Liar Liar Pants on Fire – Jesse Duplantis Stands by His Tall Tale of Heaven

11 05 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 2 – Liar Liar Pants on Fire – Jesse Duplantis Stands by His Tall Tale of Heaven – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Jesse Duplantis Stands by His Tall Tale of Heaven

By Rev. Robert Liichow

"Smiling faces, smiling faces tell lies" lyric from 'The Undisputed Truth"

Last month DMI dealt specifically with Oral Roberts and his very questionable legacy. I, like most people, do not want to see a man who told straight faced lies (or was so deeply deceived he really thought he was telling the truth) to God’s people in God’s name. It is simply outrageous that no one within Pentecostalism ever publicly took Oral Roberts to task. There has never been a time when Pentecostalism was a unified front in America and has never had any real overall structural leadership. This allows all their ministers to basically oversee themselves and account to no one, accept possibly their Board of Directors which often consists of family members and/or close personal friends who subsist off the fortunes of the SINistry.

Brothers and sisters Truth Matters. One of the immutable characteristics of God is His verity or inherent truthfulness. Since God’s nature is unchanging He is eternally truthful everything He does and we being created in His image He demands truthfulness from all creation. The Bible is filled with commands for us to be truthful in all our deeds: We are told not to bear false witness against our neighbor (see Ex. 20:19) or even more seriously lying in the name of our Lord (see Ex. 20:7). Here alone 20% of the 10 commandments demand truthfulness in our dealings with God and man. Two of the 7 things the Lord hates are (Prov. 6:17-19). (1) A lying witness who bears false testimony and (2) A lying tongue. Here 33% of the emphasis here is further insight into how much God hates the telling of lies. ‘These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates” ( read Zechariah 8:16). The Bible ends with a somber warning in Rev. 21:8 “…all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” What does this mean (a good Lutheran question)? It means, obviously, that God places a very strong emphasis on trustworthiness of our words and actions.

My dear brothers and sisters we must never lose sight of the fact that we are representatives, ambassadors for Christ in this world (read 2 Cor. 5:20). God Himself calls and sees us as living epistles know and read of all men (see 2 Cor. 3:2). By lying we can never represent our God in any form or fashion. There is no darkness in Him, there is no crookedness in His dealings and as His ambassadors there ought not be any dishonesty in our representation of Him.

With the aforementioned in mind let us again reconsider some of the claims of Mr. Duplantis and his alleged trip to heaven and compare it with the Word of God which we know is holy and inerrant in Its testimony.

Mr. Duplantis has built his SINistry in large part on sharing many alleged supernatural experiences the most detailed and widely shared is his account of going to heaven including a visit to the throne of Almighty God. The following citations are taken from Mr. Duplantis book entitled “Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind.”

In August 1988 Rev. Duplantis was preaching a revival in Magnolia Arkansas. He feels impressed to go back to his hotel room and pray about the service that evening. He notices the clock (again) it was one minute before one o’clock. He gets down on his knees and gets ready to pray then

“Suddenly I felt a suction as if I was being pulled up out of the room…I heard a sound Whoose! And I was pulled up out of the room…I didn’t know I had left the room and I was zooming along at a phenomenal rate of speed…in something like a cable car…Then I looked up. There stood another being I realized that it was the blond-headed angel who had visited me…”You have an appointment with the Lord God Jehovah.” (1)

Jesse has an out-of-body experience and finds himself in an angelic cable car with the same angel who told him to get some sleep. This time we are told why this is happening, Jesse has an appointment with the Lord God Jehovah!

“As I stepped out of the chariot, everything I saw was so beautiful. I had always thought that when I went to heaven I would see only a city. But the first place I saw was Paradise; it hadn’t been destroyed. Paradise is a big place, completely surrounding the Holy City. It is like being on another planet.”  (2)

We are now informed that Paradise has (1) not been destroyed, (2) paradise is a big place, and (3) paradise completely surrounds the Holy City. Not only is this without any Biblical proof, but we seem to have a dichotomy between Mrs. Baxter’s revelation in our last section and Jesse’s revelation now. Jesus personally showed Mrs. Baxter that Paradise has been taken over by Satan in hell. Yet now, a few years later we find that Paradise is now sort of the suburbs of heaven. Who are we to believe? Which is it? Is Paradise in hell or in heaven? These two nationally known charismatic teachers both claim to have had genuine experiences but their experiences in no way agree! This is a logical impossibility. Even if their accounts internally agreed with each other they are still at complete variance with the Bible, and must be discounted.

Jesse begins to describe the heavenly scene. He sees children, animals, beautiful flowers, the River of life and trees lining the River of life with thousands of people standing around under the trees. Jesse notices something that again is a totally new insight regarding some sort of caste system in heaven:

Then I saw other people who didn’t have on robes; they were wearing gowns. They started walking toward the city, but they seemed to get weak. I saw them walk over to the trees, pick what looked like fruit and eat it. Then they took some leaves off those trees, put the leaves up to their faces and breathed in, smelling them. I asked the angel, “What’s happening? He said, ‘Some of them have not lived the life they should. They believe in God and love Jesus, but they didn’t live to their fullest potential…Yes God is merciful to them,” he said. “But they have to be prepared to stand in the presence of the Almighty.” (3)

Even in heaven some people will have to work to make themselves ready to stand in the presence of God. They did not live up to their fullest potential on earth, so now they have to do some more works in heaven…then they can face God. The work of Christ is not enough, it obviously is not a finished work, we still have to do our part to make ourselves ready to face God. Hebrews 9:12 tells us that the work Jesus Christ did on the cross obtained for us an eternal redemption. Yet it appears, according to Duplantis, we still have to work on becoming perfected even in heaven.

“Some people don’t live close to God the way they should. They know Jesus as their Savior, but they could do so much better. In heaven they will eventually be able to go to God’s Throne, but it takes more time for them. (4)

Duplantis does not explain what it takes to “live close to God” but it obviously involves some type of work(s) on our part. I have no problem with the fact that one can live a dynamic Christian life or a mediocre one on earth. I have no problem with teaching that people will receive varying degrees of reward from the Master at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I have an extreme problem with people having to do some form of works in order to merit an audience with the God who loved them so much He sent His only Begotten Son to die for us! This insight is a lie because it directly contradicts Biblical teaching.

Romans 3:26

For the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 12:23

To the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,

With nothing more than a quick glance through the New Testament anyone can see that the one who has placed their trust in the work of Christ (as opposed to their own works which can never save or justify) and declared to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:17-21). We are exhorted to draw near with confidence (parresia, Greek NAS 3954; from Greek 3956 (pas) and rhesis (speech); freedom of speech, confidence, boldness, boldness of speech, confidently, openly).   (4)

Why then does this change in heaven? Why does one have to eat fruit and smell leaves in (works) in order to approach the throne of our God? The blood of Christ has perfected us in God the Father’s eyes. However, Jesse’s experience gives us what really takes place in heaven.

“When I began to feel weak, the angel walked over to one of those trees picked some of its fruit and brought it back to me…The angel said to me, ‘Eat this fruit so you will be able to withstand the glory of God. (5)

It appears that Jesse himself at this point has not been living as close to God as he should have been, even though in his walk with God thus far he had: (1) God previously appeared to him; (2) he’s seen angels, and (3) been supernaturally teleported to Lafayette, and (4) now is in heaven! Yet, even the highly “favored” Duplantis needs to eat some angelic fruit so he can withstand the glory of God!

Jesse Meets Abraham

After eating the fruit the angel asks if he is thirsty, he is, and lo and behold, father Abraham is close by and he comes with a golden goblet to give Jesse a drink. This wise looking fellow comes over and Jesse asks him who he is. Here is the response:

“I’m Abraham, Paradise is my place…I felt I knew him like I knew my father. I fell down on my face before him; but he said; ‘Stand to your feet. The only One you worship is the Lord God…I meet all the people who come here because Paradise is my bosom.   (6)

Jesse Sees Kids in heaven With Jesus –

After his drink he and the angel keep heading towards his divine appointment with Jehovah God. Then all of the sudden he hears children singing and praising God. What’s more they were carrying little harps (I kid you not). After this insight Jesse and the angel continue their journey to meet Jehovah God. At this point in the story Jesse is given further insight into heaven works system:

“They almost got there; then they stopped, turned around and had to go back. It seems as if they were depressed. I heard someone say, ‘There is no depression here. Just eat of the Tree of Life, smell the leaves for healing and let your spirit grow. You shall stand at the Throne of God.”   (7)

Like my grandfather used to say “close but no cigar.” Obviously these folks had made some progress in their sanctification but still they had to turn back to eating the fruit and smelling the leaves.

Jesse Meets Jesus –

All of the sudden, the angel stopped our chariot and said, ‘Kneel. He’s here.” I felt weak then fell to my knees. The angel handed me some fruit and said, “Eat this.” So I did…Jesus was taller than I thought He would be. I would guess Him to be from five feet eleven inches to six feet one inch…He looked at me and said, “There are many things you shall see and learn here, but I have brought you here so that you will go tell My people I’m coming(8)

Now we know that Jesus is probably just a tad under six feet tall, that He has light brown hair and that He especially wants Jesse Duplantis to tell the Church He is coming. Again, the Bible is not enough, the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is not enough, we need people to take special trips to heaven and come back to tell us Jesus is coming back for us.

Jesse Meets King David –

Jesus tells Jesse that He wants him to meet another king, king David. David we learn has a read beard and reddish hair. “Jesus said, “Jesse, I want you to meet the king of Israel.” The Lord said, “Take Jesse to his home. Show him what I have prepared for him. Then bring him to My Throne. I must go.”   (9)   David begins to take Jesse to see his heavenly mansion. On the way they go into another home and Jesse meets the Apostle Paul. Of all the questions he could have asked Paul here is what he comes up with:

“I said to Paul, “You went through great persecution.” “Yes”he answered, “but I kept the faith. I focused my life on faith. That’s how you get things done….Never change the message because of the hearers. Speak what God gives you.   (10)

That must have been sweet music indeed to the ears of a Word of Faith teacher like Rev. Duplantis, Paul kept his focus on faith, that is how you get things done! Isn’t that interesting? All this time I thought Paul had said he kept his eyes focused on knowing Christ (Phil 3:10-13).

Now we see that really Paul kept focused on faith, and that it is by the power of faith that things get done! Well the angel has to move Jesse along, he still has an appointment at the Throne of God. However, King David tags along with them to fellowship with Jesse. What Rev. Duplantis shares next is extreme heresy, King David is speaking –

“He did use Psalm 223 as an example as he explained, “I allowed God and the anointing to come through in that song. In other songs I sang strongly about my troubles. I think I should have allowed more of the answer to come through, instead of the complaining. Those weren’t his exact words, but I knew that was what he meant. Then he added, “I wish I had written more songs about God’s answers than about my problem.    (11)

There we have it! David allowed God and the anointing to come through on Psalm 23. Some of the other psalms in the Bible , I guess we cannot be so sure about. Like a good “faith man” David wished he had written more about the answer than the problem. David wished he had allowed more of the answer, i.e. God and the anointing, to come through instead of complaining.

I really do not think that Rev. Duplantis has thought through the ramifications of his alleged encounter with King David and David’s comments. David’s comments imply that what he wrote was not equally inspired. Some psalms he yielded to God and the anointing (as though they are separate from one another) and others, he did not yield as much.

Romans 15:4

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2 Tim. 3:15-17

And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Then after this astounding revelation David takes Jesse into his home where here we learn that in heaven “all desires are met here. Everything has been thought of – all your desires and some that you could not even think of.”   (12)

Jesse Finally Makes it to God’s Throne

“I felt weaker and weaker as we approached the Throne room. It looked to me like millions of people were there…When the light from the Throne hit me I couldn’t stand up; I fell down, and the angel gave me more of the fruit…I look up from the floor in the direction of the overwhelming Light, and I saw Him! I saw Elohim, Jehovah God. Yahweh sitting on the Throne! But I saw His feet – only His feet…He is so big – you can’t describe Him in a dimension. His had is huge! His body, the form if it, is sort of like energy, spirit. There’s a wall around the Throne, but the Throne is higher than the wall – that’s why you can see the Throne from every direction, from a distance. And that power, that energy-like smoke of God, covers all around the chair of the Throne itself.     (13)

Jesse still needs to eat the sanctifying fruit even though he has made it up to the very Throne of god. Like Moses he just to see part of God’s body, and not His face. Yet all-in-all even getting to see the feet of Jehovah is more than any of the rest of us have seen! Also we get the extra-Biblical insight about some type of wall around the Throne, I guess some sort of restraining wall to keep Him from being mobbed by adoring family members.

“There was a cloud that looked like smoke going up from the Throne and I heard that massive sound, “whoosh! It was power like I’ve never experienced in my life. Then I saw God’s finger barely move and when it moved, an angel that was flying near Him was thrown up against a wall. Bam! It didn’t hurt the angel.” (14)

I am reminded about the refrain from an old gospel blues song “when the Lord gets ready, you’ve got to move.” that angel must certainly have that as a revelation after getting splattered against the wall. During this time Jesse comes out of the glory of the Father and begins to preach to the assembled crowds “He was a preacher full of victory, shouting and hollering!”  (15)  Jesse enjoys the sermon and asks the angel “where’s the Holy Spirit?” He is on the earth He said.”  (16)  then he remembers this fact and feels “stupid” for asking such a “dumb question” at the Throne of God. So now we know that as of 1996 the Holy Spirit is not in heaven He is on earth. Now if asked, Jesse will admit that God is Three in One, but obviously the One God is somehow separated spatially. In any event, now you know that the Holy Spirit is not currently “in” heaven but is active here on earth.

“I saw new lives of little babies singing and flying around God’s Throne. It seemed to me that babies just came out of the breath of God. They looked like they were wearing nightgowns…I heard them saying God, “Can I be a spirit? Would You send me to earth so I can be a spirit? I want to be a redeemed person. Can I be a spirit? And while I watched, I heard that might sound of God’s power Whoosh! I saw these babies leave the Throne by the power of God.” (18)

Mrs. Baxter saw baby cherubim flying around the Throne of God kissing his face, feet, and hands while singing holy, holy, holy. Rev. Duplantis does not see these baby cherubim instead he see’s some type of proto-babies who want to become “spirits”. What is more these proto-spirit babies ask to be sent to earth and they ask to be redeemed persons. Who makes the determination to become a redeemed person? Obviously we did in our proto-spirit condition when we, in eternity past, flew around the Throne of God in our little nightgowns!

What utter drivel and heresy!  There is not one shred of Scriptural evidence to even remotely infer this type of theology. In fact, like with everything else Mr. Duplantis sees, the bible refutes it thoroughly. Here are just two verses of many –   

John 15:16

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you

Romans 9:11

“(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

I cannot take time to go into the doctrine of election. Yet the Scriptures are plain that it is always God who does the electing, not man! If we take Mr. Duplantis Throne room vision at face value then are we to assume that some babies want to be damned? After all, some ask to be redeemed people, do others ask to be allowed to be damned people? Even Jesse would admit that not everybody is saved, he does believe some folks do go to hell. So if what he saw is true, then those in hell made this choice before they ever came to earth. It is hard to imagine a preacher of the Gospel would write such things, and expect the readers to accept it as truth.

Before Jesse is sent back home to planet earth Jesus explains how He is dreading the day when He has to send some of the creation He loves to hell. “I wanted to reach out and comfort Him, so I put my hand on the Lord…I could tell that Jesus was hurting.”   (19)   Can you imagine? The One who upholds and sustains all things by His power (Heb. 1:3) feels sad and is hurting and Jesse tries to comfort the Lord God Almighty as best he can. In these closing discourses with Jesus, Jesse comes to believe “we can delay His coming by waiting for a sign before we act on His Word…” (20) Through this supernatural gnosis, we learn that people choose their eternal destiny as proto-babies and we also can delay the return of Christ by our actions or inactions. Earl Paulk, must be correct then when he teaches that it is up the Church as to when Jesus returns. Jesse continues to humanize God by saying;

“I didn’t know before how much He needed me to reach out to other people. I have always thought of how much I needed Him, not how much He needs me…He smiled at me and said, “I chose you. NO one else wanted you, and I need you Jesse.   (21)

Jesus Christ needs Jesse Duplantis! I do not doubt that the Lord Jesus loves Jesse Duplantis, I love him too, but I doubt He “needs” Jesse. If you, me or Jesse dies tomorrow God’s plan will roll on without as much as a hitch.

Jesse Comes Back to Planet Earth

Jesse returns to his body and walks up to the front of the church. “Look at Brother Jesse. He’s shining.” There was a light on my face. I had been in the presence of the glory of God.”  (22)  So like Moses, Jesse Duplantis’ face shines with the very presence of God. “I didn’t even preach that night. I didn’t say anything, but people began falling under the power of God’s Spirit! There was ministry throughout the auditorium without me saying any more.”   (23)

What is the result of this trip to heaven? Mr. Duplantis gets to church but does not even preach the gospel, yet apart from the Word & Sacraments we are supposed to believe the Holy Spirit moved! Instead something even greater transpires than preaching the Word, people begin to fall under the power of God’s Spirit. We are not told if anybody came to faith in Christ at the service, nor are we informed if anybody rededicates themselves to serving Christ. All we know, according to Mr. Duplantis, is that people see his face shining and fall into unconsciousness. However, Duplantis does not supply any COOBBERATING testimony to this alleged event.

I must denounce Heaven, A closer Encounter of the God Kind as a work of fiction masquerading as fact. None of his vision and experience remotely resemble what is revealed in the bible. In fact, Duplantis’ revelations contradict Biblical teaching and doctrine.

Out of Christian charity I am willing to grant that brother Duplantis had some type of experience but it was not of the “God Kind.” This leaves us with one of two possibilities, either his experience is demonically inspired or is the result of his overactive imagination. His concept of the doctrine of God, the inerrancy of Scripture, and salvation are aberrant and heretical according to what he relayed in his vision.

Mr. Duplantis is a well known international speaker in Word of Faith circles and yet none of his fellow charismatic leaders seem to have any problem with is revelations. The editors at Harrison House Publishers did not pick up any doctrinal errors or question the validity of his experiences as they proofread his text. “Christian” bookstores seem to have no qualms about selling a book in which the author says the following is absolutely true:

  • As a sinner, feels God presence continually
  • Hears His voice while high on drugs
  • Is personally visited by God
  • Has 100% of his prayers answered
  • Receives a personal message from the Lord’s angel
  • Has a company of angels knock out his audience for half an hour
  • Has he and his car teleported to Lafayette La and Jesse heals a girl near death.
  • Goes to heaven
  • Meets Abraham, Jonah, King David, Jesus, angels, the Apostle Paul, and the Father.
  • Comes back with his face shining like Moses & everyone this thrown into an altered state of consciousness.

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope you can understand why I am concerned about what is foisted upon the Church as a divine revelation when it obviously is not.

There is wide scale deception taking place and little or nothing is being done about it. A person can say or write just about anything and it will be published, sold nationally, and speaking engagements and television appearances will come from it, not to mention large amounts of money. If anybody dares to raise an objection then they are labeled a heresy-hunter and one who is sowing discord among the brethren, which we are constantly reminded is an abomination to God   (Prov. 6:19).

I agree with the prophet Amos when he says there is a famine in the land, one not of bread, but one of hearing the true Word of the Lord. The sign-gift section of the church really needs to get back to the Word of God and judge every experience by it and unflinchingly correct and rebuke those who err and those who want to propagate error. If they will not receive correction, then we must mark or scope out such false teachers and in love correct them and their hearers of their error. It is the only truly loving response there is. ♦

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Duplantis, Jesse, “Heaven A Close Encounter of the God Kind.” Harrison House, 1996, pg. 68-69

2. Ibid. pg. 70’

3. Ibid. pg 72

4. Ibid. pg 75

5. New American Standard Hebrew & Greek Dictionary, NavPress Dd Rom

6. Duplantis, Jesse. “Heaven a Close Encounter of the God Kind. Harrison House. 1996 pg. 76

7. Ibidpg. 76-77

8. Ibid. pg. 83

9. Ibid pg. 85

10. Ibid. pg.

11. Ibid pg. 93

12. Ibid. pg. 97-98

13. Ibid, pp. 100-1-1

14. Ibid pg. 102

15. Duplantis, Jesse. “Heaven, A Close Encounter of the God Kind.” Harrison House, 1996. Pg. 113-114

16. Ibid. pg. 115

17. Ibid. pg. 117

18. Ibid. pg. 118-119

19. Duplantis, Jesse. “Heaven A Close Encounter of the God Kind.” Harrison House. 1996. Pg. 119

20. Ibid. pg. 127

21. Ibid p. 129

22. Ibid. pg. 131

23. Ibid. pg. 138

24. Ibid. pg. 138

It is an eternally serious matter whenever anyone dares to stand up in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and preach/teach His Word. As James 3:1 reminds us: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  Why does the teacher receive a stricter judgment? Because God’s people will inherently trust their words, after all, who would dare speak that which is not in the name of the Living God? DMI will make it our business to send by registered mail this newsletter and a letter to Mr. Duplantis seeking an explanation of his heretical statements. We will let you know how it is received by JDM.

Advertisements




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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 3 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Slain in the spirit

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

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

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

Hypnosis

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

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

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

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

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

Impartation

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

 

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

Slain TACF 99'

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

Demonic Activity

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

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

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

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

Slain in the spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Biblical Examples of Falling Backwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

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

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. Ibid. 103

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





“HEARING” THE VOICE OF GOD

23 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 4 – “Hearing the Voice of God – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing the Voice of God

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

One of the most frustrating things for me as a charismatic extremist was hearing the various testimonies of my teachers regarding hearing the voice of God. All of these men and women made it abundantly clear to us mere sheep that they were in fact in daily, if not, moment-to-moment communication with the Ancient of Days.

Usually their sermons or lessons began with statements like “ I was in prayer the other night and the Lord said to me ‘son why don’t you explain what faith is to My people’ and I said yes Lord and He opened my eyes to the scriptures like never before.” Obviously, we as the hearers upon hearing this statement buckled down in our seats, got out our pens and took notes on what was divinely revealed to the speaker (you can insert almost anyone’s name e.g. Ken Hagin, Copeland, Savelle, Dollar, Price, Jakes, White, Meyer, Dupantis, Hayes, et al.). After their stirring words we little sheep would wander to our homes wondering what did it take to actually “hear the voice of God”? We were literally in awe of people like Kenneth Hagin senior who said on a regular basis that God was more “real to him then his wife.” Also, Mr. Hagin was a man who claimed to have had at least seven (7) direct face-to-face encounters with the risen Christ, during which encounters Mr. Hagin was given revelations which became some of the body of his teachings {doctrine}. Obviously Mr. Hagin and many of our other teachers had a relationship with Jesus Christ that we did not have. Hagin used to share an anecdote that went something like this: “A man told me he was afraid of anyone who said God spoke to them, I answered him back and said I was afraid of anyone who God didn’t speak to!” In context let me add that Hagin was not talking about God speaking through His Word, he meant God speaking directly to us as individuals. Hagin’s position was that it was normative for God to speak to His children.

This obviously lack of intimate fellowship with the Godhead that our teachers seemed to have led many of us “on-fire” saints (me included) on the “hunt” for obtaining such an equally close fellowship with our Lord and Savior. After all, who does not want to “hear” the Holy Spirit say directly to them “go this way, turn left on Elm, “ or marry this woman,” or “accept this job position, it is My will.” Hearing from “God” on that level would take all of the guesswork out of life. If a person could hear so clearly from the Lord it would equal an error-free life (something God nowhere promises any of us in His Word) assuming the individual heeded everything the Lord told Him directly.

I’ll let you in on one of charismania’s dirty little secrets. A large portion of what charismatic teachers offer to those who will follow can be condensed into the claim that they (the teacher) possesses some spiritual experience which can be anyone’s if they will learn how to “tap in” as their teacher did. This experience can include some of the following examples: receiving revelation knowledge, receiving divine healing; walking in divine life; increasing the anointing in one’s life; achieving financial prosperity among other claims. Naturally merely attending a conference will probably not give one any of the above abilities. Thus the seeker is urged by the SINister or his or her shills to purchase books, tapes and DVD’s on the experience being sought, all of which happen to be for sale, authored by the SINister just outside the arena (all major credit cards accepted).

Apart from the extraordinary gifts, such as the power to heal or work miracles, every charismatic teacher claims to hear directly from God. The old expression “from God’s lips to my ear” would be wildly accepted by these people. Most Christian’s will accept that they will probably not work miracles or heal the lame, but at least they can hear from God can’t they?

The question is a simple one —does the Bible teach that the children of God would in fact hear His voice and be led by Him directly and individually? It does not matter how many people vociferously declare that God speaks to them directly to their spirits. As discerning Christians we must always go back and look at what the Bible teaches concerning this or any other matter being foist upon us.

Really the challenge is in the court of the charismatic extremists to prove to us biblically that it is the practice of God to speak individually to His children. The spiritual enthusiast has two general responses to this challenge. The popular response today (at least since the Holy Laughter paranormal manifestations) has been well expressed by Jack Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor who went off the spiritual rails so to speak:

God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible.

According to Dr. Deere, John Arnott and a host of other charismatic leaders God speaks to His children all the time, gives them guidance, but it is of such a type that cannot be verified biblically. The best they can say is that any supernatural direction given, whether through dreams, visions, apparitions or voices will not violate the Bible!

This is the same type of argument that John Arnott (former pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Church i.e. vortex of the holy laughter nonsense) gave me personally in our e-mail correspondence. Mr. Arnott in answering my concerns regarding all the non-biblical manifestations my wife and I eye witnessed in his congregation was simply to begin by citing John 21:25

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25 (KJV)

Arnott’s response to me was simply that what was taking place in the outpouring of the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit was nothing new, it just was not recorded in the Bible for us to read about. Holy Laughter, making animal noises, being slain in the spirit, uncontrollable jumping, jerking and running are simply part of the “many other things” Jesus did as well !!!

I responded by asking Arnott how can we know that what is happening is biblical if the Bible is silent on this specific matter? What are we to use as our guide pertaining to spiritual matters? His response was to direct me to all the good fruit being borne by the revival, the joy, the laughter, the changed lives of those undergoing these manifestations.

In the words of the arch-heretic Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt!” If the best Arnott can do is point me to subjective paranormal experiences that some people were undergoing as proof that it was “God” at work then he has a great deal to learn about religious experiences. I can take Arnott to various ashrams where the same manifestations are being experienced by the devotees of various power gurus and these followers will give passionate explanation of how their lives have been changed.

Appealing to anything other than the Bible as the final arbitrator of doctrine and experience is to leave oneself wide open to demonic deception, delusion, and disappointment. What today’s charismatic enthusiasts want the Church to do is simply accept their teachings, experiences and practices on the power of their word alone, not on the authority of God’s Word.

I warned Mr. Arnott that he and those like him were in danger of becoming a cult due to their going down the same pathway all the Bible-based cults have gone. The reason we call them “Bible-based” cults is due to their claim to believe in the Bible, however God has given them further revelation whether it is in the form of the New World Translation of the JW’s, or the Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, The Scripture Keys to Science and Health or the Mo Letters. So for these cults it boils down to a formula like — The Bible + new revelations/writings {guess which ends up being authoritative }. Many charismatic are in the same place — The Bible + new revelations, fortunately the Bible still seems to hold ultimate authority in may of their lives.

The second response to our apologetic challenge is a finally turning to the Bible and cherry pick examples that seem to fit their particular belief or practice. In the case of our topic, they will show us people God talked to and use these examples to attempt to prove these encounters as normative. This is GREAT! Always guide the discussion with these misguided folks back to the Bible, because we both can agree that it is God’s Word and as Christians It is binding on our lives. So then the weight is upon us to prove our position is in fact – the biblical one.

Who “Heard” the voice of God?

Old Testament

Adam & Eve: Obviously we can start with them. They not only heard the voice of God, but also walked with Him in the cool of the garden (Genesis 2:3). Obviously none of us can use Adam and Eve as our examples of fellowship with God since after they sinned and were kicked out of the garden their face-to-face communication ceased with the Lord.

Noah: Yes Noah heard from God directly. Since it had never rained on the earth until the flood I’m sure the Lord had some things to make clear to Noah, such as the directions on building the ark and who to place within it. (Gen. 6:9). Noah conversations with the Lord can hardly be normative since it involved the salvation of mankind.

Job: Only towards the end of the book of Job (Job 38-42) do we read of Job having a divine communication from the Lord.

Abraham: Over the entire span of his long life Abraham heard directly from the Lord in various manners only 16 times, hardly a daily ongoing conversation between The Ancient of Days of the patriarch of the faith!

Sarah: She only was spoken to once, which she initially denied saying what she had said (read Gen 18).

Moses: He holds the “record” of hearing from God, but then leading a few million Jews no doubt required quite a bit of direction. We read are approximately 85 times when God spoke to Moses. Again the majority of these times had to do specifically with the economy of God and the leading of God’s people.

Aaron: Moses’ brother and first high priest, he heard from God about 14 times, again always involving serious matters.

Joshua: The man who replaced Moses and led the people across the Jordan — again only around 13 or so experiences with the “voice of God” in his life.

Samuel: The great prophet of the Lord, we know at the beginning of his ministry the Lord spoke to him and he did not even recognize the Lord’s voice (1 Sam. 3) How the “word of the Lord” came to him and the other prophets we are not always told. We do know that in Samuel’s time the “word of the Lord was rate” (3:1) and there were few visions. What I am focusing our attention on is direct, personal communication from God to individuals.

David: The sweet psalmist of Israel, you’d think he would had daily running conversations with the Lord (like Hagin, Copeland, and others claim), But, no, go read the accounts of his life again and you’ll find less than 12 direct encounters Person-to-person.

Solomon: One of Israel’s most blessed kings, wisest of all O.T. personages, he only had 3 experiences hearing directly from the Lord. (read 1 Kings, 3:5-14; 9:2-9; 11:11-13).

My brothers and sisters there are many other O.T. examples I could cite, but these examples should make it very clear that people in general never personally heard God’s voice. Even God’s specially chosen vessels, rarely heard His voice and when they did it was regarding salvation’s history in some form or another.

The charismatic belief that throughout biblical history God is just chattering away to His people simply doesn’t stand up to any close examination of the Bible. Of course many within the charismatic movement will point that we are “New Testament” believers, ergo we should consider the New Testament as our “norm.” Ok, let’s take a quick look through the New Testament.

New Testament

Again our sign-gift inclined brethren would have us believe that under the new covenant we find our heavenly Father speaking to His children on a regular basis, leading and guiding them via personal speaking, dreams, visions and even angels. However, as Christians we must allow the Bible to be our guide, not subjective personal experiences. We know that during Jesus’ ministry when God spoke it was at times considered thunder by those who heard it (see John 12:29). On the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, John and James did hear the audible voice of God they were speechless (see Mark 9). There is absolutely no evidence that “God” apart from the personal earthly ministry of Jesus, God and Son, ever spoke internally to any of the disciples in the Gospels.

As a former charismatic I’d be quick to argue that the Book of Acts is really the template for the Church and that’s where will find God speaking to about everyone. I also used to believe that miracles were commonplace and were being wrought by just about every Miriam, Peter and John. Folks the truth is, as with hearing the voice of God, very few people were ever used by God throughout the entire Bible to work a miracle. Think about it, write them all down and you will have a very short list. Common sense dictates that if miracles where commonplace then they would cease to be “miraculous.”

Well if one reads the Book of Acts carefully one will discover that the vast majority of the times we read of God speaking directly or even indirectly, say through an angel, less than twenty times and the majority of these times were involving the Apostle Peter and Paul. The few others so specifically guided by God were folks like Agabus (a prophet), Cornelius (whose salvation was a catalyst for the Gentiles), and Ananias (who went to pray for a man named “Saul”.

What is remarkable about each occurrence is that none of these individuals were seeking to hear from God directly! God was the One who reached out to them. Also keep in mind that none of these people were ever taught any formula, hidden keys, or method on how to hear from God (which is a very popular subject in almost all Christian bookstores & conferences). Even more astounding is the FACT that no one is ever counseled to seek to hear God’s voice.

A simple truth that really “blew” my mind in seminary was when I learned from Dr. Eugene Mayhew that the Book of Acts is a historical account of what took place in the early Church and NOT a template on how to do Church. This was contrary to everything I had been taught as a sign-seeking believer. However, once you realize this is true you see that everything that took place in Acts is not normative nor to be expected in the daily life of Christians today.

Some may respond “but brother Liichow doesn’t the Apostle Paul tell us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14)?” Yes, but the text does not say “those who hear from God directly are the sons of God.” In fact, this text does not tell use exactly how God’s Spirit will lead us. Sign-gift folk insert voices, dreams, visions, visits from Jesus and /or angels into the text in invisible ink. They may assent that this text does not say exactly how the Spirit will lead us but will often counter with another text, this time from the Gospels. “Didn’t Jesus say that ‘My sheep hear My voice’ so obviously His true hear from God!” The context of John 10:16 is regarding sheep and goats and the fact that untimely there will be one flock (Jew & Gentiles together) under one Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus is not speaking about some private conversation(s) He will have with His sheep. Compare this text with Romans 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Add to this “how shall they hear without a preacher’? (Rom. 10:14). Jesus was not speaking about Him personally talking with His sheep. Oh yes He does “call” us but He does so generally through the foolishness of preaching or even through our baptism.

Some Charismatic Comments

“In June God gave us a vision of the world with silver and gold bands covering the entire globe —we began to understand that God was telling us to take the message…” Charles and Francis Hunter, How to Heal the Sick, Hunter Books, pg. 1.

“I could hear the Spirit of God challenging me, “You’ve approached it wrongly. You’ve worked on the wrong end of the thing. You fasted and you prayed that I would do something and I’ve done all I’m ever going to do…” Kenneth E. Hagin, The Art of Intercession, Faith Library, pg. 47

My Father said to me (oh, I could hear His voice so plainly as He spoke to me), ‘Son, you don’t know how that delights My heart…You know, He said to me, ‘I made man so I’d have someone to fellowship with. I made man for My companion…I’ll put this way (and He said it is just these words), I made man so I’d have someone to pal with,’ “ Kenneth E. Hagin, Growing Up, Spiritually, Faith Library, pp. 64-65.

“The Spirit of God spoke up on the inside of me and said, ‘She has been holding fast to the problem al of these years. If she had prayed in faith she wouldn’t have prayed all those other 24 years…But she has bound Me from the situation by the words of her mouth.” Charles Capps, Releasing the Ability of God, Harrison House, p. 38.

“I asked the Lord, ‘Why did the centurion have that kind of faith…The Lord said, ‘He was a military man who understood authority because he was under authority. If you will teach My people to understand authority as this man understood authority, they will operate in the same kind of faith.” Charles Capps, Authority, Harrison House, p. 5

“Just this Pat: God is telling me to go and share the message of His power an the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Mrs. Peale.” Pat Robertson & Jamie Buckingham, Shout It From the Rooftops, Logos, p. 66

Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER… He told me how I would be able to detect diseases by vibrations on my hand. He went away, but I have seen him several times since then.” Gordon Lindsay, William Branham A Man Sent From God, Voice of Healing, p. 77.

The BIG Question

These are just a very few examples of some instances where well known charismatic leaders are relating a little of their personal conversations with the Lord. In the same arena we have to also include today’s restored prophets and the “word of the Lord” they proclaim to congregations and individuals (that also is a common charismatic way to hear from God). The question for either individuals hearing from God or from the mouth of an alleged restored prophet is the same: “Why isn’t the words you’ve received from God authoritative?” In other words if God is indeed speaking then what is said should be transcribed and placed in the back of the Bible, right? Since when does God’s “word” cease to become God’s word to us? Also, if the words received in whatever manner (through a neo-Montantist prophet, dream, and vision or audible voice) is not elevated to such a level, then what good are they?

Our sign-gift brethren have a problem on their hands (as does anyone who says they have heard directly from God) and their response is to say that these words are a combination of both our flesh & the Lord which is what many leaders suggest having mature believers discern the wheat from the chaff so to speak. They say this is the biblical pattern as taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:29. This text says let 2 or 3 prophets speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said. That’s fine considering at the time there were still prophets in the Church as well as false prophets! The Corinthians being sign-gift driven needed to be told to “judge” what was being told them in the name of the Lord. Plus there is nothing in the text to indicate that the “others” ere discerning if part of the word given was of God and part of the flesh. Biblically either one was a true prophet, 100% accurate or one was a false prophet. From the record of scripture it seems most likely that the “others” were judging whether the person speaking was in fact from God or our enemy.

When it comes to the accuracy of today’s so-called prophets and their prophetic declarations virtually every charismatic leader will defend the blatant error, lies and unfulfilled statements given out in God’s name as being simply part of the “growing process” we all undergo in our God-given gifts! Just as one develops as a pastor or a Bible teacher even so one develops as God’s prophet. Oh really? Pray tell where is that in the Bible? There is nothing to indicate that the prophets developed from one level of accuracy to another. Daniel was not 5 % accurate as a young man and about 80% as an old man. What nonsense! Yet this explanation is commonly handed out to those who dare question the inaccuracies of today’s plague of prophets.

All of us who have thought that God was speaking to us and directing us in some area of life have had to admit that it was not God after all. I remember before I was married another sister in our congregation “heard from the Lord” that I was supposed to marry her. God had told me nothing about it and I told this deceived sister she was in error. She later went on to marry someone else and would gladly admit today she was not hearing from God. Other couples said they both heard from God to marry and now are divorced, what happened to the “plan of God” (I can assure you His plan never includes divorce).

There is a method by which we ALL can hear from God, but I have run out of space to go into this month. Stay tuned for Part Two! (Below are some examples of the many books out there to mislead the unwary).♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





Spiritual Formation

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

Discernment Ministries International

Spiritual Formation

scandiscipleadventure0001

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

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

THE CALL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The False Pathways Offered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centering or Contemplative Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

scanprayer0001

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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