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.





The Discipline of Fasting

29 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – The Discipline of Fasting – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Fasting

By Robert S. Liichow

A few months ago I began a short series concerning the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life and I take up that “baton” again this month and most likely next month as well. By way of a reminder it is important to keep in mind that all of the spiritual disciplines are meant to be tools for transformation in our fellowship with our Lord. These disciplines have been used by God’s people in both the Old and the New Testament and they are all plainly seen in the Scriptures. It is very important for me to stress that these disciplines are not “laws” or “promises” or a means to make God do something for us. Biblical mediation, daily prayer, service to others, Bible study and fasting are simply ways in which we can draw closer to the One who loves us the most and through our communion with the Lord, hopefully we will reflect His light back to those around us.

In the past, as a charismatic extremist we were taught a great deal about fasting and we used to fast for considerable periods of time. Sadly most of our efforts were unrewarded. Even though we were involved in an activity which is deeply rooted in the Scripture, our motives for fasting were incorrect and the goals we were seeking were not those that our Lord would have had us seek after. Most books on the subject of fasting deal with fasting as a means to gain spiritual power (aka an increased anointing) or as a means to seek the other 8 sign-gifts the Apostle Paul mentioned in First Corinthians 12. (1) Let me cite a few book title on the topic of fasting from the charismatic camp:

Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting; Franklin Hall (2)

Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting by Derek Prince

Commonsense Guide to Fasting by Kenneth E. Hagin

Destroying the Works of Witchcraft Through Fasting; Ruth Brown

The Miracle Results of Fasting  Dave Williams

The Power of Prayer and Fasting (10 Secrets of Spiritual Strength). Ronnie Floyd

Keys to God’s Grace: The Hidden Joy of Prayer, Fasting, and Almgiving (Practical Christian Living), Word Among Us Press

God’s Chosen Fast, Authur Wallis

Prayer and Fasting: The Master Key to the Impossible. Gordon Lindsey

Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, Elmer L. Towns

The charismatic movement has long attached claims of everything from divine revelations, supernatural powers, strategic level spiritual warfare to every changing the course of history through the discipline of fasting and yet none of these claims can be supported biblically.

Since fasting concerns food, it behooves us to begin our consideration of this often neglected spiritual discipline by looking at how God considers food itself. Let me share four aspects of food that we usually don’t consciously think about when we sit down to “nosh.”

Enjoyment — The variety of tastes found in creation is not an accident. God gave us such a wide variety of food and a highly developed taste system, so that man would find pleasure in eating. Sometimes Christians, especially when we have been raised in more legalistic churches, have a hard time believing that we are allowed to enjoy anything! Food is meant to be a source of joy (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25; 5:18). And so are a lot of other things in God’s creation. We are allowed to enjoy our food.

Sustenance— Even in the garden of Eden, Adam needed food to sustain his life and give him energy to do the tasks God had assigned him (sorry Word of Faith supporters, Adam was not a “god”). Plants were given to Adam and Eve for this purpose; Genesis 1:30. Later on (after the flood) man was allowed to eat the flesh of animals for the same purpose: Genesis 9:3. Both plants and animals are God’s provision for our nourishment. I might add, that there is nothing spiritual in the Christian sense about being a vegetarian.

Fellowship –Genesis 18:1-8 gives us one of the first examples of fellowship and food. All through the Old Testament the people of God came together for fellowship over food. God made food for fellowship. He even commanded that some of the sacrifices offered to Him at the temple were to be shared with others. These were communal meals –meals in which the whole community sat down and ate together (see Deuteronomy 12:6,7,18) Families still find a resource of love, fellowship, discussion, and understanding when they come together to eat.

Worship– Food also is a source of worship. We should be very conscious of the fact that food is a gift from God (Matthew 6:11 & 1 Timothy 4:3b-4). In fact, Paul says that every bit of food “should be received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:3). Hence, every meal becomes an occasion for thanksgiving. When we put food to our mouths at the beginning of the meal (Acts 27:35) and when we sit back in our chair with satisfaction (Deuteronomy 8:10), our natural reaction should be a God-ward gratitude. According to the Bible one of the aspects of food was that it was created to be a reason for thanksgiving and worship.

As you can see, food has a central place in our daily existence. The fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “give us this day our daily bread,” and we are told of an upcoming wedding feast that all believers will participate in according to Rev. 19:9. Today cook books abound in every bookstore. There are not just cooking programs but now entire channels devoted to cooking. I remember one Pentecostal pastor preaching about how growing up due to all the legalism folks could not do anything…but eat, which probably explains why many of us (myself included) are overweight today. Hold this thought as we look at what fasting is not!

What Fasting Is Not!

First, Biblical fasting is not mere abstinence from eating. Certainly one forgoes eating food during a fast, but if that is all one does then one has not truly fasted.

Secondly, fasting is not a physical or psychological discipline; it is a spiritual discipline that does engage both mind and body.

Thirdly, fasting is not dieting. I am not denying that Fasting can have a physical and possibly some psychological benefits, but that is not the purpose behind why believers fast.

Fourth, God never encouraged fasting for solely discipline or self-denial reasons. Some of the monks and spiritual hermits used fasting in this manner, some people within the church still misuse fasting this way. However, that is not a Biblical reason for fasting. God has a higher purpose in mind for fasting.

Fifth, fasting is not a manipulative tool –Sometimes fasting is viewed as an attempt to twist God’s arm or to win His approval. But God doesn’t respond to pressure. An example: “In the morning some of the Jews made a plan to kill Paul, and they took an oath to not eat or drink anything until they had killed him. They went to the leading priests and the older-Jewish leaders and said, ”We have taken an oath not to eat or drink until we have killed Paul” (Acts 23:12,14). Using fasting in a manipulative way was done by the people in Jeremiah’s day too. God said, “Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; through they offer burn offerings and grain offering I will not accept them. I will destroy them with the sword, famine, and plague” (Jeremiah 14:12). Fasting didn’t move God one iota. A.A. Allen is an example of someone who claimed to have told God that he would fast until God came and personally spoke to him. (3)

Lastly, fasting is not meant to be a hypocritical religious exercise. By Jesus’ time fasting had become a very important part of the Jewish life. Perhaps overly important would be a better way of saying it. According to the account in Luke 18:12a we know that the Pharisees fasted twice a week. Historically the Jewish market day in Jerusalem was on the 2nd and 5th day. Everyone from the countryside came to town on those days to buy and sell their produce and animals. Naturally, it was on these two days that the Pharisees chose to hold their fasts.

The Pharisees would walk through the streets with their hair disheveled; wearing old clothes and at times they would cover themselves with dirt. They’d also cover their faces with white chalk in order to look pale; and they would dump ashes over their head as a sign of their humility! For the Pharisees fasting had become a “look-at-how-spiritual-I-am” exercise. It was hypocrisy. Remember, there was and is nothing wrong with fasting, but the attitude of the heart of those engaged in this (or any spiritual practice) is of supreme importance.

What Fasting Is

We looked at what fasting is not, lets focus on what is actually is according to the Scriptures. The Greek word for fasting is isnesteia — a compound of ne (a negative prefix) and esthio which means “to eat,” ergo in its widest sense fasting means to not eat.

Why did people in the bible, “not eat?” Leviticus 16:29 says that fasting is synonymous with “afflicting one’s soul.” We gain some insight here about how the Hebrews viewed fasting. Fasting is more than just “afflicting one’s body”, It is “afflicting one’s soul.” In other words, fasting to the Hebraic mind fasting is something that our soul participates in Fasting is denying my “self” with the fullest concept of self being considered. It is denying not only my own body, but also my own wants. It is a way of saying that Food and my desires are secondary to something else. Fasting is “afflicting one’s soul” —a willful act of self-denial. But it is not only an act of self-denial and here is where the monks and hermits were wrong.

Biblical fasting is “not eating” with spiritual communication in mind. We know this because fasting is always connected with prayer in the Bible. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast (biblically speaking) without praying. A good working definition for fasting would be the following. Biblical fasting is the deliberate abstinence form food for a spiritual reason. The biblical reason for fasting is communication and fellowship with the Father through prayer. (4)

Why Fast?

To begin with Jesus expects His disciples to fast, and when we do so we are to be sure our motives are correct.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen, and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus says “when” and not “if” you fast, He assumes His followers will fast from time to time in their spiritual lives. The fasting that is approved to God is that which is done in secret and without any outward display of piety. When we fast in accordance with God’s will we are also given a promise by our Lord “your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” What type of reward? Considering the context of what our Master is saying the reward will be regarding the matter you are seeking God about during your fast.

God said, “When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you” (Jer. 29:13-14) When a man or woman is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, they are demonstrating that they mean business, that they are seeking God with all their heart. It is all too easy to get caught up in the affairs of this life and become sidetracked from seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We are reminded in Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Fasting is one of the tools in our spiritual toolbox to help us refocus on what matters most, our walk with Christ.

When we deny ourselves food to focus on God and His will for our lives demonstrates humility on our part. Fasting graphically reminds us of how dependent we are upon our Lord for not only daily “bread” but spiritual manna too. This is why fasting is equivalent to the phrase “to humble oneself before the Lord” (Psalm 35:13; 1 Kings 21:29; Ezra 8:21). When a person is really concerned about the things of God, he will humble himself before the Lord.

Sometimes people will ask “how do I know when to pray and fast versus when to just pray”? That is not a question that someone else can always answer for you. In God’s word we find fasting connected with a very troubled spirit or an anxious heart before the Lord. In the Old Testament fasting was also a form of grieving over the death of someone. Here are a few biblical examples of when and why people fasted in the Bible:

1). The Israelites fasted, in the conflict between the other tribes with the tribe of Benjamin, on account of the wrong suffered by a Levite’s concubine. (Jug. 20:26).

2). Ahab fasted when Elijah prophesied the destruction of himself and his house. (1 Kings 21:27).

3). Jehoshaphat fasted at the time of the invasion of the confederated armies of the Canaanites and Syrians (2Ch. 20:3).

4). People fasted in times of bereavement, the people of Jabesh Gilead, for Saul and his sons (1 Sa 31:13; 1Ch. 10:12).

5). At times all the nation would fast on occasions of public calamities (2Sa 1:12, Ac 27:33).

6). The believing Jews fasted in Babylon, with prayer for divine deliverance and guidance. (Ezr 8:21,23).

7). Daniel fasted on several occasions; one example is the account of the captivity of the people, with prayer for their deliverance (Da 9:3).

8). The Apostle Paul fasted, at the time of his conversion (Ac 9:9).

9). The disciples fasted at the time of the consecration of Barnabas and Saul (Ac 13:2-3).

10). Fasting occurred with the consecration of the elders (Ac 14:23).

As you can see there are biblically many reasons why people fasted. The Occasion for a Fast is Voluntary: Surprisingly, a particular day for fasting was commanded in Scripture only once– on a Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The fast on the Day of Atonement was connected with a deep mournful spirit in confessing sin. Now in the New Covenant, Jesus Christ has become our atonement offering, so we no longer even need to observe the Leviticus 16 Day of Atonement! In all the rest of the bible there are no other Scriptures which command fasting at a specific time or on a specific occasion. There is no hard and fast “rule” to when it does seem that whatever the reason it is generally a serious matter that requires your focus on prayer and Bible study.

Naturally when the topic of fasting is brought up people often ask how long they should fast. I have met some individuals who’ve claimed to have fasted for forty days but I sincerely doubt their truthfulness, There are only three people in the entire history of God’s dealing with mankind who went on a forty day fast; there was Moses (Ex.24:18; 34:28; Dt 9:9, 18) Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and our Lord Jesus (Mt. 4:2; Mk 1:12,13; Lk. 4:1-2). These were supernatural fasts, miraculous events in and of themselves. Interestingly it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The prophet Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks (Dan. 10:2-3) and the end results of his fasting and praying was a panoramic vision of history. These are all well known examples of extraordinary fasting and not the common experience of God’s people.

As a general principle Christian should fast when he or she feels the Spirit of God leading them to fast. The Length of a Fast is Voluntary: In addition to the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32) you can see examples of one day fasts in Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 1:12; and 2 Samuel 3:35. The Jewish day was counted from sunset to sunset, so this meant that the fast would be broken that is, food could be eaten) after sundown.

The Biblical principle here is that the length of time you fast is determined by your own desires and the occasion or purpose of the fast. The duration can be that which the individual or group feels led to set. There is a great deal of freedom in the Lord here. However, the more common practice of a “normal fast” appears to be one-day.

How You Spend Your Time While Fasting is a Personal Decision Too: In the bible, fasting often occurs as something you do while carrying on your everyday activities! We have an example of soldiers involved in the activity of warfare sometimes fasting (1 Samuel 14:24). Also we read about the sailors on the ship with Paul fasting (Acts 27:33).

Lastly, fasting does not negate our responsibility to be obedient to God. We cannot fast and pray expecting God to bless when there is known sin in our lives. Genuine fasting will always cause us to examine our hearts. Fasting will never cause God to love you one bit more, however it is a tool that can be used to help us love Him more!

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Looking back on past experiences it is interesting when I consider that I never met anyone who desperately sought the gifts of hospitality (Romans 12:13), or of governments (1 Cor. 12:28) or helps in the same texts. No people always sought POWER, either the working of miracles, a specific gift of healing, the gift of supernatural faith, the word of knowledge or word of wisdom or of prophecy

2. Hall’s book on prayer and fasting was greatly responsible for what was originally know as the New Order of the Latter Rain movement of post World War II. Every major charismatic leader of the late 1940’s and 1950’s was influenced by Hall’s unbiblical teaching regarding fasting and prayer. Most of today’s charismatic extremist practices can be traced back to many of Franklin Hall’s teachings. Although his book have long been out-of-print DMI does offer the in PDF format or on a CD.

3. A.A. Allen, as well as Oral Roberts, Gordon Lindsey, T.L. Osborn all claimed that their long fasts resulted in God granting them what they wanted which in their cases was ‘miracle working power,” yet history has proved all of these en to be liars regarding having any supernatural miracle working power.

4. When I say “communication” with the Father I am not implying the Almighty God will directly speak to you. God communicated His will to us through His Word and sacraments period. It is right to expect God to speak to us through His Word which His Spirit will illuminate to us while we pray and fast.

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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.

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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”).

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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.

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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?

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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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