Come As You Are?

7 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – Aug 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 8 – Come As You Are? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Come As You Are?

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The large room slowly filled up. The men entered wearing “wife-beater” tee-shirts and sandals, women in shorts, sleeveless dresses and their children in a motley assortment of garments ranging from Goth-wear to skateboard attire. At first you might think I was describing a crowd entering the local movie Cineplex, but no this was the usual Sunday go-to-meeting clothes, commonly worn today in most worship services across our country.

Let me begin by stating very clearly that I am no advocate of clothesline religion i.e. what you wear determines your level of sanctification. Clothesline religion is found within fundamentalism and some branches of Pentecostalism. It entails strict law regarding what one is allowed to wear. It might include such regulations as men’s hair length (and women’s) skirt length (I am all for modesty), long sleeves on both men and women, no jewelry on women etc. Also, I certainly would agree that ultimately God is not as concerned with our outer appearance as He is with the attitude of our heart:

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isa. 29:13

Biblical worship is above all else a “heart” condition (see John 4:23) and not a time to parade our haute couture.

One truth I have learned over the years from my own spiritual journey is that spiritual BALANCE seems to be one of the most difficult things to achieve in this fallen world. We as people seem to lean one way or another; the pendulum swings to the far left or to the far right. For example, we have congregations that are doctrinally dead-on, but with little spiritual passion or exuberance. Then again, we have congregations whose members are ignited by the fire of the Spirit, passionate about others coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior, unrestrained in their worship and yet an inch deep doctrinally. It seems almost impossible to find any group that is equally balanced with Spirit & Truth.

Over the last twenty years I have seen a subtle change in dress and attitude on the part of the people of God in America. As a child in the late 1950’s and 60’s I grew up going to church having to wear what we called “my Sunday best.” As a young boy this meant my best trousers, my shine able shoes, a button-down shirt and at least a clip-on-tie, possibly a sport coat or a suit. These clothes were set aside specifically for church. Why wear such a uniform? It was because my parents were trying to instill within my young skull the reality that we, as a family, were coming to worship the transcendent and yet personal God who was totally holy. There was nothing blasé about attending church and approaching the altar of God.

Why Change?

The decline of church attendance, especially within the mainline Protestant churches gave birth to what we know today as the “Church Growth Gurus” of whom many of the most prominent were (and are) charismatic sign/gift enthusiasts such as Dr. C. Peter Wagner and the late John Wimber who started the Vineyard churches. The operative philosophy behind the Church Growth Movement (CGM) was to try to remove anything that would offend the non-churched visitor or seeker. (1) This meant removing crosses and crucifixes from sancturaries because such symbols point to God’s bloody sacrifices for our sins. The use of the hymnals went out the door as well; they hymns are old, traditional and unfamiliar lyrically and musically to the seekers. Pastors were encouraged to stop wearing any form of vestments or clerical garb because one does not want to present any distinction between the seeker and the pastor. (2) The congregants themselves were encouraged to dress casually so as to help create a more “homey” and easy-going atmosphere. Naturally the pews had to go as well. Pews not only point to traditional worship, but they also tend to somewhat force people to sit together and if not padded can be uncomfortable. The CGM gurus did studies, took polls and tried to determine what would make the un-churched visitor most comfortable if/when they felt led to attend a service.

Within the seeker-sensitive mentality one of the gravest of sins is to offend the lost person’s sensibilities. So the CGM collated their data and sold its programs to desperate pastors and denominations. Presto! Now we have congregations that no longer have any form of the cross in their buildings, sing no hymns, have no pews, and dress like attending a picnic versus coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days. To be sure these are outward actions, yet like all “leaven” it spreads.

Once the outer changes had been made then the CGM gurus began to proclaim the need to change the message being presented. They realized that just changing the furniture around was not going to entice and keep any potential sheep. Oh sure, now a pastor might get some visitors to come, enjoy the comfortable stadium seats with cup-holders for the gourmet java distributed I the narthex (oops I meant “the welcome center”), but what if they are offended by the preaching? Naturally, once you got the seeker in the seat you want them to fully enjoy the “show.” The show consists of having engaging music performed by professional musicians and dancers, (3) moving PowerPoint presentations and then a short message on how to be the best one can be using biblical references.

Words such as “sin, sinner, hell, damnation, and depravity” have been erased from the vocabulary of any successful seeker-sensitive pastors, such as Joel Osteen and Robert Schuller and all their clones. These words can offend the hearer, after all, who wants to hear that they are a miserable sinner from the pulpit, let alone get down on their knees and confess such a reality openly to God and others? (4) Obviously such changes in vocabulary point to significant changes in the messages presented. Jesus ceases to be the Savior of sinners, instead He becomes more of a “life coach” pointing all of us onwards and upwards towards unending success in this life. The people cease to be sinners in need of a Savior. This is a huge departure from the message the Apostle Paul shared when he said:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief. 1 Tim. 1:15

Paul would not be welcome to preach in any of the mega-churches in America today. He is too old-school and most certainly off message for today’s seeker. Sadly, the Biblical Jesus would not be welcomed either.

The CGM has radically transformed the face and substance of Biblical Christianity in America, South America and Europe. Church now is almost totally man centered. Everything that can be changed has been changed to facilitate the comfort of man both physically, esthetically and spiritually. Attending church is now about having an “enjoyable worship experience” as opposed to coming to worship the God who saved you and who has something to say directly to you via His Word and Sacrament.

Come As You Are ?

After that short romp through the history of the CGM we arrive back at our topic regarding the blasé manner in which people come to worship the Lord of Hosts. Seeing all that has changed regarding much of our worship format it is easy to see how the un-churched were never taught to treat coming to church as a privilege. The un-churched or lapsed visitor looks around sees how everyone else is dressed and follows suit. Obviously, I do not expect the un-churched to know how or why to properly dress when they initially begin to come to church. The old adage is very true — “you have to catch the fish before you can clean it.” The point is they are to be taught, instructed, discipled if you will, regarding their daily walk with Christ and then how to comport themselves in the house of God during a worship service. Shocking as it may seem dear friends worship is all about God and not about us. We come passively to receive the free and good gifts of God and then we can respond with our sacrifice of praise. (see Heb. 13:15).

The priests in the Old Testament wore special clothing (see Ex. 28:2-4; 29:5, 21; Lev. 6:11) that they took off when they were not serving the Lord specifically. They had a format of worship, a liturgy which they followed. No one worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wearing whatever they wanted and however they wanted.

Today, all of the Church is considered by God in the following manner:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:5,9,10).

If you were invited to the Whitehouse to see the President, how would you dress? Naturally, most of us would wear our best clothing out of respect for the office if not the office holder. Even today upscale restaurants require men to wear ties and some even jackets when dining! How much more then should we attire ourselves in our best clothing when we approach the Living God to whom we owe our every breath?

Church is not a fashion show. Nor are congregations to show any favoritism to those who are obviously wealthy as James warns us:

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there comes in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (James 2:2-4).

What I am talking about is reestablishing a sense of decorum and modesty within our worship services. Modesty seems to be another word which has fallen out of favor within the people of God. During the hot summer months we are subjected to a wide range of immodest attire on the part of both men and women. Skintight jeans, shorts, no bras and sleeveless tee-shirts do not help any of us focus on Christ Jesus. Yes we are “free” in Christ, but that freedom is given so that we can now obey Him from our heart and we are surely not to use our freedom as a license to sin (see Rom 6:18-23).

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with god works. (1 Tim. 2:9,10).

Again, we see church worship is not a fashion show, but a sacred time that is carved out of our day, set aside (sanctified) to be devoted to our loving God.

Ask yourself a simple question, why not dress up in your Sunday best for church? If you don’t is it because no one else does in your congregation? If this is the case, so what, worship is ultimately between you and God (while not ignoring the important corporate aspect). Start a trend! Or perhaps you have the attitude that “God knows my heart, what I wear is not important.” Well I might give the opinion that if ones heart is truly set on Zion then ones dress will be appropriate. Studies have shown that even in secular schools when the children all wear similar uniforms that behavior and grades both improve. Dressing nicely also works on ones self-esteem (that ought to be enough of a draw today). Personally, when I am dressed nicely I feel better about myself in a way. Dressing for church reminds me that I am going to a sacred place and spending sacred time communing around the altar of God with both the saints on earth and all the saints in heaven!

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Congregations who bought into the CGM ministry philosophy have become known as “seeker-sensitive” churches. There is legitimate theological debate whether or not any lost person genuinely seeks after God.

2. Let me simply say here that there is no difference in value before our God, He loves all His people equally. However, there is a distinction in function within the Church and its worship service regarding the pastor and the congregation.

3. Naturally I want “professional” musicians in any church setting, but I am really referring to professional entertainers.

4. No worries for the seeker, their churches are not equipped with any for of “kneelers” because they are not going to kneel for anything during their services.

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Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith?

17 09 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 9 – Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith? – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith? 

By Robert S. Liichow

 

Bonnke claims that “miracles are proof of the presence of the power of God (1) Bonnke emphasized the date of June 1scanMIRACLEBOOK00011 separately, at which time Christ would in a special way point Himself. In Bonnke’s Language this announcement meant that Christ would evidence Himself by unusually numerous miracles during the service. (2) The supernatural will occur differently; maybe out in public is valid. I believe it can be kind of God’s calling card. (3)

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In the past as a charismatic extremist if I heard this statement once I heard it a hundred times, “miracles are God’s calling card.” We heard this uttered in person at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship by John Arnott, former senior a few years ago.

 

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What is meant by this statement and other similar statements is that the Lord is supposed to be working miracles through His anointed vessels as a means to bring people to a saving faith in Christ Jesus. Lester Sumrall, now deceased made the following statement in his book Miracles Don’t Just Happen:

In the Acts of the Apostles we read of ‘all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.’ His doing preceded His teaching.

Every sermon that Christ preached was prefaced by a model miracle. We are going to follow His example. (4)

To begin with Lester makes the assumption that the “doing” of Jesus was always a miraculous event which was then followed up with His proclaiming of the Gospel, ergo we should expect to work miracles first and then preach the Word. Sumrall is reading into this text more than there is, he is guilty of eisegesis versus exegesis.

There are a great many sermons where Jesus did not perform miracles “first” and then proceed to teach the people. Frankly, just about anytime Jesus spoke it was a sermon of one type or another. Here are a few examples:

Matthew 7:28-29 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.

Here Jesus preached first then we read of Him healing several people, the leper (8:2), the centurion’s servant (8:7), Peter’s mother-in-law (8:15). In all of these cases we find examples of healing and not miracles. In fact, these texts in places state “and I will come and heal him” (8:7). We read in Mark 1:39 “And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Jesus again is shown preaching the Gospel then performing signs and wonders.

Mr. Sumrall was simply wrong in his teachings about miracles. Unfortunately his views have been part-n-parcel of early Pentecostalism and today’s Charismatic movement. Almost every major sign-gift SINister has written books or produced tapes or videos on how to become a miracle worker or how to receive a miracle. * Here are just a few examples:

Oral RobertsExpect A Miracle / and Still Expecting Miracles (2 tapes)

Kenneth CopelandWalking in the Realm of the Miraculous

Benny HinnMiracles DVD

Steve HillOperating in the Miraculous (God wants to use you in his miraculous!)

Marilyn HickeyYour Miracle Source

Charles & Francis HunterImpossible Miracles

Kenneth E. HaginMiracles of Healing (tape series)

Kathryn KuhlmanI Believe in Miracles

Robert TiltonFaith Aid Miracle Healing Kit

Prophet T.B. JoshuaDivine Miracles (DVD)

Don Stewart — Miracle Seeds for Success and Prosperity

John Wimber Power Evangelism, Signs & Wonders Today

Signs and Wonders and Church Growth

Pat RobertsonMiracles Can Be Yours Today

Paul F. Crouch and R.W. SchambachMiracles II “Greater Miracles

R.W. Schambach Miracles: Eyewitness to the Miraculous

The Price of God’s Miracle-Working Power

T.L. OsbornReceive Miracle Healing

How to Receive Miracle Healing

Modern Miracles in Mombasa

Ruth HeflinMiracles that I have Seen

WHEN THE MIRACULOUS BECOMES COMMONPLACE IT CEASES TO BE “MIRACULOUS”

These are just a few of the better known authors of books about how to obtain a miracle, how to develop spiritually to work miracles, etc. All of the books that have been cited are available on the Internet by simple googling the name of the author. Most of these books and many others are available in almost all “Christian” bookstores too.

It is one thing to write about miracles, but it is quite another to proclaim yourself a miracle-worker as many SINisters do today. Mr. David Hogan is possibly a bigger prevaricator than Benny Hinn. The following is a direct statement from his website:

The ministry has become known for some amazing miracles through the Holy Spirit. They report to have witnessed over 200 people being raised from the dead! When David is not in Mexico he ministers under a strong anointing for preaching and healing. (5)

On his website you can watch a series of videos entitled “Faith to Raise the Dead.” The Statement made before the links to these videos says “These videos may be some of the most viewed and listened to around the earth in our time.” This is simply not true, in fact, I’ll wager that the majority of Christians have never even heard of Mr. Hogan. Hogan has never brought one person forward to be examined or interviewed who he is supposed to have raised form the dead. One would think that TBN or the 700 Club would love to have an “exclusive” interview with one such person. Surely out of over 200 people Hogan could produce one or two resurrected folks….who no doubt could write books on what they experienced while dead.

Popoff_Peter_2

Peter Popoff is another proven fraud and liar. His website’s front page says “Peter Popoff Miracle Ministry.” (6) His site is filled with unsubstantiated testimonies of alleged miracles due to Mr. Popoff’s direct connection with God. Unfortunately his video clips of his healing services are not working on his site, so you’ll just have to take his word about what God is doing through him. You can order free “miracle spring water,” which I encourage all our readers to do and get on his mailing list as well so you can receive monthly point-of-contact fetish items each month!

The best known miracle-man today is naturally Mr. Benny Hinn. Here is a copy of a ticket I received from him:

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Hinn knows in advance that “God’ will be working miracles through him; he also is an astute observer of the desperate plight of multitudes of people who are willing to drive hundreds of miles, wait in long lines for hours, and donate money they can’t afford to give; yet do so in the hope that God is indeed working miracles through Hinn and that they will be the recipient of God’s miraculous power.

It is the height of presumption and hubris to declare God will be working miracles tonight or that He will be healing the sick during this revival. Yet even with his abysmal track record of healing failures, i.e. people who his ministry declared “healed” who died either a few weeks, or months later multitudes still flock to this man’s so-called “Miracle Crusades” all over the world. (7) After close to twenty years of miracle crusades one would imagine that the offices of the Benny Hinn Ministries (BHM) would be overflowing with medical records, legal affidavits, and notarized statements from thousands of people who have either received divine healing or a genuine creative miracle. Yet BHM cannot produce any such proof of the bold claims Hinn makes.

My wife and I participated in several of Mr. Hinn’s crusades. At first we went as part of the mob, later we became part of the mass choirs (that got us closer to the “anointing”).

hinnstage

The flow of the services go something like this: the song leader would lead the crowd in a few songs, then we’d sing “How Great Thou Art” and it was always during the singing of this song that Mr. Hinn, usually in a bright white suit, would appear on the platform with a spotlight on him. Folks, it was no accident that we were singing about how great God was, but Benny knew psychologically that the mob was there because they believed he, Hinn himself, was “great” too, certainly greater and closer to the Lord than they were.

Then Hinn would cite a few healing texts, reminding people that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He would proclaim how he felt a strong anointing or how he had been told by God in prayer that many miracles and healings would take place during that specific crusade. All that the people had to do was to have faith in God. Hinn never preached the Gospel in any of the crusades we attended; he simply cited texts on healing and especially on the blessings of giving.

How better to show ones faith than to put it into action by making as generous a donation as possible? The people were encouraged to “sow” a financial seed into BHM thus proving to God and themselves that they really believed. Hinn would pray God’s blessings on those who gave. Ushers mystically appeared with buckets which looked like the large family sized KFC buckets. Then with the precision of a Rolex ® watch and the speed of a Japanese bullet train thousands of sheep were sheared of their money.

scancartoonmiracles0001

Once the money was collected then the real show began. Hinn would lead the choir in some simple songs, often having us sing the refrains over and over. Then he would suddenly stop and point out into the crowds (nonspecifically) and begin to declare that God was healing someone with cancer in the balcony or He was healing backs etc…Then a chosen, vetted few, would be allowed onto the platform where Hinn would either blow on them, hit them with his suit coat or lay hands on them and like domino’s they would all fall down. At times Hinn would knock down the same person several times saying “pick him up,” and laugh at them as they lay spastic at his feet.

Those lucky enough to be interviewed by Hinn always reported they were healed or received a miracle of a type which was non-verifiable. In other words, no arms grew back, the twisted bodies of the people in the “wheelchair section” remained as twisted. No visible tumors dropped off in front of the cameras. Then a few more songs would be sung while Hinn was led away by his henchmen. The MC for the evening would exhort people to not give up if they did not receive their miracle that evening, because tomorrow evening there would be another “miracle” service. They were also encouraged to purchase the “faith building” materials at all of the tables surrounding the arenas.

On Friday night the people got to see and some believed they felt the power of “God.” On Saturday morning (at least at the last crusade we sang in) an aging Rex Humbard toddled out onto the platform and gave the standard decision-based Gospel appeal to those faithful few who got up early enough to come back to the arena.

What I want to emphasize is the formula Hinn and basically all the other so-called healing evangelists and miracle workers use —perform the signs & wonders shtick, then make an appeal to the unconverted to answer the altar call and make a decision to receive Christ. Is this the biblical pattern for salvation? This is the position that needs to be rebutted biblically in order for us to come to the biblical truth.

Has God Appointed Modern Miracle Workers Today?

healer

It is important for you to understand clearly that DMI firmly believes that our Lord Jesus Christ does still heal His people. However, He does so according to the good pleasure of His will. There are no steps, laws, or principles that we can enact in order to cause our Lord to heal anyone.

The belief in the so-called ministry of the Healing Evangelist aka Miracle-worker came about in the mid 1800’s with the holiness movement and got firmly rooted in many Christian’s minds after 1906 after the neo-Montanist revival at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California.

The reason the Church has been plagued by people such as Maria Woodworth-Etter (the trance evangelist), Smith Wigglesworth, F.F. Bosworth, Aimee Semple McPhearson, A.A. Allen, Kathryn Kuhlman, Jack Coe, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, William Branham, Robert Tilton, Leroy Jenkins, Peter Popoff, Benny Hinn, Jim Wittington and a host of others is because their initial presuppositions were wrong.

Once people began to believe that God had “restored” the gift of other tongues supernaturally then it logically followed that they would also believe the other supernatural gifts either were restored or in the process of being restored, including the gift of the working of miracles (1 Cor. 12:10). It did not take the fledgling neo-Montanist movement long to continue down their slippery slope by believing that since “God” had restored the sign-gifts to the Church He is also restoring the office of the Prophet and the Apostle. To them the Book of Acts became a blueprint for how the Church is supposed to be organized and that miraculous signs and wonders are to be normative in local congregations.

A new magazine came to our office entitled The Voice of the Prophetic and it is filled with nuts, fruits and flakes to be perfectly blunt about it. Here is a quote from a “restored” prophetess by the name of Patricia King:

His voice repeatedly speaks to my heart, ‘I am waiting for My church to move in My authority, to conquer the works of darkness that are manifesting unrestrained. I am waiting for My mature sons and daughters to manifest My glory and My authority. All creation is waiting; all creation is groaning. (7)

Obviously, Ms. King does not place value on the work of Christ Jesus on the cross where He defeated Satan:

Col 2:13-15: And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

I am not denying that there is legitimate spiritual warfare and conflict with Satan and his demons. Yet today’s extremists hold to a view that Satan and demons operate freely in this world unless the Church uses its divine authority to bind the devil and his imps up. I have personally heard the late Kenneth Hagin share how the Lord Jesus appeared to him but an evil spirit jumped up between them and Hagin could not hear Jesus. Hagin waited patiently for Jesus to do something (you see the cross was not enough). Then Hagin finally got angry and rebuked the demonic imp in Jesus name and it scampered away. Hagin asked Jesus why He didn’t do something about the evil spirit. Hagin’s Jesus said He couldn’t because He had given His authority to the Church and unless we do something about Satan and his works, well then, they just won’t get done! You can read about this encounter in Hagin’s book I Believe In Visions.

In the minds of the extremists today it is the mature believers within the Church who wield the true spiritual authority over the devil and demons, not Jesus Christ. Patricia King also misspeaks when her voice tells her that dark works are “manifesting unrestrained.” Yet again the Bible plainly teaches in Second Thessalonians:

2 Thess. 2:2-6: not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.

The evil one is currently under divine restraint and always will be. He is not manifesting anything in an unrestrained mode of operation at all. Satan is a created being who, although rebellious, is still completely subject to the sovereignty of God. He and his minions can do only what the Lord allows them to do. This is clearly seen in Job 1:10-12 or when the demons asked Jesus to allow them to enter into the swine (read Matt. 8:31-32).

Yet King rattles on in her article buttressing Hagin’s heterodox teaching by saying:

He is asking us to take up the authority He won back for us on the cross and move in His supernatural power to confront the powers of darkness, turning the attention of the people back to the One True God. (8)

NEWSFLASH !

Ms. King the world has never been focused on the One True God since the fall of Adam. The example she cites is that of Moses standing up against the Pharaoh’s magicians. The signs and wonders God wrought through Moses did not make the Egyptians believe, in fact, God hardened the heart of the Pharaoh as opposed to giving him faith. Through His work on the cross Jesus did not win back for us the “lost” power to move in the miraculous. He did give us a method to confront the powers of darkness, but that power comes in a completely different form then that which was given to Moses. The entire philosophy of those practicing what is called “strategic level spiritual warfare” is based upon the belief that we, the Church, must enforce Satan’s defeat and take back cities and even nations he has “owned.” This is why people like Dr. C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Schultz and others go to places like Ephesus and march around casting down the “spirit” of Diana which they had discerned had ruled over that area for centuries! (9)

Once a neighborhood or city has had the principalities and powers cast down and bound up by the mature saints…then there is what they call an “open heaven” where their prayers are unhindered and revival can come. Once these warriors have done their work people’s ears are now free from demonic blockage and they can and will receive Christ as Savior. In their view people cannot come to faith in Christ until the demonic forces are driven out or bound up by human agents! This is a blasphemous doctrine because it places both Satan and sinful man as ultimately in control of individuals eternal state before God. It is no longer God who draws, nor is it the Spirit who calls, but men.

This magazine goes on to state in another article concerning how the glory realm is getting thinner, i.e. nearer and more accessible to us. This article is written by Cindy McGill who says:

Already, we are experiencing manifestations of gold, jewels, instant miraculous healings and deliverances. God is flooding lives as He has given the invitation to come in and take over. These things are only the beginning of unbelievable things we are about to see. (10)

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DMI was among the first Apologetic Ministry to debunk the myth of gold teeth and gold dust, in fact, we may have the only book in circulation exposing this alleged phenomena. Most importantly, note how “God” through these miraculous signs & wonders is inviting us to come in and take over! The role of the Holy Spirit is not mentioned, nor the proclamation of the Gospel. Just non-biblical signs &wonders and presto the Church is just supposed to come in and take over. Take over what? Why the world of course. The Prophetic/Apostolic movement is almost exclusively one of Christian Dominion or what is also-called Kingdom Now Theology.

Moving in the miraculous is the new wave of evangelismStacey Campbell says in her article: Prophecy is for Unbelievers:

Of all the evangelism I have ever done—from surveys, to door-to-door, to street preaching, to church dinner, to friendship evangelism—prophetic evangelism is by far the most effective form of evangelism I have ever engaged in. (11)

Stacey seems to have literally been around the block when it comes to sharing the Christian faith. Yet out of all the methods she has tried what has proved most successful? Not the foolishness of preaching (read 1 Cor. 1:21) the Law & Gospel to the lost. Even though the Apostle Paul himself told the sign-saturated Corinthians—-

1 Co. 2:2: For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

The Bible is completely silent about this so-called miraculous prophetic evangelism. Nowhere are God’s people exhorted to go out and win the lost via the use of the spiritual gifts (which we all possess in some fashion) given by the Holy Spirit. This concept is merely an outgrowth from what has become known as the “Third Wave” with Dr. C. Peter Wagner and John Wimber as its fountainhead. Wimber’s book Power Evangelism is where much of this unbiblical nonsense gained a foothold in the sign-gift movement. In his confused mind the simple preaching of the Gospel was not getting the job done. He believed and taught that people needed to see some demonstration(s) of wonder-working power before they would believe the message {according to Wimber and his followers}. In Wimber’s theology “seeing was believing,” yet is this the teaching of the Bible? Does God use miracles/miracle-workers to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Probably one of the strongest biblical proofs from the Old Testament that signs and wonders do not create faith is seen in the lives of the Jews following Moses in the desert. They were brought out of Egypt through a series of miracles and the Lord sustained them for forty years by providing manna and quail for them. Yet what does the Bible have to say about this generation of sign-seeking people?

Heb 3:1-19 But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whom carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

After a lifetime of seeing miracles these people were unable to enter into the land God has promised to give them because of their unbelief. Signs & wonders did not cause them to believe; it did not engender faith in their hearts at all.

Another instance is that of Nebuchadnezzar. He personally saw miracles (read Dan. 3:14-25, Dan. 6:22) yet these demonstrations of God’s power did not bring him to a saving faith in the God of Israel. Later on in the book of Daniel the miraculous hand that wrote on the wall (read Dan. 5:22) to Belshazzar did not bring him to repentance. The wondrous sign was in fact his death warrant, much as was the last great sign in Egypt, the slaying of all the firstborn makes. Or, how about the time when the ark was taken captive by the Philistines and placed in the temple of their god Dagon (read 1 Sam. 5:2)? After finding their god on his face, broken before the ark of the Lord, they decided they’d better send it back to Israel (1 Sam. 6:6-15). The signs God worked among the Philistines did not bring them to cast aside their false gods and embrace the true God in spite of His judgments upon them as long as they had the ark. The uniform testimony of the Old Testament proves that signs and wonders do not cause people to believe in the Living God. What about in the New Testament?

Maybe here we will find evidence of God moving in a new dispensation, one of signs and wonders to produce saving faith in people who witness or experience them.

In John chapter six our Lord feeds thousands in a miraculous way. The multitude wanted to immediately make Him their King and some did declare He was a prophet (see John 6:14). Jesus knew what was in their hearts and left by boat, yet the crowd followed Him and He rebuked them by saying:

John 6:26-27: Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

The miracles of the loaves and fishes did not cause the people to believe He was the Savior. Some did think He was a prophet, others thought He’d make a good King, after all, He could feed them with little of their own labor,. So this great miracle did not produce saving faith. The people did want to know how they too could “work” the works (miracles) of God. Jesus’ response is very telling to our brethren who are besotted with so-called signs & wonders today:

John 6:28-29: Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Sorry folks, Jesus did not give the crowd three steps to miracle working power, nor did He provide six keys to the supernatural realm. Instead He pointed to His Father and said “this is the work of (from) God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Our Master refocused the people AWAY from the signs & wonders (food that perishes) and said that it was God who would do the work and that work was to draw whomever He would to faith in Hs Son. Jesus had a poor view of those who ran after Him seeking signs and wonders:

Matt 12:38-39: Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

Today’s sign seekers are an equally evil and adulterous in my opinion because they have misplaced their faith. Their faith is resting in what they can see or in some cases what type of “power” they can manifest and not in the Word of God first and foremost. In the account of the rich man who went to hell Jesus again warns that a miracle will not create saving faith, whereas God’s Word will:

Luke 16:29-31: Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Note the emphasis placed on hearing the Word of God and not seeing the powerful miracle of one being raised from the dead. The point is — if people will not receive the Word of God, then miracles will be of no help to them. So I repeat myself and state that miracles do not produce saving faith.

The extremist movement is hungry for spiritual power, yet seems to have little appetite for the simple teaching of the Bible. The Apostle Paul makes it very plain where the true power is when he writes:

Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

The accurate proclaiming of the Law & Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; not signs and wonders. The Gospel of John shows this power in operation:

John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have become fascinated concerning the signs, wonders, and miracles. Let us be cautious of many of the claims being made. The Bible warns us in several places about lying signs and wonders whose only goal is to deceive people and lead them AWAY from Jesus, not bring them to a saving faith in Him!

Matthew 24:11: And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Mark 13:22-23: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

2 Thess. 2:9-12 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The Church has been warned repeatedly to be on guard against people who come saying they have the “power” of God. Those who are not grounded on a solid doctrinal foundation may be deceived by these clever counterfeits. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians seems to indicate that people will love the lying signs and wonders which will lead them to NOT love the truth (“They word is truth” Jh 17:17).

Obviously, these miracles did not and will not bring people to faith in Jesus Christ…no miracle ever has apart from the sovereign working of God in the hearts of those He draws unto Himself.

On closing one of the most frightening warnings given by Christ in the Bible, at least to me when I was a former charismatic extremist myself is the following

Mt. 7:21-23: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. As many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in they name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Working or possessing supernatural (often confused with paranormal powers) gifts and using them in “Jesus” name is not the guarantee to enter into heaven. Jesus states quite emphatically in the Greek that He never at any time knew these people. What is the work God finds acceptable?

John 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.

The “work” is faith in God the Son and this work is really not ours per se. Faith to believe is a gift from God and it comes to us by grace alone (read Eph. 2:8). All the power the Church needs is found in the Gospel. It has the power to literally take people and translate them from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son. The Gospel makes the spiritually dead alive with life eternal and grants them an inheritance which is unfading.

Please pray for all of those who’ve been misled, often by well intentioned but ignorant leaders. Millions are seeking for God in all the wrong places chasing after the latest reported sign, wonder or revival…when all the time God’s true power, His Word sits gathering dust in their homes. Selah.

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Simpson, Sandy. Reinhard Bonnke Out of Sight Out of Mind 04-24-01.

2. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

3. Obtained from http://desertpastor.typepad.com/paradoxology/2006/signs_and_wonder.html on (08-20-06)

4. Sumrall, Lester, Miracles Don’t Just Happen, Plainfield, N.J. Logos International, 1979, p. 15

5. Obtained from http://www.fathersglory.com/insp/David_Hogan-1.htm. Underlining, italics and bold type added for emphasis.

6. Obtained from http://www.peterpopoff.org/

7. These “failures” have been well documented by the television exposes on Mr. Hinn, not to mention the research done by the Trinity Foundation and Personal Freedom Outreach.

8. King, Patricia, The Voice of the Prophetic, The Clash of Kingdoms by Patricia King, Oct. 2006, p.9 Underlining added for emphasis.

9. Ibid. p. 35 Underlining added.

10. The whole aspect of spiritual warfare as taught by Wagner, Jacobs and others is nothing but an attempt to justify their own theological views of Kingdom Now.

11. McGill, Cindy, The Voice of the Prophetic. Eye Has Not Seen, Nor Ear Heard the Veil to the Glory Realm in Getting Thinner, Oct. 2006, p. 23. Underlining added.

12. Ibid, p. 27. Underlining added.

13. John Wimber who died at age 65. John Wimber said that he picked up a “Chinese cancer spirit” while visiting China. Apparently he and his elders lacked the miracle working power and could not either cast out this cancer spirit or bind it up. Eventually he succumbed to it. This, sad as anyone’s death is, has always stuck me as rather strange, especially in light of the fact that he also penned a book entitled Power Healing!

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