Sons of Thunder? (Part Two) “You Don’t Know What Spirit You are Of”

22 06 2012

Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 6 – Sons of Thunder? (Part Two) “You don’t know What Spirit You are Of” By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

Sons of Thunder? (Part Two)

“You Don’t Know What Spirit You are Of”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

E.W. Kenyon taught the concepts of (1) the creative power of words, (2) Jesus ministering as only a man anointed with/by the Holy Spirit, (3) Jesus defeating Satan as a born-again man, a man like you and I, (4) and Jesus was born again from sin (Jesus became an actual sinner according to Kenyon) into new divine life. These and several other bizarre, unbiblical and heretical concepts are rooted in Kenyon’s ideas of what transpires when we become “new creations” in Christ.

Crowder is not teaching people what it means to live life as a Christian as normally understood for the last two thousand years. He is presenting the Kenyon concepts, which like all error has grown (Matthew 16:12) and developed far beyond Kenyon’s nascent dreams of glory.

Crowder presents a theology of glory where the end time Christian mystic will simply walk in the manifest glory of God (the Shekinah of God), healing the sick, working miracles where needed, traveling back and forth between heaven and earth (more on this later), raising the dead, and ultimately defeating death itself in his own life, becoming immortal (1 Cor. 15:26). (14)

 Dear readers, I know the above paragraph sounds beyond belief, who would really think that this was how God always meant for the church to operate? I have news for you, there are hundreds of thousands of professing Christians who believe exactly these things and many have simply been waiting for someone to “show” them how to do what they believe God has appointed for the church, especially in the last days.

 Before the initial fervor of the last revival had died down people were already asking and even prophesying what God was going to do next. Tracy and I heard and have on video tape these prophetic words declared by no less than John Arnott’s wife at TACF regarding when the “laughing stops,” referring to the holy laughter revival which the soul-hucksters knew was warning. Crowder is on the move, gathering sign-seeking souls who are after their next “fix” of the divine.

 PLEASE do not just file this information away under “wacko.” Initially the orthodox Church ignored what was taking place on the wrong side of the tracks at a street called “Azusa.” Today Pentecostalism is the fastest and largest segment of the visible Church today. Back then it was ignored and not studied and it grew and is growing still! We cannot afford to (1) be ignorant of what is taking place in the Church and (2) if it is wrong then we MUST speak out about it in Christian love and warning.

 

Gain A Historical Grid of Miracles & Mystics

This is probably the most honest statement in the advertisement. Crowder’s grid is nothing more than an outline of the various accounts of Christian mystics and alleged miracle workers of the past. The point of providing this information is two-fold: (1) It demonstrates that God did this in the lives of past believers, He will do it for you; (2) these former mystics tapped into the divine, leaving us a roadmap to follow. They simply lived the “normal Christian life” according to their charismatic paradigm and we cn all enter into the glory realm. (15)

Church history is filed with wild accounts from various monks and nuns which form much of the basis for Crowder’s historical grid. Tales of levitating monks (16) and statues that bleed” do not inspire me anymore than accounts of various stigmatic’s wounds. No one in the Bible simply lifted 3 or 4 feet off the ground and hovered around a bit while in ecstatic prayer. The accounts he sites are from murky sources at best, written down during the Dark Ages and other times of great superstitions.

Yet for arguments sake let’s say these things occurred. OK, so what benefit accrued to the Church because of these events?  How was Jesus exalted?  Were people brought to faith by such events? [If so, I would doubt their conversions, salvation is by faith alone, not by seeing miracles]. No Crowder is simply trying to buttress his faulty belief system by presenting what happened in past enthusiasts lives and trying to make these individuals the pattern we are to follow.

Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel

Here we go again being “activated” by Crowder and his anointed crew!  But this time the activation is to be in three specific areas which require some explanation.

The Seer Realm:

Let us read directly from a modern “seer” and see how he explains this hitherto unknown “gift”.

My personal journey into the seer realm has been progressive. Some seem to be “born with a full blown gift’ – like Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson and a few others in our day and time. Others come forth step-by-step as I did over a period of months and years.

In the prophetic, I heard first in the Spirit before I ever saw. I was comfortable in this realm and the voice of the Lord spilled over into the fit of prophecy. Later on, I recognized that the feeling dimension had been active in my life all the time–I just seemed extra sensitive and emoted more than others—especially men. But there was no teaching on that realm so the “feeler” stayed at a certain level and found its primary expression as burdens from the Lord in the place of prayer. For me, the seer realm unfolded over time like a flower blossom–opening in the sunlight ever so slowly. Eventually, especially in the atmosphere of worship, I found the Lord giving me both internal and external visions. Dreams were multiplied and became a regular tool in which the Lord would speak to me. Being around the culture of the seer, hanging out with gifted people, enhanced my own hunger, gift and calling. Visitations were never daily with me, but I would come into seasons where encounters with a supernatural God were profuse and not rare at all. (17)

It is commonly taught that certain gifts of the Holy Spirit develop over time.  One might have the gift of prophecy, but stumble at first and then with growth accuracy comes (of course the Bible recognizes no such process of development regarding the gifts). Seers’ see’ things in the spirit that the rest of us do not se either in an open vision (while awake) or in dreams (while asleep). The biblical examples of dreams and visions were exceedingly important, something today’s so-called seers cannot claim. The Bible does speak about those who —

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 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. (18) Col. 2:18-20

Crowder and his ilk fit the category of “intruding into those things which he hath not seen.” They are today’s Gnostics teaching that there is insight and power hidden from common view, yet available via the adepts who have already trodden the path to ecstasy, all that is required is that one pay for the course and check their mind at the door.

Prophecy

Like tongues, prophecy is a verbal gift (the third verbal gift is the interpretation of tongues) and it is something that usually is not instantly in manifestation i.e. people who believe they receive the gift of tongues speak immediately, no one begins to immediately prophesy as did the disciples of John in Acts 19 when they received the Spirit. Most active charismatics have pro-fa-lied at some point in their Christian experience; certainly all of them have heard others give forth the “word of the Lord.” (19) We have no recorded prophetic utterances over the last couple of hundred years which have increased the Church at all. We do have a vast repository of false and unfulfilled words given by Mr. Hinn, Copeland, Duplantis, Capps, Branham and a myriad of other liars and deceived deceivers. Those who can boldly stand up in a service and declare “thus saith the Lord” at the end of their spewing do not fear the Lord as they ought. It is the utmost of seriousness to stand and speak in the Lord’s name (see James 3:1) and to teach His people anything.

From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 1 Tim. 1:6-9 (20)

Leaving the path of charity Paul speaks of those who have swerved aside to worthless talk, speculation and jangling (3467 (mataiologia), n. fem.: = Str 3150; TDNT 4,524-LN 33.377 idle discussions, meaningless talk, empty talk (1 Ti 1:6+). This is certainly the case with Crowder and the others. They have no formal education in the Scriptures and they are either self-taught or the product of sitting under other unsound and heretical teachers and adding their own unique twist on things along the way. If one believes someone can “activate” them into the miraculous, then to learn how to utter a prophetic word is no big stretch. After all, this gift can be developed one may start off being only 20% accurate but over time grow to be maybe 80% right. The problem with this view is simply this: How does one know when the prophet is right or not? Whether to act on the “prophetic word” or not. Good intentions fall into hell’s pit when one lies in the name of the Lord God Almighty.

Spirit Travel

Bilocation is the term our government used when testing people for the psychic ability of sitting in one location and seeing what is taking place somewhere else, often miles away. This is also called remote viewing among parapsychologists. The occult world is replete with accounts of so-called astral projection or soul travel. Paul Twitchell started a new age cult called Eckankar which is devoted to astral projection to other cosmic realms. What I find outrageous is that this darkest form of occultism is being openly taught and embraced by professing Christians! Like Paul I want to shout “who has bewitched you” (Gal. 3:1). Is there anything in the Bible that even tangentially brushes on the farthest twisting of any text to support astral travel? Oh sure, have you forgotten what Paul said to the Colossians—

For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. Col. 2:5 (22)

Paul said he was “beholding” their order and steadfastness in Christ in the spirit. He obviously was in one place physically BUT was literally watching them in another location via being in the spirit. (23) After all, The Apostle John was also in the spirit on the Lord’s Day (see Rev. 1:10) when he went to heaven in the spirit while his body remained on Patmos. Lastly, we do have the account of Paul about a man who was caught up into the third heaven, whether he was in his body or not he did not know (see 2 Cor. 12:2). According to Crowder’s crowd we have three “witnesses” and thus let a doctrine be established (a misread of 2 Cor. 13:1) promoting astral tripping.

Not only does Crowder have at least three potential texts to wrest he can also fall back on the charismatic belief that everything that Satan has and does is just a counterfeit of the genuine. Thus if New Age and occult people astral project to various realms and places by the devil’s power. . . . How much MORE should God’s children enjoy the benefits of such travel.

However what Crowder doe not reveal to us is what the benefit of such travel is for the church. KEEP THIS IN MIND: Whenever our Lord blesses us, it is never for only “us.” He blesses us in order to bless others. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are to profit the Church, not the individual used in the gift. Their blessing comes from simply being God’s chosen instrument of the moment. This is the principle of it is more blessed to give than to receive,  Why?  Because the implication is that the one giving has something to give to someone else who lacks that resource.

These people have no biblical authority or even Church tradition (much much lesser authority) to buttress this teaching on. Their primary sources are the alleged subjective accounts from people we would consider spiritual “flakes.” Secondarily, they can appeal to the occult for other directions and insights along with their own fantasies of what transpired “in the spirit.”

Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding

Unfamiliar with the term ‘open heavens’? don’t feel bad; enthusiasts have an entire coded language of esoteric phraseology that the uninitiated do not understand. An “open heaven” refers to the belief that there are times when God opens the gates of heaven and sort of layers heaven over the earthly. The heavens are often closed to us due to our own sins and we have no fellowship with God.

And your heaven that is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth that is under you shall be iron Deut. 28:13

And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: Lev. 26:19

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Isa. 59:2

However, there are times, when the spiritual condition have been met, when God can come down and fellowship with His children. There is often a lot of build-up in a service before the leaders declare the heavens to “be open” and an Acts 3:19 event can occur:

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:19-21

It is during one of these services when there seems to be a great deal of paranormal manifestations that they declare an “open heaven.” Naturally after holding a successful meeting a score of meetings/conferences pop-up declaring things like “Open Heavens Prophetic Conference.” (24)

The concept of an “open heaven” comes into the church via the Vineyard false prophets especially Bob Jones, Paul Cain and Todd Bentley.  Here is Todd (former child molester) Bentley’s reasoning on an open heaven:

Bentley’s main argument of an open heaven goes like this “If He’s the same today, then why can’t He visit me like He visited Abraham? If he’s the same today, why can’t He visit me like He visited Daniel? Why can’t He visit me like He visited John? Why can’t He visit me like He visited Isaiah? How about Ezekiel? Yes, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that makes what’s available in “Bible days” available today. It’s not just about healing and laying hands on the sick and seeing miracles, as great as these are, but it’s also about supernatural encounters with God. Do you believe that? Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead and over five hundred people saw Him for forty days in His resurrected body (1 Cor. 15:6)? Do you believe supernatural things can take place today? I’m asking this because we’re okay with angels showing up and speaking to Mary and Joseph, but we’re not okay with angels showing up and speaking to us. We’re okay with Paul being taken into heaven, or what he called the third heaven – caught up into a place called paradise. We’re okay with that. It’s good for Paul, or it’s good for Elijah. Yet both Paul and Elijah were men just like we are, and as you know, they’re both in heaven today.  So are Abraham and Isaiah. They aren’t on earth anymore for God to interact with. But God, by His very nature, wants to interact with somebody supernaturally. My question is: Why not you? Why should anyone’s experience in Christianity today be any different from what people experienced in Bible days?” (A Face to Face Encounter, Monday, November 19, 2007) http://acloserwalkwithgod.blogspot.com/2007/11/face-to-face-encounter.html  ) (25)

An ‘open heaven’ is declared due to the mass number of enthusiasts in the thrall of various manifestations, all of which are attributed to the Holy Spirit. Those which have no biblical foundation are referred to as “new wine,” and people are constantly reminded that the apostle John said that the bible does not contain everything Jesus said and did. Thus the things occurring now are ascribed to God. At no time are people warned to beware that Satan counterfeit’s the genuine via his “angels of light” (2 Cor. 11:`14)

The sad thing is that these people, often sincere, are stripped of the only tool that can help them discern what is from the Lord and what is not. They are not encouraged to go and study the scriptures as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11) and to allow the bible alone to be their guide. On the contrary they are told just the opposite. I have personally heard John Arnott the “father” of the so-called holy laughter revival say that he has more confidence in God’s ability to bless than in Satan’s ability to deceive!

Sounds pious, but it is as deadly a lie as can be told to the Christian. Certainly God is more powerful than Satan, but then tell me why is the New Testament FILLED with warnings regarding being deceived and mislead? Those admonitions are not in the bible to fill up space, they are meant to make us aware of the reality of Satan and the deceptive nature of our fallen flesh which is against God (Rom 8:7) and is prone to accept anything that is in defiance of Him. Arnott, Crowder and all of the enthusiast SINisters are the arbiters of the genuine and counterfeit due to their own proclamations of having already paved the way, they are now guides to the seeking souls.

Revelatory insights! This has nothing to do with transmitting faithfully the doctrine of the Apostles already received by the church. Crowder is referring to ‘newinsights versus the old tried-n-true religion. For them truth is progressive, what the scriptures may have meant to others in the past, today they can take on an entirely new meaning.

Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know ( them ), and be established in the present truth. 2 Peter 1:12

Benny Hinn made the following statement, “Man, I feel revelation knowledge already coming on me here. Lift your hands. Something new is going to happen here today. I felt it just as I walked down here. Holy Spirit, take over in the name of Jesus….God the Father, ladies and gentlemen, is a person; and He is a triune being by Himself separate from the son and the Holy Ghost. Say, what did you say? Hear it, hear it, hear it. See, God the Father is a person, God the Son is a person, God the Holy Ghost is a person. But each one of them is a triune being by Himself. If I can shock you–and maybe I should-there’s nine of them. Huh, what did you say? Let me explain: God the Father, ladies and gentlemen, is a person with his own personal spirit, with his own personal soul, and his own personal spirit-body. You say, Huh, I never heard that. Well you think you’re in this church to hear things you’ve heard for the last 50 yrs? (Benny Hinn, Benny Hinn program on TBN (October 3, 1991). (26)

Tommy Tenney in his bestselling book, “The God chasers” says: “God chasers have a lot in common. Primarily, they are not interested in camping out on some dusty truth known to everyone. They are after the fresh presence of the Almighty. . . If you’re a God chaser, you won’t be happy to simply follow God’s tracks. You will follow them until you apprehend His presence. (27)  DMI has already extensively covered the foul deception of the heretic Tenney who follows the error of Sabellius. The Bible is passé, yes it contains dusty truths, but what is being fostered is a false desire for something else, something new and fresh that can only be found outside of the Holy text. This is a very disturbing trend which my wife and I saw occurring within the sign-gift movement years ago.

We noted that many of our former teachers were beginning to reinterpret texts which had always meant something altogether different. When we questioned we were told that what they were teaching was “newrevelation and that we needed to be established in this present truth being revealed for these last days. Any questioning of these new teachings was met with hostility and suspicion.

Beliefs and practices which were totally outside the bible were passed off as ‘John 21:25’ events (things done by Jesus but not recorded) and we knew this how? Because a restored prophet or apostle told us so! They had become the source of correct understanding and as such they expected to be obeyed without question. At this point Tracy and I had our eyes opened by our Lord Jesus christ (thanks be to Him, who still seeks straying sheep!) and we left the madness.

Since the Lord delivered us from this madness I have dedicated my life to “Teaching Truth & Exposing Error.” things have gone from being merely ‘silly’ to becoming overtly demonic and dark in many cases and few within the movement have ever risen up to shout out a warning.

I thought for awhile that I should become a Lutheran pastor and operate DMI in the background. I went back to seminary, this time in Fort Wayne and I benefited greatly by the experience. However, it seems as though this is not the path for me.

Instead, I am working towards creating a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) within the LCMS and thus hopefully be given invitations to come and teach their congregations about the dangers facing the church. As a mere LCMS “member” I have the freedom to speak from any pulpit (something as an LCMS pastor I could not do) that invites me to speak.

The point is this:

FULL SPEED AHEAD WITH DISCERNMENT MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL!

Until Christ Jesus calls me home, I will contine as the Lord provides to continue to stand on the “wall” and shout out a warning to God’s people according to my meager abilities. To all those who support DMI —you have my heartfelt thanks!

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

14 The DMI scriptorium has a copy of an extremely rare book entitled “How to Raise the Dead” by Franklin Hall, written during the early days of the post WWII healing revival. His writings have impacted this generation of sigh seekers.

15. If you doubt this, simply go to Google and type in ‘Christian Mystics’ and over 4 million sites will pop up, this is a popular delusion which is gaining momentum.

16. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Saints and levitation  has a decent section on flying monks.

17. Obtained from http://www.enlijahlist.comwords/ display word/8462  Underline and bold type added for emphasis.

18. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Editiion of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA; Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Col 2:18-

19. In years past when I would speak forth a ‘prophetic word’ when I was finished I would often ask my wife Tracy if what I said was “alright” because when the few times I did speak publically I HAD LITTLE CONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT I WAS SAYING, it was spewing forth from some other part of my brain. Naturally, I have shamefacedly repented of this foolishness long ago, begging the Lord’s forgiveness for lying in His name and misleading His people.

20. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorize version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), 1 Tim 1:6-8

21. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 1997).

22. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorize version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Col 2:5

23. I always find it amazing when folks suddenly become literalists in biblical interpretation. Then when asked what about Jesus statement “this is My body,” well that is not what He meant there. Their position demonstrates their unstable and shifting hermeneutic.

24. These folks will try to make a movement out of anything. See

25. Obtained from our good friends and fellow truth-tellers at Let us Reason, http://www.letusreason.org . Note his line of argumentation, which we have already considered (see folks, I do not have to make anything “up”).

26. Obtained from http://defendchrist.org/false_teachers.html#hinn

27. Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/GodChasers.htm

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Sons of Thunder? (Part One) “You Don’t Know What Spirit You are Of”

10 05 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 5 – Sons of Thunder? (Part One) “You don’t know What Spirit You are Of” By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 

Sons of Thunder? (Part One)

“You Don’t Know What Spirit You are Of”

 By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 

A disturbing ‘new’ trend has arisen promising its adherents tremendous mystical insight. These hitherto unknown insights will be gained through two avenues, learning through teachers and also through direct impartation and activation from the mystic to the enthusiast sign-seeker.

Nothing occurs within a vacuum and John Crowder and his gang did not spring up ex nihilo either. Crowder is simply part of the ‘fruit’ of the latest global out-pouring of spiritual excess. DMI has covered in great detail the origins of these revivals and the myriad of mystical experiences which attended (and still attends) each service to some degree or another. (1) These experiences include: spiritual drunkenness, uncontrollable ‘holy’ laughter, being slain in the spirit, bizarre uncontrollable bodily movements, apparitions, visions, prophetic utterances, unknown tongues, angelic feathers, green stones magically appearing in worship, gold dust on the participants, ‘new’ revelatory perceptions, seeing angels, trips to the throne room, etc.

All of these paranormal experiences are part-n-parcel of today’s revivalism and apart from prophesy and tongues which are valid biblical gifts when exercised biblically; the other manifestations are not biblical and are directly related to the occult realm. What Mr. Crowder has done is to take these experiences and codify them into some system which can then be taught to the seekers and he naturally includes the belief in impartation of spiritual power from the greater to the lesser vessel.

Due to the ‘Holy Laughter’ revival tens of thousands of people willingly opened themselves up to receive ‘whatever’ the Lord had for them at these services. They eagerly embraced all of the bizarre manifestations as what they were touted to be “the new wine” of the Holy Spirit. The widespread impact of the revival of the 90’s (2)  caused these occult manifestations to become widely accepted as legitimate expressions of the Spirit of our God.

This widespread acceptance gave Mr. Crowder a platform to come up with a “Mystical School,” which he and some others are exporting around the US and world. In his school Crowder makes the following assertions:

Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer

Experiences Physical Phenomena of Mysticism

Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders

Understand & Access New Creation Realities

Gain A Historical Grid of Miracle Workers & Mystics

Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel

Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding

Access and Manifest the Glory Realm (3)

 

Before considering the above claims, let us remind ourselves what the bible has to say on these matters:

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. Matthew 16:4

The Lord has provided miraculously for the people and they came seeking more supernatural provision. And the Lord’s response?  They were wicked (morally corrupt) and adulterous (feminine form (4))  Why?  They were seeking a sign and not the God of the sign. Theses sign seekers may have been in doubt, challenging the Lord God to perform for them and so validate His ministry. This much is certain, our Lord did not think much of the sign-seekers then and since He does not change (Mal. 3:6) His attitude is still the same towards today’s sign-seekers.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold but climbed up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved. And shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:1-10

It seems that Crowder is attempting to climb into the heavenly realm using the wrong door(s) of mystical experience. Jesus likens those who engage in such futile attempts to “thieves and robbers.” Christ alone is the Door, He alone is the Shepherd. To come to Christ by faith alone is to enter into the green pastures He provides for His sheep.

 

What is Mysticism?

Crowder is claiming to run a school of and for the “new mystics,” so it behooves us to define some terms before going further. According to Webster’s Dictionary mysticism is:

1: the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality reported by mystics

2: the belief that direct KNOWLEDGE of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)

3: vague speculation: a belief without sound basis: a theory postulating the possibility of direct and intuitive acquistion of ineffable knowledge or power. (5)

This is the goal of Crowder’s school — direct communion and fellowship with God and angels through various disciplines and practices (and a lot of innate imagination). “Direct knowledge” of God is another way of saying “revelation knowledge” which is another goal of these new mystics. Again this knowledge comes directly from God apart from any mental effort on our part, one simply “knows.”

Some might say “well, what is wrong with seeking direct communion and communication with The Ancient of Days?” I would respond by saying absolutely nothing is wrong with seeking communion & communication with our Lord, in fact, I would be very troubled if a Christian was not actively engaged in such pursuits to some degree or another. We are enjoined both positively and negatively:

But if from thence thou shall seek the Lord thy God thou shall find him, if thou seek him with all thy hearth and with all thy soul. Deut. 4:29

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near: Isa. 55:6

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. Psl 27:4

Evil men understand not judgment: But they that seek the Lord understand all things. Prov. 28:5

And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD. 2 Chron. 12:14

That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 2 Chron. 15:13,14

Every Christian has the desire and longing to be with their Lord and probably each one of us has had times where we have experienced the awesome presence of Jesus. These unique times are to be treasured in our hearts, but not taught as doctrine or as a ‘goal’ to attain. What is more the Bible speaks plainly on what is involved in seeking the Lord, which is where Mr. Crowder and others sadly depart.

How Do You ‘Teach’ Mysticism?

In order to deceive Christians and keep them from being effective in this life for God’s kingdom the devil has to twist our Bible. He does this most effectively through his five-fold SINistry ‘gifts’: 1] false apostles (2 Cor. 11:5); 2] false teachers (2 Peter2:1); 3] false prophets (Jer. 14:14, Mark 13:22); 4] false Christ’s {falsely anointed ones} (Mark 13:22); false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26). 

Crowder and the other revivalists have always done is to appeal to certain miraculous and unrepeatable events and declare them to be available to all. (6) for example the event with Paul in Acts 19:12so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.” This happened one time in the ministry of Paul and it is something he never mentions in his letters. Yet the enthusiasts have made a money-making machine out of so-called prayer cloths and other points-of-contact. (7) The logic behind making the unique commonplace is simply the belief that God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11 misapplied),  if He did it for one, He will do it for you if you meet His requirements.

What God did for Daniel in seeing visions, He will do for us, since Joseph dreamed prophetic dreams so can we. After all, Joel has promised our sons and daughters will prophesy and there will be visions and dreams given to both the old and young! Yes, Joel does say this, but the apostle Peter said “this is that which was prophesied by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:17) — folks Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on that Day, never to be repeated as the enthusiasts have claimed from Montanus to this day.

Crowder must twist the scriptures violently to be able to teach that these sovereign events in the salvific economy of God are actually available to all of God’s people. Let’s consider the topics Crowder teaches:

Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer

Are trances biblical? Yes there are examples of a few people being in a trance state in the Bible.

And the man whose eyes are open hath said: He hath said, which heard the words of God,

Which saw the vision of the Almighty, Falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: (Numbers 24: 3-4).

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself which this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, (Acts 10:10-17)

“Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I as in a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ So I said, ‘Lord they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him. ‘ Then He said to me, ‘Depart for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.” (Acts 22:17-21)

That is it for the biblical record of three events. The first example is with the false prophet Balaam. The second is of the Apostle Peter being supernaturally informed that the Gentiles were to be included in the Kingdom as well. Peter still was learning and had not gotten the understanding that the Jews were to be a light to the Gentiles and God had to get his attention in a dramatic fashion. So dramatic that Peter initially doubted what he had experienced (as opposed to immediately starting up a trance ministry)! Lastly we have the Apostle Paul, who is warned by His Lord to depart and go to the Gentiles, thanks to his obedience the Gospel was spread around the world.

In both N.T. examples we see God dealing with His Apostles directly. Both trances were instructional for these men, who in turn informed the church. The result was no less than the ongoing conversion of the Gentile world. It is important to note that neither men sought these experiences. These trances were initiated by God for very important reasons (the spread of the Gospel, e.g. the salvation of the world).

So far we know that trances did occur three times in the bible. We also know that during these trances Peter and Paul both heard the voice of Jesus. Peter seeing the table cloth & critters and Paul seeing our Lord Himself. Yet what exactly is a trance?

TRANCE The Gk. Word ekstasis (lit ‘standing outside’ or ‘being put outside’. i.e. of one’s normal state of mind) is rendered ‘trance’ in Acts 10:10; 11:5; 22:17, where it forms the condition of a vision. The trance state has never been fully explained, but it involves an overriding of normal consciousness and perception. In the only two occurrences of the strange Heb. Word sanwerim, translated ‘blindness’ in Gn. 19:11 and 2 Ki 6:18, it is clear that a trancelike state of hypnotic suggestibility is indicated. (8)

A Charismatic definition: The Greek word for ‘trance” is “ekstasis.” It means “the displacement of the mind.” This is an experience where your physical senses are suspended and you are unaware of your physical surroundings. You do not know, for the moment, exactly where you are or sometimes even who you are. A Scriptural trance is unrelated to a hypnotic trance. You cannot come out of a hypnotic trance if the hypnotist will not allow you to come out. You can come out of a Scriptural trance if you choose to do so. (9)

The definitions need no further explanation. What I would like explained to us is how Crowder can possibly offer to teach people how to operate in trances. Can I or anyone teach someone what a strawberry tastes like, or adequately describe the color orange to a blind man? No, the best we can do is describe what we have personally experienced and in sharing that with others is the extent to which they can “enter into” our subjective experience. Crowder can give no biblical directions to induce a trance state which means he has to rely on other sources for his information. Crowder will point to someone like Maria Woodworth Etter, aka the “Trance Evangelist” [1844-1924]. Etter was famous for going into a standing catatonic state for days and while in a ‘trance state” large numbers of people were supposed to have been brought to faith in Christ just by observing her standing frozen. (10)

Next he promises to teach ecstatic prayer which is no “biggie” in that sign-gift folks have been teaching people to speak in ecstatic speech for over a hundred years in America. Some charismatic groups have this instruction down to a science. The former Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, MI taught “life in the Spirit” seminars at the end of which we would speak in other tongues, I know I did. The Way International, charismatic cult, has long taught its devotees how to speak in tongues using tape recordings.

Speaking in other tongues today is what I call the “gateway drug” into enthusiasm.  Virtually every sign-gifter begins by speaking in tongues, from there some wander off into prophesying, interpreting tongues, etc. In fact such speaking is the glue that unites all sign-gift people, it certainly is not doctrine!

The novelty of the post Apostolic tongues movement is the emphasis on this expression being given as a supernatural power to pray. Tongues is universally taught as a private prayer language between the speaker and God and only God knows what is being said thus the devil cannot interfere. In my days as a single charisManiac I used to pray in other tongues between 2 ½ to 3 hours per day without pause. I did this for years. I know from experience that praying for protracted lengths of time in other tongues does place one in an altered state of consciousness by stilling the conscious mind and allowing some otherwise suppressed or unconscious portion to take charge. Speaking for myself, I did not have the biblical gift of other tongues (speaking an unknown language) so the feelings and experiences I had could not have had their source in God, regardless of my nascent devotional sincerity. At best my own imaginings or at worst something far darker. (11)

In order to create the right conditions to enter into a manmade trance all that one needs to do is to pray in other tongues for several hours, combine it with a few days of total fasting and a strong desire to ‘experience’ something will usually result in some sort of break with our commonly shared reality.

Experience Physical Phenomena of Mysticism

This promise is even more of a stretch biblically. Fasting could be about the only biblical practice that is common to the Christian mystics of the past, but I believe Crowder is referring to the usual crop of revival manifestations with a heavy emphasis on being slain in the spirit since many people claim to see visions or receive revelations while doing “carpet time.” (12) DMI and others have proven how easily transferable these manifestations are from one person to another (willing/open) vessel. Crowder and those attending his classes expect these manifestations, they embrace them and more have already seen or experienced them in the past.

What benefit is these to experiencing mystical phenomena? The attending phenomena is not the content of the mystical encounter anyway. For example, I have been slain in the spirit probably around 80 times over the years. Many mystics claim the same experience, yet I never saw any visions, trips to heaven or hell while slain. So same “phenomena” yet not the same experience, ergo, what’s the point Mr. Crowder?

Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders

The belief that certain people can both impart and activate spiritual gifts was true only for the Apostles of the Lamb. In the book of Acts we see the Apostles being called upon to bestow (impart) the Holy Spirit. We have no biblical example of non-apostles bestowing any spiritual gifts. THIS IS HUGE Folks because with their death all such spiritual gifting/apostolic impartation passed away.

Crowder is simply one of many voices claiming to now be able to activate spiritual gifts including signs and wonders which are not typically included as part of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit cited in 1 Cor. 11-12. Here are a few examples of how this dangerous delusion is spreading:

Activating the Angelic: Keys to Releasing the Holy Spirit and Unlocking the Miraculous

There’s an invisible barrier between the natural and the supernatural that’s penetrated only by people daring enough to risk everything on an encounter with the miraculous. In Disc 1, Larry reveals “seldom heard” concepts about how to release the working of miracles. Also insightful, are 5 laws of faith revealed in Disc 2 that will cause your heart to dance on the edge of the miraculous Revelatory teaching, with practical application. (http://larry randolph.com/store/mp3-download/activating-the-miraculous.htm)

 

Sword of the Spirit’s School of the Prophets “Activate the Miraculous thru the Seer Anointing” in Buffalo, April 1” (“www.swordofthespiritministries.com )

Kevin conducts Supernatural Lifestyle Conferences in which people are equipped, empowered, and activated in miracles, healing, prophetic, and evangelism as a normal lifestyle of the believer. Kevin also oversees the Firestarter Class, which equips and empowers newcomers and new believers to live as revivalists -healing the sick, prophesying, and supernatural evangelism.(http://www.global celebration.com/news/240/61/Miracles-Signs-Wonders—Kalamazoo-MI )

All of these people claim to be the dispensers of God’s power, they claim to equ9ip, empower, and activate miracles and yet NONE of them can provide any proof of the miraculous in their own SINistries. The only miracles in their meetings are people falling down in some form of a fugue state, people speaking in gibberish, others prophesying in the name of Jesus this that and the other. . .nothing from God is being imparted. The Bible plainly states:

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he wills. (13) 1 Cor. 12:8-11

All of the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit are given as He wills not according to the will of fallen man. It is the sovereign good pleasure of God alone regarding which gifts He gives to the Church. No man has the authority or ability to dispense supernatural gifts as he wills, nor can anyone declare in advance which gift (if any) the Holy Spirit will bestow. For Mr. Crowder or anyone to assert that they can activate spiritual gifts is simply a LIE and Mr. Crowder is a liar.

Understand & Access New Creation Realities

If words mean anything then at this point Crowder seems to promise that participants will understand and access new creation realities which seem straightforward enough. All Christians need to grow in their understanding of who they are in Christ Jesus as new creatures ‘in Christ’ (2 Cor. 5:17). New Creation Realities is a term coined by E.W. Kenyon, the faith of today’s Word of Faith cult. Kenyon, although not a Pentecostal, was convinced that god’s children were to walk and operate in the supernatural realm as part of their redemption in Christ.

 

Continued Next Month

In the next issue all of the foot notes will be included there was simply no space for them in this issue.

Copyright © 2012 Rev. Robert S. Liichow





Mysticism on Steroids

16 04 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 4 – Mysticism on Steroids by Rev. Bob Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

Mysticism on Steroids

One thing about today’s batch of enthusiasts is their belief in holding various “schools” through which, like leaven (Matthew 16:6), spread their doctrines and practices. Many years ago Tracy and I attended one such school held by the “Happy Hunters” (Charles and Francis Hunter)  Healing School, which was a weekend of teaching on how to heal the sick and at the end was a weekend of teaching on how to heal the sick and at the end of the training we prayed for the sick, laid hands on them, etc. At the time it seemed to make sense to us that one could be trained how to heal the sick by following the various biblical examples of divine healing. As I remember the concept was loosely based on the premise that God wants to heal His children and He does so using ordinary people who are willing. We were ordinary enough and certainly willing, so we went and were taught about laying on of hands, using prayer cloths, the prayer of faith, the activity of demons in sickness, our authority over Satan, etc.

 I believe the Hunter’s success in holding these meetings (they were profitable) spurred on other charismaniacs who took their concept and ran with it. The Hunters were dyed-in-the-wool charismatic renewal type folks popular in the 70’s and 80’s. In the 1990’s the so-called Prophetic Movement blazed off and people like Bill Hamon, Bernard Jordan, Rick Joyner and others began to hold schools of the prophets. As with divine healing, the belief is that prophetic gifts and abilities can be transmitted from an anointed (1) vessel to a seeking vessel mystically. They teach that people can develop prophetically with the correct teaching, experience and practice.

 From prophetic schools the Church was beset by the newly restored apostles, who naturally began to rove about the globe holding, you guessed it — apostolic schools! So now it is possible for one to attend a healing school (elementary school), prophetic school (high school) and apostolic school (college), but wait now there is more!

It seems that there is now a “new” school — a mystical school (grad school) to add to one’s spiritual résumé. Since the other schools pretty much teach what their titles indicate (healing, how to prophesy, become an opossum, er apostle) what does this one purport to impart?

Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer

Experience Physical Phenomena of Mysticism

Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders

Understand & Access New Creation Realities

Gain A Historical Grid of Miracle Workers & Mystics

Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel

Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding

Access and Manifest the Glory Realm

Now we come to the pinnacle of subjective experiences, mystical encounters with the paranormal. (2) This school promises to activate the participant in creative miracles, signs and wonders! What is more the seeker can expect to become activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy and Spirit Travel! The adept will have access to “open heavens” and will manifest the glory realm. Whom has God lifted up to lead the Church into this end times new revelation and experience of delirious joy and crazy power?

John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn travel the world on a continual Love Feast known as the Drunken Glory Tour. This collaborative “party ministry” is setting thousands free around the globe as we boast in nothing but the finished works of Jesus Christ, bringing an intoxicating, new wine message of glad tidings! (3)

 

Next month we will examine Mr. Crowder, Dunn and others of the fledgling new mystical, dare I say movement?

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. DMI has one of the only books in print entitled “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Anointing * (*But Were Afraid to Ask). For a donation of $20.00 we’ll send you a copy. It goes through every biblical reference to the anointing and humbly, it is a good book to have on hand.

2. I specifically used the term paranormal versus supernatural for a reason. Only God is supernatural beyond the nature, humans and demons at best operate possibly “just above” paranormal reality.

To Order the Book write to : Discernment Ministries International  1704 Gordon Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48910





Words of the Profit

10 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 1 – Words of the Profit by Kyle Smith

Discernment Ministries International

Words of the Profit

By Kyle Smith

January 6, 2008 — A holy man in Chuck Palahniuk’s darkly funny 1999 novel “Survivor” sells 200 million copies of a self-help guide called “The Book of Very Common Prayer,” which includes The Prayer to Locate a Lost Contact Lens and The Prayer to Prevent Mildew Stains. The Prayer for a Parking Space goes:

Oh, divine and merciful God,

History is without equal for how much I will adore You,

When you give me today, a place to park…

In Your care will I find respite. With Your

Guidance, will I find peace.

To stop, to rest, to idle, to park

These are Yours to give me. This is what I ask.

Amen.

Just eight years later, the principal difference between Palahniuk’s satire and the most popular preacher in America today, Joel Osteen, is that Osteen’s message is more blasphemous. Osteen’s seven million Christian TV viewers might be interested to learn that Osteen, a college dropout with no formal training, is, literally, a heretic whose message is being called “Satanic,” “occult” and “antichrist” by respected evangelical ministers (See, for instance, the blog of Connecticut River Baptist Church pastor Ken Silva).

Osteen, who wears a deranged flash-frozen-smile – he looks like Martin Short playing the Joker – received a $13 million advance for his new book, “Become a Better You,” and collects $73 million a year in donations at the former home to the Houston Rockets that is now Lakewood “Church.” “Survivor,” not the Bible, seems to be the blueprint for Osteen’s life. Palahniuk’s character Tender Branson is born into a religious cult; Osteen inherited his ministry from his father John, a babbling freak who believed in faith healing and announced, at 77, that God had just given him the okay to keep preaching into his 90s. Two weeks later, Osteen Sr. was dead. Palahniuk’s Tender Branson gets a makeover from agents who pump him up with exercise and steroids; Osteen bench-presses 300 pounds. “People shopping for a Messiah want quality. Nobody is going to follow a loser,” writes Palahniuk. Tender Branson’s agent tells him, “Think of those young people out in the world struggling with outdated religious or with no religions, think of those people as your target market.” Osteen doesn’t stick to outdated religions – his church is non-denominational – or any religion at all. There are no crosses or other religious symbols in his church.

Even Palahniuk, though, doesn’t dare place Man over God on the Who’s Hot in the Cosmos List. Osteen has said, “You can cancel out God’s plan by speaking negative words.” Whoa, there, preacher boy. That ain’t Christianity. Christians don’t believe they can change the will of God, I hope I don’t win the lottery”). Even the Palahniukian prayer says, “These are yours to give me” and leaves the rest up to Him.

Osteen’s favorite code word is “increase,” because that gives a Biblicalish spin to materialist goals, as in “God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions.” When Osteen cites the Bible (note to TV interviewers: Try springing a little Scriptural quiz on Osteen the next time you get him in the chair) he doesn’t merely miss the point, He steers the opposite way. Osteen cites Colossians 3:2 (“Set your mind and keep it on the higher things”) in his book, “Your Best Life Now” (chapter two, page one – or 2:1) as applicable to the situation, “Perhaps you work in sales, and you are scheduled to give an important presentation.” God wants to help you “snag that big contract” if you set your mind to it.

Flip to Colossians 3:2 (King James Version) and you’ll find that the entire verse reads, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:5 warns against “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Osteen’s books are all about covetousness and idolatry. He is a false prophet to whom God is a cosmic waiter. (“Hi! My name is God and I’ll be your deity this evening. Start you off with a bottle of water?”)

The Word-Faith Movement,” of which Osteen is a member, uses God as a Trojan horse to sell the ancient mystic rubbish – picture it and you’ll pocket it – that also drives “The Secret.” doesn’t pretend to be a tax-exempt religion.

If the IRS doesn’t nab Osteen, maybe Palahniuk should sue him for plagiarism. Osteen writes, “Perhaps you’re searching for a parking spot in a crowded lot. Say, ‘Father, I thank You for leading me and guiding me. Your favor will cause me to get a good spot.”

Osteen recalls the time he tasked God with being his personal parking aide, and lo: ‘Just as I steered our car past the front row of parked cars, another car backed out as I approached…it was the premier spot in that parking lot.”

Maybe Osteen didn’t learn all of the lessons of The Gospel According to Chuck, though: “Survivor” climaxes with Tender Branson being chased by an angry mod.





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.





Spiritual Formation

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

Discernment Ministries International

Spiritual Formation

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

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

THE CALL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The False Pathways Offered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centering or Contemplative Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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