Truth Matters January 2014

9 03 2014

Part Four on Ecstatic Speech
by Rev. Robert Liichow

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles…”
The Apostle Paul

This has been somewhat of a longer rabbit trail than I usually take our readers down but it is important to have some working knowledge of the so-called “sign gifts” of the Holy Spirit, since so many people are claiming divine abilities on a global basis. As Christians we are called to give an answer (apology) for what we believe (see 1 Peter 3:15). I admit the context of Peter’s statement is directly pertaining to our hope within us, eternal life; however, we should be able to defend all of our beliefs regarding our faith. Last month we briefly considered the three gifts that supposedly “reveal” something, yet as we discovered two of these three gifts are never defined for the Church and thus no one can honestly claim to possess gifts which we cannot even define according to the Bible itself.

The Gifts that Do Something

    The next triumvirates of gifts are often referred to as the “power gifts” or supernatural abilities to perform various tasks.

The Gift of Faith

As with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, these are supernatural abilities and not mere human abilities on steroids or something. Thus the “gift of faith” is not the gift of believing the Gospel; although the ability to believe is not a human endeavor either (see Eph. 2:8) it too is a gift. Yet the gift of faith to receive Christ Jesus is not the same as the gift of faith spoken of here by Paul. All Christians are recipients of the gift of faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace. This gift of “faith” is an additional gifting that enables the recipient to believe God with an unshakable resolve. The enthusiasts among us define this gift as follows:

The gift of faith is a gift of the Spirit to the believer in order that he might receive miracles . . . Those who operate in special faith, the gift of the Spirit, can believe God in such a way that God honors their word as His own, and miraculously brings to pass the desired result.

God gives a believer a gift of power because there is something that He wants to do. It is always to bless somebody or help somebody. Or, God can give a believer the gift of power to stop something that is evil . . . He will give you the gift of faith: the amount of power to get the job done. . .

The gift of faith may be defined as the special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians with extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, power, and presence so they can take heroic stands for the future of God’s work in the church. The spiritual gift of faith is exhibited by one with a strong and unshakeable confidence in God, His Word, and His promises.

Πίστις is the Greek word for faith in this text and it simply means to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance in God and His promises. The book of Hebrews the eleventh chapter gives us a plethora of examples of Old Covenant people who overcame through the gift of faith. In simplest terms the gift of faith would be the divinely granted ability to believe the unbelievable in the face of all adversity based upon nothing more than faith in God and His promise(s).

The Gifts of healing

    This gift, like all the others, is supernatural and has nothing to do with medical science or serving in the vocation of a doctor or nurse. The reason I stress the supernatural facet of these charismas is because there are those among us who would relegate these gifts and many supernatural biblical events to really “natural” occurrences, i.e. there is an anti-supernatural vein in our Body.

    The gifts of healing —

The gifts of healings are manifested for the supernatural healing of sickness and disease without any natural source or means.

It’s a plural gift because many things cause sickness. Some sicknesses are caused by accidents. Some are caused by personal neglect. Some sicknesses are caused by bodily abuse. Some sicknesses are caused by organic ailments. Some are caused by a spirit of infirmity or actual satanic oppression.

Tracy and I were taught by Mr. Hayes (above), Robert Tilton and many others that there was a specific “gift” of healing for every disease and ailment afflicting mankind. Robert Tilton claims to have a “gift” for healing people’s back problems. T.L. Osborn claimed to have a divine healing gift for people with deafness. He once claimed to have healed 99 deaf people in one village (naturally this occurred somewhere overseas). The gifts of healing is the second most abused of these nine gifts cited here by Paul, the first being speaking in other tongues (I promise we will get to this gift eventually). The following is a more theological consideration:

23.138
ἴαμα, τος: (derivative of ἰάομαιa ‘to cause to be well again, to heal,’ 23.136) the capacity to cause someone to become healed or cured—’the power to heal, the capacity to heal.’ ἄλλῳ δὲ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων ἐν τῷ ἑνὶ πνεύματι ‘and to another man the same Spirit gives the power to heal’ 1 Cor 12:9. In some languages it may be difficult to speak of ‘giving the power to heal.’ A more natural form of expression is ’cause to be able to heal.’

The Bible is filled with examples of how our God healed people supernaturally. We naturally read of our Lord Jesus Christ HEALING ALL who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Peter and John on their way to the temple to pray healed a lame man who was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22). In Acts 5:12-16 we read the account of the people in Jerusalem and surrounding towns bringing their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits — and ALL of them were healed. Acts 9:32-35 shares the account of the man with paralysis whom God healed via Peter. Paul healed the father of Publius of a fever and dysentery in Acts 28:7-9. We see in the founding of the Church a great display of the power of God and a careful examination of the healing accounts will demonstrate that many of them were part of the redemptive history of God towards a specific people group. For example the people of Lydda and Saron “turned to the Lord” through the signs confirming Peter’s preaching. Healing(s) as with everything our Lord does is not without a purpose, everything that happens is a part of the tapestry of our existence in this life, including sickness and healing.

Why This Gift Is Abused

Two forces work together to cause this gift to be abused by unscrupulous people. First, sickness and death are universal to us all. There is absolutely no one born of man that has not suffered the ravages of sickness and eventually succumbed to death itself. Secondly, the Bible seems to be replete with examples of God’s divine healing and miracle power setting people free from the ravages of sickness and death.

People who are very ill or have dying loved ones will virtually do almost anything, believe anything and give whatever is asked of them in order to receive their healing. What is it worth to see your wife healed from Lyme’s disease or your child delivered from leukemia? Is a donation of $50, $100, $5,000 enough to “prove God” of the sincerity of your faith when the healer asks for it?

    By taking biblical examples and inserting stories (lies) of the tremendous outpouring of healing in the last meeting in the other town the SINister works the people up into an altered state of consciousness rendering them devoid of critical thinking. Loud music, lighting, the psychological dynamics of masses of people in confined spaces, the subtle manipulation of wish fulfillment and the natural smarmy charisma of the SINister him or her all work together forming a synergy of deception on those in need and a huge payday for the fake healer.

    The question really is, does God still heal people today? My answer is, simply yes He does, but He does so according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will and not at the command of any man or woman. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

    Does God heal through healing evangelists? No. To begin with there is no such ministry in the Bible. There is the ministry of an evangelist (see 2 Tim. 4:5), but even Timothy, the evangelist, needed to take some wine for his stomach ailments (see 1 Tim. 5:23) but there is no such designation as “healing evangelist.” Aimee Semple MacPherson, Kathryn Khulman, A.A. Allen, William Branham, Oral Roberts, T. L. Osborn, Peter Popoff, W. WV. Grant, R.W. Schambach, Benny Hinn, etc. are ALL FRAUDS, LIARS and DECEIVERS. They possess no healing gifts at all.

    What is miraculous about the so-called “healing” evangelists is that NONE of them can offer any independent verifiable PROOF that people have been or are being healed under their SINistries and yet still have huge followings and reap millions of dollars each year they are in existence! One would think after a year or two of non-miracle crusades people would have quit listening to Mr. Hinn or others. Yet almost 20 years later, they still flock to his false promises and lies, leaving sick and much poorer spiritually and financially.

The Working of Miracles

One can “fake” healing by simply paying shills to claim they have been healed in the meeting. Miracles are a different manifestation altogether.

Although they are often lumped together healing and miracles are not the same. A healing is when someone is sick, say with cancer and after prayer it is totally gone, no trace, nothing on the X-ray. A miracle might be someone without an arm or a leg that suddenly has a new arm or leg appear on their body, they were not sick, merely missing a limb in this hypothetical case. A better example might be when the dead are raised. Paul raised a young man (Eutychus) from the dead who fell out of a third story window due to Paul’s long sermonizing (see Acts 20:7-12). Eutychus received a miracle, not a healing.

When the working of miracles is in manifestation, there is a divine intervention in the ordinary course of nature.

What is the working of miracles? Well, there are a lot of different kinds of miracles, but it’s a power gift, where power from God is sent from heaven down to earth to do something that’s beyond the natural, beyond the natural thinking of a man.

BUBBLE BURSTING ALERT!!

Very few people were ever used by our God to work miracles, the list is very short. Start at Genesis and go through to The Revelation and jot down: (1) who God used and (2) what was the miracle about, you end up with a pretty short list. What is more, when you consider the nature of the miraculous events in the Bible they are all of significance to the redemptive history of God’s people.

If you listen to any of the “purveyors of power” on the circuit today you will be given the false notion that miracles were occurring left and right in the daily lives of the believers. There are many books in circulation concerning miracles, let me cite just a few:

“I Believe in Miracles” – Kathryn Kuhlman
“Miracle Signs & Wonders” – Marilyn Hickey
“The Price of God’s Miracle Working Power” – A.A. Allen
“Chaos of Miracles” – LaDonna C. Osborn
“Miracles Just Don’t Happen” – Lester Sumrall

What the above books attempt to do is basically to reduce the definition of what is a miracle according to biblical standards, by watering down the definition the miraculous becomes commonplace. I have heard Marilyn Hickey say many times how she “prays” for a closer parking space at the mall and then when a space opens up close to the door she proclaims it a “miracle.”

Bible miracles include manifestations like parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-22), walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33), turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), blindness coming on a blasphemer (Acts 13:11), etc. Can Mr. Hinn, Dollar, Copeland, Meyer, Price or anyone else point us to an actual miracle in their SINistries? NO, they cannot do so because despite all their testimonies of the great things “God” is doing through them, they can produce NO evidence of any divine healing or miracles.

In the New Testament miracles either validated the personal ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ or authenticated the ministry of the apostles:

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

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4–5

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.  For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:19–20

Only those divinely authorized by God can perform miracles. I agree with what fellow I.O.H.H. member, Dr. R.C. Sproul says on this topic:

If anybody can perform miracles, if a person who’s not an agent of divine revelation can perform a miracle, then obviously a miracle cannot certify an agent of revelation. Let me say it again. If a non-agent of revelation can perform a miracle, then a miracle cannot authenticate or certify a bona fide agent of revelation. Which would mean that the New Testament’s claim to be carrying the authority of God Himself, because God has certified Christ and the Apostles by miracles, would be a false claim and a false argument.
So what’s at stake here is the authority, the authenticity, and the truthfulness of the Bible itself. That’s why I have this tight definition, and why I don’t expect miracles, because I don’t expect to find Apostles running around today. So the narrow miracles, they stopped at the end of the Apostolic age.

This is why we are warned several times about the danger of being misled by those proclaiming the ability to work miracles which are really nothing but false signs and wonders:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22–23

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:  For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Mark 13:21–22

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. Acts 8:9–10

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.  And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?  And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:13–16

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 they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12

What is truly amazing to me is how desperate the extremist “faith” people are in seeking to either feel or see something or be involved in doing something phenomenal and sadly, they often base their faith on these tangible experiences. Yet the Bible plainly teaches that our faith is based on what we have not
seen or felt. I agree with Sproul that the time of those performing biblical miracles ended with the death of the apostle John.

As was stated earlier miracles were performed to validate Jesus earthly ministry and those of His chosen apostles. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven; He sent the 12 and at the death of the last apostle there is nothing more to validate miraculously.

How can anyone hold a “miracle crusade” due to the divinely sovereign act in manifesting a miracle? It is the height of PRESUMPTION (not faith) to declare what the Holy Spirit is going to do on any evening or moment for that matter. The Spirit gives His gifts as HE WILLS (1 Cor. 12:11) not when Mr. Hinn or Copeland demand an appearance or manifestation of them.

I openly challenge any of the living self-proclaimed miracle workers to please provide DMI with just one independently verifiable example of a miraculous event tied directly to their organization. I know the atheist James Randi has a $1,000,000 prize for the first person who can perform a miracle in his laboratory, as of today (12-30-13) the money still sits in Randi’s account.

In closing this section out, please understand I am not saying that our Lord does not move supernaturally on our behalf or in our lives, He most certainly does. When my daughter and I were T-boned by a semi at about 60 mph, destroying our very small Saturn and we got out without a scratch that was the mercy of God. That was not a “miracle” it was an answer to prayer as I cried out to our Lord immediately and He spared our lives. If we loosen our definition, then we lose biblical authority. So yes, our Lord answers prayers, heals people, grants faith in the impossible at times, but there are no godly miracle workers roaming the land today, only wolves in sheep’s clothing. Selah.

Endnotes

  1. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Faith Library Publications, Tulsa OK. 1991, p. 102
  2. Hayes, Norvel. The Gift of Faith. Harrison House. Tulsa OK. 1980, p. 16
  3. Obtained from http://www.gotquestions.org/gift-of-faith.html#ixzz2oyhSZ27l
  4. One of the almost impossible positions to attain in this life is that of BALANCE!  We tend to make everything supernatural (charismatic extremists) or we deny the power of God and make everything natural (some neo-evangelicals).
  5. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Faith Library Publication, Tulsa OK. 1991, p. 115
  6. Hayes, Norvel. The Gifts of Healing. Harrison House. Tulsa OK. 1980, p. 5
  7. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 268.
  8. Hagin, Kenneth. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Faith Library Publication, Tulsa OK. 1991, p. 108
  9. Hayes, Norvel. The Gifts of Healing. Harrison House. Tulsa OK. 1980, p. 5
  10. The International Order of Heresy Hunters, is a small elite by invitation only cadre of truth-tellers.  One can be invited by submitting a check for $25 to DMI and a certificate suitable for framing will come your way.
  11. Obtained from http://www.ligonier.org/blog/does-rcsproul-believe-miracles/. Bold type added for emphasis




Truth Matters December 2013

31 12 2013

Part Three on Ecstatic Speech
by Rev. Robert Liichow

The apostle Paul continues bringing divine correction to the young church at Corinth. Last month we noted how Paul’s entire letter has been one of rebuke concerning many issues in their midst (see 1 Cor. 8:12; 10:6, 7:14; 11:17) and for some strange reason sign-gift enthusiasts want to take the church at Corinth as the example of how the sign gifts are to be used. As we shall see the Corinthians were as wrong about the spiritual gifts as they were concerning the Lord’s Supper, the role of women, their own carnality and divisiveness.

He begins his discourse by saying he does not want them to be ignorant (ἀγνοέω, to lack information) implying that they did not possess the correct information about the Holy Spirit and His gifts. In vs. 3 Paul lays out what I consider a governing principle regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts will always glorify Jesus Christ and not curse His holy name.

It may well seem amazing that the Corinthians should need instructing that such awful language could not be uttered by any one speaking “in the Spirit of God.” It is evident, however, that such expressions had been uttered by persons who were, or seemed to be, carried away by the impassioned impulse . . . So terrible an outrage on the conscience of Christians could never have passed unchecked and unpunished, except from the obvious inability of the young community to grapple with the new and perplexing phenomena of an “inspiration” which appeared to destroy the personal control of those possessed by it. . . They would not like to call any one to task for things spoken in a condition which they regarded as wholly supernatural.1

Obviously some of the Corinthians while in some state of ecstatic bliss were calling Jesus accursed. Such statements never came from the Holy Spirit and never will. Proclamations like these come from the demonic realm or from some fleshly pretender aping what they think is spiritual.

In vv. 4-8 Paul begins to give some clarity to the Corinthians concerning how the Holy Spirit operates and why the gifts exist and he does so in beautiful Trinitarian language. In verse 4 we see there are various (diversities) gifts but they all come from the one Spirit. There are various (differences) of serving others (administrations) but the same Lord. Lastly, verse 6 informs the reader that there are various ways God’s power operates, but it is always the same God who makes it possible.

Verse 7 is very important and is easily lost sight of — the purpose for any spiritual gift is right here: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (the common good).” Before Paul even begins to list the gifts he has informed his readers that the gifts in all their variety come from God and anyone under the power of the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ in what is said (I might add what is done as well). The reason God gives His children gifts is for the benefit of others! It is not to “bless” the one who has been entrusted with a gift, nor is said gift supposed to be used to “lift up” the gifted individual by that person or those who fawn over him or her.

Something to Think About

The temptation for self-aggrandizement or hero worship is a genuine danger regarding the “sign-gifts.” Consider in our times people like Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn. These men profess to possess healing gifts and yet neither can independently verify any miraculous healing due to their SINinstry. They have gotten wealthy off the desperate needs of people seeking relief by a fraudulent claim of being gifted when they clearly are not. Imagine what manner of men they would be if they possessed the genuine gift of healing via the power of the Holy Spirit?


Before we consider the gifts themselves, let’s not ignore the underlying context in vv. 8-12 which points to the Person of the Holy Spirit as Initiator. Three times Paul uses the phrase “same spirit” (8, 9, and 11) to emphasize that the gifts and their manifestations are up to the Holy Spirit. It seems that Paul is emphasizing the centrality of the Holy Spirit’s role in disseminating the gifts and then their operation through those He has given them too possibly due to some people claiming that their gift(s) came from Jesus or maybe the Father. This is speculation on my part, but considering the Corinthians earlier claim to be of “Apollos” or of “Paul” (see 1 Cor. 1:12).

The Sign Gifts Themselves

I am willing to give our sign-gift enthusiastic brethren credit where it is due when considering these gifts specifically. They have spent one hundred (100) years trying to discern and define these gifts, more so than any other movement within the Church’s history. However, as an evangelical catholic (aka LCMS) I must confine my comments to the Bible Itself as the authority. Where I agree with the Pentecostals is in the following chart breakdown of the nine sign gifts. It would seem that these nine gifts do seem to fit into a pattern of 3 gifts X 3 categories per se. I love the symmetry, but the Pentecostals depart from the Scriptures in defining some of these gifts.

The Nine Sign-Gifts As Shown in 1 Corinthians 12
The Gifts that Reveal Things
V.8 The word of wisdom Revelation Bible is silent?
V.9 The word of knowledge Bible is silent?
V. 10 The discerning of spirits Reveals the inner spirit motivating a person. Or demonic activity
The Gifts that Say Things
V.10 Prophecy Verbal To reveal, inform, proclaim
V.10 Divers kinds of tongues Speaks an unknown message
V.10 Interpretation of tongues Reveals what was said in an unknown tongue
The Gifts that Do Things
V.9 Gift of Faith Power Ability to believe the unbelievable
V. 9 Gifts of Healing Healing(s)
V. 10 Gift of Miracles Miracles are not just healing

When considering ANY of the gifts of the Spirit we must first acknowledge that these gifts are divine in origin. These are not normal human abilities, nor are they nascent seed gifts which develop over time and use. When the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit are in manifestation, “God” is working immediately in that context of ministry through His chosen vessel.

The Gifts That Reveal Something

The Word of Wisdom

In this listing of the gifts we read about the three gifts that would, logically, seem to reveal something. First we read of the word of wisdom and that is all he ever has to say about this gift! No one knows exactly (1) what this gift was or (2) how it was manifested at Corinth.

Fortunately, Pentecostalism has supplied some definitions to the Church that God seemed to have left out of the bible. These gifts, which have hitherto remained undefined and seldom referenced in two thousand years of recorded Church history . . . came back into the Church via Alfred Howard Carter. Carter was a Pentecostal minister who was in prison in Wormwood Scrubs England as a conscientious objector in 1917. While there he claimed the Holy Spirit revealed to him all nine gifts cited in 1 Cor. 12 and bestowed all nine of them on him. In his books, Questions and Answers Concerning Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Gifts and Their Operation he shares with his readers what each gift is and how is operates. This insight was supernaturally bestowed on him at a time when he admits to almost going insane in prison. Mr. Carter’s definitions were accepted by Pentecostals and to this day his definitions have been parroted by all the other sign-gift teachers:

“The gift of the word of wisdom is a word of God’s knowledge of what is going to take place in the future, a divine revelation of future events.”2

“On the other hand, the word of wisdom always speaks of the future.”3

“this is a direct supernatural act of the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom to a specific believer at a specific time to deal with a specific situation. So there is that kind of general wisdom that we all have, but there are times when God grants unusual wisdom, it’s a spiritual thing.”4

“The definition of The Word of Wisdom is: A Supernatural revelation of the plans & purposes in the mind of God that deal with the future. This is not a Gift of human wisdom or the “wise” kind of wisdom. With this Gift only part or a fragment of information is given. God is all knowing but he only gives us what we need to know at any given time.”5

Pentecostals seem to agree that the gift of the word of wisdom is a revelation by the Holy Spirit of some future event. This is pure speculation on their part. Honestly, we are not told what this specific gift was or what its purpose was. According to their definition this spiritual gift differs little from the gift of prophecy which can be either a (1) foretelling or a (2) forth telling or proclamation. Once Carter came up with a definition then some enthusiastic people began to claim they had this gift; again based on his novel classification.

The Word of Knowledge

Dovetailed with the word of wisdom is the word of knowledge. As with all the spiritual gifts, this gift is spiritual not a natural ability. It concerns itself with some form of supernatural knowing (γνῶσις/gnosis) that is not available under normal circumstances.

“The revelation of the word of knowledge brings is always present tense or concerning something that has happened in the past.”6

“It is part of God’s knowledge, a supernatural manifestation from heaven to a believer that comes into us. It lets us in on information and shows us things the way they are RIGHT NOW. It deals with facts.”7

“The definition of The Word of Knowledge is: A Supernatural revelation of certain facts in the mind of God that deal with the past or present. This is not a Gift of human knowledge or the “smarts” kind of knowledge.”8

This is the only time this phase is also used in the entire Bible. We are given no examples of its use or manifestation in or out of a worship service. Everything written since the death of John the Apostle about these two gifts is conjecture. There is no biblical proof that proves the word of wisdom is insight into the future nor is there anything indicating that the word of knowledge is a revelation of a past or current event.

Let’s confine ourselves to the FACTS. We know these gifts existed and were understood by the recipients of the letter from Paul. We know biblically that there is a distinction between wisdom, knowledge. Wisdom is basically the proper application of knowledge to bring about the best outcome. One cannot be “wise” without the information to discern and act upon. Knowledge is simply raw data, it is the facts. One can possess knowledge but not possess wisdom (i.e. the educated “fool”).

These two gifts of the Holy Spirit granted (as He willed) believers wisdom and/or knowledge for the “profiting” of the entire congregation. How these insights were given is not shared. We do not know if God revealed His wisdom/knowledge in a vision, like Peter or in a dream like Joseph or simply “dropped” the revelation into their minds immediately during the service. Since we do not know really what or how these gifts operated it seems to be the height of hubris to claim that one possesses such gifts! How do they know? What is the authority upon which they base their claims? This much is certain, it is not biblical authority.

The Discerning of Spirits

Many people err from the get-go with this gift. It is not the “gift of discernment,” there is no such “gift” it is called the discerning of spirits.

“The discerning of spirits gives supernatural insight into the spirit world. ‘To discern’ means to perceive by seeing or hearing. Therefore, discerning of spirits is the same as seeing or hearing in the realm of spirits.”9

“Sometimes the person actually physically sees the evil spirit at work in the person or situation.”10

I concur with the above definitions for the most part because they seem to fit the language Paul uses. This gift, when in operation, is the supernatural ability to correctly judge the spirit behind what is being done or said. Unlike the word of wisdom/word of knowledge we have some biblical examples of discerning of spirits:

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? John 1:47

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Acts 8:23

How did Jesus “know” the inner condition of Nathanael? Jesus discerned his spirit as did Peter with Simon the sorcerer. Another example is when Paul, after several days turns to a possessed woman and casts out the spirit of divination (Acts 16:18).

This gift when in operation enables the person to discern between what is of the Spirit of God, the human spirit or a demonic spirit. It is obvious that currently within the ranks of our sign-gift enthusiasts this gift is NOT in operation. If it were, then how do they explain Benny Hinn, the Crouch’s and all the nonsense that is believed and followed by the multitudes of sheeple?

End Notes

1. The Pulpit Commentary on First Corinthians 12:3.

2. Hayes, Norvel. The Word of Wisdom, Harrison House, Tulsa Ok. P. 3 1979.
3. Hagin, Kenneth E. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, Faith Library Publication, p. 88, 1991
4. Hocutt, Brad. Obtained from http://seatedprophetic.wordpress.com/the-holy-spirit-his-gifts/gift-of-the-word-of-knowledge-the-word-of-wisdom-the-discerning-of-spirits/

5. Hagin, Kenneth E. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, Faith Library Publication, p. 88, 1991.

6. Hayes, Norvel. The Word of Knowledge, Harrison House, Tulsa Ok. P. 3, 1980.

7. Obtained from http://seatedprophetic.wordpress.com/the-holy-spirit-his-gifts/gift-of-the-word-of-knowledge-the-word-of-wisdom-the-discerning-of-spirits/

8. Hagin, Kenneth E. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, Faith Library Publication, p. 89, 1991.

9. Obtained from http://hannahscupboard.com/ST-discerning-spirits.html

10.





Truth Matters October 2013

11 11 2013

Supernatural Speech In Acts
Part One

By Rev. Robert Liichow 

The 40-member church is among many nationwide that are reducing or cutting out speaking in tongues as they become more popular and move to the mainstream. It’s a shift that has unsettled some more traditional Pentecostals who say the practice is at the heart of a movement that evolved out of an interracial revival and remains a spontaneous way for the poor and dispossessed to have a direct line to God.

Last month on Issues Etc. radio I was asked, along with our discussion of Mr. Copeland’s measles outbreak at his compound to share my insights regarding recent articles that had come out stating that the defining mark of Pentecostalism, ecstatic speech, was not being practiced openly in many Pentecostal denominations and in some cases was no longer being emphasized. Harvey Cox, a Harvard religion professor said “This is a long-developing phenomenon . . . they don’t want what appears to be objectionable to stick out or be viewed with suspicion.”

First of all, we must begin with the biblical
evidence. Once we know what this expression of speaking in other tongues was biblically, then and only then can we determine if any Christian body is following the biblical practice or not. If on the one hand their practice has indeed been biblically correct, then why are they compromising their stance? If however, their practice has not been in accord with the Bible, then it is a good development that it is decreasing. What doth the Bible saith regarding what actually happened on the Day of Pentecost and throughout the history of the Book of Acts?

Prior to that Day – – –

Although many times sign-gift enthusiast proclaimers will begin their message on the validity of speaking in other tongues with this passage of text (which is probably as well known by Pentecostals as John 3:16 is to Baptists) they are already building on a faulty biblical understanding.

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. Luke 24:46-53

Only the 12 NOT the 120    
Our Lord Jesus was with the twelve. He is addressing His hand-picked witnesses moments before His ascension back to the Father and they are told that they, they who? The eleven disciples/apostles are the ones being addressed. This is a crucial point, do not forget it. They are the ones who will be initially clothed with power from on high and our Lord lifts up His hands, blesses them; they worship their Lord, and being filled with great joy return to Jerusalem.  Before the tongues as of fire rested upon the apostles they (the apostles) had to select another man to replace Judas. The qualifications are stated very clearly for all succeeding generations: First, Jesus said His men were witnesses of His ministry in Luke 24 and then again in Acts1:

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

The eleven prayed and sought the will of the Lord and they chose by lots between Matthias and Justus, with the result being the selection of Matthias. Remember in Luke 24 our Lord said they (the apostles) would be “witnesses” this is the same masculine term used again here for “witness.” The witnesses were the 12 apostles according to the context of this thought. After the number of apostles was restored to twelve and the “day of Pentecost” had fully come:

Pentecost or Shavuot has many names in the Bible (the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, and the Latter Firstfruits). Celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time of giving thanks and presenting offerings for the new grain of the summer wheat harvest in Israel. The name “Feast of Weeks” was given because God commanded the Jews in Leviticus 23:15-16, to count seven full weeks (or 49 days) beginning on the second day of Passover, and then present offerings of new grain to the Lord as a lasting ordinance.

Keep in mind that during this celebration Jerusalem would have been packed with people from all over the known world. “The Law of Moses required that all men make a pilgrimage to the temple three times a year to celebrate the feasts or festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.” The city was already filled due to the major Passover and now 50 days later most people were still in the city and surrounds to fulfill their next obligation. This helps explain the wide divergence of languages in evidence during this observance.

When the Day of Pentecost Had Fully Come

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4

The “they” being spoken of are the same “they” Luke referred to in his Gospel account. There is nothing that indicates that the 120 other people gathered in that room were also recipients of that vocal gift. There is nothing stated anywhere in the Book of Acts that states or intimates anyone other than the apostles initially received this spiritual ability.

It is a question whether only the Twelve spoke in tongues or all 120. Several factors support the idea of only the Twelve being involved in this phenomenon: (1) They are referred to as Galileans (Acts 2:7; cf. 1:11–13). (2) Peter stood up with “the Eleven” (2:14). (3) The nearest antecedent of “they” in verse 1 is the “apostles” in 1:26.

We do read that it was the apostles who went outside and began to glorify God supernaturally in a genuine language unknown to them as the speakers, but known to the one being addressed hearer(s).

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Acts 2:4-8

    The ones filled were the same ones who went outside and began to speak intelligently and the ones speaking were Galilaeans (male verb, male adjective in the Greek), the apostles were all male. We know that there were women that comprised a good part of the 120 people with the apostles but none of them is mentioned as receiving this gift at this time.

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. Acts 2:9-13

    The apostles amazed their hearers because they were extolling the “wonderful works of God” in their own native languages. Languages that “ignorant and unlearned men” (see Acts 4:13) would not have known how to speak. The purpose of this gift was evangelical in that it got the attention of the people by proclaiming the wonderful works of God, which is simply another way of telling people about what God has done for us all in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. From this account we know: (1) Jesus told them to go and wait, they did not know what to expect, i.e. they were not seeking the “gift of tongues.” (2) The apostles were the ones initially empowered with the Holy Spirit. (3) The gift was for the benefit of others not the personal edification of the speaker. (4) The messages were spoken to other people in their own language by a man who did not know the language he was speaking in, i.e. it was a genuine supernatural experience. (5) The content of the messages was clearly understood and glorified the works of God. (6) Lastly, this unusual manifestation was also a duel fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy:

For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; And this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. Isa. 28:11-12

The context is God’s judgment against Judah and foretold their going into Assyrian captivity, a people whose language they did not understand. “Men who mock God’s servants and message will ultimately be mocked in turn: delivered into the captivity of people who speak with what seems to be a stammering or mocking tongue (Isa 33:10). This was fulfilled as Isaiah prophesied, yet the apostles seem to apply this past event to what was now taking place in the Church.

The extreme enthusiasts today claim that because some of the mockers (Judeans) said the apostles were acting like people totally out of control on alcohol that we should expect the same drunken manifestations today when we are “filled” with the Spirit. The entire “holy laughter” movement was buttressed on this faulty concept.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. Acts 2:14-14

Peter corrects the Judeans who were the ones casting aspersions. There is nothing in the text that indicates the apostles were “acting” drunk at all. The Judeans heard them, did not understand the languages, knew they were from Galilee (hicks) and thus mocked them. Peter says “these are not drunk” and dismisses the notion altogether and begins to explain what is transpiring.

Peter begins to preach what is taking place, in his own native tongue, and he tells them (and us) that what is taking place is THE fulfillment of the prophecy given by Joel [not “a” fulfillment]:

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: Acts 2:16-18

“This” is a demonstrable pronoun pointing to what was taking place right then and there. It was prophesied to come to pass and it CAME TO PASS on that Day. The grammar is always important in Bible study and many people have missed its importance here. Peter stated unambiguously that “this,” what is transpiring in their midst is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Enthusiasts through the ages have tried to claim that their movements were birthed out of additional fulfillments of Joel’s prophecy.  Montanus claimed “Joel” as did the people at Azusa Street in 1906, later on the New Order of the Latter Rain declared their movement a fulfillment, as did the Roman Catholic Charismatic renewal movement in the mid 1960’s at the University of Notre Dame. All of them are wrong. That specific prophecy in Joel was fulfilled in the Church then, period.

Without going into the meat of Peter’s sermon we do learn one thing virtually all people fail to mention. When the 3,000 hearers are pricked to their hearts and are brought to faith in Christ Jesus and baptized —- NONE of these men began to speak in other tongues upon believing and baptism.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:38-41

The “promise” of the Holy Spirit is given to all (note also, Peter included children) who are brought to repentance and are baptized into Christ Jesus. Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit at their new birth, but not all Christians spoke with new tongues. Speaking in other tongues is not “proof” or evidence that an individual is “filled” with the Spirit per se. The “proof” of being indwelt by the Spirit is found in the waters of holy baptism. If you were baptized into Christ, then you are indwelt by the Spirit of Grace, like everything else in our walk, this is an article of faith and it is not based on whether we feel His presence or not.

What we should focus on in this event is that the Spirit had just been poured out on the apostles; they were not seeking this gift of other tongues, yet they received it — why didn’t these newly minted “Christians” also speak with new tongues as well? Peter just preached that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for all God’s children . . . so why are not all reported to be glorifying God wonderful works supernaturally? Obviously, this supernatural ability was not given to all believers, then or now. About five years after the Day of Pentecost (DOP) the Gospel message begins to make Its way outside of the converted Jews. In the following event we read of Phillip preaching Christ to the Samaritans. They received the Word of God and were converted (see Acts 8:11).

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:14-17

 Phillip shared the Gospel with the Samaritans, yet he was not authorized to impart the gift of the Spirit, only the apostles had this ability. They had to send for the apostles Peter and John. The apostles prayed for them, laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost. There is no mention of these believers speaking with other tongues when they received the Holy Spirit. We are not given many details of how the Spirit manifested Himself among them, but something was evident by reading the account of Simon the sorcerer:

Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Acts 8:13, 18-20

Simon became a believer, he was baptized into Christ and he continued with the evangelist Phillip. Simon saw that through the laying on the apostles‘ hands the Holy Ghost was imparted and he wanted to do the same thing as the apostles and even offered to pay for this ability, which probably made perfect sense to his yet carnal mind. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT EVENT! We read of a believer who tried to TRESPASS into a ministry arena that he was unauthorized to engage in and Peter rebukes Simon and calls him to repentance for his presumptuous sin, he repents (vs. 24). Here are the vital points; first of all, we read that the Holy Spirit was imparted/given via the ministry/authority of the apostles alone. Secondly, one cannot purchase the gift of God. Thirdly, it was (and is) God alone who determined who and what gift they shall receive. What we are reading about is not the unique gift of speaking in other tongues, instead we are privy to reading about the unconquerable spread of the Gospel, the gates of hell (Matt. 16:18) are indeed no match for the power of God (Romans 1:16) and now the Samaritans are united in one Body with the Jews.

From the DOP nothing is mentioned about speaking in other tongues until the event with the Centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. If the gift of other tongues was the be-all and end-all of Christian spirituality why isn’t it mentioned as taking place more often in the account? We know Peter goes with John and he preaches in the temple and this time 5,000 men are converted (see Acts 4:4). As with the earlier 3,000 converts, these 5,000 also did not speak in other tongues at their conversion either.

If one is honest with the Book of Acts then one MUST admit that speaking in other tongues was not a universal experience for Christians. As we shall read, it was in fact a unique and surprising infrequent occurrence. The next citation of this specific gift is almost ten years later after the DOP at home of Cornelius!

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 10:44-48

    Years had passed since that DOP was initially celebrated. Many Jews have been converted, for even as Paul said later that the Gospel was to “the Jew first, then the Gentiles” (see Romans 1:16). The divine encounter between Cornelius and Peter was completely orchestrated by God. The Lord spoke to Cornelius by an angel (Acts 10:3) and gave hardheaded Peter a vision and brought them together defying tremendous racial animus between the Jews and Greeks.

    While Peter was still preaching to those gathered (Cornelius, his household and devout friends, v. 24) the hearers were brought to faith and the Spirit of Grace fell upon the Gentiles for the first time. How did Peter and those on his ministry “team” know they had received the Spirit? “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (v. 44). There are several very salient facts in this account to keep in mind when it comes to the issue of ecstatic speech.

    First, Peter as apostle was present and conducting the service which was his calling as a “witness” (that word again from Luke 24, Acts 1, Acts 10) — apostolic presence and authority. No one in the book of Acts received the gifts of the Spirit apart from the presence/ministry of the apostles. Secondly, some years had passed since the birth of the Church and Peter, Cornelius nor anyone else gathered were expecting (seeking) this capability. At this point in the Acts account we have no proof that anyone spoke with other tongues again after the Day of Pentecost. There is nothing in the text to indicate that speaking in tongues was in evidence in the worship services in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria at this (or any other for that matter). Thirdly, this manifestation was the same as occurred on the Day of Pentecost. The Gentiles did not receive some other demonstration of this gift than the Jews. We know they received the same experience as the Jews by Peter’s own testimony:

And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? Acts 11:15-17

    Upon returning home Peter is questioned by the circumcised believers and he recounts to them the entire event. Peter clearly states that the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles as on us at the beginning (Pentecost). They received the same expression “as he did unto” the Jews. Peter and those with him at the home of Cornelius heard the Gentiles magnify God, and although the text does not state it, it is very safe to conclude that some people in attendance could interpret/translate what was being vocalized or else they would not have known they were “magnifying God.” Also, it makes perfect sense that since the Gentiles received the same manifestation of the Spirit as the Jews, then the gift would have been the same, i.e. in this case Gentiles speaking supernaturally and someone being able to understand that they were in fact glorifying God. In this case it seems that the manifestation of other tongues was to convince the Jewish believers of the validity of the salvation of the Gentiles, even as tongues were used to help convince the pious Jews and proselytes of the reality of Peter’s sermon. What we see on the Day of Pentecost is the outworking of “to the Jew first” and then a few years later the Gentiles are brought in – “then to the Greeks.”

    First we read of the dramatic birth of the Church, the Church being opened to the Samaritans (Acts 8) and now in Acts 10 we read of the Church doors being opened to the Gentiles and the beginning of global evangelism. On these occasions nobody was expecting and thus not seeking the gift of tongues. On these occasions the vocalization of this special gift was spoken in a known language by people who did not know that language but a language that could be understood. Initially the apostles were the recipients and from that point on the apostles were always present when spiritual gifts were imparted. In Acts we read of no accounting of the Church gathering together to speak in tongues as part of worship, nor of any lay people going about distributing the gifts of the Spirit.

    For almost another ten years the Book of Acts is silent about the use of this gift until we come across the apostle of untimely birth (1 Cor. 15:8) Paul in Acts 19:

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. Acts 19:1-7

    Paul and Apollos are on their way to Ephesus and they encounter a group of John’s disciples. Beyond them being disciples of John the Baptist we know very little about them. We know they were baptized with John’s baptism and they did not knowing that the Holy Spirit had been given by Jesus Christ who came baptizing with the Holy Ghost and fire (Matthew 3:11). The apostle Paul corrects their theological ignorance and they received the Word and were baptized into Christ Jesus. Then Paul the apostle laid his hands on these men and the Holy Spirit came upon them and these twelve men both spoke with tongues and also prophesied. Again, let us focus on what we do know, not what we speculate about! The Holy Spirit was given/imparted/bestowed through the ministry of an apostle to believers who had no idea of what to expect, they did not even know of the Spirit’s ministry through the Church at this point, again they were not “seeking” an experience or encounter with God. We read that the “gifts” given are according to the will of God, they spoke in tongues and also prophesied, two of the nine gifts Paul delineates in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. This encounter is the last mention of speaking in/with other “tongues” in the Book of Acts.

    The fact is there are only three actual texts that deal with speaking in other tongues —Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6—are the only instances regarding speaking in tongues in the book of Acts. Some Pentecostal and sign-gift enthusiasts assert that tongues also occurred in Acts 8:4 but, there is no textual support for their belief, it is pure speculation. All three events treat the gift of speaking in tongues as the public and intelligible (understandable) communication of truth about God. Each event also show the gift of speaking in tongues as a verifying sign of the unique coming of the Holy Spirit upon a new group of people, thereby incorporating that group into the church.

    In conclusion let us also remember the examples of when people were converted and filled with the Holy Spirit without any evidence of speaking in other tongues. In Acts 2:41-42 we read where the three thousand were converted and baptized. Phillip preached and men and women were converted and baptized in water and filled with the Spirit, no mention of other tongues however, Acts 8:12. When Phillip witnesses to the Ethiopian eunuch who converts and is baptized does not speak in other tongues, Acts 8:26-40. There is no evidence at his conversion and baptism that the apostle Paul spoke in tongues (Acts 9:17-19), although later he thanks God he speaks in tongues “more than ye all” in 1 Cor. 14:18. It is obvious that the gift of speaking in other tongues was not a universal experience or practice. When the Spirit manifested Himself in such a manner He did so through apostolic authority and not the laity. Lastly, it was not an experience to be sought, nor did it seem to be for personal edification. Then how did the sign-gift movement get to be the largest segment of the Church? Stay tuned as by the grace of God DMI will continue to endeavor to unscrew the inscrutable.

ENDNOTES & REFERENCES:

An important FACT to remember when you read the Book of Acts is that what we read in an hour covers many years of Church history.

This is one of several recent stories on this topic http://bigstory.ap.org/article/messages-tongues-down-among-pentecostals. The underlining and bold type were added by the author for emphasis.

Christian people need to regain their objectivity.  It matters not how long a group of Christians has done something nor does it matter how many millions embrace a practice or dogma that does not make it true.  Our first and foremost authority is the Bible itself.

Obtained from http://christianity.about.com/od/biblefeastsandholidays/p/pentecostfeast.htm on 9/24/13

http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Rel211/TEMPLE.html

Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 357–358.

Walter C. Kaiser, “1118 לָעַג,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 481.

When Pentecostal/sign gift folks teach the Book of Acts the people are given the impression that all of these “supernatural” events take place one after another quickly and that all the members of the early Church were all supernaturally empowered by the Spirit and that the rank-N-file believers were imparting gifts, working miracles, having a revival time in the Lord per se.  This is simply invisibly written into the account.  There is nothing that indicates this sort of hyper-Pentecostalism was transpiring at all in the lives of the people.





Truth Matters November 2013

11 11 2013

Other Tongues Part Two
Rev. Robert S. Liichow

     For argument’s sake let us agree that 100% of the people in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost (DOP) received the Holy Spirit and began to speak supernaturally in other languages as opposed to the view of myself and a host of other theologians which holds that only the apostles received this supernatural ability on that day. In reading the rest of the Book of Acts ask yourself the following questions. Did you read anywhere of the use of this gift by “laypeople” in the temple or in house to house worship? No. Did you read anywhere of non-apostles imparting/bestowing the Holy Spirit on believers? No. Did you read anywhere about people seeking the ability to supernaturally speak in other tongues? No. Remember your answers, you will be tested.

    Some might try to argue that the event with Phillip is an example of miracles being done by a non-apostle as seen in Acts 8:

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.  And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship  and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” Acts 8:26-29, ESV

    Phillip obeys the divine directive and joins the chariot and he enlightens the Ethiopian court official regarding the meaning of the text. Phillip shares the Word of God, the Holy Spirit convicts the man of his need of the Savior.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:26-39

    There is MUCH that can be said of this amazing encounter, but let us focus in on a couple of aspects. We read of the eunuch making the good confession “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” This confession can only truly be made by a person who has already been brought to faith in Jesus. Note what his “faith” desires immediately —- water baptism! Phillip baptizes the eunuch, whether Phillip immersed the eunuch or stood with him in the water and poured it over his head is not stated nor does it matter; the “mode” of water baptism is not an issue. We do read they come out (ek) of the water together. Before, during or after his baptism does the Ethiopian speak in other tongues? No. Does Phillip mention that he needs this gift or experience so he has “evidence” that he is in fact now filled with the Holy Spirit? No. The only really miraculous experience occurs after the ministry work is over when Phillip is “caught away” (harpazō to snatch away) by the Lord and simply vanishes before the eunuch’s eyes who goes home rejoicing. I believe this event helps solidify my strong belief that no one received the “gifts of the Spirit” apart from apostolic presence or direct ministry. Again, please call to mind Acts 10:44while Peter yet spoke. . .” the Spirit was given. Earlier in Acts 8:14-15 we read:

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

In closing out this short review from last month let me restate the obvious to any reader of the Book of Acts, but apparently is not so obvious to many enthusiastic readers — there is NO

contextual
supportive
evidence:

  • That speaking languages supernaturally was a common experience to all or even most believers.
  • This gift {however it is understood} was ever part of the public or private worship of God’s people.
  • This ability was sought by believers.
  • After the DOP we have no indication whether the apostles themselves spoke or heard again in such a manner until some years later during a specific event in a specific place.
  • No one ever received these gifts of the Spirit apart from apostolic ministry.

Biblical scholars are in agreement (as much as they can agree on anything) that Luke, the physician wrote the Book of Acts and they also agree that Luke was indeed a close associate of the apostle Paul. Furthermore the dating of the Book of Acts is placed around 60-62 A.D. This is as important fact to “tuck away” in your mind as you re-read First Corinthians, which is dated around 53-57 A.D.

Luke wrote Acts ten years after Paul wrote the Corinthian believers. What is more Luke was well acquainted with Paul’s ministry. Yet for whatever reason the Holy Spirit did not allow anything to be shared of their ecstatic practices. This “silence” speaks volumes. If indeed the Church at Corinth was acting appropriately and were indeed these highly supernaturally gifted super-saints, then why aren’t they upheld as wonderful examples of faith and practice in the Book dedicated to the history of the beginning of the Church? Certainly Luke knew about what was taking place in Corinth, news travelled more slowly back then, but travel it did and he would have known, yet he is silent about them.

 The Confusion at Corinth

  Space does not permit me to go into detail about all the abuses taking place at Corinth, nor can I take us through a verse-by-verse study, although such a study is well worth the time and effort. With a cursory glance let’s get some sense of the condition of these believers and then focus in on their understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in next month’s article.

    Lest we be tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought (see Rom. 12:3) one thing Paul’s letter to Corinth teaches us is that sinful flesh does not change regardless of the age or degree of technology it is born into. The problems that plagued the Church then STILL plague us to this day and the answers given then are the SAME answers for us today. God changes not (see Mal. 3:6) nor does His truth, Truth Matters.

Some of the Systemic Sinful Abuses at Corinth

Paul learned of what was taking place at Corinth from two sources: (1) the household of Chloe (see 1 Cor. 1:11) and (2) a letter possibly written by Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (see 1 Cor. 16:17). The reason for writing this letter boils down to correcting
sinful abuses being practiced and false doctrine that is being believed.

Factions & Schisms

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Cor. 1:12-13

The Corinthian, blood-bought baptized believers were in serious strife with one another in their church family. The Greek word for “contentions” refers to severe disagreements:

33.447
ἐρίζω; ἔρις, ιδος: to express differences of opinion, with at least some measure of antagonism or hostility—’to argue, quarrel, dispute.’
39.22
ἔρις, ιδος: conflict resulting from rivalry and discord—’strife, discord.’ ὅπου γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις, οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε; ‘when there is jealousy and strife among you, doesn’t this prove that you are people of this world?’ 1 Cor. 3:3. In a number of languages the type of strife referred to by ἔρις is frequently described as verbal, for example, ‘always saying bad things about one another’ or ‘never having a good word to say to one another.’

    The people were dividing themselves into “camps” based upon their favorite style of preacher whether it was Paul or Apollos and some pious folks claimed only to follow “Christ.” Absolutely NOTHING has changed to this day (thus PROVING my contention that our flesh never changes) in this regard. Christians today lump themselves together by their favorites preachers. Today it is “I am of Copeland,” or “I follow Walther and not Melanchthon.” How about “I am Lutheran, or I am a Calvinist?” Same fleshly outbreak as back then, just different characters today. Paul deals with this issue in his letter from 1:1 up to around 4:21.

Sexual Immorality

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 1 Corinthians 5:1–2

    It seems the Corinthians thought themselves so spiritual (1 Cor. 1:7 tells us that they lacked no spiritual gift) that the normal rules of morality did not apply to them any longer. The sexual degradation they tacitly approved of was of such a nature that even the pagan Gentiles did not fall to such depths of depravity. What is even worse than the individuals sins itself, as hideous as it was, was that the Church felt “good” about their liberty in Christ due to their inflated (φυσιόω/puffed up) egos. Instead, they should have mourned over the sin of one of their members, not approved of it in any way and sought to restore their brother who fell and at all costs uphold the holy name of Jesus into which they were baptized. Paul deals with this sad abuse in 5:1-13.

Litigious Libertines

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 1 Corinthians 6:1–3

The congregants did not get along, they did not trust nor particularly “like” one another, so it is not stretch to see them take their issues to an “impartial” party as opposed to their own brethren. This was (and is) a massive failure on the part of these people. First, it indicates those involved in such activities were not walking in love towards one another. Later on Paul will remind them exactly how the love of God expresses Himself through us (see 1 Cor. 13). Secondly, for a people so “filled with the Spirit” (as we shall see) how is it that they cannot depend upon Him within them, to give them discernment in judging common events in life? These super-saints were obviously not “hearing from God” in these matters. Lastly, to whom do they appeal? They go before the unjust, judges whose understanding belongs 100% to this world and its defeated non-god, Satan (see 2 Cor. 4:4). The Corinthians had not considered the BIG picture, we, the Church shall judge the angels . . . and these people cannot figure out an equitable outcome to simple things in this short life?

Strolling with Strumpets

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.  Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.  What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 1 Corinthians 6:12–16

    The Greek culture thought it perfectly normal to satisfy all the desires of the body which included the meats they ate and giving expression to their sexual lusts. Much of the eating and fornicating were done within the confines of various pagan mystery religions temples. The members ate the foods sacrificed to the idols and then engaged in sexual activities with the temple prostitutes (both male and female prostitutes) of their selection. This was the normal accepted manner of behavior and departure from it would have been considered abnormal. The members of the Church of Corinth were drawn out from this type of society mostly as adults, to them Christianity probably seemed like a newer and more superior mystery religion.

    The Corinthians had taken their true freedom in Christ to mean they could pick and choose who they listened to biblically. They were not obligated to love one another and get along; instead they would rather sue one another and sleep around. Paul saw this danger and rhetorically responds to this prevalent attitude by saying “all things are lawful to me but all things are not expedient.” He limits our liberty by tempering it with expediency. Christians are not free “to” sin but we have been freed “from” sin. Unfortunately the Corinthians took their liberty in Christ to mean they could indulge their flesh and in thinking they were free, they had in fact come under the power of sin (see John 8:34, Romans 6:16,20). As children of God we are now in Christ Jesus free to obey and free and empowered to say no to sinful temptations. Paul brings correction and continues operating on the flock.

Eating the Wrong Things

     Not only were the Corinthians guilty of abusing sexual relations, they were eating foods sacrificed to idols, whether directly in the various cultic temples or in the public markets which bought their meat from the temples often. Just as a point of history, the Greeks only burned the inedible portions of animals sacrificed, they ate everything else themselves.

    It seems evident to this author that the Corinthian’s were decidedly on the “libertine” side of the “scale” whereas the Galatian believers were being led to the opposite pole, that of “legalism.”

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 1 Corinthians 8:4

    Paul begins addressing this “abuse” by appealing to the power of love over “knowledge” (vv.1-3) and he acknowledges that some might have the correct understanding that an idol is in fact nothing, thus eating sacrificed to “nothing” had no effect on the meat whatsoever. Like my mother used to say to me at times “Robbie, it is not enough to be right sometimes.” Those with this view were correct, but as Paul reminds these haughty saints walking in “revelation knowledge” that godly love trumps knowledge.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 1 Corinthians 8:7

    Not all the Corinthians had arrived at the correct understanding and some believed that food dedicated/sacrificed to an idol actually did something to that food which caused the people partaking of it to be united with the god or lord of the temple of origin.

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.  For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 1 Corinthians 8:8–11

    What we eat does not matter to God per se. What does matter is when we use our legitimate liberty in Christ in such a way that it leads the weaker (in the faith) brother/sister to engage in something that they do not properly understand in Christ, and are destroyed by it.

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. 1 Corinthians 8:12–13

Causing my brother or sister to stumble and wound their weak conscience by my liberty, then not only have I sinned against them but against our Lord Jesus Christ also. Like the Corinthians we often see our sins as “personal” between me and God and that my sin only impacts my fellowship with God. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all members of One Body —- thus my sins impact ALL of my family in some manner. Paul reminded the Ephesians (and us) of the following:

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16

Every member of the Body of Christ has been given gifts, talents and abilities that are NEEDED to be used, when we sin we become sort of a “joint out of place,” which will slow down the Body, if we become so diseased by sin, then we have to be removed from the Body, lest the cancer spread (this is what happened to the brother sleeping with his mother-in-law, he was excommunicated – but he is restored by the next letter, which is the goal of Church discipline).

The Lady Has the Floor

The Corinthian’s were so “free” that they were allowing the women in their services to participate in ways not granted to them by Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church. Not only were some women out of divine order, they (with the men’s permission/approval) were violating the traditions that Paul delivered to them.

Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.  But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:2–3

Paul begins by reminding them of the divine order (headship) of creation [PLEASE keep in mind that what is being discussed is not about “competence” but “faithfulness” to God’s order for His Church].

The word head (kephalē) seems to express two things: subordination and origination. The former reflects the more usual Old Testament usage (e.g., Jud. 10:18), the latter that of Greek vernacular (e.g., Herodotus History 4. 91). The former is primary in this passage, but the latter may also be found (1 Cor. 11:8). The subordination of Christ to God is noted elsewhere in the letter (3:23; 15:28). His subordination to the Father is also true in His work as the “agent” of Creation (8:6; cf. Col. 1:15–20).

The Corinthians thought themselves so “free” in Christ, no doubt due to their high degree of self-perceived
pseudo spiritual advancement that they overthrew the biblical and cultural distinctions between men and women. “All things are lawful” was extended to women’s participation in worship:

. . . the Corinthian women had expressed that principle by throwing off their distinguishing dress. More importantly they seem to have rejected the concept of subordination within the church (and perhaps in society) and with it any cultural symbol (e.g., a head-covering) which might have been attached to it. According to Paul, for a woman to throw off the covering was an act not of liberation but of degradation. She might as well shave her head, a sign of disgrace (Aristophanes Thesmophoriazysae 837). In doing so, she dishonors herself and her spiritual head, the man.

It is not our goal to consider the proper biblical role of women in the ministry of the Church at this time. The focus is that obviously the Corinthians were guilty of abusing the role of women in their midst.

In the church—as elsewhere—men and women need each other, and God intends them to be complementary in their gifts and personalities. Some gifts and aspects of personality may be the same in the man and in the woman, but not all. They were created to be different. Physical differences between the sexes are matched by differences of gift and personality.

Abusive Table Manners

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 1 Corinthians 11:17

    It is interesting to take note of that Paul uses the words for “idol” and “Idolatry” fifteen (15) times in 1 Corinthians and only six (6) times in his remaining letters. Contrast this with his use twelve (12) times of “impurity.” I agree with William Ramsay when he says that Paul is more concerned with the reality of idolatry versus impurity, which is the wrong view of many other commentators.

    The people were gathering together for worship and to share the Lord’s Table together. They were to be united as one family in Jesus Christ and yet they were anything but united.

For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19

    When they gathered to be receive God’s good gifts of Word and sacrament they probably associated with one another based on their proclivities regarding their favorite teachers, based on their perceived spirituality and economic status.

    Paul is not surprised to hear about this extremely sad state of affairs. After all, the entire congregation seems to be a very “mixed bag” of exceptionally carnal Christians and sincere believers who wanted to please their Lord versus themselves.

    Up to this point of doctrine and practice Paul has been exposing and correcting their abuses regarding virtually everything they were doing as God’s people, so he is not surprised to learn of their abuses at their Lord’s Table.

Paul says in v. 20when therefore ye assembly yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord ‘s Supper.” For a host of reasons the Corinthian believers were not conducting the sacramental meal as taught by our Lord Jesus Christ at His last supper with His disciples prior of His death (see Matthew 26:17-30). When they gathered together they were in essence eating their own supper (vs. 21-22) and some people were actually becoming drunk (μεθύει/methyō) during the meal!

    Concerning the “Eucharist” (Greek for ‘thanksgiving’) meal the Corinthian’s were in serious, sometimes fatal error. They erred in discerning exactly what was taking place at the Lord’s Table both vertically in their relationship with God and horizontally with one another as God’s own dear children.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For this cause many are
weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:27-31

Paul again brings correction by teaching them that they need to begin with self-examination:

1507 δοκιμάζω (dokimazō): 1043; 1381; 2.255—1.
examine, try to out, test (Lk 14:19; 1Co 3:13; 11:28; 2Co 8:8; Gal 6:4; 1Ti 3:10); 2.
regard as worthwhile (Ro 1:28). 3.
judge as good, regard something as genuine or worthy (Ro 1:28; 14:22)

This self-examination is a critical and necessary aspect of properly receiving the benefits given by our risen Lord through His supper.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are
weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:28–30

Obviously these disciples were failing to judge themselves (the examine “himself”) properly in relation to what they were about to receive (the “Lord’s body”). Their abject failure regarding the holiness of God in the meal resulted in:

For this cause many
are
weak and sickly among you, and many
sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:30–31

Specifically because of their carnality at the communion meal MANY (‘polloi’, indicates abundance) people were receiving judgment DUE to their behavior including:

Weak — 23.145
ἀσθενής, ές: pertaining to being ill and, as a result, weak and incapacitated—’sick, ill, weak, disabled.

Sickly — asthĕnēs, from 1 (as a negative particle) and the base of 4599; strengthless (in various applications) feeble, impotent, sick, without strength, weak (er, -ness, thing).

Sleep — And not a few sleep (και κοιμωνται ἱκανοι [kai koimōntai hikanoi]). Sufficient number (ἱκανοι [hikanoi]) are already asleep in death because of their desecration of the Lord’s table. Paul evidently had knowledge of specific instances. A few would be too many.

Let me just put this thought out for readers to ponder — if the Lord’s Supper is merely symbolic, as many denominations teach, then why was God judging them for their ill treatment of a mere symbol? I agree with the apostles and Paul when he states:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

The cup of wine we bless is a communion, or better translated “participation” in the blood of Christ, even as the bread we break is a participation in the body of Christ, the Corinthians had lost sight of this fact.

The solution was self-examination (diekrinomen, 11:31; cf. vv. 28–29; 5:1–5; 10:12), self-discipline (9:27), and promoting of unity. The alternative was God’s judging (krinomenoi, 11:32), which was a discipline that they were then experiencing. This was not a loss of salvation, but of life (cf. 5:5).

    We have seen in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church that these people were carnally minded in the grossest forms. They erred in their morals, their relationship to leaders, and their lack of love towards one another, spiritual pride and arrogance. It seems they had at best a tenuous grasp of the Gospel message and yet they saw themselves as highly spiritual people whom God was using in marvelous ways.

    It is the view of this author that what Paul is doing throughout this letter is showing the Corinthians their sinful abuses. What I am endeavoring to point out is simply WHY do so many people look to the Corinthians when it comes to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit as the experts? What basis do we have to believe that they got “this right” where the entire letter is an open rebuke and not too subtle correction of their other many errors? There is no basis to believe their use of the gifts was any more sound than their communion practices. Next month we shall consider the Corinthian abuse of the spiritual gifts and hopefully address whether or not speaking in tongues is disappearing from charismatic public assemblies.

REFERENCES:

Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 437, 494, 269.

David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians,” ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 528–529, 532. Underlining added for emphasis.

Derek Prime, Opening up 1 Corinthians, Opening Up Commentary (Leominister: Day One Publications, 2005), 96–97. Underlining added for emphasis.

[1] The Corinthians came from a background of eating ‘sacred food’ in their temples.  They were formerly schooled in believing that what they ate was an actual encounter with their gods.  Perhaps when they learned as Christians that idols were nothing, thus the meats sacrificed to idols was “nothing” and perhaps they carried this over to thinking that the Lord’s Supper was also just a sort of “memorial” meal with nothing really taking place.

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

James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 16.

A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), 1 Co 11:30.

 





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

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

 Discernment Ministries International

 

Sons of Thunder? (Part One)

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

 By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 

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

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

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

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

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

Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer

Experiences Physical Phenomena of Mysticism

Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders

Understand & Access New Creation Realities

Gain A Historical Grid of Miracle Workers & Mystics

Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel

Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding

Access and Manifest the Glory Realm (3)

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

What is Mysticism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Do You ‘Teach’ Mysticism?

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

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

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

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

Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experience Physical Phenomena of Mysticism

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

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

Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Understand & Access New Creation Realities

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

 

Continued Next Month

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

Copyright © 2012 Rev. Robert S. Liichow





Happy “Fathers Day” Gift Issue

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

Discernment Ministries International

THE HAPPY FATHERS DAY GIFT ISSUE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

Will the Real Pharisee Please Stand Up!

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Chapter 1

Name Calling

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

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

The Dreaded Title of Pharisee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 2

A Personal Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 3

Will the Real Pharisee Please Stand Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

Oringinally Published by Truth Matters Press in 1997 revised 2010

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

Appendix

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oringinally Published by Truth Matters Press in 1997 revised 2010





Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!…Luke 6:36

8 06 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 5 – “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!…” Luke 6:36 – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!…”

Luke 6:26

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

One of the attributes that is needed by every heresiologist (1) (aka heresy-hunter) is a thick skin and yet a sensitive heart which is a somewhat difficult emotional tightrope to have to traverse. Nonetheless, God does bestow His grace upon all of us as we endeavor to be faithful to our various vocations in Christ. DMI has little to fear of the above passage from Saint Luke coming to pass while DMI is still on this mortal coil.

Allow me to share with you a sample of just some (2) of the many negative emails we receive. I share them not to gain your pity, hey this is part-n-parcel of what we do, but because these comments are common and it is profitable for you to know how to give a simple answer; an apology for what you believe regarding these charges against all of us who contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).

If you truly had discernment you might even come to realize that you are not too different from the Pharisees, not even recognizing JESUS and blaming HIS miracles on the devil! You pretended to be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT only to find that it was just your flesh playing a game. So then you came to another fleshly decision, the infilling of the HOLY SPIRIT is not for now, GPD changed HIS mind. How sad it is to see the devil win even with so called educated preachers. If you ever mature in the word, you might be able to be lifted out of darkness and find the light of the LORD JESUS. I shall pray for you. More than likely any reply will only show more of your flesh!; and lack of a spiritual relationship with GOD, but if you must, go for it, ye of little knowledge of the HOLY SPIRIT or of faith. (3)

The above diatribe is from a brother Warrick Jerrall who I not only responded to, but also thanked for giving me additional material for this newsletter. Now let’s begin to unpack his charges, which are ones commonly lodged unfairly against us.

You Are Not Too Different From the Pharisees

I almost want to say “these guys need new writers” because their material is getting stale! Over ten years ago I wrote a booklet entitled “Will the Real Pharisee Please Stand Up? “ but it appears Warrick has yet to get a copy.

Warrick rightly states that the Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as the Holy One of Israel and they did accuse Jesus of working miracles by the power of the devil (see Matt. 9:33,34). However, he is wrong when he compares DMI (and myself) to them because we have the audacity to point out the FACT that Mr. Hinn and others are liars and frauds especially in the area of miracles and divine healing. Mr. Hinn cannot prove one genuine miraculous healing in his entire SINistry. Any power at work in his meetings is that of people’s heightened sense of gullibility, mind control, hope, desperation, fear and yes some demonic influences too. (4) The obvious fear context cannot be missed either. Warrick is basically saying that because we denounce the frauds, that we are in danger of committing the unpardonable sin by blaspheming the work of the Spirit. Did I hear someone say “Testify?”

DMI recognizes and gladly has bowed its collective knee to the supreme authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and declare Him to be God the Son, all of whose works glorify His Father in Heaven. Warrick is wrong to declare us Pharisees and anyone is equally wrong in calling you one too. These folks do so out of anger simply because you and I stand on the authority of the Bible and demand that every experience that is claimed to be wrought in and by God must be subject to His written Word. They lash out because when they are pressed to defend their experiences or doctrines by the context of Scripture because they cannot and we irritate them by our unwavering stance on the Bible.

You pretended to be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT

This charge is a bit of a baffler but I believe he is referring to the fact that I once used to speak in other tongues and no longer believe that Biblical gift of supernaturally speaking another language as empowered by the Holy Spirit is a gift given to the church today. (5) Yes I can certainly attest that when I was studying First Corinthians in seminary under Dr. H. Wayne House that I came to realize that I did not have the same gift as the Bible clearly describes, nor have I ever encountered anyone who did (nor have linguists who have been studying glossolalia for over 50 years). My former activity, while meaning to be spiritual was in fact a fleshly mental act. I can own that. What is more I thank God for bringing me back to a much closer fellowship with Him in prayer by using the “God-given” normal capacities I have.

Since DMI upholds the cessation point of view regarding the sign-gifts  Warrick equates this to mean that we deny the infilling of/with the Holy Spirit.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In his mind, and that of millions of sign-gift devotees, being “filled” with the Spirit equals speaking in other tongues. All people who speak with other tongues are Spirit-filled those who do not are not. So goes their belief on this matter.

We answer this charge by simple going back to the Bible and examining the relevant passages concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9)

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body —whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Cor. 12:13)

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Eph. 5:18-21)

When people confuse being filled with the Spirit and speaking in other tongues simply show them the above texts. Every person who is a genuine Christian at the moment of their conversion is filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 is the only verse Paul ever uses regarding being filled with the Spirit. Speaking in other tongues is not mentioned.  A lifestyle of thanksgiving is. A life focused on the goodness of God resulting in our heart flowing forth with praise in the name of Jesus our Lord is mentioned. Being filled with the Holy Spirit also results in a lifestyle of mutual submission to one another for the sake of Christ in the fear of God. All Christians are in fact sealed (sphragisamenos) unto the day of our redemption is fully realized (see 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; Eph. 4:30). There is simply no such entity as a non-Spirit filled Christian.

Naturally I tried to direct Warrick to the pertinent passages and I challenged him to provide evidence of any miracles or healings in Hinn’s machine. I asked him to please show me where the following doctrines and practices could be found in the bible: 1) being slain in the spirit, 2) holy laughter, 3) spiritual drunkenness, 4) Jesus dying spiritually and being tormented by Satan in hell, etc….Here is his well reasoned apology for his beliefs:

I thought you were an idiot, you’ve proven my case little boy, as I said I will pray for you to get saved that you might not burn for an eternity. Precious LORD JESUS I pray this lost individual will be touched by the ONE he at present so easily blasphemes! You have never been able to walk with GOD, so it is pointless to answer ridiculous nonsense such as you espouse. You are doing nothing more than helping Satan with the idiotic nonsense on your pathetic website.

I must have struck a nerve in brother Warrick. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). Now he has gone from simply seeing me as an errant brother to being an idiot, and one who is not saved and thus facing eternal damnation. I guess he figures Jesus’ injunction against calling ones brother a fool does not apply to me since I am not really a brother now. Instead of answering my questions in a mature manner, instead of trying to defend what he obviously believes is true he simply ridicules me and since I am an idiot it would be “pointless to answer ridiculous nonsense…”  How is that for an apology?

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but false doctrines can kill me.” (6) He had no answers to give me. He had no true biblical defense so instead he goes on the offense by hurling ad hominem attacks against his questioner. I meant nothing personal in asking my questions, all I sincerely hoped for was that he’d think about them, check them out in the Bible and come to the correct conclusion that he has been wrong. I urged him to consider God’s gracious offer of deliverance by bringing to our web site and not to dismiss it.

Unfortunately, we can see his response, which is typical of many enmeshed in this movement, that thus far his mind is as closed as a steel trap. That is the danger of deception, it is so deceiving and it has in its power the ability to blind men’s eyes to the truth and only God alone can lift that veil.

Jesus said we would do what He did, right? The works I do he will do John 14 this tells me we will cast out demons; have Transfiguration experiences (GO, CATHOLICS!! They do this, right?); go to the wilderness and not get into ministry until we are finished like Jesus did and let Him shake the world off us because we don’t go to doctors, medicines, lawyers, public, schools, SSI, Unemployment, TV, radio, newspapers, among other things; change water into wine (or change one thing into another); walk through crowds; heal the sick; raise the dead; and much more. Do you these things? I would like to know Thanks.  Connie

Connie begins by citing a familiar text and somehow quickly meanders off into what I will assume she means “Roman” Catholic when she refers to transfiguration experiences. (Uh Connie, I know of no Roman Catholic transfiguration experiences per se, do you maybe mean transubstantiation experiences?)  From there it seems ministers are to go into the wilderness and not come back out until we are to go into the wilderness and not come back out until we are “finished” like Jesus. If that were the case Connie the wilderness today would be filled with the bones of Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, Kenny Hagin, Kathy Kuhlman and other SINistries who never would have gotten out. Somehow the “finished” ones will have allowed Jesus to shake off the world from them —how do we know this has happened in their lives? Because, Connie and the other super-saints have transcended the need to go to: (1) doctors, (2) use medicines, (3) use lawyers {highly commendable}, (4) public schools {yeah they can be a cesspool}, (5) SSI {don’t sweat it, it will be bankrupt before we can get to it anyway,} (6) unemployment, (7) television {not much on these days}, (8) water into wine, (9) walk through crowds {been doing that all my life}, (10) heal the sick {I have never healed anyone, laid hands on some that GOD did gracious deliver}, (11) raise the dead {I have tried on 2 occasions, failed miserably}.

Hey Connie, let me ask you some questions. Apart from our Lord Jesus Christ do you know any human being past or present who has done the works of Jesus in the manner that Jesus Himself did them? I do not know of anyone and my research goes back to the earliest accepted Christian writings. Radio and television are out, but obviously the internet is in why is this? Jesus washed the feet of His disciples (see John 13:12) do you do so too {I have, but humility precludes me from mentioning it further, blush/blush}? Are you really among those who reject doctors and medicine? If so, then you also forego the dentist, the usual inoculations, and have OPPTED OUT of all health insurance plans as well as OPTING OUT of SSI (oh yes folks, one can do this and receive the monies otherwise deducted, but BEWARE if you do so)—having done all of the aforementioned (sorry a little legal-lingo that the lawyers that you do not believe in use) what is your success ratio for (1) healings, (2) miracles, (3) resurrections, (4) transfigurations/transubstantiations thus far?

Connie’s response? Allow me to gently wrest a text for humors sake–”And there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (Rev. 8:1)  meaning, she had no response.

What does John 14:12 mean for us today?

I think the greater works Jesus had in mind are not greater miracles in terms of signs and wonders. Instead, the greater works done by those who believe in Jesus refer to the work of the spirit in people’s hearts, a work of the Spirit that has greater dimensions now that Jesus has ascended to the Father. (7)

This view is the commonly accepted view with the accompanying four arguments in support:

1. The “greater works” cannot refer to signs and wonders that are greater in quality than those done by Jesus because no believer ever has or ever will do greater miracles than Jesus. He raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, restored hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, healed the lame, calmed a story sea, etc. No miracle-worker has ever come close since the days of the apostles, and even the apostles did not do any signs and wonders that were greater.

2. But perhaps John means that believers will do greater works in the sense that we will do more signs and wonders than Jesus? But the Greek word for “greater” used here does not refer to a greater number of works. If John wanted to refer to a greater number of works, he probably would have used the Greek word “polla” meaning “more.” A careful study of the world “greater” in John’s gospel shows that the word consistently refers to something that is greater in quality rather than something that is greater in number. For example, in John 19:11 Jesus says to Pilate “he who delivered me up to you has the greater sin.” In other words, Judas’ sin is a more serious sin (not greater in number!) Than Pilate because he actually betrayed Jesus. Some other examples: John 4:12 “Are you greater than Jacob?” this obviously means greater in quality, and the idea of greater in number doesn’t make any sense. 5:36 “I have a testimony greater than John.” the testimony is not greater in number, but greater in quality, for the superior testimony comes from the Father. John 8:53 “Are you greater than Abraham?” John 10:29 “the Father is greater than all.” John 13:16 “The servant is not greater than his master.” John 14:28 “the Father is greater than I.” the most significant example is from John 5:20 where Jesus says, “And greater works than these he (the Father) shall show to him (Jesus) that you may marvel.” This verse is very close to John 14:12 because in both verses Jesus speaks of “greater works.” Jesus is contrasting here his healing of the lame man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-16) with the greater works that he would do in the future. The greater works in the context appear to the communication of spiritual life (John 5:21,24,25), the judgment of all (5:22), and the future resurrection from the dead (John 5:29). The point here is not that these works are greater in number, but they are qualitatively superior to the healing of a man who was lame. These works are superior because they will last forever, while the lame man got sick again and died. To conclude this second point: the greater works do not mean believers will do more works than Jesus, but that they will do works qualitatively better than those Jesus did in his ministry. These better works are due to the outpouring of the Spirit after Jesus’ ascension. [Note: Incidentally, there is no evidence from church history that any believer did more miracles than Jesus anyway, and this verse is not limited to those who have the gift of healing; it refers to all believers.]

3. The word “works” in John’s gospel in some contexts clearly includes Jesus’ miracles (John 7:3, 21; 9:4, 10:25, 32,33,37,38). But even though the word often includes the idea of miracles, the word “works” cannot be limited to signs and wonders in John’s gospel. For example, John 6:28,29 identifies the “work of God” as “believing in the one whom the father sent.” and in John 8:39 Jesus exhorts the Jews to “do the works of Abraham,” and there is no record of Abraham doing miracles, and so Jesus must mean, “do the good deeds of Abraham.” John 14:10 is especially interesting, for their Jesus says, “the words which I speak to you I do not speak from myself, but the Father abiding in me does his works.” Here the “words” of Jesus in the first part of the verse are defined as his “works” in the latter part of the verse. Thus, we have clear Evidence in the near context (compare also verse 11) that the word “works” should not be restricted to signs and wonders.  Indeed, when John wants to speak of miracles, he consistently uses the word “sign.” “Sign” is the unambiguous word John uses to describe Miracles, and the word “works” is a more general term, which may include miracles, but does not necessarily focus on signs and wonders. All of this suggests that the first part of verse 12 where Jesus says, “the one who believes in me the works I do he shall do also” does not mean that believers will do miracles and signs and Wonders to the same extent as Jesus.  The word “works” is a general term, and thus Jesus is simply saying that you will do works of the same quality as I did and more. It should also be Noted that Jesus’ miraculous works were unique in the sense that such “signs” manifested his unique glory from the Father (John 2:11), and John tells us that the signs Jesus did were performed so that “you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and in order that by believing you might have life in his name” (John 20:30-31). Thus, Jesus’ miracles were in one sense a unique manifestation of his glory and divinity. This is not to deny that miracles can be done today. The point is that Jesus’ miracles were unique, and no one in church history or in the Bible has ever matched Jesus in miraculous activity.

4. The greater works, then, refer to the extended work of the Spirit, which will occur when Jesus ascends to the Father. This is not to deny that the Spirit was active previously in significant ways. But the work of the Spirit on earth was intensified with Jesus’ ascension. Note that Jesus specifically says that “the greater works” will occur “because I go to the Father.” Going to the Father, then, provides the reason or ground for the greater works. But why does Jesus’ going to the Father make possible greater works? The rest of John’s gospel answers that question. In John 16:7 Jesus says, “It is better for you that I go, for if I do not go, the paraclete will not come to you, but if I go I will send him to you.” This fits beautifully with John 14:12. Jesus says that it will be better if he goes because only when he goes will the Spirit be sent. And John 16:8-11 makes it clear that the Spirit when he comes will convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment. Such conviction of sinners is clearly another way of describing the “greater works” which will occur after Jesus goes. Greater than any healing is the inclusion of one’s name in the book of life. Jesus reminds his disciples of this when they are so excited about casting out demons in Luke 10:20. “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”   (8)

These four points can be condensed into a shorter more easily shared version, but learn the argument first and adapt it to your own needs. Connie probably was somewhat well meaning, ok, a little back-handed slap with the “do you do these things” implying some deficiency if one was/is not doing them. She is a victim of bad hermeneutics (9) and is clueless regarding how to properly interpret the Scriptures.

Regrettably Connie’s spiritual aliment is one that is commonly suffered by the majority of her fellow sign-gift compatriots. They have a zeal for Christ, but a zeal without knowledge, what we at DMI call “excited ignorance.” Due to their inability to correctly interpret the Scriptures the leaders and their followers rely upon experiences to validate their understanding of the (sometimes Satan is glad to oblige). When anyone lacks the tools to properly interpret the bible (rest assured it is not some arcane science) they are left to rely on their own experiences, beliefs, culture and fallen reasons. The entire sign-gift movement is built upon key individuals experiences and these experiences went on to become doctrinal positions and/or practices.  (10)

Whenever one attempts to build a theological contextual argument for modern Pentecostalism the arguments fall down upon close examination.

The answer for the Warrick’s, Connie’s and others is simply to strive in a winsome manner to direct them back to the Bible. If we are all Christians (which includes our sign-gift brethren) then we can agree {hopefully} that the bible is God’s Word and thus is authoritative when understood in its proper context and setting. When this foundation is established then we can begin to examine and consider the various doctrines and practices that separate us. The goal in this endeavor is not to win the argument, but most importantly to win our brother over from doctrinal darkness into the light and liberty of God’s Word rightly understood. (11)

DMI does not fear the “woe” of all men speaking well of us, we have other issues to try not to worry about, but that is not one of them. These few e-mails I have shared are only the tip of the iceberg regarding the biblical ignorance of those misled by convincing con artists on television, radio and the internet. I can assure you that 99.9% of sign-gift folks cannot defend what they believe. How can I say this? Because probably 90% of the rest of the Church cannot defend what they believe either! Obviously, our readers are within the 10% that can or is interested in defending the bible and Christ Jesus against an ungodly world.

In closing let me simply say this—God always has a remnant of people who will refuse to bow the knee to the Baal of their day. Today it is a people who refuse to compromise their stance upon the written Word of God. A people who will swim upstream against the current of go-along-to-get-alone that has lulled the Church asleep. In short, folks like you whom God has awakened to sound the alarm to those at ease and complacent in Zion.

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Heresiology is the formal study of heresy; ergo one who studies heresy and heretics is a heresiologist.

2. DMI receives and responds to 100’s of emails per week, but the added counseling and prayer requests that now come to us via Facebook.

3. This is first of a few e-mails by brother Warrick, his email address is Warwick Jerall jerrallwl@yahoo.com in case anyone would like to send him an encouraging word or helpful link J The underlining and bold type was added by me for emphasis and is not in the original e-mail.

4. I have participated in several of Mr. Hinn’s meetings, even singing in several of his mass choirs. I have seen firsthand the manipulation of desperate, and gullible people—all for the sake of money, adulation and personal worship.

5. An interesting book on the topic is Glossolalia by Stagg, Hinson, Oates, Abingdon Press.

6. Part of a child’s nursery rhyme taught to all young heresy-hunters.

7. Obtained from http://www.sbts.edu/documents/tschreiner/John14_12pdf  on  04-26-2010

8. Ibid

9. How to Read The Bible for All It is Worth by Dr. Gordon Fee is an excellent book to begin to learn how to interpret the Bible. Look for a used copy at www.http://www.abebooks.com

10. Without having to write an entire book consider the following and then do the necessary follow-up research if desired: 1) William Seymour leading Azusa allowed spiritualist mediums experiences to meld in with the Christian seekers. 2) Oneness Pentecostalism started in a brush arbor meeting around 1914 when a man had a “vision” of Jesus Only on the Mt. of Transfiguration, 3) William Branham was led by angels, and the list goes on and on.

11. I say “rightly understood” to mean that correct doctrine liberates, false doctrine brings people into bondage. “Rightly” is a loaded term, I admit that, but for the sake of this argument I am referring to the commonly held orthodox.