For Whom Do We Do Good Works?

27 11 2011

Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue11 – For Whom Do We Do Good Works? – By Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 For Whom Do We Do Good Works?

Rev. Bob Liichow

 The writing of this article coincides with the celebration of the Reformation led by Dr. Martin Luther. The one aspect of the “Lutheran” Reformation that separates it from all other reformation is the focus of Luther on the eternal question “how can a sinful man become righteous in the eyes of a holy God?”

 By the time of Luther the Gospel message of salvation based only on the sovereign grace of God as testified by and in the life, death, and bodily resurrection of His Son, one Lord Jesus Christ was all but totally obscured by the teachings and practice of the Church of that day, i.e. The Roman Catholic Church.

 Rome had over time denigrated the doctrine of salvation from God’s completely free work of redemption by grace through faith in Jesus Christ to a complex system of human effort working in cooperation with some sort of infused grace. In Luther’s time the message being taught was that of salvation by human works and effort which did nothing but torment Luther and bring him to the verge of despair. The best Luther and virtually all other Christians could hope for was a short stay in purgatory. At this point in Church history the purpose of good works was to merit salvation.

 In his despair Luther began to study the scriptures with I believe a desperate spiritual hunger. Luther had been as faithful as he could be to the practices (works) of his church and found no spiritual peace in them (I dare say because spiritual peace was not there to be “found”). All Luther had left was the Word of God and as history tells us he came to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as His Lord promised, that truth of the Gospel see Luther free from the deadly treadmill of trying to obtain a righteousness based on his works.

 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of god without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (1)

 Luther clearly saw the Gospel in its purity. He saw that Jesus Christ did all the work on our behalf. He came to rightly understand that when Jesus said “it is finished” He meant just that, the work of salvation is now complete in His sacrifice on the cross. Naturally, Luther did not arrive at all of his conclusions in an evening, but as he studied God’s Word and compare it to his Church’s practices and dogma he realized that reform was necessary and he sought about to bring reform to the Church. We all know basically what happened, Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic confession and he went on to form gatherings of what were called “evangelicals.” After his death these “Evangelicals” began to be called “Lutherans” congregations. (2) We can all give thanks to God for raising up a man like Martin Luther through whom (and others) God brought back the correct understanding that justification comes solely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.

 This brings us to the topic, since we know (or should know) that salvation/redemption/justification (fairly synonymous terms) is effected by God’s grace and not our works, then where is the place of works in the life of the disciple of Jesus?

What Luther and those who followed him saw was the distinct demarcation between God’s grace and human works. Salvation was either: (1) by grace alone without any human merit or works. (2) by works that merited the favor and mercy of God or (3) a combination of divine grace and human merit working in cooperation. The biblical position is obviously number “1.” The Lutheran Reformation was the vehicle God used to spread the good news of salvation as a gift not as a reward for our efforts.

This aspect of Luther’s teachings was more or less accepted by what has become known as the Protestant Church i.e. the various Reformed denominations that also rebelled against The Church of Rome. However, I know from experience with several “baptistic” congregations, including some mainline Pentecostal denominations, that the biblical teaching of salvation by the grace of God through and in Christ alone has been twisted. How so? Many groups teach that we are saved by the grace of God as shown to us in Christ, so far so good. BUT (and it is a big “but”) we are kept in the state of salvation by our works. These people readily admit that works do not save, however our works post regeneration keep us saved.

Today hundreds of years after the Lutheran Reformation the Church is still filled with millions of people who do not understand the biblical place of good works in the life of the disciple. Multitudes within Roman Catholicism are still taught that their works are meritorious not only in reducing the time they will spend in purgatory but that their works are also efficacious in the ultimate obtaining of eternal life. Untold numbers of so-called evangelicals are running around doing various “good” works in order to gain higher rewards and status in heaven. In this “evangelical” system believers’ works do not save but are meritorious for future eternal status.

 Jesse Duplantis, a televised Word of Faith heretic and false teacher revealed in his best-selling novel (that masquerades as “truth” in Christian bookstores) “Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind” that in heaven the saints either wear “gowns” or “robes” depending on their works. Better and more numerous good works obviously equal better vestments in heaven according to Duplantis. Pentecostalism teaches that there is a unique soul-winners crown laid up for those in heaven who have faithfully witnessed to others about Jesus led people in repeating the sinner’s prayer, or maybe just stood on a corner passing out religious tracts to passer byes. These type of believers carry with them the American view that working harder equals more reward, which is usually true in this fallen world, but not so in the Kingdom of God:

So, when ever was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the Goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and iheat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do these no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen (3) Matthew 20:8-16

 We are familiar with the above parable. On one level we read of some people working harder and longer than others and yet all received equal pay. Strange? Only to the minds of those bound by this world. The Kingdom of god does not operate by our principles.

 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (4) Romans 4: 5-6

 The righteousness of God is given by God without the aid or assistance of human works. Resting in this reality is indeed a state of blessedness which is how Paul describes the man who accepts God’s mind-blowing humanly incomprehensible GIFT of righteousness based on what HE did in Christ—the forgiveness of our sins.

 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (5) Ephesians 2:8-9

 Paul well understood that righteousness was the gracious gift of God and thus an alien righteousness (righteousness distinct from humanity in and of itself) imputed (not imparted) to the disciple by faith in Jesus Christ. Knowing this Paul could well say that there was a “crown of righteousness” waiting for him in heaven (2 Timothy 4:8) Why, because of his good works on behalf of the Church? NO! Given bestowed by God and based on the alien righteousness of Christ that Paul trusted in.

 The Revelation of Jesus Christ reveals a marvelous truth regarding our “crowns” or rewards if you will:

 The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (6) Revelation 4:10-11

 In heaven before the throne of the Lamb of God these elders representing the completed Church cast their crowns on the ground before their Christ. Why? I believe it is because they fully realize in heaven that anything they did for Christ on earth was due to His power working with and through them. Seeing that their deeds were wrought in and by God (John 3:21) cast their crowns down rightly at His feet thus acknowledging that the glory was all Jesus’ from start to finish. This seems to be the response of the servant to His master in the following text:

 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (7)

 Since we are not saved by our works, nor are we kept saved by our works (1 Peter 1:5) and no, our works do not earn us a better mansion in heaven (John 14:3) what place do they have in our spiritual life as followers of the Lamb?

The best way to approach this issue I believe is to exchange the word “work” for the term “fruit.” Our Lord speaks often about fruitfulness in the life of His disciples:

 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (8) John 15:4-5

 Fruitfulness is the natural outcome of being engrafted (see Romans 11:15-25) into Christ at conversion. As we abide in Christ Jesus [how that is done is the topic for another article] we will bring forth much fruit. Note: however the caveat given by Christ “without Me you can do nothing.” The fruit of eternal value and significance is that which is borne by Christ through us to others.

 “Others” is exactly whom we are producing good fruit for as an extension of God’s love and care for all creation. Jesus summed it up for all eternity when He responds:

 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (9) Matthew 22:37-40

 God does not need your love, compassion, help or anything else because He lacks nothing. He does desire to use us to bless others. He calls us to be a city set on a hill, a bright beacon of hope to a world wandering in abject darkness (Matthew 5:14). We are called to shine as light amidst a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15).

 As we mature in Christ our spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23) blossoms and our good deeds are cast abroad as we live out our daily lives surrounded by people with various needs. God does not need our peace, patience, longsuffering, etc. Our neighbor does, the brother or sister next to us in the pew does, the orphan and widow does (James 1:27) The fruit produced may not even seem that earthshaking to us; “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:24).

 In closing this meditation, consider the response of the following disciples:

 Then they also will answer saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. (11) Matthew 25:44-45

 In this scene we see the judgment of the sheep and the goats. Note that the sheep were unconscious of their good deeds done towards others, but ultimately accepted by Christ as done unto Him! “Unconscious” in that they simply lived Christ-centered Word-focused lives walking in the good works the Father had prepared for them to walk in (Ephesians 2:10)

 What is the “work” that we must do, from which all other acceptable works flow? Jesus Himself tells us in John 6:29 “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ ” Our “job” is to believe in Jesus Christ, whom the Father has sent. . .yet in demonstration of His great mercy the Father Himself gives us the faith to believe in His Son (Ephesians 2:8). Christ’s sacrifice for us was totally sufficient for our salvation. His work cannot be added to nor detracted from by our actions or inactions. All that we can do is to humbly bow at His pierced feet and receive His completed work and then in great joy go out and serve others for His glory.

 “Anything that God could ever want form you now or forever is there in the sufficiency of the work that Christ has already done for you. God will never demand anything more from you and for that matter you don’t have anything He needs. But Christ has been privileged to give you the opportunity to do something that is significant in life and that is to be instrument’s through which God distributes His blessings to others here in this world.” Dr. Hine, LCMS pastor on Issues Etc. speaking about The Reformation and Vocation, October 2011

 Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009) Romans 3:19

 2. It grates me now when I hear other non-evangelical groups being called “evangelical” Christians, but then I hate the fact that “charismatic” has come to refer to a specific type of Christian, whereas biblically ALL Christians have been gifted by the Holy Spirit and thus we ALL are “charismatic” Christians, geesh! Lastly, Luther DID NOT want anything named after him. So naturally, when he died folks disobeyed their leader and put his name on it, something he would not approve of. The best name for we who are as Lutherans would have been and really is “Evangelical Catholics.”

 3. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009 Mt. 20:8-16

 4. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009 Ro. 4:5-6 Bold type added for emphasis.

 5. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009 Eph 2:7-10

 6. The Holy Bible English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard bible Society, 2001) Re 4:1–11

 7. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009 Lk 17:9-10

 8. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009 Jn 15:4-5

 9. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA Logos Research Systems Inc, 2009 Mt. 22:37-40

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The Three Ingredients to Move the Hand of God Prayer, Fasting and Worship

2 11 2011

The Three Ingredients to Move the Hand of God

Prayer, Fasting and Worship

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 In this final article on the International House of Prayer (IHOP) phenomena we will consider the three spiritual ingredients that when utilized properly will bring about global change in the Church and also in the world system (“cosmos”).

 Harp & Bowl Intercessory Prayer

Now when He has taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev. 5:8

 The harps here represent music and worship, while the bowls represent intercessory prayers. In the Harp and Bowl model there is a combination of intercessory prayer with worship and music, reflecting the scene before God’s very throne in Heaven itself. “On earth as it is in heaven” is a goal of Harp and Bowl prayer.  Spirit-led music is constantly playing as people pray. There is a flowing together between the worship leader, instrumentalists, vocalists, prayer leaders, and intercessors in antiphonal prayer and praise. Not only does intercessory prayer have a powerful effect on a community, but so does the praise and worship of God. The Kingdom is brought down to earth as God’s people worship Him in a community, and a form of spiritual warfare takes place in praise. (1)

 What you’ve never heard of Harp & Bowl ministry? If you search that phrase on the internet you will discover that Google brings up over two million six hundred thousand results (2,600,000+ ) which means that this concept of worship has gone viral in net-speak. Tens of thousands of professing Christians have bought into the above interpretation of Revelation chapter five. This interpretation is naturally buttressed with other proof-texts to paint a picture of 24/7 prayer and worship services.

 In the past three articles we’ve demonstrated that the very foundational concept of IHOP is unbiblical. The text in Acts 15:16 is not a doctrinal statement commanding the Church to “rebuild” the tabernacle of David and go backwards to his form of worship. (2) Sazyc (a former good friend of the author) draws doctrinal support for this novel form of enthusiasm from the Book of the Revelation, another book that is not a source of doctrine for the Church, being it is apocalyptic literature. Our brother Sazyc cites the line in our Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done on earth” as support for these never ending prayer meetings. If he is correct then it must be that the wheel of divine response grind at an exceedingly slow pace. For two thousand years God’s people have prayed the prayer our Lord gave to His Church and until the last twenty years (give or take) there has never been 24/7 prayer as a component of the Church’s life. The scene in Revelation chapter five is not a pattern for church prayer services but it does give us some insight into heavenly worship. We do see that singing, prostrating ourselves, incense and musical instruments are part of heavenly worship and thus have a place in our worship on earth. (3) Joe (Sazyc’s first name) goes onto to explain the close relationship between music and prophetic ministry (prophetic prayer (4) ):

 Music is also closely connected with prophetic ministry. Spirit-led and prophetic-edged prayer is a goal of the Harp and Bowl model. King David set up this kind of praise as a constant offering before the Lord in the Temple. (5)

 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah and Asarelah. The sons of Asaph were under the supervision of Asaph, who prophesied under the king’s supervision. As for Jeduthun, from his sons: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six in all, under the supervision of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied, using the harp in thanking and praising the Lord. As for Herman, from his sons: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shubael and Jerimoth; Hannaniah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti and Romamti-Ezer; Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir and Mahazioth. All these were sons of Heman the king’s seer. They were given him through the promises of God to exalt him. God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. Along with their relatives–all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord–they numbered 288. 1 Chronicles 25:1-7

First of all these were not God ordained prophets. (6) David with his close commanders set apart some of the sons for “the ministry of prophesying.” Some can argue that David was being led by the Holy Spirit in the choices made. The Scripture is silent regarding any divine direction in the appointment of these men by David and I think it is important that we make a distinction between these musicians and that of the named biblical prophets. God called His prophets and in this case David calls men into the ministry of prophesying.

 I labor this point because the charismatic teachers have twisted this text and declare that it means that these men prophesied either as they played their music or while music was being played. The enthusiasts teach that these people were prophets in the order of a Daniel or Zachariah. There is nothing regarding this family of singers written of any of their prophetic utterances, i.e. there is no “Book of Asaph” or “First Herman.” How are we to understand the ministry of prophesying if they were not being oracular in their playing?

 The Teacher’s Bible Commentary says the following:

 In verse 1 prophesying with musical instruments is mentioned. Many of the Old Testament prophecies are preserved in poetic form. By the same token, some of the poetry (Psalms) in prophetic in nature. Music played an important part in the Hebrews’ worship of God. This can be seen by the different instruments which were used in worship. (7)

 It seems because these men did not receive any sort of supernatural “call” into the office of the prophet that their role was to give voice to what had already been prophesied and recorded in the divine scroll. Naturally their ministry would include the Psalms that King David wrote and was possibly composing at that time; many of these Psalms are unarguably prophetic in content. Ergo to sing these divinely penned words is to prophesy in a sense. The text itself goes on to validate what I have written because in vs. 8 of that same text we read that these men prophesied under the direction of Asaph who prophesied under the direction of the king.

 Obviously God was not directing them. The source seems to have been the King, David, who did receive revelation from the Lord, penned the psalm(s) and he directed Asaph (possibly they went over the music together) and then Asaph went and directed the musicians who then proclaimed prophetically if you will, to those in attendance. There is nothing deep or mystical about this at all when you consider it in its context. There is no hermeneutical justification to call these Levites “prophets” in the accepted understanding of the word.

 This is probably going to shock you (and Brother Joe) but there is no mention of anyone in heaven praying for us on earth. (8) The bowl contains the prayers of the saints on earth which ascend as incense before the throne of grace. Grandma and Papoo are not praying for you in heaven, nor is Mary or Joseph. (9) Prayer requires faith; faith is based on what is not seen (see Hebrews 11:1) but promised by God. In heaven when people are standing in the unveiled glory of the Ancient of Days no faith per se will be required so no prayers will be offered by the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:23). Sorry, if this offends anyone’s pietistic sentiments about the “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews (Hebrews 12:1). But nothing is said about them praying for us nor we to them. Oh yes we do see glorious worship in heaven, but worship is not prayer. No one is seen petitioning the throne for those left on earth, apart from our Lord Jesus Christ, our great Intercessor and High Priest (Hebrews 7:25). Prayer is designed for those who are living, not the glorified. Prayer and its attending answers are needed on this earth not in heaven.

Prayer is not a means by which we can manipulate God and get Him to do whatever we want or think is right. One of the principles of charismatic extremist prayer is based on a twisting of the following verse:

Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, And concerning the work of my hands command ye me. (10) Isaiah 45:11

Extremists believe this text gives them a Divine “fiat” by which they can literally “command” Almighty God concerning the work of His hands, i.e. all of created reality. The Hebrew word for “command” means to cry aloud and does not refer to people commanding God to do anything. All the attempts at playing God, or telling God what to do have always ended badly for those who would usurp God’s sovereign authority. Yet this is what Bickle seems to be involved in with this IHOP experiment.

Bickle teaches that Jesus’ second coming can be delayed or sped up according to the degree of the church’s spiritual maturity and readiness. He declared that most Christians are waiting passively for Jesus to return, when in actuality, Jesus is waiting for the church to prepare itself as the pure Bride of Christ and to ready itself to launch the last-day divine war to drive evil from the earth and cleanse it so that it can be filled with God’s love and glory. Bickle does not simply preach that the church will go through the Great Tribulation sealed by God’s sovereign power, but that the end-times church will actually cause God’s judgments to be released on the earth through prophetic prayer. In other words, the end-time praying church will not simply be helpless martyrs during the Great Tribulation; it will victoriously establish justice on the earth by releasing the devastating Great Tribulation judgments on the Antichrist’s global evil empire. (12)

The above statement is a succinct explanation of charismatic extremist eschatological thought. Bickle and the so-called Apostolic/Prophetic movement are “dominionists.” There is nothing new in what Bickle is proclaiming; this victorious and overcoming Church view prior to the return of Christ Jesus has plagued the church for a long time. Originally this view of world history got its real start in America among hardline Calvinists. (13) In 1973 Rousas John Rushdoony wrote a long book on the Ten Commandments and started a movement called “ Christian reconstructionism. “ Rushdoony’s son-in-law, Gary North also has written a lot about this novel idea of needing to Christianize the world by enforcing the O.T. legal code to cover every area of all people’s lives.

What started off as a staunchly Calvinistic theocratic approach to enforcing the Law of God throughout the world has morphed into today’s Apostles/Prophets movement. Their goal is the same — to Christianize the world and then after fully dominating every sphere of culture (government, social morality, the arts, education, and religion) the overcomers will hand it to the returning Christ as a gift.

In the minds of the enthusiasts they probably think that Rushdoony had the right idea, but lacked the “power” and authority that can only come through the restored Apostles & Prophets — this missing power and authority naturally resides within the rank ranks of them claiming The Spirit.

To Bickle Jesus is sitting and waiting for the church to mature and get herself ready to be used as God’s instrument to effect global transformation. It is up to us to decide when Jesus returns. We can either speed up His return or we can hinder it (see Acts 3:18). Obviously, the Church has been hindering His return over those last two thousand years so now we need to hasten His return.

According to Bickle Jesus is waiting for the Church, who like a Bride must get busy and prepare herself for her Bridegroom. What exactly is Jesus waiting for? He is waiting for the Church to prepare herself, i.e. come into spiritual maturity (become a manifested son). To what end? So that the Church, composed of super-anointed end-time saints will “…launch the last-day divine war to drive evil from the earth and cleanse it so that it can be filled with God’s love and glory.” (14)   The role of the church is to be the instrument that will by engaging in spiritual warfare (divine war) drive evil from the earth and cleanse it. Why? So that it can then be filled with God’s love and glory. Does this mean that he will be driving all the evil out of people too? If words mean anything, then this is what he means. Satan is the Tempter (1 Thess 3:5) but humanity at its core is evil (Luke 11:39) and in order to get rid of evil you have to get rid of the all sinful people as well as Satan and his demons.

This last phase of divine war was entered into when IHOP got going. Bickle teaches we will release God’s end-time judgments (written about in The Revelation) because of the power of prophetic prayer. Bickle has never been one to let context get in his way. It does not matter that the context of Rev. 8 plainly states that it is anangel that God uses to release His judgments (Rev. 8:1-5) not some army of super-saints.

It all boils down to human works.   Bickle and his followers are trying as hard as they can to work the various so-called spiritual laws and principles they have attached to prayer, fasting and worship. Concerning spiritual law let me just say this — it is the belief that God Himself operates by universal laws He Himself created. The Bible is somewhat of a code book that when properly understood reveals various universal laws which will work for anyone when they are applied. There are laws that govern financial prosperity, physical healing, fasting, prayer, etc. Visit any “Christian” bookstore and simply look at the titles in their charismatic section, which is probably the largest section in the store, and you will see how many focus on these “laws.”

I hope you noted who does the work in Bickle’s scheme of thinking. We do the work, poor Jesus is just sitting on the right hand of His Father (Hebrews 8:1) in the throne room of heaven waiting for us to grow up and act right. Since Bickle and his entire ilk believe that the Church is either hastening or delaying the return of Christ then they must believe that Jesus lied when He stated:

But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (15) Mark 13:32

There is a fixed time when Christ Jesus will return. Jesus came on an appointed hour (Galatians 4:4) and He will return on the exact moment set for Him to do so by the Father. Bickle seems to think we are in control and that if enough of us will get in line and follow his directions and get working. . . Then Jesus can come back quicker. One of those necessary works to bring Christ back is the principle of fasting.

One of the laws that activates prayer to a higher realm is fasting. Adding the fasting aspect to prayer kicks prayer up a bunch of notches on the esoteric “fervency” scale in God’s eyes, right?   Taking time out to pray is one thing, but when you don’t eat too, WOW that really impresses God (not)! Now combine these two practices with hundreds of hungry people all gathered together crying out at full volume in ecstatic speech at the same time. Surely that must get heaven’s attention.

Like prayer fasting is a completely biblical practice and is something that should be practiced by all of God’s children. Jesus told His disciples “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16) not “if you fast.” I believe Jesus expects His disciples to fast in accordance with His Word. Five times in the Book of Acts fasting is mentioned, twice prayer and fasting are mentioned together. Fine and dandy. Without belaboring the point suffice it to say that if one fasts with the goal of obtaining spiritual power (aka “anointing”) or to help elevate himself into a mystical realm then the devil is close at hand to grant pseudo-power and a plethora of quasi mystical experiences. Fasting does not impress God. It is a method He has given us for our benefit in helping us focus on Him and to help set our minds on things above. It is a discipline of the flesh and as such it has its proper place in our spiritual lives.

Fasting when abused can lead people into great deception.   DMI has extensively covered the heretical writings of Mrs. Mary K. Baxter. After prolonged fasting she alleged Jesus took her on a personal 40 day tour of hell in her globally best-selling book “The Divine Revelation of Hell.” Baxter writes in the beginning of her book (a novel really) that she was praying in tongues and fasting when her version of Jesus appeared to her and transported her to the mystical realms of the damned. A.A. Allen regaled crowds in the Latter Rain revival of post WWII with how he shut himself away in a closet and refused to come out until God came and revealed to him what he, Allen, had to do to work miracles. After many days without food and water, God came down and revealed to Allen 12 things, 11 of which he shared but the twelfth secret he never shared. (16)

Around 1916 Howard Carter alleges to have fasted in prison while the Lord personally revealed to him all the nine sign gifts of the Spirit and how they operated and he also humbly received all 9 himself. Throughout history both within and without Christianity there are reports of people fasting and praying for protracted periods and the experiences they had. A camel herder named Mohammad went into a cave to fast and pray — he saw an “angel” and look at the fruit of his long prayers and fast today, modern Islam. A rich kid in India named Siddartha decided to fast and meditate under a Bodhi tree. After many days of fasting, Siddartha vanished and lord Buddha was brought forth with his Eight-fold Path. Consider all the misery caused by the false religions of Islam and Buddhism, both of which were birthed out of prayer and fasting. What is my point?  Simply this, going on long fasts can open people up to demonic influences. This is especially true when the long fasts are combined with the mind-numbing effect of praying in ecstatic speech.

The synergistic effect of both on body and mind can be profound. There are two specific dangers facing the extremists: (1) such practices have and can lead to direct demonic influence in the participants lives, and (2) such practices place the participants in a compliant semi-hypnotic state where they are susceptible to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous SINisters.

If while enacting the above a large hungry very vocal semi-hypnotized party of prayer warriors do not seem to be breaking through the brassy heavens then they need to add the third ingredient of an IHOP prayer meeting. . . {drum roll please} the ministers of music! (17) Prayer and fasting, while two necessary ingredients simply don’t mean a thing without that swing that the prophetic saophone and trumpet players bring. In the enthusiasts congregations and meetings the minister(s) of music has as much, of not more authority than the pastor during the service. NOW heaven must hear them. After all, we’ve got people praying, fasting, clapping, dancing, running around, weeping, laughing, calling down principalities and powers, loosing and binding — all at once. The louder and sweatier one gets the better the meeting is. In most of these type of meetings, and I have participated in many in the past, there is little or no proclamation of the Gospel, in fact I’ve heard it said many times that the Holy Spirit was moving so powerfully there was no need for preaching!

Music has a very powerful role in any so-called revival meeting. The power of music on people’s emotions and behavior is thoroughly documented.

Change in consciousness can be triggered when the brain is overloaded by an excess of sensory input. A simple method of overloading the brain’s ability to follow melodic patterns is through polyphony, the use of multiple independent melodies. The average person can consciously attend to one or two melodies at a time, but not to, say, four simultaneous melodies, as in the counterpoint of J.S. Bach. (18)

Throughout history, traditional and modern cultures have sought to generate trance-like states using music with short, repeated phrases and a hypnotic beat, so that time seems to slow down or stop.

The incremental repetition of brief, non-developing phrases, with or without intelligible words, generates and at the same time is generated by an unremitting [sic] beat. The continuity of the beat destroys the sense of temporal progression, so that one lives once more in mythological, rather than in chronological, Time [Mellers, p. 29.]

Repetitive, hypnotic sounds can induce trance-like states y focusing the brain’s attention n a minimal set of sensory inputs: Music has become such a commonplace that its effects may pass unnoticed, but when recordings of African or other unfamiliar music is listened to, it is realized that the rhythms are “fascinating.” The repetition of phrase and motif, the complicated rhythm within a rhythm that is characteristic of much of this music, may explain why man throughout recorded history and in the multiplicity of modern cultures has used music, both instrumental and vocal, for inducing the trance. When these phenomena are subjected to experimental study, some forms of music will be found to be much more hypnogenetic than others, and some persons will be more susceptible than others. For example, Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ can hardly fail to induce definit trances in some listeners. Ancient man knew of the trance-inducing qualities of music and used it for this purpose. The Druids, at the beginning of the Christian Era, were versatile in their use of hypnosis and music was one of their chief ways of inducing “magical sleep.” [Williams, p. 6] (19)

The role of music and musicians has been given prominence because of David’s use of both in his worship. In any enthusiasts gathering the music and the songs sung create the spiritual atmosphere (20)  in which God literally inhabits and thus He is enabled to flow through His yielded vessels the restored apostles and prophets working signs and wonders in their midst.

What I’m going to write now I ask that you take my word for it being true. Space simply does not permit me to verify what I am sharing, which no one else either knows about or is fearful of sharing. Before his death in 1990 Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was using his disciples in his large gatherings for a specific purpose. Through his use of music, mind-numbing chanting, physical animations (jumping, jerking about, etc) he was attempting to create in his words “the Buddha field” through releasing the psychic energy residing within his disciples. Rajneesh was a real Nosferatu, vampire, but on the psychic level, he literally fed off the energy of his followers and probably was as close to being totally demon possessed as one can be.

IHOP’s meetings are in essence little different from the Bhagwan’s experiments. (21) Bhagwan was seeking god-like miracle working power and so were his followers. Bickle and his people are seeking power. Everything they do is about the “anointing” or alleged spiritual power. Prayer is about power, fasting is to increase power, music creates the zone where one can tap into God’s power. After all it is going to take massive amounts of spiritual power to cleanse the world from all evil. (Just something to ponder when considering God’s power — when was God most powerful?  When He died on the cross for our sins, think about this power in relation to the sign-gift view of power).

Bickle knows full well that the type of experiences occurring in their meetings cannot take place without all of the ingredients we’ve been looking at for the last several months. Music plays such a vital role in manipulating human emotions and a skillful musician can turn a crowd into psychic putty to be shaped as they please. Combine this fact with a group of hungry folks loudly engaged in song, in ecstatic speech, physical animations and loud repetitive music and you have created a platform for mind control.

In this charged atmosphere people routinely report finding precious gem stones, people covered in gold dust and even angel feathers after intense sessions of so-called worship. (22)   There are many videos on YouTube given by obviously “blissed out” sign-gift robots that you can view demonstrating the susceptibility to deception by those who’ve checked their minds at the door. The fact is that to charismatic believers there is a clear distinction between spirit, soul and body. So much so that they favor turning down or off their minds so as to feed their spirits, albeit they do this unconsciously via prayer, fasting, worship but the subtle underpinning philosophy beind these practices has been sown by their deceitful teachers.

With a little practice one learns how to enter into this altered state quite easily, the zenith of perfection being able to walk in and out of the “spirit” at will. Prior to the 24/7 experiment our former congregation in Detroit, Jubilee Christian Church under the false apostle Ellis Smith, were leaders regarding worship warfare due to our highly skilled musicians. The praise and worship portion of our services were over an hour. We’d start off “hot” with praise songs (animated songs that were suited to dancing) than after a long while (get good and sweaty) then the lights would dim and the music would shift th worship songs (slow songs, equally repetitive as the fast ones) often giving way to instrumental music following by singing in tongues by the congregation. . . . Then after a long while the lights would go up and the apostle/prophet/pastor/flavor of the moment was standing behind the Lucite podium ready to spoon feed our neutralized minds present day truths and whatever the vision (marching orders) of our anointed leader(s) were.  (23)

At Jubilee and throughout charismania we had “warfare” praise songs; songs that when sung literally were an engagement in fighting the principalities, powers and dominions. What scriptural basis did we have? Here goes:

Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD! (24)  Psalm 149:6-9

Enthusiasts interpret this text to mean: “as we praise God fervently we are executing vengeance on the forces of spiritual darkness that enslave the nations. We bind prince demons and execute the judgment written about them in Jesus name. Praise the Lord!”

Set aside the context and think back to Bickle’s concept of ridding the world of evil. This is part of how it is going to be done through the high prophetic prayer/praises of God’s overcoming remnant of prayer warriors who manifested into sons and joined Joel’s Army.

Make no mistake about it; thee folks are serious in their efforts. It is obvious, when you can actually get people to PAY YOU to come pray at their center. They are working so very hard, just like hamsters on the wheel in their cage. Happily running as fast and as hard as they can, but getting nowhere fast all the while thinking they have made great strides spiritually.

Probably the saddest part of Bickle’s experiment is the deception that these people have willingly submitted themselves to. They have been skillfully manipulated by some very crafty people into thinking they are encountering the Living God when in reality they are far from Him. The degree of brain washing is extremely disturbing to observe. What do you make of people who refuse to believe that the “gold dust” found in the meeting is really nothing but plastic mirco flake when you show them the truth? Sai Baba, one of India’s premier perverted power gurus used to materialize gold dust, ask, gems, Rolex watches out of seemingly thin air. How hard is it to scatter some mini-semi-precious gem stones around the floor while everyone’s eyes are closed? What about the total lack of any contextual biblical support for Bickle’s activities and teachings? Bickle says the “manifest sons” will cleanse the whole world of evil prior to and without Jesus Christ’s direct personal involvement? Come on, what thinking Christian could believe such things? I know who, a person who has been brainwashed. Doubt me? Simply find someone who buys into this belief system and ask them some simple questions. How about this one — “since IHOP has been praying 24/7 for over 10 years now what results have you seen?”

I’d love to confront Bickle and ask him to cite the fruit from his experiment thus far. Is the world any closer to Christ? Is there any less evil, more glory and love? No in questioning these folks they will respond in anger and accusation. You will feel what Paul felt when he exclaimed — “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 6:4) Some of these folks seem to be embodying the dire condition related in the following passages of text:

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall detroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (25)  (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12)

It is very sobering to me when I present the truth of God’s Word to someone who professes to be a Christian and yet they vehemently denies God’s truth and embraces obvious fallacy. I’m not speaking about some esoteric obscure doctrinal position that the Church has never agreed upon, no I am referring to simple basic foundational truths which must be believed in order to be a Christian. (26) When someone denies these central truths and debates them with me versus humbly bowing their fallen minds to the authority of God’s Word then I do doubt their salvation and would at that point steer the conversation towards Christ Jesus and His redemptive work. Jesus said “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (27) (John 8:27).  Paul said “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (28) (1 Cor. 2:14-16)

The only thing that will be spiritually accomplished by Bickle and his IHOP experiment will be the numbers of spiritually abused, broken and disheartened people, many of whom will be (and possibly already are) scanning the sunny horizon for the next move of the Spirit. Well, that and the millions of dollars gathered by Bickle through IHOP participants, music sales, books, and conferences. In effect the devil has sidetracked thousands of people, getting them involved in seemingly spiritual activity and siphoned off millions of dollars that could have been used for legitimate Christian work.

Like all of the prior enthusiastically inspired visions of power and glory (read in: “I will be like the Most High”) IHOP will dwindle down and fizzle out and trust me all the SINisters in the movement will have left long before the lights are turned out. May God have mercy on their souls and may He continue to send witnesses across their paths proclaiming God’s Word with boldness, accuracy and love.

Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Written by Rev. Joe Sazyc located at http://www.nextga.us/impact/harpbowl/ on 9/28/11 Underlining added for emphasis.

2. As I have previously written concerning the Eternality of the Divine Liturgy, the Church does bring forward some of the O.T. worship practices but at no time are we to come back under the yoke of the Old Covenant and its laws.

3. I am not contradicting myself my saying this about this text; in that incense, musical instruments, prostrations before the Lord are all found in numerous other texts and when viewed in their context it becomes evident that they are bone fide worship activities. I am not forming doctrine from the book of the Rev.

4. Prophetic Prayer: Allegedly prayer that is led by the Holy Spirit, predictive in nature, very declarative “thus saith the Lord I will bring great joy….” This is another invention by our sign-gift enthusiasts. The Bible does not denote any specific type or form of prayer as prophetic per se.

5. Obtained from http://www.nextga.us/impact/harpbowl/ .

6. Let me cover myself and quick — God is sovereign, everything that exists is under His direct and complete control nothing happens apart from His divine permission so in that sense these men were ordained by God to fill these roles. The distinction I make is between the divine calls on the biblical prophets by name — versus 288 men chosen by David and his cronies to fill this role.

7. Franklin H. Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary: A Concise, Though Interpretation of the Entire Bible Designed Especially for Sunday School Teachers (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 228-229

8. Notwithstanding our Lord Jesus Christ, who ever lives to make intercession on our behalf (see Hebrews 7:25)

9. Just a word of friendly advice, not only are they not praying for us, but I hope you do know that you are not to pray for them either, they are not listening to you.

10. The Holy bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Is 45:11.

11. In an earlier article in the series I denoted several historic examples of charismatic extremists “experiments.” The 24/7 prayer model is another such experiment, it will remain in effect as long as the money flows into it. Keep in mind that those on “staff” actually pay for the privilege of being spiritually abused & used.

12. Obtained from http://journal.equip.org/articles/forerunner-eschatology .

13. History records what Calvin attempted in Geneva, it didn’t work then and won’t work now. However, let me add that I have GREAT respect for Calvin, anyone who at age 21 wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion is not a lightweight. As an Evangelical Lutheran, I can appreciate some of his thoughts, but not all f them.

14. Obtained from http://journal.equip.org/articles/forerunner-eschatology . Italic added for emphasis by this author.

15. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk. 13:32.

16. A.A. Allen died of an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol. Prior to his death in CA he was arrested in TN, for DUI. His co-SINisters bailed Allen out and they fled the state never to return. His cohorts were R.W. Schambach and Don Stewart, both televangelists today, both fed from Allen’s addiction and did nothing to help him.

17. It drives my fellow Lutheran pastors crazy when they keep learning of new “ministries” apart from that of the pastoral office. Charismatic sign-gift folks have ministries for everything and everyone, regardless if it has ever been a part of the Church at any time in 2,000 years.

18. http://www.sfxmachine.com/docs/musicandconsciousness.html Underlining and bold typed added.

19. Ibid.

20. “Spiritual” is what the sign-gift folks call it, the atmosphere is a result of a form of mass hypnosis and susceptibility.

21. He was kicked out of India and other countries due to the unsavory sexual escapades he and his followers involved themselves in plus the several strange deaths, suicides and commitments to mental institutions of those unable to keep up caused him to be persona non grata.

22. DMI has the only books in publication that deal with the gold dust phenomena and supernatural gold teeth, etc….contact our office if you are interested in : Does the bible Support A Doctrine of Gold Teeth?

23. Worship to most of same Christendom refers to the entirety of the service. Sign-gift folks delineate music as either being praise or worship. Both genres of music create specific responses and crafty leaders know which buttons to push. Sorry if it seems I am beating this point to death — but it really is a very hideous form of spiritual abuse.

24. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard bible Society, 2001), Ps. 149:6-9.

25. The Holy bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), 2 Th. 2: 6-12. Underlining and bold type added

26. Want to know what “must” be believed? Read The Athanasian Creed, it makes a beautiful chant as well.

***





Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival

15 12 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2010 – Vol. 15  Issue 12 – Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival

Rev. Bob Liichow

This time the location has changed from Pensacola & Toronto to the gulf coast of Mobile Alabama.

The reason DMI has not jumped immediately onto the bandwagon of wall watchers on this one is because it is so lame. The men who were evicted from their pulpits are involved in this latest display of carnality and works righteousness. Please keep in mind that both Kilpatrick (Pensacola) and Arnott (Toronto) both lost their pulpits when the hoopla died down. Needless to say all the “leaders” of these former movements of excess became very wealthy due to the largess of the attendees. Both men and their accompanying music leaders took their show on the road and after a few months of traveling tapped an un-mined vein of potential dupes and a rag-tag assortment of charismaniacs in seek of the next cosmic fix in Mobile, AL

Please go back to our Blog at http://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com    re-read all that DMI has researched and written about revival and simply insert Mobile in place of Pensacola or Toronto and you will have the same cast of shady characters running the show (or their disciples).

I have nothing positive to say about this latest example of spiritual debauchery and no new insights as to why people continue to love to be deceived even when the deceivers have been proven to be liars and frauds. Even after all the behind-the-scenes revelations from both Pensacola and Toronto, books, newsletters, Youtube accounts (see videos below), people still choose their experience over and above God’s Word.

I am concerned for people when God graciously presents them with His truth and they reject It in favor of their own experiences which they use to validate their incorrect biblical understanding and practices. Such people are in a very precarious spiritual situation and are in need of our intercession. There are two passages of text which ought to give every sentient being pause to think regarding the rejection of God’s mercy when it is offered:

Because I have called and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, And would none of my reproof I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, And your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; When distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; They shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: They despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, And be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, And the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs 1: 24-32

Every blow of Noah’s hammer was a warning of impending judgment. Yet all the people laughed at Noah and rejected his message. For a little over 100 years God granted the people a “space of grace” to repent, but they would not and then “Jehovah shut him in” (Gen. 7:16) and they were all destroyed.

The time comes when God allows man to have his own way which always ends up in destruction and death (Pro. 14:12). For over fifteen years Apologetic Ministries including DMI have been crying out to the Body of Christ as watchmen on the wall—-

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore hear the word at My mouth and give them warning(Eze. 3:17)

Nothing good is headed towards the lives of these SINisters unless they repent of their sins. They have been confronted many times and shown the error of their ways and they have (1) refused correction, (2) would not accept reproof and (3) have spurned the open hand of God, i.e. that which He freely offers us through the Gospel. As always, God is the aggressor in the relationship and He has thus far been treated as a spurned lover! Because they have rejected God’s bounty in the Gospel He will give them over to their own ways. Never forget what the Apostle Paul warns of in his letter to the Church at Rome:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who know the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Rom. 1:1-28-32

Those who reject the goodness of God are left only to experience His wrath in this life and the ageless eternity to come. I highlighted in green just a few of the common traits found among our current crop of televangelists. For the record I consider the various gimmicks, points-of-contact, etc. as “evil things” having been invented by covetous people. Don’t be swayed by their “god-talk” even a parrot can be trained to say “Jesus is Lord” and a chimp can sign those words too, big deal!

The next text that concerns me greatly when it comes to the Copeland’s, Hinn’s, Dollar, Crouch’s, et.al. is the following:

Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power? And then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness. Matthew 7:22

The saddest words ever uttered and heard are “I never knew you.” The Greek word for “never” is best translated as having never known you at any point in time. (1) On that day Jesus will look people in the eye, people who called Him “Lord,” folks who prophesied in His name (falsely), who through the name of Jesus even cast out evil spirits and did some sort of powerful works. Jesus’ response? I NEVER knew you at all, you NEVER at any time belonged to Me. This is not what they are expecting to hear, after all, they offer up to the Lord their bona fides by stating their good works done in His name. All of which avails them nothing, but the wrath of a Jealous God. The context of our Lord’s statement is clear, He goes on to speak about the one who is approved by God and that one is the person who receives (hears) and does (acts) the Word of God humbly acknowledging that “father knows best.”

I fear with godly fear for Mr. Kilpatrick, Steve Hill, and all the others who go about proclaiming “revival” and great “moves” of the Holy Spirit when in reality there is no revival nor anything moving but sweaty stinky excited flesh.

I urge that this Advent season (historically it is a Penitential Season) you take time to pray for those involved in all forms of biblical error that our Lord may yet be gracious still towards them and grant them repentance. ¨

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

** See John Kilpatrick, Lindell Cooley and Nathan Morris promote this latest ‘Revival’

 

Fire falls on Young People at Revival: 

A  warning for believers about the latest Revivalto Test the Spirit 1 John 4:1

End Notes

1. 3763 oo-dep’-ot-eh; from 3761 and 4218; not even at any time, i.e. never at all; —neither at any time, never, nothing at any time.





Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

1 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 6 – Harp & Bowl Ministry – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

(AKA the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Before being delivered from the doctrinal morass of today’s charismatic movement Tracy and I began to see some of the fledgling steps being made towards what is called today “Harp and Bowl” ministry. What we originally heard being bandied about by various leaders in the “prophetic” movement was the belief in the need to restore the Tabernacle of David in order to facilitate revival and even the return of Christ.

The Tabernacle of David

Non-charismatic, i.e. low-wattage Christians (such a yourselves) no doubt have less than no understanding of what the Tabernacle of David consists of. You probably are more familiar with the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon or the Temple King Herod built. Allow me to enlighten you regarding this interesting, yet often overlooked facet of Biblical history.

About 1,000 B.C. King David commanded that the Ark of the Covenant be brought up to Mount Zion in the midst of Jerusalem. It was carried up upon the shoulders of the Levites with songs and musical instruments. David placed the Ark inside of a tent and appointed 288 singers and 4,000 musicians to minister before the Lord and make petition to the Lord “day and night,” which means 24/7 praise, prayer and worship (see 1 Chron. 15:1-17-27). This was something new and unique in the worship history of Israel. In today’s parlance one could say King David “went contemporary” as opposed to the format used by Moses.

Once Solomon came on the scene and built the temple and the actual Tabernacle of David was superseded by a permanent structure the order of Davidic worship did not change (see 2 Chron. 8:14-15). In fact, the Bible makes known that five (5) subsequent kings who came after David and reintroduced his Davidic worship format experienced breakthrough, deliverance and military victories.

1) King Solomon (2 Chron. 8:14,15), we al know how greatly blessed by God Solomon was.

2) King Jehoshaphat set up singers according to the Davidic order singing the Great Hallel and he reinstated Davidic worship in the temple (2 Chron. 20:20,22,28).

3) king Joash reinstated it too (2 Chron. 23: 1-24,27).

4) King Hezekiah followed suit (2 Chron. 29:1-36, 30:21)

5) King Josiah also was a Davidic worshipper (2 Chron. 35:1-27)

6) Ezra, not a “king” but a very influential prophetic voice (Ezra 3:10).

7) Nehemiah, another prophet (Neh. 12:28-47)

Being the discerning person you have learned to become you immediately say “very interesting Bob, but what does this have to do with the Church?” Thank you for asking, because the Tabernacle of David (TOD) does appear in the New Testament. In order to understand the N.T. reference we need first to read the prophet Amos words concerning the TOD:

In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent (tabernacle). I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. Amos 9:11-13  (underlining added).

Obviously from the text God is going to restore the TOD and He is going to build it as it used to be. Attached to this restoration is an ingathering of the nations and great prosperity (occasioned by new wine) for God’s people. If God is going to restore the TOD, when is that going to occur? According to our sign-gift brethren it was initially fulfilled in the Book of Acts when the Apostle James stood up in the midst and uttered the following words:

When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The word of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “after this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things;’ that have been known for ages. Acts 15:13-18   (underlining added)

Before parsing James comments let’s continue with charismaticthink regarding the text. Obviously God is going to restore the TOD and that restoration began with the early Church. They go as far to teach that the TOD format of worship is in fact the model of true New Testament worship. Ergo, it is only logical to assume that the early Church practiced Davidic worship in their gatherings. The Apostle Paul encouraged worshipping with the Psalms (see Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) and we know most of the Psalms were penned by David after he established the TOD. The author of Hebrews tells us to offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:5) and at the TOD no animal sacrifices were made (according to our sign-gift brethren). Leaving the scant Biblical record our brothers’ state that Davidic worship has been a part of the great “revivals” in Church history.

Regarding 24/7 prayer and praise one of the founding neo-prophetic voices, Mike Bickle goes as far as to cite early Church history to prove the validity of establishing 24/7 centers of nothing but praise and worship around the world. Bickle cites many monastic examples of perpetual prayer and praise in various Roman Catholic sects. Bickle fails to mention all of the problems associated with monasticism. His next example is Count Zinzendorf who came to faith through one of the founders of Lutheran pietism, Phillipp Spener. According to Bickle Count Zinzendorf and later the Moravian believers were great champions of 24/7 prayer. He tries to tie John Wesley with Zinzendorf to edge his timeline a little closer to today, however his attempt is in vain. There is no evidence that either Charles or John Wesley ever practiced or endorsed 24/7 prayer as a means of “moving the hand of God.” So from the early 1700’s until around 1973 the practice of “Davidic worship” seems to have been silenced.

Along in the early 70’s comes one of the first Asian charismatic superstars, Paul Cho from South Korea. Due to what has happened to the Church under communism in North Korea Cho knew the value of having small “cell groups” as sort of mini congregations. These would join up with the mother church to worship. [As an aside, if your church has small groups, home groups, cell groups, etc. they all have their origin in Paul Cho’s original teachings, not necessarily a bad thing, just a historical factoid].

Cho also strongly believed that prayer can move God or somehow release God to move in the world. He eventually purchased property on what became known around the world as “Prayer Mountain.” It is a small mountain filled with small cells in which people would go and shut themselves “in with God” for protracted periods of time. It is important to know that Paul Cho is an adherent and teacher of Word of Faith heresies. He attributes his success due to positive confession which is synonymous with prayer to WOF cultists. What success? Cho is the pastor of the largest congregation in the world, his church in Seoul has over 780,000 members.

Mike Bickle was influenced by Cho and being a charismatic extremist felt that he needed to be sure that the fire on the altar (prayer) never goes out. So starting on Sept. 19, 1997 Bickle opened up the International House of Prayer  (IHOP) in Kansas City, Mo. Since that day 24/7 prayer and praise has gone forth. With the epiphany of IHOP now other leaders have jumped on board and we are seeing 24/7 centers of prayer and praise being set up on every continent of the earth (according to Bickle).

Harp and Bowl Prayer

 

This is today’s term and now that Bickle and his restored prophets have had a little over ten years to search out proof-texts to attempt to validate their practice we end up with another “movement” under the ever-expanding charismatic umbrella. The title “harp and bowl” comes from the following text in the book of the Revelation:

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev. 5:8

Isn’t it obvious from this one text that the harp represents musical worship and the bowls represent intercessory prayers, ergo harp and bowl ministry is a combination of intercessory prayer and musical praise/worship to God. Since the church on earth is patterned after the heavenly tabernacle (read Hebrews to see if this is so) then this is really how church is to be conducted on earth!

Not only does intercessory prayer have a powerful effect on a community, but so does the praise and worship of God. The Kingdom is brought down to earth as God’s people worship Him in a community, and a form of spiritual warfare takes place in praise…Music is closely related with prophetic ministry. Spirit-led and prophetic edged prayer is a goal of the Harp and Bowl model.

The above quotation pretty much sums up the theology behind the 24/7 movement. First of all it is based on the belief that prayer causes change to come to communities. Let’s consider this claim, is this really the case? As an example; for over thirty years Cho has had millions of people coming to Prayer Mountain and are things getting better between North & South Korea? Is North Korea closer to being converted to Christianity; are they even open now to the Gospel? The answer is no in every regard. North Korea has become increasingly dangerous to the stability of the region and the world. It is in no way open to evangelism. Evidently the millions of hours of prayer have not changed anything for the better. IHOP has been continually praying for over ten years and now other 24/7 groups have mushroomed around our nation. Is America better off today than it was ten years ago? We have Obama as President, G.M. and Chrysler bankrupt along with many smaller parts companies and car dealers (I know, I live in Detroit and I feel the negative impact daily). Our health car system is in danger of being nationalized like that of England; Social Security is almost bankrupt as well. Is immorality on the decline; is crime, how about homosexuality and abortion? I see no positive changes in any of these areas that can in any way be attributed to charismatic folks yammering away 24/7.

Next these devotees go on to say that praise brings the “Kingdom of God down” and impacts a community. Sorry friends, where the Church is there is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is here now, not in its final and fullest expression but it is a reality now in each of our lives. There is nothing “mechanical” we can do to make God manifest Himself (which is what they mean by bringing down the kingdom, they mean experiencing some form of emotional experience). There are plenty of things we can do to have emotional experiences such as speaking in other tongues for hours or singing mind-numbing refrains for hours, dancing around, chanting these practices can and do alter people’s consciousness. However, what our sign-gift brethren do is that they attribute these emotional experiences to: the presence of God; the anointing; the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, etc. As with their prayer, their praises have not changed a thing either.

The claim is also made that both prayer and praise is a form of spiritual warfare. This is no new claim. The so-called prophetic movement has long codified prayer and praise as tools by which we are to wage spiritual warfare. There are entire teaching series and conferences on what is called “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, led by Dr. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Bickle and others.

These extremists actually go to different historical site around the world in order to “bind” up the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness (see Eph. 6:11,12) and then “loose” God’s angels, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom to manifest and bring revival and salvation. Naturally the first thing one has to do on these over seas junkets is to discern what exact principality or power is in control of an area. Once this Gnostic insight is revealed via prayer & praise then the spiritual warriors can specifically pray against them and command them in Jesus’ name to come down from their high places and/or bind their operation from hindering the Gospel. Once the binding has taken place then these intrepid warriors can lose the power of God to bring revival and redemption!

The only problem with this practice is simply this — we are never told to do any such thing in the Bible.  This is a novel invention that looks very spiritually and deeply powerful but is totally devoid of any Biblical precedent. We are never told any of the names of demonic forces, only that they exist. Honestly, we are never told to “rebuke the devil (see Zac. 3:2; Jude 1:9) where the Bible says “The Lord rebuke you Satan.” Yes, we do wage spiritual warfare but not in this mystical format. Our warfare is daily against the temptations Satan and demons offer before us.

The 24/7 crowd take verses, such as this: May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Psalms 149:6-9 (underlining added for emphasis).

And interpret it to mean that via the praises of God in our mouths we wage and win spiritual warfare. However, in context (that dreaded word) David being a man of war, a man who had slaughtered so many people that God would not permit him to build His temple meant what he said. As we go into battle we do so with God’s praises in our mouths and a literal sword in our hand. The best analogy I can think of comes from clips of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Film clips showed the mujahideen saying “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) then firing off a RPG 3 at a tank, that is what David is getting at in the text. Our two-edged sword is the Word of God (see Rev. 1:16, 19:15). It is the weapon Jesus used against Satan in the wilderness temptations saying “it is written” to Satan time and time again.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists is a doctrine of God (as opposed to a manmade doctrine or doctrine of devils), then why isn’t it clearly taught in the Scriptures, why isn’t it being practiced by Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts? If it is a restored truth when was it initially practiced and when did the Church lose it? They cannot answer this question because they are without biblical support and historical support.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists worked then where are the results? What genuine quantifiable and verifiable results of true revival, redemption and community restoration can be shown to us? There are no results that can be shown. After over ten years of doing this, if it was indeed directed by the Holy Spirit, then there should be some evidence of change, actually there should be quite a bit of proof. It is like I tell people who believe Benny Hinn has a “miracle ministry.” Hinn has been holding miracle crusades every month for many years and by now he should have a warehouse full of medically documented healing(s) and miracles. Yet he does not have even a half a dozen which can be verified. Why do people follow him by the millions? Because they are deceived. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.

Those people have made prayer to God and the praising of God a device by which we move God or the devil. God does not need our prayers. We on the other hand need to desperately pray and seek God. The God of the Bible is totally sovereign and He does not need our permission to move in the universe of His own creation.

Our prayer life is to flow out of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise is simply our reaction to God’s goodness. We are called to “give thanks” in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). Prayer and praise should fill our hearts and thus be expressed by our mouths as naturally as our breathing. Jesus warned against thinking people would be heard for their “many words” when praying (Matt. 6:7). In that verse Jesus says “do not keep on babbling like the pagans” which is what these meetings are, a small or large group of people babbling away in ecstatic speech. It seems to me that they are engaging in the very thing Jesus warned us not to do.

Personally, I am all for prayer; it is undeniably part of our lives as a royal priesthood and holy nation unto God (1 Pet. 2:9). I wish my Lutheran brethren really knew how to pry from their hearts, as opposed to praying 99% of the time from a book of prayers. Prayer books are fine in their proper place, but you do not grow relationally by praying other people’s prayers all the time. I agree with Paul that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) but this can easily be done within the context of our vocations in life, it does not mean we must wall ourselves up in a monastery. I firmly believe that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Yet fervent does not mean long-winded spewing forth of words, it means heart-felt and sincere.

I love to worship God in song also. I would like to see more music and hymns be incorporated into our Sunday services, yet I sing to my Lord because of who He is and what He has done — not to wage spiritual warfare or bring revival. Psalm 92:1 tells us that “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

In conclusion what are we to make of this 24/7 movement? It cannot be called unbiblical because there is Biblical precedent for it, albeit from the Old Testament. Nor would I say that there is anything wrong with praying to God and offering Him praise 24/7 —IF (and it is a HUGE “if”) there is a proper understanding of what prayer and praise are. Unfortunately, this is where these folks veer off course. Their definition and use of prayer and praise is unbiblical. Their motivation for praying and singing to God 24/7 is unbiblical. The result is a veiled attempt at a form of works righteousness. By their pseudo-spiritual works they see themselves as releasing God to move, if they do not do this then God cannot or will not move in the Church and community. This is simply “foolishness gone to seed” as the dead heretic Ken Hagin used to say. These people have placed both prayer and praise even above the preaching of the Word of God. They also view all the performing arts as acts of praise and prophecy (they get this from Psl.150). Because they have redefined what prayer and praise is biblically and redefined what the purpose is for both expressions I come to the conclusion that what is taking place is nothing other than simply another form of charismatic extremism which will excite many for a season but it will produce nothing of value spiritually, other than another lesson learned in what not to do.♦

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Charismaticthink is a word I have coined and it simply refers to reading a text of Scripture without any consideration of its context or historical eschatological setting.

2. See: www.tabernacle-of-david.com/todchurchsmodel4praise.html obtained on 6-11-09

3. Ibid.

4. See: www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID-1000045365 obtained on 06-11-09

5. Ibid.

6. Obtained from http://www.nextga.us/impact/harpbowl on 06-12-09

7. Obtained from http://www.zionsong.org/art-giffting-bibquall.html on 06-12-09

8.ibid





7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

4 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

When Larry King mentions me as a “critic” of Joel Osteen our web site went down for 2 days due to excessive band-width use which told me that a lot of people were downloading my initial article concerning Joel. Next more negative e-mails berating me for simply pointing out the errors Joel had made in his interview began to flow in. I knew it would only be a matter of time before a Osteenite asked me “well have you even read Pastor Osteen’s book?” I can honestly answer in the affirmative and tell them “yes I have and here is the problem I have with it.”

Joel’s latest book is the largest printing ever published at one time by A Free Press, the publishers of his materials. They’ve printed an initial 3 million copies of his latest book based on how well his former book Your Best Life Now performed.

This book could easily be entitled “The Little Engine that Could” or possibly “Fake It Till You Make It,” and anyone who has been involved with the charismatic movement will be disappointed in the contents because it says absolutely nothing new. The entire premise of the book can be boiled down to the old aphorism “God helps those who help themselves.”

In the DMI archive we have several bookcases filled with titles such as: Super Brain Power: 6 keys to Unlocking Your Hidden Genius; God is My CEO: Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-Line World; Prayer, Power, and Prosperity: Three Keys to a Move of God; Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity; seven Facts About Prevailing Prayer (John Osteen), You Can Change Your Destiny (another John Osteen)…and the list could go on.

Now just when we thought we might have gotten past the formulaic approach of laws, principles, and rules for spiritual development we are offered another set of 7 keys to self-improvement! Here is Joel’s list: 1). Keep pressing forward. 2) Be positive toward yourself, 3) Develop better relationships, 4). Form better habits 5). Embrace the place where you are 6). Develop your inner life and 7). Stay passionate about life!

Obviously, the book is divided into these 7 sections and we’ll take a quick trip through each (it will save you the price of buying the book)! The first chapter urges the reader to never be content with where they are in life. “He’s a progressive God and He wants every generation to be increasing in happiness, success and significances. (1)

The Apostle Paul said this about Contentment:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

Paul’s source of contentment was found in Christ Jesus not in any material sources. Whether he had “plenty” or whether he was in need Paul was content because he had the correct focus knowing who was his source of strength.

Where does the Bible ever say that one of God’s purposes is for us to be happy? I’d be willing to grant He does not want us to be depressed or despondent but where does the Scripture teach that God wants each succeeding generation to increase in happiness, success and significance? I’ll give you a hint, the Bible never teaches such things.

In Joel’s reality our only limits are self-imposed. It does not matter if you live in the poorest ghetto in Haiti, or if you are horribly handicapped the only limits to life are those you place upon yourself. “If your thinking is limited, then your life is going to be limited.” (2) If that sounds like the old Norman Vincent Peale “power of positive thinking” you are correct!

At the start of each new day, remind yourself, ‘I am talented. I am creative. I am greatly favored by God. I am equipped. I am well able, I will see my dreams come to pass.’ Declare those statements by faith and before long, you will begin to see them in reality. (3)

Let me just briefly unpack this common thread through the entire book. This is also basic Word of Faith (WOF) cult doctrine “101.” It’s called “calling those things that be not as though they are, i.e. “fake it till you make it.” Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Duplantis, Price and pappy Osteen all have taught this same error.

WOF dogma teaches that this world is ruled by spiritual laws and these laws will work for whoever will work them, child of God or child of the devil. Furthermore, the WOF cult teaches that faith is a force that we use to create our own reality. Understand — it is not faith in Jesus, it is faith in a spiritual force we wield and release by our words.

Joel is after all his father’s son, and all he has ever learned about the Bible has come through the lens of a Word of Faith heretic (John Osteen) which explains why his books are nothing more than warmed-over WOF dogma.

How can I say that? Simple! Joel begins with encouraging the readers to think positive thoughts. From here he will go in a few chapters to the next building- block of WOF error…positive confession. Once you have the image of what you want in your mind then you confess “faith-filled” words out of your mouth continually until you change your reality by the power of these faith-filled words. However, before getting to speaking the right words he has to deal with an uncomfortable fact, i.e. why does your life stink now? In Chapter 4 Joel teaches another bizarre WOF concept, that of generational curses. Again this a teaching I heard Marilyn Hickey teach at Robert Tilton’s church over 20 years ago, but Joel is reaching many folks who probably don’t know about generational curses.

This is the false teaching: that some believers problems stem from their family line passing a “curse” through the generations. Joel says” many times, you can look back and see the results of those choices somewhere in your family line.” (4) The proof texts these false teachers use are Ex. 20:5; 34:7 Num. 14:8; Deut. 5:9 and these texts basically say that God will curse the generation that hates Him to the third or fourth generation But let’s consider the rest of the context of these passages.

Notice that the curses are on those who hate God. It is not for those who love God, but make some mistakes in life. One might argue, however, that their father or grandfather might have hated God. This is irrelevant, but brings up the next point. Using a hyper-literalistic interpretation of this passage, if the Lord shows mercy for 1000’s of generations on the fathers who loved God, then all that would be necessary for us to be in the “mercy” rather than “cursed” category is to find one relative in the past thousand or so generations that loved and obeyed the Lord. Is it not probable that we have at least one distant relative in the last 1000 generations who loved the Lord and kept His commandments? The statistical probability is that we most certainly do. And if we do, then we are part of the 1000 generations the Lord promised to show mercy to, not curse. This notion is pure WOF heresy which Joel follows up by teaching in the next chapter on “Generational Blessing.” Joel says that we are to think of our good works in this fashion.

Think of it like this: Each of us has a spiritual bank account. By the way we live, we’re either storing up equity or storing up iniquity. Equity would be anything good: our integrity, our determination, our godliness. That’s storing up blessings…You have more of God’s favor, more of His blessing because of what they have done. (5)

Its almost like a Roman Catholic belief (Joel does not know that of course) of the storing up of meritorious favor by the saints that can be drawn upon by those on earth! If you come from godly parents and grandparents then they have been putting spiritual ducats into the family account, or as Oral Roberts might say “they’ve sown seeds and you’re reaping the harvest.” My father was a godly man but I doubt I can tap into some heavenly bank account and draw from his good work! Naturally Joel offers no contextual biblical proof for such a doctrine, but who cares, right? It sounds good and who doesn’t want a spiritual piggybank to draw upon?

In part two of the book Joel, having liberated the reader from negative self-talk marches on to encourage them to stop listening to accusing voices (negative words spoken to the reader). He says that it is imperative that you “learn to feel good about yourself.” (6) Anytime a criticism comes to you (or from your conscience) you are to cast it down immediately!

Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on that rubbish, not for a moment. Sometimes when I walk off the platform having spoken at Lakewood and around the world by means of television, the first thought that comes to my mind is, Joel that message just wasn’t good today. Nobody got anything out of that. You practically put them to sleep. I learned to shake that off. I turn it around and say, ‘No I believe it was good! I did my best…I thought it was good. (7)

Brothers and sisters one of the ways we grow is by receiving correction, by useful criticism. When we reject rebuke and correction then our spiritual growth is stunted. Proverbs clearly says:

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. Prov. 1:30

He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Prov. 15:31

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. Prov. 17:10

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. Prov. 19:25

Personally I want someone I respect and trust to tell me the truth when I have finished teaching or preaching. Maybe my message fell way short of the mark. Maybe I didn’t properly distinguish between Law & Gospel or took certain passages out of context. If I immediately reject any “negative” input then I will not grow and worse yet may lead those who hear farther from Jesus and not closer to Him. Joel’s guidance in this chapter is simply “if it seems remotely negative don’t listen to it!”

Chapter 8  entitled “Learning to Like Yourself” is more nauseating pabulum. Joel does not seem to get a fundamental message in the New Testament — the problem is not that people do not love themselves or like themselves, just the opposite, we love ourselves far too much!

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor. 10:24

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb. 13:16

All of this psycho-babble about people not loving themselves is recent nonsense which the Bible does not even address…because 99.9% of humanity has no problem loving numero uno.

Another one of Joel‘s glaring theological inadequacies is his lack of any real sense of our sinful fallen nature.

Shake off guilt, condemnation, inadequacies, and a sense that you can’t measure up, and start feeling good about who you are. ‘Well Joel, I don’t know if I believe that,’ a dear, well-meaning man told me. ‘We’re just poor old sinners.’ No, we used to be poor old sinners, but when we came to Christ, He washed away our sins. He made us new creatures. Now, we are no longer poor old sinners. (8)

This too is a WOF cult and general charismatic extremist point of view. They teach that we were sinners prior to salvation. Now in Christ we are the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and no longer sinners. They have no concept of the reality of being simil Justus et peccator which means we are simultaneously justified, and yet sinners. Both conditions are always true of us. We will fight against sinful inclinations our entire lives and by the means of grace God will be working in us progressive sanctification in this life. Joel is dangerously misleading his readers to encourage them to think they are no longer sinful.

Chapter 9 – is classic WOF/Positive Confession dogma and Joel has very subtly brought the reader from a place of thinking positive thoughts to now confessing these thoughts. What he says in this chapter is regularly proclaimed in any Ken Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis or Fred Price meeting.

As long as we have that poor self-image, we’re not going to experience God’s best. You will never rise above the image that you have of yourself. (9)

He restates the problem of humanity as he sees it but he fails to recognize one very salient point — God blesses us APART from what we do virtually all of the time! Grace, is the undeserved gift from God. We experienced God’s best (which by the way, Joel, is salvation by JESUS CHRIST alone) when we were haters of God.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Rom. 5:10

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, Col. 1:21-23a

In Joel’s warped view how are we supposed to overcome this self-image problem in order to experience God’s best? Simple! We speak positive words about ourselves!

One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. Every day, we should make positive declarations over our lives. We should say things such as, ‘I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am talented. I am creative. I am wise.’ When we do that, we are building up our self-image. As those words permeate your heart and mind, and especially your subconscious mind, eventually they will begin to change that way you see yourself. (10)

Our words do not have creative power. We cannot change reality by what we say. To believe such things is simply occultism and not Christianity. I’ve buried folks who died from AIDS confessing they were totally healed by the stripes of Jesus.

Positively or negatively, creative power resides in your words because you believe your words more than you believe anybody else’s. (11)

The WOF/extremist universe words are the most powerful things in the universe. They teach that God Himself created the universe not out of “nothing” (ex nihilo) but out of words that contained the force of faith to bring to pass whatever He said. They teach that since we are in His image we too have been given this same power. Negative words will produce bad results in our lives, they carry a sort of negative-faith. Positive words carry the force of faith in a fruitful direction creating whatever the wizard wielding the magic wand desires.

The sad thing is that Joel probably has not thought it through enough to realize what bondage such a belief system puts people under. If Joel is correct, then humanity is in the condition it is in simply because of not speaking the right words necessary to create a better life. All of his congregation’s problems fall squarely on their shoulders. Whatever their situation it is their fault.  The only way out is to begin to confess positive “faith-filled” words until your situation changes, which may take years…Remember just a few negative statements can dig up years of positive confessions and then the poor soul, like Sisyphus, is back at the beginning. What a horrific weight to place on the shoulders of God’s people.

No matter how impossible something looks, no matter how you feel, start boldly declaring, ‘I am strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. I am well able to fulfill my destiny. Call in what God has promised you…Don’t merely use your words to describe your situation; use your words to change your situation….With our words, we can prophesy our own future. (12)

Notice God active in any of this? Who is the agent of change? Who determines your situation? Who is in control of your future?  Obviously, you are! God set these so-called spiritual “laws” in place and now we eat the good or bitter fruit from them apart from God.

I think you can see why Joel’s book is so immensely popular. It is all about self and works righteousness. Which all people love (yes even Christians). People love spiritual legalism in all its varied forms and dislike the orthodox biblical view of sola Christus, by Christ alone and looking to Him to do what we cannot do. That is too easy, we want to know “where’s my part in the play?” The point is this — salvation and all its benefits are monergistic, which means that God did all the work and we passively receive what He has done on our behalf. We add nothing to our salvation but thanksgiving to God for His great grace and mercy which He richly pours out on us through the sacrifice of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

The genius behind Joel’s writing is that he has encapsulated the basic tenets of WOF heresy into a format which does not come across as either charismatic in nature nor as something that has been taught by WOF heretics for over fifty years now. He has “spun” old false doctrines a new set of “Dr. Phil” clothing and is marketing it as a self-help book. The problem is that people will not genuinely be helped, in fact, many may end up in some serious bondage due to his lightweight version leading some readers to seek heavier teachings on the same concepts.

In closing, I will leave you with some simple biblical texts that will show you how to truly become a better you.

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38,39

Then he said to them all; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

You want to be a “better you” then take up your cross, follow Jesus (where) to Calvary and DIE to yourself. This dying (reckoning ourselves dead Rom. 6:11) is a daily process/struggle (we Lutherans like to urge one another to “remember your baptism”) that is how we become “better people” we become less SELF-INVOLVED and thus with ourselves off our hands we are freed up to love God and our neighbor more perfectly Jesus said seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and ALL the things the Gentiles seek after will be added to you (Matt. 6:33), something Joel does not mention. Instead of seeking the sphere of God’s rule he has his readers trying to conjure up a better self-image instead of one buried in the waters of baptism. He has people confessing how good they are as opposed to saying “God have mercy on me a poor miserable sinner.” He inflates human pride by a system of works-righteousness to our account. Frankly, Joel is fundamentally wrong regarding the major premises of each of his chapters. His biblical/doctrinal ignorance is truly appalling and I sincerely urge all of us to pray for him (and I will be writing and sending him a registered letter soon, I’ll let you know if he responds) and more importantly the 100,000’s of people who watch him on television and buy his books. Lord have mercy upon us! ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Osteen Joel, Become a Better You New York: A Free Press, 2007, p. 3

 2. Ibid. p.21

3. Ibid pp. 22 -22

4. Ibid. p. 49

5. Ibid. pp.56,66

6. Ibid. p. 85

7. Ibid. p.86

8. Ibid. pp. 101-102

9. Ibid p. 109

10. Ibid pp. 109-110 underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

11. Ibid. p. 11

12. Ibid pp. 113-114 underlining and bolding added.

Anyone else notice a “theme”? 7 steps to living at your full potential & now 7 keys to improving your life every day. Is it possible that Joel is using a ghost writer to pen these novels? If I was already achieving my full potential why should I read his latest book? It simply does not make sense to me?