glory of God.   (1)

This last of the five Reformation solas is really the capstone of them all because it points us back to the source from which the other four we’ve studied come from, that being Almighty God. The Cambridge Declaration gives us a very succinct statement on this glorious truth when it states:

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel. (2)

I especially enjoy the inclusion of the negative proclamation that God cannot be properly worshipped “if our worship is confused with entertainment.” Entertainment is exactly what the majority of charismatic extremist and today’s so-called evangelical churches worship portion of the service consists of.

As a recovered charismatic extremist pastor I can speak from experience when I say that our church services were divided up into basically four segments. First, we began with “praise” which consisted of fast paced songs and refrains written to get the people’s emotional juices going. The praise portion of the service was when the band would really begin to “rock out.” Some of us would get out into the aisles and dance (yes I used to cut-the-rug quite a bit in those days). People would clap in time to the songs, most of which were man-centered,  i.e. we sang about how good we felt about Jesus or how good He made us feel.

There was little theological content in anything we sang. The praise portion was where you’d hear the loud shouts of “halleluiahs” and the like. This specific type of singing would continue for a minimum of fifteen minutes to half an hour or more, depending on the congregation. (3)

After getting the people emotionally stimulated the worship team (we did not have a choir, most charismatic churches and many seeker-sensitive churches  do not believe in them, they smack of the dreaded traditionalism) would slow the tempo and we’d then enter into the second phase of the service called “worship.” Worship differed greatly in emotional content and rhythm. In our congregation the lights would be lowered to almost total darkness apart from the words on the screen. Allegedly, this was to help the people focus on “God” and not the person standing next to them.

These songs also lacked a strong theological basis yet in most cases they were directed towards God. Many of the songs were little more than refrains which were sung over and over again. This technique is really a form of hypnotism and helps those engaged in worship (and we were strongly encouraged to give over selves over totally to “God” during this portion of the service) empty their minds.

If you have ever attended a Benny Hinn non-miracle crusade you will see Mr. Hinn and his musicians utilize the same technique to get the people to swallow-and-follow whatever he is teaching. In our church, the dimmed lights, the repetitive chanting of simple refrains would go on sometimes as long as an hour.

Then the lights would begin to brighten and lo-and-behold the Pastor was standing behind the pulpit and the third portion of the service began with the delivery of the message. The Cambridge Declaration also mentions that God cannot be truly worshipped when the proclamation of the Law and Gospel is neglected and is replaced with messages on self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment. In fifteen years of active charismatic ministry in various leadership roles I never once heard the term “Law and Gospel.” Although in no way could we be considered liturgical in the confessional understanding, we did have our own form of preaching through our lectionary. Our charismatic “lectionary” consisted of sermons on: the nine sign-gifts of the Holy Spirit; financial prosperity; divine healing, submission to authority; the anointing; revival; the office of the restored prophet and apostle, etc. (4)

The fourth section of the church service was the alter call. This is here the pastor or visiting guest speaker do all they can to cajole the attendee to make a decision to receive Christ. During this phase of the service in our church we had four specific aspects which were usually mentioned: 1) salvation 2) rededication, i.e. backsliders to repent and renew their commitment to the Lord; 3) divine healing, where hands were laid on folks who usually got slain in the spirit at this point of the service; 4) baptism in/with the Holy Spirit, a second work of grace by which the individual was instructed on his or her need to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit and the proof they had in fact received the Spirit was that they would speak with other tongues. (5)

The reason I take time to go through these four aspects common to most charismatic congregations is that “worship” is seen as only one part of what is done, it is a specific moment in the service itself. We did not have the understanding that fro start to finish the entire service was to be an act of worship. Nor did everything we did point to Jesus Christ and His work alone on our behalf. A great deal of what was done and is currently being done in congregations such as these can genuinely be considered as man-centered entertainment and not done for the glory of God alone.

The preacher may be exalted after the service (as he is led away by his armor bearers) “oh, wasn’t pastor Jakes so anointed this evening!” The singer or musicians are often praised with uproarious hand clapping and hooting and hollering for more. People are lifted up and “glorified” but often God is alone in some back corner, only given lip service.

What Does It Mean to Give Glory To God?

Thomas Watson, a Reformed Confessional theologian made the following comments about the first question of the Westminister Short Catechism :

Q 1: What is the chief end of man?

A : Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Here are two ends of life specified.

1. The glorifying of God.      2. The enjoying of God.

1. The glorifying of God. ‘That God in all things may be glorified’ (1 Peter 4:2) The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. ‘Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31). Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is asserted, that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

When we speak of God’s glory, the question will be moved, What are we to understand by God’s glory?

There is a twofold glory: [1] The glory that God has in himself, his intrinsic glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun: he is called the ‘God of Glory’ (Acts 7:2). Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature’s honour is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God’s glory is such an essential part of his being, that he cannot be God without it. God’s very life is in his glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which he will not part with; ‘My glory I will not give to another’ (Isa. 48:11). God will give temporal blessings to his children, such as wisdom, riches, honour; he will give them spiritual blessings, he will give them grace, he will give them his love, he will give them heaven; but his essential glory he will not give to another. King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to Joseph, and a gold chain, but he would not part with his throne. ‘Only in the throne will I be greater than thou’ (Gen 41:40). So God will do much for his people; he will give them the inheritance; he will put some of Christ’s glory, as mediator, upon them; but his essential glory he will not part with; ‘in the throne he will be greater.’ [2]  The glory which is ascribed to God, or which his creatures labour to bring to him. ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name’ (1 Chron. 16:29) And, ‘Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit;’ (1 Cor. 6:20) The glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up his name in the world, and magnifying him in the eyes of others. ‘Christ shall be magnified in my body’ (Phil. 1:20).

What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection,  4.Subjection. This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.

[1]. Appreciation To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of him. ‘Thou, Lord, art most high forevermore.’ (Psa.92:8). ‘Thou art exalted far above all gods’ (Psa. 97:9) There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prma causa, the original and springhead of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God, where we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers’ (Psa. 8:3). To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.

[2]. Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship.  ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ (Psa. 29:2). There is a twofold worship: (1) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honour. ‘Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth’ (Gen. 23:7). Piety is no enemy to courtesy. (2) A divine worship which we give to God as his royal prerogative. ‘They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground’ (Neh. 8: 6). This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire (Lev. 10:1). The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, ‘according to the pattern in the mount’ (Ex. 25:40). He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here everything must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.

[3]. Affection This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved (Deut. 6:5). ’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.’ There is a twofold love: (1) Amor concupiscent, a love of concupiscence, which is self-love; as when we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God. (2) Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his tresure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is superlative; we give God the best of our love, the cream of it. ’I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate’ (Song of Solomon 8:2). If the spouse had a cup more juicy and spiced, Christ must drink of it. It is intense and ardent. True saints are seraphims, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was amore perculsa, in fainting fits, ‘sick of love’ (Song of Solomon 2:5). Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.

[4].  Subjection  This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore, they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh (Matt. 2:11). So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we stick at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy, and say to him as David to King Saul, ’Thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine’ (1 Sam. 17:32) A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but goes its circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God, has not only his affections heated with love to God, but he goes his circuit too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience. (7)

When Christians live lives of Soli Deo Gloria, they live consciously for their King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every aspect of their Sunday service is worship from the first words spoken to the benediction given. Everything points to Jesus Christ, His perfection, our imperfection, and the grace the Father has provided freely in giving us His only begotten Son.

What is more is that the early Evangelical Christians saw the entirety of their lives as mere extensions of what they participated in on Sunday. All of their life was, and rightly so, viewed as a form of worship and a way to glorify their Lord in even the most mundane aspects. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul when he exhorted:

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the mane of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col. 3:17

 

This is the practical goal of this sola as Herbert Samworth says the following:

The Reformers also taught that it was possible to live victoriously and serve God in the world. This is the meaning of soli deo gloria. God receives all the praise for one’s salvation and, out of thankfulness, one dedicates their entire life to the service of God. That service of God might consist in different types of work but was united in the Person Who was served. In contrast, the Roman Church taught that the clerical life was the only life that truly could please God. Thus one had to withdraw from the world in order to live for God. The Reformers, while stressing that salvation was entirely of God, were equally determined to show that one honored God by living for Him. (8)

God is to be given the glory in all we do and say, for it is in Him that we live and move and have our being (see Acts 17:28). Sadly, this is not the case in the vast majority of the most well know charismatic “ministers.” The question which needs to be asked at the end of any spiritual endeavor is, who was glorified? Man or God (it will always be one or the other)? Here is an account given by Oral Roberts:

“Brother Roberts told his two visitors, “I want you men to know that my vow to God is to touch neither the gold nor the glory. I am sure God will meet the needs of my forthcoming ministry in an honorable way. And all the funds will be handled in the highest manner. (9)

That sounds humble, and possibly Mr. Oral Roberts even meant it when he said it. However, history has proven that he has broken his vows to God regarding touching the “gold and the glory.” To begin with Mr. Roberts is a multimillionaire. He and his remaining son, Richard (his other son committed suicide and his daughter died in a plane crash) own multiple homes and Oral sits on the boards of may prominent businesses in Tulsa, not to mention all the property his “ministry” owns.   Secondly, regarding the glory it seems that whenever a minister does anything to take the focus off of God and places people’s minds and hearts on himself, he has attempted to take God’s glory to some degree. EVERYTHING Roberts has created bears his name! Allow me to cite a few examples; “The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” then later we had “Oral Roberts University,” and even “Oral Roberts Publishing.” His pictures and more than a few statues adorn the campus bearing his name. Isn’t this touching the glory a bit?

Frankly, any ministry which is named after its founder garners more than a little scrutiny from me. Such as Benny Hinn Ministries and Benny Hinn Media Ministries; Kenneth Copland Ministries; John Hagee Ministries; Marilyn Hickey Ministries; Joyce Meyer Ministries; T.D. Jakes Ministries Inc.; Jesse Duplantis Ministries; Jerry Servalle Ministries International; Creflo Dollar Ministries; Jimmy Swaggat Ministries; Peter Popoff Ministries; Leroy Jenkins Evangelistic Association. This list could go on for pages. Note that each of the ministries (or sinistries as a brother as called them) point directly to themselves. None of them have biblical names or even names which simply designate who or what they are about! What is more if you get their magazines (which I highly recommend) you will see their pictures on every other page. It is possible to get some literature that may mention the name of Jesus once or twice, but the founder’s name forty or fifty times.

Mr. Hinn is a classic case study in being a psychopath and fraud. It is no mistake that Mr. Hinn has instructed his mass choirs (my wife and I have been a part of several of them) to sing “How Great Thou Art” as Hinn ascends to the platform to begin his dog-and-pony show This is not done coincidentally, sure the song is about how great God is, but while the desperately ill and devotees are caught up in the song…there appears God’s man of faith and power the divine healer of the hour in his bright white suit & Nehru collar. Who is really receiving the glory, who is really the great one? God or Benny Hinn? Benny when pressed will confess that God is the Healer, since this is true, then why do people need to come to his miracle crusades? Well because God has chosen Benny as His conduit for miracles of healing. I urge our readers to go visit http://www.pfo.org and purchase he most recent copy of “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn.”   It is the seminal work exposing this man for exactly what he is. Also the Trinity Foundation has some outstanding videos/DVD’s exposing this fraud, visit them at http://www.thedoormagazine.com

None of the above mentioned organizations live for the glory of God and His glory alone. They exist to enlarge their sphere of spiritual influence by any means necessary. The messages they preach are devoid of any mention of Law or Gospel What is a shame is that millions of people are being led astray by these biblically illiterate preachers, who in some cases are outright charlatans, teaching their followers to live lives of selfish shallow pseudo spirituality. Well did the prophet Isaiah prophesy of such people when he said:

Wherefore the Lord said, Foreasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, [even] a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall perish, shall be hid. Isa. 29:13-14

There is a great deal of excitement in the praise and worship aspect of charismatic services and revivals. Everything from smoke machines, dancing of all forms (including a form of conga-line/Jericho march two-step), banner waving pageantry, dramatic skits, dance ministries 9with women and men in varying degrees of immodest dress at times), not to mention the use of emotional testimonies thrown into the mix. All of these elements equal “worship” and are supposedly done unto the glory of God. Yet God is far from such nonsense, as well intentioned as it might be in some cases.

The Lord through the prophet says that these people do draw near to Him with their mouths, they even say the right words, i.e. got the “God-talk” down to a science. Yet for all their religiosity they fail and miserably so. Why?  Their hearts are far from God.  The Hebrew word for “far” (rachag) to become far or to become distant.   This heart distance fro the Lord was not an overnight experience, but a process begun in their lives by following the doctrines (precepts) of men versus adhering faithfully to the Word of God.

What is the Lord’s response to those who act religiously, but are in reality far from Him? He says that He will proceed to do a marvelous work a true “wonder” (those in the sign &wonders movement have received one from the Lord’s hand and do not even know it) among these apostates. The wisdom of their wise men (teachers) shall perish (ahad) has a very strong Hebraic meaning including: to be destroyed, to vanish, to be exterminated. The understanding (hiynah) which is defined as understanding or discernment of their leaders shall be hidden from them!

Some may wish to argue that the context of the text is referring to Israel, which is correct; however, it can be legitimately applied to those in the Church because our Lord applied to the religious leaders of His day and He is the Head of the Church today (see Col. 1:18)  so it can be applied to erring leaders in our time. If you want to see a great example of what I have been writing about then all you have to do is get on-line and watch and listen to a Bonnie & Mehesh Chavda service about “ushering in the glory” at http://www.maheshchavda.com/video/ushering_in_the_glory-april_2004.asp

See Video here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKHaRYeJdBU     (It could disappear at anytime, like the TBN clip recently did, so see it while you can! )

Make no mistake as was stated earlier in the article by Watson that God will never share His glory with us. Yet so many conferences, books and tapes are produced about how we can tap into the glory of God versus teaching the flock how to live lives that bring glory to our Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria  must become the heart motivation of God’s people once again. There needs to be a genuine revival within the Church where God’s people again become humbled by the fact that all we are and all we have are because—of grace alone, by faith alone, in the work of Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone and thus to God alone belongs all the glory…which we dare not even attempt to touch or usurp. Selah.   ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Strawbridge, Gregg, Ph.D This statement came from a document was originally written for the 1993 Reformation Celebration at Audubon Drive Bible church in Laurel, Ms, as part of a worship service and can be found at http://www.fivesolas.com/5solas.htm. Underlining added for emphasis

2. You may read the entire Cambridge Declaration on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals located at http://www.christianity.com/ace.

3. Our former congregation, Jubilee Christian Church, was known as a warfare church because of our praise and worship which was consciously used as a tool of spiritual warfare against the principalities and powers over our city. We based this practice on Ps. 149:6-9 [let] the high [praise] of God [be] in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; Ps. 149:7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, [and] punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written; this honor have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD

4. These messages would comprise a year’s worth of teaching. The list may vary a bit depending on what flavor of charismatic church you attend. Our church was a syncretism of Word of Faith doctrines and newer prophetic/apostolic restored teaching. Some church’s would have regular series of spiritual warfare, demons and deliverance, sign and wonders, etc.

5. DMI offers a book entitled: “Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

6. My wife, Tracy, and I operated the prayer room for people seeking the baptism. We laid hands on approximately 1,000 people the vast majority of whom left muttering some form of gibberish which made them and us feel very good. When someone would fail to begin to speak ecstatically we then went into encouragement mode and told them they might begin to speak when they were alone in prayer or we’d be glad to minister to them again next Sunday.

7. Watson, Thomas, Westminister Shorter Catechism. Obtained from http://www.bpc.org/resouces/watson/wsc_wa_001.html Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

8. Samworth, Herbert. What Was the Reformation? Obtained from http://www.solagroup.org/articles/faqs/faq_0034.html.

9. Roberts, Oral My Story. Tulsa, OK Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, 1961 p. 73

10. I recommend people get their free materials, get on their mailing list because you will begin to build an original source collection of teachings, failed prophecies and a huge collection of “Spirit” empowered fetish objects, aka “point-of-contact” items. Plus you will become well versed in their lingo and fundraising techniques.

11. BibleWorks ver 4.0.03 p. For Windows, 1998 BibleWorks, LLC Software Hebrew cited from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

12. For those who love the word of god and want to understand its proper place in our lives DMI is offering a CD entitled “Sola Scriptura” delivered by Rev. Liichow on 01-02-2005 (its different from the article).

13. Ibid

14. ibid 





Sola Scriptura

17 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – December 2004 – Sola Scriptura – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The Cambridge Declaration

THESIS ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURAscantri20040001

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

The above statement is a good reaffirmation of what was originally voiced by Dr. Martin Luther when he, as a Roman Catholic monk, stood before the governing authorities of the Church. The following is a brief summation of that encounter:

Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church and father of the Protestant reformation, was publicly rebuking the Catholic Church for its unbiblical teachings. The Catholic Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication (and death) if he did not recant. Martin Luther’s reply was “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning – unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, – and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!” (1)

What Luther and the reformers who followed his lead were saying was that Holy Scripture alone was the only true and infallible guide for all Christian’s faith and practice. Furthermore, that any traditions within the Church had to have their basis within the context of the Scriptures. Traditions are valid only when they are based on Scripture and are in full agreement with Scripture. Tradition that are in contradiction with the Bible are not of God and are not a valid aspect of the Christian faith. (2)

The Reformation was at its core a fight to get back to the Bible and discard a plethora of manmade doctrines and traditions which had been increasing over the years in the Church. At this point it is helpful to begin by defining our terms so that we understand how the following term “doctrine” is being used.

The word “doctrine” in the Greek is: {did-akh-ay’} Meaning 1) teaching 1a) that which is taught 1b) doctrine, teaching, concerning something 2) the act of teaching instruction 2a) in religious assemblies of the Christians, to speak in the way of teaching, in distinction from other modes of speaking in public. (3)

Doctrine simply means “teaching.”  The question before us is what is the source of the teaching we are adhering to? It is important for us to always remember that according to the Bible there are only three sources of doctrine impacting our lives at any time. Hopefully we are building our lives on the doctrine of God.

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,   Hebrew 6:1

Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Titus 2:10

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9

The Bible speaks much of the doctrine of God and of Christ (who is God) and this doctrine is found only within the pages of the Bible, it is not found outside of the Scriptures themselves. As Christians we have no other authoritative source that we can point to and say “this is the Word of the Lord.” The Bible also speaks of the doctrine of men. In the following citation we read of our Lord rebuking the religious leaders of His day:

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to [his] father or [his] mother, [it is] a gift, by whatsoever ever thou mightiest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, [he shall be free]. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:4-9

Manmade religious tradition will always supersede the authority of God’s commandments, it is simply part of our fallen nature to attempt to exalt ourselves above God. Manmade teachings and practices may seem religious and appear to promote the worship of God but this is simply not the case. Jesus reminds the religious leaders and the crowd surrounding him of what the prophet Isaiah said regarding people who attempt to draw near to God with their mouths and endeavor to honor God with their lips, yet their hearts are far from Him! The Apostle Paul addressed the same issue of the danger of false manmade doctrine in his letter to the Church at Colosse:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ… Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Colossians 2:8, 20-22

From the inception of the Church, various false teachers, false prophets and false apostles have tried to supplant the authority of Scripture by adding their own teachings and practices in an attempt to gain power over the spiritual lives of God’s people and to destroy the foundational doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

There is yet one more source of doctrine, which must also be considered and that is the doctrines of devils. This one in particular is often the source of the false doctrines of men:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1 Timothy 4:1-6

Expressly is used only once in the entire New Testament and here we read of the Holy Spirit stating unequivocally that in the latter times some people shall depart or fall away from the true faith in Christ and His work alone. What causes this apostasy? These individuals give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, that word can also be translated as demons.

How do demons teach? Obviously they speak through people who are open to them.  The examples that Paul cites specifically are doctrines of devils. The first one is the doctrine which forbids marriage. To this day the Roman Catholic Church forbids both its priests and nuns to enter into marriage. The Shaker cult forbade their members to marry and demanded people get divorced who joined their ranks. Other sundry cults and sects have also forbidden marriage among its members. The Bible clearly denotes this as a doctrine of devils. The other area Paul cites concerns dietary regulations. For many years the Roman Catholic Church forbid people to eat meat on Friday (I am not sure if this practice is still being enforced). Many other groups demand strict vegetarianism and some “Hebrew” roots cults demand strict dietary adherence. Obviously, Hasidic and Orthodox Jews still keep the Old Covenant dietary laws too. Any group that demands that their members abstain from eating anything that God has created to be enjoyed is promulgating a doctrine of devils.

The sign of a “good minister” is one who puts his portion of Christ’s flock in remembrance of what the Bible has taught, nourishing or feeding the flock in the words of faith and good doctrine. In verse 13 Paul exhorts Timothy to give himself over to reading, to exhortation and doctrine. Verse 16 he warns this young Pastor to “take heed” of his spiritual well being, the doctrine entrusted to him and to continue in them! I like Robertson’s commentary on this verse:  1 Tim 4:16(6)

Thus we see that according to the Scriptures there are three sources of teaching; God; man; and devils. The realization that Luther came to was that much of what was being presented as the doctrine of God was in fact nothing more than the commandments of men and doctrines of devils. He came to decry the fact that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had elevated its own traditions to a position of either equaling the authority of the Bible or even superseding it. The next quote is from a Roman Catholic web site giving their view of Martin Luther:

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) is to be given the credit for inventing the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Bible Only or Bible Sufficiency). He had separated himself from the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, and thereby so doing lost all authority regarding Church matters. He then turned to the Bible, a book as the sole source of authority. Can a book ever be a sole source of authority?

The above Roman Catholic apologist considers Sola Scriptura a false doctrine and that Luther had the audacity to turn from the traditional authority of the Pope and Roman Catholic traditions and look to the confines of the bible, “a book” the author says, “as the sole source of authority.”  (7)

This article is not about Martin Luther nor is it a polemic against Roman Catholicism (RC) as a religion. What is important to notice is that even to this day RC upholds its traditions as equal in authority with the bible and when the Bible and tradition do not agree it seems that manmade doctrines and those of demons prevail. Let me cite just a few extra-biblical traditions concerning the Virgin Mary within the R.C.C. These are taken directly from their own catechism in use today.

The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue and merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (CCC491) (8)

 The Bible never teaches any such thing! Mary was chosen by God to be His vessel through whom our Lord was born, but she too was born in sin and shaped in iniquity (see Psl. 51:5).  She needed to have her sins washed away by the blood of Christ just as all who would be saved. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (CCC493) (9)

No, Mary was a sinner as we all are. If she did not, then the Apostle John is a liar when he says in 1 john 1:10  “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” They teach at the time of her death Mary was taken spiritually and physically into heaven:

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven… (CCC974) (10)

There is nothing scripturally to base this claim upon. The Bible speaks of Enoch being taken up and Elijah riding off to heaven in a chariot of fire but no mention is made concerning much at all about the life or death of Mary after the resurrection of Jesus.

…the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix (CCC969) (11)

Mary is prayed to which contradicts the plain teaching of the bible when we are told by the Apostle Paul to Timothy in his first letter to him:

For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:5,6

In fact, within the R.C.C. there is a strong movement afoot to see to it that Mary is elevated to an even higher status, to that of being the Co-redemptrix:

The Blessed Virgin Mary is to be called Queen not only on account of her divine motherhood but also because by the will of God she had a great part in the work of our salvation…..In this work of redemption the blessed Virgin Mary was closely associated with her Christ…Just as Christ, because he redeemed us, is by a special title our King and Lord, so too is Blessed Mary, our Queen and our Mistress, because of the unique way in which she co-operated in our redemption. She provided her very substance for his body, she offered him willingly for us, and she took a unique part in our salvation by desiring it, praying for it, and so obtaining it…–Ad Coeli Reginam. (12)

The entire cult of Mary within the R.C.C. is an abomination and a blasphemy. These are not minor issues that we can agree to disagree about. Teaching that Mary played a vital role in our redemption is teaching a doctrine of devils; one which reduces the centrality of Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God who alone bore the sin of the world.

These are only some examples of non-biblical traditions that the R.C.C. practices, such as the infallibility of the Pope when he makes declarations from “Peters” seat in the Vatican. Or the belief in purgatory where the partially saved sinner goes to have the rest of their sins purged away by fire. Not the mention the practice of indulgences which are still being given.

It is easy to understand why the R.C.C. took such a violent stance against Luther and all those reformers who followed him. The R.C.C. knew that if the Bible ever got into the hands of the “common man” in a language they could read and understand that the R.C.C. would lose the stranglehold it had on the souls of millions of people.

The printing of the Bible by Guttenberg in German and Luther pointing people to the Bible as the only rule for faith and practice shook the very foundations of the R.C.C.

The medieval church assumed that Scripture, the church’s tradition, and scholastic theology were identical in content. Any tensions between Scripture and tradition were resolved by the use of the Quadriga, the medieval system of biblical interpretation which recognized four levels to the truth of Scripture: literal, topological, allegorical and anagogical. Great respect for the authority and content of the Scripture could thus coexist with a theology and practice quite different from the Scriptures…When the authorities refused to acknowledge the authority of the apostolic tradition in Scripture over the ecclesiastical tradition, the Reformers loyally continued to assert the apostolic tradition against those who claimed apostolic succession. (13)

In other words when the R.C.C. was faced with their own human traditions which did not agree with a plenary reading of the Scripture they created a system by which they could make the Bible agree (more or less) with their manmade doctrines. The Reformers refused to accept this and stood with Luther asserting that the Scriptures Alone, Sola Scriptura was the only authority to be submitted to when it came to faith and practice within God’s Church. One of the most succinct statements of the sufficiency of Scripture is found in the introduction of the Formula of Concord:

Thus understanding of the significance of the confession is also stated explicitly in the introduction of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord. ‘In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of Old and New Testaments and all other writings is maintained, and Holy Scripture remains the only judge, rule, and norm, according to which as the only touchstone all doctrines should and must be understood and judged as good or evil, right or wrong.” (14)

Today as Evangelicals and Protestants in reading the above statement we might respond, “So what’s the big deal? Of course, the Bible is our only guide.” After all, don’t all Evangelicals and Protestants agree with Paul’s statement to Timothy in:

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  2 Timothy 3:16

God has revealed Himself to us through His Word and He has given us the Bible as the only concrete source by which we are to measure every spiritual experience, doctrine and practice. The Word of god is an unwavering arbiter on all matters concerning the life of faith.

…the knowledge of god is not therefore at the mercy of human forgetfulness or mystical notions of spirituality. God has given Scripture and the church to connect the once-for-all act in Jesus Christ with the present act of the Holy Spirit, who is the presence and power of the risen Lord. God calls His church into being by the word of the gospel and by His presence as the Holy Spirit equips and empowers His people for His service. To His church He entrusts the Scriptures, the prophetic and apostolic witness to Jesus Christ, the bearer of His word. (15)

In 1860, Charles A. Hodge wrote an article on the value of Sola Scriptura in his book Outlines of Theology, the following comments come from the chapter heading “The Rule of Faith & Practice.” this chapter is written in somewhat of a catechism format with a question stated and then answered. The following citation is from question six and fifteen:

6. What argument do the Scriptures themselves afford in favor of the doctrine that they are the only infallible rule of faith?

1st. The Scriptures always speak in the name of God, and command faith and obedience.

2nd Christ and his apostles always refer to the written Scriptures, then existing, as authority, and to no other rule of faith whatsoever. (Luke 16:29; 10:26; John 5:39; Rom. 4:3; 2Tim 3:15).

3rd The Bereans are commended for bringing all questions, even apostolic teaching, to this test. (Acts 17:11; see also Isa. 8:16).

4th. Christ rebukes the Pharisees for adding to and perverting the Scriptures  (Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:5-8; see also Rev. 22:18, 19, and Deut. 4:2; 12:32 Josh 1:7.

15. What is meant by saying that the Scriptures are the Judge as well as the rule in questions of faith?

‘A rule is a standard of Judgment; a judge is the expounder and applier of that rule to the decision of particular cases,’ The Protestant doctrine is –

1st That the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

2nd  (1) Negatively. That there is no body of men who are either qualified, or authorized, to interpret the Scriptures, or apply their principles to the decision of particular questions, in a sense binding upon the faith of their fellow Christians.

(2) Positively. That Scripture is the only infallible voice in the church, and is to be interpreted, in its own light, and with the gracious help of the Holy Ghost, who is promised to every Christian (1 John 2:20-27), by each individual himself; with the assistance, though not by the authority, of his fellow Christians. Creeds and confessions, as a form, bind only those who voluntarily profess them, and as to matter, they bid only so far as they affirm truly what the Bible teaches, and because the Bible does so teach. (16)

The battle regarding trusting in the sole authority of the scriptures has been going on ever since God’s Word was written down as an eternal record of His truth. This explains the stern warning given in the Bible concerning tampering with its contents:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD.”  Deut. 4:2

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deut. 12:32

Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Prov. 30:5-6

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book. Rev. 22:18,19

Not only is the R.C.C. (and some mainline Protestant denomination) guilty of violating the above texts so is every “Bible-based” cult. Many within the charismatic movement directly violate the above Scriptures also. I have already mentioned several examples in the R.C.C. so I will briefly mention some examples in a few of the cult groups.

The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit, aka the “Moonies” have supplanted the bible with Mr. Moon’s revelation called “The Divine Principle.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka The Mormons, although using the Bible, their main focus of faith and practice is found in “The Book of Mormon,” “The Pearl of Great Price” and “Doctrines and Covenants.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own perversion of the Bible called “The New World Translation” which has been highly redacted to support their ungodly beliefs. The Children of God (now called the Family of Love) uses the “Mo Letters” as their guide. The Church of Christ Science, aka Christian Science, uses Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures.” The Christadelphians use “Key to Understanding the Bible.” All of these cults use the Bible but in reality have placed it below the interpretation and/or further revelations of the founders of the cult. The Bible is in no way the sole authority in any of these cult members lives.

I mentioned some mainline Protestant denominations. As many of our readers know there has been an ongoing battle over the use of “inclusive” language in newer translations of the Bible. This inclusive language is nothing less than deleting certain words and phrases from the original manuscript evidence the church has in its possession. Not only are these apostates subtracting words from the original Greek and Hebrew text, they are adding their own words to these newer paraphrases of what cannot really be considered the Word of God. The United

Methodist Church is one such mainline historic Protestant denominations who seek to be more politically correct and culturally relevant will also join the chorus of those whose fidelity is not to God but to the approval of fallen humanity. This “new” translation of the Bible is called “Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and is being published by the International Bible Society and is a revision of the NIV.

The 26 scholars’ statement was released Feb. 1. Meanwhile, a list of more than 100 “inaccuracies” in the TNIV was compiled by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a daylong review of the TNIV Jan. 31. A 25-page document listing the translation objections is posted at the organization’s Internet site, www.cbmw.org   (17)

The scholars (18) who examined this latest perversion of God’s Word were no spiritual lightweights nor were they supporters of the “King James Only” debate. Sola Scriptura implies having an accurate translation of the Scripture to begin with! This changing of God’s Word is very dangerous because it will mislead some people into thinking they are standing by the principle of Sola Scriptura, when it is not God’s Word, but man’s they are standing upon. The result will be disastrous for these peoples spiritual lives because they will discover that they have built their spiritual house upon sand and not the true rock of Jesus Christ, the Living Word (see Matthew 7:24-27).

Earlier I mentioned just a few examples of R.C. traditions and doctrines which have taken away from the rightful authority of God’s Word, but within the Protestant Church there are many traditions and practices that also do not bow their knee to God’s Word as final arbiter either.

I will cite just a few that I am personally knowledgeable with the fast growing and pervasive sign-gift movement.

Although Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations pay lip service to adhering to Sola Scriptura in reality they do not. For example, virtually every Pentecostal and Charismatic Church teaches as dogma the experience of being slain in the spirit. (20) There is neither contextual biblical support for this teaching nor any valid biblical example for the experience. This teaching and practice is completely manmade. The same can be said of their definitions for the gift of the word of Knowledge and the gift of the word of wisdom (see 1 Cor. 12:8). The Bible never explains what these gifts were or how they manifested themselves in the life of the early church. The definition for these two gifts were restored to the Church by a man named Howard Carter, a Pentecostal evangelist who claimed God revealed them to him while he was in prison! (21) Mr. Carter also claimed to possess all nine of the sign-gifts. His definitions have become the accepted Pentecostal definitions from the sign-gifts. Over a million professing Christians flew into Toronto to receive the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit in the form of holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, prophetic animal sounds and movements. (22) These so-called manifestations of the Holy Spirit spread rapidly around the world and are generally accepted as being valid demonstrations of God’s power in the midst of His people, Even though there is not one shred of biblical support for any of these spiritual enthusiasms.

When I have confronted those who endorse these practices and ask them to show me in the Bible where they can be found their only response is—”Well, brother you know what the Bible teaches don’t you? And they proceed to cite the following text as support:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. John 21:25   scanbook0001

There answer is that what is occurring now in their revivals (I also failed to mention the alleged manifestations of gold teeth, gold dust, angel feathers and jewels  being manifested in revival services) are simply part of what Jesus did in His earthly ministry but are not recorded in the biblical text. That response is extremely troubling because if one takes that approach to the Bible then you can allow anything to take place and point to John 21:25 as ones biblical support.

This type of response impugns the sufficiency of Scripture. To hold to such a position is to say that God left out things (such as these manifestations) which are needful for Christian growth and a closer more dynamic fellowship with God.

The secondary response given is “look at the good fruit being brought forth in the individuals lives.” Having been totally enmeshed in charismatic extremism for many years I can honestly say that I have yet to see any benefits from these practices in individuals’ lives or that of congregations that have embraced such practices. In fact, I’ve noted quite the opposite in those participating in practices not endorsed by God’s Word. Our ministry produced a book entitled “Fruit Proof,” which is over 100 pages long and consists of eyewitness accounts given by Pentecostal and sign-gift believers who went to revival services to get the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit and instead left oppressed and disheartened. Many congregations have literally been split and the sheep scattered when the local church leaders brought in these new gifts, which turned out to be curses. Good fruit is at best subjective. The Moonie, Mormon or Mohammedan can point to members in their groups whose lives have been transformed by their embracing of the cult or false religions demands.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 3:13,14.

Paul reminds this young pastor to stick to the scriptures which can make one wise unto salvation which is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. He declares that all scripture is given by God and is profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction and (4) instruction in righteousness. That by the faithful proclamation of the Bible those who hear and obey will grow spiritually and be equipped for good works. Then he solemnly charges Timothy before God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to “preach the word.”  I believe Paul is warning this pastor not to get caught up in the latest fad or gables. (he warned Timothy earlier of this in 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; and then again in 2 Tim. 4:4). Why? Because Paul knew by the Spirit that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine. Robertson says the following about this text:

2 Ti 4:3 – A time when . One of the (out of season) times. Will not endure ( ). Future middle direct) of ( ). “Will not hold themselves back from” (Col. 3:13). Having itching ears ( ). Present middle (causative) participle of ( ), late and rare form of the Attic ( ) to scratch, to tickle, here only in N.T. “Getting the ears (the hearing, ticked.” The Vulgate: has . Cf. the Athenians (Ac 17:21). Clement of Alexandria tells of speakers tickling the ears of those who want to be tickled. This is the temptation of the merely “popular” preacher, to furnish the latest tickle. (23)

These words of the bible fit so many of today’s Christians. They run from conference to conference, from fad to fad. As a former charismatic extremist I saw this firsthand and was guilty of it too. People went from Toronto to Pensacola seeking the new wind of the Spirit. After that they became “God Chasers” (24) from there they tried implementing the “Prayer of Jabez.” Once Jebez’s prayer grew stale the herd moved onto trying out “Cat and Dog Theology” (I kid you not) and after that failed to satisfy their itch they are now becoming “Purpose Driven”. (25)

The largest church in America is the Lakewood Church in Dallas led by Joel Osteen (you might remember him from a couple of issues ago). Joel stated in the article in Charisma magazine that people are not interested in theology…the knowledge of God. Thirty thousand people with itching ears and a “pastor” who can’t wait to scratch them.

Not only does the Apostle Paul warn the Church about the danger of being carried away from the sure anchor of our souls, the Word of God, the Apostle Peter also warns us:

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

Teachers abound on both radio and television proclaiming damnable heresies and due to the biblical illiteracy of believers in the Church “many” follow their heretical teachings. Due to the heretics and those who follow them true orthodox Christianity will be (and is) spoken evil of by those outside the faith. All one must do is look back to the scandals of the 1980’s when the PTL scandal was revealed and Jim Bakker was shown to be immoral, then came revelations about Mr. Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, Larry Lea, Jimmy Swaggart and W.V. Grant. Now recently we learned that Paul Cain is a homosexual and alcoholic and that Paul Crouch, President of TBN, may also have been engaged in homosexual activity. The various healing frauds, often lead to the death of their followers. They have perpetrated false promises on God’s gullible sheep. Over the years, people like Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, A.A. Allen, Hobart Freeman, Jack Coe, William Branham and of course, Mr. Benny Hinn have peddled false hopes and produced no documented miracles.  All of these people have literally made merchandise out of the people of God and over the years bilking them out of over a billion dollars!

Some may say that I have set up a straw-man argument by citing the more notorious peddlers of God’s Word, but this is not the case. All of the above mentioned individual are (or were) leaders within Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal. These people are the “giants’ of this brand of belief and trust me when I say the fruit does not fall from the tree regarding these leaders.

How and why is this occurring today?   The answer is very simple; people have departed from looking to and relying upon the Scriptures alone. The Bible is no longer enough to satisfy their souls. Multitudes want to experience something mystical; they want to receive an impartation of power; they want a personal word from “God” through one of the multitudes of restored prophets and prophetesses. The simple exposition of Scriptures is not enough for this generation which Jesus referred to in His own day (and applies to ours):

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: Matthew 12:39

In the latest issue of the Issues Etc. Journal, Pastor Todd Wilkins authored an article entitled “The Fad Driven Church” in which he gave the following example of a pastor being purposed driven versus biblically led:

Mark Jones has been a pastor at Metropolitan Family Fellowship in Ventura since 2004. ’I feel a little betrayed. I mean, I’ve pretty much based my entire ministry on Warren and Hybel’s stuff, I don’t know what I’m going to do now. And I can’t imagine what I’m going to tell my congregation. It’s not like my congregation is going to put up with just interpreting Scripture every Sunday. That’ll hold their interest for about two seconds. (26)

Many pastors have departed from teaching biblical messages and are relying instead on whatever the latest church growth guru is peddling. Whenever anyone teaches or believes things which are not scripturally sound, i.e. doctrines based upon the context of the scripture they are headed for deceptions. Several very popular preachers have based their ministries outside of the godly confines of the Bible. These people are claiming to have been taken to heaven and/or hell. The Bible warns us of such people:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind, {beguile…: Col. 2:18

Mary K. Baxter initially wrote The Divine Revelation of Hell in which she says that Jesus took her on a personal tour of hell for 40 days. That book sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is now in several languages. People bought into her folly to such a degree Mrs. Baxter went on to pen The Divine Revelation of Heaven and most recently The Divine Revelation of Glory. These books are filled not only with outright lies but they contradict the Bible numerous times. Yet because of her alleged vision and experience she has gained an international following and is seen by many as an expert of the heavenly and hellish realms.

Jessie Duplantis wrote Heaven, Close Encounters of the god Kind, another international best selling book, available in 99% of the Christian bookstores. In his book Jessie denies he complete atoning work of the cross (we have to do some additional works when we get to heaven in order to perfect ourselves). He denies the sufficiency of Scripture and denies its infallibility not to mention teaching pre-incarnation human souls, heaven as a literal planet and a whole host of error and even blasphemy. Yet Mr. Duplantis is a regular teacher on TBN and travels world ide sharing his vision and other Word of Faith heresies.

These are just two examples of people who’ve based much of their ministry on their alleged encounters in the unseen realm; I could cite a dozen more people. My point is simply to demonstrate what occurs when people place their faith in anything or anyone, no matter how persuasive they may be, outside of the Bible.

God’s Word and His Word alone is our only guide for faith and practice. Any dream, vision, doctrine, manifestation or practice must be validated ithin the context of the Bible. If it fails this test than such matters must be avoided, those teaching/practicing them warned and if they persist in them, then it must be taken to the Church and God’s people made aware of the leaven in their midst. ♦

“IT IS WRITTEN”

Sola Scriptura,  Scripture Alone

scansolascroll0001

Copyright © 2004   Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. You can read the entire Cambridge Declaration written on April 20, 1996 by visiting the following web site http://www.reformed.org/documents/cambridge.html

2. Obtained from http://www.gotquestions.org/sola-scriptura.html December 3, 2004 Bold type and underlining added for emphasis

3. White, James R. Scripture Alone Bethany House Publishers 2004

4. Reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p 1999 software

5. Liichow, Robert Blessing or Judgment goes into great detail examining the charismatic Shaker cult and is an excellent resource for any Christian to have who is interested in knowing the origin of today’s revival manifestations.

6. Robertson’s word picture reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p. 1999 software

7. Stanley, Bob, May 1, 1999. Obtained from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/sorigin.htm on December 1, 2004

8. Obtained from http://www.reachouttrust.org/article/world/catholic.htm Underlining added for emphasis

9. Ibid. 10. Ibid 11. Ibid

12. Pope Pius XII, Ad Coeli Reginam Underlining added for emphasis.

13. Uanbeck, Warren A. Marburg Revised, A Reexamination of Lutheran and Reformed Tradition. Augsburg Publishing Home, 1966, pg. 16 Underlining added for emphasis

14. Ibid p. 17 Underlining added for emphasis.

15. Ibid p. 19

16. A.A. Hodge Outlines of Theology. Electronic edition obtained from http://www.homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/aahsolascrp.htm

Underlining added for emphasis

17. Obtained from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=12653 on 12/13/04

18. The 26 scholars who have stated their refusal to endorse the TNIV include two Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents. R. Albert Mohler. Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Semiary and Paige Patterson of South-eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, along with Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz, and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Harold O.J. Brown of Reformed Theological Seminary; R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries; John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and Raymond C. Orlund Jr. of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga.

19. I prefer to use the term “sign-gift movement” versus the more common phrase “charismatic movement,” when referring to the larger group because all of God’s people are charismatic in that we have all been gifted by the Holy Spirit with differing gifts.

20. DMI offers the only book in print (to our knowledge) that deals exclusively with this and the other practices cited in this article. These books can be purchased from our web site.

21. Truth Matters has dealt with Mr. Carter in past issues. To learn more about this man you can purchase his book entitled “Questions and Answers on Spiritual Gifts

22. These are all historically detailed and biblically refuted in our two books: The two Roots of Today’s Revival” and “Blessing or Judgment.”

23. Robertson’s Word Pictures reference obtained from Bibleworks for windows, release ver. 1999 software.

24. Tommy Tenney wrote the “God Chasers” which became a small industry with follow-up books, tapes, tee-shirts, devotional guides, etc. Few Christians seemed to mind that Tenney is a Oneness Pentecostal who denies the Trinity, believes in salvation through water Baptism in Jesus name only. He can be seen on a regular basis on TBN.

25. Rick Warren has written several books around the theme of being “purpose driven” and these books have also spawned an industry around them. Many struggling churches think using his curriculum will be their salvation and result in a population explosion.

26. Wilkins, Todd Issues, Etc. Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, 2004, p. 4 underlining added for emphasis.

 

 

 

 

 





Sola Fide

12 06 2009

Truth Matters – Oct 2004 – Vol. 8 Issue 10 – Sola Fide – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Romans 5:1-2

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

It is fitting that this article appear in the October issue of Truth Matters, because October 31st is celebrated as “Reformation Sunday” by Lutheran bodies and other Reformed congregations. Luther’s message is as startling today as it was when he first taught it around 1515. I was surprised when I taught this message at my own church that one of the oldest members came up to me afterwards and after giving me a hearty handshake told me he had never heard such a message before! I was shocked because I assumed that the Presbyterian Church was still proclaiming the great “Solas” of the Reformation, apparently this is not the case. Then I looked back over my own somewhat checkered spiritual journey I have to admit I too had never heard any such messages within the charismatic movement or amongst the seeker-sensitive crowd.

Let us consider some of the historical background before we examine what the Bible has to teach regarding being justified by faith alone in Jesus Christ.

The Church of Rome taught, and teaches to this day that we can and must do something to merit favor in the eyes of God and moreover do certain works to remove the guilt and future punishment of our sins. How so? One can remove the guilt of their sin and escape the just punishment of them through the use of indulgences given by the Church of Rome to the sinner. Let me quote an Irish Reformed Presbyterian Pastor, Ian Paisley:

Indulgences were originally introduced in the eleventh century and arose in connection with the so-called sacrament of penance, which was claimed to asure the penitent sinner of the forgiveness of sins while making a distinction between (1)  the guilt  and  (2the punishment of the sin. According to the church of Rome, the former (the guilt of sin), was forgiven by God through the priest. The latter (the punishment of sin) however, had to be met through the performance of certain good works such as fasting, the recitation of certain prayers, pilgrimages, or alms. In the fourteenth century we find the partial substitution of money gifts for the Reformation. The practice of selling indulgences, with its falsification of Biblical truth as well as scandalous financial exploitation of the populace, thereafter increased significantly until in Luther’s time it led Europe to the brink of revolution and caused the mighty revolt against Rome in the form of the glorious protestant ReformationThe event that brought the latent crisis into the open was the public sale of indulgences by a notorious Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, in 1517. He was the Vatican’s “Apostolic Commissary for all Germany and Inquisitor of Heretical Pravity” during the popedom of Leo X (1513 -1521). His indulgence-brokering activities which soon aroused Luther’s righteous indignation, were part of a corrupt and ambitious ecclesiastical scheme by Leo to provide funds for the reconstruction of St. Peter’s in Rome, the most lavishly expensive mass house of Romanism. Some people may try to argue that indulgences were a thing of the past and that today’s modern Roman Catholic Church surely does not still offer indulgences. Nothing could be further from the truth. The following quote is referring to a dogmatic proclamation from the current pope starting with the year 2000:

The pope’s recent encyclical is not the only current document that proves the Roman Catholic Church still embraces and propagates doctrine that is incompatible with the Word of God. To mention the fact that Pope John Paul II is allowing Roman Catholics to obtain indulgences during the year 2000 often invokes a response characterized by astonishment – “I didn’t even know the church issued indulgences anymore!” Yet those who think indulgences bestowed by the Roman Catholic Church are only to be found in the annals of church history are sadly mistaken. Pope John Paul II’s latest papal bull highlights the Catholic Church’s plans for the celebration of the third millennium to begin in the year 2000, or the “Year of jubilee” as it has been called. According to the pope’s decree, the turn of the millennium not only promises unprecedented ecumenical activity on the part of all major world religions, but it also allows faithful Catholics the opportunity to gain indulgences either for themselves or for their deceased loved ones… Pope John Paul II’s papal bull expressly defines the history and doctrinal significance of the indulgence. In summary, the indulgence gives the repentant, forgiven sinner a remission of temporal punishment due for his sins. It is dispensed by the Church since the Church has “received from Christ the power to forgive in his name” and since the church “diffuses his mercy in the world, by means of that precious gift which from very ancient times has been called “indulgence.” The pope states in no uncertain terms that “no one can be separated from the love of God (cf. Romans 8:21-39) except through their own fault” and that since one can lose his salvation, the “Sacrament of Penance offers the sinner ‘a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification’ won by the sacrifice of Christ.” However, even though one can gain his salvation again, “every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory.” So, while the Church can dispense the mercy and forgiveness on behalf of Christ, the one who sinned must still suffer punishment in Purgatory or on earth in order to be able to enter the presence of God in heaven. The indulgence is intended to shorten the individual’s time in Purgatory.  Today there are multitudes within the Roman Catholic Church doing certain works prescribed by the pope to somehow make themselves more acceptable to God and to shave some time off their pending sentence in purgatory. It appears that through the working of indulgences one can even decrease the time in purgatory for their departed loved ones.   (1)

Most of you know Martin Luther was originally a Roman Catholic monk and he labored mightily following the dogma’s Rome to the utmost. He did this in an attempt to make himself acceptable before a Holy God. After all, this is what the Church taught. If an individual did the works of penance prescribed then they would be absolved of the guilt and punishment of their sins. How did the person know of a certainty that they were forgiven? They could look to their works and place their trust in them!

Luther fasted and prayed; he carried out the various forms of penance given to him by his confessor only to realize that afterwards he still fell into some form of sin. You see Luther was originally trained as a lawyer and his mind was very sharp and it appears that his conscience was equally aware of the slightest sin in word, thought or deed which drove him back to the confessional on a daily basis. Luther’s mind was alive with the reality of the holiness of God and the utter sinfulness within himself. He was smart enough to know after arduously working the system that Rome presented that he still fell short of God’s law, which demanded (and still does demand) utter and complete perfection.

Galatians 3:10

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (KJV).

While Luther was a professor of theology at Wittenberg in 1515 he gave a series of lectures on the book of Romans. This time is characterized by Luther’s grappling with religious understanding. His decisive religious enlightenment is said to have come during his intensive study of the Letter to the Romans during which time he realized that people receive justice through the grace of God, not through good works:  “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)  { obtained from http://www.luther.de/en/moench.html } (2)

As Luther worked through what it meant to be declared righteous in God’s eyes by faith and not works. He began to criticize the theology of indulgences in some of his sermons. His displeasure increased noticeably during 1517, when the Dominican John Tetzel was preaching throughout much of Germany on behalf of a papal fund-raising campaign to complete the construction of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. In exchange for a contribution, Tetzel boasted, he would provide donors with an indulgence that would even apply beyond the grave and free souls from purgatory. Tetzel is said to have had a little “jingle” to go along with his fundraising: “as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” That sounds fairly innocuous, but Tetzel also preached a message aimed at tugging at the heartstrings of his hearers:

Listen to the voices of your dear dead relatives and friends, beseeching you and saying, “Pity us, pity us. We are in dire torment from which you can redeem us fro a pittance.” Do you not wish to? Open your ears. Hear the father saying to his son, the mother to her daughter, “We bore you, nourished you, brought you up, left you our fortunes, and you are so cruel and hard that now you are not willing for so little to set us free. Will you let us lie here in flames? Will you delay our promised glory?” Remember that you are able to release them, for as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs. Will you not for a quarter of a florin receive these letters of indulgences though which you are able to lead a divine and immortal soul into the fatherland of paradise? (3)

Upon hearing such blasphemy and the diminution of the work of Christ on the cross Luther promptly drew up 95 propositions for theological debate and on 31 October 1517, following university custom; he posted them on the Castle Church door at Wittenberg.

October 31st has become know as “Reformation Day” on that day our Lord Jesus began a process of a genuine restoration to the Church. What Luther and the other Reformers taught was not some “new” doctrine, but simply a re-affirming of what the Bible actually taught. With Luther, the Reformers saw ALL Scripture as being, in the last analysis, either LAW or GOSPEL—meaning by “law” all that exposes our ruin through sin and by “gospel” everything that displays our restoration by grace through faith—and the heart of the biblical gospel was to them (and to us) is God’s FREE GIFT of righteousness and justification. These 5 “SOLAS” which true evangelicals proclaim are not anything new. They are the Gospel itself. The battle has raged over them since the time of Paul when he dealt with the Judaizers. The battle continued on with Augustine’s dealings with the Pelagians, not to mention the Church of Rome both before and after the Reformation. Even within the Reformed camp the Reformers had to battle the Arminians. It seems that the eternal question of humanity regarding redemption can be crystallized in the question posed to Jesus by the Rich Young Ruler in:

Matthew 19: 16,17

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

This man wanted to know what he can do, what works he can perform to merit eternal life. Jesus simply points him to the law and says: keep the commandments.” The disciples are amazed at Jesus comments and respond with great concern:

Matthew 19:25,26

When his disciples heard [it] they were exceedingly amazed, saying Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

What is impossible with man is possible with God. Mankind cannot save itself, only God can save.

Since the fall of Adam humanity has sought ways to justify themselves before a holy God (just like the Rich Young Ruler). Every religion in the world apart from Orthodox Biblical Christianity is based on some form of works to merit salvation or favor with God. Yet the Bible is very clear on the value of even our best efforts to meet the demands of God’s law

Isaiah 64:6,7

But we are all as an unclean [thing] and all our righteousness [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And [there is ] none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

In the light of the perfection of God Isaiah rightly noted that our best works are as filthy rags and they have no merit before God regarding salvation. Religious man always points to his “good works” and boastfully declares before God and man “what a good boy am I.”

Romans 3:19-26

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, who God put forward as an expiration by his blood, to be received by faith.

This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. Notice a few key points in this text:

1. No human being will be justified in the sight of God by doing the works of the law. In chapters 1 and 2 of Romans Paul shows the total depravity of man and the wrath of God towards those who have suppressed the knowledge of God.  So we are left with the eternal question: how are we to become acceptable in the eyes of a holy God?

2. God’s righteousness is available to all who believe through faith in Jesus Christ.

3. We are made just by His grace which the Father gives freely because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Paul goes on in his letter in the next chapter to say in

Romans 4:1-5

What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

The Scripture teaches justification by Faith Alone, Sola Fide in at least 6 ways in the passage:

1. The justified one does “not work.”

2. The justified one “trusts” not in the merit of his works, but in God.

3. The justified one confesses himself to be “wicked.”

4. The justified one does not have faith in his faith.

5. The justified one see his faith only as “credited” to him.

6. The justified one sees his faith credited as “righteousness” to his account.

Some may ask, and it is a legitimate question: “where do our works come into the picture?” The Roman Catholic’s and many Arminians charge that the Evangelical and Reformed Churches are teaching lawlessness. They wrongly declare that we teach that works do not matter at all in the life of a professing believer.   (some people even try to make a dichotomy between what Paul taught and what James taught when there is actually no difference between their comments, since both were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit and God is NOT confused).

Luther and the Reformers agree that faith is not a work in and of itself, but the faith is never without work.   As we saw in last month’s issue on Sola Gratia,  that even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is given to us as a gift and not of works lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:9).

Justification  is by faith alone; make no mistake about this, but not by a faith that is alone. Justification is by a working faith.  People who get confused about this do not seem to understand us when we say that : we are justified apart from the presence of works. Paul and James agree that faith without the presence of works is dead.  Saving faith is a productive working faith in the life of a Christian.

The works in a Christian’s life are necessary to  prove  the genuineness of their professed faith but they are not necessary for “earning” heaven. Anyone who goes to heaven does so by the merit of Christ’s work alone, apart from any merit in any and all of his own works of obedience.

However, EVERY  post-justification good work we do will merit, deserve, and receive its reward in heaven.

Let me close this section with another inspired comment by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians:

Galatians 2:15,16

We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Works will never save us. Only faith in the work of Jesus Christ, who perfectly kept the law, can save. Pease understand that it is not “faith” itself that saves us —The saving power of faith resides not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests.

So what is the answer to the eternal quest of lost humanity? It is not found in their works. To receive forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God what must we do?

Jesus was asked this question in John 6:28 “what must we do to do the works of God?” Our Master replied “this is the work of God that you believe (have faith) in the One He has sent.”

It really is quite simple. To do what God requires we must believe in His Son and as we have seen the Father is so gracious He even grants to us the ability to believe to have faith in Christ and in His works alone!! The Westminister Confession of Faith (1646) sums the doctrine of Justification by faith alone very nicely:

XI of Justification

I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith insself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. (4)

(Scriptural texts: # I Rom, viii. 30; Rom iii, 24; Rom, iv. 5,6,7,8; 2 Cor. V.19, 21; Rom. Iii. 22,24,25,27,28; Tit. Iii 5,7; Eph. I. 7; Jer. Xxiii 6; 1 Cor. I. 30,

Rom v. 17,18,19; Acts x. 43; Gal. ii 16; Phil iii 9; Acts xiii 38, 39; Eph. Ii 7,

8. #II John I. 12 Rom iii. 28; Rom. V.1; James ii. 17,22,26; Gal. v.6.)  ♦

copyright 2004  Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Foot Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.ianpaisley.org/article.asp?Artkey=indulgences.

2. www.fundamentalbiblechurch.org/Tracks/fbchsro2.htm  (bold type added for emphasis)

3. Roland H. Bainton,  Here I stand, Nashville;  Abingdon Press.  1950 pp. – 59-60. )

4. obtained from http://www.the-highway.com/Justification_Packer.html.





Sola Gratia – Part One of Five

3 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – Sept. 2004 – Vol. 8 No. 9 -Sola Gratia—Part One of Five

I had recently received a counseling phone call from a sister who had come out of an abusive charismatic congregation and was now ensconced in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Her issues concerned spiritual stability and in talking with her it occurred to me that if she was established doctrinally in five simple “Reformed” truths then most of her questions and issues would be solved (if she remains in her MSLC hopefully her pastor will instill these same truths into her life).

The bedrock of any spiritual life that is truly built on Jesus Christ can be summed up in these profoundly simple doctrines. In fact, I am so convinced that unless one has the truths we shall be considering in the next several issues, imbedded in their hearts they will be ineffective and unfruitful in God’s Kingdom. People who lack these essential truths will be stunted spiritually and remain infants who are prone to be tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of false doctrine that cunning and crafty men (and women) promote. The Apostle Paul warns of this danger in  Ephesians 4:14.

That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

It is my prayer that we will be no more children, but will grow up and achieve the full stature of Christ. Yet for us to do so we MUST make sure our house is built on the rock of the following five truths:

Sola Gratia,   Sola Fide,   Solo Christo,   Solo ScripturaSoli Deo Gloria

These 5 Evangelical truths  heralded after years of spiritual darkness in the Church initially by Martin Luther simply, yet profoundly mean that the Christian is SAVED by GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE, by CHRIST ALONE, according to the SCRIPTURES ALONE, and to GOD ALONE be ALL the GLORY.

Prior to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church emphasized grace, but not grace alone. Roman Catholicism and other religious sects teach that grace requires human cooperation and effort if one is to be saved.

Luther, Melancthon and later Calvin, Knox and other reformers taught and rightly so that biblically, salvation is modernistic, which simply means that a thing has only one cause. In this case Jesus Christ alone is both the Author and Finisher of our Faith as Hebrews 12:2 teaches us.

We’ve already covered the reality of total depravity in a prior issue, so I will not deal with it now. As a reminder let me state that this does not mean that mankind is as bad as he can be, but it does mean that humanity is as bad off as it can be.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understand, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3:10-12   (KJV)

The Scriptures are clear that men and women are sinful by nature and cannot do anything to save themselves. Not only are we unable but we are unwilling to come to the light— as our Master says in John 3:19; “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19 (KJV)

The Word of God is equally clear that it is God who saves us by grace alone (Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide) on account of the atoning death of Christ alone (Soli Christi).  Let’s consider 2 clear examples of Sola Gratia. Turn and read in your Bibles beginning at John 11

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 40) Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? … 41) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42) And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44) And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:14 (KJV)

The example of Lazarus clearly demonstrates the doctrine of sola gratia. There are a great many lessons in this miracle. What I want us to focus on is this simple fact: Lazarus was dead. He could do NOTHING to help in his resurrection—that was the work of God the Son, the Living Word—Spoke to the dead man and He commanded Lazarus to come forth and he who was dead became alive.

This is exactly what occurs in the life of an individual when the Gospel is proclaimed. Like Lazarus we too must be called to life by God through the GOSPEL. This is what is meant by being saved by grace alone. Turn in your Bible to the next example in Ephesians Chapter 2:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins (just like Jesus did with Lazarus); Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.   For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them   Eph. 2:4-11 Note carefully Paul’s assessment:

1. We were dead, not wounded, not sick, dead (nekro,j, necros)

2. We willingly walked according to this fallen world’s dictates and it’s Dictator the devil.

3. We were all by nature children of wrath and thus rightfully subject to the judgment of a Holy and Righteous God.

If left to ourselves we were all headed for eternal damnation, and deservedly so.

Yet after painting so plainly a picture of depraved humanity when left to its own devices, Paul switches gears and by the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit pens 2 of the most BEAUTIFUL WORDS in the entire Bible — “But God”. Paul goes on to give the clearest picture of sola gratia in the New Testament.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by GRACE you have been saved. It is vitally important for you to note that it is when we are dead in sins and transgressions that God made us alive with Christ. (1)

Paul’s explanation of sola gratia— “it is by grace you have been saved.”

Those 8 words should bring every Christian to their knees in thankful humility to God because of His undeserved mercy towards us in Christ.

These 8 words should forever slay any remaining vestiges of human pride because Paul makes it repeat himself more emphatically in verses 8 and 9 when he says again “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Salvation is the work of God from start to finish. If you are saved at all it is because God saved you through faith in the work of His Son — even the faith to believe the Gospel does not come from yourselves—it is the gift of God.

Salvation is not of works, lest ANY man should boast. It cannot be made any clearer, yet multitudes of professing Christians wrongly believe that they made “a decision for Christ.”  Many Protestant’s teach that unless we “decide,” or unless we “choose,” or unless we “accept Jesus as our Personal Savior” then God’s grace is useless.

To teach such a thing is a damnable lie. To argue that grace is of no avail to us unless “we do” something first, is to deny SOLA GRATIA ALTOGETHER. To believe in such a manner is to rob God of His Glory.

In closing Paul had to rebuke Peter publicly when Peter played the hypocrite when some Jews came in and Peter separated himself from his gentile brothers—Paul reminded Peter and us all that WORKS have no place in God’s plan of salvation in Gal. 2:16:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified  Gal 2:16 (KJV)

2004 © Rev. Robert Liichow

Next Month Sola Fide