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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 3 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Slain in the spirit

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

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

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

Hypnosis

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

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

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

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

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

Impartation

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

 

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

Slain TACF 99'

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

Demonic Activity

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

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

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

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

Slain in the spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Biblical Examples of Falling Backwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

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

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. Ibid. 103

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hearing The Voice of God – Part Two

26 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2008 Vol. 13  Issue 4 – Hearing The Voice of God Part Two – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing The Voice of God Part Two

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Last month I began to lay the axe to the root of a common error, one that is held dearly in the minds of many Christians both sign-gift folks and evangelicals alike and that is the belief that God speaks to them personally.

For well over twenty years I most assuredly believed that God did speak to His people (especially the “great” ones who led the charismatic movement) and that all I had to do was the necessary work in order to get myself in the correct spiritual position to tune-in to His frequency. It was commonly taught among us that God was always speaking to us, but most of us simply were not listening to His voice due to a myriad of things in our lives. Because of our low level of spiritual maturity God out of His Fatherly kindness restored prophets back to the Church so we could go to them and hear the present day truth (2 Pet. 1:12) and hear the word of the Lord until such time as we could mature and discern His voice ourselves.

I realize that you are probably shaking your head wondering how I (and millions more) could be misled into believing such nonsense. It really is not difficult to understand if you begin with the premise that God is speaking to all His children personally and individually and this premise is taught by very charismatic (in the personality sense of the term) individuals who regale the audience with their own experiences in “hearing” God on a daily basis. When this type of message is reinforced by every teacher you see on television, in conferences, and in your local church then you believe what they are saying.

The problem with what was taught to me and is currently being taught to multitudes of people is that it was not validated with any contextual scriptural evidence. Almost all the accounts we heard were anecdotal accounts passed on as gospel truth to us sign-seeking power mongers. That message is very appealing to most Christians, after all, who does not want to have such a close fellowship with Almighty God where He converses with one throughout the day! When you as a mere low-wattage believer hear that type of fellowship is available to you (if you pay the price, which varies according to the teacher) naturally you will strive to obtain it.

What we learned in last month’s Truth Matters is that throughout the entire Bible very few individuals ever actually held conversations with God. Those who did actually “hear” from the Lord were people whom God used to change the course of either the people of Israel or His Church. The Ancient of Days is never seen merely chatting with His children about mundane affairs, who to marry, what job to take, which local church to attend. It simply is not in the Bible.

When I first began to come to the biblical understanding my initial reaction was to reject it on the grounds that it seemed to make Christian Spirituality “dry” and certainly not dynamic. I also had to struggle with the reality that all the years I thought I was hearing God “speaking” to me personally was not the case. Once again I had been misled by a myriad of teachers, many of whom were no doubt will intentioned, but just as deceived as I was. This was (and sadly still is) a classic case of the blind leading the blind and all of us sign-seekers falling into the ditch of deception (see Mat. 15:14) Yet thanks be to God who sent Jesus to open the eyes of the blind (see Luke 4:18) and I certainly qualified.

It is not just the sign-seekers who have been misled, although they are more numerous but also many “Baptistic” evangelicals as well. Charismatic believers have their teachers and so do the evangelicals. The primarily disseminator of this error is Henry Blackaby:

For thousands of Baptist churches in America today, as well as churches of many other denominations [including Roman Catholic churches], the answer has been that they accept and embrace this teaching, as found in the best-selling workbook Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, by Henry T. Blackaby (co-authored by Claude V. King and published by Lifeway Press of Nashville, Tennessee)…

Blackaby clearly states that God is giving revelation to us in the same way. He did to Moses and Jesus, only now through the Holy Spirit versus direct communication with God the Father. It certainly appears as if Blackaby is teaching that God’s revelation is continuing today just as when the Old and New Testaments were written. Obtained from Adapted from two articles by Thomas Williamson (Assistant Pastor of Tabemaculo Bautista Metropolitaro, Chicago, Illinois).

Blackaby goes as far as to say that if a Christian is not personally hearing from God then there is something seriously wrong with them. Naturally Blackaby was a “darling” on the speaker’s circuit of the Promise Keepers and his 12 week course materials have been adopted by not only Protestant congregations, but Roman Catholic groups as well as the charismatic extremist Vineyard movement. I mentioned Blackaby in conjunction with the charismatic teachers to illustrate how widespread this specific error is.

The tremendous spiritual danger inherent in such teaching is that it usually leads to spiritual abuse by the leaders. On page 166 of Experiencing God. Knowing and Doing the Will of God we read the following:

“When God wants to reveal His will to a church, He will begin by speaking to one or more individuals. Because of the nature of his call and assignment from God, this is often the pastor, although it may be another member of the body. The pastor’s job is to bear witness to the church about what he senses God is saying.”

In other words God will speak to the pastor and the role of the people is to “swallow-and-follow” the direction coming to the pastor from “on high”. I know from personal experience how much harm and abuse occurs when any leader is given this much authority. Also Blackaby endorses the false belief that there is only one correct way to go in every situation of life. This places an ungodly and unbiblical burden on people who must then struggle and worry if whatever they decide to do is in fact God’s will for their lives. This bondage often leads people to relying heavily on their pastor or spiritual overseer to tell them which way to go and what to do in life, again this leads to spiritual abuse most times.

Another problem which is never adequately addressed by those who teach this error is how does one determine if it is “God” or Satan who is speaking to their minds? Usually the pat answer is that whatever God tells you will line up with the Scriptures. Yet didn’t Satan cite Scriptures when he tempted our Lord (Matthew 4:5)? Yes, Satan took the verses out of context, yet how many Christians are skilled in hermeneutics to really know the difference? Also, the voice of God nine times out of ten will guide us in the direction we had already determined to go, i.e. God usually agrees with us!

These are just a few of the problems associated with the belief that God is personally speaking to all His children. I am sorry if what I am writing offends some of you; it was somewhat offensive to me when I first encountered it too. Yet DMI has a mandate to “teach truth and expose error,” regardless of how cherished the error may be. This much I can assure you, if you will humble your hearts and stick to the truth of God’s Word you will be set free indeed (see John 8:32). Sometimes spiritual surgery can be painful, but Jesus is the Great Physician, the Balm of Gilead and the One who rose with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2) as we continue to submit ourselves to the absolute authority of His Word we will be healed. Additionally, we shall also experience more and more of the glorious liberty and inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8) that belongs to us as the children of God.

How Does God Speak to Us Today ?

I believe the Holy Spirit says it best in the first Chapter of the book of Hebrews:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many time and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2

He begins by saying that in the past God did speak to the patriarchs at many times and in various ways (dreams, visions, angels, etc). Yet now in these last days God has spoken to us personally through no less than God the Son. It is no mistake that Jesus is called “The Word of God” in the book of the Revelation (Rev. 19:13) and that phrase is used 48 times in both the old and New testaments always referring to what God is saying.

This is one of the beautiful things about having the Holy Scriptures. Every child of God can know exactly and with certainty what God is saying. There is no guesswork, no subjective sensing or feeling led to go one direction or another. No need to strive to achieve some mystical level or work to obtain some hidden gnosis. It is all in front of us in black and white!

Today, now that Christ has set me free from my former charismania, I am amazed and grieved at the thousands of people flocking to the various so-called restored prophets to get a “word” from the Lord when they have in their hands the Bible which is completely trustworthy and accurate which is far more than can be said of any of today’s crop of pathetic prophet$. Again this is indicative of a serious problem within the Church at large. There are multitudes of people whether charismatic or evangelical who are placing more trust in their own ability to subjectively hear from God, while ignoring His written God.

The Bible is the voice of God to His people. It is all sufficient and within its pages is contained all we will ever need to know about living a life of godliness that is fully pleasing to our God. In a few lines the sweet psalmist of Israel speaks of the vast storehouse of wealth between the covers of our Holy Bible:

1. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

2. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

3. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

4. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

5. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

6. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

7. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

8. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

King David seems to be in a musical rapture in this psalm, he begins by extolling the awe inspiring wonders of God’s creation and then into ecstasy as he uses one superlative after another in describing the value and inherent power contained in the Word of God.

1. It is perfect (complete, sound — 1. Complete, whole, entire, healthful, of men).

In a time when many of God’s children grow weary, we can turn to God’s Word for true revival.

2. It is trustworthy (confirm, support –1. Pillars. Supporters of the door, made firm, sure, lasting, verified, faithful,) In a time when many things are in flux we can know that heaven and earth will pass away before even a “jot” of the Bible fails (Matthew 5:18). If we lack wisdom, all we need do is ask of God who gives us wisdom via His Word liberally (James 1:5).

3. It is right (ethical sense, straightforward, upright, Pi. 1. make smooth, straight, make smooth or straight, i.e. free from obstacles, successful; in ethical sense). In a world that only leads people astray from God, His Word gives us joy by leading us to the Shepherd of our souls.

4. It is radiant (light, light is closely related to life and happiness, which may account for the frequent comparisons between God and light. In line with this usage Dahood argues that “to see light” is often really to see the light of God’s face in immortality (Psa 36:9 [H 10]; and contra Psa 49:19 [H 20]). In a spiritually blind world, groping around for answers, we can turn to God’s Word and receive illumination to direct our daily path.

5. It is pure (adj. clean, pure –ethically pure, clean; of heart; hands; eyes (of God); words of men; words of God; law of y as object of reverential fear.) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Those who rightly fear the Lord have obtained this wisdom and knowledge through His Word and they shall endure forever!

6. It is sure (firmness, faithfulness, truth (contr. For fr.) reliability, sureness, stability, continuance. An attribute of God. Truth (a) as spoken. (b) of testimony and judgment. of divine instruction. (d) truth as a body of ethical or religious knowledge. In a time of uncertainty we can trust that God is watching over His Word to perform it (Jer. 1:12).

7. It is more precious than gold and anyone with half-sense should know that the eternal riches of God cannot compare with the best of the best in this fallen sinful world.

8. It warns us (teach, warn, admonish. The meaning “teach” is probably basic to the root. The most frequent meaning is “warn,” which is used fourteen times in two chapters alone, Ezek 3 and 33, the classic portions dealing with the responsibility of watchmen to warn people under their care (Ezek 3:17-21; Ezek 33:3-9). Not only does the Word of God warn us from what is dangerous to our spiritual and physical wellbeing we are also told that by being a doer of the Word we will be blessed (James 1:25).

Just from these few verses from one psalm we can see the richness of abiding in the Word of God and hearing God speak to us through His Word. How can we keep our way morally pure and upright in God’s sight, simple — Psalm 119:9. How can we know about Jesus and His ministry, again we look to the Word of God (see Luke 24:32) as Jesus revealed His ministry. Do we need to run to a so-called prophet? NO!! We have a more sure word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19).

God is indeed speaking to us, as He has to all His people throughout the Church age, by speaking to us through His infallible Word. Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord, how is he or she to know the Lord? Simply according to what He has revealed as His will in the Scriptures.

For anyone to seek any additional information than what God has given to us in the Bible is to in effect accuse God of not giving us all we need. Yet the Apostle Peter says:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4

Our gracious heavenly Father has given to us everything we need to know in order to live a life that is fully pleasing to Him. Seeking additional information through dreams, visions, or going on long fasts in hopes of achieving some mystical insight is to denigrate the value of the Scriptures and is an evidence of a lack of genuine faith in God’s provision.

It is my hope that all of you reading these two articles will begin to rely fully on God’s written Word and cast aside any dependence upon “voices” or “leadings” that are subjective at best and have no grounding in the Bible. God’s Word is more than enough and I encourage all of us to dig into the “Book” like never before in order to draw truly closer to our God and thus walk in His will for our lives.

Psalm 100:5

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

2 Samuel 22:31

As for God his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

A good book you might enjoy reading on this topic is written by a fellow pastor and apologist named Gary E. Gilley.  His latest book is a well presented argument for the sufficiency of Scripture and a solid refutation for those who have been misled into thinking that God is indeed speaking directly to them and giving them daily guidance.

It would be a good addition to anyone’s library, especially if you know of family members or friends who are being misled by this specific false teaching.

DMI does not receive anything from the sale of our brother’s book, but as is our custom we gladly promote other ministries which are teaching truth and exposing error and brother Gilley surely does this in his book entitled “Is that You Lord?”  It is published by Evangelical Press and is available on Amazon.com.  I am not sure of the retail price because DMI’s copy was given to us by some dear friends in S. Lake Tahoe. 

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow





THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

28 12 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – October  2007   Vol. 12 Issue 10 – THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE – Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

As we studied last month all of the aberrant practices and false doctrine stem from an incorrect interpretation of the Scriptures. In fact, all errors in “Bible” based cults can be traced back to using a faulty hermeneutical system. Every Christian should understand and apply some basic hermeneutical principles when they study their Bible. Unfortunately most pastors do not equip their people with the skills necessary to become good Bereans. Sadly, many pastors across America have little or no theological training and thus they lack any real understanding of how to correctly teach the Bible of to their congregations (Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar are just two examples) and we end up with a case of the blind leading the blind.

Apart from incorrect biblical interpretations with all its attending problems there is another difficulty plaguing God’s people and that is the widespread practice of accepting personal spiritual experiences as authoritative. Millions of professing Christians readily accept the subjective “revelations” of various leaders, or their own private experiences as being as valid as the written Word of God.

The Word of God is seen as not being the only guide for many Christians. It is not viewed as complete and totally sufficient when it comes to faith and practice. Many people are augmenting the Bible with extra-biblical data that is proclaimed as “new” revelations from the Holy Spirit through a host of roving self-proclaimed Apostles, Prophets and revivalists. Admittedly this is not a new problem; in fact the Apostle Paul spoke of people who were misplacing their faith in alleged mystical experience:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not see, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Col. 2:18,19

It seems that people have a propensity to be drawn away from the objective truth of God’s Word into their own fallen subjective experiences.

 Today we see this enthusiasm for experience over God’s Word vividly in the Charismatic movement. For example the recently departed Kenneth E. Hagin built a great portion of his SINistry on his alleged face-to-face encounters with our risen Lord. Many of these he wrote about in great detail in his book I believe In Visions.

 

Another widely followed heretic, Jesse Duplantis expanded his influence tremendously after publishing his farcical tale about going to heaven in his book Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind. Jesse regales his readers with not only a very detailed account of “heaven” but also shares about his visible experiences with angels, he and his car being teleported across the state of Louisiana and other bizarre experiences.

Mary K. Baxter wrote a book which plunged her into charismatic fame & fortune about her being taken to hell on forty (40!) consecutive evenings allegedly by Jesus Christ. The Divine Revelation of Hell has been reprinted several times and in over ten languages. The book is filled with graphic details of what awaits the damned soul and Baxter claims thousands of people have come to faith in Christ due to her book! If that was not enough she went on to write another spurious tome entitled The Divine Revelation of Heaven and then another book called The Divine Revelation of Glory.

Discernment Ministries International was among the first Apologetic ministry to expose the nonsense in Cho Thomas’ book Heaven Is So Real about her rapturous transport to heaven. Thomas reveals to us that there is death in heaven when Jesus takes her fishing and kills the fish and cooks it for her.

Every one of these books (and there are many more I could mention) has sold well over 100,000 copies each, and all of them are printed in foreign languages for wider consumption by the sign-seeking crowd (don’t forget there are videos, DVD’s, and cassettes of these accounts by authors for sale too). The authors go all over the world sharing their experiences with untold numbers of people.

These examples demonstrate my concern that people are leaving the sufficiency of the Scriptures to listen to someone’s latest experience. I can tell you that DMI receives a great deal of vitriolic email from devotees of these deluded heretics. Some of the gentler complainers say things like “don’t you believe God can take someone to heaven? Look at the Apostle Paul for example!”  Yes, let’s consider Paul for a moment:

I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor. 12:3-4

Virtually all commentators agree that Paul is writing about an experience he had being caught up to heaven. What is interesting about his account is that he does not share any of what he saw or heard.  Why not?  Today when someone says they were taken to heaven they create an entire “ministry” out of their experience. Paul did not relate any of his experience precisely because it was just that…his own “experience” and as such would not benefit others.

Here is what the NIV Commentary says about this part of Paul’s life:

What Paul head (and saw?), human words were inadequate to relate (v.4b). Furthermore, he was not permitted to try to share the content of the revelation, perhaps because it had been designed for him alone, to fortify him for future service and sufferings (Ac 9:16; Ro 8:18). Glimpses the NT does give of the coming glory are intended to strengthen faith and promote holiness (cf. 2 Pe 3:10-14;p 1Jn 3:2-3) not satisfy curiosity.

Nothing that Hagin, Duplantis, Cho or Baxter wrote about strengthens faith nor does it promote true holiness. What all those books do is to point to the human authors and imply that they are special vessels chosen for these last days to prepare the Church for the return of Christ. Nothing in their mythological writings do anything to encourage their readers to get into the Holy Bible and let God speak to them via its inerrant pages.

As I stated earlier this phenomenon of people promoting doctrines and practices that are based on their personal experiences is nothing new. During the Evangelical Reformation led by Martin Luther he constantly had arguments with various sects of what he termed “enthusiasts.”

Enthusiasm clings to Adam and his children from the beginning to the end of the world –fed and spread among them as poison by the old dragon. It is the source, power, and might of all the heresies, even that of the papacy and of Mohammed. Therefore, we should and must insist that God does not want to deal with us human beings, except by means of his external word and sacrament. Everything that boasts of being from the Spirit apart from such a word and sacrament is of the devil. (1)

The enthusiasts then as today looked within to feel something or to attempt to hear God speak to them directly and personally apart form the Holy Bible. This is exactly what is taking place on a massive scale within the charismatic movement. I’ve been involved in many meetings where the “Spirit” began to move in a mighty way so much so that the Word of God was never preached. These meetings were declared to be of the highest order! Various people “prophesied” the so-called word of the Lord, others were slain in the spirit, some danced in the aisles, others just sat and watched the show. 

One well accepted restored-prophet, Bill Hamon carries with him a 5 inch 3 ring binder filled with 100’s of “personal” prophecies that have been uttered over his life for the last 40 years. Obviously he takes these extemporaneous words to be true or why collect & carry them?

What does the Bible say?

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:1-3

Yes God did speak through the prophets in the past. Yes God spoke in various ways, by dreams, visions and at times angels or through Theophanous. However, in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter knew of his impending death (2 Peter 1:13-15) so what he said was vitally important to him as a pastor. He reminds his readers that he was with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and he actually heard the voice of God speak. Yet what does he then tell the Church?

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:19-21

Even though Peter was there in person to hear God’s voice he goes on to tell the Church that they have a more sure word of prophecy (the written Word) and they would do well to take heed to It a a light that shines in a dark place. Peter does not preach his experience but points to the Word of God and warns them to take heed of the Word.

Why this emphasis Peter, what is the big deal?

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. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

The problem today is that the “more sure word” is now deemed passé and there is a desire to seek what is termed “present day truth” (see 2 Peter 1:12) by the charismatic extremists. This is alleged truth that is arrived at through mystical or metaphysical means, i.e. subjective belief as opposed to the objective inerrant truth set out in the Bible.

One very popular charismatic heretic, Tommy Tenney, wrote a hugely popular book entitled The God Chasers. Tenney denigrates the written Word of God and expounds that people need to seek a direct encounter with God. Here are some of his comments regarding the Bible:

We just keep going through the motions, lighting the lamps and shuffling from dusty room to dusty room as God was still speaking to us. (2)

There’s no need for me to preach [the Word] if God shows up in His glory. (3)

They [the early disciples] walked and talked with Him in such a rich level of intimacy that it wasn’t necessary for them to pour over dusty love letters that were written long ago. (4)

Folks Tenney’s comments are the voice of millions enmeshed in charismatic extremism. Note the very low view of holy scripture—the books of the Bible are “dusty rooms” that we shuffle through with the mistaken belief that God is still speaking to us through these biblical letters! Tenney echo’s the statements of many of today’s revivalists by saying there is not even a need to preach the Word of God if “God” shows up, i.e. some paranormal manifestations or unchecked emotionalism breaks forth. Lastly, Tenney says that the early church members communed with God on an intimate one-on-one basis APART from pouring over the “dusty old love letters” that were written long ago. What does my book of dusty old love letters say in response to Mr. Tenney and the other heretics?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore, many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. Acts 17:11-12

The people in Berea heard Paul preach and then they went immediately to those dusty old love letters to validate by objective truth what Paul was proclaiming. What was the end result? MANY of them believed the gospel that Paul preached!  ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes:

1. Oswald Bayer, Theology The Lutheran Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007, p. 53

2. Tommy Tenney, The God Chasers, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 1998) p. 31.

3. Bid. p. 44 Underlining and bolding added for emphasis

4. Bid. p. 74 Underlining and bolding added for emphasis.