Hell Hath Enlarged Herself (Isaiah 5:14)

21 09 2012

Sun Myung Moon, a self-professed messiah who claimed millions of religious followers in his Unification Church and sought to become a powerful voice in the American conservative movement through business interests that included the Washington Times, has died. He was 92.1

Almost thirty plus years ago as a young man I experienced my first cult intervention which involved a young man who had become ensnared by the false claims of an alleged Korean messiah.  That deceiver was no one less than Sun Myung Moon, founder of The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit aka The Unification Church and/or Moonies due to their slavish devotion to their leader.

An Aside:
Have you ever noticed how Satan tries to dress up his false cults with names that sound so appealing to the unwary?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit
The Children of God aka The Family of Love or Love Family
The Way International
The Church of Christ Science

Jesus Christ Superstar was out in theaters (as a movie) and one evening myself and a couple of friends decided to go see the movie.  As was our habit in the early 70’s we began the evening by ingesting some mind altering substances, after a while we got hungry and stopped by a 7-Eleven and my friends went inside for some munchies.  I sat in the car and looked out and saw a young guy standing there by our door holding a box of peanut brittle and wearing a huge round button with the deceased Mr. Moon’s photograph on it.  By this time in America, the Unification Church was deemed a cult, and rightly so and many parents were having their children kidnapped and deprogrammed.  One famous de-programmer was Ted Patrick2 who was in the newspapers back then.  I looked at this ‘kid’ and got out of the car and went up to him and said “do you know who I am?”  He said “no.”  I responded “I am Ted Patrick (who turned out to be African-American) the white lightening.  What are you doing here?  The boy responded “I am serving God would you like to buy some peanut brittle?” I said, “No, you are serving (pointed to his button) THAT man!”  He looked at me and said “same thing.”  I then told him to get in the car, he tossed his case of peanut brittle in and got into the backseat.  My friends returned and were naturally surprised to see this unknown guy in the car with us.  Long story short, we took him to see Jesus Christ Superstar (I know, I know), he slept through all of it,  At the end of the movie we had a debate between the 3 of us as to what to “do” with this guy now that he was with us.  Rudy, had no church or pastor to call, Greg was Roman Catholic and he said his priest would not have anything to do with him.  My Presbyterian pastor was a “no go” as well.

During his stint at the 7-Eleven a Baptist pastor had come by and given him a tract with his phone number on it.  We found a phone booth and called Rev. Kuncle who came out at 3:00 in the morning and took the young man to his home and his church.  That morning, after church, yes rebellious as I was I was in church every Sunday; I approached our Pastor, Ben Jones, and related the story with tears in my eyes and he responded “oh, huh, you can’t save everybody.”  Although I have never forgotten the encounter, Pastor Jones response was sufficient enough cold water thrown on a fledgling spark that was not rekindled for another five years.

I must be honest with our readers.  I have NEVER liked Moon or his organization.  I have fought against him, even to his face when he spoke at a Baptist ‘church’ in Detroit several years ago.  My wife and I went out and witnessed AGAINST Moon and FOR Christ in front of the church building he was usurping.  We were not well received by his followers or henchmen.

The Bible says that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (see Eze. 18:23).  I guess “pleasure” is too strong a word, but I am glad he is dead.  He deceived millions during his life; he was given 92 years of grace and never repented of his blasphemy.  I am sorry he never came to the saving knowledge of Christ and will now suffer the eternal torments of the damned.

I am on David’s imprecatory psalms side of the scale when it comes to Mr. Moon.   The imprecatory psalms are the ones in which David calls for Divine judgment and curses to fall upon the godless, the wicked and his personal enemies.  In Mr. Moon’s sad case he has certainly obtained what he deserved, may each of us reading this NEVER receive what we deserve, but may we gladly and humbly accept the grace of God shown only in the Person of Jesus Christ our Lord and soon coming Savior.  Although I have written in the past about the Moonies, allow me to give our newer readers a thumbnail sketch of his beliefs and practices.

Who Was Mr. Moon?

Sun Myung Moon was nothing if not ambitious.  He had his sights on nothing less than global domination by his organization:

His stated ambition was to rule the world and replace Christianity with his own faith, which blended elements of Christianity, Confucianism and Korean folk religions.3

Like virtually all of the false religions Moon had a mystical encounter with an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14) who revealed himself as Jesus.  This Jesus explained how e had failed by being crucified.  According to Moon’s Jesus the crucifixion was never the Father’s plan, yet Jesus failed and he appeared to Rev. Moon (at age 16) to call Moon to finish His redemptive work!

Young Myung Moon (later changed to Sun) was born in Pyungan Bud-do province in North Korea on January 6, 1920.  Throughout his early life, Moon had a great deal of interest in spiritism.  It was on Easter Sunday morning at the age of 16 that his first major encounter occurred, when Jesus Christ supposedly appeared to him while he was in prayer.  Jesus told Moon that he had an important mission to accomplish in the fulfillment of God’s providence as a latter-day prophet.   After the experience, Moon began writing his Divine Principles while studying Engineering in Japan.  It was during this time, and after World War II, that Moon became involved in an underground Pentecostal movement that was deeply entrenched in mystical revelations and the appearance of the Messiah in the New Jerusalem, Korea.  (They believed the Messiah would be born in Korea).  It was in 1945 that Moon experienced his most important victory when he fought and defeated all Satanic forces and became victor of heaven and earth.  (This is when he changed his name to Sun).   In 1950, Moon was released from prison and moved to South Korea when in 1954 he began his Unification Church.  In 1955, Moon was again jailed for draft evasion, adultery, and promiscuity.  This came for his ritual sex with women in the church.  Those who have been in Moon’s church say that one has to receive Moon’s blood to receive salvation.  This salvation comes from three periods of sexual intercourse.   In the years that followed, Moon became a multi-millionaire from his many enterprises-tea, titanium, drugs, and air rifles.  Finally, on January 1, 1972, Moon claims God appeared to him and told him to come to America to prepare the people for the Second Advent of Christ.  Believing the USA to be the base of the coming Messiah, Moon purchased much land in New York along with his 22-acre estate in Tarrytown, N.Y.  Since this time, the church has grown here in America.4

Who was Mr. (I cannot call him “Rev.” people he was never ordained by any recognized body within the true Church) Moon? He had no biblical framework to judge his mystical encounter by, so he accepted it at face value, after all it is pretty “heady” stuff to be asked by Jesus to fulfill his “failed” mission!

Unfortunately for Moon he was raised in North Korea prior to the partition.  He grew up in a rural area that was steeped in religious syncretism and mysticism.  He joined an aberrant Pentecostal cult that firmly believed the next and final Messiah would come from Korea, which just happened to line up with his paranormal encounter.  In 1946 Moon was arrested by the communists and sentenced to a five year prison term.  While in prison he alleges to have engaged in tremendous spiritual warfare and in the end every other former religious leader and demon(s) bowed down to Moon as victor over them.

Moon did his time and in 1950 moved to the South and began his new religion he called “The Unification Church.”  Part of his bizarre doctrine was that the women in the church, in order to be saved had to have sex with him on three occasions.  That apart from his blood, there was no salvation (I wonder where he got that concept from)?  This unique doctrine landed Mr. Moon back into jail for immorality and adultery.

There was a book by Pak Chung Hwa who was one of the earliest followers of Moon in the early days called The Tragedy Of The Six Mary’s. In the book, Pak alleges that Moon’s early teaching was that the new messiah must have sex with 6 “Marys” in a ritual that would cleanse the womb and make it pure. These women who must be married would then have sex with other men and the process would multiply until all people were “saved” in this way. Pak claimed though, that Moon wouldn’t stop at the six as he originally stated, but turned the theology into a kind of rotating sex-club for himself, which upset Pak, particularly he claimed because sometimes these encounters produced children and Moon allegedly left the women to fend for themselves with no support from Moon.5

Soon after getting out of jail the second time Moon “felt led” to take his message to America to prepare us for the second return of Christ (which meant the installation of Mr. Moon as the Christ).  From 1972 until recently he has seconded himself to his palatial estate in Tarrytown, New York.

Moon became a huge supporter of Richard Nixon during his troubles and he gave massively to right-wing organizations and mobilized his followers to campaign for various politicians and raise money for them, etc.

Within ten years of his stay in America Mr. Moon was arrested, this time for tax evasion in 1982. While the trial was ongoing various American “evangelicals” came to his aid, people like Jerry Falwell whose Bible school was bailed out of bankruptcy by Moon.6   Moon was convicted of all counts and spent his full 18 month sentence in prison.

Moon taught that his family was the perfect family and his twelve children were representative of perfection.  The public illusion of his perfect family was shattered by a few tragic events.

In 1984 17-year-old Heung Jin Moon died in Poughkeepsie when he drove recklessly into a truck.7   In 1998 his eldest son, Hyo Jin, was denounced as a violent cocaine addict by his wife (he would die of a heart attack in 2008, aged 45). In 1999 another of Moon’s sons, Younjin Phillip Moon, committed suicide aged 21.8  Several of the perfect families spouses have divorced their less than ‘perfect’ husbands.  The biggest insights into the Moon daily lifestyle came from Nansook Hong, wife of the eldest of Moon’s sons and heir apparent to his vast empire.  Nansook divorced and exposed her husband for the abusive pervert he was along with revealing the ungodly and lavish lifestyle led by all the members of the perfect family in her book “In The Shadow of the Moons,” I highly recommend her book to anyone interested in the daily inner workings of an antichrist and his family.  The last I heard was that Nansook has become a Christian since her departure from the madness of the Moons.

What Is His Doctrine?

Any cult leader worth his or her cosmic salt has to appeal to some sort of authority; ergo the deceiver MUST put down the sublime new revelations in a book.  Mary Baker Eddy wrote her “Scripture Keys to Science and Health,” Joe Smith got together his “Book of Mormon,” Mohammed’s followers cobbled together “the Koran” after his assumption of desert temperature.  Even the Rastafarians have their “Holy Philby” (DMI has copies of all these heretical tomes), Judge Rutherford and devotees patched together “The New World Translation,” The Urantia cult has “The Urantia Book,” The Bahai have their “The Book of Laws,” and yes folks Rev. Moon wrote his too entitled “The Divine Principle,” which Moon left open for further revelations which he gave in his series of talks called “The Master Speaks.” From these two sources we can learn what Moon’s  doctrine is.

To begin with the Bible is not “truth itself” but the Bible does contain truth, so immediately understand that Moonies have no real regard for Scripture as God’s holy Word.  They usually interpret the Bible allegorically:

The Moonies interpret much of the Bible allegorically; they teach that the thieves on the cross represent democracy (the “right”) and Communism (the “left”). They claim that “resurrection” does not refer to raising the dead, but to accepting the “word of God” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-20). They say that the expression “end of the world” only means that “evil is going to end.” [HJB] Moon also believes the Bible teaches that Christianity is not the one and only divinely revealed and saving faith. He says that “God has established many religions. … God cannot be found where there is conflict. Catholicism and Protestantism must become one.”9

Scriptures are understood in the current light of The Divine Principle along with whatever else Moon may have said in various teaching settings.  Allow me to briefly bullet point some of their main doctrinal “distinctions.”

The Fall:

Moon was indeed a sexual deviant and his views on sexually colored much of what he believed and taught to others.  The sin of Adam and Eve can be boiled down to Eve having sex with the serpent (Satan) and then having sex with Adam causing all mankind to fall.10

Sin:

Sin was not the result of Adam’s willful disobedience to the Law of God, but was of a sexual nature:

Adam and Eve thus failed to fulfill God’s plan for them to be the “true parents” of mankind. According to Moon, then, sin is a matter of genetics (physical children of Lucifer), not moral choice. Salvation, therefore, requires a physical redemption; i.e. it is a matter of being born of Moon’s physical bond or entering a marriage union chosen and blessed by Moon himself. [Originally, “Blood cleansing” as defined by Moon was accomplished for any male by having sexual relations with a woman that had been “cleansed” by Moon (i.e., had sexual relations with Moon). Now, those who totally submit to Moon’s authority (e.g., defined as turning over all financial assets to the Unification Church, allowing Moon to choose one’s mate, etc.) may consider their devotion to be a spiritual kind of purification not requiring sexual cohabitation.]11

God the Father:

They deny the Triune nature of God, instead saying that God is dualistic in nature being composed of both male and female energies.

Jesus Christ:

Jesus is not God, He is not virgin born, He is not the Savior of the world.  Jesus is a failure, the bastard son of Zachariah and Mary and begged Mr. Moon to complete his “failed” mission (see D.P. pp. 143-145).  At best Jesus provided an incomplete spiritual salvation and not the full physical redemption designed by God.

The Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is not “God” but is the impersonal redemptive activity of God.  They teach that the Holy Spirit is female and the “spirit-wife” of Jesus the failure (see D.P. p. 113).

Salvation:

Naturally, Moon as all non-Christian religions teaches salvation by personal works:

Moonies teach the “Law of Indemnity” — that God’s children must pay for at least a part of their debt of sin before God will forgive them. They believe a person earns his salvation through fasting, fund-raising, recruitment, and other such works. They claim that both a spiritual and a physical salvation are needed — and that the “third Adam” will provide physical salvation by marrying and producing sinless children (Divine Principle, p. 148). They teach that once the “third Adam” comes, those who have paid indemnity will also be able to marry and bear sinless children. [HJB] Moonies view Moon as that “third Adam” who provides physical salvation through a perfect family (indeed, his twelve children are considered sinless!), and extends this perfection to his followers through their obedience to him.12

There we have it!  “Trickle down salvation” that starts with Moon and his perfect family and spreads to those who have been tireless workers and whom Moon puts together as husband and wife.  These now blessed couples will produce perfect families such as their Master’s, i.e. broken families of immorality, substance and physical abuse and in the end, hell.  According to Moon eventually all of mankind will be saved and hell will be dissolved by the expanding universe.

I will not waste much time mentioning that Moon was a shrewd businessman and invested his cult’s assets into a vast global empire spanning everything from the making of air rifles to ginseng drinks!  These businesses are run by his family members and trusted flunkies and many of them are staffed with Moonies who work for little pay and give much back to Moon!

Moon is Dead, Now What?

Frankly, I do not know what this will mean.  Moon never really prepared for a successor, He was the “guy” period.  His teachings did not make room for someone to continue his work, he said he fulfilled it.  As with many groups based on failed promises and/or prophetic utterances I believe we will see a “spiritualizing” of many of Moon’s belief’s about his success.  Sort of like the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses spiritualizing events they said would take place on earth.  Those left behind (a little End-Time lingo) will have to do some very fancy footwork to keep he religious aspect of the cult alive.

Key to the church’s religious future is the Rev. Hyung-jin Moon, the U.S.-born 33-year-old who was tapped to succeed his father several years ago as head of the church.  Known as “Sean” back at Harvard, where he studied, he is more fluent in English than Korean and has signs of his father’s charisma — but with an American sensibility. His sermons, delivered in English, are designed to appeal to the next generation of “Unificationists,” the name followers prefer over the moniker “Moonies.”13

Often cults wither away, thankfully, with the death of their founder, but in the case of the Moonies they may persist for a while longer.  Moon’s sort of sex-magic salvation is behind all of the “mass weddings” we’d see taking place with Mr. & Mrs. Moon presiding and blessing the arranged couples.  Through these marriages the women are saved, perfect children are born already members in the cult and if people are employed by a Moonie owned and operated business, they had best continue to toe-the-line.  These marriages alone account for thousands of people and families, so the cult has a sort of built-in survival system, at least for a little while.

Also, many cult watchers agree that Moon’s organization is indeed not so much a “religion” as it is a money-making concern.  They still field thousands of solicitors (beggars) on the streets of the capitals of the world asking for donations (and getting them), this brings in unknown amounts of cash which is used to keep the Perfect Family in the mannerto which they are accustomed.  It is a religious cult that provides the motivation to mobilize people to become slaves to Moon and his family organization.

The big question now that Moon’s being turned into compost is who will run his vast business global empire?

The church has amassed dozens of businesses in the United States, South Korea and even North Korea, including hotels, a ski resort, sports teams, schools, universities and hospitals.  One expert said the church’s business prospects appear brighter than its religious future. Tark Ji-il, a professor of religion at Busan Presbyterian University, described the church not as a religious organization but as a corporation made up of people with similar religious beliefs.  The church won’t give details about how much its businesses are worth, other than to describe them as part of a “multibillion-dollar” empire.14

He has ten of the twelve surviving perfect children and there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.  It seems the next eldest son is the head of the business wing of the cult:

An older brother, Kook-jin Moon, a 42-year-old also known as Justin, runs the Tongil Group, the church’s business arm.  The church has amassed dozens of business ventures over the years, including the New Yorker Hotel, a midtown Manhattan art deco landmark, and the Yongpyong ski resort in South Korea. It gave the University of Bridgeport $110 million over more than a decade to keep the Connecticut school operating. Moon also founded the Washington Times newspaper in 1982. (They also own the Associated Press newswire, the AP).15

Obviously, this leaves eight other siblings to either be happily bought off or possibly form some splinter group, only time will tell.

How Should Christians Engage the Moonies?

When  approached, most people will encounter Moonies soliciting money for runaway teen programs, substance abuse, pregnancy centers, etc.  Now they may be real programs (Moon has 100’s of non-profits) or they may be total lies.  Moon has a teaching called “heavenly deception”which allows Moonies to lie to others for the sake of the kingdom.  It is perfectly permissible to lie to those you are about to bilk.

A pair of fresh-faced usually young people approaches you asking for money to help the homeless.  They are well dressed, well groomed (kind of look a bit Mormony) and usually they will not say anything initially about religion, most have been taught to somewhat hide their affiliation with Moon and his cult until pressed on the point.  The following are merely suggestions and they can be applied to anyone who has not yet been converted to faith in Christ.

For many of my Lutheran brethren, it has not been our practice to actively “share our faith” on the public streets or door-to-door.  Be that as it may, we still need to be equipped to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.  If your pastor has not yet taught you how to share your faith effectively, then why not ask him to hold such as class or invite DMI to come and help equip the saints in your area!
1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear

#1.  Pray first!  Keep in mind all cult members have been deeply deceived and are totally invested in their group.  Realize that you are engaging in genuine spiritual warfare, so ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom (see James 1:5) and to “fill your mouth” with the proper words to share (Luke 12:12).

#2.  Share Christ alone!  Jesus is the focus of our witness. The Apostle Paul defined the gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If we aren’t explaining the sacrifice of Christ, then we’re not really sharing the gospel. (See also 1 Corinthians 2:2 and Romans 10:9-10.)  Make sure to stress the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, not just one of many ways. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).   I would probably share the Father’s love for lost humanity with John 3:16 and make sure the cultist knows that our Father loves them so much He sent His only Son to die for them that they might have eternal life.  If this is all you have time to get out before they flee from the presence of the light in you — then thanks be to God you have shared enough!
#3.  Thank God!  At the end of your encounter then give God praise for allowing you to share your faith.  Know that when you have shared it is up to the Lord to convict and to draw to faith.  Our job is to simply share what Christ has done for the world and for us personally.  We are not the Savior, nor do we rest on our ability to share the Gospel.  God has promised that His Word will not return to Him void (Isa. 55:11).  In some cases we will be watering seed that has been previously sown (see 1 Cor. 3:8) at other times we will be sowing Gospel seeds, and yes at times you may meet people who are ready to be “harvested” into the Kingdom, i.e. people who come to repentance while you are with them.  In the sowing, the watering and the harvesting — the Lord of the harvest (Matt. 9:38) gets all the glory.

Moon is dead, now is the time for Christians to reach out to the confused devotees with the genuine Gospel.  One way to gain experience in sharing your faith proactively is simply go online and join the various forums sponsored by the Moonie cult and begin to engage the cultists with  God’s Word.  This is a less pressured way to witness and you have the ability to lookup texts immediately as your share and/or find answers quickly to somewhat “pithy” questions the cultists may ask.  Let me close this out by saying that in sharing our faith we do not have to have all the answers.  When asked questions you do not have an answer for then say “that is a good question, give me your number and I will get back to you with the answer.”  Our job is simply to be faithful, walk humbly before our God and share His love flowing through us to a dying world of neighbors for whom Christ died.

An Attitude of Gratitude

DMI wants to acknowledge the work of one of our fellow truth-tellers.  Sister Sherrie D. has single-handedly set up and run the DMI Blog for the last six years!  Due to her work the newsletters have now been read (to some degree) by over 100,000 people.

THANK YOU SHERRIE!

For six years of volunteering your time and gifts for Christ’s sake.  Fact is —— without the sacrifices of time, talent and treasure of ALL of our readers DMI would not be able to “Teach Truth & Expose Error.”  We give thanks and praise to God for each and everyone of you!

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/sun-myung-moon-dies-at-92-washington-times-owner-led-the-unification-church/2012/09/02/001b747a-f531-11e1-aab7-f199a16396cf_story.html.  Underlining added for emphasis.

2. To read more about his colorful life go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Patrick

3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/sun-myung-moon-dies-at-92-washington-times-owner-led-the-unification-church/2012/09/02/001b747a-f531-11e1-aab7-f199a16396cf_story.html. Underlining added.
4. http://www.biblelineministries.org/articles/basearch.php3?action=full&mainkey=THE+CULT+OF+SUN+MYUNG+MOON. Underlining added.
5. Obtained from http://www.reocities.com/craigmaxim/m-3a.html.
6. Obtained from http://www.contendingfortruth.com/wp-content/uploads/Exposed-Chuck-Missler-Tim-Lahaye-etc.pdf
7. Obtained from http://www.icsahome.com/docview_elib.asp?Subject=Ex-Memers+and+Moon’s+Alienated+Kin+Speak+Out+About+Troubled+Family+Life
8. Obtained from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9517193/The-Rev-Sun-Myung-Moon.html
9. Obtained from http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm.
10. Bizarre, yes, original, no.  William Branham taught this sex-with-Satan nonsense aka as “the serpent seed doctrine” in the 40’s when Moon was involved with an underground Pentecostal cult, so he may have gotten gist of it then.
11. http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm
12. Ibid.
13. Obtained from http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/feuds-concern-children-inherit-moons-empire-17142307#.UEYii41lQn0
14. Ibid. Obtained from http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/feuds-concern-children-inherit-moons-empire-17142307#.UEYii41lQn0. Underlining and highlights added for emphasis.
15. Ibid.

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Why DMI Does What It Does

27 07 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 7 – Why DMI Does What It Does

 Discernment Ministries International

 Why DMI Does What It Does

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

“We praise God that, despite the large amount of poison, He still saves so many people at the same time we remember our sacred duty to witness against every false doctrine whenever we can.”  CFW Walther, Essays for the Church, Volume 1, 178.

I was recently at Concordia seminary, Fort Wayne explaining to their Vicarage Department why I was no longer pursuing a position as a pastor within the LCMS. Instead I shared with Professor Pulse the great need to (1) educate God’s people of the dangers from within and without and (2) to the need to help equip the sheep with the biblical tools they need to give a defense for what they believe. I shared that my goal was to continue the fruitful ministry the Lord entrusted to me by hopefully starting a ‘Recognized Service Organization’ (RSO) within our Synod dedicated to warning, educating and equipping congregations within the LCMS about the dangers impacting the church. Professor Pulse agreed there was (1) currently no one doing this type of outreach and (2) there is indeed a great need for such work.

I was however disappointed to learn that the two Apologetics/counter-cult type courses that were offered to pastors in training are no longer offered at any Lutheran seminaries. What is more I have yet to work with any congregation that was well educated and equipped regarding the current trends sweeping away many souls.

For over sixteen years I have dedicated my meager abilities to “Teach Truth and Expose Error” and it has been at times exhilarating as well as very depressing. Exhilarating in that I have seen many people come out of doctrinal darkness and false practice by the grace of God. Depressing, because of the lack of support from local churches and individuals in battling the very things that are destroying them!

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:27-31

The Field of Battle Is Two-Fold

From Without-

Paul in his address to the Ephesian elders warned them of the battle to come when he departed. Nature abhors a vacuum, and evil spirits know how to make the most of a “clean and swept” house (see Matthew 12:45). One avenue to assault against the sheep is from outside of the Church that Paul designates as “grievous wolves” —

To begin with cultic activity is pandemic in the world. Christianity is no longer merely competing with the views of the major world religions (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.). Today, the Church is competing with literally 1,000’s of new belief systems, many of which are very sophisticated technologically and extremely evangelistic in delivering their message.

These non-Christian cults have multitudinous websites, Blogs, Public Access television programs, cable programs in the form of infomercials and a growing army of devotees actively spreading their version of salvation. A good example would be the church of Scientology. A highly published Christian Apologist was told by Zondervan Publishing House, the largest Christian book publisher in the world, to remove the chapter he had written about Scientology, simply because that cult is too powerful and they have the capability to sue organization into bankruptcy (this is what happened to the Cult Awareness Network, which is now owned and operated by Scientologists). Due to the many high profile musicians and movie actors in Scientology their cult is growing in popularity and power. What is your church doing to combat their false message? Ask yourself a simple question, “is my church equipping me to biblically and effectively challenge their beliefs”? When was the last time your church offered a course or seminar on the cults, their beliefs and how to refute them from a loving biblical perspective?

Do the brothers and sisters you worship with weekly understand what Islam believes? Do they know its history, why the Shiites fight the Sunni and both of them fight the Sufis. We may have a Latter Day Saint for a President of the nation. It might surprise you to learn that Christians have more in common with Islam than we do with Mormonism—is your church educated to know why this is true?

The church is currently under a massive attack from without. Not just the overt non-Christian cults, but also by our culture. The homosexual movement has been growing by leaps and bounds. It was not that long ago when being a homosexual was one of society’s darkest secrets. Not only was it a shameful secret, but was classified as a psychological ailment and a crime of sexual deviancy in most states. In less than twenty years (20) homosexuals are touted as ‘normal’ and thus should (and do) have the same rights as heterosexual citizens. Gay pride floods our parades, our military and virtually every television sitcom has at least one openly queer character.

Our own government has been moving in rapid fashion against the Church under the Obama regime. The church is going to be forced to pay for birth control pills and abortions. Bible believing Christians are now listed as potential terrorists by our government. Do not be surprised if/when they rescind tax breaks for Churches. Obviously, Hollywood television programs and movies, the music industry conspire to works against the cause of Christ. When was the last time you saw a Christian portrayed in a good light in a film or program? Ask yourself, are you, your church family and friends biblically prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you (see 1 Peter 3:15)?

From Within-

What is even more troubling is the rapid expansion of heresy and aberrant teachings within the Church. What’s worse is that the vast majority of this nonsense flows from America! Never in the history of the Church have the people of God suffered from such a massive infestation of false teachers, false prophets and false apostles.

The “Christian” bookstore has become one of the most spiritually dangerous places for the child of God to set foot in. The list of Christian best selling books include such titles as Good Morning Holy Spirit, The Divine Revelation of Hell, God Calling, The God Chasers, Heaven Is Real and other books filled with false teaching, blasphemy and in many cases outright lies.

“Christian” Television offers the world a perversion of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. TBN, a global network, serves up a regular diet of heresy and error through people such as Jessie Duplantis, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kim Clement and others. Televangelism is alive and well on the airwaves proclaiming a false gospel of health & wealth. Peter Popoff, Don Stewart, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey and Robert Tilton (to name just a few) are still broadcasting on a regular basis and raking in close to a combined BILLION dollars a year to support their lavish lifestyles (wonder why Senator Grassley was interested in some of these Gospel pimps?).

The televangelists do not provide any financial reports, but it is estimated based on what has been revealed that altogether they siphon off close to a billion dollars a year tax-free from legitimate Christian work. Where does this money go? It goes to pay for mansions, private jets (many televangelists own several), running their SINistry machines. Very little goes to feed the hungry, build orphanages, medical clinics, locally based outreach, etc. These people promise much, but they deliver nothing but false and unfulfilled promises.

The elderly, infirmed, work-at-home mom’s & dad’s represent the “mission” field of the televangelists. These Christian folks, who are lonely, want some “Christian” teaching & fellowship have no choice except to watch and be influenced by a myriad of false teachers, prophets, apostles, brethren and false evangelists. If such viewing comprises the majority of spiritual input, then it makes sense that these people would be deceived into believing what they see and hear — because the televangelists ALL preach the same errors on television, ergo they ‘confirm’ their own doctrines by pointing to one another as additional witness (see 2 Cor. 13:1). I have relatives who actually go to sleep with TBN on!

The problem with the people who have risen up among us speaking perverse things is that we live in a time when pointing this out is politically incorrect and this notion has crept over into the Church in a big way. The lambs of our Lord suffer under these blind guides because the leaders in the Church are very busy perfecting their place in the monkey line —” see no evil hear no evil speak no evil,” others are working on Oscar winning performances akin to “Sgt. Shultz” on television who was known for saying “I know nothing” when questioned about questionable activities.

Some swimming in the river of denial say “let the Lord handle it,” or “I’m taking the high ground and walking love towards them” — all-the-while people are being misled regarding who our Lord Jesus Christ is, what He did, what is our response to be to Him for His great gift, etc. By keeping silent error increases. The apostle Paul rightly said to the Galatians regarding the false teachers assaulting their faith:

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Gal. 5:7-9

These folks were hindered from obeying the Lord because they listened (how faith comes) to false teachers. Paul warns them that the little leaven (error) will infect the entire loaf unless dealt with.

 A few years back Tracy and I marveled at the ignorance of a leading charismatic pastor, John Arnott, who answered a question regarding spiritual deception in this manner, “I have more faith in God’s ability to bless than in Satan’s ability to deceive,” words to that effect. Arnott got many hearty ‘halleluiahs’ from the crowd for his pious sounding words. But what sayeth the Scripture?

The Satanic Six Fold-Ministry

When I start out as a young charismaniac the teaching of that day was about the “five-fold ministry.” This is taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and buttressed with a few other texts:

And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Eph. 4:11-12

Sign-gift people are restorationists and as such believe that today’s Church is supposed to operate exactly like the early Church but with more power in these last days. They believe that God has restored back to the Church the specific office of the (1) Apostle, and (2) Prophet. The other three (3) Evangelist, (4) Pastor and (5) Teacher have always been with the Church. This teaching goes as far as to declare that unless a local congregation receives spiritual input from all five ministry gifts they will remain deficient and non-effective in the last great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit and power. Many books have been written regarding the work of the restored five-fold ministry and this concept (which is wrong for many reasons) is widely held by countless sign-gift folks. They believe for example, that the apostle is one who operates in all the other four ‘offices.’ I would like to briefly mention the other side of the coin, which NONE of the charismatic luminaries has touched on to any great degree; that of the demonic counterfeits.

The False Apostle

Chief Apostle Dr. Eric vonAnderseck believes that the church needs living apostles today to bring the church into the unity of the faith. By his apostolic stewardship the church is again receiving one doctrine of Christ, one faith, and one restored blueprint of truth. Apostle Eric is establishing the true testimony of Jesus Christ as the record of faith to mature the church unto a perfect man, to bring the church to the fullness of Christ. (Eph.4:13)   (2)

God is changing the look and feel of Apostolic and Prophetic ministry as it is now functioning in the church. A new dynamic of the ministry of Apostles and Prophets will soon be revealed through Jesus Christ, the giver of the Five-Fold ministry gifts. Interestingly enough is that the new dynamic is the same pattern given for Apostles and Prophets in the Holy Scriptures. (3)

The ministry of the apostle is the latest act of restoration by the Holy Spirit according to the enthusiasts. My wife and I personally experienced the rise of the apostolic which was “birthed” by the proclamation of the restored prophets! We saw individuals who started out as street evangelists become pastors, who later became prophets and then were elevated to the role of apostle and others who jumped the ranks from pastor to apostle, including one of our former pastors, Ellis Smith. If you Google “prophetic movement” you will get a return of 4,670,000.

According to the enthusiasts the ministry of the apostle is the culmination of the restoration process. They believe that these men and women (although Jesus chose no female apostles, nor did the early church) are the ones through whom God will pour out new revelations, give directions for the Church both locally and globally. These people are the forerunners who will initiate the forthcoming manifestation the sons of God (see Romans 8:19)  by imparting spiritual gifts of power.

One of the most recent examples of this belief was the ‘elevation’ of Todd Bentley to the office of apostle. The whole debacle can be seen and heard on YouTube, simply input ‘Todd Bentley’ and you will get back over 3,800 videos. The fact is this: Mr. Bentley has no legitimate biblical education. He is a convicted child molester, (4), and shortly after his elevation it was discovered that the Church’s newly minted “apostle” was in the midst of a sexual affair with another female anointed vessel. Now a few months later Todd is divorced, remarried and back on the stage with the FULL BACKING of today’s so called restored apostles and prophets (many of whom can be seen on his elevation video prof-a-lying over Todd). (5) There is one good video of Todd where he is rebuked by 4 people during a meeting, which he ignores and belittles, if you get online you can go to the following address and see men rebuking Todd biblically – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_tRwgItUFo.

These roving wolves are nothing new to the Church. From its inception Satan raised up tares among the pure wheat o0f God to deceive and mislead the sheep; to lead them to hell and not to heaven.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. 2 Cor. 11:13-15

Paul is defending his genuine apostleship against those who were claiming that they were in fact the true apostles to the Corinthians. Three times Paul uses the Greek word

Paul lets us know that these pseudo apostles are people who disguise their true motives; they masquerade as Christians which should not surprise us because Satan and his demons always attempt to appear in an appealing and tempting form. So it is no big mystery that his servants will appear as ministers of righteousness — they will reap what they sow. Our Lord commanded the saints who did not simply “swallow-and-follow” whatever they were taught, but they checked out those who claimed to be apostles:

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. Rev. 2:3

Discernment Ministries International has been putting these people to the test and we have found them to be false apostles and DMI is doing all it can to warn the body of Christ about the grave spiritual danger these frauds present to our spiritual wellbeing. Today’s crop of so-called apostles fails the biblical test set forth in Acts:

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Acts 1:21,22

What is more, Jesus and the early Church never chose a woman to be an apostle, ergo any women today who claims to hold such a position is obviously extremely deceived and thus deceiving all those who follow her, regardless of how well-intentioned she may be. (7)

This new crop fails the true seal of apostleship in the area of genuine signs and wonders. Paul, in defense of his ministry said:

I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you; for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 2 Cor. 12:11,12

False Prophets

Today, there is no doubt that God is restoring the prophetic ministry to the church as never seen before. Prophets are springing up from everywhere and people are more than ever aware of the prophetic ministry as never before. (8)

The polemical aspect of the heresiologist’s work is decried by many in the church today. Many people think those of us involved in apologetics, polemics and counter-cult works are simply wasting our time. After all, if someone wants to call themselves a “prophet” what business is it of mine or yours? Christian love demands a response to (1) the lies told in the name of the Lord who saved them and (2) warn the undiscerning to the spiritual danger facing them if they warn the undiscerning to the spiritual danger facing them if they follow these blind guides.

False prophets are the frontline “battle tanks” in Satan’s arsenal. Through them Satan has sent more souls to eternal damnation than through almost any other means. Think a moment — Islam was started by a false prophet. Close to a billion souls, praying five times a day heading towards the pit of destruction. Today Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, and the source of virtually all the world’s current problems. How about Joseph Smith? He convinced many that he was a prophet of our Lord. The result?  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a cult which is being rapidly accepted as a “sect” within Christianity! None less than Joel Osteen, America’s mega-church pastor, who speaks to millions weekly accepts Mormons as Christians. If Mitt Romney becomes President then expect to see a massive push to mainstream Mormonism into acceptance as part of the Church. Jim Jones took hundreds with him to hell, they died believing he was a prophet.

Today virtually all sign-gift believers (500 million, ¼ of the professing Church today — no small number) believe that God has restored true prophets back to the Church today. While there is no agreement on who is or is not a prophet and no unity regarding the function of today’s prophets they do seem to agree that this is a necessary ministry in order for Christ to return.

 This means that 500 million people believe that God has placed men and women in the Church to hear from God on their behalf, relate these revelations to the recipients and then empower them to fulfill the revelation by imparting ‘the anointing’ to devotee. This means that 1/4th of the Church today is not relying on the Scripture alone to give them guidance, instead they are placing their faith in the words spoken by the false prophets and prophetesses.

It boggles the mind that this many people can accept the word and direction of someone who is not necessarily expected to be 100% accurate (how one knows what to accept or reject is purely subjective). Below is an example of this unbiblical belief (the bible accepts nothing less than 100% accuracy for God’s prophets):

There is a creative realm to prophecy and the prophetic ministry. If you say ‘God, I don’t want to be making this stuff up.” That is doubt!” Now remember that without faith it is impossible to please God. Like any new thing you are trying to learn, it takes time. It takes time to become good at expressing what you see in the spirit. It is because you must sort through all the impressions and prophetic pictures that come to mind. You must take time to learn how to interpret them. If you are going to move in the prophetic ministry, then you must be willing to be made a fool for Christ. Does that sound familiar?  Have you ever done something that you thought you heard God tell you to do?  You must be willing to make mistakes You will learn what not to do through experience. That is the price. (8)

The Prophetic Movement is the hotbed of all forms of enthusiastic excess such as, holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness and the other revivalism nonsense was birthed in prophetic congregations. Today the leaven has spread to now include things such as “prophetic dance.” Dancing certain dances are a form of prayer, will cast out evil spirits, as a form of worship. There is also prophetic prayer, prophetic worship, prophetic mantles and all sorts of pagan practices being accepted as part of legitimate Christian worship! The prophetic (pathetic) movement is a dangerous deception and it is a powerful force to contend with.

False Teachers

As with the other counterfeits that church has always been beset with false teachers. The Apostle Peter warned the church when he wrote:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And MANY WILL follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness THEY WILL EXPLOIT YOU with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 2 Peter 1:1-3

The only change today in the fulfillment of this text is that they no longer do it in “secret.” today the false teachers rove the globe spewing forth a myriad of deceptive teachings on physical healing, financial prosperity, the gifts of the Spirit, and redemption itself is twisted by these liars.

These tares are especially dangerous because God’s people have been taught to respect and believe the Bible. However, this is where the average believer often stumbles. Someone stands up and preaches something using biblical texts and says “its in the bible.” What is required on our part is to be well grounded in Christian doctrine. Most Christians are not adequately prepared to properly discern truth from error (what else explains the millions in spiritual bondage today?).

The major televised SINisters preach another Gospel, proclaim another Jesus and offer people another spirit, not the Holy Spirit. Out of a godly concern for the Church on a regular basis DMI exposes the false doctrines of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar, TBN, Jesse Duplantis, Fred Price, Joel Osteen and a host of others who oppose Christ and themselves. DMI has contacted many of these individuals by registered mail documenting their errors and asking them to recant their false teachings. To date none of them have done so. Having followed Mathew 18 to some extent, DMI now takes the concern to the Church.

False Shepherds

The small letter to Titus gives us some insights into the motivation of the false minister in the following:

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths MUST BE STOPPED, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. Titus 1:10-11

False shepherds care nothing for the souls that are under their “care.” The sheep on the other hand have a somewhat innate trust in their pastors by virtue of their office alone. They are motivated by greed and pride (which is why so many SINistries are named after their human leader(s). The majority of sign-gift leaders are self-taught and self-appointed; few have any legitimate theological education and training. Tracy and I experienced tremendous spiritual abuse under two Rhema graduate “pastors” ( one man was also a prophet and the other was elevated to role of apostle) and over the years have counseled numerous victims of wolves masquerading as pastors. Ezekiel reveals another key indicator of the false shepherd:

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?   The weak you have not strengthen, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. Eze. 34:1-5

Every charismatic pastor I have known personally have “fed” themselves at the expense of their flocks. This is very evident especially in urban ministries where the pastors all live in as close to a mansion as can be obtained, drive very expensive cars and wear fashionable clothing. However, the people they serve live at or below the poverty level. Due to being literally bewitched by these Gospel pimps the people accept this burden willingly.

False Christ’s

The word of Faith cult has redefined “Christ” to refer to the anointing that was upon Jesus, ergo the text “I can do all things through Christ…” (see Phil.4:13) is read “I can do all things through the anointing” —a BIG difference in meaning. They look to the power of God and not to the God who supplies the power.

We are warned that there would in fact be falsely anointed people who claim by virtue of the accompanying signs and wonders as verification that they speak and work for the Living God.’

For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:5,24

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming “I am he,’ and ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. Luke 21:8

Few Christians will be deceived into thinking that someone is in fact the Lord Himself (although DMI has covered a few of them out-front antichrists including Sun Myung Moon, the aging ‘Korean’ Jesus and the most recent ‘Hispanic’ Jesus name Jose Luis de Jesus), but they seem to have no problem believing the claims to possess the power of Christ’s Spirit.

Benny Hinn is probably the best known living purveyor of power. After twenty years of holding ’miracle crusades’ the only miracle he can prove is the miracle of people continuing to attend his lame meetings. I can prove under oath in court that more people have physically died during Hinn’s meetings than he has ever healed. In fact, Mr. Hinn who by now should have a Quonset hut full of medical testimonies to divine healing — but he cannot verify one miracle. What is more Hinn is on record as a false prophet, adulterer and a liar (I do not say these things lightly). Yet the multitudes still flock to his meetings. There are many others claiming to impart the power of God. DMI covered the latest crop of deceivers in the last two issues of Truth Matters.

False Brethren

And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: Gal. 2:4

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. Titus 3:10

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son if anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 1:11

The Church is filled with wheat and tares and while we are commanded to believe the best (1 Cor. 13:7) we are also commanded to be aware of those around us. Sometimes false brethren sit in the pews and after the service they pull individuals aside and begin to discuss what is wrong in that local congregation. Tracy and I have run into people who simply ‘flit’ from church to church causing problems and sometimes splitting congregations.

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

False brethren are probably best considered as the ‘little foxes that destry the vine” (see SoS 2:15) as opposed to the SINisters, who also fall into this category. These are the folks who invite congregation members to their house for a little ‘home Bible study’ apart from the knowledge and direction of the pastor with the goal of sowing discord among the brethren. This is especially true, sad to say, for many ‘sign-gift’ devotees who believe it is their mission to get as many people out of their former denominations by infiltrating their former churches and sheep steal. Perhaps you’ve encountered these people.

In closing this out, let me simple warn you to keep an eye on your youth groups. Why?  Because our youth are directly targeted by charismaniacs. Youth are vulnerable and thus susceptible to wanting anything other than what their parents offer. The enthusiasts know that their future lies with the youth and not their parents. A word to the wise: Keep a sharp eye on what is taking place in/with your youth at church.

We’re very briefly considered some of the main avenues of assaults by Satan and his demons against our Christian family. Probably everyone reading this issue has a relative or friend who is enmeshed in some form of charismatic extremism, some “bible-based” cult, or possibly just a plain ole secularist. Discernment Ministries International was created to help educate and equip the saints of God to make a stand for God’s Word and by Its power rescue those who oppose themselves (2 Tim. 2:25) and are in danger of eternal damnation.

By the grace of God good fruit has been produced by DMI and by His grace in the days ahead we will expand our outreach and continue to Teach Truth & Expose Error!

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon

2. Obtained from http://www.apostleeric.com on 6-30-12.

3. Obtained from www.apostolicministry.org

4. Understand that I am not saying the Mr. Bentley has not repented of his former sins, or that Jesus has not forgiven him. I bring this up because it is part of the public record and sadly, pedophiles, according to research seldom change, may Christ have genuinely changed Bentley.

5. Prof-a-lie is a term I co8ined to describe the action of an enthusiast standing up and uttering some sweet sounding lies in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek New Testament, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, Logos Research).

7. Again, I am not making statements regarding anyone’s eternal state before our Lord. He knows, all you and all I can do is to examine their fruit and see if it meets biblical standards. If not they must be rebuked and hopefully restored to soundness.

8. Obtained from www.whatsnewintheprophetic.com/PropheticMinistry

9. Obtained from www.prophetic-ministry.com

10. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1 Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domain electronic ed. Of the 2nd edition (New York: United Bible Societies 1996), 415





What Did You Give Up For Lent?

30 04 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – March 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 4 – What Did You Give Up For Lent? Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 

What Did You Give Up For Lent?

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Since becoming a Lutheran some years back the question comes up annually in discussions regarding what is going to be given up for Lent this year. In my prior years as an evangelical believer we never gave anything up for Lent, for that matter “Lent” itself was somewhat of a mystery and generally viewed through a somewhat jaundiced eye as being something Roman Catholics did, not us Protestants.

What I knew of the Lenten “season” was that it began on “Fat Tuesday” and sort of ended on Resurrection Sunday called Easter, which was set apart by its sunrise service and hidden eggs. The forty days between these tow “bookends” were the same as any other days lending up to spring. However, since becoming a confessionally high church liturgical Lutheran my eyes are being opened ot the deep significance of the entire Lenten season.

Lent is a time of sorrow over sin, repentance, contemplation on our Lord’s sufferings for our sake. (1) The forty day period is a journey meant to focus us on Christ, our baptism into His death and His joyous resurrection by which He has made us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) Like just about everything else we do as Christians, the goal of this season is transformation, growing in grace until we attain the full stature of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:13).

So, what am I giving up for Lent this year? Absolutely nothing!  Why should I enter into a 40 day season of “works” and let us be clear on this point; whatever we’re giving up for 40 days is an act of our will power and is our work. I am forever set free from “working” for my salvation or trying to merit or curry favor with God. (2)

We live in a time where Lent begins globally with huge celebrations of feasting, fornication, devilment, drunkenness, revelry beginning on Fat Tuesday. Think of the scenes from New Orleans during their pre-Lent celebration, all the excess, nudity and crime or cast your vision southwards to Rio de Janeiro to their display of Sodom on parade. The next day is the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday and many of the revelers are in “church” now to start their service of works. In the minds of some people Lent is simply a time to “make-up” to God by a temporary self-denial which inevitably leads to a feeling of self-righteousness. Many people go out and live as much like the devil as they can on Tuesday and then on Wednesday say “opps I’m sorry, see I’ll prove it by my works and all will be well with my soul.” I fear some of these people mistake the grace of God for license of sin which it is not (2 Peter 3:16).

The more pious among us will openly declare their Lenten intentions such as “I am giving up smoking for Lent,” or one pastor I know gave up Macadamia nuts, some give up drinking or eating Twinkies. Whatever someone says they are giving something up for “Lent” that implies that as soon as Lent is over whatever they laid aside will be happily and eagerly picked back up. Somehow I do not think this was the intention behind the tradition of giving things “up” for Lent.

What do you really expect to gain from this temporary self-denial? If you give up something that you know is bad for you such as eating too much of certain types of foods smoking or drinking too much alcohol why start it back up? Many people give up things which are possibly morally wrong such as gambling, watching certain television programs or movies, etc. What profit is it to you to give up sinful practices (in some cases) only to take them back up in 40 days? Think of the unpleasant word picture of a dog retuning to eat its own vomit (2 Peter 2:22). God will not praise someone for “temporarily not sinning.” He desires for us to be free from sin’s grasp period, and a mere “break” from sinful behaviors is not true biblical repentance. We are called to freedom from sin and we are not to use our liberty in Christ as an occasion for the flesh. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1).

If all one is engaged in is a momentary cessation from behaviors which are believed to be displeasing to God and/or unbeneficial to ourselves, then such a person has only succeeded in deceiving themselves into thinking they have accomplished something of worth during this time. In the past I know that I have felt pretty “good” about myself at the end of a Lenten “fast,” but then feeling good about “me” has never really been much of a problem.

Others will argue that since it is a fast, whatever is stopped, will be started again. For example, if one fasts lunch, after the 40 days, they will again begin to eat lunch. In such a case I would agree. My issue with Lenten denials is that most people I have had this discussion with are giving up fleshly things, habits (some worse than others) and yes even sinful behaviors — temporarily. Why not forsake them permanently?

To me Lent begins the start of a New Year, remember that Lent precedes Christmas historically, and thus it is the perfect time to examine my walk with Christ (2 Cor. 13:5). As I look at myself honestly I do so with the following realities in mind: (1) Prov. 21:2 tells me that ALL my ways seem right to me; (2) Jer. 17:9 that the heart of man is desperately wicked and who can know it?; (3) Romans 12:3 reminds me that I am called to use sober judgment concerning myself and not to think higher of myself (a natural tendency) than I ought to. These three verses drive me to my knees and cause me to cry out for God’s mercy to enable me to truly see myself.

In and of myself I cannot come to an accurate assessment of myself (John 15:5) no matter how sincerely I may try. What then is the solution? At the beginning of Lent I go before our Lord in humility seeking His face and asking for His mercy to “show to the house the house” (Eze. 43:10). He responds with the Word of His Law, and in the light of His Word He opens my eyes through my ears (Romans 10:17) and shows me a little more of myself. His light exposes my darkness and I am again driven to my knees clinging to the hem of my Master’s garment saying “Lord have mercy on e a sinner.” (Luke 5:8)

His mercy comes to my rescue through the sweetness of the Gospel proclaimed to my burdened soul and the burden is lifted. His grace flows into my core “in, with, and under” the bread and wine as I kneel at His altar more frequently during this time. Thus Lent is to be a season of time set aside where we should make ourselves even more open to the molding work of the Spirit’s invisible hand (Jer. 18:6) acknowledging Him as the Potter and we His clay. We allow Him to do His work by availing ourselves of the increased opportunities to pray, attend Bible studies, Mass, etc. It is through these means and these means alone. Word and sacrament that our Lord uses to transform our lives from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

It is with the above in mind that I approach Lent not with the idea of “what can I give up for Lent,” but “what is it in my life that is a weight or unknown sin that can be given up for Christ.” Lent should be a transformative time for us all, which is why I seek permanent change, not a mere temporary cessation but freedom from these issues once and for all.

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, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:1-3

As we ponder the great testimonies of the faithful departed we should be encouraged by their example to pursue righteousness as the apostle Paul admonished Timothy when he wrote “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so EASILY beset us. Lent is the perfect time to engage in this endeavor! It is commonly reported that it takes approximately 40 days to start a habit pattern and it is also believed that it takes about as long to break a habit pattern as well. So Lent can be a time of addition and subtraction from our lives. By God’s grace we subtract the dross (1 Cor. 3:9), He refines our silver and enriches our lives.

Every Christian’s spiritual race is encumbered by various weights and sins. What is a weight? The Greek in the text according to Louw & Nida means the following:

13.149 : that which serves to hinder or prevent someone fro doing something—’hindrance, impediment.’ . ‘set aside everything that serves as a hindrance’ He 12:1. (3)

The image is of a man running a race (see also 1 Cor. 9:24), which he is running he is carrying various weights that slow down his progress and weaken his strength to run. . . Logically when one sets something down and runs ahead, what was set down grows smaller and eventually vanishes from sight with each stride forward. Picking back up a “dropped” weight indicates to us that we have backtracked spiritually. (4), which is all a 40 day cessation is. Exactly what constitutes a weight in your life is known to you and God. Lent can be the perfect time to discern what it is in your life that hinders your race and ask God for grace to lay it (them) aside and spend the next forty days consciously forsaking that “weight” or weights with joy. Joy? Absolutely, laying down anything that hinders my walk with Christ I eagerly embrace in my inner-man (2 Cor. 4:16) even as my flesh cries out as it is starved (Romans 8:13; Col. 3:5) to death. Note also that the author writes “every” weight, not just one thing but everything that hinders our race. During Lent let us ask ourselves, “have I laid aside every weight?” The answer will be “no” if you are honest with yourself. Then ask the follow-up inquiry — why not?

Weights (5), which are not sins are to be laid aside and also “the sin” that so easily besets us. In the Greek the phase “easily besets” is translated to mean:

2343 (euperistatos), ov (on): adj 2139—LN 37.6 controlling tightly, constricting, obstructing, formally, easily distracting (Heb 12:1 +) (6)

Is there some sin that has a tight control over your life? A sin, when awakened that is so strong it demands your attention and distracts you from all else until it is satiated? Lent is the perfect time to engage in spiritual warfare against such troubling issues. Let’s face facts, you and I will never gain victory over the sins that beset our lives without the power of God. Providentially for us “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6) and Lent is all about focusing on Christ’s redemptive work and all the events leading up to His crucifixion and bodily resurrection. Victory over besetting sin(s) is ours in Christ Jesus, and like everything else we appropriate this victory by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

How can we obtain this victory? As our texts reads, we can do so by “looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.”

The author (See 2:10 for this word. “The pioneer of personal faith” (Moffatt). Perfecter [teleioten]. A word apparently coined by the writer from [teleioo] as it has been found nowhere else. Vulgate has consummator. (7)

The Greek for “Author” means that Jesus is the initiator, the founder of our faith in Him. Our faith is to be based in and on nothing and no one other than Jesus Christ. Anyone saved today is saved because He sovereignty drew them to Himself (John 6:44; 65; 15:16). He gave us the faith to believe. What is more the text says that He is the “finisher” or the One who brings our faith to its final conclusion, seeing Jesus face to face (1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 John 3:2). We can rest assured that the faith we now possess will be brought to its full fruition by the Alpha and Omega, our Beginning and our Ending. We will always be battling against sin in this life, but there is victory along the way and those victories always have their foundation in the work and working of Christ. This is why we are told to run with “patience.” The righteous man though he fall, Jesus picks us back up, we take a few more steps along the racecourse and fall again, and He (perfecting our faith) picks us up, wipes away our tears and off we go, it is called the Christian life.

We become victorious only by looking unto Jesus, by focusing on Him and His work for us. He despised the shame of the cross, because of the JOY set before Him. What Joy? The joy of knowing that His people would be now able to live free from sin and shame due to His death and forth coming resurrection.

During Lent we considerer what Jesus suffered at the hands of sinners, this brings true focus on the petty trials (8) we undergo. This enables us to patiently endure (Hebrews 6:12) them and thus inherit the promise.

No my friends Lent is not about half-measures or temporary spirituality, it is about true transformation which is freely offered to us in Christ, in fact it is our “re-birth” to live free and unencumbered (2 timothy 2:4) serving Christ Jesus as good soldiers. I pray this Lenten season is one of spiritual growth and development in all our lives as we continue to look unto Jesus.

 

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow

 

End Notes

1. Obviously sorrow over sin, repentance, contemplation are not simply reserved for Lent, but occur daily as the need arises (which is always seems to do).

2. Works come as a result of faith, it is a “working” faith. This is totally different from working in an attempt to merit something. No rest in the completed work of Christ for you.

3. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. Of the 2nd edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 164

4. Backsliding spiritually is a genuine danger. Either we are progressing in our spirituality or we are regressing, there is no simply “treading” water, either we are going forward or we are going backwards.

5. Weights although not sins as a category in this instance, they can become sins if allowed to foment.

6. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 1997).

7. A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Hebrews 12:2.

8. I call them “petty” I know at the time they seem anything but minor, but let us consider Jesus surrounded daily by sinners makes our problems pale in comparison.

 

 





Discernment Ministries International Has Moved!

29 02 2012

Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 2 Discernment Ministries International Has Moved! – Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 Discernment Ministries International Has Moved!

1704 Gordon Avenue

Lansing, Michigan 48910

After 28 years of living in Detroit, the Lord has delivered us and we are so very thankful to Him for His great deliverance. While in Detroit we experienced the death of 3 of Tracy’s closest family members, the murder of two more relatives, and we endured the vandalizing of five cars, three vehicle thefts. . . We “paid” our dues.

Tracy and I were able to purchase a small home in Lansing, MI. where Tracy is working. Two rooms are dedicated to the work of DMI. I am in the process of building a “scriptorium” in the basement with all DMI’s research materials. All our books, cassettes, VHS and DVD’s and CD’s are being organized with a small section dedicated to the various multi-media formats. Upstairs in the DMI office is all the computer equipment, printers, and yeah more books. By summer I hope to be able to open up our small (but growing) library to our supporters who want to research some specific ministry o its teachings. Maybe in the next issue I will add some pictures of the “work in progress.”

It has cost DMI quite a bit to get moved in. A 20 amp line had to be added, various small office furnishings purchased, we need a complete new set of laser toner(s) for our Konica Minolta color laser. Please remember DMI this month in your prayers and giving. As always, we thank God for your faithfulness!!

 

Copyright© 2012 Robert S. Liichow

 

 





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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 3 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Slain in the spirit

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

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

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

Hypnosis

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

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

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

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

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

Impartation

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

 

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

Slain TACF 99'

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

Demonic Activity

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

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

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

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

Slain in the spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Biblical Examples of Falling Backwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

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

End Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. Ibid. 103

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3

22 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 11 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3 – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 2 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The “Ministry” of the Catchers

This phenomena has caused the need to develop a “new” ministry within the church, that of the Catcher. No matter where you go, whether it is to a revival service at Toronto, Pensacola or a Vineyard Fellowship you will encounter the ministry of the Catchers. This is an actual “ministry” within charismatic fellowships and people are trained in how to fulfill this duty (it is often done by the ushers within a local assembly).

A catcher is a man who stands behind those receiving prayer. Their job is to “catch” the people who are being slain in the spirit. The catchers job is to make sure the person being “blessed” does no harm to themselves or those around them. Charismatic congregations even have written guidelines for catchers:

Tips For Catching People:

1. Do not touch the person being prayed for, but reassure them that there is someone behind them.

2. You don’t have to take a hold of their shoulders as if you are going to help God.

3. As the person moves down, move back and then facilitate their move.

4. Men- be careful when touching women.

5. Get them to fall back, not forward.

6. Catchers – ONLY catch, do not pray. Do not wave your hands only stand and be ready to catch.

7. Please do not push or pull anyone over. God does not need any help and it will ultimately backfire.

8. Do not hold anyone up by grabbing their shoulders or upper back.

Let me begin by asking a rhetorical question. If the power of God is knocking people down and placing them in an altered state of consciousness for the purpose of spiritually blessing them, then why do these churches employ the use of catchers?

The answer is quite simple —- if people are falling flat on their backs from an upright position they are very liable to hurt themselves or others.

We previously read that extremists explain this manifestation as being the result of encountering the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. If this is so, He is not mighty enough to see to it that those He sovereignty knocks down are unhurt by His blessing?

These churches employ catchers because: (1) they know people fake being slain many times. (2) They lack faith in their own stated beliefs. Obviously God is not big enough to safeguard His people.

In our former church along with the male catchers we had sisters who came along beside or behind the catchers with large sheets of material. Their ministry was to place these sheets over the women’s legs and bodies. Why? Because many times when women would be slain in the spirit they would fall in very immodest positions.

We had events where when some unfortunate women fell their dresses would be hiked up their bodies quite a bit, and their legs would be splayed out at inappropriate angles. When the Lord choose to embarrass His daughters in this manner we had to be there to quickly cover up their shame. Does this really sound like something the Lord God would do to His daughters?

Not only can being slain in the spirit prove to be embarrassing to a woman, it can prove deadly as well. Mrs. Ella Peppard died as a result of someone falling on her who had been slain in the spirit.

The ushers quickly pulled her off the stage and sat her in a pew where she cried out in pain for 20 minutes….The woman’s family alleged the ushers refused to call an ambulance because an ambulance would not look good at a miracle service. A lawsuit was settled out of court. Hinn says he never knew the woman was injured or he would have sought medical help.

According to charismatic theology the Holy Spirit will place women in morally embarrassing positions, and at times allow some people to be hurt and/or killed.

I know from past experience (I used to be a catcher) that when there was no one standing behind a saint receiving prayer nine times out of ten they would not fall down. This alone is proof to me that what is taking place is not a sovereign move of the power of God. There is a power involved at times but it is not of God.

3

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

I began by citing Stanley Burgess’s definition in the first chapter and it is a good one except for one point – he says it is a relatively “modern” expression. His statement is not correct. People have been allegedly falling under the power in the United States since the early 1760’s. It was a common expression among the Shakers. There were groups before the Shakers in Europe, which had this same manifestation:

The Convolutionaries

The extreme exercises of the “convolution Aries” startled Belgium and France. The grave of a young Jansenist clergyman, Francois de Paris, in the cemetery of Saint-Medard in Paris, because the scene of reputed marvelous cures. Multitudes flocked thither for healing. Strange bodily agitations seized the devotees. They fell in shakings and convulsions, threw themselves about on the ground, screamed, and assumed unusual and often unseemly postures.

The Shaker’s

Later on in the mid seventeen hundreds in America the Shaker cult also had people falling under the power. Their bodily agitations or exercise were various and called by various names, as the falling exercise…The falling exercise was very common…The subject of this exercise would, generally with a piercing scream, fall like a log on the floor, earth, or mud, and appear as dead.

The Shakers were a cult group led by a woman named Ann Lee. Many of the manifestations which are common to charismatic extremism, were first practiced by the Shakers. Since the Shakers were a pagan cult the source of their manifestations could not have been the Holy Spirit.

The Shakers were very evangelistic in their zeal to propagate their false doctrines & practices. Shaker evangelists were involved with the Cane Ridge “Revival,” and brought their manifestations (which they called “signs”) with them and infected the meetings.

People Were “Slain” During the Cane Ridge Revival

It was during the Cane Ridge meetings that we see more examples of the manifestation of being slain in the spirit. The underlining is added for emphasis:

The scene to me was new and passing strange…Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered…Then the woman who had first stated shouting let out a shrill of anguish. Methodist John McGee, seemingly entranced, made his way to comfort her. Someone (probably his Presbyterian brother) reminded him this was a Presbyterian church; the congregation would not condone emotionalism! Later John recalled, “I turned to go back and was near falling; the power of God was strong upon me. I turned again and, losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house shouting and exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy, and the floor was soon covered with the slain” people were falling in ecstasy.

This eyewitness of the Cane Ridge excess described the people falling in “ecstasy,” but is this necessarily a good thing? Pagan religion has long been given over to ecstatic forms of worship (see 1 Kings 18:28). The Oracle at Delphi breathed in the fumes which rose from the ground and in an ecstatic state uttered prophecies which directed the lives of many people.

ECSTASY The state of being in a trance, especially a mystic or prophetic trance. The derivation of our word “ecstasy” (from the Greek ek, out plus stasis, state) suggests an out of body state (2 Cor. 12:2,3) or the state of being out of control.

From what I have personally witnessed and experienced being slain in the spirit is a condition in which the individual’s normal rational mental state is suspended, and that person is for a period of time literally out of control. During the Shaker meetings and at Cane Ridge we find multitudes of people capitulating their volitional sensibilities over to an experience which was so great it physically overwhelmed them. However, it was also noted by the orthodox Reformed ministers at Cane Ridge, that a person simply getting slain was not a true indicator of spiritual regeneration, “They noted that some who “fell” had within six months gone back to the world.”

The Ministry of Charles Finney

After the Cane Ridge revival the experience of being slain in the spirit became common in many revival meetings. One evangelist in particular whose revival meetings were patterned after the emotional excesses of Cane Ridge was Charles Finney. In many of his meetings people were slain in the spirit:

Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all of their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closets.

The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell

Finney was not particularly concerned with scriptural precedent, he was interested in getting result and fostered the belief that revival was not a sovereign move of God’s Spirit, but that revivals could be planned and worked up by the use of what he called new measures.

The Ministry of Maria Woodworth Etter

Being slain in the spirit was one of the ordinary signs in the ministry of Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) the trance evangelist.

Yesterday during the afternoon meeting the Lord Jesus bowed the heaven and came down. Many went under the power. Two women and a girl were struck down unconscious, and lay on the floor…The second woman lay unconscious for about two and one-half hours, with both arms raised to heaven. When she was recovering she sang praises unto God in the spirit.”

Her ministry manifestations began in 1885, 21 years before the Azusa “revival.” She received a spiritual renewal at a Friends meeting in 1879. Here is a woman, who received some type of spiritual power from a Quaker meeting. Keep in mind that the Society of Friends, the Quakers, were originally a non-Christian group (although many people unknowingly lump them in with Christian groups).

Maria would go into trances, people came to her while she was in a trance state and allegedly got “saved.” She would lay hands on others and place them in a similar trance-state.

The Ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson

The practice of people being slain was not widespread in Pentecostal circles after Etter’s death. It became more commonplace through the ministry of another woman minister named Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). Sister Aimee was also a traveling evangelist and she too had people fall out under the power in her ministry—

One of these was a Sunday school teacher at the city’s largest Protestant church. After Aimee touched him, he dropped to the floor trembling and speaking in tongues. The next day, the wife of a leading citizen had a similar experience, and scores of people came to the altar for counseling. The day after that, “Three were slain under the power and through speaking in tongues,” Aimee said.

Aimee was very controversial to say the least. She is the Founder of the Foursquare Gospel denomination. She later died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. To this day charismatic believers ignore the fact that she was a divorcee and most likely faked her own kidnapping in order to spend time in an adulterous liaison in 1926. Yet the power of God is supposed to have flowed mightily through during her life!

The Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman

The next major figure whose ministry is responsible for making the practice of being slain in the spirit part-and-parcel of charismatic healing and miracles services was Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976).

Kathryn committed adultery with a married man, who left his wife and children to marry Kathryn. A few years later Kathryn divorced him and never remarried. She died of heart disease in 1976. I bring these distasteful facets up because it show some of the character of these mighty Pentecostal/Charismatic giants of the faith. I am not saying these people were not saved, nor that they did not sincerely repent of their sins. However, character does matter in ministry.

Apart from the well-documented healings, the most sensational phenomena associated with Kuhlman was “going under the power” (sometimes referred to as “slain in the Spirit”) as people fell when she prayed for them. This sometimes happened to dozens at a time and occasionally hundreds.

Her ministry was international in scope. Well received by many Pentecostal’s and the fledgling charismatic renewal movement of the 1960’s.

I have witnessed Mr. Kenneth Hagin have a long line of people hold hands and he lay hands on the head of the first person and then the entire line fall down. I have personally seen Benny Hinn whirl around and “throw” a wave of anointing in his meetings and multitudes have fallen, as if shot on several occasions. As recently as August 1, 1997 my wife and I were at the Toronto Airport Church and we witnessed multitudes being slain in the spirit as John and Carol Arnott laid hands on people.

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted By Charismatic Christians Today

This experience is almost universal to all charismatic’s. If you know any, ask them if they have ever been slain in the spirit and what it was like.

This practice and manifestation is accepted de facto due in large part to the following:

  • The long history behind it, i.e. God has always done this.
  • Their own subjective experience of it, they got “blessed.”
  • They have been taught that the Bible clearly teaches this is a legitimate experience of what takes place when God’s power comes on an individual.

Slain- Carol Arnott

As with holy laughter today’s revivalists strongest case is that of historical precedent. Yet when anyone takes an honest look at the history of this manifestation, they see a historical background of occultism (with the Shakers), aberrant mystics like Maria Woodworth-Etter, and ministers of dubious character such as Aimee McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman. The historical case is not sufficient, nor will it ever be, to overrule the plain teachings of the Bible.

From an exegetical view point the revivalist have even less support. None of the texts they cite as “proof” for this practice can be legitimately applied. All of the texts have to do with divine encounters which were extremely important to the plan of God either for Israel as a nation or for the Church. It is not enough to locate texts which denote someone falling and then interpret them to refer to being slain in the spirit. All of their comparisons are at best apples-to-apples. None of the writings of the Early Church Fathers indicate any such manifestation as part-and-parcel of normal Christian experience, in fact, they never mention it at all. One would think that these writers would have recorded some evidence of this manifestation in their writings if it was a genuine experience given by the Holy Spirit, especially one that alleges to bestow ministry calls, visions of the Lord, emotional and physical healing. Yet the historic record of the Church for almost 1,700 years is totally silent on this matter.

As I have already stated the history behind this practice is extremely questionable at best. The earliest references we have of it in America come from the Shakers, a non-Christian cult of necromancers. The familiar spirits (demons) told the Shakers at the same time in their various communes that they, the spirits, were leaving the Shakers and going to visit the “world’s people,” and would do so by various manifestations. This did occur and many Christian sects, unsound in doctrine were open to such forms of enthusiasms, and this deception continues to this day. The practice of being slain in the spirit is less than four hundred years old, and has had only marginal acceptance at best in the past. However, this has changed in our time.

Now with rapid growth of neo-Montanism with the Church this practice is now a common, sometimes weekly experience for literally millions of people professing the name of Jesus Christ.

The sheer numbers of people submitting to an experience does not validate it as biblical. Truth is not determined by consensus. Truth is revealed to us by the written Word of God. The Westminster Confession of Faith states what the Christian’s relationship to the Bible ought to be:

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:

God’s Word along is the standard by which we live. His Word contains all things necessary for salvation, faith and life. These things are expressly set down in the Bible, or “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” This deduction however is not accomplished by violating the principles of hermeneutics and wresting the texts from their context in order to attempt to make them fit one’s experience.

This is exactly what today’s revivalists have done regarding being slain in the spirit. This experience is not mentioned once contextually in the entire Bible. Every text the revivalists site as proof of their non-biblical practice has been taken from it context and misapplied.

The revivalists have failed both historically and biblically to make their case that this manifestation is the result of the Holy Spirit or the glory of God coming upon an individual to such a degree their physical bodies cannot withstand it. And thus fall to the ground in some form of a trance-like condition. With this in mind we must seek other explanations.

Learned Behavior

There is an undeniable element of learned behavior with this phenomena. A minister gets up and preaches, towards the end of the message he or she will begin to make allusions to what people may see or experience while being prayed for. Often some of the texts we have considered will be sited to validate what the congregation will see or personally experience. The catchers are called forward and then an alter call is given. The first people are lined up with catchers behind them. Hands are laid on the people and some of them begin to fall into the arms of the catchers. The other people are observing this behavior. When their turn comes, they too fall down.

This is the basic pattern of ministry I have personally observed for over fifteen years, it was the pattern I also used while in full-time charismatic ministry. Although not done consciously, I and other ministers, were setting the state by psychologically preparing the people in advance. On the part of the people, they wanted to get blessed, they wanted a stronger “anointing” or deeper walk with Christ. Seeing others fall, they too fell. Many times I knew as a minister that people were simply “faking it.” How? When people came up for prayer I would notice them quickly look behind them to make sure there was a catcher there to “catch” them when they fell. These fakers, came knowing in advance that they were going to fall, and they wanted assurance they would be caught. 

(TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH!)

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

* Color-highlight and some bolding are not in the original book by Robert S. Liichow.

 

 

 

 

 

 





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

18 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – October 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 9 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 1 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Sorry for the delay, but I am seeking to give back to our readers and supporters for their faithful support. So for the next few issues I will be reprinting some of our books in the newsletters, i.e. keep the next couple of newsletters and you will end up with one of our books to share or give to others! I am starting with some of the fundamental “doctrines” of modern neo-Montanism, aka the charismatic movement of today. This first installment deals with the dogma of being slain in the spirit. It is a phenomena common to virtually all sign-gift believers and thus this information is of vital importance in your reference libraries. Please share this information with your friends and family!

Introduction

This booklet will set forth the charismatic attempt to prove Biblically that the manifestation of being “slain in the spirit” is in fact Scriptural. However, it will become evident to the reader that what they have done is to twist the Scripture, wrest it from its context, in a vain attempt to validate the emergence of fleshly and demonic activity in their midst.

To those who have not ever been to a charismatic service the terminology may be unfamiliar so I will begin by defining the terms. Then we will examine their apologetic, the historical background of this manifestation, and consider what the Bible actually teaches regarding the issue at hand.

Chapter 1

Being “Slain in the spirit”  The Phenomena Defined

Being slain in the spirit denotes the phenomena that occurs when hands are laid on an individual and they swoon or fall to the ground in an altered state of consciousness. One can be slain without hands being physically applied, but that is more the exception than the rule. Generally people “fall out” due to direct ministry of another, either individually or in a group. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements defines the experience this way:

A relatively modern expression denoting a religious phenomenon in which an individual falls down; the cause of this is attributed to the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon is known within modern Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal under various names including “falling under the power,” “overcome by the Spirit,” and “resting in the Spirit.” Within the discipline of the sociology of religion “slain in the spirit” might fall under the general rubric of possession trance.”   (1)

As a former charismatic pastor and teacher I can personally testify that in the course of ministry my wife and I have laid hands on over 1,000 people for various reasons. Many times when praying for people’s physical healing we would lay hands on them and they would fall down on the ground for a period of time and then regain their senses, stand up and return to their seats.

I can further testify when many times when people fall it is due to a genuine power entering into them or at least affecting their body to the degree they cannot stand. I have fallen down many times and I was not “faking” it. I felt a power, a tingling, something akin to electricity flow into me and upon yielding to this power I would fall down.

How is this explained?  There are a variety of ways to explain this manifestation. We will examine these possible answers towards the end of this book. I believe it is only fair to allow our sign-gift brethren to give their explanation first.

Chapter 2

TACF’S Apologetic

The Toronto Airport Church Explanation

The Toronto Airport Church Fellowship (TACF) says this occurs when God’s presence comes on the human body. The body simply cannot stand the weight of God’s presence and thus fall.    (2)

Falls are commonly much less violent and may be backward (common) or forward (less common and in my observation more frequent in pastors and ministers). Falls may be associated with further violent movements, with head-banging, tremors, movements suggestive of epilepsy, but commonly with a total absence of movement. Subject may have no experience beyond a pleasant sense of calm, may experience visions, or may feel they are being crushed. One man told me he felt as though a massive weight was crushing the life out of him, making it impossible for him to breath…Many people may be affected simultaneously. When this is so, the precise timing suggest supernatural choreography rather than mass hysteria.    (3)

Toronto’s answer is that when a person is slain in the spirit it is simply a physical response to the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the individual. What does the Pensacola vortex of revival have to say about this matter?

There are several incidents in the Bible which demonstrate that the immediate presence of God is more than the human body can physically stand. One of the most significant examples is John 18:4-6, where we read of Jesus’ arrest. When Jesus identified Himself to the soldiers who were arresting Him, we’re told they “drew back and fell to the ground.” These troops (who were pagan unbelievers and only view Jesus as another criminal to arrest) were involuntarily smitten by His moment unleashing of His inherent power as God. Even these ungodly men could not physically stand up in the presence of His holiness and glory. (4)

Again, we read of the “fact” that the human body just cannot stand the presence of God and so human bodies fall down. Let me ask two questions:   (1). if this is true then why don’t those laying hands on people fall too? If God’s presence is manifest why doesn’t everybody fall? (2). In the account in John, Jesus, the completely unique One, did unveil His glory by stating “I am.” The sinners did fall down backwards (keep this fact in mind for later on). However, the account does not say the believers fell down, it is remarkably silent about anyone else being slain in the spirit.

The Toronto Blessing FAQ (5)

Revised April 1997

Scriptures quoted from King James Version unless otherwise stated

FALLING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT – this is when we fall to the ground because we can no longer remain standing when the power of God is on us!!! Sometimes we remain on the ground from several minutes up to several hours, our body simply cannot move very much because our flesh is corrupt and cannot stand in God’s full presence!!

II CHRONICLES 5:11-14: And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy [place]: (for all the priests [that were] present were sanctified, [and] did not [then] wait by course: Also the Levites [which were] the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Herman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, [being] arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers [were] as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: that [then] the house was filled with a cloud, [even] the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

MATTHEW 17:5-7: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

JOHN 18:5-6 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am [he]. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.

ACTS 9:3-4: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?

 

A Biblical Examination of the Revivalists Argument

To begin with whenever you make comparisons for them to be honest correlations you must compare “apples to apples.” None of these texts resemble anything remotely close to what happens when believers are slain in the spirit today. My wife and I have observed less then 10 people fall under the power with no human intervention of some variety in 30 years of combined charismatic experience. When people get slain it is due to the direct ministry of another person, not a sovereign act of God.

Invariably, charismatic people fall down when hands are laid on them. There are no examples of people falling down when hands were laid on them in the Bible.

In 2 Chronicles 5:11 we read of the dedication of Solomon’s temple. In that dispensation God manifested His presence in a tangible manner to His covenant people Israel.

This case was no exception, God manifested His presence to demonstrate His approval of the Temple. After that initial service, His presence was confined to residing above the ark of the covenant.

Note also that the priests were outside of the temple when God’s glory filled it. There is nothing stated which indicates that the priest fell down at all.

Matthew 17 gives us the incident where Jesus took Peter, John and James up to the mountain top where He was transfigured before them. There is nothing in the text which indicates that God slayed them in the spirit. The text states “they fell on their face, sore afraid” it does not saythe presence of God was so strong they could not stand,” nor does it say, “the power of the Holy Spirit knocked them on their faces.” It says “They fell,” Peter, John, and James chose to fall.  Why?  They were afraid! It was a voluntary act on their part, not a sovereign act of God upon their bodies. Please note also, that at no time were they unaware of their surroundings, i.e. they did not loose consciousness, which is common with today’s manifestation.

Also, in Mark and Luke’s account we read of Peter seeing Moses, Elijah and Jesus and then Peter speaking with Jesus. These two accounts do not even mention them falling down at all. It does mention them being afraid, but no falling. It is textually impossible to validate what happens in charismatic services today from Matthews account.

The last text they use to shore up their doctrine is the account of Paul encountering the Lord on the road to Damascus. What is interesting in the Acts 9 account is that only Paul is slain, i.e. falls off of his horse. The men with Paul, were (1) speechless, (2) heard a voice, (3) saw no one, and (4) did not fall down. Another facet of this account is the fact that this extraordinary manifestation is Paul’s call into apostleship. This text cannot legitimately be used to prove the machinations taking place in charismatic circles. No one laid hands on Paul and caused him to be slain. According to the Biblical record this was not a regular occurrence in his life or ministry. Paul himself never testifies to laying hands on anyone and having them slain in the spirit, nor do any of the other writers of the New Testament, or Old Testament for that matter. Paul never lost consciousness, his faculties were very sharp, he was able to speak, he rationally answered the Lord.

On the following page John White uses the following two verses in his book When The Spirit Comes With Power to justify falling down under the Holy Spirit’s power:

Daniel 10:9-10 But the sound of his words came to my ears, and on hearing his voice I went into a deep sleep with my face to the earth. Then a hand gave me a touch, awaking me, and putting me on my knees and my hands.

Rev. 1:17 – And when I saw him, I went down on my face at his feet as one dead. And he put his right hand on me, saying, Have no fear; I am the first and the last and the Living one;

In the event in Daniel chapter 10, we encounter the writing prophet at the banks of the Tigris. He alone sees the angelic being who has come to deliver to Daniel a sweeping revelation concerning the prophetic economy of God. This Old Testament account is totally devoid of any comparison of what takes place in Pentecostalism. First, Daniel was a writing prophet and as such the Lord manifested His Word to those prophets in various ways (dreams, visions, divine appearances, etc). Secondly, Daniel’s experience was unexpected, whereas today people fully expect to be slain in the spirit. The purpose of the angelic appearance was to reveal a significant prophetic word to God’s prophet, Daniel’s falling down had nothing to do with the divine message, it was at best a tangential response on Daniel’s part.

Next, while Daniel was overcome the angel touched him and gave him strength. This is something we do not see in today’s services. I have seen multitudes fall, but none receiving supernatural strength. Note also that Daniel fell face forward, almost one hundred percent of charismatic’s who are slain fall backward, thus the reason for catchers (more on the ministry of catchers in a later chapter).

There simply is no legitimate manner in which this verse can be used to shore up a doctrine of being slain in the spirit.

The text in Revelation 1:17 also fails to meet the test when examined. John the beloved was an apostle of the Lamb. Fist of all, there are no more apostles today. Secondly, John saw the resurrected Lord which was the reason he fell. The purpose for the Lord Jesus appearing to John was to give him the final installment of the canon of Scripture. John was given a revelation of immense importance. Please note that John never lost consciousness and that he also fell face forward.

Comparison Chart

The falling of people in today’s services, especially in this latest revival has no relationship whatsoever to the few Biblical accounts they attempt to use to prove their beliefs. Every text they have tried to use is taken completely out of its context and these leaders are guilty of wresting the Scriptures in a vain attempt to validate their practices.

The leaders of the Holy Laughter movement prove nothing by the Scriptures they use except that they do not know how to properly interpret the Scriptures. They are attempting to compare apples-to-oranges and not apples-to-apples. The simple fact of the matter is that they have no biblical context to prove what is happening is in fact the manner in which God moves by His Spirit. Try as they might the best they can do is to twist the Scriptures in an attempt to make “a round peg fit into a square hole.” The Biblical accounts and what transpires today simply do not compare with one another.

Pastor John Arnott said the following during a revival meeting we attended at TACF (paraphrased) regarding people laying on the floor (after being slain in the spirit) who were screaming aloud:

1. The Holy Spirit could be expelling demons from the person, so we say “more Lord.”

2. The Holy Spirit is bringing back past painful memories to heal them, and the person is screaming out in agony, so we say “more Lord.”

3. The Holy Spirit is blessing the individual so tremendously they are screaming out under His power, we don’t want to stop that do we?

4. The person is simply faking it to fit in.

5. The Holy Spirit is doing a prophetic work in the person’s life & we do not want to interfere with that do we? (6)

The only problem with John’s definitions was that he used absolutely no Scriptures to validate any of his five points. In fact he contradicted himself on the video when he said that upon asking people what was happening to them while on the floor the people responded “we don’t now, but we know the Lord was doing something.” If individuals who have been slain in the spirit did not know what was taking place how in the world does John Arnott?

The following apologetic for being slain in the spirit is taken from the following web page on August 25, 1997: http://www.revivaltimes.com/manifest.htm– they use the same proof texts as TACF and other extremists, this shows the paucity of their argument.

Falling

People are skeptical when they see a person falling on the floor. This is really not hard to understand, as so many have been pushed over. Hands were laid so hard on them, that they either had to walk back or fall over. Others have come to think that unless you fall down, you have not received. This is not true. The Holy Spirit can minister to you anywhere, and in any way He pleases. I purposely lay my hand very lightly on peoples heads. If they fall, they will know that I did not push them over. It had to be the Holy Spirit or themselves.

Why do people fall?

Well, evidently they found it was impossible to stand up any longer. They just felt their knees become weak and fell down. Sometimes the glory of God is so great that we are overwhelmed and consequently fall prostate before the Lord.

Is Falling in the Spirit scriptural?

There is no direct reference to what we have termed being slain in the Spirit; However, there are references in the Bible of people who could not stand for the glory of God

1 King 8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

Another indication of falling in the Spirit is when Saul of Tarsus had the encounter with God on the road to Damascus. When the light shone on him, he fell to the ground and lay there until God had finished talking to him.

Acts 9:3-4 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?

The author gets an “A” for honesty, he admitted there are no direct references to the man-made doctrine of being slain in the spirit. What is puzzling is that he (and multitudes) of others are willing to submit themselves to highly questionable practices which have no Scriptural basis and attribute them to God. They have no Scriptural method by which to judge the origin of their experience, and assume it must be the Holy Spirit.  On what basis?  Because it happens in a church service? Because a minister lays their hands on them? Because they have seen others do it? Or because they have been told this is of God by leaders? These are not the criteria by which we judge our spiritual lives and practice. We are to look to the Word of God alone as the first and final court of appeal.

Revival Glory’s Explanation of the Experience (7)

In revival people often fall on the floor. Termed “slain in the Spirit” by some, and “falling under the power” or resting in the Lord” by others, one does not have to look long to see that something is happening inside those “horizontal before the Lord.” Such was the response of people like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28; 3:23), Daniel (Daniel 10:9), and John (Revelation 1:17). After the ark was brought into Solomon’s temple, “the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filed the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14), perhaps indicating that these priests had “fallen under the power” of God. The Holy Spirit seems to do a wide variety of things in a person’s life during this time: a renewed understanding of God’s holiness, an inward healing of emotions, anointing for ministry, a giving of direction for life, a refreshing of God’s love, and in limited cases, the giving of a vision from God. [Bold type and underlining added for emphasis].

Revival Glory’s definition adds that the Holy Spirit seems to do a wide variety of spiritual works in the slain person’s life. Six things are cited, but not one verse is given to substantiate these claims. Five of the works attributed to being slain in the spirit are found within the context of scripture apart from any paranormal experience. All six, minus the vision from God, come to any believer through a reverent study of God’s Word, no more no less! To the extremist simple Bible study is not as “sexy” as having a power encounter or becoming the center of attention by laying front of the congregation in some form of enthusiasm and/or alleged spiritual rapture.

A person “overcome” by something, but it is not the Holy Spirit!

Rev. Liichow’s book  will be continued in the next issue.

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

* (color highlight, some bolding and underlining are added for emphasis, and do not appear in the original book by Robert S. Liichow)