Worship Abuses & The Tabernacle of David

4 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 7 – Worship Abuses & The Tabernacle of David – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

WORSHIP ABUSES & THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Some of you may be thinking that I am being fickle by calling for tolerance regarding worship styles in the fist article and now decrying worship “abuses” in this article. As you read on you will se that I am consistent.

In the prior article the question revolves around whether or not someone is engaged in a biblical form of worship. If it is, even though it may not be our preferred manner of expression, we should not decry what others are doing. However, if what is being done under the guise of “worship” violates the biblical precedent than it must be rebuked and considered a false practice.

Regardless of style all praise and worship is directed solely to God. It is not meant to entertain the congregation nor is it meant to uplift the individual’s soul per se. Let me quickly state that as a result of genuine worship to God our souls are uplifted, but that is the result and not the purpose.

Error #1 – Praise creates a place for God to dwell

Psalm 22:3 “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.”

The KJV reads that “O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” and charismatic extremists take that to mean that God actually inhabits our praise and worship. “If you study out the Hebrew words in Psl. 22:3 you understand that it says that praise creates a place for God to come and sit as a judge.” (1)

This explains why such an emphasis is placed on praise and worship expression in charismatic meetings. They believe that what they are doing is actually creating an actual location in the spiritual realm for Almighty God to dwell. Once this place has been created (you know it has occurred by the various subjective experiences of the leaders during this time) then things can really begin to happen!

As prayer, praise and worship create a place for God to dwell a number of things occur. First, the word of the Lord is easier to be heard and answers arrive quicker (Dan. 10). The prophets or those standing prayer watch will hear the strategies of the enemy like Elisha did in 2 Kings 6. The leaders will also take the spiritual intelligence before the Lord like King Hezekiah did in order to determine what they should do (Isa. 37). Second there is power that can be projected (Psl. 149:2). (2)

Here is how I would dialog with the author of this quote (I can easily play both sides, having been on both of them).

First question: How does one know when the temporary spiritual home for God has been created?

Answer: The leaders will know by subjectively discerning a change in the spiritual atmosphere in the meeting. This change is interpreted as the presence of the Lord.

Second question: Didn’t Daniel fast and pray for three weeks before the angel came to him and explained why he had to wait so long?

Answer: Yes, but that was Daniel, our praise dispels the enemy and thus under an “open heaven” we can clearly and easily receive the word of the Lord.

Third question: I thought the Bible was the complete and infallible “word of the Lord,” which word are you looking for apart from the Holy Bible?

Answer: We absolutely believe that the Bible is the Word of God, yet we also know that God is still revealing present day truth (2 Peter 1:12) and we must feed off today’s manna and not yesterdays.

Fourth question: Didn’t the O.T. prophet actually listen in on what Israel’s human enemies were planning and not demonic spirits? Wasn’t this done to prove to Israel’s enemies that there was indeed a “god” the Living God in Israel whom they should fear? Lastly, what strategies of Satan have any of you uncovered thus far? What spiritual, economic; societal or political plots have been foiled by your people during praise and worship?

Answer: Well a good many things have been accomplished and the works of the enemy bound up by our praise and worship!

Follow-up question: Name one!

Answer: Oh, you’ve got a pharisaical spirit and whatever I say you will dispute, let us move on.

Question: You state that power can be “projected” via praise and worship and you cite Psalm 149 as your proof of this. I have read the entire Psalm and it does tell us to praise the Lord with dance and make music with various instruments (vs.3), all well and good. But nowhere do I find the Church projecting power (your words) in the Psalm.

Answer: You miss the obvious; it is found in vs. 6&7 where we are to have the high praises of God in our mouths and the two-edged sword in our hands to inflict vengeance on the heathen. Via our high praises of God we are waging spiritual warfare against principalities, powers, dominions and the rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). While we praise and worship God we are binding up the demons and loosing the angels of God to carry out His divine justice in the world.

Follow-up question: When did praise and worship turn into a form of spiritual warfare? Praise has always been directed to God alone and never against Satan or demons throughout the entire Bible.

Answer: Obviously you are stuck with the letter of the law and not the spirit because it is apparent that you are not filled with the Holy Spirit. If you were you would plainly see that this text proves that God uses our praise and worship to judge His enemies End of discussion.

I give the charismatic movement high marks in their restoration of ancient praise and worship formats. Unfortunately, they take this good thing too far and twist it into something it was never meant to be.

They have made praise and worship a means to an end. Instead of simply being the emotive expression of love-filled hearts towards their God they have turned it into a mechanism by which all sorts of mystical transactions are alleged to occur. We do not praise our Lord in order to hear some “new” revelation from Him, we adore Him because He is our God and we are His people. Nor do we praise Him in order to discover what Satan and his demonic forces are up to. There is absolutely no biblical support for viewing praise and worship in that light. Lastly, while one might feel empowered after taking time to genuinely worship the Lord thee is nothing in scripture that says the very act of praising God releases or projects some form of spiritual power.

Error #2   Prophetic Praise?

All of the charismatic extremists teach that there is such a thing as prophetic praise.

Through prophetic praise God speaks or sings changes that manifest to the earth in the form of restoration for His people and defeat for the enemy. Through prophecy in song people are healed, delivered and given direction as individuals. God also sings prophecy to the church body as direction, comfort, rebuke, warning etc. (3).

The belief that music is prophetic is tied into the belief that God has (and is) restoring apostles and prophets back to the Church. If one accepts the premise that God has placed prophets and apostles in our midst to guide us to perfection it is only a small step to believe that God speaks prophetically through praise and worship led by these restored leaders. Books have been written and conferences given around the world to help train-up people to release their prophetic gift and if such a person either sings or plays an instrument then they are encouraged to “prophesy” via their singing or playing!

There are greater governing sounds, and songs, coming from the Church: music that carries the glory of God, rending opens the heavens, music that breaks strongholds over churches, cities, and nations—this is the power of Apostolic music. (4)

The music the writer is speaking about is the music used for praise and worship not some other form or setting of music. Note how the focus has shifted from the simple heartfelt adoration of our God to something else completely. “Music that carries the glory of God.” there’s no such music in the Bible. “Music that rends open te heavens”. I did not know the heavens were closed! There is no such intimation of a “closed heaven” in the entire New Testament. We have full access to the throne of God 24/7 through Jesus Christ. Sad to say the congregations that my wife and I were a part while we were extremists did not experience the breaking of “strongholds” over those churches. Truthfully the warfare congregations of Detroit have all experienced breakdowns and church splits not breakthroughs. Detroit is in the worst shape it has ever been in economically, socially, educationally, , health-wise and on just about every level…where is the apostolic breakthrough that has been being prophetically sung for years into the heavenlies above Detroit by restored prophetic psalmists? Like the old lady in the Wendy’s commercial I feel like shouting “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” People can make all manner of claims and declarations but the FACT remains — what they are teaching and practicing is not coming to pass in any way shape or form.

The idea that through praising God evil spirits are sent running is not a biblical teaching at all. One can see such practices on the Discovery channel where they do documentaries on pagan societies in the Amazon or Africa. Pagans have always used their music and dance as a means to drive out evil spirits and invite their gods to bless them. Unfortunately this raw form of paganism has crept into the many charismatic extremist groups because they use praise and worship to achieve these same ends. Not only are songs and music used as vehicles to discombobulate the Devil but they also claim that singing and music can heal the sick! If this were so, then the health rate among charismatic’s would be extremely high and Benny Hinn’s miracle crusade attendance very low (since mostly charismatic believers healed via “anointed” music. I have met many people who Jesus has healed, but not through music. There is not one example of anyone being healed by music in the New Testament.

Error # 3   Prophetic Praise Dancing

In the previous article we saw that it is possible to dance before the Lord as a legitimate form of worship. I have seen some very artistic interpretative dancing to worship songs, but since I am watching and not dancing it does not bring me closer to my Lord in a worship sense, but maybe that is just me.

Even though dancing before the Lord may at times be a genuine expression of praise it too has been pulled out of its setting and made to be “prophetic” by the extremists. There are a multitude of web sites dedicated to so-called prophetic dancing, all touting the prophetic significant and benefit of dancing. (5) Some of these dancing prophets declare that “He [Jesus] wants to express himself in us through the dance.” (6)

Not only is dancing taken on prophetic significance among these people, like the pagans dance is now a means of intercession.

“As intercessors, we must be willing to bear in our bodies that which the Lord is trying to release.” (7)

There are specific dances for intercession, specific dances for healing and for warfare. This paganism run amok in these congregations, utter foolishness! Dancing before the Lord in worship can be a beautiful expression of joy between the worshipper and God. Yet now it has been abused and has been hijacked out of its pure setting and changed into something that it was never meant to be.

In closing let me reiterate that personally I am all for the various biblical forms of expressing our praise and worship to God. I have experienced every thing from the solemnity of singing the ancient hymns to the enthusiastic dancing and shouting of wild Pentecostalism and “experienced” the presence of God in it all. However when you take anything biblical out its context and make it into something it was never meant to be then it becomes carnal and misleading.

The charismatic extremists have done this to worship. They have taken something good and made it aberrant and thus turned it into something God will not honor. The entire Tabernacle of David 24/7 prayer, praise and worship is nothing more than excited ignorance and is an attempt to make God ‘move” because of their enthusiasm. God is sovereign and His will cannot be thwarted nor His timetable changed by human activity. It is enough of a supreme privilege for me to be allowed to know and worship the True God. I rejoice in the liberty I have in Christ but I do not abuse that liberty and turn it into license.

Copyright  © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.watchmanministries.org/tabernacle_of_david.html on July 2, 2009

2. Ibid.

3. http://www.trumpetoftruth.com/lect_files/what%20is%prophetic%20praise.html on 07-02-09

4. www.awesomecitymusic.com a quote from their book The Power of Apostolic Music by Stephen Bennett.

5. Some of these sites include http://www.dancingforhim.com; http://www.thefoolishthings.homestead.com

6. Ibid. the foolish things.homestead.com

7. Ibid





The Need For Discernment

17 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2009 – Vol. 14  Issue 1  – The Need For Discernment – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Need For Discernment

By Rev. Bob Liichow

In these last days many within the Church are being swept away by unbiblical enthusiasm. False doctrines are taught with unfailing regularity on television to a global audience. Many deny the Trinity; others declare that Jesus ministered only as a man and never as God. Millions believe that salvation is possible only when one has been baptized by immersion in Jesus name only. Numerous popular errors abound concerning physical healing, financial prosperity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the myriad of false doctrines were not enough there are a plethora of false practices impacting the spiritual lives of many professing Christians. These include things such as being slain in the spirit, speaking in other tongues, holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, and making animal noises. Some boldly proclaim that God is filling believer’s teeth with gold and platinum; others declare that God is manifesting gold dust and gem stones in their services. Several congregations are now reporting angel “feathers” miraculously appearing during worship!

You may wonder how it is possible for Christians to be misled by such false doctrine and practices. To begin with it is nothing new. Satan has always twisted God’s Word to misled people (ask Eve). Both the Old and New Testament are filled with warnings about the danger of counterfeit spiritual teachings and practices. Let me cite a few scriptural examples:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-16

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many peopleMatthew 24:10-11

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:24-25

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:10-11

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 2 Peter 2:1-2

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

These are just a few of the texts that warn us to be aware of the reality of being misled by false prophets, teachers, and apostles. The question is how do we keep from being led astray? The answer lies in hiding the Word of God in our hearts. David said “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psl. 119:11). From the beginning God told the Israelites how to discern the truth from error in their daily lives by keeping the Word of God ever in the forefront of their mind.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Virtually every waking moment of their lives was to be saturated with God’s holy law. It as not just something they did for a couple of hours on the Sabbath. Their discussions were filtered through the lens of God’s law. When they rested and sat around the hearth they spoke of His ways, when they walked to work, again they talked in light of what He had commanded. Their last words at night were His words and the thoughts in their minds as they drifted off to sleep were His precepts. Thus if someone came and presented something off kilter to them they would immediately recognize it as false and reject it. Why? Because, the way to keep from being deceived is to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

Today as God’s people nothing has changed. We too are to live lives saturated by the Word of God. Out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak. Listen to yourself and others, what do you and they speak about the most? Whatever it is I can assure you that it is what fills your hearts. I’m not talking about becoming some phony-baloney super-saint. Yet I am saying that our words are to be seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6) and full of grace.

This does not happen automatically as part-n-parcel of your baptism. No it comes from a lifelong pursuit of renewing our minds according to God’s Word (Rom. 12:2). It takes diligence and desire on our part. This is why we are encouraged to “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)

So as this New Year begins make the most of every opportunity to dig into the Word of God by becoming involved with your congregation’s Sunday school, mid-week Bible study and any other venues they have for digging deeper into the Word of our Lord. Make it a point to read good solid spiritual books. A good way to impress the Word on your heart is to listen to the Bible in your car or at home (in fact DMI will give anyone Bible CD’s to anyone who requests them).

As you faithfully make use of all the ways God has given us to grow in His Word you will find yourself among those who ”…are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. “ (Hebrews 5:14).

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

 





The Axis of Evil

14 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 2 – The Axis of Evil – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Axis of Evil

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

(KJV)

One thing that is missing in my seminary experience thus far is any real discussion of spiritual warfare.

There is a thing called “victory” in living this Christian life. I am not referring to our ultimate victory when our bodies are fully redeemed from death and glorified. No, I am referring to living a victorious life in the midst of our fallenness. I readily acknowledge that I am a saved “sinner” or in good Lutheran parlance “simil Justus et pecator” (justified at the same time a sinner). Yet to me there seems to be an inordinate concentration on the reality of our “old man” and our fallen condition. The other side of the “coin” is just as real, i.e. our ability in and by Christ to be victorious over what I am calling in this article “the Axis of Evil”

In order to be a victor in a war, one has to understand who the enemy is, what are his tactics and discover his weaknesses and exploit them to the fullest. Too many Christians are simply ignorant of Satan and his devices when the Bible tells us not to be (see 2 Cor. 2:11). It is a fact that Jesus defeated Satan on the cross making an open show of him:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:14-15

Yet the New Testament is clear that we still have to contend with Satan and his forces in this life. We need to realize that although we have been delivered out of the dominion of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col 1:13) through the life giving waters of our Baptism and through faith in Gospel message of the cross of Christ; we still have an enemy to fight. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we need to:

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Eph. 6:11-13

Many Christians get no further then “we wrestle not” in their lives when it comes to contending with the enemies of their faith. It is my hope that as we begin this new year we all will stand victorious in God’s armor and by His power and to His glory over all the works of the evil one.

Some time back President Bush shocked the world and the politically correct by declaring North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as comprising an “axis of evil.” What the President meant was that these three nations were in league together to expand terrorism and increase their own power.

As Christians we too face an axis of evil comprised of (1) the world, (2) the flesh and (3) the devil. All three work in concert to keep us from growing spiritually and effectively shining as lights amidst a wicked and perverse generation. (Phil. 2:15).

Enemy Number One: The Devil

Satan marshals these forces together against us to keep us ineffective and shames us into silence about our Christian faith. For example, when you are at home and ou see your neighbors and you think “I should go and invite them to church this Sunday.” Immediately the thoughts come faster than machine gun bullets — “you can’t do that, who do you think you are? Religion is a private concern. What if they got offended?

Brothers and sisters let me tell you those thoughts come from Satan and his minions. Remember what Jesus said of him? Jesus in John 6 says “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.” In Rev. 12:10 Satan is called “the ACCUSER of the brethren.” So when Satan and his demons speak to your mind telling you, that you can’t or that you are not a good enough Christian to share Christ with others…simply remind the hosts of wickedness of a few things, one of my favorite verses is:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:15

Remind this LIAR that he has been disarmed and that Christ Jesus has triumphed over all his hosts by the cross! Tell him that you are baptized into Christ, and in Him you can do all things INCLUDING sharing your faith with your neighbors and friends. REMEMBER Satan goes about as a roaring lion, but he is not one! (1 Peter 5:8). He is a defeated foe whose ONLY POWER is to get you to believe the lies he tells you.

Usually Satan works along these lines, first he tempts us (he is called the “Tempter” in Matt 4:3) with some sins, when we give into his temptation he then immediately accuses us. In these cases his accusations are not lies because we did give into temptation and sinned. At this point most Christians are silenced by shame. The correct response is to immediately turn to Christ and confess our sin knowing that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our transgressions and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jh. 1:9). The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb. 4:14-16

As we grow spiritually and learn to depend upon God’s grace more and more Satan must employ other, sometimes more subtle means in order to attempt to defeat us. He must call upon another one of his “partners” in his axis to assist him in the battle.

Enemy Number Two: The World

The world, cosmos in the Greek and this term refers to everything that adorns this world-system and that is against the Kingdom of God. Our opening text tells us that the cosmos is comprised of (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life.

We all succumb to the Tempter (1 Thess 3:5) from time to time when he offers up the baubles of this decaying world before our eyes. Think about the programs and commercials on television almost all of which are directly opposed to godly living. The images projected tell us that we’d be happier with a new car, new husband or wife, bigger house, more money, etc…Satan uses the manifold pleasures of the world to blind us to that fact that we as the people of God are not “of” this world, we are “in” it but not of it. This world is not our home an our lives are to be lived as stewards of what God graciously gives us.

Yes we all fail and give into our sinful fleshly desire for the world but read what Jesus says of US!

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth John 17:14-17

Let me ask you one question — do you believe that the Father answered Jesus’ prayer? ABSOLUTELY! Jesus says we are not of the world any more than He is! In fact, He says that TWICE! We have to begin to see ourselves as Jesus does. Yes we are IN the world but we are NOT of it! Let us echo our brother Paul when faced with the enticements of the fading system of sin and say with him:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14

Our attitude towards the world is this: We are not it! We are set apart from it by the POWER inherent in God’s Word and by the means of His grace! Our boast is not in fleshly achievements bt only in the cross of our Lord Jesus through whose sacrifice the world has been CRUCIFED and I have been CRUCIFIED to the world!

As we renew our mind through the power of God’s Word (Rom 12:2-3) and allow His Word to set us apart from the world we begin to become bolder witnesses for our Lord and vessels fit for honor. (2 Tim. 2:21).

Enemy Number Three: our Flesh

The last axis of evil Satan calls upon is our fallen flesh. We all carry about with us that fallen man who was drowned in the waters of our baptism…yet as the late Professor Marquart said “the old man is a great swimmer.” Nonetheless what Paul says to us in Romans is true:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Rom. 6:4-6

This is the ongoing power of our baptism. Our old man WAS and IS crucified with Christ and henceforth we should not serve sin. Paul goes on to encourage us in the same chapter saying:

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Rom. 6:11-14

We all carry with us the fallen nature. Yet it is equally true that the old man died a real death just as we have received NEWNESS of LIFE through faith in Christ. I believe the new man recreated in Christ is stronger than the old man who is easily led by Satan.

The devil has no power over us at all! Jesus defeated him and his forces on the cross openly! The victory Jesus won on the cross was for YOU and for ME! We are in Christ and we share His Triumph! Never lose sight of the fact that Jesus won the victory for us, He had no need of victory He had not lost anything to the devil.

The world is not our home, we are to wear it as a very loose garment, knowing that we brought nothing into this life and we will take nothing with us when we leave apart from what we did for Christ. We are now citizens of God’s household (Eph. 2:19). Our joy is to shine as lights amidst this wicked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15).

The flesh is with us, but we MUST reckon it DEAD, because it really is. It will try to resurrect itself in the face of Satan’s temptations…but we are not to yield to its desires. The good news is by the virtue of our Baptism into Christ we are now empowered to be what God says we are in:

No, in ALL these things we are MORE then conquerors through HIM who loved us. Rom. 8:37

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30

 

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow  





I Am OUTRAGED

19 09 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 11 – I AM OUTRAGED – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

I AM OUTRAGED

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                                By Robert S. Liichow

Outrage Defined

indignation a feeling of righteous anger Shock: strike with disgust or revulsion re: “the evangelists scandalous behavior of his ministry shocked the church” desecrate: violate the sacred character of a place or language: “desecrate a cemetery”, “violate the sanctity of the church.” “profane the name of God.” (1)

As an individual I generally run on a fairly even keel emotionally as much as any adult dealing with being ADHD. Even with my disability I strive to live a disciplined and organized life in may areas including emotionally. Yet within about a weeks time four incidents have taken place that literally burned my bacon in such a righteous manner that I have not even felt a twinge of remorse over what I have written or the way I felt at the time of writing you this newsletter. Some of these outrages you may be familiar with, others may not have hit your “radar” yet. In any event, consider this the “Outrageous Issue” of Truth Matters.

Ted Haggard

The title of this months article reflects a bumper sticker on the car in front of us as my wife and I pulled out of the movie theater a few nights ago. It sums up perfectly my emotional state concerning what is transpiring within the Church. There are four specific “cases” each of which has stirred up my righteous indignation and I hope that you are equally appalled over them too. Before I drop the hammer on these folks let me make it very clear that we are praying for all these individuals and the ripple effects their actions are having on their family, many Christians in the Body of Christ and the world’s view of the integrity of Christian leaders both morally and doctrinally.

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By this time you already know about the growing scandal concerning Haggard. If you are not aware of it then here is what has currently been brought to light. Ted Haggard was the senior pastor of New Life Church, a mega-church of 14,000 members in Colorado Springs, CO. He was the Presiding President of the National Association of Evangelical (NAE) which represent around thirty million evangelical Christians. He is a husband, a father of five children and a charismatic/sign-gift believer. In short, Haggard was a player in both the Church Growth Movement and conservative politics.

News of Haggard’s dismissal rocked the Christian world. Haggard was one of the evangelical movement’s most powerful leaders, and helped Colorado Springs earn the moniker of “evangelical Vatican.” He had the White House on speed dial, and Harper’s Magazine called New Life “the nation’s most powerful mega church.” Haggard had served as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization that represents more than 30 million evangelical Christians, until he resigned. (2)

It was the latter arena that brought to light his hidden sins. As you know America had an election Tuesday, Haggard was a staunch and vocal advocate against same-sex marriage. That stand is one I and DMI give a hearty “amen” to. The problem in Haggard’s case was that he had been living a double-life for at least three years according to his accuser, a homosexual prostitute whom Haggard is alleged to have been having sex with:

The scandal began Wednesday when a male escort in Denver said he had an ongoing sexual relationship with an evangelical leader. By later that day, Haggard had been named as that leader. (3)

Mike Jones is the homosexual escort who “outed” Haggard not only for his homosexuality but also Jones admitted that Haggard had used and bought methamphetamine from him. The reason Jones came forth at this point in time was because he thought, rightly so, that Haggard was being a hypocrite due to his vocal stance against homosexuality while being actively engaged in it!

What is outrageous to me is that when Haggard was confronted with the allegations Jones was making he lied about it! He is on record denying the charges. In one interview he acted like he had never even heard of Mike Jones. However, Mr. Jones has Haggard’s voice on a voice-mail (which is now available for the world to hear on the Internet). Then when pressed Haggard admitted that he had purchased crystal meth at some point but threw it away.

Finally more truth was revealed when his church leaders asked him to step down due to sexual immorality (the did not mention the drug abuse). It seems at this point that many, if not all, the charges made by Jones concerning Haggard are true.

What is equally outrageous to me is that Haggard’s case response echoes three other cases of homosexual immorality within the sign-gift segment of the Church. In December, 2001 Mr. Robert LIARdon was exposed for his ongoing homosexuality with the Youth Leader of his congregation. (4)

Three months later Robert Liardon was back preaching again. In February, 2004 Latter Rain false prophet Paul Cain was exposed for his life of homosexuality and alcoholism by fellow so-called restored prophets. Lastly, on September 18, 2004 the Los Angeles Times ran a story with allegations of homosexual behavior and drunkenness on the part of Paul Crouch Sr., the Founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN paid the accuser in Crouch’s case $450,000 in hush money as you may remember). (5)

In each of these cases, including Haggard, there are several outrageous similarities: (1) NONE of these men came forth voluntarily and confessed their sins. It was only when they were caught that any admission of guilt came forth. In the case of Mr. Crouch he denies to this day that any type of homosexual behavior went on, yet why then did TBN pay close to half a million dollars of donors money to the man making “false” charges? (2) Each of these leaders were and still are members of independent charismatic organizations which they ran. They had little to no genuine accountability to others around them or to any denominational affiliation. (3)The “Flip Wilson Defense” was invoked in LIARdon’s case and now Haggard’s. For those readers too young to remember the Flip Wilson Show, he had a segment where Mr. Wilson would appear in drag before a judge and say “the devil made me do it.” Here is how one of Haggard’s members cast this sordid situation:

Some people cast the situation as a struggle between good and evil and Haggard as the victim of a religious battle. “Satan may have won the battle, God will win the war. Satan is like a hunter. Satan goes for the big trophies. This is spiritual warfare, and Ted is under something the average person can’t fathom,” said Earl Beatty, who knelt at the church Saturday night. (6)

Note how Beatty views Haggard immorality —he is simply a victim of a Satanic onslaught. You, Mr. Haggard, are a “big trophy,” whereas if you or I fell into such immorality we’d be kicked to the curb immediately. I have seen this happen on numerous occasions within the sign-gift movement. The rules simply don’t apply to these superstars. If they get sick and die then it was the devil trying to stop the advancement of God’s kingdom. You or I get seriously ill and die, then we had some hidden sin or unbelief in our lives. They get divorce and remarried on other than biblical grounds; they are given a pass whereas other lowly sheep usually can’t even serve as a church janitor after a divorce.

Isn’t what the Bible teaches in James a little more plausible than Beatty’s comment regarding Haggard?

James 1:13-15: When tempted, no one should say “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Let me cite a few of the statements given by Mr. Haggard in a letter read to his congregation on Sunday, November 5, 2006: (1) Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.” The first thing on his list is that he asks his former congregation to continue to give MONEY!! Hopefully Haggard’s people have had their faith in Christ all along and thus naturally will stay faithful to Jesus.

(2) “Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.” Note the order, money first, then he confesses he is a sinner. Perhaps it took a fall from so lofty a height for him to realize something most biblically based Christians readily acknowledge, I.e. that they are sinners at the same time as being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

(3) “Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life.” Why should we forgive Mr. Jones? He did the right thing in exposing Haggard. Most certainly Mr. Jones needs to be brought to faith in Christ and delivered from homosexuality. It seems to me like Haggard is saying something akin to “forgive the police officer that caught me.” He should have asked his former congregation to pray for the redemption of Mr. Jones, not for them to forgive him!! Lastly, in point  (4) Haggard tries to make lemonade out of lemons by saying Because of the negative publicity I’ve created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.” (8)

See, Haggard’s immorality is really a blessing in disguise because we (the Church) can now demonstrate to the world how our sick (Haggard) and wounded can be healed. I have news for Mr. Haggard the Church has been healing its sick and wounded for 2,000 yeas by the discipline and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Haggard has not committed the unpardonable sin and he has asked for forgiveness, even if it did not come voluntarily, and so it must be given to him. I will not doubt his contrition, for I cannot judge his heart. Nonetheless his immorality, denials, lies and attempts to deflect what he did from himself is outrageous in my eyes. Not to mention the blight he places on the rest of God’s genuinely faithful ministers who the world will tar with the same brush due to Haggard and all the other recent scandals rocking the Church.

We do pray for his restoration, but especially we pray for his wife who is understandably devastated, their five children who have to face their peers, the thousands of congregational members, many of whom were babes in Christ and without doubt “star stuck” by Haggard and may become shipwrecked due to his moral failure.

Haggard’s fall is simply more proof that allegedly possessing the sign-gifts does not make a person more anointed, powerful in Christ or holy. The fact of the matter is that the most egregious scandals to besmirch the name of our Lord have come mostly from “charismatic” believers such as Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton, Larry Lee, Jimmy Swaggert, Roberts LIARdon, Paul Cain and Paul Crouch. All of these leaders claimed to be special due to their alleged spiritual gifts, but in reality they were shown to have feet of clay, like the rest of us.

Katharine Jefferts Schori Installed As Head Of 2.3 Million Member American Episcopal Denomination

This is the next item to outage me, not because a female being ordained to lead a denomination, which in itself is unbiblical. Women have often been misplaced or taken place of authority within the Church since the false prophetesses Priscilla and Maximilla around 155 AD. It is not an outrage to see a woman holding the office of a bishop, which again biblically has been given to men. (9)

1 Tim. 3:2-5 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

What is outrageous is her blasphemous and heretical statements concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Before we get to her comments you should know that she endorses the ordination of homosexuals and also approves of same-sex marriages. (10) Do the following comments outrage you?

But in an interview this week with Associated Press, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori — who is to be installed on Saturday as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA — stated that Christians should not say that Jesus is the only way to God. “If we insist we know the one way to God,” she said, “we’ve put God in a very small box.” (11)

Jefferts-Schori says she views salvation as the healing of all Creation through holy living. “I understand salvation as being about the healing of the whole creation. Your part and my part in that is about holy living.” she offered. “As Christians we understand [salvation] as relationship with God in Jesus, but that does not mean that we’re expected to judge other people’s own commitments. (12)

Katharine Jefferts Schori preached her first sermon to the Episcopal Church General Convention as presiding bishop-elect, she announced, “Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creaton and we are his children. (13)

How a historical mainline Protestant denomination could elect a pro-gay female bishop who denies that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life is an outrage. If she is allowed to remain in that position then all those congregations that submit willingly to her authority can no longer be considered part of the Christian Church.

We disagree about many things within the Church visible, but one thing about our belief that cannot be compromised is that salvation is found through grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone and to God alone be all the glory. Any deviation from these obvious Apostolic doctrines places an individual, congregation or even denomination outside the orthodox Christian religion.

Katharine Jefferts-Schori, I do insist that Jesus Christ is in fact the only way to God simply because this is what God the Son Himself stated:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

JN 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

We can disagree over the mode of baptism, how often to celebrate the Lord’s Supper or which translation of the Bible to use…but salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone is NON-NEGOTIABLE. What part of Acts 4:12 is the presiding Bishop so obtuse to not understand? If this is the last thing I ever write you please understand this simple fact:

Two Statements Can Be Untrue, But Two Contradictory Statements Cannot Both Be True. “A” Is “A” And Cannot Be Non “A”

Truth by its very nature demands the exclusion of all other claims which contradict it. Either Jesus is who He said He was or He is notDMI chooses to draw a line in the sand right here. This issue right here is a make or break fellowship issue for us. I have a pastor friend in Detroit whose congregation is part of the American Episcopal Church, in fact, my mother-in-law’s funeral was held in his congregation’s sanctuary and if he agrees to submit to this heretic’s authority, then we will have no further fellowship, it is that serious to me personally and it breaks my heart but I and DMI fears God more than seeks the applause and friendship of man. The Apostle John is quite clear as is Paul in his letter to Titus on this matter and his admonition to Timothy:

2 John 1:9-11 Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your home, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deed.

Titus 3:10-11 A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

2 Tim 3:5: Having the form of godliness, but denying the power: from such stay away.

Many American Episcopal Churches have the outward form of godliness, I.e. they sing the hymns, pray, follow some form of liturgy, but deny the power of God which is found in the proclamation of the Gospel (see Rom. 1:16) by teaching that there is another pathway to eternal life apart from faith alone in Jesus.

As outrageous a stance as this woman has taken it is gratifying to report that several other bishops in the United States are appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury seeking to come under his authority. Other American Episcopalians have placed themselves under the spiritual oversight of the African Archbishop. Both of these Archbishops represent conservative wings of the Anglican faith. The African Archbishop being the more conservative of the two, but neither one accepts homosexual ordination nor agrees with the comments of Katharine Jefferts-Schori. Please join with us in prayer that the American Episcopal Church will come to its senses and reconsider whom they’re currently elected and replace with a brother who at least abides by the original confessional stance of the Episcopalian Church. If they do not remove her, then let her and those who follow her be anathema to you.

The “Father” Fenton Fiasco

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The first two attacks on the Church that outraged me (and I hope at least concern you very deeply) are issues that possibly touch closer to your home than my third “outrage.” This one is far more personal to me in my journey from heresy to Christian orthodoxy. John Fenton was previously a confessional evangelical pastor within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). As of Sunday 11-05-06, he had left the LCMS to join himself to the “Orthodox Church.” By Orthodox I mean as in the “Eastern Orthodox” branch of the Church. You might be saying to yourself, “ok, so what is the big deal? Didn’t Frankie Schaffer do the same thing after his illustrious father, Francis Schaffer died?” Some of you may be thinking “well aren’t Lutheran’s just Kissing-cousins of Roman Catholicism and the Eastern/Greek/Russian Orthodox Church just the stepbrothers of Roman Catholicism?” There is no short succinct answer to these questions. Let me just say that the Evangelical Lutheran Church (14) is not doctrinally related in many significant ways to the Roman Catholicism, the various Eastern Churches or the various Reformed and Protestant denominations. You’ll have to do your own sleuthing on this matter to see the clear distinctions between these branches of the visible Church. That said, confessional Lutherans readily and joyfully admit that God has His children scattered hither, thither and you, i.e. biblical Lutherans do not view themselves as the only genuine believers, nor do we consider the Evangelical Church to be the only true visible Body of Christ on earth.

What is outrageous about brother Fenton is that he is an intelligent man with a solid conservative seminary education; in fact, he is a graduate of Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. He has served as a pastor within the Missouri Synod for eleven years and as of October 29, 2006 he resigned as pastor at Zion Evangelical-Church of Detroit to join the Orthodox Church of America (OCA). I will cite statements he made in his resignation letter:

However, I am convinced that the Book of Concord contains defective or deficient doctrines not in accord with the faith of the apostles. In simple terms, these deficiencies include the acceptance of an amended Nicene Creed, the notion that Jesus died to appease His Father’s wrath, a man-centered understanding of the church, the denial of prayers to the saints, and the idea that the liturgy is a man-made product. (15)

No Lutheran seminary professor or pastor I have met (and I have met quite a few over the last several years) proclaim the Book of Concord to be infallible. The LCMS does teach, believe and confess that the teachings within the Book of Concord do accurately represent biblical doctrine and orthodox Christianity. It is however never placed on the same level as the Holy Bible, nor are its contents ever appealed to over the plain teachings of the Bible.

Naturallly, the OCA, like all branches of the Eastern Church, disagrees with the western understanding of the Nicene Creed. Here is the argument in a nutshell (more or less):

The Nicene Creed introduced the word “homoousious” or “ consubstantial” meaning “of one substance.” This word was not invented at the council Eusebius writes that some of the “most learned and distinguished of the ancient bishops had made use of consubstantial in treating of the divinity of the Father and the Son. (16)

The Nicene Creed, also called the Nicaeco-Constantinopolitan Creed, is a statement of the orthodox faith of the early Christian church in opposition to certain heresies, especially Arianism. These heresies, which disturbed the church during the forth century, concerned the doctrine of the trinity and of the person of Christ. Both the Greek (Eastern) and the Latin (Western) church held this creed in honor, though with one important difference: the Western church insisted on the inclusion of the phrase “and the Son” (known as the “filioque”) in the article on the procession of the Holy Spirit; this phrase still is repudiated by the Eastern Orthodox church. In its present form this creed goes back partially to the Council of Nicea (AD 325) with additions by the Council of Constantinople (AD 381). It was accepted in its present form at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but the “filoque” phrase was not added until 589, However, the creed is in substance an accurate and majestic formulation of the Nicene faith. (17)

All of the historic creeds were developed by the early church fathers as a means of refuting heretics and their false teachings. A simple working definition of creeds is as follows: “A creed is a brief statement of faith used to enumerate important truths, to clarify doctrinal points and to distinguish truth from error. Creeds are usually worded to be easily memorized. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, meaning, “I believe.” (18) Creeds are simply statements of what is commonly accepted as genuine Christian dogma. Virtually all Christian bodies do accept the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Creed of Chalcedon as well as the Athanasian Creed. (19) Apart from the Church of the Brethren, a small Anabaptist denomination whose statement is “no creed but the Bible,” this sounds pious, but actually demonstrates their ignorance of why the aforementioned creeds came into existence. It also highlights their misunderstanding regarding the place and use of the various creeds in liturgical confessional congregations.

What is the OCA (which is submitted to the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church) and Fenton’s issue with the Nicene creed as we confess it in the west? It boils down to western theologians adding a few words to clarify the Trinity because the original writing of the creed was a little fuzzy in this area:

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son” the debate concerned whether the Holy Spirit proceeded fro only the Father, or from the Father and the Son [filioque in Latin]. The phrase “and the Son” was not in the original Greek version of the Creed accepted at Nicaea and Constantinople. It was added in the Latin versions used in the Western (Roman) church in AD 589 as an attempt to clarify the relationship of the three person of the Trinity. The concern was that the original wording made Jesus the Christ subordinate to the Father, a view that the Western church felt endangered the doctrine of the Trinity. (20)

The Episcopalian Church has recently reverted back to the eastern version of the Nicene creed in their latest printing of the Book of Common Prayer (anything the Episcopalians do no longer surprises me).

Fenton’s next statement is equally outrageous to me when he blithely writes in opposition to “the notion that Jesus died to appease His Father’s wrath.” I am sure you have all seen the famous painting representing our Lord knocking on the outside of a cottage door? Now visualize that same painting with me standing there knocking on brother Fenton’s head!! Who does Fenton think Jesus was appeasing in His substitution death on the cross? The ransom view of the atonement is thankfully, not widely held these days (apart from the Word of Faith cultists). In this view Jesus died to purchase us back from Satan, this concept had its roots in the teaching of an early theologian named Origen, who was later condemned by the Church as a heretic not due to this teaching alone, but several others that went far beyond the pale of orthodoxy. (21) The problem inherent in Origen’s doctrine of the atonement deals with the issue of why does God owe Satan anything, especially His own Son?

The teaching of the LCMS and other truly evangelical bodies is that God sent His Son into the world (John 3:16) because of His great love for all humanity to suffer as our substitute, bearing the full brunt of God’s divine judgment that we owed due to our sin against a totally holy God. The words of an old hymn we used to sing, who name escapes me goes something like this: “I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe.” Jesus suffered and died in our place to appease the holy wrath of God by bearing in His own body the penalty for our sins. How brother Fenton could discard such an obvious truth of the Bible and embrace a heterdox view is to me outrageous.

Fenton’s next reason for departing from evangelical Christianity and going east is because Lutherans and others within Protestantism do not believe in praying to “saints.” He sure got that point of his letter correct. Lutherans and millions of other Christians do not pray to dead saints (including Mary) for one simple reason — THE BIBLE NEVER REMOTELY SUGGESTS THAT WE DO SO. Contrary to Fenton’s belief, the Bible teaches us the following:

Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 7:11 how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Luke 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name your kingdom come.’

John 15:16…Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

These are merely four verses from the Gospel that I have cited. In each case we are told by God the Son to pray to the Father, to do so in the name of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t Jesus say “when you pray, ask my mother, who in turn will ask Me, and I will then ask the Father.” Or why don’t we read of any of the writing Apostles saying “when I have gone on to glory, I’ll be listening for your prayers in order to intercede on your behalf before the throne of Almighty God.” What we do learn from apostolic writings are directives such as these:

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not . And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Christ Jesus Himself makes intercession for us and as for me and my household we’d much rather have the Son of God standing in the gap for us than His mother, blessed woman that she was or even Peter and Paul. We are also told quite plainly that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:26). As God’s own dear children in Christ we are told by the author of the book of Hebrews to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace, not to ask some dead “saint” to do it for us.

This brings me to another “outrage” concerning brother Fenton’s deflection from the pure light of God’s Word into the shadows caused by man-made doctrine…the whole eastern (Roman Catholic too) stress on “saints.” Folks we are all saints, set apart by the blood of the spotless lamb of God. No one in the New Testament is especially noted as a “saint” and the rest of the Church is full of ain’ts. Such a distinction is never made biblically, that is the impure invention of sinful man.

I close this last outrage with Fenton’s comment that he is now seeking membership in the “true visible church” on earth, I.e. the Orthodox Church of America. This is very prideful on the part of Orthodox Churches to make such a statement. If words mean anything, then every other expression of the Church visible is in fact not the true visible Church, only the Orthodox Church holds that position!

Some reading this may ask why is it that some fellow believers turn to Roman Catholicism (RC) or Eastern Orthodox (EO) expressions and jettison their former evangelical beliefs. I think the answer is both complex and simple and may differ from case to case. Over all, I believe what takes place is that people get deceived into thinking that either expression is the closest thing to New Testament Apostolic Christianity. Both of these historic expressions make this claim regarding themselves, but it is not true. The Great Schism between Eastern and Western branches of the faith were due to doctrinal issues.

Here are a few beliefs brother Fenton now embraces as “Truth”:

About Mary: “The Mother of God is often referred to as the “New Eve,” for she said “yes” to God whereas the first Eve said “no” We believe that the Mother of God was sinless of her own free will, that she remains ever virgin, and that she is the “living tabernacle” of God inasmuch as her womb, as one hymn states, becomes “more spacious than the heavens” by carrying within it the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. (22)

Psal. 51:5 Behold, I was sharpen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Rom. 3:1 As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one:

1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

So much about Mary’s perpetual sinlessness and perpetual virginity (Matt. 13:53).

About Icons: Orthodox people kiss them, bow to them, pray to them, Why? Inseparable from the liturgical tradition, religious art is seen by Orthodox Christians as a form of pictorial confession of faith and a channel of religious experience. this central function of religious images (icons) – unparalleled in any other Christian tradition – received its full definition following the end of the iconoclastic movement in Byzantium (843). The Orthodox theologians, on the other hand, based their arguments on the specifically Christian doctrine of the incarnation: God is indeed invisible and indescribable in his essence, but when the Son of God became man, he voluntarily assumed all the characteristics of created nature, including describability. Consequently, images of Christ, as man, affirm the truth of God’s ral incarnation, Because divine life shines through Christ’s risen and glorified humanity, the function of the artist consists in conveying the very mystery of the Christian faith through art. Furthermore, because the icons of Christ and the saints provide direct personal contact with the holy persons represented on them, these images should be objects of “veneration” (pokiness), (22)

Regardless of tradition, where is this commanded in the Bible? Our Bible commands that we make no graven images (see Deut 7:5-6)

Praying to the Dead: The saints are regarded as those who have reliably finished the course of their lives in the path of theosis. Those that are known to the Church are glorified (canonized) by incorporating their lives into the Church’s liturgical life, a recognition of Christ in them. They are venerated (shown great respect and love) but not worshiped, for worship is due to God alone. In showing the saints this love and requesting their prayers, it is believed by the Orthodox that they thus assist in the process of salvation for others. (23)

The reformation came about because Dr. Martin Luther and others wanted to reform the church and bring it back into line with the Scriptures. He, nor any other reformer ever taught that we should seek the dead on behalf of the living.

Please re-read carefully the Book of Acts and you will not find a blueprint on how to “do” Church. God by His wisdom left us a great deal of latitude in how local congregations function administratively, musically, and yes, even liturgically. For instance nothing is mentioned about wearing a collar, robes or vestments with specific colors for specific seasons of the Church calendar. Nothing is mentioned about incense, how long a sermon is to be, should candles be used or not, length of a service. Nor are we commanded to have a specific number of deacons or elders. Must we sit in pews or are folding chairs ok? Should the pastor speak from behind a pulpit or walk around the congregation as he preaches? These and a whole host of other issues are considered adiaphorous (or non essentials) by the Evangelical Church but unfortunately some portions of the church have elevated these and other non-essential traditions to having equal status with the Holy Bible.

Pray for brother Fenton, I fear he has jumped out of the pan quite literally into the fire. He will find that the Orthodox Church of America is run by sinful men, just like the LCMS, the Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptist confederations, et al. There is no perfect Church on this earth, at least as long as you and I are alive.

Paula White

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While the prior events were taking place I was doing a bit of morning surfing on the television and happened across the Christian program sponsored by Paula White Ministries. Paula, when not screeching and running around a platform somewhere like a chicken on crack she has decided to try her hand at a sit-down television studio set similar to other televangelists. Some of you may not know anything about White, so allow me to cite her own PR from her website:

Paula White is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Preacher, Author, Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Teacher, TV Personality, Wife and Mother. Beneath her unassuming beauty, lies a gentle and girlish charm. (24)

Note the order of importance that she describes herself: (1) Life Coach, (2) Motivational Speaker, (3) Pastor, (4) Preacher, (5) Author, (6) Humanitarian, (7) Philanthropist, (8) Teacher, (9) TV Personality, (10) Wife and (11) Mother.

Her husband and children are last on the list. The first two are accurate, especially after what I witnesses on her television program.

What was outrageous to me was that her guests were no less than Mr. Donald Trump and his co-author, Robert Kioysaki hawking their latest best selling book entitled “Why We Want You To Be Rich.” In fact, Mrs. White had these two men for several days. During this time (paid for by Christian donors) she never once confronted them in a loving manner with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e. that they were lost sinners in need of a Savior. What shocked and appalled me was that an internationally known woman “preacher” and a TBN regular would have two unrepentant heathens on her Christian program for the sole purpose of making money off the success of their book which she offers on her website ( anyone can buy it cheaper at Amazon.com). Trump has been married three times, after jettisoning wives number one and two on totally unbiblical grounds. He is well known for making much of his fortune from the gambling industry (casinos) and in short is a “prime candidate” for salvation. I do not know that much about his co-author, but he too is a multi-millionaire due to his other books and games he has created.

Brothers and sisters, there is something terribly wrong when someone who calls themselves a Christian and yet does not share the Gospel message with sinners sitting right next to them! Equally it is appalling to see irredeemable time wasted talking to men about how to get rich! The Bible plainly teaches that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:10). Sadly, Trump, Kioysaki and White’s goal seems to primarily self enrichment and not gaining wealth for the purposes plainly set forth in the Bible.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having wealth or making a great deal of money in this life time if biblical realities are kept in mind:

FIRST we all need to remember that it is God (not Trump’s schemes or our own abilities) that gives us the power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). The purpose for our wealth is NOT to buy bigger homes, fancier cars, more expensive clothing or more jewelry. God gives people the ability to get wealth to establish His covenant. The Lord knew then as He does now, how easy it is for His people fallen human beings that we are to wrongly take credit for what we have and to grasp onto it tightly as if the money He has entrusted us with was as precious as life itself.

SECONDLY, We are to use a portion of our wealth to support (25) the work and workers in the ministry (1 Cor. 16:2). In fact, the Holy Spirit has Paul remind God’s people on two occasions that they need to set aside a portion of their finances for ministry support. (1 Cor. 9.9 , 1 Tim. 5:18). In another place he says that those who preach/teach the gospel ought to make their living by their ministry work (1 Cor. 9:14). This doctrine is echoed again by Paul to Timothy especially regarding leaders who teach (1 Tim 5:17). (26)

THIRDLY We all gain wealth to some degree through the work of our hands, some make more, others less that is not the issue. What is paramount to remember is the purpose of our work. Again, we do not work to get ahead of the “Jones” or keep up with the “Copelands.” No, the purpose of our labor is so that we may have something left to give to those who lack, I.e. the poor. (Acts 10:2, Eph. 4:28).

All of these outrages seemed to occur within a week of each other, it really has caused me to consider the seriousness of the times we are living in and the need to be all the more faithful in teaching truth & exposing error.

On behalf of Discernment Ministries International let me again express my heartfelt gratitude to our Lord for raising up those of you who faithfully support our ministry. We thank you for being both obedient to our Lord with your support and generous in your giving. It continues to be our prayer that everyone who reads Truth Matters, makes use of the website or uses our materials would give some amount each month. In all honesty, DMI really has need of more financial support.

With the passing of my mother-in-law things got backlogged on every front, both in ministry and our personal lives as a family. It may be a negative confession, but all of my immediate family not only went through a period of grieving, but my wife and I also suffered from a low grad depression, which thankfully has now lifted.

With this in mind please forgive the lateness of the last issue of Truth Matters, a few folks might still be waiting to receive a book or CD (they are on the way!), not to mention the delayed sending out of quarterly giving statements. If by the time you read this letter and you have not received something you did order PLEASE let me know (call me collect, and I will rectify it as quickly as possible.

I realize that some ministers would never publicly admit to such things, but I learned a great lesson from Kevin Butcher, a friend, fellow pastor and mentor who taught me that value of taking the risk, of being transparent to those you love and serve along with the truth of striving to be a human being versus a human doing. Thanks Kevin, those are lessons I will not forget. ♦

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Obtained from http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=defineoutrage&sa=X&io=glossary_definition&ct=title.

2. Colorado Springs Gaette, by Paul Asay, Bill Vogrin and Deedee Corell, Haggard Dismissed, 11-03-2006

3. Ibid

4. DMI was one of the first Apologetic ministries to expose Mr. LIARdon the date for his outing was obtained from http://www.christian-witness.org/archive/van2003/bilby_restor16.html

5. Los Angeles Times, Andrew Gumbel, September 18, 2004

6. Ibid. Bold type added for emphasis.

7. Please understand that I cite “church janitor” as merely an example of a lowly position (in some people’s eyes) as opposed to that of the pastor/prophets/apostle. I am in no way denigrating the often unseen and thankless task of those who keep the church buildings clean.

8. Colorado Springs Gazette, Ted Haggard’s letter to New Life Church, November 5, 2006. Underlining added for emphasis.

9. It is beyond the scope of this article to consider the roles of men and woman within the church. I know many women who are very gifted and I respect them. Yet God’s Word is the guide by which all our faith and practice is to be judged by and women simply are not called to serve as pastors, elders, bishops, or teachers over men.

10. This is according to an article on her ordination located at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/04/national/main2153338.shtml

11. Agape Press, by Jody Brown and Allie Martin, Comments by Jefferts-Schori During Interview Appear to Contradict Scripture, 11-02-06. Bold type added for emphasis.

12. Ibid

13. Quote from Jim Tonkowich, Religion Without Foundations, writer for the Daily Standard.

14. Please understand that the Lutheran Church was originally called the “evangelical” church and was not a part of the Roman Catholic church, nor is Confessional Lutheranism a part of the Protestant reformation nor a “Reformed” church/

15. Taken from John W. Fenton, M Div., S.T.M. Letter of Resignation submitted on 10- 29-06. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

16. Obtained from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/sbrandt/nicca.htm

17. Obtained from http://www.crcna.org/pages/nicene_creed.cfm Underlining added for emphasis.

18. Obtained from http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphlet/3creeds.htm

19. For more insight into the interesting history surrounding these and other classic statements of the Christian faith you might pay a visit to the following websites: http://www.creeds.net/; http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphet/3creeds.htm or http://www.cresourcei.org/creedsearly.html.

20. Statement obtained from http://www.cresourcei.org/creedsearly.html Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

21. If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomisu, Macedomius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema. This quotation was obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/widi/Origen#Christology.

22. The Evangelical position is stated as follows: Lutheran teaching of the atonement stresses that God’s act is objective, taking the imitative (cf. the OT concept of the Covenant) in reaching out toward man, and that Christ’s work is vicarious in that He bears the burden of sin, which is rightfully man’s (GI 3:10-13, cf. ls. 53). Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/ca/www./cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=A&t2=t.

23. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox_Church#The_Theotokos_and_the_saints on 11-08-80.

24. Obtained from http://www.oca.org/QAasp?ID=6&SID=3.

25. Obtained from http://www.paulawhite.org/about.htm.

26. When DMI and other Apologetic ministries refer to financial support please understand that we mean just that I.e. receive enough financial help to pay or feed or families, pay our bills and run our small ministries. I do not know one Apologetic or Counter-cult ministry that lives above a “middle-class” financial level, most of us, DMI most assuredly lives just above the poverty line economically speaking. I find it shameful when “ministers” receive millions of dollars personally I don’t care how “big” they are.

27. Those who preformed their functions well were worthy of “double honor [GK G5507}.” Since this word was often used in the sense of a price paid for something, it had been suggested that here it might be translated “honoraruim”. Perhaps we should allow both “honor” and honorarium” Highest honor is to be given to “those whose work is preaching and teaching.” 18. This verse, a well as the proceeding discussion of support for widows (vv. 3-16), suggests definitely that the “double honor” for elders was to be a financial remuneration. Quoting Dt. 25:4 (cf. 1 Co. 9:9) and Lk 10:7, Paul makes the point that a worker should receive compensation. Obtained from the Zondervan Reference Library CD, ver. 2.6. The New American Commentary Module.





The Fivefold Fallacy

22 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – Oct. 2005   Vol. 10 Issue 10 – The Fivefold Fallacy – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Fivefold Fallacy

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One of our primary ministry objectives is to equip our readers with enough accurate biblical information so they can defend the truth of God’s Word when confronted with the various biblical errors and heresies that are swamping the Church.

Defeating heresy requires going to the root and laying the axe there first, once the root has been severed the various limbs lose the source of their strength and wither and die. This is why DMI spent six months dealing with the core doctrines of the Word of Faith cult. Once a person sees the biblical fallacies within the central tenants of their belief system the truth of God’s Word will indeed set them free to begin to worship and follow Christ in spirit and in truth.

In my former ignorance as a charismatic extremist I studied the history of Pentecostalism and their leaders and began back then collecting original source materials from as many of these leaders as I could, the bulk of which now serves as the DMI archive. I was an active extremist when the “prophetic” became a movement in the early 1980’s according to its farcical father “Dr.”, “Bishop,” “Apostle,” Bill Hamon who is on record making the following statement:

That company of prophetess is being raised up in the 1980’s, God revealed to me that there are 10,000 prophets on the North American continent alone being prepared to be released within the Church. (1)

The fact that today virtually every Pentecostal and sign-gift charismatic believes that God has indeed restored prophets and apostles to the Church (2) are merely branches from the poisonous tree whose tap root is found in the false doctrine commonly referred to as the fivefold ministry.

Before we dive into the murky depths of this doctrine of men you must understand a key term of “restoration.” All of Pentecostalism from Montanus in 170 AD (3) to Edward Irving in the 1800’s to the so called Azusa revival and then later on the “Healing” revival of Post World War Two have seen themselves as a divine movement of restoration by God. Initially the belief in restoration was confined to divine healing, then later it included the sign-gifts, especially the alleged ability to speak in other tongues (4) and a general restoring of supernatural miracle power to the Church.

According to the extremist leaders (past and present) the Church somehow lost a great deal of its biblical knowledge, truth, insight and power. Obviously, this means somewhere down the line our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church (read Eph. 1:22) dropped the ball and allowed great truths to be forgotten or lie dormant until He could get through to certain anointed individuals to “restore” them back to the Church and bring us back on track. Hamon, a firm believer in dispensational demarcations gives us the following “chart” of divine restoration of the Church:

Hamon, Bill. Prophets and Personal Prophecy God’s Prophetic Voice Today. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, p.20, 1987. This statement is from vol. one of a three vol. set on the Prophetic Movement.

Obviously, there are some exceptions. Some of the traditional Pentecostal denominations and other independent charismatic congregations do not believe God has set apostles and prophets back into the Church. However, these groups are in the minority. It is fair to say that easily 90% + people involved with some form of Pentecostalism endorse the reality of prophets and apostles today.

According to historic Pentecostalism, the gift of tongues was given for missionary purposes because the leaders of that time firmly believed that Jesus Christ was returning very soon and the Gospel needed to be preached throughout the World. There was simply no time to go to a mission school and learn foreign language. They believed God was restoring this gift to get the “Word” out. It was not until almost 50 years later when the fledgling charismatic movement was started that the concept of having a personal private prayer language became popular, that was not the original belief of Pentecostalism.

Year        Restoration Movement               Major Truth Restored
1500                  Protestant (5)                               Salvation thru grace thru faith
1600                     Puritan                       Water Baptism, separation of Church and state
1700                    Holiness                 Sanctification, the Church set apart from the world.
1800               Faith-Healing                      Divine healing for the physical body
1900         Pentecostal movement         Holy Spirit Baptism and speaking in tongues
1950      Latter Rain Movement              Prophetic presbytery, praise and worship
1960            Charismatic                                        Renewal of all restored truth
1970          Word of Faith                                      Faith confessions, prosperity
1980             Prophetic                              Prophets and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (6)

 

Four Major Movements

All Christians who have received God’s present truth (7) accept the last four groups —Protestant, Holiness/Evangelical, Classical Pentecostal and Latter Rain/Charismatic — as movements that were Holy Spirit directed and established by God. They are called major movements because each one restored one of the seven doctrines of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1,2.   (8)

Present Truth or Present Day Truth is extremist code and it refers to the new revelations being given by the accepted restored prophets and apostles to the Church. These may be doctrines previously unknown and untaught in the history of the Church, they are “new” and must be accepted by faith in the one delivering the new revelation.

Doctrine of Christ                          Approx. Date            Restoration Movement
1. Repentance from dead works               1500         ……….        Protestant
2. Faith toward God                                        1800         ……….        Holiness/Evangelical
3. Doctrine of Baptism                                 1900          ……….         Classic Pentecostal
4. Laying on of Hands                                   1950          ……….         Latter Rain/Charismatic
5. Resurrection of Dead                                  ?                                             ?
6. Eternal Judgment                                       ?                                             ?
7. Ultimate Perfection                                   ?                                             ?

 

Hebrews 6:1,2 are not dispensational. The author gives no indication that he is referring to anything more than foundational doctrines that comprise orthodox Christianity. The writer is in a way unbraiding these Christians because they ought to be well established in these truths. In the prior verses he bemoans the fact that they ought to be teachers (Heb. 5:12) but are still only fit for the milk of God’s Word and not the weightier matters. According to Hamon and the other Latter Rain adherents it has taken God something like 450 years just to “restore” these doctrines to the Church, teachings that any well equipped pastor is transmitting to his flock to his Sunday school classes or from the pulpit.

Yet it is crucial that people buy into the concept of God continuing to “restore” lost truths and give new revelations to empower the Church for the last great world-wide revival which will Christianize the world and prepare it to be a suitable place for Jesus to return to. (10) If one is willing to believe that God has been in a process of restoring the Church then they are in perfect position to accept the next major fallacy which is the foundation of today’s so-called Prophetic/Apostolic movement.

The Fivefold Ministry

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heaven, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: Eph. 4:10-13

This is the text that has been used since the mid 1940’s to make the case that the Church needs to have, in the words of the Latter Rain extremists, all five ascension gifts active in the Church for it to be brought to the full stature of Christ.

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What gave strength to the false belief that the Church needed all five of the ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4 was the advent of the ministry of William Branham. Without going into detail Mr. Branham was a unique individual, whose life was marked by many paranormal events. He grew up in the backwoods of Kentucky in 1909 and was virtually uneducated. Around 1946 he began a major thrust of his divine healing ministry.

He was supposed to be able to reveal to the individuals standing before him their names, what was wrong with them, where they lived, etc… Often before he would pray for them he would say “do you believe I am the Lord’s prophet?” the person would respond “yes” and he would say, “then go on your way your faith has healed you.” Branham attributed his ability to discern the thoughts and intents of people’s hearts as a gift from God who has appeared to Branham an told him He would bestow these two signs to him. (11) Due to Branham’s unique ministry and his own claims to be God’s prophet he drew a huge following. His ministry combined with some of the writings of Franklin Hall (12) was the impetus behind the formation of a new revival called “The New Order of the Latter Rain.”

There is some confusion over this aspect of Branham’s ministry, because on some of his audio tapes in the DMI archive he admits that he is helpless until his “angel” appears on the platform and that it was this being who actually revealed people’s lives to Branham. Once he was asked if what he did was by the power of the Holy Spirit, he said “no it was his angel.” Also it is well documented on tape and video that Branham used prayer cards that people filled out, and although uneducated, he may well have had a photographic memory which gave him to appearance of knowing these facts about people.

Franklin Hall wrote a book which became somewhat of a manual for this next “great’ move of God entitled “Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting.” This book is out of print today but it along with other out-of-print resource materials is available on a DMI CD entitled: The New Order of the Latter Rain for $15.00. Hall was a complete nut who wrote about how to levitate, how to achieve physical immortality and how to raise the dead. Hs writings were crucial to a sub-group within the NOLR called “The Manifest Sons of God.”

What has always amazed me about Mr. Branham’s ministry is that even though he was acknowledged as a false teach by other charismatic ministers he was accepted as a genuine prophet by them. He denied the Trinity of God, he taught that belonging to any denomination was a sign of the beast and would damn a person to hell. This teaching alone was primarily responsible for the mass exodus of pastors from the Assembly of God denomination, which came out with a statement against the New Order of the Latter Rain in 1949. It was also the reason behind the creation of all the independent charismatic congregations we have today. Not to mention the various false and unfulfilled “prophetic” words Mr. Branham is on record of spouting.

Some Canadians who attended some of Branham’s meetings took their enthusiasm back to their Bible school in North Battleford. It seems that from this seedbed the concept of a restored “Fivefold” ministry was birthed:

One of the points of controversy between the North Battleford brethren and the established Pentecostal denominations was the belief of the leaders at Sharon that the church had present-day apostles and prophets. Some of the first indications of controversy along these lines are in the June 1948 issue of The Sharon Star. According to George Hawtin: When one starts talking about prophets and apostles being in the Church in our day, the poor saints are shocked half to death. They raise their hands in holy terror and cry, “heresy! Heresy!” Now MY BIBLE SAYS: “GOD HATH SET SOME in the church, FIRST APOSTLES, SECONDAIRLY PROPHETS, THIRDLY TEACHERS, and after that miracles, then gifts of healings, etc. (13)

The movement became associated in people’s minds with the brethren in North Battleford who played a large part in initially spreading the revival. It also became associated with the practices of these brethren, including the laying on of hands and acceptance of present-day apostles and prophets. (14)

Mr. Hamon received his ”call” into ministry in October 1953 in one of the fledgling break away Latter Rain congregations. (15) from one of the restored prophets, which made an indelible impression theologically on the rest of his life. This initial false teaching of a restored fivefold ministry, like yeast in bread has spread throughout all of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement and today it is not even questioned as valid.

One of the hallmarks of the New Order of the Latter Rain (LRM) and subsequently the Charismatic Renewal Movement is a doctrine of imparting the Holy Spirit and His gifts through the laying on of hands. In response to this error let me simply cite Dr. Martin Luther in his Smalcald Articles:

In these matters, which concern the external, spoken Word, we must hold firmly to the conviction that God gives no one his Spirit or grace except through or with the external Word which comes before. Thus we shall be protected from the enthusiasts—that is, from the spiritualists who boast that they possess the Spirit without and before the Word and who therefore judge, interpret, and twist the Scriptures or spoken Word according to their pleasure…Even so, the enthusiasts of our day condemn the external Word, yet they do not remain silent but fill the world with their chattering and scribbling, as if the Spirit could not come through the Scriptures or the spoken word of the apostles but must come through their own writings and words.

In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it is the source, strength, and power of all heresy… Accordingly, we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through his external Word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word and sacrament is of the devil. Luther, in dealing with the extremists of his day simply said that God does not give the Holy Spirit apart from His Word and sacraments. Whatever people want to attribute to the Spirit apart from the external word of God and sacraments is from the devil. (16)

This relegates the belief that one can bestow the Holy Spirit and His gifts (as if He was some commodity) through the laying on of hands as being of the devil and I agree with Luther on this matter. Like all error unless it is biblically excised from the Body it will spread. So the LRM enthusiasts took their initial error further and teach that not only is the Spirit given through their hands, but now also ministry offices are imparted (or activated) through their hands as well.

What is the role of these restored ascension gifts of apostle and prophet in the Church according to the extremists today?

The full restoration of apostles and prophets back into the Church will then bring divine order, unity, purity and maturity to the corporate Body of Christ. The saints will be equipped and activated in the supernatural power of God to be a witness and demonstration to all nations of the powerful kingdom of God. (17)

According to Hamon and may others in this movement, they see their role as being pivotal in bringing the Church to a place of completion thus enabling Jesus Christ to return. They base this belief on the following proof-text:

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

They interpret this text to mean that Jesus must stay in heaven until the times of restitution (restoration in some translations) of all things, which, obviously, has to include the ministry of both the apostles and prophets. Without all the five ascension gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4 being active with the apostle and prophet having the preeminent roles in activating (18) the other ministries the church will remain out of divine order, in disarray, impure and immature.

Hamon and others see the restored fivefold ministries as a divine hierarchy, with the apostle being at the top and the prophet either next to or directly beneath him or her (depending on whose book you read). Everybody else is beneath them. The restored apostles and prophets are to give divine direction to the Church. These heretics have set themselves up not only to be the judges of doctrine but also the formulators of new doctrines.

Please understand that the stated goal of this movement is to demolish every denominational distinction and to enforce spiritual unity through the use of supernatural power. They foresee the day when every city will have one Church with many pastors, but each city will be led by a group of apostles and prophets, who will hear from God and give direction for the Church without walls. Hamon has gone so far as to explain how the fivefold “mafia” will work within the “city church.”

When the fivefold ministers come together to consider doctrines and practices this way, they will need to keep in mind several areas of insight; (1) the claimed revelation from God; (2) the fruit of the ministry among those who have received the doctrine or practice; (3) the supernatural working of God accompanying it; (4) the Logos and rhema word of God application and authority for the doctrine or practice; and (5) the witness of the Spirit and the unified consent of those present. (19)

All five of these principles for establishing doctrine, as Hamon calls them, are completely subjective. Let me break omerta and decode the lingo in Hamon’s directive. The claimed revelation from God refers to the belief that God is giving forth-new revelation to/through His restored prophets and apostles. Then they look at the subjective experiential fruit among the people espousing the latest revealed truth. Are the people happy? Is it causing numerical growth and financial giving, are people reporting a deeper walk with Christ in a pietistic sense? Number three, we have to check out the signs and wonders, after all, God confirms His word with signs following (mark 16:20). Any new doctrine or practice must have some variety of paranormal activity validating its divine origin. These signs do not have to have a biblical precedent (see rule number 4), thus just have to be accepted as coming from God and can easily fall under the aegis of being “new wine” of the Holy Spirit such as was seen in the Toronto Blessing experience. Fourthly, the Word of God must be considered. Not to worry, if what is currently being proposed as new doctrine or practice, even if hitherto unknown in the 2,000 years of recorded Church history, cannot be found within the context of Scripture there are tow fall-back positions. (1) What is being taught and experienced is present day truth (read 2 Peter 1:12). (2) What is being taught and/or experienced is part of something Jesus did, but it is not recorded in the Bible (read John 21:25). (20)  These two arguments are commonly cited today. They are used as a means to get away from the absolute authority of God’s external word, the Bible. Lastly, we have the subjective “witness” of the spirit by the restored fivefold ministry. In other words, this means that the gathered group of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers all sit around and say “yup seems ok to me.” It is very apparent that the Word of God is not central in their thinking, It no longer serves as the sole source of all faith and practice.  Please keep in mind, this aspect of the charismatic movement is growing very rapidly and almost universally endorsed within the movement overall.

Does The Fivefold Ministry Exist Today?

In a word, no it does not exist today. The LRM has twisted this text, like so many others, and have tried to make it say something that it does not say at all. To begin with we have to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and even that must be done within the context of the verses examined.

Jesus said “I will build my church”  (read Matt 16:18)  so we know that the Church is being constructed by no less than God the Son. Furthermore we see in the Scriptures that Jesus is referred to twice as the “Head of the Body” (read Eph. 5:23 and Col. 2:19). What is more He is also referred to as “being the chief corner [stone];“ Eph. 2:20.

Most theologians would agree that The Lord Jesus Christ began to build His Church on the Day of Pentecost. By that time He had already chosen who would be His Apostles and they had received the Holy Spirit (read John 20:22). (21) For simplicity’s sake let me just say that the foundation of the Church was laid in the beginning and is detailed for us in the Book of Acts.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Eph. 2:20-22.

When you build a house you first lay the foundation. The foundation of the Church was laid by the genuine Apostles and Prophets with Christ Jesus as the chief corner stone. Once the foundation has been laid the master builder proceeds to erect the superstructure.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; …1 Cor. 3:10-12

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul stated in the text above. He has laid (past tense) the foundation and others build on that foundation. There is no other foundation which can or needs to be laid than that which has already been laid, which is Christ Jesus! Then Paul goes back to commenting on how one may build on that original foundation.

Brothers and sisters Jesus Christ is not asleep at the right hand of the Father, but is active and alive among us today. He has been superintending His Church since its inception. He has been building upon the original foundation laid by the original genuine Apostles and Prophets through the faithful ministry of the proclamation of the Gospel and sacraments carried out by evangelists and pastors. I might as well add at this point that the Greek text does not divide pastors and teachers as two gifts but is better-translated pastor-teachers. I acknowledge that in other places teachers are mentioned apart from pastors, but this text, which the heretics abuse does not even hold forth the concept of a fivefold ministry linguistically! At best, if they wanted to be honest with the text they would have to say God is restoring a fourfold ministry.

God does not need to “restore” apostles and prophets to the Church in order to bring us to perfection. No one apart from the lunatic fringe has ever claimed such a thing until the advent of the neo-Montanist movement. They laid the foundation, they received the Word of God and the canon is closed. The Scriptures are all we need as our guide for faith and practice and anything which is not in accord with the context of the Bible is to be rejected as false doctrine and false practice. These deceivers insult the authority of the Scriptures by their claim to additional revelation and restoration and what is worse they insult the Author of the Scripture and the Holy Spirit Himself. The so-called restored apostles and prophets are on very dangerous ground indeed and the Church needs to mark them and sound a warning to our brothers and sisters not to be led astray by such people.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.     Romans 16:17    ♦

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Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Hamon, Bill    Prophets and Personal Prophecy God’s Prophetic Voice Today.   Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, p. 20, 1987. This statement is from vol. one of a three vol. set on the Prophetic Movement.

2. Obviously, there are some exceptions. Some of the traditional Pentecostal denominations and other independent charismatic congregations do not believe God has set apostles and prophets back into the Church. However, these groups are in the minority. It is fair to say that easily 99% + people involved with some form of Pentecostalism endorse the reality of prophets and apostles today.

3. DMI has one of the few books in publication on Montanus entitled Montanus, Father of Charismatic Extremism. It can be ordered for 8.00

4. According to historic Pentecostalism, the gift of tongues was given for missionary purposes because the leaders of that time firmly believed that Jesus Christ was returning very soon and the Gospel needed to be preached throughout the world. There was simply no time to go to a mission school and learn a foreign language. They believed God was restoring this gift to get the “Word” out. It was not until almost 50 years later when the fledgling charismatic movement was started that the concept of having a personal private prayer language became popular, that was not the original belief of Pentecostalism.

5. I will not be too exacting regarding Mr. Hamon’s inaccurate assessment of Church history, however he is referring to Martin Luther (as he does later in his book). Luther and Lutheranism are not part of the Protestant Reformation, nor are Lutherans Protestants denominationally; we are original “Evangelicals”.

6. Hamon, Bill,   Prophets and the Prophetic Movement God’s Prophetic Move Today.  Shippensburg, Pa; Destiny Image, p. 24, 1987.

7. Present Day Truth is extremist code and it refers to the new revelations being given by the accepted restored prophets and apostles to the Church. These may be doctrines previously unknown and untaught in the history of the Church, they are “new” and must be accepted by faith in the one delivering the new revelation.

8. Hamon, Bill,   Prophets and the Prophetic Movement God’s Prophetic Move Today. Shippensburg, Pa; Destiny Image, p. 37, 1987.

9. Ibid. p. 38

10. The New Order of the Latter Rain which has its beginning in the mid 1940’s differed from classic dispensational systems in that it taught that the goal of restoration was to enable the Church to take complete dominion over the entire world (often referred to as Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology). The leaders of the prophetic/apostolic movement do not teach in a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church which is common among mainline Pentecostal groups, most Baptists, and even the Word of Faith cult.

11. There is some confusion over this aspect of Branham’s ministry because on some of his audio tapes in the DMI archive he admits that he is helpless until his “angel” appears on the platform and that it was this being who actually revealed people’s lives to Branham. Once he was asked if what he did was by the power of the Holy Spirit, he said “no it was his angel.” Also it is well documented on tape and video that Branham used prayer cards that people filled out, and although uneducated, he may well have had a photographic memory which gave him to appearance of knowing these facts about people.

12. Franklin Hall wrote a book which became somewhat of a manual for this next “great” move of God entitled “Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting.” This book is out of print today but it along with other out-of-print resource materials is available on a DMI entitled The New Order of the Latter Rain for $15.00. Hall was a complete nut who wrote abut how to levitate, how to achieve physical immortality and how to raise the dead. His writings were crucial to a sub-group within the NOLR called “The Manifest Sons of God.”

13. Riss, Richard.  Latter Rain,  Etobicoke, Ontario; Honeycomb Products, p. 71, 1983.

14. Ibid p. 76. Underlining added for emphasis.

15. Hamon, Bill   Prophets and Personal Prophecy God’s Prophetic Voice Today.  Shippensburg, PA. p.2 1987

16. Tappert, Theodore  The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA Fortress Press, pp. 312,313. 1959. Underlining added for emphasis.

17. Hamon, Bill. Prophets and Personal Prophecy God’s Prophetic Move Today. Shippensburg, PA. , p59 1987.

18. The term “activate” is a term used within the prophetic/apostolic movement to refer to the alleged ability to not only impart the Holy Spirit and His gifts, but also to anoint and empower men and women into every ministry field including that of apostle and prophet. The concept of activation is central to Latter Rain Theology because God only uses these restored apostles and prophets to genuinely impart ministry gifts to God’s people.

19. Hamon, Bill.  Prophets and Personal Prophecy God’s Prophetic Move Today. Shippensburg, PA. , p 180 1987.

20. This is an especially dangerous position that the charismatic movement has taken regarding judging so called new doctrines and experiences. When questions about the total lack of biblical precedent regarding being slain in the spirit, holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness or other novelties, they simply respond that they were no doubt found in Jesus’ ministry but not recorded in the Bible. We are then required to take it on “faith” when the restored leaders tell us that this is indeed proof of a new “move” of God. Every bible-based cult group took this approach when they attempted to support their views, eventually the cult group took this approach when they attempted to support their views, eventually the bible is always cast aside the writings of the cult leader or becomes interpreted by the cult leaders insights.

21. A careful reading of the Book of Acts will demonstrate that only the Apostles were authorized to “impart” spiritual gifts. Those who were empowered by God through these genuine Apostles are never shown bestowing the Holy Spirit or His gifts to others. Throughout Church history it is only people captivated by spiritual enthusiasm or who are heretics that have believed/taught that they had the authority and power to give the Spirit to others.





Doctrine; How Important Is It Really?

30 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – April 2005 Vol. 10 Issue 4 – Doctrine: How Important Is It Really? – by Robert J. Shipe

Doctrine;  How Important Is It Really?

 When the Holy catholic Church confesses the second article of the Apostles Creed it states:

“I believe in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

These historic and profound words which have been said throughout the ages of Christianity, and which are taken from the Holy Word of God tell us about the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, the Holy One from God. Our faith in Him, whom God sent to “take away the sins of the world,” is our only way to eternal salvation and heavenly home “whose kingdom has no end.”

The second article of the creed properly and truthfully describes Jesus, and we Christians adhere to and have total faith in these words when we confess this important teaching or doctrine of the universal church. Doctrine? Is this statement of faith that we confess in the Divine Service doctrine? Or is the idea of the creed being a doctrine of the church just a quirk, something that just happens to be true but really is not indicative of the God-Man Jesus Christ? Can we go even further? Can we rightfully state and prove that Jesus’ very essence, His entire being including His ministry, was firmly grounded in doctrine? If the answer to this question is “yes” then we must ask ourselves; do we need to adhere to ALL doctrine of the church laid out in the confession of the Lutheran church, or only to really important doctrines such as justification and the Trinity? Does all doctrine point directly to Christ, and is all doctrine really important? Or, as many in the Lutheran church today believe; is doctrine talked about too much, causing a stifling of growth. What follows is a brief look at some of these questions.

Let’s look at the very first question from above: Is the Apostles Creed doctrine? If such things as creation, the Trinity, virgin birth, the resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit, the church and eschatology are considered teachings, then we would have to say that the creed is full of doctrine. There probably would not be too much debate on this, even from those who may disagree on the other aspects of doctrine stated in the previous paragraph.

The disagreement comes with the next question: Is the creed being a doctrinal statement just something that happens to be true but is not consistent with the ministry and very essence of Jesus? In the very first book of the Bible God reveals to us that because of man’s fall He will send a Savior into the world to cleanse man from his sin (Genesis 3). In this very first book, God has already revealed to us the doctrine of original sin and justification in direct connection to the Christ. This doctrine of justification (both objective and subjective) is consistent throughout the Old Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is also consistently revealed to us when the Old Testament talks about the “Spirit of God” and with the prophecy of the coming of the Christ through the written word of the prophets.

The New Testament is filled with doctrine pointing directly to Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus can be directly traced to every teaching of the church catholic as it is laid out in the confessions of the Lutheran church, The Book of Concord. From Article I, the doctrine of God, to Article XXVIII, The Power of Bishops, each and every doctrine of the church is related to Christ. Any doctrine not relating to Christ, is no doctrine at all but adiaphorous, meaning that a teaching is neither commanded nor forbidden scripturally.

When the church errs on one doctrine, it becomes a snowball effect with other doctrines becoming weak. For instance; if the virgin birth is rejected then the deity of Christ will be questioned, which in turn will effect the doctrine of the Trinity, the atonement of Christ, the justification of the sinner, eschatology and finally our very salvation itself. Even if we take a certain doctrine and err on only one part we are in danger of the same results. When the doctrine of objective justification is rejected, that is, when it is stated that Jesus came into the world not for all of mankind but only for believers, we have also erred on the doctrine of election and predestination, which only God knows. The sacraments themselves become a questionable focus point on this issue of denying objective justification. In the Epitome of the Book of Concord we read;

“God assures us of this gracious election not only in mere words, but also with His oath, and has sealed it with His holy sacraments, of which we can remind ourselves and with which we can comfort ourselves in our greatest temptations and thus extinguish the flaming darts of the devil.” (Formula of Concord Art. XI paragraph 13).

Of course the Bible is full of objective justification doctrine. John 3:16 is one example among many. Listen to what Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). So it is not only important to adhere to a doctrine, but to adhere to it completely and unequivocally. It is also important that if “basic Christian doctrine” such as The Trinity and justification by faith alone are adhered to then all other doctrine also needs to be adhered to because all doctrine is tied together.

In many Lutheran churches today while the creed may be confessed every Sunday (though here in Michigan there are many Pastors who do not think the creed is even necessary) it is not thought upon as an important doctrine of Christianity. While this may not be openly taught, it is clearly perceived with the absence of such teaching and preaching.

In fact it can be safely said that very little doctrine (which can be argued is almost always Gospel) is taught at all. Why? Why would doctrine of the Church catholic which has already been shown to be so crucial to and inclusive of the very work and person of Jesus be suppressed and even despised by many churches today? The answers are as varied as the number of missing doctrines themselves.

Many in the Lutheran church believe teaching doctrine and adhering to it takes away from the ministry of Christ. They believe that the Christian’s focus should be on Christ and the way He lived His life. This type of thinking has spawned the ever-popular W.W.J.D. bracelets, “What would Jesus do? Of course our focus needs to be on Christ, but instead of focusing on what He WOULD do, we need to focus on what He did and continues to do for us.

By focusing on what He did for us (justification) and what He continues to do for us (the preaching of His word and the administration of His sacraments) the faith built by His gifts will produce in us good works (sanctification). Justification, the sacraments, sanctification are all-important doctrines that are directly tied together with the ministry of Christ. By teaching and adhering to the doctrines of Jesus the ministry of Christ does not suffer because, as has already been shown with confessing the creed, the ministry of Christ IS doctrine.

In the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to teach and Baptize all nations, or all people. He tells them to teach the nations “everything I have commanded you.” If we focus on only the law (what would Jesus do), we are only focusing on those things which cannot save us because the law always condemns us and shows us where we have failed (the second use of the law, mirror). The gifts God gives to us produces faith, which can and do save us. So the ministry of Christ does not suffer but comes alive and comforts the sinner since he knows and understands the doctrines Jesus teaches AND lives.

Let us not forget that Jesus had some very strong things to say about His coming atoning sacrifice in John Chapter 6. If ever there was an opportunity for “church growth” it was when Jesus was feeding the 5000. When Jesus had said this “hard” teaching many of His followers turned and left Him. Did Jesus run after them shouting “Wait, let me meet your needs. I didn’t really mean what I said?” No. Instead He turned to Peter and wanted to know if he too wanted to leave with the rest. Peter answered for all the ages by saying; “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Jesus’ words are His teachings, His doctrine for the believer to learn, adhere to and follow. Because we fail so miserably in following and living Jesus’ teachings make it even more important to know, understand and confess those teachings.

Another reason why doctrine is not taught and is even despised in many of today’s Lutheran churches is because many believe that doctrine is too hard to teach, especially to children. Words such as “original sin,” “justification,” “sanctification,” “sacraments,” “Trinity,” “absolution,” and “eschatology” are too “theological” and obsolete they argue. While some of these words are not found in the Bible, their concepts are. Jesus taught all of these doctrines, not to the scholars of the day, but to fisherman, tax collectors and the like. Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman were hardly brilliant women, but Jesus didn’t shy away from teaching any of them important doctrines of His ministry. It could arguably be said that the smartest person Jesus taught certainly was not the easiest, at least by theological and cultural standards; Paul of Tarsus.

Now it may be argued that it was the Christ who was doing the teaching, God Himself explaining His doctrines to all these poor miserable sinners and certainly we cannot compare our wisdom with His. This is no doubt very true, but how about the people who were taught by the disciples? These were mere men teaching people who never hear the Gospel. Romans, Hebrews, Corinthians, Ephesians, and the like, even if they were intelligent, had no idea what these teachings meant, but they were still taught all these doctrines. In fact, how could Christianity have grown if they weren’t taught? Of course, Christianity grows solely by the Holy Spirit and that too is a doctrine, an important doctrine, of the church.

Children too need to be taught the doctrines of Jesus. Of course it wouldn’t be practical to use phases like “justification” with a 4 year old (though with the Holy Spirit anything is possible), but the teaching itself can and must be taught. Let’s look once again to the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to Baptize and teach “all nations.” This includes children as well as adults. It is interesting that while the Lutheran church Baptizes babies, many Lutheran Pastors really believe children cannot learn important doctrines of the church. It seems as though they are adhering to only half of the Great Commission. Many studies have been done to suggest that children, even at an early age, can understand teachings precisely because of their uncomplicated state. Jesus Himself gives children a lot of credit when He rebukes His disciples about their attitude toward little ones. Experts agree that a child learns a sport much easier than an adult. The same is true about playing a musical instrument. Cannot the same be said about the teaching of Christian doctrine? “Watered down” and “dummied down” theology is not only an insult to the believer, but it is lazy catechesis and many times “bad” theology as well.

A third and even more cynical argument against the teaching of doctrine is that it is not even needed at all. In fact these people claim that creeds and dogmas interfere with the church and its development and activity. It is interesting to note that the two main groups who hold this position are the very liberal (Modern theologians, who look to reason and science), and the very conservative (fundamentalists including many Baptists and those who belong to non-denominational churches).   While the former are just plain doctrinal or do not teach any doctrine because it does not exist, or fit their reason; the latter claim that creeds, doctrinal statements or confessional writings are merely “doctrines of men.” Those who hold to the liberal view (including many in the Lutheran church, the E.L.C.A. synod in particular) do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. This essay assumes that the Bible is truly the word of God and is inerrant. If the Bible is not Divinely instituted, if it is not actually the word of God, if it does contain errors, then the source of all Christian doctrine is flawed, and it can be argued that all doctrine IS the doctrine of men. This is not the case however. In his translation of Francis Pieper’s book “Christliche Dogmatik” John Theodore Mueller states:

“Our divine Savior accepted no other norm than Holy Scripture, and He invariably rejected the traditions of the Pharisees and the ‘reasoning’s’ of the Sadducees. When He declared His divine doctrines and refuted errors, He constantly based His teachings on the immovable foundations of the written Word of God. Thus at the beginning of His minister He met the temptations of Satan with the emphatic assertion ‘It is written’ Matt 4,4 and He adhered to this principle throughout His ministry. Cp. John 5,39; Matt5, 17-19; John 8,31; etc.”

Against the view that creeds and confessional writings are just the doctrines or traditions of men, not only can we use the above quote, but Mueller further states:

The Christian Church, which has for its source of faith only the infallible Word of God (Eph. 2,20), must under no conditions acknowledge as right and legitimate any dogma, or doctrine, which is not a clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Or we may say; The dogma of the Christian Church is the doctrine of the Holy Bible.”

This is not to say that only what is found in creeds and confessional writings are to be thought of as the only doctrine of the church, as some who call themselves “confessional Lutherans” believe. We must not be confused about which book (The Bible or creeds and confessional writings) interprets which, Mueller again:

“The question is not: Is this or that doctrine clearly stated in the Confessions? But: Is this or that doctrine set forth in God’s dogma, even through not a word is said about it in the Confessions of the Church Dogmas (Creeds and confessions) have a rightful place in the Christian Church provided they teach the doctrines of God and not the doctrines of means. In its creeds the Christian Church has never developed the Christian doctrine, but only declared the express doctrine of Holy Scripture in its full truth and purity against the errors of heretics and schismatics. Thus, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the like, are not declarations of new, man-made teachings, but the very doctrines of Christ, and His apostles set forth in Holy Scripture.”

We must remember that creeds, doctrines and confessional writings are to accurately reflect the teachings of Scripture. Any doctrine not taken from Scripture is either adiaphorous (not commanded in Scripture) or it is not truly the doctrine of Christ’s teaching (heresy).  So the question remains; Do the confessional writings of the Lutheran church set forth by Melanchton, Luther, Chemnitz and others clearly proclaim the doctrine of Holy Scripture? Or are these writings, along with the creeds of the Church just opinions of legalists who wanted to push their “opinions” on the church at the expense of Christ’s ministry, therefore impeding the work of Christ and stifling the growth of Christianity? We need look no further than the confessions themselves when they say:

“We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated. Since in ancient times the true Christian doctrine as it was correctly and soundly understood was drawn together out of God’s Word in brief articles or chapters against the aberrations of heretics, we further pledge allegiance to the three general creeds; the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as the glorious confessions of the faith-succinct, Christian, and based upon the Word of God-in which all those heresies which at that time had arisen within the Christian church are clearly and solidly refuted.” (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm paragraphs 3&4).

In his book, “A Summary Of Christian Doctrine”, Dr. Edward W.A. Koehler is quite candid, but correct with these excellent observations concerning true and false doctrine as it relates to the Church in general, and the Lutheran Church in particular: “When we say that the Lutheran Church is the true, or Orthodox Church, we do not mean to say that it is the only saving church, or that all its members are true Christians and will unfailingly be saved. Membership in the Lutheran Church is not identical with membership in the invisible Church. But we do mean to say that all its official teachings agree with the Word of God and are, therefore, positively true, and that all doctrines differing from them are heterodox and false Insistence on purity of doctrine is by no means narrow-minded bigotry on the part of the Church. A false doctrine can never produce a right faith, nor can false teaching direct us in the right way (Matt. 15:9).  Beside “trembling” at God’s Word (Is. 66:2), and not daring to depart from its teachings, we know that we can accomplish the purpose of this Word only if we most conscientiously continue in its teachings; for the effect our teaching has on the hearts and the lives of men is determined by the content of what we teach. False doctrines create a false faith in those who accept them, and only the right doctrine can create the right concept in the mind and the right faith in the heart. To make men disciples of Christ the Church must teach ALL that Christ has commanded, and nothing but what He has commanded.” (Matt. 28:20).  As heresies and heterodox teachings are still being spoken within the church today, it would do us well to listen to these words. If these words are taken seriously, if Scriptural doctrine is continuously taught, believed, and confessed, then the Church, as it was set forth in Scripture, and taught by Christ, will remain the truly Christian and catholic Church. ♦

 

About the Author His name is  Robert J. Shipe.  He is 44 years old and lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He attends St. Marks Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where he serves as an elder, lector and usher at St. Marks. His web site address is: http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/shipe.htm

Bolding and color added for emphasis.




Sola Gratia – Part One of Five

3 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – Sept. 2004 – Vol. 8 No. 9 -Sola Gratia—Part One of Five

I had recently received a counseling phone call from a sister who had come out of an abusive charismatic congregation and was now ensconced in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Her issues concerned spiritual stability and in talking with her it occurred to me that if she was established doctrinally in five simple “Reformed” truths then most of her questions and issues would be solved (if she remains in her MSLC hopefully her pastor will instill these same truths into her life).

The bedrock of any spiritual life that is truly built on Jesus Christ can be summed up in these profoundly simple doctrines. In fact, I am so convinced that unless one has the truths we shall be considering in the next several issues, imbedded in their hearts they will be ineffective and unfruitful in God’s Kingdom. People who lack these essential truths will be stunted spiritually and remain infants who are prone to be tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of false doctrine that cunning and crafty men (and women) promote. The Apostle Paul warns of this danger in  Ephesians 4:14.

That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

It is my prayer that we will be no more children, but will grow up and achieve the full stature of Christ. Yet for us to do so we MUST make sure our house is built on the rock of the following five truths:

Sola Gratia,   Sola Fide,   Solo Christo,   Solo ScripturaSoli Deo Gloria

These 5 Evangelical truths  heralded after years of spiritual darkness in the Church initially by Martin Luther simply, yet profoundly mean that the Christian is SAVED by GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE, by CHRIST ALONE, according to the SCRIPTURES ALONE, and to GOD ALONE be ALL the GLORY.

Prior to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church emphasized grace, but not grace alone. Roman Catholicism and other religious sects teach that grace requires human cooperation and effort if one is to be saved.

Luther, Melancthon and later Calvin, Knox and other reformers taught and rightly so that biblically, salvation is modernistic, which simply means that a thing has only one cause. In this case Jesus Christ alone is both the Author and Finisher of our Faith as Hebrews 12:2 teaches us.

We’ve already covered the reality of total depravity in a prior issue, so I will not deal with it now. As a reminder let me state that this does not mean that mankind is as bad as he can be, but it does mean that humanity is as bad off as it can be.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understand, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3:10-12   (KJV)

The Scriptures are clear that men and women are sinful by nature and cannot do anything to save themselves. Not only are we unable but we are unwilling to come to the light— as our Master says in John 3:19; “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19 (KJV)

The Word of God is equally clear that it is God who saves us by grace alone (Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide) on account of the atoning death of Christ alone (Soli Christi).  Let’s consider 2 clear examples of Sola Gratia. Turn and read in your Bibles beginning at John 11

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 40) Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? … 41) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42) And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44) And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:14 (KJV)

The example of Lazarus clearly demonstrates the doctrine of sola gratia. There are a great many lessons in this miracle. What I want us to focus on is this simple fact: Lazarus was dead. He could do NOTHING to help in his resurrection—that was the work of God the Son, the Living Word—Spoke to the dead man and He commanded Lazarus to come forth and he who was dead became alive.

This is exactly what occurs in the life of an individual when the Gospel is proclaimed. Like Lazarus we too must be called to life by God through the GOSPEL. This is what is meant by being saved by grace alone. Turn in your Bible to the next example in Ephesians Chapter 2:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins (just like Jesus did with Lazarus); Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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   Eph. 2:4-11 Note carefully Paul’s assessment:

1. We were dead, not wounded, not sick, dead (nekro,j, necros)

2. We willingly walked according to this fallen world’s dictates and it’s Dictator the devil.

3. We were all by nature children of wrath and thus rightfully subject to the judgment of a Holy and Righteous God.

If left to ourselves we were all headed for eternal damnation, and deservedly so.

Yet after painting so plainly a picture of depraved humanity when left to its own devices, Paul switches gears and by the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit pens 2 of the most BEAUTIFUL WORDS in the entire Bible — “But God”. Paul goes on to give the clearest picture of sola gratia in the New Testament.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by GRACE you have been saved. It is vitally important for you to note that it is when we are dead in sins and transgressions that God made us alive with Christ. (1)

Paul’s explanation of sola gratia— “it is by grace you have been saved.”

Those 8 words should bring every Christian to their knees in thankful humility to God because of His undeserved mercy towards us in Christ.

These 8 words should forever slay any remaining vestiges of human pride because Paul makes it repeat himself more emphatically in verses 8 and 9 when he says again “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.”

Salvation is the work of God from start to finish. If you are saved at all it is because God saved you through faith in the work of His Son — even the faith to believe the Gospel does not come from yourselves—it is the gift of God.

Salvation is not of works, lest ANY man should boast. It cannot be made any clearer, yet multitudes of professing Christians wrongly believe that they made “a decision for Christ.”  Many Protestant’s teach that unless we “decide,” or unless we “choose,” or unless we “accept Jesus as our Personal Savior” then God’s grace is useless.

To teach such a thing is a damnable lie. To argue that grace is of no avail to us unless “we do” something first, is to deny SOLA GRATIA ALTOGETHER. To believe in such a manner is to rob God of His Glory.

In closing Paul had to rebuke Peter publicly when Peter played the hypocrite when some Jews came in and Peter separated himself from his gentile brothers—Paul reminded Peter and us all that WORKS have no place in God’s plan of salvation in Gal. 2:16:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified  Gal 2:16 (KJV)

2004 © Rev. Robert Liichow

Next Month Sola Fide