Come As You Are?

7 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – Aug 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 8 – Come As You Are? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Come As You Are?

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The large room slowly filled up. The men entered wearing “wife-beater” tee-shirts and sandals, women in shorts, sleeveless dresses and their children in a motley assortment of garments ranging from Goth-wear to skateboard attire. At first you might think I was describing a crowd entering the local movie Cineplex, but no this was the usual Sunday go-to-meeting clothes, commonly worn today in most worship services across our country.

Let me begin by stating very clearly that I am no advocate of clothesline religion i.e. what you wear determines your level of sanctification. Clothesline religion is found within fundamentalism and some branches of Pentecostalism. It entails strict law regarding what one is allowed to wear. It might include such regulations as men’s hair length (and women’s) skirt length (I am all for modesty), long sleeves on both men and women, no jewelry on women etc. Also, I certainly would agree that ultimately God is not as concerned with our outer appearance as He is with the attitude of our heart:

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isa. 29:13

Biblical worship is above all else a “heart” condition (see John 4:23) and not a time to parade our haute couture.

One truth I have learned over the years from my own spiritual journey is that spiritual BALANCE seems to be one of the most difficult things to achieve in this fallen world. We as people seem to lean one way or another; the pendulum swings to the far left or to the far right. For example, we have congregations that are doctrinally dead-on, but with little spiritual passion or exuberance. Then again, we have congregations whose members are ignited by the fire of the Spirit, passionate about others coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior, unrestrained in their worship and yet an inch deep doctrinally. It seems almost impossible to find any group that is equally balanced with Spirit & Truth.

Over the last twenty years I have seen a subtle change in dress and attitude on the part of the people of God in America. As a child in the late 1950’s and 60’s I grew up going to church having to wear what we called “my Sunday best.” As a young boy this meant my best trousers, my shine able shoes, a button-down shirt and at least a clip-on-tie, possibly a sport coat or a suit. These clothes were set aside specifically for church. Why wear such a uniform? It was because my parents were trying to instill within my young skull the reality that we, as a family, were coming to worship the transcendent and yet personal God who was totally holy. There was nothing blasé about attending church and approaching the altar of God.

Why Change?

The decline of church attendance, especially within the mainline Protestant churches gave birth to what we know today as the “Church Growth Gurus” of whom many of the most prominent were (and are) charismatic sign/gift enthusiasts such as Dr. C. Peter Wagner and the late John Wimber who started the Vineyard churches. The operative philosophy behind the Church Growth Movement (CGM) was to try to remove anything that would offend the non-churched visitor or seeker. (1) This meant removing crosses and crucifixes from sancturaries because such symbols point to God’s bloody sacrifices for our sins. The use of the hymnals went out the door as well; they hymns are old, traditional and unfamiliar lyrically and musically to the seekers. Pastors were encouraged to stop wearing any form of vestments or clerical garb because one does not want to present any distinction between the seeker and the pastor. (2) The congregants themselves were encouraged to dress casually so as to help create a more “homey” and easy-going atmosphere. Naturally the pews had to go as well. Pews not only point to traditional worship, but they also tend to somewhat force people to sit together and if not padded can be uncomfortable. The CGM gurus did studies, took polls and tried to determine what would make the un-churched visitor most comfortable if/when they felt led to attend a service.

Within the seeker-sensitive mentality one of the gravest of sins is to offend the lost person’s sensibilities. So the CGM collated their data and sold its programs to desperate pastors and denominations. Presto! Now we have congregations that no longer have any form of the cross in their buildings, sing no hymns, have no pews, and dress like attending a picnic versus coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days. To be sure these are outward actions, yet like all “leaven” it spreads.

Once the outer changes had been made then the CGM gurus began to proclaim the need to change the message being presented. They realized that just changing the furniture around was not going to entice and keep any potential sheep. Oh sure, now a pastor might get some visitors to come, enjoy the comfortable stadium seats with cup-holders for the gourmet java distributed I the narthex (oops I meant “the welcome center”), but what if they are offended by the preaching? Naturally, once you got the seeker in the seat you want them to fully enjoy the “show.” The show consists of having engaging music performed by professional musicians and dancers, (3) moving PowerPoint presentations and then a short message on how to be the best one can be using biblical references.

Words such as “sin, sinner, hell, damnation, and depravity” have been erased from the vocabulary of any successful seeker-sensitive pastors, such as Joel Osteen and Robert Schuller and all their clones. These words can offend the hearer, after all, who wants to hear that they are a miserable sinner from the pulpit, let alone get down on their knees and confess such a reality openly to God and others? (4) Obviously such changes in vocabulary point to significant changes in the messages presented. Jesus ceases to be the Savior of sinners, instead He becomes more of a “life coach” pointing all of us onwards and upwards towards unending success in this life. The people cease to be sinners in need of a Savior. This is a huge departure from the message the Apostle Paul shared when he said:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief. 1 Tim. 1:15

Paul would not be welcome to preach in any of the mega-churches in America today. He is too old-school and most certainly off message for today’s seeker. Sadly, the Biblical Jesus would not be welcomed either.

The CGM has radically transformed the face and substance of Biblical Christianity in America, South America and Europe. Church now is almost totally man centered. Everything that can be changed has been changed to facilitate the comfort of man both physically, esthetically and spiritually. Attending church is now about having an “enjoyable worship experience” as opposed to coming to worship the God who saved you and who has something to say directly to you via His Word and Sacrament.

Come As You Are ?

After that short romp through the history of the CGM we arrive back at our topic regarding the blasé manner in which people come to worship the Lord of Hosts. Seeing all that has changed regarding much of our worship format it is easy to see how the un-churched were never taught to treat coming to church as a privilege. The un-churched or lapsed visitor looks around sees how everyone else is dressed and follows suit. Obviously, I do not expect the un-churched to know how or why to properly dress when they initially begin to come to church. The old adage is very true — “you have to catch the fish before you can clean it.” The point is they are to be taught, instructed, discipled if you will, regarding their daily walk with Christ and then how to comport themselves in the house of God during a worship service. Shocking as it may seem dear friends worship is all about God and not about us. We come passively to receive the free and good gifts of God and then we can respond with our sacrifice of praise. (see Heb. 13:15).

The priests in the Old Testament wore special clothing (see Ex. 28:2-4; 29:5, 21; Lev. 6:11) that they took off when they were not serving the Lord specifically. They had a format of worship, a liturgy which they followed. No one worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wearing whatever they wanted and however they wanted.

Today, all of the Church is considered by God in the following manner:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:5,9,10).

If you were invited to the Whitehouse to see the President, how would you dress? Naturally, most of us would wear our best clothing out of respect for the office if not the office holder. Even today upscale restaurants require men to wear ties and some even jackets when dining! How much more then should we attire ourselves in our best clothing when we approach the Living God to whom we owe our every breath?

Church is not a fashion show. Nor are congregations to show any favoritism to those who are obviously wealthy as James warns us:

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there comes in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (James 2:2-4).

What I am talking about is reestablishing a sense of decorum and modesty within our worship services. Modesty seems to be another word which has fallen out of favor within the people of God. During the hot summer months we are subjected to a wide range of immodest attire on the part of both men and women. Skintight jeans, shorts, no bras and sleeveless tee-shirts do not help any of us focus on Christ Jesus. Yes we are “free” in Christ, but that freedom is given so that we can now obey Him from our heart and we are surely not to use our freedom as a license to sin (see Rom 6:18-23).

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with god works. (1 Tim. 2:9,10).

Again, we see church worship is not a fashion show, but a sacred time that is carved out of our day, set aside (sanctified) to be devoted to our loving God.

Ask yourself a simple question, why not dress up in your Sunday best for church? If you don’t is it because no one else does in your congregation? If this is the case, so what, worship is ultimately between you and God (while not ignoring the important corporate aspect). Start a trend! Or perhaps you have the attitude that “God knows my heart, what I wear is not important.” Well I might give the opinion that if ones heart is truly set on Zion then ones dress will be appropriate. Studies have shown that even in secular schools when the children all wear similar uniforms that behavior and grades both improve. Dressing nicely also works on ones self-esteem (that ought to be enough of a draw today). Personally, when I am dressed nicely I feel better about myself in a way. Dressing for church reminds me that I am going to a sacred place and spending sacred time communing around the altar of God with both the saints on earth and all the saints in heaven!

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Congregations who bought into the CGM ministry philosophy have become known as “seeker-sensitive” churches. There is legitimate theological debate whether or not any lost person genuinely seeks after God.

2. Let me simply say here that there is no difference in value before our God, He loves all His people equally. However, there is a distinction in function within the Church and its worship service regarding the pastor and the congregation.

3. Naturally I want “professional” musicians in any church setting, but I am really referring to professional entertainers.

4. No worries for the seeker, their churches are not equipped with any for of “kneelers” because they are not going to kneel for anything during their services.

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Carlton Pearson’s “Gospel” of Inclusion

23 09 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters- November 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 1 – Carlton Pearson’s “Gospel” of Inclusion – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow and Gary Hand

Discernment Ministries International

Carlton Pearson’s “Gospel” of Inclusion

By Robert S. Liichow

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We were in the car driving to Church a couple of Sunday mornings ago and I turned to our local Public Broadcasting station hoping to hear some classical music. Instead of hearing Chopin, I heard a familiar voice, one I had not heard in many years, that of Pastor Carlton Pearson.

I have personally met and spoken with Carlton years ago when he spoke at Jubilee Christian Church in Detroit (back then he was a mere Word of Faith heretic). Now many years later I heard his voice again, this time applauded as a heretic of a different stripe. Sadly, like all error when left unchecked it grows worse and worse. Paul rightly states in 1 Cor. 5:6 that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, which is why truth so desperately matters. Pearson had gone from espousing the heresy of the Word of Faith cult to being the “poster child” of the false Gospel of Universalism. He has gone from being heretical in many areas of doctrine to being apostate from the One Holy and Apostolic Church.

The reason why this issue of Truth Matters is devoted to Mr. Pearson and his aberrant doctrine is because I believe that the stage is set spiritually for his deviant message to be embraced by a wide audience. Our era has been culturally prepared by Hollywood movies, television programs, radio talk shows, the music industry, liberal politicians, and even some seeker-sensitive leaders to accept Pearson’s revamped message of universal reconciliation. Pearson has a charismatic personality, he is well spoken, fairly well educated, and has a great deal of media exposure. He is currently being used as a force for the darkness of deception that cannot be ignored.

A Little Background on Pearson —

Carlton grew up in a Pentecostal family. On the radio interview, (1) he readily admitted that all his ministerial mentors had absolutely no theological training. He began his public ministry at the age of 16 and unlike his forebears he decided to attend college. Carlton attended Oral Roberts University, graduated from there, and later received an honorary doctorate from Oral. Oral considered Carlton to be his “black” son in the Gospel. At one point Carlton was a member of the Board of Regents at ORU, but was removed due to his aberrant beliefs (which is saying something when one considers the host of aberrant beliefs upheld by Roberts and his ilk). He also served on the College of Bishops of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches, which has also renounced him and his doctrines.

As a WOF heretic, Pearson built up a large following, eventually leading the Higher Dimensions Family Church (HDFC), a mega-church of close to 5,000 members, in Tulsa, OK for twenty years. He was a regular guest on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the 700 Club and was even a guest at the White House during the terms of both Bush Presidents. He is also a Grammy nominated singer and he authored a variety of books and booklets as well as a two-time Stellar Award-winning and Dove Award-nominated recording artist. In short, Pearson was a very big fish in the WOF/charismatic pond. He was influential in bringing T.D. Jakes into the limelight. (2) In all fairness to Mr. Jakes, he does not endorse Pearson today. “Bishop T.D. Jakes told Charisma Magazine that Pearson’s theology is wrong, false, misleading and an incorrect interpretation of the bible. (3)

Pearson also held annual revival conferences entitled “Azusa” at the Maybee Center on the ORU campus and marketed the music CD’s through Integrity Music, which has since pulled his contract and no longer publishes his songs. All the hoi polloi of charismatic stardom attended the Azusa conferences. The speakers included Mr. Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Bishop Earl Paulk, Marilyn Hickey and others. The Azusa annual conferences was A financial boom to Tulsa’s local economy by an estimated $10 million each year for the last 14 years. (4)

This man was literally the “golden boy” of Charismania. He had the backing of its elder statesman, Oral Roberts, he was bringing in millions of dollars per year through his congregation, recording and book sales. Pearson was an internationally sought after convention speaker, out-spoken conservative black Republican and a regular guest on TBN.

Yet, today all of this is nothing but a painful memory to Carlton and those who once adored him. Gone are the 5,000 members; he is now down to around 100-200 people in a rented hall. The bank foreclosed on the huge complex, Higher Dimensions Family Church. Gone are the recording and publishing contracts. Gone are the speaking engagements and close friendship he shared with Jakes, Hinn, Hickey, the Crouches and other charismatic glitterati. I seriously doubt that G.W. will be inviting Carlton to the next White House Prayer Breakfast.

What Happened?

Simply this Carlton Pearson stopped believing that God would send any people to hell. He denounced the doctrine of eternal damnation as a false teaching from the HDFC pulpit. News of his new doctrinal stance quickly spread and even after many of his charismatic ministry friends and associates tried to counsel Pearson and get him to recant his position he refused. His counselors, for all their doctrinal errors, knew Pearson was wrong on this point and so severely so they rightly broke fellowship with him. Instead of humbly submitting himself to the orthodox teachings of the Christian Church for two thousand years, Carlton, in a supreme act of pride said the Church has been wrong and that he will restore the “true” Gospel back to the Church!

Pearson states: “A careful study of early church history will show that the doctrine of universal restoration was the prevailing doctrine of the Primitive Christian Church.” History does not show that the doctrine of universalism was held by the Primitive Christian Church as he and others claim. It was Origen in the 3rd century who began to espouse this view as he held to a more allegorical interpretation of Scripture, but it was never held as an Orthodox Church view. (5)

Every cult leader has taken this posture. The entire Church is wrong and now God is restoring biblical truth through him or her.

One does not arrive at this position overnight and although Pearson does not go into great detail as to why he took this heterodox stance, I believe we have enough information to come to the reason why he departed from the faith.

Pearson started off as a member of a Pentecostal church, the Church of God in Christ, which is at best semi-pelegian doctrinally. They preach a form of “decision-theology” when it comes to Salvation. They are very works oriented. One works to get saved and then one must continue with various works in order to stay “saved.” From his childhood, through his time at ORU and then as a pastor he has been driven by works evangelism in the classic Charles Finney frame of mind. (6) Pearson admits as much in his radio interview. Here is a transcript of a portion of that interview:

…and it all came to a head one evening, in front of the television, when my little girl who will be nine next month, was an infant, returning from Rwanda to Uganda, and umm Peter Jennings was doing a piece on it, now Majesty was my little girl and I was watching these little kids with swollen bellies, and it looks like their skin is stretched across their little skeleton remains, their hair is kind of red from malnutrition, the babies are, they got flies in the corners of their eyes and mouths, and they reached for the mother’s breast and the mother’s breast are like pencils, there’s no milk, and I, my little fat faced baby with a plate full and a big screen television, and I said, “God I don’t know how you can call yourself a loving Son of God, and allow these people to suffer this way, and then just suck them right into hell,” which was my assumption, and then I heard a voice say within me, “So that’s what you think we’re doing?” and then I remember I didn’t say yes or no, I said, “that’s what I was taught, we’re sucking them into hell,” I said, “yes” well they need to get saved.” “and how will that happen” “someone needs to preach the gospel to them and get them saved” so if you think that that’s the only way to get saved is for someone to preach the gospel to them and we’re sucking them into hell, why don’t you put you’re little baby down and turn your big screen television, I’ll push your plate away, get on the first plane, well get them saved, um, and I remember this all broken up and in tears, I was very upset, I remember thinking, “God don’t pull that guilt on me, “I’ve given you the best forty years of my life, besides, I can’t save the whole world, I’m doing the best I can, I can’t save this whole world. And that’s when I remembered, I believe it was God saying precisely, “You can’t save this whole world, that’s what we did. Do you think we’re sucking them into hell? Can’t you see, they’re already there?” That’s hell. You keep creating and inventing that for yourselves, I’m taking them into my presence. (7)

Due to the impact of Finney’s Pelagianism, Carlton and multitudes of others within the Church believe they must do something in order to bring about the salvation of the lost. Pearson said further on in this interview that every time he sat down next to someone on a plane he felt compelled to open his Bible in front of them and challenge them regarding their faith (or lack thereof) in Christ. His goal, like that of Campus Crusade For Christ, was to get as many people as possible to repeat the “sinners prayer” with him. He felt guilt when he did not witness in this manner and he also felt guilt when he did witness and people did not respond to his invitation. Keep in mind according to Finney it is the job of the evangelist to compel the lost into the kingdom of Heaven using any means necessary. (8)

Let me state quite clearly, that I believe in the necessity of witnessing our faith to others. We are commanded by Jesus Christ to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). I have no problem with brothers and sisters passing out tracts, knocking on doors, and inviting people to their local church. However, we must keep first and foremost in our mind that salvation is of the Lord (read Psl. 37:39). God uses the foolishness of preaching to draw people to faith in Jesus (read 1 Cor. 1:21). The Bible clearly states that one man plants and another waters, but it is GOD who gives the increase (read 1 Cor. 3:7).

All Roads Lead to Heaven —

Pearson’s problem was that in spite of all his working to “get” people saved, multitudes were not saved. Instead of simply bowing his head and humbly submitting to a loving sovereign God, who although not obligated to saving anyone, is saving multitudes daily through the Gospel…he gets mad and accuses God of being unloving and unjust and allowing multitudes to suffer and in the end sending them to eternal damnation. In fact Pearson is on record making the following statement about God’s righteous judgment: “a God who eternally condemns non-Christians would be worse than Hitler. ‘Hitler killed six million [people], mostly Jews. He is the most despised man in the twentieth century. Is God worse than Hitler, who’s going to burn eternally, endlessly, billions of people?” (9)

Due to his lack of a biblical worldview (see Matt. 7: 26) when confronted by the sad realities of a fallen world Carlton makes the classic mistake and chooses one of God’s attributes, love specifically, over the other. He chooses to see God now only as a God of love and total reconciliation. Pearson states in an interview “I believe that most people on planet earth will go to heaven, because of Calvary, because of the unconditional love of God, and the redemptive work of the cross, which is already accomplished.” (10) In an interview he states:

“Jesus was not a Christian, He was a Jew. God, however, is Spirit and cannot be confined exclusively to any particular religion including Christianity. He’s not Jewish or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist; yet He is all of that if we want or need Him to be, while at the same time, none of it conclusively, because He can’t be and, in fact, is not limited to a person’s or culture’s perception of Him. He loves everybody, He understands everybody, and He has a covenant with everybody—again, whether they know it or not. (11)

He does this at the expense of God’s other attributes such as holiness (see Rev. 15:4); sovereignty (see Isa. 46:10); the wrath of God (see Deut. 32:39-41); the decrees of God (see Isa. 40:13,14; Eph 1:4; etc.). The point is simply this—always remember that our God is perfectly balanced in all His attributes. He is equally; loving, just, merciful, compassionate, righteous, holy, and vengeful of sin at the same time with no aspect of His Person being more pronounced than any other.

Paraphrasing Carlton’s words he states that he heard a voice which told him that we, the Church, were putting people into hell and that God on the other hand was bringing them into His presence. This voice told Carlton that these poor suffering souls were in hell now, while on earth.

It was on this basis of this experience that Carlton began to create a new version of an old heresy he calls “The Gospel of Inclusion.”

The Gospel of Inclusion

Pearson now believes that since God so loved the world and Jesus died for all the sins of the world, then the entire world is already saved. The following comments come from a brother who has written an excellent article on Mr. Pearson. This information is used with Gary Hand’s kind permission:

A. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection paid the price for all of humanity to have eternal life in heaven, without any requirement to repent of sins and receive salvation.

B. Belief in Jesus Christ is not necessary for a person to go to heaven. Salvation is unconditional, granted by the grace of God to every human being.

C. It is presumed that all of humanity will have its destiny in heaven, whether they realize it or not.

D. All of humanity will go to heaven regardless of their religious affiliation, including those who believe in false religions or adopt any other form of religious persuasion, or who have no religious persuasion.

E. Only those who have “tasted of the fruits” of real intimacy with Christ and have “intentionally and consciously rejected” the grace of God will spend eternity separated from God.

F. There are persons in some type of hell, but the emphasis is “to get away from the picture of an angry, intolerant God. I don’t see God that bitter.”

The Nature of God

Carlton Pearson’s difficulty begins with a flawed concept of God in relation to man. In presenting aberrant doctrines, the attempt is always made to define the nature and character of God as less than who He is, and to raise the level of the nature and character of man to a position which he is not entitled. A wrong view of God leads to a wrong view of Jesus Christ, a wrong view of the Holy Spirit and eventually to a wrong view of the elements of salvation.

Through his claim that the God, traditionally believed by orthodox Christians, is a bitter God, Carlton Pearson sets up a “straw man” argument or a false premise, against which he argues and makes his claims. He does the same by defining the reason for God’s anger being bitterness on His part, which is a human characteristic but not one of god. He wishes to disassociate himself from those who he claims believe in this “bitter God” that he created, for sake of argument, “to get away from the picture of an angry, intolerant God. I don’t see God that bitter,” Choosing his words poorly, he intimates that he actually does believe in a “bitter” God, because to state that God is not “that bitter” is to assume that He is bitter to a lesser degree. Orthodox belief would deny that God is bitter and would state that a bitter God has never been a tenant of true Christian doctrine. In setting up his false argument, he makes a claim against orthodox belief that is not true, and at the same time places himself in a position where he affirms, by his own words, that he accepts a belief in a bitter god who is just not “that bitter.”

He seems to believe that God’s intolerance of sin and consequent anger expressed against it, an taught in the bible and found in orthodox belief, is equated with bitterness. By his acceptance of a bitter God himself, he assigns to God a deviant human characteristic which is the result of a fallen nature, and at the same time denigrates the character and integrity of God by assuming that He acts on the same level as human beings.

Carlton Pearson, by an ever-so-subtle method, begins to teach about a different God than is found in the Bible. He teaches about a God who is less than is His Holy nature, and by just a slight degree, is closer to the nature of humanity than the Bible reveals. So the character and nature of God is lessened by that small step which will lead to a greater lessening of the character and nature of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and a consequent vast change in the nature of salvation.

Jesus Christ

The question that is presented in Carlton Pearson’s doctrine, which has been discussed and answered many times, is, “For whom did Christ die?” Carlton Pearson would answer that He died for every person in the world that ever lived and will ever live. At the same time he would claim that the death of Christ was also efficacious (effective) for every person in the world that ever lived and will ever live. By that claim, he then states that all men are saved and going to heaven as a result of the death and resurrection of Christ, regardless of their religious view, even if they do not know or believe in Jesus Christ.

However, in his theology, the majority of human beings, who are saved and going to heaven, are second class persons in the heavenly scheme of things, because those who are a “Born Again Believer” and are the “sanctified” individuals through a specific belief in Jesus Christ, are also “set apart to and for special service, ranking and relationship both with and to The Lord Jesus Christ…,” which he claims is taught in 1 Corinthians 1:2. (This is strikingly similar to the Trip To Heaven dream that Jesse Duplantis claimed to have, in which there are two catagories of Christians, where the weaker ones must smell the leaves of the Tree of Life in order to get strength.) So, his theology becomes apparent: salvation is given to every human being, unconditionally through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, because, a personal relationship or faith in Jesus Christ is not necessary to obtain salvation. However, sanctification, or the setting apart to a higher ranking, is accomplished by a specific belief and relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the absolute reverse of orthodox belief. Since Carlton Pearson claims to have this belief and relationship with Jesus Christ, he presumes to be set apart, ranked higher and anointed to a higher level than the normal, every day person who is simply going to heaven on a scholarship.

Salvation

The difficulty in Carlton Pearson’s theology is that it turns salvation on its head. He claims that salvation is granted to every human being, unconditionally. This salvation is granted at birth, because the ultimate destination of every human being is presumed to be heaven. Even those who believe in another religion or another god are saved; they just don’t know it.

The death of Christ made it possible for God to accept sinful man, and that he has, in fact, done so. Consequently, whatever separation there is between man and the benefits of God’s grace is subjective in nature and exists only in man’s mind and unregenerate spirit. The message man needs to hear then, is not that he simply has a suggested opportunity for salvation, but that through Christ he has, in fact, already been redeemed to God and that he may enjoy the blessing that are already his through Christ.

Carlton Pearson, Jesus: The Savior of the World

Even though the Bible states that man is estranged from God and requires redemption through belief in Jesus Christ, John 3:18, Carlton Pearson claims that this estrangement is only in the mind of man and that all man needs to do is realize that he is already saved, rather than needing to be saved. As a result of this view, Carlton Pearson states that Romans 5:12-21 supports his belief, claiming that the apostle Paul taught the gospel of Universal Reconciliation. He then claims that faith in Jesus Christ does not accomplish salvation, but brings about sanctification or the setting apart of a person from the rest of the crowd who are going to heaven. So, the object of faith is still Jesus Christ, but the purpose is not to secure salvation but to obtain sanctification. He teaches that belief in Jesus Christ, or being “Born Again,” gives a person special status and an exalted position over other persons. This is a major difference between his belief and orthodox belief. It is at the point of salvation that Carlton Person departs from the faith and proceeds to define, on his own terms, the means by which salvation can be obtained. He says that salvation is granted by God through means of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to all human beings, even through they may not know or even care about the events. Salvation, in his theological system, is unknown to the majority of human beings, but they are saved just the same. He claims that those human beings who do learn about Jesus Christ and are consequently “Born Again,” receive sanctification and not salvation, because they have already been saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The salvation claimed by Carlton Pearson is simply a given entity. It is possessed by every human being without their knowledge. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. Salvation is not possessed by default, but is obtained in a specific manner, by a process which may be slow or quick, but it is a process of obtaining knowledge about Jesus Christ. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15. Apostle Paul “But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ –that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:8-10. The apostle Paul teaches a different message regarding salvation than does Carlton Pearson. Paul did not preach a gospel of universal reconciliation applied to all, but a specific gospel to be universally preached to all. The difference is quite profound. The gospel of Universal Reconciliation is not the gospel taught by the apostle Paul. Salvation, according to the apostle Paul, is not automatically granted and is not possessed by people from birth.  Salvation must be found and it is obtained through faith in Jesus Christ. It is at the point of faith that it is granted, not by default or by inheritance. Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13

The apostle Paul was teaching a radically different gospel than that claimed by Carlson Pearson. The apostle Paul was teaching that those Christians, who were Gentiles, had formerly been separate from Christ, without hope and without God while in the world. They did not have salvation until they were brought near through the blood of Christ. The same view is taught by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:18. The gospel of Universal Reconciliation is not taught by the apostle Paul and the claim that he does teach such a doctrine is false.

What Carlton Pearson teaches is a difference means of salvation, provided in a different manner, than is found in traditional orthodox belief or in the Bible. The grace of God in salvation is redefined to be the granting of it to all human beings. Faith is redefined as applying to sanctification and not to salvation. Faith is not necessary to obtain salvation in his theological system because it is automatically provided by God to every human being. Everything changes in the gospel of Carlton Pearson. God is less than He is, grace is devalued, faith is not directed to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and as such, the Jesus Christ of his theology is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible.

In Carlton Pearson’s theology, if Christ died for every person in the world that ever lived or that will ever live, then His death and resurrection must have been efficacious for all of those individuals. In other words, they were all saved at the point of His death and resurrection, when the penalty for their sins was paid. Since this must be the case, if Christ died for every person in the world, then what accounts for his claim that some who were saved when Christ died and rose from the dead for them, lose that salvation at a future date? He presumes that those who have “tasted of the fruits” of a real relationship and intimacy with Jesus Christ and have “Intentionally and consciously rejected” that relationship and grace, will spend eternity separated from God. The reality is, that in Carlton Pearson’s doctrine, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was not sufficient to secure salvation for every person in the world, and in fact, He died and rose again for people who have salvation for a time in their life, but reject it and will not be saved when all is said and done. So, by definition, they were not granted a universal salvation by God and were not saved, since they are separated from God at their death. Salvation is no salvation if it does not actually save. Carlton Pearson redefines and devalues salvation to mean simply going to heaven. In that context, it is easy to lose salvation since it is just the act of going to heaven. However, in orthodox belief, going to heaven is a fringe benefit of the act of salvation, which is a reconciliation of man to God. Salvation is much more than just going to heaven, and, as such salvation is truly what the term signifies; being kept secure by God Himself. It is a difficult concept to claim that Jesus Christ died for those who deliberately reject His placement of salvation on their lives. However, this goes very well with most charismatic belief, because it is a common thread in those doctrinal systems that salvation can be lost at any point. Just how a person is supposed to know at what specific point that occurs, is not specified.

In his theological system, human beings have no say or control over being ranted a universal salvation by God. It is given without their knowledge or consent. However, human beings obtain control over the possession of their salvation if they are told the gospel message (as Carlton Pearson define it) and reject it after having “tasted of the fruits” of a relationship with Jesus Christ, whatever that is defined to be. Fro the majority of people in Carlton Pearson’s theological system, God is sovereign in their salvation, in that they are going to heaven whether they know it or not, even if they might reject that destination if they were told. For the others, who have been told the gospel and “tasted of the fruits” of a relationship with Jesus Christ and rejected that message, they are able to break God’s sovereignty over their eternal destination and take from themselves the ability to determine their own destiny. The question must be asked, “Is God sovereign or is man sovereign? In Carlton Pearson’s theology, man is master and God becomes the victim. At one point, God grants salvation, but at another point that salvation has no effect and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is pointless, and is powerless to maintain the salvation given.

Even in his own theological system, it would be better if Carlton Pearson would stop preaching his gospel, because the person who does not hear his gospel will not have the opportunity to reject the message and be separated from God as the result. If they do not hear the gospel and reject it, they will go to heaven. Preaching Carlton Pearson’s gospel to a person is, in reality, doing that persona disfavor by presenting to them the option of choosing to be separated from God. Truly, in his theological system, ignorance is bliss, because to be without knowledge of Jesus Christ will assure a person of a place in heaven. Again, what Carlton Pearson claims is the opposite of orthodox belief and what the Bible actually says. Salvation, according to the Bible, is obtained by hearing the gospel and placing faith in Jesus Christ, while damnation is not to hear the gospel or reject the gospel.

In Carlton Pearson’s theology, God grants salvation to every human being on an unconditional basis. The granting of sanctification is conditional, based on the choice of the individual. So, the major aspect, which is salvation is unconditional, which the minor aspect, sanctification, is conditional. In higher education, one spends the majority of time on their major, or the chief area of their study, and the minority of their time on their minor, or the secondary area of their study. In this theology, the major becomes the minor; the minor becomes the major and the individual majors on the minor element, which is sanctification. God and Jesus Christ have gone to the limit in order to provide salvation for humanity, but in this system it is simply granted, even to those who are ignorant of its provisions. But at the minor point of the issue, that of sanctification, the choice is given to continue in the belief or choose separation from God. The great work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection is relegated to an insignificant part of the life of a person, while the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing about sanctification is elevated to the major portion of a person’s life to such a degree that a person’s decision on that more minor element determines whether a person will be separated from God or will go to heaven. This is a theological system turned upside down in which a person is forced to major on the minors and minor on the majors.

The glaring fault in Carlton Pearson’s teaching is that he creates two classes of people who are going to heaven. There are the ordinary people, who have never heard of Jesus Christ or have another religious belief, and there are the “sanctified” persons who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are set apart to a higher level. The difficulty is apparent, in that the first class of people is going to heaven in the same spiritual condition in which they live on this earth. Nothing has changed, because they are ignorant of Jesus Christ, believe in other false religious systems or have no religious belief at al. The Holy Spirit has never worked in their lives and they have never been spiritually changed in order to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.

Carlton Pearson has a gross misconception regarding the elements of salvation. Salvation is not about just going to heaven. If a person could obtain salvation without sanctification, then heaven would be filled with the same sinful, reprobate people in their same sinful reprobate condition, that inhabit this world, which is what his new theology allows.

In Carlton Pearson’s theology, not only is the method by which salvation is obtained redefined, the nature and composition of salvation itself is redefined and the elements of that salvation are detached from each other. Carlton Pearson assumes that salvation is going to heaven, but there is much more to it than just going to a pleasant place when one dies. Even if there was no such place such as heaven, salvation would still be a necessity because the issue of salvation is about the reconciliation of human beings to God, from whom they are separated.  Reconciliation is not accomplished by going to heaven, but by means of the elements of salvation in which God demands accountability by man to the provision made by Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection, through faith, repentance, regeneration, justification, adoption and sanctification, those elements being accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit. These elements constitute the totality of salvation and cannot be separated. It is not possible to obtain salvation without salvation without accomplishing sanctification, just as it is not possible to enter heaven without all of the elements being accomplished in the life of the believer.

Salvation in the Scriptures, is granted as a result of faith; that faith being exercised toward the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. Faith has always been the means by which salvation was granted, even in the Old Testament, as Hebrews chapter 11 shows. To accept Carlton Pearson’s view of salvation is to conclude that one possesses salvation by virtue of simply being human. Presumably if one is born, one has salvation. That is the disaster in his theology. To presume that one has salvation when one does not, is to be lost and damned to an eternity in hell, without the presence of God. Heresy leads to damnation because to preach a wrong gospel about salvation is to preach a damning message to those who would believe it.

According to Carlton Pearson, the orthodox Christian church has gotten the salvation message all wrong for 1900 years and he has finally been the one to discover the truth and set everyone and everything straight. In a sense, he is maintaining the old apostasy theory that claims the early church believed one thing, but at some point that belief was changed and the church became apostate. He has now come along to end that system of apostasy and restore the truth of the real gospel as he has discovered it. The Apostle Paul, whose teachings were the first to be referred to as heresies in Acts 24:24, was the first to teach the message of Universal Reconciliation, as he tried to convince Jews and Jewish Christians that the Gospel was inclusive of all of Humankind and not confined to a so-called ‘faithful few.” Subtly trying to compare is situation with the apostle Paul, he intimates that the claims of heresy brought against his teachings are similar to those in Acts. However, he misrepresents the charges of heresy brought against Paul, because they were not charges from within the Christian community, but from the old Judaistic religious system that was abolished on the death of Jesus Christ.

“A careful study of early church history will show that the doctrine of universal reconciliation was the prevailing doctrine of the Primitive Christian Church.” It is clear from the Scripture that this was not the prevailing doctrine of the early church. To claim otherwise is simply a perversion of the Scriptural record and the historical record as well.   Carlton Pearson’s approach is mirrored by the claims of Joseph Smith in Mormonism, who is considered to be “The prophet of the restoration, “John Thomas of the Christadelphians and Charles Taze Russell of the Jahovah’s Witnesses, who all claim that the Christian Church has been wrong all along, but they and only they, by their own brilliance or by a revelation uniquely given to them, have discovered the truth. The absurdity of Carlton Pearson’s claim, according to its own system of theology, is, it does not matter what a person believes; they are going to heaven anyway. So, even if the orthodox church got the message wrong, everyone is still going to heaven. In point of fact, it is not even necessary for there to be preachers to give a message, a church to attend or a religious belief to hold, since all men are going to heaven regardless of what they may or may not believe. If Carlton Pearson were true to his theology, he would have to admit that his job as a pastor or evangelist is completely unnecessary.

Carlton Pearson wishes to preach about a kinder, gentler God than is actually revealed in the Scripture. He wishes to redefine God in a manner that suit’s the message that he wishes to preach, rather than reveal the true character and nature of God. He wishes to do the same with Jesus Christ, so he states, “It is my objective to simply represent Jesus in a softer and more loving way, being less excluding and more “inclusive” in His love, tolerance, acceptance, and glorious promise to all.”

Redefining God in the image of Carlton Pearson is his goal, in order to present a gospel that people want to hear. It is a gospel in which they can go to heaven just like they are. It is a gospel in which people are presumed to be worthy of heaven in the condition that they find themselves. It is a gospel in which they can excel to higher levels through the message of sanctification by faith, never dealing with the sin and depravity in their soul.

Carlton Pearson is adopting a gospel that is strangely reminiscent of Robert Schuller and his positive thinking theology. Robert Schuller took a survey and asked people what message they wanted to hear. They told him what it was, and he now preaches the comforting homilies of a positive self-image and high self-esteem. Salvation, according to Robert Schuller, is the adoption of a gospel of self-love, a positive self-image and high self-esteem that is sufficient to approach God. This is a gospel of arrogance, presuming that a person has the right to stand before God based on their own definition of adequacy. Claiming that the apostle Paul taught a negative message, Robert Schuller states that he does not preach the message of the apostle Paul. He takes upon himself the authority to determine what is important to preach from the Bible, and as such, he places himself in a greater position of authority than God, who is the author of all Scripture.

Carlton Pearson has adopted Robert Schuller’s popular approach, wishing to eliminate from his theology what he considers to be a negative message. The gospel message that repentance of sins and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior will deliver a person form the judgment of God, is hard to understand. However, when salvation is given to every human being at birth, there is not much of any other message that can be preached.

Placing himself in the position of authority over the message of the gospel established by God, he assumes that he has the power to redefine God, Jesus Christ, and salvation in the manner that best suits his true ultimate goal of extending the boundaries of his ministry. His new “doctrine” came about, not as a result of a desire to present doctrinal purity, but in order to extend the appeal of his ministry to a vast group of people who do not wish to hear or know about a gospel in which sin must be realized and confessed in their lives. As such, he teaches a gospel that says, “I’m ok. You’re ok. We’re all ok.” To that end, Carlton Pearson has created his own gospel, just as Robert Schuller has created his. He is taking a calculated risk, willing to lose some followers now in order to appeal to a greater number as time goes on.

Carlton Pearson wishes to see himself as the leader of a new theological approach, redefining God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation and sanctification. He looks to himself as the head of the movement and to others in order to provide a foundation for his beliefs, pointing toward those who call themselves “Universal Reconciliationists,”  with similar views. He uses the trendy terminology, that is so overused in charismatic circles today, that is supposed to assign a high level of importance and intellectual credence to what is being stated, indicating that a “paradigm shift” in thinking identifies his theological system, hoping to convince other people that he is doing great and mighty things.

Paradigm shifts, no matter how they are defined by their proponents, must adhere to the teachings in the Scripture, otherwise, like Carlton Person’s “new” theology, they are simply the old heresies wrapped in another package.

Today, Mr. Pearson speaks in a rented hall, his mega-church property having gone into foreclosure. Seated before him are no long thousands of sign-seeking WOF cultists. Instead his “congregation” includes people dressed in Muslim clothing, openly homosexual people, some Unitarian cult members and just a handful of people from HDFC who sadly have been thus far deceived into believing the apostate Pearson’s seemingly kinder false gospel.

I cannot say whether or not Pearson was ever a genuine Christian, God only knows. I can say that one cannot deny the unique redemption that is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to be a member of Christ’s Body. On the following page I have cited just a few of the biblical texts that Mr. Pearson seems to have either forgotten or has attempted to redefine. Like we used to say “there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun.”

A Few Biblical Verses to Share With Those Who Believe In Universal Atonement

Psalm 21:9 Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.

Matthew 3:21 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 23:23   Ye serpents ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Matthew 25:33,41   And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on is right hand, but the goats on the left…Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Romans 12:2 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

1 Cor. 6:9-10  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

2 These 2:10-13 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that the should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  ♦

Copyright ©  2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. The interview is available on the internet on various web sites. The program is called “This American Life” hosted by Ira Glass. To hear it one can go to http://www.audible.com or other sites.

2. Mr. Jakes, as DMI and other ministries have been warning the Church, is an anti-Trinitarian and teaches a unique syncretism of WOF error, prosperity nonsense and feel-good psycho-babble. Mr. Jakes leads The Potters House in Dallas, TX. A congregation with over 15,000 members.

3. Obtained from http://www.evangelizeamerica.org/general/carlton%20pearson.htm.

4. Charisma magazine, Feb. 2000, People & Events section.

5. Obtained from an article on Pearson found at http://www.letusreason.org/Curren35.htm on 12-31-05

6. Charles Finney was a heretic who, unfortunately, has had a great impact on today’s so-called evangelical movement. Truth Matters has exposed him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and there are many web sites devoted to demonstrating that Finney was not a genuine Christian.

7. Transcribed from the audio version of This American Life by Dominique Liichow who labored long over her Christmas vacation to help with this edition of the newsletter.

8. We have Finney to thank for the concept of the anxious bench” and “altar calls.” According to Finney, man has totally free will to receive or reject Christ it is up to the skill of the evangelist to make the message as appealing or powerful as possible. I have seen coffins on the platform with people laying in them, a bugle is blown and only 1 man rises, and then the evangelist shouts “I’ll count to 10 and if you want to rise when Jesus returns like this man run to the alta…” Other evangelists will literally turn up the heat in the building as they preach about hell and the need for Christ. Such tactics leave no place for the true work of the Holy Spirit.

9. From This American Life radio interview and it can also be found at http://www.letusreason.org/Curren35.htm as of 12-30-05

10. http://www.evangelizeamerica.org/general/carlton%20pearson.htm obtained on 12-30-05.

11. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/127/story_12772_1.htm#cont  obtained on 12-30-05.





Why I like to Kneel In Church

28 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – June 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 6 – – Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I like to Kneel In Church

Today, many congregations and denominations are quickly jettisoning almost everything that could remotely be construed as “Traditional.” Some congregations have done completely away with singing the classic hymns and have replaced them with simple pietistic refrains that are repeated over and over. (1) Other church leaders have taken crosses out of their sanctuaries lest it offend the seeker they are attempting to reach with, I assume, the message of the very cross they have removed.

Many Evangelical and Protestant groups no longer recite the Lord’s Prayer and fewer still ever declare the Nicene or Apostles creed in their services. Part of the philosophy behind striping away the elements of historic orthodox Christianity is because they are seen as an impediment to the targeted demographic. (2) These aspects of our common faith are viewed as being non relevant in today’s “have it your way culture.”

What the Church Growth Movement (aka “Seeker Sensitive”) does not comprehend is that worship service is about Jesus and not our comfort or making us feel good about ourselves. (3)

Another ancient practice that will not be found in this contemporary form of Christianity is that of Kneeling before The Ancient of Days and whole on our knees confessing our sins in unison. For twenty years in various church/denominational settings my wife and family never knelt and confessed our sins as part of the worship service. I am glad to be a part of a congregation that has not lost any of our historic Evangelical practices, including kneeling for confession, prayer and kneeling during the reception of the Holy Supper.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:6

And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. Kings 8: 54

There is something that strikes me at a deep spiritual level when I kneel before the transcendent God of all creation. It reminds me that I am the creature, and He is the Creator. It is a posture of submission and humility. It is an attitude of supplication and an acknowledgment that I am poor in spirit and I am in continual need of God’s grace.

Perhaps some churches don’t kneel because it smacks of “Roman Catholicism” in their thinking. Possibly they think that they don’t have to kneel, after all God sees the heart so our posture is unimportant. Let me address these two misconceptions right now before we continue. First, the Church knelt before the Lord long before Roman Catholicism existed. Secondly, yes God does see our heart and if we could see it as He does we’d be on our faces and not just our knees!

When people encountered Jesus during His earthly ministry they often knelt before Him when making their requests:

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. Matthew 17:14-15.

And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: Luke 8:41.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Luke 22:41.

Kneeling before the Lord is the Biblical pattern. There are few examples of people simply walking up to Jesus and looking Him face-to-face petitioned Him for something. We see this pattern of humility in prayer modeled by both the Apostle Peter and Paul of Acts:

But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up. Acts 9:40

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. Acts 20:36

Even throughout the Old Testament people usually knelt in prayer to God.

When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:3

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10

So when I kneel I sense a deep connection to al the ancient people of God upon whose shoulders we all stand. If people knelt in prayer before the advent of Christ, then knelt to Him during, His earthly ministry, how much more so should we kneel today now that He has ascended back to the right hand of God the Father Almighty in all His glory?

Some might argue that kneeling can become a form of pietistic pride “see I kneel, so I am truly humble.” If that is anyone’s attitude then they are simply wasting their time. Any spiritual practice can be abused and turned into a form of works righteousness, but this need not be the case if one truly understands the reason behind what is being done or practiced.

One thing that can keep people away from feeling sanctimonious is the purpose behind our kneeling. In our congregation’s worship service we kneel initially to confess our sins before our Holy God. The pastor begins by inviting God’s people to kneel and confess our sins to God (the pastor kneels as well, knowing himself to be a sinner in need of God’s grace too). Here is what we confess as a people in unison:

Silence for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination.

Pastor: Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

Congregation: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen. (4)

Certainly this confession can become just so many words habitually spoken without any impact in some people’s lives, but as we would all agree, God knows our hearts. He knows who is sincere in their repentance and who is just going through the motions. People can be just as hypocritical standing a kneeling.

Trust me when I say after years of charismatic indiscrimination it was initially hard to verbally say out loud that I am by nature “sinful and unclean.” I had been wrongly taught and had taught others that yes once we were sinners, but now we are the very righteousness of God in Christ! Just try to get a Word of Faith cultist to confess they are sinners (good luck!). So, actually verbalizing those words brought some initial cognitive dissonance within me. However, I did confess that negative confession because it was true. The following quotation is an answer to this very issue of saying we are poor miserable sinners:

You are certainly correct in affirming the scriptural truth that believers are set free from sin through Christ and are no longer slaves to sin, and consequently are also free from its penalty, death. As St. Paul plainly says in Romans 6, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Yet this same apostle in the very next chapter of Romans writes of his struggle as a sinner/saint: “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched [the Greek word here means “miserable, wretched,” “distressed”–A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 9881 man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (7:23-25). On the basis of Paul’s teaching in Romans 7 Luther spoke of Christians as paradoxically at one and the same time “saint and sinner” (simul iustus et peccator). He wrote, “The saints in being righteous are at the same time sinners; they are righteous because they believe in Christ whose righteousness covers them and is imputed to them, but they are sinners because they do not fulfill the law and are not without sinful desires. They are like sick people in the care of a physician: they are really sick, but healthy only in the hope and insofar as they begin to be better, healed, i.e. they will become health. Nothing can harm them so much as the presumption that they are in fact healthy, for it will cause a bad relapse.” It is altogether proper and fitting, therefore, for Christians to confess that they are poor miserable sinners, and with full seriousness, while at the same time they rejoice in the forgiving love of Christ who has taken away their guilt-the love which is announced and imparted to them in the absolution. (5)

Then once we have made our confession of sin something amazing (and greatly misunderstood by many people) happens in the service! The Pastor stands up and says:

Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Chirst, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [John 20:19-23]. (6)

We are forgiven all of our sins! We are “absolved” of them based totally on the mercy of God and merit of Christ Jesus on the cross for us. What confuses some Christians is that they mistakenly think that The Evangelical Church believes that it is the pastor who upon hearing our confession of sin forgives our sins. This is simply not the case. Roman Catholicism believes that their priests have the authority to actually forgive sins, but that is not what the Bible or The Evangelical Church believes. To absolve simply means to set free from sin. By virtue of his office and in the name and stead of Christ a pastor absolves those who have confessed their sins. (7) So when we hear the words “I forgive you all your sins” in reality it is not the pastor speaking per se, it is no less than Jesus Christ Himself, for those are His words. Glad tidings indeed!! As long as we are on the subject of confession and absolution, one need not be a pastor to forgive another their sins —

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much. James 5:16

Every Christian is called upon (see Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13) to do this two-fold work: (1) confess their sins and (2) to forgive those who sin against them. In our formal worship setting we do this as a body together, but it can be done privately, and if you are anything like me, I am throughout the day asking my Lord’s forgiveness when I stray in word, thought or deed.

We also kneel at the altar rail to receive the body and blood of our Lord in communion. As we approach the altar we bow, then the pastor invites us to come forward, upon doing so we kneel and the elements are distributed. After everyone has partaken the pastor pronounces a blessing over us and we return to our seats. During this time hymns appropriate to the Lord’s Supper (an audible gasp is heard from a seeker Christian who surreptitiously sneaks a read of your issue) are sung by the congregation. After communion is received my family chooses to kneel again in thanks for the gift the father has given us in His Son and for the strength of joy granted to us by His Spirit.

Let me close by reiterating that I, Bob Liichow, enjoy kneeling before our Lord. This practice is seen from Genesis to The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It does not make me more spiritual to kneel nor does it make Christians who do not kneel less spiritual. It is simply part of our ancient Christian tradition (there I said that word again) and it is a tradition I fully appreciate. ♦

Copyright © 2006  Robert S. Liichow

1. I am not against contemporary Christian music. Based on over twenty years of singing “contemporary” songs I can unequivocally state that they lack the solid theological content of the traditional hymns of the Church. Admittedly the new music has a beat, you can clap and dance to it but that misses the point of the singing which is to focus on Christ, lift Him up and glorify Him.

2. Church Growth gurus believe that the major reason people do not attemd church is because it is too traditional, is not relevant to their daily lives, demands too much of its members. CGM gurus thus came up with a wide variety of marketing techniques to lure in the un-churched. They use everything from jugglers to clowns, stadium seating, tone down the message so it is no longer convicting and thus not a true presentation of the Gospel.

3. Naturally I am not saying that worship service does not meet our needs or that they are to be boring. The focus is to always be Christ centered and not man-centered.

4. Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/Worship/DS2.pdf

5. Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2624

6. ibid

7. Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, p. 684.





Soli Deo Gloria

18 06 2009

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

scansoliDeoGloria0001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does It Mean to Give Glory To God?

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

Q 1: What is the chief end of man?

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

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

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

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

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

What is it to glorify God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Ibid

14. ibid