Christological Confusions

21 01 2011

Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 1 – Christological Confusions – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Christological Confusions

Rev. Bob Liichow

 In the last few weeks Discernment Ministries International has received emails expressing concern over our belief in the Trinity of God. One would think that after two thousand years of biblical study and scholarly debate questions about the nature of the godhead would have been satisfactorily answered. The truth is they have been. The Church Catholic (universal) has been united in the following belief:

Whoever wills to be in a state of salvation, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled without doubt he will perish eternally. Now the Catholic Faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. (1)

The orthodox Christian Church worships one God in Three Persons. I italicized the word person because our finite human language breaks down in many of our attempts to express eternal and timeless truth. Nonetheless, “person” is an adequate term to use because the word “person” is used to describe the three members of the Godhead because the word “person” is appropriate. A person is self-aware, can speak, love, hate, say “you,” yours,” “me,” “mine,” etc.

Each of the three persons in the Trinity demonstrate these qualities throughout the scriptures. The Bible is very clear concerning the fact that there is but One God yet is seen operating as Three within the One. The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as the Father. They are not three gods and not three beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are the one God.

One of the recent emails excoriating DMI was regarding our declaring Mr. William M. Branham a heretic and telling people that he was a “Oneness” believer. The person writing us was partially correct in their diatribe by stating that Branham was not a member of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the WORLD (PAW) or the Apostolic Pentecostal Church; both Oneness denominations. They were correct in that Mr. Branham denounced all denominations as being of the great whore Babylon and was a member of none. However, Mr. Branham and all his followers deny the reality of the Trinity. A fellow truth-teller and Apologist Eric Pement wrote the following concerning Branham’s view on the godhead:

From his earliest days, Branham rejected the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. He thundered, “Trinitarianism is of the Devil! I say that THUS SAITH THE LORD.” Branham insisted that the Trinity doctrine originated with Satan, and that it taught there were “three gods.” Therefore he directed that any believer who was baptized according to the triune formula given in Matthew 28:19 should be rebaptized “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Branham generally described the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as being three “titles,” offices,” attributes,” or “merits” of God. The problem with this explanation is that titles, offices, attributes, or merits cannot relate to one another on a personal level. (2)

I have written many articles about Mr. Branham and they can be read on our website or by visiting our BLOG which has all of the extant Truth Matters for your viewing pleasure. This being the case let me just mention Branham again briefly for those who are newer readers and may be unfamiliar with some of the background of this Arch-heretic.

Branham is probably one of the most widely followed revivalists of our era. He was killed by a drunk driver in the mid 1960’s. At the time of his death Branham’s popularity had taken a huge downward spiral. He had taught too many bizarre teachings and uttered various strange prophetic words that were simply too much for the mainstream Pentecostals to swallow. So at the end of his life, his revival meetings dwindled in size. Sadly, Branham was one of the first men to really utilize technology in his meetings. The result was that we have virtually all of his revival sermons on audio and many hours on 16mm tape. Branham is almost single-handedly responsible for the creation of the ten thousand plus independent charismatic congregations.

Branham’s warning to leave denominationalism almost destroyed the Assemblies of God (AOG) denomination due to the fact they lost of many of their pastors! After his death he became mythic in stature largely in part due to the other revivalists who tried to raise him from the dead for several days after his car accident! Men like Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, A.A Allen, Gordon Lindsey lauded and praised this man at his funeral as the greatest prophet of their generation. The end result? Today there are over 20,000 web sites dealing with this heretic. Hundreds of Branhamite congregations (aka groups) which do nothing but listen to his past sermons, watch him on video and read about him and spread his message!

Naturally, this Bran Amite (3) felt led to correct my views both on Mr. Branham and the Trinity of God. He failed in both arenas because there was nothing to correct regarding my understanding of both topics.

What Did Branham Believe About the godhead?

In a nutshell Branham believed nothing unique or new about God, in fact, he bought in an ancient heresy (unbeknown to him, Branham had less than an eighth grad education). Branham and the Oneness Pentecostals believe in “Jesus only.” Their churches are known among other Trinitarian Pentecostals as Jesus Only churches. Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son and Jesus is the Holy Spirit, there is no God but Jesus Christ, He is the One God.

Even though this ancient heresy was soundly rebuked, defeated and anathematized (declared a soul damning heresy) time and time again by The Church it still has persisted. Without going over eras of church history suffice it to say this heresy was virtually dead until 1913.

The Azusa revival of 1906 was already slowing down by 1913 and it was during a revival meeting in Los Angeles in 1913 that whipped things up again. This time a Canadian man named R.E. McAlister began to re-baptize converts in Jesus name only. This initially brought some confusion and debate. McAlister and his followers broke off from their fledgling Pentecostal brethren and took steps to formalize their doctrinal stance. The result was that today the fastest growing Pentecostal denominations are the Oneness Pentecostals which include the following organized groups: United Pentecostal Church International (UPC), Apostolic World Christian Federation, Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). (4)

Within two years this reincarnation of ancient heresy was solidified into specific beliefs. Some of these beliefs included the need to be baptized by immersion in Jesus name only. This is a prerequisite to salvation, you must be baptized in Jesus name. What is more you must speak in other tongues as proof of having obtained full salvation. Thrown into the mix is a mishmash of Wesleyan holiness (works) and a firm belief that they are the only true Church.

Their Ancient Error

Several heretics arose in the early Church (there really are no “new” heresies per se). The “Jesus only” heresy is attributed to Sabellius, who taught a form of this doctrine in Rome in the third century. The Lord raised up as the chief opponent of Sabellianism a man named Tertullian, who labeled the movement “Patripassianism,” from the Latin words patris for “father”, and passus for “to suffer” because it implied that the Father suffered on the Cross. Sabellius, Praxeas, Noetus all fell into the error of “modalism” which simply means God takes upon Himself “modes” or simply appears in different forms but is the same and One God.

The Monarchians properly so-called (Modalists) exaggerated the oneness of the Father and the Son so as to make them but one Person; thus the distinctions in the Holy Trinity are energies or modes, not Persons; God the Father appears on earth as Son; hence it seemed to their opponents that Monarchians made the Father suffer and die. In the West they were called Patripassians, whereas in the East they are usually called Sabellians. The first to visit Rome was probably Praxeas, who went on to Carthage some time before 206-208; but he was apparently not in reality a heresiarch, and the arguments refuted by Tertullian somewhat later in his book “Adversus Praxean” are doubtless those of the Roman Monarchians. (5)

This error denies the individuality within the godhead and no doubt came about in an attempt to secure the place of deity for Jesus Christ. However in their attempt “making” Jesus to be God they veered off into error.

I asked the writer several simple valid questions which he refused to answer. In fact, when you encounter a Oneness dupe I would urge you to consider asking some of these same questions found on the following page.

 

Some challenging Questions To Ask The Arians at Your Doorstep and other Places

1. Is Jesus His own Father?

2. If Jesus’ will and the Father’s will were identical, then why did Jesus express the desire to escape the cup but resigns Himself not to His own will, but the will of the Father? See my article on this.

3. Was Jesus praying to Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane? If so, why?

4. If Jesus was praying to the divine side of Himself, then isn’t He still praying to Himself?

5. Why was Jesus not saying, “Not My will, but MY will be done?” if there is only one person and one will involved when He was praying in Luke 22:42 & Matt. 26:39 ?

6. If baptism is essential for salvation, then what happens to someone who repents of sin, accepts Jesus as Savior, walks across the street to get baptized but is killed by a car. Does he go to heaven or hell?

A. If he goes to heaven, then baptism isn’t a requirement is it?

B. If he goes to hell, then faith in Christ isn’t sufficient to save him is it?

7. If God is only one person, why did Jesus say in John 14:23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” If God is only one person, why does Jesus say, “we”?

They have no adequate biblical response in attempting to answer these questions. Within Pentecostalism there has been a debate as to whether or not their Oneness compatriots are in fact Christians. I can answer that question very easily no debate necessary.  NO!   These people are guilty of preaching another Gospel [see 2 Cor. 11:4]. They present a system of works righteousness from the beginning to the end. Obviously they proclaim another Christ [see 2 Cor. 11:4] and if you are wrong regarding the Person and work of Jesus, then frankly, it matters not what one is right about. Lastly, they advance another spirit [see 2 Cor. 11:4] who is not the Holy Spirit as revealed in Scripture. How sad to go to church and worship someone you really do not know, and more importantly does not know you!

The second type of email to challenge DMI’s Trinitarian stance came from the other side of the heretical Christological morass of delusion, i.e. that Jesus is not God at all.

There were several heretics involved in attempting to mislead the church, time and space permit only touching on a few of the “bigs.” The following people taught more or less the same error with some subtle nuances that are unimportant to this discussion. These deceived deceivers taught that Jesus was the first created being by the Father. Thus in their system the godhead consists of God the Father period. Jesus is His first and greatest creation and the Holy Spirit is simply the spirit of the Father God. To them Jesus is not God, nor is the Holy Spirit.

Arius is probably one of the best documented of the heretics of this stripe. His beliefs can be boiled down to the following statement:

Using Greek terms, it denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity. (6)

The views of Arius were sounded defeated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Almost 1,200 years later another somewhat similar error erupted in the 1500’s called “Socinianism” so named after the two brothers whom espoused this aberrant doctrine. They taught the following:

Socinianism denies the doctrine of the Trinity claiming it denies the simplicity of God’s unity. Instead, God is a single person with the Holy Spirit as the power of God. Since it emphasizes the unity of God, there could be no divine and human union in a single person as Christ. Therefore, Socinianism denies the incarnation and deity of Christ as well as Christ’s pre-existence…Since Jesus is not divine by nature, His sacrifice was not efficacious; that is, it did not result in the redemption of people who would trust in it, it teaches that Jesus was only a man.   (7)

Socinianism furthermore denies the efficacy of infant baptism, the reality of eternal damnation in hell, opting for annihilation of the wicked. To these people the Bible is only authoritative as properly understood [rationalism] by themselves.

Monophysitism was another heretical attempt to wrest Christ from the godhead. Monophysitism is heretical because of its erroneous assertions that the nature of Christ had only one nature, not two as is taught in the correct doctrine of the hypostatic union (Jesus is both fully God and fully man). The problem here is the same as concerning the above views:

The denial of the human nature of Christ is a denial of the true incarnation of the Word as a man. Without a true incarnation there can be no atonement of sin for mankind since it was not then a true man who died for our sins. (8)

Fortunately, this view was defeated at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681 A.D. Even though it was defeated by the Church and shown to be a heretical view it still exists today. What is more is that you have probably encountered the descendants of Arius and the Socinian brothers!

Today the most vocal voice spewing Arian heresy is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Within the first few minutes of conversation they will deny that the Trinity exists, they will deny that Jesus is God the Son from all eternity. They will tell you that Jesus is the first and highest creation of Jehovah, as such He is referred to as a “son” but He is a created being. There is a vast amount of research material available free of charge on our website and the internet on how to answer the J.W.’s when they come knocking on your door.

Another popular group in America which holds forth Arianism along with other cultic beliefs is the Unitarian Universalist Church. Sadly, a purely American invention. Fortunately one that does not have a tremendous impact, unlike the J.W.’s who are very busy (after all their salvation depends on it).

Within the same week DMI received emails espousing these two heretical views of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is apparent that people outside the major cult groups (J.W.’s etc.) are beset with damnable ignorance about the biblical Jesus. This is ignorance the Church banished hundreds of years ago!

People historically have erred concerning whether Jesus was divine or not. Some exalt Him to being the only True God, others say He is n o God at all. If this was not confusing enough there is another category of error DMI has yet to be asked about, that being, the heresy regarding the two natures of Christ.

Monothelitism attempted to avoid the apparently unsolvable question of whether Christ had two natures, one human and one divine, or only one nature. Rather it placed the focus on stating that the nature(s) had only one will and one operation, although, still Christ was defined to have two natures. Nestorius, a priest is often sited as an originator of this error. By the Third Council of Constantinople, where the idea of Monothelitism was debated ended with declaring Christ with two wills and two operations, both together in the body of Christ.

Eutychianism is similar to Monophycitism. It states that Christ’s natures were so thoroughly combined — in a sense scrambled together — that the result was that Christ was not really truly able to relate to us as humans. The problem is this implies that Jesus was not truly God nor man. Therefore, He would be unable to act as mediator and unable to truly atone for our sins. (9) We don’t encounter many folks like this proclaiming to be Christians today. This mis-belief is an ancient one that the Apostles encountered taught by the Docetists. They taught that Jesus only “appeared” to be a man, that He was really God and thus His sufferings were just an illusion, etc…

Tritheism is what the Orthodox Church is accused of by the ignorant and unlearned. This is the concept of three gods, distinct, yet in union. All the cults and Islam in particular declare we worship a three-headed god or worse yet, three distinct gods.

Jesse Duplantis in his book Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind, which book DMI has thoroughly debunked and proven this work to be both plagiarized and a blasphemous document [AGAIN CHECK OUR BLOG FOR THESE ARTICLES ON DUPLANTIS & HIS LIES].

While allegedly in the throne room of heaven, Jesse on his face just takes a quick peek into the events before his eyes! He declares to his angel guide that He saw the father’s feet (no man can see God and live, right?), he saw Jesus preaching in the throne room (hmmm isn’t Jesus “God” saw him and lived). Then Jesse says to his angel guide “I see the Father, I see Jesus, but where is the Holy Spirit?” His angelic guide “oh Jesse, He is on earth!” Immediately Jesse said he felt so stupid for even asking the question!!! This man is followed by millions! His book is in many languages and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies! Yet he is a liar, false teacher, thief, and a deceiver who does not know the God of the Bible.

It is easy to see how the unregenerate can fall into accusing us of worshipping three gods especially when we tell them that the Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God, these three are the One God — their minds go TILT. Three persons, each “God” how can that not be three gods? The answer is simple — because God has given us His Word and in it we clearly see three divine persons and yet a uniform testimony of the fact that here is but One God.

Can we fully understand the nature of the godhead? No, and honestly, I doubt we ever will fully understand everything about God a billion years from now. What I do have is God’s Word and my role as a disciple is to bow my pride and hugely vast intellect [lol] to the authority of His Word and renew my mind to its sublime truths and to teach others the truths contained therein by example and rhetoric.

In closing I would urge our readers to consider beginning the new year off by boning up on some of the foundational doctrines of our faith because it is here, at the foundation, that the cultists attack. Here are a few good books to consider for your library. As always, I advise anyone to go to www.abebooks.com and try to buy these tomes used.

Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

Some Titles to Consider

1. A Summary of Christian Doctrine Edward W.A. Koehler

2. Know What You Believe, Paul E. Little

3. How to read the Bible For All It is Worth Dr. Gordon Fee

4. Systematic Theology, Millard Ericson

End Notes

1. The Athanasian Creed, underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

 2. Obtained from http://www.midwestoutreach.org/journals/branham_tree.html on 01-06-11

3. DMI over the years have received several emails regarding Mr. Branham. It seems part of his followers ministry is to scour the internet and challenge all who dare doubt “prophet” Branham.

4. What is amazing and telling about the history of American Pentecostalism is that after the Azusa revival 4 main divisions fissured almost immediately. The AOG & COGIC (Church of God in Christ) are Trinitarian in doctrine, but split over racism. The AOG being virtually all white and COGIC being all black. Then within the heretic modalist group also split into 2 branches, again based on race and not doctrine. So much for “Holy Ghost love” and “union.”

5. Obtained from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10448a.htm on 01-06-2011

6. Obtained from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01707c.htm.

7. Obtained from http://carm.org/socinianism on 01-07-2011

8. Ibid

9. Obtained from http://www.experiencefestival.com/





“HEARING” THE VOICE OF GOD

23 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 4 – “Hearing the Voice of God – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing the Voice of God

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

One of the most frustrating things for me as a charismatic extremist was hearing the various testimonies of my teachers regarding hearing the voice of God. All of these men and women made it abundantly clear to us mere sheep that they were in fact in daily, if not, moment-to-moment communication with the Ancient of Days.

Usually their sermons or lessons began with statements like “ I was in prayer the other night and the Lord said to me ‘son why don’t you explain what faith is to My people’ and I said yes Lord and He opened my eyes to the scriptures like never before.” Obviously, we as the hearers upon hearing this statement buckled down in our seats, got out our pens and took notes on what was divinely revealed to the speaker (you can insert almost anyone’s name e.g. Ken Hagin, Copeland, Savelle, Dollar, Price, Jakes, White, Meyer, Dupantis, Hayes, et al.). After their stirring words we little sheep would wander to our homes wondering what did it take to actually “hear the voice of God”? We were literally in awe of people like Kenneth Hagin senior who said on a regular basis that God was more “real to him then his wife.” Also, Mr. Hagin was a man who claimed to have had at least seven (7) direct face-to-face encounters with the risen Christ, during which encounters Mr. Hagin was given revelations which became some of the body of his teachings {doctrine}. Obviously Mr. Hagin and many of our other teachers had a relationship with Jesus Christ that we did not have. Hagin used to share an anecdote that went something like this: “A man told me he was afraid of anyone who said God spoke to them, I answered him back and said I was afraid of anyone who God didn’t speak to!” In context let me add that Hagin was not talking about God speaking through His Word, he meant God speaking directly to us as individuals. Hagin’s position was that it was normative for God to speak to His children.

This obviously lack of intimate fellowship with the Godhead that our teachers seemed to have led many of us “on-fire” saints (me included) on the “hunt” for obtaining such an equally close fellowship with our Lord and Savior. After all, who does not want to “hear” the Holy Spirit say directly to them “go this way, turn left on Elm, “ or marry this woman,” or “accept this job position, it is My will.” Hearing from “God” on that level would take all of the guesswork out of life. If a person could hear so clearly from the Lord it would equal an error-free life (something God nowhere promises any of us in His Word) assuming the individual heeded everything the Lord told Him directly.

I’ll let you in on one of charismania’s dirty little secrets. A large portion of what charismatic teachers offer to those who will follow can be condensed into the claim that they (the teacher) possesses some spiritual experience which can be anyone’s if they will learn how to “tap in” as their teacher did. This experience can include some of the following examples: receiving revelation knowledge, receiving divine healing; walking in divine life; increasing the anointing in one’s life; achieving financial prosperity among other claims. Naturally merely attending a conference will probably not give one any of the above abilities. Thus the seeker is urged by the SINister or his or her shills to purchase books, tapes and DVD’s on the experience being sought, all of which happen to be for sale, authored by the SINister just outside the arena (all major credit cards accepted).

Apart from the extraordinary gifts, such as the power to heal or work miracles, every charismatic teacher claims to hear directly from God. The old expression “from God’s lips to my ear” would be wildly accepted by these people. Most Christian’s will accept that they will probably not work miracles or heal the lame, but at least they can hear from God can’t they?

The question is a simple one —does the Bible teach that the children of God would in fact hear His voice and be led by Him directly and individually? It does not matter how many people vociferously declare that God speaks to them directly to their spirits. As discerning Christians we must always go back and look at what the Bible teaches concerning this or any other matter being foist upon us.

Really the challenge is in the court of the charismatic extremists to prove to us biblically that it is the practice of God to speak individually to His children. The spiritual enthusiast has two general responses to this challenge. The popular response today (at least since the Holy Laughter paranormal manifestations) has been well expressed by Jack Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor who went off the spiritual rails so to speak:

God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible.

According to Dr. Deere, John Arnott and a host of other charismatic leaders God speaks to His children all the time, gives them guidance, but it is of such a type that cannot be verified biblically. The best they can say is that any supernatural direction given, whether through dreams, visions, apparitions or voices will not violate the Bible!

This is the same type of argument that John Arnott (former pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Church i.e. vortex of the holy laughter nonsense) gave me personally in our e-mail correspondence. Mr. Arnott in answering my concerns regarding all the non-biblical manifestations my wife and I eye witnessed in his congregation was simply to begin by citing John 21:25

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25 (KJV)

Arnott’s response to me was simply that what was taking place in the outpouring of the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit was nothing new, it just was not recorded in the Bible for us to read about. Holy Laughter, making animal noises, being slain in the spirit, uncontrollable jumping, jerking and running are simply part of the “many other things” Jesus did as well !!!

I responded by asking Arnott how can we know that what is happening is biblical if the Bible is silent on this specific matter? What are we to use as our guide pertaining to spiritual matters? His response was to direct me to all the good fruit being borne by the revival, the joy, the laughter, the changed lives of those undergoing these manifestations.

In the words of the arch-heretic Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt!” If the best Arnott can do is point me to subjective paranormal experiences that some people were undergoing as proof that it was “God” at work then he has a great deal to learn about religious experiences. I can take Arnott to various ashrams where the same manifestations are being experienced by the devotees of various power gurus and these followers will give passionate explanation of how their lives have been changed.

Appealing to anything other than the Bible as the final arbitrator of doctrine and experience is to leave oneself wide open to demonic deception, delusion, and disappointment. What today’s charismatic enthusiasts want the Church to do is simply accept their teachings, experiences and practices on the power of their word alone, not on the authority of God’s Word.

I warned Mr. Arnott that he and those like him were in danger of becoming a cult due to their going down the same pathway all the Bible-based cults have gone. The reason we call them “Bible-based” cults is due to their claim to believe in the Bible, however God has given them further revelation whether it is in the form of the New World Translation of the JW’s, or the Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, The Scripture Keys to Science and Health or the Mo Letters. So for these cults it boils down to a formula like — The Bible + new revelations/writings {guess which ends up being authoritative }. Many charismatic are in the same place — The Bible + new revelations, fortunately the Bible still seems to hold ultimate authority in may of their lives.

The second response to our apologetic challenge is a finally turning to the Bible and cherry pick examples that seem to fit their particular belief or practice. In the case of our topic, they will show us people God talked to and use these examples to attempt to prove these encounters as normative. This is GREAT! Always guide the discussion with these misguided folks back to the Bible, because we both can agree that it is God’s Word and as Christians It is binding on our lives. So then the weight is upon us to prove our position is in fact – the biblical one.

Who “Heard” the voice of God?

Old Testament

Adam & Eve: Obviously we can start with them. They not only heard the voice of God, but also walked with Him in the cool of the garden (Genesis 2:3). Obviously none of us can use Adam and Eve as our examples of fellowship with God since after they sinned and were kicked out of the garden their face-to-face communication ceased with the Lord.

Noah: Yes Noah heard from God directly. Since it had never rained on the earth until the flood I’m sure the Lord had some things to make clear to Noah, such as the directions on building the ark and who to place within it. (Gen. 6:9). Noah conversations with the Lord can hardly be normative since it involved the salvation of mankind.

Job: Only towards the end of the book of Job (Job 38-42) do we read of Job having a divine communication from the Lord.

Abraham: Over the entire span of his long life Abraham heard directly from the Lord in various manners only 16 times, hardly a daily ongoing conversation between The Ancient of Days of the patriarch of the faith!

Sarah: She only was spoken to once, which she initially denied saying what she had said (read Gen 18).

Moses: He holds the “record” of hearing from God, but then leading a few million Jews no doubt required quite a bit of direction. We read are approximately 85 times when God spoke to Moses. Again the majority of these times had to do specifically with the economy of God and the leading of God’s people.

Aaron: Moses’ brother and first high priest, he heard from God about 14 times, again always involving serious matters.

Joshua: The man who replaced Moses and led the people across the Jordan — again only around 13 or so experiences with the “voice of God” in his life.

Samuel: The great prophet of the Lord, we know at the beginning of his ministry the Lord spoke to him and he did not even recognize the Lord’s voice (1 Sam. 3) How the “word of the Lord” came to him and the other prophets we are not always told. We do know that in Samuel’s time the “word of the Lord was rate” (3:1) and there were few visions. What I am focusing our attention on is direct, personal communication from God to individuals.

David: The sweet psalmist of Israel, you’d think he would had daily running conversations with the Lord (like Hagin, Copeland, and others claim), But, no, go read the accounts of his life again and you’ll find less than 12 direct encounters Person-to-person.

Solomon: One of Israel’s most blessed kings, wisest of all O.T. personages, he only had 3 experiences hearing directly from the Lord. (read 1 Kings, 3:5-14; 9:2-9; 11:11-13).

My brothers and sisters there are many other O.T. examples I could cite, but these examples should make it very clear that people in general never personally heard God’s voice. Even God’s specially chosen vessels, rarely heard His voice and when they did it was regarding salvation’s history in some form or another.

The charismatic belief that throughout biblical history God is just chattering away to His people simply doesn’t stand up to any close examination of the Bible. Of course many within the charismatic movement will point that we are “New Testament” believers, ergo we should consider the New Testament as our “norm.” Ok, let’s take a quick look through the New Testament.

New Testament

Again our sign-gift inclined brethren would have us believe that under the new covenant we find our heavenly Father speaking to His children on a regular basis, leading and guiding them via personal speaking, dreams, visions and even angels. However, as Christians we must allow the Bible to be our guide, not subjective personal experiences. We know that during Jesus’ ministry when God spoke it was at times considered thunder by those who heard it (see John 12:29). On the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, John and James did hear the audible voice of God they were speechless (see Mark 9). There is absolutely no evidence that “God” apart from the personal earthly ministry of Jesus, God and Son, ever spoke internally to any of the disciples in the Gospels.

As a former charismatic I’d be quick to argue that the Book of Acts is really the template for the Church and that’s where will find God speaking to about everyone. I also used to believe that miracles were commonplace and were being wrought by just about every Miriam, Peter and John. Folks the truth is, as with hearing the voice of God, very few people were ever used by God throughout the entire Bible to work a miracle. Think about it, write them all down and you will have a very short list. Common sense dictates that if miracles where commonplace then they would cease to be “miraculous.”

Well if one reads the Book of Acts carefully one will discover that the vast majority of the times we read of God speaking directly or even indirectly, say through an angel, less than twenty times and the majority of these times were involving the Apostle Peter and Paul. The few others so specifically guided by God were folks like Agabus (a prophet), Cornelius (whose salvation was a catalyst for the Gentiles), and Ananias (who went to pray for a man named “Saul”.

What is remarkable about each occurrence is that none of these individuals were seeking to hear from God directly! God was the One who reached out to them. Also keep in mind that none of these people were ever taught any formula, hidden keys, or method on how to hear from God (which is a very popular subject in almost all Christian bookstores & conferences). Even more astounding is the FACT that no one is ever counseled to seek to hear God’s voice.

A simple truth that really “blew” my mind in seminary was when I learned from Dr. Eugene Mayhew that the Book of Acts is a historical account of what took place in the early Church and NOT a template on how to do Church. This was contrary to everything I had been taught as a sign-seeking believer. However, once you realize this is true you see that everything that took place in Acts is not normative nor to be expected in the daily life of Christians today.

Some may respond “but brother Liichow doesn’t the Apostle Paul tell us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14)?” Yes, but the text does not say “those who hear from God directly are the sons of God.” In fact, this text does not tell use exactly how God’s Spirit will lead us. Sign-gift folk insert voices, dreams, visions, visits from Jesus and /or angels into the text in invisible ink. They may assent that this text does not say exactly how the Spirit will lead us but will often counter with another text, this time from the Gospels. “Didn’t Jesus say that ‘My sheep hear My voice’ so obviously His true hear from God!” The context of John 10:16 is regarding sheep and goats and the fact that untimely there will be one flock (Jew & Gentiles together) under one Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus is not speaking about some private conversation(s) He will have with His sheep. Compare this text with Romans 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Add to this “how shall they hear without a preacher’? (Rom. 10:14). Jesus was not speaking about Him personally talking with His sheep. Oh yes He does “call” us but He does so generally through the foolishness of preaching or even through our baptism.

Some Charismatic Comments

“In June God gave us a vision of the world with silver and gold bands covering the entire globe —we began to understand that God was telling us to take the message…” Charles and Francis Hunter, How to Heal the Sick, Hunter Books, pg. 1.

“I could hear the Spirit of God challenging me, “You’ve approached it wrongly. You’ve worked on the wrong end of the thing. You fasted and you prayed that I would do something and I’ve done all I’m ever going to do…” Kenneth E. Hagin, The Art of Intercession, Faith Library, pg. 47

My Father said to me (oh, I could hear His voice so plainly as He spoke to me), ‘Son, you don’t know how that delights My heart…You know, He said to me, ‘I made man so I’d have someone to fellowship with. I made man for My companion…I’ll put this way (and He said it is just these words), I made man so I’d have someone to pal with,’ “ Kenneth E. Hagin, Growing Up, Spiritually, Faith Library, pp. 64-65.

“The Spirit of God spoke up on the inside of me and said, ‘She has been holding fast to the problem al of these years. If she had prayed in faith she wouldn’t have prayed all those other 24 years…But she has bound Me from the situation by the words of her mouth.” Charles Capps, Releasing the Ability of God, Harrison House, p. 38.

“I asked the Lord, ‘Why did the centurion have that kind of faith…The Lord said, ‘He was a military man who understood authority because he was under authority. If you will teach My people to understand authority as this man understood authority, they will operate in the same kind of faith.” Charles Capps, Authority, Harrison House, p. 5

“Just this Pat: God is telling me to go and share the message of His power an the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Mrs. Peale.” Pat Robertson & Jamie Buckingham, Shout It From the Rooftops, Logos, p. 66

Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER… He told me how I would be able to detect diseases by vibrations on my hand. He went away, but I have seen him several times since then.” Gordon Lindsay, William Branham A Man Sent From God, Voice of Healing, p. 77.

The BIG Question

These are just a very few examples of some instances where well known charismatic leaders are relating a little of their personal conversations with the Lord. In the same arena we have to also include today’s restored prophets and the “word of the Lord” they proclaim to congregations and individuals (that also is a common charismatic way to hear from God). The question for either individuals hearing from God or from the mouth of an alleged restored prophet is the same: “Why isn’t the words you’ve received from God authoritative?” In other words if God is indeed speaking then what is said should be transcribed and placed in the back of the Bible, right? Since when does God’s “word” cease to become God’s word to us? Also, if the words received in whatever manner (through a neo-Montantist prophet, dream, and vision or audible voice) is not elevated to such a level, then what good are they?

Our sign-gift brethren have a problem on their hands (as does anyone who says they have heard directly from God) and their response is to say that these words are a combination of both our flesh & the Lord which is what many leaders suggest having mature believers discern the wheat from the chaff so to speak. They say this is the biblical pattern as taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:29. This text says let 2 or 3 prophets speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said. That’s fine considering at the time there were still prophets in the Church as well as false prophets! The Corinthians being sign-gift driven needed to be told to “judge” what was being told them in the name of the Lord. Plus there is nothing in the text to indicate that the “others” ere discerning if part of the word given was of God and part of the flesh. Biblically either one was a true prophet, 100% accurate or one was a false prophet. From the record of scripture it seems most likely that the “others” were judging whether the person speaking was in fact from God or our enemy.

When it comes to the accuracy of today’s so-called prophets and their prophetic declarations virtually every charismatic leader will defend the blatant error, lies and unfulfilled statements given out in God’s name as being simply part of the “growing process” we all undergo in our God-given gifts! Just as one develops as a pastor or a Bible teacher even so one develops as God’s prophet. Oh really? Pray tell where is that in the Bible? There is nothing to indicate that the prophets developed from one level of accuracy to another. Daniel was not 5 % accurate as a young man and about 80% as an old man. What nonsense! Yet this explanation is commonly handed out to those who dare question the inaccuracies of today’s plague of prophets.

All of us who have thought that God was speaking to us and directing us in some area of life have had to admit that it was not God after all. I remember before I was married another sister in our congregation “heard from the Lord” that I was supposed to marry her. God had told me nothing about it and I told this deceived sister she was in error. She later went on to marry someone else and would gladly admit today she was not hearing from God. Other couples said they both heard from God to marry and now are divorced, what happened to the “plan of God” (I can assure you His plan never includes divorce).

There is a method by which we ALL can hear from God, but I have run out of space to go into this month. Stay tuned for Part Two! (Below are some examples of the many books out there to mislead the unwary).♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow