Faithful or Faulty Preaching?

30 12 2011

Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 12 – Faithful or Faulty Preaching? – Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 Faithful or Faulty Preaching?

 It is my prayer that this particular article makes our entire readership pause and take a hard look at what passes for preaching in today’s pulpits, especially our own pastors. I am not referring to the style in which the message is delivered. Every pastor has a unique God-given personality, thus the “aroma of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:15) given off varies from person to person. Delivery style is pretty much a synthesis of personality, observed behavior, training and culture. Some preachers are animated, jovial and demonstrative; others are more somber and stately. Preaching style is never an issue biblically speaking. One may or may not be appreciative of the manner in which the news is delivered, but to the mature (2) ultimately it comes down to the message itself and not the messenger.

 One thing that separates truly confessional Lutheranism (3) from every other denomination is the focus of every sermon preached from a pulpit. This is quite a statement to make I know, but allow me to buttress my comments upon the following foundation. As many of our readers know this author has been around the block spiritually speaking: (1) I was raised a child in the United Presbyterian Church, 2) joined The Word of God charismatic community {shepherding/discipleship movement} in Ann Arbor, 3) was a member of the Pentecostal Church of God, 4) preached for the Church of the Brethren, 5) did pulpit supply at Calvin East Presbyterian Church, 6) was a staff minister at Grace Community Church (church growth Baptists), 7) Associate pastor at Greater Faith Christian Center (Word of Faith church), 8) helped found Eastside Community Church (Southern Baptist), 9) pastor of Word of Life Fellowship (charismatic), 10) joined St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 11) Teaching/Preaching Elder at Jubilee Christian Church {apostolic movement}, 12) currently members of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, English District. (4) These are only the groups I have worked for and with, the list of places we’ve visited would fill the page. I share this to prove “I’ve been around” and while I have obviously not been everywhere nor have I heard every pastor, however I have taken a pretty large sampling over the years and things have not gotten better in pulpits over the years, in fact, I suspect even worse than when I began my search for the purity of the gospel over twenty years ago.

 The manner in which one approaches Holy Scripture will shape and form the content of the sermon preached. Modern American evangelicals view the Bible as a divine book of instructions on how to live a life pleasing to God. I grew up with this acronym for “Bible” — Believers Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I grew up reading the Bible as the inerrant user’s manual for Christian living. Is this wrong? No, not really, the Bible is filled with God’s law, what He demands of people, and His wisdom for daily life. The central focus of all Scripture however is Jesus Christ and nothing else.

 Sadly the vast majority of sermons preached on Sunday fail to pass the litmus test given in the very Bible these people claim to faithfully proclaim. Due to the abovementioned errant approach to the Bible God’s people end up being fed a consistent diet of what can only be called “preaching the Christian and not the Christ.” Sermons are all about Christian living, how to have a successful marriage, stewardship series, spiritual gifts and human potential. For example, America’s most famous and favorite preacher, Joel Osteen can be seen daily on television. Mr. Osteen preaches to a mob of over forty thousand (40,000) each week in his stadium. One can listen to Joel’s sermons and not hear anything about the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes Osteen does not even mention His name let alone proclaim His virtues. He preaches how to be a successful upwardly mobile self-actualized individual of incalculable value. Joel is an easy target. How about your church? What is preached from your pulpit as the sermon? Is it some topical message taken from the Bible? Is the message geared on giving you something to “do,” to work on, steps to better yourself, a principle to enact, a habit to break or start? All these types of messages are derived from reading the Bible as a rule or guidebook.

 There is another way in which to approach the bible, it is the manner which Luther brought back to its rightful place in the Church. Luther saw Christ in the Scriptures from beginning to end and that is what shaped what he believed confessed and taught. This does not sound all that revolutionary to our ears today, but this is precisely because of Luther! In Luther’s day the sermon to God’s people was rife with superstition, nonsense, error, heresy and in many cases was presented to God’s people by an uneducated and untrained clergy (sounds exactly like our situation today). There was plenty of “law” directives in what to do, when and for how long being proclaimed but where was the Gospel? Where was Jesus Christ in this proclamation?

 Upon a closer inspection of the scriptures Luther began to see what we take for granted today and all willingly pay lip service regarding its validity, by this I mean the Christocentric nature of the scriptures.

 Luther saw:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 1

 Eternal life is not in knowing the scriptures, it comes from knowing the Subject of the scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ, He Himself is eternal life. All of the Bible points to Christ either in His forthcoming, His incarnation, death burial and physical resurrection — they testify of Christ!

 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeded from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. 2

 As a former charismatic extremist I got an “A” in Pneumatology and folks the bottom line is very simple; the Spirit of Grace always and only glories Jesus Christ. Anything that points anywhere other than the Person and work of Jesus Christ is simply not the Holy Spirit in operation. Simply listen to a “sermon” by Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen. Listen to how much of the focus is upon themselves, what happened to them, virtually nothing about Jesus Christ.

 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 3

 Jesus Himself instructs these disciples to open their eyes to see that the scriptures concerned Himself! The Bible really is, as silly as it sounds, “His-story” from Genesis to the book of The Revelation of (who?) Jesus Christ!

 What do we read in the Book of Acts concerning the message declared? Did Peter get up and preach “three steps to a better Sabbath rest” or “five keys to answering Pontius Pilate?” No he preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified (Acts 3:35-37). Before being stoned Stephen boldly declared Christ to his executioners (Acts 7). The original message was revolutionary then and it still is where it is faithfully proclaimed. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scriptures, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water, and the eunuch said, See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? 4

 Philip did not proclaim the joys of celibacy to the eunuch but was able but was able to preach Christ from the text the man was studying. Philip could not have preached Christ if he had not seen Him there, after all the Jews read the same text for centuries and never got who it was referring to.

 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 5

 The Apostle Paul said that all he focused on instilling in these disciples was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He did not try to persuade his hearers by enticing words or with a strikingly handsome physique. He did not preach his experience in heaven, he allowed the Gospel, the power of God (Romans 1:16) to be the anchor of men’s faith. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), tell me then what kind of faith is being developed that is not taught about Jesus Christ?

 Some spiritual adepts might say “well preaching about Jesus and Him crucified is fine for babes, but I understand that truth and now I am ready to go onto deeper truths.” The thinking of such people indicates that Jesus is nothing more than a piece of their inner greater cosmic puzzle.

 Those who think they no longer need to hear about their desperate condition before a holy God (Law) and the gracious provision given by the father in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of their souls (Gospel) are people who do not recognize the seriousness of their sin and the glory of our redemption from it.

 If you stop to think about it all the people running around with “WWJD” bracelets are often functionally illiterate regarding exactly what Jesus did do and does for them right now. The vast majority of the sermons they have heard all their lives surround various aspects of Christian living and not the Christ who supplies the grace to enable all of us to live for Him.

 As one hears about Jesus in the Gospel’s preaching faith in Him is birthed. Through this knowledge, which has become a living faith and koinonia with the risen Lord now forms and directs our reactions to life. Issues cease to be a speculative pondering about what would/might Jesus do but the believer knows what Jesus did on the cross for us because he has been fed a diet consisting of Christ Jesus.

 The truly productive Christian life has to be nourished on Christ Jesus, in fact He and Him alone is to be the foundation of our existence:

 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 7 Matthew 7:23-27

 Jesus is the “Rock” (Matt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 10:4) that if we are established on Him then when the storms of life strike us (and they will) we will survive them due to our foundation. How are we established on the Rock? Through the foolishness of preaching (1Cor. 1:21) Christ . . . . Nourished on knowing Him, who He is, what He has done, and what is He currently doing for His Church.

 Read what our Lord says concerning the content and topic of the Scriptures on the following page:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. (13) Luke 4:18-21

 The text was and is about Jesus, it is not about financial prosperity, physical healing or lifting oppression as separate categories of truth. All these blessings are ancillary to the One producing them, the Lord Himself.

 In closing ponder this additional fact when considering what passes for preaching today; biblical prophecy. Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, meaning HE, Jesus, is the specific focus of these prophecies. Any prophetic words yet to be fulfilled refer to His return, His Second Coming. Biblical prophecy is concerned with our Lord. Ergo any preaching about prophetic events must logically find their loci in Christ Jesus.

 Is what is being proclaimed from the pulpit focused on Jesus Christ or is the message or the “series” being preached about anything else but Jesus? D.M.I prays that you are being fed a solid diet of God’s Word, our Lord Jesus when you gather together for worship.

 

Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 

End Notes

 

1. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS: Discernment Ministries International uses the SAME “scale of judgment” FIRST on ourselves; next on our own local communion & denomination and LASTLY others. I say this lest anyone think I am writing about “other pastors.” No my friends, I am writing this for you to examine your own house FIRST then apply it to those we wage war with. Judgment begins in the House of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17) and we are not hypocrites and hold ourselves and brothers to the same standard we hold the heretics to.

 2. The spiritually immature often get “caught” as in enamored by the personality/charisma of the preacher and really never hear what he is proclaiming. Others are turned off by a speakers manner and fail to receive whatever was to be their portion of that service’s “manna” from them.

 3. I am a member of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod and as an ordained minister I feel free to speak of what I know. Sadly, within our own ranks there are many congregations being led by pastors who are not genuinely faithful to their confession and vows as Lutheran pastors. My wife and I have the distinct good pleasure to sit under an excellent pastor who is faithful to our Lord and the call on his life and through him we have met many other great men of God, all is not lost, but it is getting very dark outside.

 4. These are not in amy chronological order.

 5. If history describes Paul correctly he and I share what is nown as “faces best seen on radio.”

 6. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Jn 5-39-40

 7. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Jn 15:26-27.

 8. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Lk 24:25-27

 9. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Ac 5:41-42

 10. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Ac 8:34-36

 11. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), 1 Co. 2:2-5

 12. The Holy Bible English Standard Version, (Wheaton Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt. 7:23-27

 13. The Holy Bible English Standard Version, (Wheaton Standard Bible Society, 2001), Lk 4:18-21.

 

 





“Scope” Them Out!

30 11 2011

Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue11 – “Scope” them out! – By Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 “Scope” Them Out!

Rev. Bob Liichow

 I cannot put my finger on the exact moment in time, but at some point church “culture” changed from being more direct and confrontational when dealing with sin and error to growing more silent, complacent and accepting of doctrines and practices that formerly (in my fairly short life time) would had gotten one publically rebuked or possibly excommunicated.

 One of the reason’s the Church is in the pretty sad and confused condition it is today is because a generation of leaders have fostered a non-Christian practice of “see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, and speak no-evil.” this is great advice if you are a monkey, but it is hardly biblical or practical counsel for Christians.

 We’ve been wrongly counseled to “not judge” others, when the Bible plainly tells us to do exactly this. Most certainly, you and I do not know the spiritual state of those professing belief around us; however we are called to examine their fruit. We can surely see their lifestyles and we can easily determine whether or not some one is living a godly life according to the scriptures. Obviously the doctrine they proclaim is open to scrutiny, after all were not the Bereans declared nobler by Paul than the Thessalonians in Acts 17:11 for scoping out what Paul was declaring as truth?

 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf; but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and innocent concerning evil. (1) Romans 16:17-19

 In the Apologetic and Polemic arena of ministry one is often wrongly rebuked for having the audacity to name names when exposing the sources of doctrinal error. Some think it is uncharitable and a form of sinful judgment to be too specific in warning the church of the dangers facing her from within and without. Others accuse us of “casting stones” (John 8:7) and even serving Satan by being his mouthpieces “accusing the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Virtually all sign-gift aka charismatic devotees continually warn us to “touch not God’s anointed and to do His prophets no harm” (Psalms 105:15). On the surface it would seem in the light of these and some other texts often cited that perhaps our critics are correct and that we have been behaving in an ungodly manner. Let us not be guilty of being superficial people and dig beneath the surface and uncover the truth of this matter; after all we are told in Proverbs 25:2 “that it is the honour of kings to search out a matter.”

 The Apostle Paul in ending his letter to the Roman Christians beseechs (begs) the brethren to “mark” (transliterated as skopeo) them that cause divisions: 5023 (skopeo): vb; = Str 4648; TDNT 7.414—1. LN 2432 notice carefully (Ro. 16:17; Php 3:17+), for another interp, see next; 2 LN 27.58 watch out for, implying a response to the danger (Ro. 16:17, Gal 6:1+), for another interp, see prior; 3. LN 27.36 be concerned about (Php 2.4+); 4 LN 30.20 keep thinking about, ponder fix attention toward (Lk 11:35; 2 Co. 4:18) (2)

 Let me ask you a question —- who is it that causes divisions in the Church? Is it the one who spreads false doctrines and spurious practices within the Church or is it the ones who contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3)? I can assure you it is the former and not the latter.

 How important is this as an issue in our lives as believers? The Holy Spirit through Paul seems to think it necessary enough to be placed in God’s written Word. Here is Paul, having not even visited Rome, yet he begs these young Christians to notice carefully and to keep thinking about with a fixed attention on those who cause divisions and offences of a specific type. What type? We are told to carefully watch out for and take note of (what discovered) anyone who causes divisions and offenses regarding the true apostolic doctrine which has been learned.

 Once we discern such tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:25) what are we to do? We are to avoid them which in the Greek carries the meaning to turn away from to no longer trust and avoid associating with. Why? Because these people do not serve Jesus Christ, they serve instead their own appetites. These false brethren couch their message in “good words and fair speeches” and by their use of “God talk” deceive and ensnare the hearts of the simple (unsuspecting). Iraneaus, the “patron saint” of all heresy-hunters stated it in the following manner as he dealt with the heretics of his time:

 “Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than truth itself.” (3)

 Paul knew well the reality of the danger of false doctrines spread via false apostles, prophets and teachers and he unfailingly fought them by exposing them and their errors as well as proclaiming God’s truth.

 It is not enough to say there are “some” among us who do not teach the truth. Everyone hearing such a statement will automatically think their own school of teachers are doctrinally sound, until and unless named by name which normally evokes a response on the part of the hearer. (4)

 To merely declare that there are some people on television preaching lies in Jesus name is insufficient unless one clearly states who it is teaching error and where they have in fact erred. Paul had no problem naming names:

 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Php 3:17-20

 In this case Paul tells the Philippians to “mark” them that walk properly following the apostolic example set before them by Paul and the genuine leaders. “Many” in the Greek is denoting a large amount of people are in fact enemies of the cross whose end is nothing less than eternal destruction. Paul did not rejoice over their impending judgment, he wept for them, which must be our attitude as well in this field of Christian servant hood. Note that Paul says that he has told them OFTEN about these people, he did not keep silent regarding them and the eternal danger they pose.

 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:20

 If Paul wrote such things today he would receive emails after the manner of those sent to DMI, something along the lines of: “Get over it Paul, forgive and forget.” Or maybe, “How unloving of you Paul, I rebuke your unloving attitude it sickens me and god.” I doubt these missives would affect his actions any more than they do ours, for we are truly of the same like precious faith (2 Peter 1:1) as the blessed apostle. Paul named the source of the problem “Alexander the Coppersmith,” someone who was still alive and causing divisions in the church. Ultimately the Lord will repay him according to his works, but until that time the Church needs to be warned regarding the existing threat flowing through Alexander (Ephesians 6:12). (5)

 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 timothy 1:19-20

 WOW! Not only did Paul name Alexander, he cited him twice in his letters to Timothy. Paul saw their error so damaging that he turned them over to Satan, i.e. excommunicated them from the church and handed them over to be tormented by demons for the purpose of instruction and possible reconciliation.

 This is the same Paul who rebuked Peter openly in front of everyone (not quietly in a corner with a quick hug and back slap). What is more he even told those who were not in attendance, the Galatians, what he did and to whom he did it!

 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Galatians 2:11-14

 Paul did this because Peter was wrong and his actions caused others (other Jews, Barnabas) to enter into his hypocrisy and sin. Rebuking Peter openly was not only the right thing to do but it was the loving thing for Paul to do. Paul loved his Lord and this love demanded he take a stand for God’s truth regardless of the personal consequences. What is more, Paul loved Peter and this agape, this divine love shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) compelled Paul to rebuke Peter first for Peter’s own sake and then for the sake of those following Peter’s errant behavior. One of D.M.I.’s goals is to see these people come to repentance, recant their errors and teach the truth —if I can do it, and by God’s grace I did, so can anyone.

 Jesus in His earthly ministry openly rebuked the religious SINisters of His time:

 Wow unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our father, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Matthew 23:29-33

 Can you hear these words coming out of the mouth of Joel Osteen or Robert Schuller? Jesus did not pull any punches, yet who among us would dare call Him “unloving” or being an accuser of the brethren?

 Woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Luke 11:43-46

 Speaking “truth to power” is not without its risks. Jesus was crucified at the hands of wicked men (Acts 3:15). Historically we believe that all the Apostles but John the Beloved died martyrs deaths, Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:59) and Hebrews chapter eleven speaks at length about those of whom the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38). The world loves its own (John 15:19) and anyone who dares to stand up and denounce it and expose it for what it is makes them an enemy of all that the lost and deceived count as of great worth. Paul no doubt felt the sting of being misunderstood when he rhetorically asked “have I become your enemy by telling you the truth” (Gal.4:15)?

 Speaking the truth in any generation has never been easy, and yes those who tread this path are indeed on the road less traveled; but then our Lord said Himself that the way was narrow and few were on it (Matthew 7:14). In all of the above examples we’ve been considering the godly exposure of those proclaiming false doctrines and misleading God’s people or misrepresenting Himself to the lost world. Yet Paul urging us to scope out some other indicators which denote people to “mark” and “avoid” Paul says:

 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you; Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

 Not only are we to mark and rebuke openly those in doctrinal error (1 Timothy 5:20), we are ALSO to mark and avoid those who walk (live) contrary to the apostolic traditions given to the Church. Paul as an apostle, was responsible for helping establish religious traditions in the young Church. Some people within the young Church were already casting aside the genuine apostolic traditions for their own novel ideas while the Apostles themselves were still alive!

 “Tradition” is a dirty word to most American evangelical Protestants, (6) after all we are a people who loudly confess “I’ll do it my way” throughout our days. Anything old is quaint at best and outdated at worst. It is the “new” we adore; new is fresh; new bespeaks innovation; new is good and old is bad. Sadly, this culturally driven point of view has been carried into the Church.

 The New Apostolic Reformation SINisters not only are guilty of propagating a wide variety of doctrinal error they are also guilty of subverting the genuine apostolic traditions handed down through the ages with their own non-biblical traditions. Here is a short list of practices now accepted and traditional in and among these brethren (let them be ashamed) which include: (1) altar calls to receive salvation & impartation of spiritual gifts, (2) being slain in the spirit, (3) all Christians can/should speak in tongues, (4) demonic deliverance of believers, (5) 24/7 praise/prayer/fasting centers as the means God is using to glorify the Church. These novel-praxi have replaced the orthodox practice of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, supremacy of the Word in preaching, etc.

 Over the last several months DMI has been exposing specific individuals such as C. Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, Francis Frangipagne, Paul Cain, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland and others as false ministers. Some of them may be genuine Christians, but they and all that follow their doctrines & practices are to be avoided by the Church so that they may be restored to genuine Christian fellowship.

 Do not allow any misled devotee of whoever browbeats you into being silent about the danger these people pose to the spiritual welfare of those who listen to them. There is no deeper nor more painful wound than that caused by spiritual abuse. Truth Matters, it really does.

 We are commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and by doing so we grow in Christ. My love for God and the integrity of His Word impel me to action, even so my love for all the Church. If I love someone and I know of something that will seriously harm them I will tell them. Obviously, if I know someone is peddling poison then I will warn them and then others (Matthew 18). Why should I care, if I am not drinking their poison? Love can do no less than all it can for the sake of others, and it is that love motivates what we do and those who support us.

Copyright 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 

Abbreviated End Notes

1. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 2009). Bold type, italics and underlining added for emphasis.

2. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 1997). Bold type added for emphasis.

3. Obtained from http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1579882.Irenaeus_of_Lyons on 10/20/2011 , taken from Against Heries. Underlining added for emphasis.

4. For example if someone said to me, “Bob, your Pastor Braden is teaching heresy regarding….” At first I would probably be angry at the messenger in that I respect and love my pastor, however, as a thinking person, I would also examine the changes being brought against my pastor and determine whether they are in fact true—-then I will respond appropriately.

5. The problem was coming from/through Alexander. The originator of the error is Satan and his hosts, with whom we do wrestle with, but not flesh and blood per se. Satan uses people and our battles are ultimately spiritual, but that does not give a “mulligan” to those used by Satan, Alexander is still culpable before God as is Hinn, Copeland, etc. . . . .

6. I am an American, but not a “protestant” per se. I am a true “evangelical” a term coined by Dr. Martin Luther to describe what was taking place in what became known as the Reformation. I am an “Evangelical Catholic” I guess if one must call names and label.

 

 





You Can’t Lose With the Stuff I Use…Mind Science (Rev. IKE)

8 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – Aug 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 8 – You Can’t Lose With the Stuff I Use…Mind Science – Rev. Ike – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

You Can’t Lose With the Stuff I Use…Mind Science

(Rev. Ike)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Before there was Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, Kenny Copeland or Paul and Jan Crouch, there was Rev. Ike. Like the aforementioned flimflam artists Ike was a tongue-talking prophesying and preaching Pentecostal. Like many charismatic luminaries he too was excommunicated (kicked out of) his Pentecostal denomination. (1) The following is a statement from Ike’s own website:

Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter, better known to millions as REV. IKE, “The Success and Prosperity Preacher,” has been Minister, Teacher, Motivator, Evangelist, Counselor, and Pastor to millions of people for over 40 years. Rev. Ike dared to go where most theologians, Bible teachers, and preachers would not. As an evangelist, on TV, radio, and at mass meetings, he had the ‘nerve’ to PREACH “Prosperity NOW!” — long before it became popular to do so. He was dismissed by some “mainstream” and “fundamentalist” people, but now many famous preachers, teachers, and authors sound just like Rev. Ike—teaching prosperity! Rev. Ike’s Science of Living Ministry began with only a handful of faithful supporters. He taught these people how to get turned on to life. He showed them how to BE, to DO, and to HAVE all the good that they desire through the Presence and Power of God, infinite Good, within everyone. Since then, Rev. Ike has become a Spiritual advisor to millions of people of all races and religions—and even to those with NO religion. He teaches that the Presence of God in you is your Unlimited Resource of Good. Rev. Ike attracts people from all walks of life: ordinary people, the rich, the poor, the famous, movie stars, political figures, sports champions—even priests and rabbis! The growth of Rev. Ike’s Ministry is realized daily, as thousands of testimonies and letters pour in from people all over the world. These people have received Good Health, Healing, Joy, Love, Success, Prosperity, Good Fortune, and More Money through applying his teachings in their lives. (2)

Some, our older readers may remember seeing this good looking black “preacher” on television (he was one of the original televangelists) who often told those gathered to hear him “I don’t want to hear any change in the offering plates, change makes me nervous.” The message he preached never varied and could be easily boiled into another one of his aphorisms “the lack of money is the root of all evil.” He used all of the commonly used biblical texts trotted out by today’s shameless shams to bilk, God’s gullible sheep out of their hard earned ducats. In fact, there is little reason at all to believe that today’s crop of shysters were not shaped and formed by his example and proclamations regarding God’s alleged desire for His children to be filthy rich.

Rev. Ike embodied his message at one point owing sixteen (16) Rolls Royce’s, custom made suits, shoes and multiple homes. Ike was “praising God” in the backseat of his Rolls long before Gospel pimp Fred. Price made the statement that “there was nothing like praising God in the backseat of his Rolls Royce.” Ike purchased one of seven famed movie theaters in New York City and had a congregation of over 5,000 people making him one of the early mega-church pastors even before the term was coined. (3)

Even though Ike began his life as a Christian, attended a Pentecostal seminary and was an ordained Pentecostal pastor for a short while somewhere he veered off course. His messages went from sin and salvation to prosperity through the power of the mind or what he called “mind science. The following citation will give you an idea of what Ike taught:

Some ‘religious’ people are going to be shocked by what I have to say next…You see, Rev. Ike’s teachings are based on the bible,—but not the literal translation of the fundamentalists…Rev. Ike interprets the Bible SYMBOLICALLY, not literally. He considers the Bible the greatest book of Mind Science—the greatest book of spiritual psychology—ever written! When he gets through with you, the Bible will never be the same…You will INDERSTAND it for the first time in your life! And you will love God more than ever, but it won’t be the God you learned about in Sunday School. It won’t be that stingy, hard-hearted, hard-of-hearing God-in the Sky you’ve been praying to…because, you’ll learn to stop looking for help from a God OUTSIDE of you. You will know the truth of yourself—that you are a Child of God and God is WITHIN YOU. (4)

When symbolism or allegory is used as the standard method of interpreting the Scriptures then God’s Word ceases to have any objective meaning. Objective truth did not matter to Ike, what did matter was convincing his followers that if they could imagine what they wanted from God, confess what they wanted and not be swayed by circumstances they could have whatever they wanted! The only difference between what Ike taught and what the Word of Faith (WOF) cult teaches today is simply the false distinction between mind and spirit.

Ike’s system was a mental system, conceiving what you want in your mind then proclaiming it into existence. WOF teaches one must incubate what is desired in the spirit and then confessed via faith-filled words until the desire manifests. The question that plagues many in the WOF cult is simply how does one know if they have planted their desire in the soul (mind/will/emotion) or their spirit?  The cult’s answer this way —if you got what you desired then it was birthed in the spirit, created by faith and brought to pass by the correct use of spiritual law (vs. mental laws). If one fails to receive their desire then obviously it was because they only had a soul or mental assert versus a true heart/faith conviction.

This minor distinction of mind and spirit is really all that differentiates in practice, Theosophy, New thought, Mind Science, Christian Science from the Word of Faith cult. Norman Vincent Peale, widely accepted today by many Christians taught “mind science” without calling it such:

Peale taught “Your unconscious mind….[has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough.” He also stated “God is energy. As you breathe God in, as you visualize His energy, you will be reenergized. (5).

Another wolf in sheep’s clothing, Robert Schuller is another purveyor of mind science but naturally he calls it something different:

Robert Schuller attributed to Peale to be the man who had the greatest influence upon his theology and ministry, (He even claimed Peale starting the positive thinking movement). Schuller changed the term positive thinking to Possibility thinking and continued to contain the principles of these same ideas. (6)

Ike’s system was far simpler to put into action than the WOF’s, for Ike all one had to do was think on what he or she wanted, visualize it, speak positive words about it and don’t doubt. There was no confusion over mind versus spirit, the devil coming to steal your seed, digging up your seed through negative confessions. His system was purely mind science or what we could call old fashioned occultism. In the occult: the “law of manifestation,” declares that thoughts held firmly in the mind, spoken aloud, or visualized will “manifest” in the physical world.

We will see the concepts and idea of visualization is carried into the word faith teaching of speaking and confessing.

To see the obvious connection between what Kenneth Copeland/Hagin/ Meyer/Dollar/Duplantis/Cho et all teach and New Thought or Mind Science; one only has to read a few books by New Thought authors. Compare Dr. Paul Cho’s (pastor of the world’s largest church in Korea) book “The Fourth Dimension” and that of Napoleon HillThink and Grow Rich.”

Ernest Holmes, Founder of Religious Science teaches that mankind creates his own reality through what he visualizes and confesses…brothers and sisters that is exactly what I was taught while bewitched by the WOF cult!

The recent best-selling bookThe Secretwas really nothing more than a rehashing of what Rev. Ike and other mind science occultists had been teaching since the fall of Adam.  “The Secret” is a simple restatement of what occultists call “the law of attraction.” This so-called law states that people’s conscious and unconscious thoughts dictate the reality in their lives. This is no different than saying ‘you can have whatsoever you say” or you may hear televangelists say “you are living the life of all your prior confessions today. If you want to change your life, then change your confession.”

There is nothing wrong with having a positive attitude and that will often spill over into positive statements (out of the abundance of the heart the mouth does speak (see Matt. 12:34). However, that is a long way from creating our own realities by what we say. Ike and the WOF make the mistake of creating God in their own image. Ike says God dwells within all people and WOF says that we are all little gods. Both statements are patently false. When Jesus said that the Kingdom of God was within He was speaking to those who had faith in Him (see Luke 17:21). Nowhere, apart from the fevered minds of the deluders, does the bible ever teach that we are little gods and are to be doing god-like things such as daily miracles, creating reality, changing reality, etc.

We used to say in the traditional Pentecostal church —”God is God all by Himself!” which was our statement of His sovereignty. Jesus did not come to make us feel better about ourselves. He came to expose our sinfulness to us and through faith in Him and His work on the cross alone. We enter into a new reality of being a child of God, one who has been translated from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son (see Col. 1:13). Jesus did not come to make us all filthy rich in this life. He came to set us free from ourselves through the discipleship of the cross (see Luke 14:27) and once being free from our needs we can see the needs of others and help meet them.

As enticing as the promises of the televangelists (past and present) are, do not be deceived by them. These liars with seared consciences have no real regard for you and your family. All they care about (as was abundantly proven with Robert Tilton) (8)  is whether or not your check will clear.

 

If you have loved ones, family or friends who slavishly follow people like: Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Fred Price, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis, Mark Barclay, Keith Butler, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, etc…Please feel free to ask them to contact DMI and we will be more than glad to answer any and all of their questions abut these SINistries. If we cannot answer their specific questions, we are united with those who can. Rev. Ike is gone to his just reward. I have no heaven or hell to put him in, there are no holes in my hands…however, I am sure that He has learned this OBJECTIVE TRUTH now: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15). At the end of our lives, Jesus will not be concerned with how well you or I did with the Stock Market, or how big our 401(k) plan was, nor with what type of automobile we drove. All that will matter on that Day is what we did for His Kingdom. What did we do with the truth He gave us? Did we act on the Word, did we bury it, or teat it as unimportant? Did we trust in His work or our work(s)? Only time will tell and that time is growing short my friends. Our advice is simple —live for Christ as if it were your last day….t may be Selah. ♦

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Ken Hagin Sr., John Osteen all “left” i.e. got the boot from their former Pentecostal associates.

2. Obtained from http://www.scienceoflivingonline.com/ on 8-6-09. Underlining added for emphasis.

3. Rev. Ike said it first, but then years later Fred Price made the same statement when he got his first Rolls Royce.

4. The Science of Living website

5. Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Imaging (Fawcett Crest, 1982), p. 77

6. Norman Vincent Peale, PLUS: the Magazine of Positive Thinking, 37:4, May 1986, Part II, 23.

7. Obtained from http://www.letusreason.org/WF48.htm on 08-08-09

8. Ibid

9. Robert Tilton in the late 1980’s was proven to have simply opened his mail and automatically removed the checks and thrown away the prayer requests. Similar facts have been demonstrated about Oral Roberts. The Trinity Foundation has about a 9 hour video/dvd regarding the rise and fall of Mr. Tilton, who is still on television in a somewhat diminished capacity (he still rakes in a few million dollars a year, down from the 80 to 90 million).

 





Come As You Are?

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

Discernment Ministries International

Come As You Are?

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come As You Are ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

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

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

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





Words of the Profit

10 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 1 – Words of the Profit by Kyle Smith

Discernment Ministries International

Words of the Profit

By Kyle Smith

January 6, 2008 — A holy man in Chuck Palahniuk’s darkly funny 1999 novel “Survivor” sells 200 million copies of a self-help guide called “The Book of Very Common Prayer,” which includes The Prayer to Locate a Lost Contact Lens and The Prayer to Prevent Mildew Stains. The Prayer for a Parking Space goes:

Oh, divine and merciful God,

History is without equal for how much I will adore You,

When you give me today, a place to park…

In Your care will I find respite. With Your

Guidance, will I find peace.

To stop, to rest, to idle, to park

These are Yours to give me. This is what I ask.

Amen.

Just eight years later, the principal difference between Palahniuk’s satire and the most popular preacher in America today, Joel Osteen, is that Osteen’s message is more blasphemous. Osteen’s seven million Christian TV viewers might be interested to learn that Osteen, a college dropout with no formal training, is, literally, a heretic whose message is being called “Satanic,” “occult” and “antichrist” by respected evangelical ministers (See, for instance, the blog of Connecticut River Baptist Church pastor Ken Silva).

Osteen, who wears a deranged flash-frozen-smile – he looks like Martin Short playing the Joker – received a $13 million advance for his new book, “Become a Better You,” and collects $73 million a year in donations at the former home to the Houston Rockets that is now Lakewood “Church.” “Survivor,” not the Bible, seems to be the blueprint for Osteen’s life. Palahniuk’s character Tender Branson is born into a religious cult; Osteen inherited his ministry from his father John, a babbling freak who believed in faith healing and announced, at 77, that God had just given him the okay to keep preaching into his 90s. Two weeks later, Osteen Sr. was dead. Palahniuk’s Tender Branson gets a makeover from agents who pump him up with exercise and steroids; Osteen bench-presses 300 pounds. “People shopping for a Messiah want quality. Nobody is going to follow a loser,” writes Palahniuk. Tender Branson’s agent tells him, “Think of those young people out in the world struggling with outdated religious or with no religions, think of those people as your target market.” Osteen doesn’t stick to outdated religions – his church is non-denominational – or any religion at all. There are no crosses or other religious symbols in his church.

Even Palahniuk, though, doesn’t dare place Man over God on the Who’s Hot in the Cosmos List. Osteen has said, “You can cancel out God’s plan by speaking negative words.” Whoa, there, preacher boy. That ain’t Christianity. Christians don’t believe they can change the will of God, I hope I don’t win the lottery”). Even the Palahniukian prayer says, “These are yours to give me” and leaves the rest up to Him.

Osteen’s favorite code word is “increase,” because that gives a Biblicalish spin to materialist goals, as in “God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions.” When Osteen cites the Bible (note to TV interviewers: Try springing a little Scriptural quiz on Osteen the next time you get him in the chair) he doesn’t merely miss the point, He steers the opposite way. Osteen cites Colossians 3:2 (“Set your mind and keep it on the higher things”) in his book, “Your Best Life Now” (chapter two, page one – or 2:1) as applicable to the situation, “Perhaps you work in sales, and you are scheduled to give an important presentation.” God wants to help you “snag that big contract” if you set your mind to it.

Flip to Colossians 3:2 (King James Version) and you’ll find that the entire verse reads, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:5 warns against “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Osteen’s books are all about covetousness and idolatry. He is a false prophet to whom God is a cosmic waiter. (“Hi! My name is God and I’ll be your deity this evening. Start you off with a bottle of water?”)

The Word-Faith Movement,” of which Osteen is a member, uses God as a Trojan horse to sell the ancient mystic rubbish – picture it and you’ll pocket it – that also drives “The Secret.” doesn’t pretend to be a tax-exempt religion.

If the IRS doesn’t nab Osteen, maybe Palahniuk should sue him for plagiarism. Osteen writes, “Perhaps you’re searching for a parking spot in a crowded lot. Say, ‘Father, I thank You for leading me and guiding me. Your favor will cause me to get a good spot.”

Osteen recalls the time he tasked God with being his personal parking aide, and lo: ‘Just as I steered our car past the front row of parked cars, another car backed out as I approached…it was the premier spot in that parking lot.”

Maybe Osteen didn’t learn all of the lessons of The Gospel According to Chuck, though: “Survivor” climaxes with Tender Branson being chased by an angry mod.





7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

4 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

When Larry King mentions me as a “critic” of Joel Osteen our web site went down for 2 days due to excessive band-width use which told me that a lot of people were downloading my initial article concerning Joel. Next more negative e-mails berating me for simply pointing out the errors Joel had made in his interview began to flow in. I knew it would only be a matter of time before a Osteenite asked me “well have you even read Pastor Osteen’s book?” I can honestly answer in the affirmative and tell them “yes I have and here is the problem I have with it.”

Joel’s latest book is the largest printing ever published at one time by A Free Press, the publishers of his materials. They’ve printed an initial 3 million copies of his latest book based on how well his former book Your Best Life Now performed.

This book could easily be entitled “The Little Engine that Could” or possibly “Fake It Till You Make It,” and anyone who has been involved with the charismatic movement will be disappointed in the contents because it says absolutely nothing new. The entire premise of the book can be boiled down to the old aphorism “God helps those who help themselves.”

In the DMI archive we have several bookcases filled with titles such as: Super Brain Power: 6 keys to Unlocking Your Hidden Genius; God is My CEO: Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-Line World; Prayer, Power, and Prosperity: Three Keys to a Move of God; Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity; seven Facts About Prevailing Prayer (John Osteen), You Can Change Your Destiny (another John Osteen)…and the list could go on.

Now just when we thought we might have gotten past the formulaic approach of laws, principles, and rules for spiritual development we are offered another set of 7 keys to self-improvement! Here is Joel’s list: 1). Keep pressing forward. 2) Be positive toward yourself, 3) Develop better relationships, 4). Form better habits 5). Embrace the place where you are 6). Develop your inner life and 7). Stay passionate about life!

Obviously, the book is divided into these 7 sections and we’ll take a quick trip through each (it will save you the price of buying the book)! The first chapter urges the reader to never be content with where they are in life. “He’s a progressive God and He wants every generation to be increasing in happiness, success and significances. (1)

The Apostle Paul said this about Contentment:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

Paul’s source of contentment was found in Christ Jesus not in any material sources. Whether he had “plenty” or whether he was in need Paul was content because he had the correct focus knowing who was his source of strength.

Where does the Bible ever say that one of God’s purposes is for us to be happy? I’d be willing to grant He does not want us to be depressed or despondent but where does the Scripture teach that God wants each succeeding generation to increase in happiness, success and significance? I’ll give you a hint, the Bible never teaches such things.

In Joel’s reality our only limits are self-imposed. It does not matter if you live in the poorest ghetto in Haiti, or if you are horribly handicapped the only limits to life are those you place upon yourself. “If your thinking is limited, then your life is going to be limited.” (2) If that sounds like the old Norman Vincent Peale “power of positive thinking” you are correct!

At the start of each new day, remind yourself, ‘I am talented. I am creative. I am greatly favored by God. I am equipped. I am well able, I will see my dreams come to pass.’ Declare those statements by faith and before long, you will begin to see them in reality. (3)

Let me just briefly unpack this common thread through the entire book. This is also basic Word of Faith (WOF) cult doctrine “101.” It’s called “calling those things that be not as though they are, i.e. “fake it till you make it.” Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Duplantis, Price and pappy Osteen all have taught this same error.

WOF dogma teaches that this world is ruled by spiritual laws and these laws will work for whoever will work them, child of God or child of the devil. Furthermore, the WOF cult teaches that faith is a force that we use to create our own reality. Understand — it is not faith in Jesus, it is faith in a spiritual force we wield and release by our words.

Joel is after all his father’s son, and all he has ever learned about the Bible has come through the lens of a Word of Faith heretic (John Osteen) which explains why his books are nothing more than warmed-over WOF dogma.

How can I say that? Simple! Joel begins with encouraging the readers to think positive thoughts. From here he will go in a few chapters to the next building- block of WOF error…positive confession. Once you have the image of what you want in your mind then you confess “faith-filled” words out of your mouth continually until you change your reality by the power of these faith-filled words. However, before getting to speaking the right words he has to deal with an uncomfortable fact, i.e. why does your life stink now? In Chapter 4 Joel teaches another bizarre WOF concept, that of generational curses. Again this a teaching I heard Marilyn Hickey teach at Robert Tilton’s church over 20 years ago, but Joel is reaching many folks who probably don’t know about generational curses.

This is the false teaching: that some believers problems stem from their family line passing a “curse” through the generations. Joel says” many times, you can look back and see the results of those choices somewhere in your family line.” (4) The proof texts these false teachers use are Ex. 20:5; 34:7 Num. 14:8; Deut. 5:9 and these texts basically say that God will curse the generation that hates Him to the third or fourth generation But let’s consider the rest of the context of these passages.

Notice that the curses are on those who hate God. It is not for those who love God, but make some mistakes in life. One might argue, however, that their father or grandfather might have hated God. This is irrelevant, but brings up the next point. Using a hyper-literalistic interpretation of this passage, if the Lord shows mercy for 1000’s of generations on the fathers who loved God, then all that would be necessary for us to be in the “mercy” rather than “cursed” category is to find one relative in the past thousand or so generations that loved and obeyed the Lord. Is it not probable that we have at least one distant relative in the last 1000 generations who loved the Lord and kept His commandments? The statistical probability is that we most certainly do. And if we do, then we are part of the 1000 generations the Lord promised to show mercy to, not curse. This notion is pure WOF heresy which Joel follows up by teaching in the next chapter on “Generational Blessing.” Joel says that we are to think of our good works in this fashion.

Think of it like this: Each of us has a spiritual bank account. By the way we live, we’re either storing up equity or storing up iniquity. Equity would be anything good: our integrity, our determination, our godliness. That’s storing up blessings…You have more of God’s favor, more of His blessing because of what they have done. (5)

Its almost like a Roman Catholic belief (Joel does not know that of course) of the storing up of meritorious favor by the saints that can be drawn upon by those on earth! If you come from godly parents and grandparents then they have been putting spiritual ducats into the family account, or as Oral Roberts might say “they’ve sown seeds and you’re reaping the harvest.” My father was a godly man but I doubt I can tap into some heavenly bank account and draw from his good work! Naturally Joel offers no contextual biblical proof for such a doctrine, but who cares, right? It sounds good and who doesn’t want a spiritual piggybank to draw upon?

In part two of the book Joel, having liberated the reader from negative self-talk marches on to encourage them to stop listening to accusing voices (negative words spoken to the reader). He says that it is imperative that you “learn to feel good about yourself.” (6) Anytime a criticism comes to you (or from your conscience) you are to cast it down immediately!

Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on that rubbish, not for a moment. Sometimes when I walk off the platform having spoken at Lakewood and around the world by means of television, the first thought that comes to my mind is, Joel that message just wasn’t good today. Nobody got anything out of that. You practically put them to sleep. I learned to shake that off. I turn it around and say, ‘No I believe it was good! I did my best…I thought it was good. (7)

Brothers and sisters one of the ways we grow is by receiving correction, by useful criticism. When we reject rebuke and correction then our spiritual growth is stunted. Proverbs clearly says:

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. Prov. 1:30

He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Prov. 15:31

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. Prov. 17:10

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. Prov. 19:25

Personally I want someone I respect and trust to tell me the truth when I have finished teaching or preaching. Maybe my message fell way short of the mark. Maybe I didn’t properly distinguish between Law & Gospel or took certain passages out of context. If I immediately reject any “negative” input then I will not grow and worse yet may lead those who hear farther from Jesus and not closer to Him. Joel’s guidance in this chapter is simply “if it seems remotely negative don’t listen to it!”

Chapter 8  entitled “Learning to Like Yourself” is more nauseating pabulum. Joel does not seem to get a fundamental message in the New Testament — the problem is not that people do not love themselves or like themselves, just the opposite, we love ourselves far too much!

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor. 10:24

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb. 13:16

All of this psycho-babble about people not loving themselves is recent nonsense which the Bible does not even address…because 99.9% of humanity has no problem loving numero uno.

Another one of Joel‘s glaring theological inadequacies is his lack of any real sense of our sinful fallen nature.

Shake off guilt, condemnation, inadequacies, and a sense that you can’t measure up, and start feeling good about who you are. ‘Well Joel, I don’t know if I believe that,’ a dear, well-meaning man told me. ‘We’re just poor old sinners.’ No, we used to be poor old sinners, but when we came to Christ, He washed away our sins. He made us new creatures. Now, we are no longer poor old sinners. (8)

This too is a WOF cult and general charismatic extremist point of view. They teach that we were sinners prior to salvation. Now in Christ we are the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and no longer sinners. They have no concept of the reality of being simil Justus et peccator which means we are simultaneously justified, and yet sinners. Both conditions are always true of us. We will fight against sinful inclinations our entire lives and by the means of grace God will be working in us progressive sanctification in this life. Joel is dangerously misleading his readers to encourage them to think they are no longer sinful.

Chapter 9 – is classic WOF/Positive Confession dogma and Joel has very subtly brought the reader from a place of thinking positive thoughts to now confessing these thoughts. What he says in this chapter is regularly proclaimed in any Ken Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis or Fred Price meeting.

As long as we have that poor self-image, we’re not going to experience God’s best. You will never rise above the image that you have of yourself. (9)

He restates the problem of humanity as he sees it but he fails to recognize one very salient point — God blesses us APART from what we do virtually all of the time! Grace, is the undeserved gift from God. We experienced God’s best (which by the way, Joel, is salvation by JESUS CHRIST alone) when we were haters of God.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Rom. 5:10

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, Col. 1:21-23a

In Joel’s warped view how are we supposed to overcome this self-image problem in order to experience God’s best? Simple! We speak positive words about ourselves!

One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. Every day, we should make positive declarations over our lives. We should say things such as, ‘I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am talented. I am creative. I am wise.’ When we do that, we are building up our self-image. As those words permeate your heart and mind, and especially your subconscious mind, eventually they will begin to change that way you see yourself. (10)

Our words do not have creative power. We cannot change reality by what we say. To believe such things is simply occultism and not Christianity. I’ve buried folks who died from AIDS confessing they were totally healed by the stripes of Jesus.

Positively or negatively, creative power resides in your words because you believe your words more than you believe anybody else’s. (11)

The WOF/extremist universe words are the most powerful things in the universe. They teach that God Himself created the universe not out of “nothing” (ex nihilo) but out of words that contained the force of faith to bring to pass whatever He said. They teach that since we are in His image we too have been given this same power. Negative words will produce bad results in our lives, they carry a sort of negative-faith. Positive words carry the force of faith in a fruitful direction creating whatever the wizard wielding the magic wand desires.

The sad thing is that Joel probably has not thought it through enough to realize what bondage such a belief system puts people under. If Joel is correct, then humanity is in the condition it is in simply because of not speaking the right words necessary to create a better life. All of his congregation’s problems fall squarely on their shoulders. Whatever their situation it is their fault.  The only way out is to begin to confess positive “faith-filled” words until your situation changes, which may take years…Remember just a few negative statements can dig up years of positive confessions and then the poor soul, like Sisyphus, is back at the beginning. What a horrific weight to place on the shoulders of God’s people.

No matter how impossible something looks, no matter how you feel, start boldly declaring, ‘I am strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. I am well able to fulfill my destiny. Call in what God has promised you…Don’t merely use your words to describe your situation; use your words to change your situation….With our words, we can prophesy our own future. (12)

Notice God active in any of this? Who is the agent of change? Who determines your situation? Who is in control of your future?  Obviously, you are! God set these so-called spiritual “laws” in place and now we eat the good or bitter fruit from them apart from God.

I think you can see why Joel’s book is so immensely popular. It is all about self and works righteousness. Which all people love (yes even Christians). People love spiritual legalism in all its varied forms and dislike the orthodox biblical view of sola Christus, by Christ alone and looking to Him to do what we cannot do. That is too easy, we want to know “where’s my part in the play?” The point is this — salvation and all its benefits are monergistic, which means that God did all the work and we passively receive what He has done on our behalf. We add nothing to our salvation but thanksgiving to God for His great grace and mercy which He richly pours out on us through the sacrifice of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

The genius behind Joel’s writing is that he has encapsulated the basic tenets of WOF heresy into a format which does not come across as either charismatic in nature nor as something that has been taught by WOF heretics for over fifty years now. He has “spun” old false doctrines a new set of “Dr. Phil” clothing and is marketing it as a self-help book. The problem is that people will not genuinely be helped, in fact, many may end up in some serious bondage due to his lightweight version leading some readers to seek heavier teachings on the same concepts.

In closing, I will leave you with some simple biblical texts that will show you how to truly become a better you.

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38,39

Then he said to them all; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

You want to be a “better you” then take up your cross, follow Jesus (where) to Calvary and DIE to yourself. This dying (reckoning ourselves dead Rom. 6:11) is a daily process/struggle (we Lutherans like to urge one another to “remember your baptism”) that is how we become “better people” we become less SELF-INVOLVED and thus with ourselves off our hands we are freed up to love God and our neighbor more perfectly Jesus said seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and ALL the things the Gentiles seek after will be added to you (Matt. 6:33), something Joel does not mention. Instead of seeking the sphere of God’s rule he has his readers trying to conjure up a better self-image instead of one buried in the waters of baptism. He has people confessing how good they are as opposed to saying “God have mercy on me a poor miserable sinner.” He inflates human pride by a system of works-righteousness to our account. Frankly, Joel is fundamentally wrong regarding the major premises of each of his chapters. His biblical/doctrinal ignorance is truly appalling and I sincerely urge all of us to pray for him (and I will be writing and sending him a registered letter soon, I’ll let you know if he responds) and more importantly the 100,000’s of people who watch him on television and buy his books. Lord have mercy upon us! ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Osteen Joel, Become a Better You New York: A Free Press, 2007, p. 3

 2. Ibid. p.21

3. Ibid pp. 22 -22

4. Ibid. p. 49

5. Ibid. pp.56,66

6. Ibid. p. 85

7. Ibid. p.86

8. Ibid. pp. 101-102

9. Ibid p. 109

10. Ibid pp. 109-110 underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

11. Ibid. p. 11

12. Ibid pp. 113-114 underlining and bolding added.

Anyone else notice a “theme”? 7 steps to living at your full potential & now 7 keys to improving your life every day. Is it possible that Joel is using a ghost writer to pen these novels? If I was already achieving my full potential why should I read his latest book? It simply does not make sense to me?

 





A Smile, A Chair, and A Prayer For You at Lakewood

2 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – A Smile, A Chair, and A Prayer For You at Lakewood Joel & Victoria Osteen – On Larry King Live 10-16-07 – By Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

A Smile, A Chair, and A Prayer For You at Lakewood

Joel & Victoria Osteen – On Larry King Live 10-16-07

By Rev. Bob Liichow

 Wednesday evening I received a phone call from some good friends (hi Doug & Sherry) telling me that Larry King had quoted me on his program in talking to Joel & Victoria Osteen. Your humble heresy-hunter got a “global” mention! Our friends sent me a video of the program which I watched with great interest.

Frankly, I was hoping that Joel would do a better job this time in exalting our Lord Jesus Christ but again I was sadly disappointed. In the entire interview Joel mentioned Jesus exactly twice. Her is one of the two times he does mention Jesus:

KING: How do you feel about Mitt Romney and being a Mormon? Would that affect whether you vote for him or not?

J. OSTEEN: Well, you know what? I look at people, their character, their values, what they stand for. And I know only Mitt from watching him on your program and reading a couple of articles about him. And I don’t think that that would affect me. I’ve heard him say that he believes Jesus is his savior, just like I do. I’ve studied it deeply, and maybe people don’t agree with me, but I like to look at a person’s values and what they stand for. (1)

I almost fell out of my chair when Joel said that Romney believes that Jesus is his savior “just like I do.” Joel obviously does not even know the rudimentary facts concerning the Mormon cult. If he did then he would have known that Romney’s Jesus is really the spirit brother of Lucifer and that to the Mormons Jesus did not secure redemption for anyone per se. If Joel had some basic theological training he would probably know that Mormons consider themselves the only true Church. I am not sure what Joel is referring to when he says “I’ve studied it deeply” but it surely is not the beliefs of Mormonism.

This was the perfect time for Osteen to say something powerful to Larry about the biblical Jesus. He could have said “well Larry, the Mormon version of Jesus is not the biblical view. Mr. Romney and I do not believe in the same Jesus.” That would have no doubt piqued King’s interest and hopefully Joel could have then shared the biblical Jesus as Savior of sinners with Larry.

Osteen’s congregation has grown since I initially wrote about his first appearance on Larry King Live. At that time Lakewood Church was around 30,000 people in attendance, now it is close to 50,000 people each Sunday. The “sanctuary” holds 16,000 people and they hold 3 services on Sunday, including a fourth one in Spanish. One would imagine that with all those people coming out to listen to Joel preach that he would be continually striving to improve his biblical knowledge so he could adequately feed the souls of the hungry.

KING: Well, you’ve obviously affected a lot of people. The lack of formal biblical study, you did a brief stint at Oral Roberts University, right?

J. OSTEEN: Yes, sir.

KING: All right, a critic — this quote to — from Reverend Robert Liichow: “Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor. Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt that he should be called a surgeon?”

J. OSTEEN: Well, I would think two things, Larry. One, I spent — I grew up in a preacher’s home. I spent 17 years working with my father. The second thing is the disciples that Jesus chose — his main 12 — one was a fisherman, a tax collector. They didn’t have any formal training, as well. The bible says that God chooses people that, you know, are not the most educated or the smartest, to confound other people. So I don’t know, It’s interesting to me that…

KING: So you are not reverend?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I am reverend. I am reverend. You don’t have to necessarily be — go into seminary to be a reverend. But I am — I’m a reverend from our church. But, I am.

KING: OK. No crosses on display at your church.

J. OSTEEN: Yes….

KING: The only church that I know — the Mormons don’t display crosses. (2)

Joel looked like a deer in headlights when Larry mentioned my name to him, he honestly looked like he was going to cry (I think my comments about his lack of education really bothers Joel—Goood!).

It is true that Joel did attend O.R.U., but what he studied was communications and not theology. In my previous article I made the case that it is not enough to be “called” to serve as a pastor. One may be called to a vocation of a doctor or architect, but that person has to develop that calling by gaining the required knowledge to fulfill their vocation.

How does Joel respond to my challenge? He gives two reasons why he believes he does not need any theological education. First, he grew up in the household of a famous charismatic extremist, John Osteen. He spent 17 years working with his father behind the scenes. If Joel’s father had been an airplane pilot are we to assume that Joel would know how to fly a jet? I guess this is theological education b osmosis! What is sad is because Joel does not have any formal biblical education he does not even know that much of what his father taught was false doctrine and in places rank heresy. All of Joel’s life he listened to spiritual poison, I know what I am saying since I come from the same background as his father and was schooled in and later taught the same garbage that John Osteen taught. Unfortunately, the doctrines he did learn from being around his dadf are aberrant.

His next defense is the tired old excuse of pointing to Jesus’ disciples and using them as examples of men without formal training. I beg to differ most strenuously with this type of thinking. Let’s consider the facts: (1) the 12 were handpicked by Jesus. Jesus did not just “call” these 12, they left everything and followed Jesus. (2) These men received hands on training from God the Son in person. From sun-up till they went to sleep, seven days a week (no Christmas or Easter break back then) these men lived with Jesus and were taught by Him. There is no seminary education that can compare with what the original disciples learned firsthand.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.   Acts 4:13

The religious leaders scoffed at Peter and John because they were not from the priestly tribe but they did take not that they had been with Jesus who was accepted as a peripatetic rabbi, i.e. a rabbi who taught as He walked along life’s way. Joel is correct to say that when Jesus initially chose the 12 they did not have formal training but when He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them (see John 20:22) three and a half years later they had the best theological training ever given to mankind!

Lastly Joel tries to make a case for biblical ignorance by saying “hey God chooses us ignorant folk to confound the educated one!” {my paraphrase}. Actually what the Bible says is:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 1 Cor. 1:26

Paul is telling the Corinthians to think of what they were when God called them. According to the world’s standards they were nothing, yet it is the glory of God to take “nothing” and make something wonderful out of it.

Instead, God has chosen from the world those who seem foolish, weak, and helpless so that he might put to shame the wise and powerful by showing how temporary and insignificant to salvation their achievements are. In his grace he has showered his mercy on them and made them strong and wise in Christ. (3)

In the words of one of Joel’s father’s good friends, Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt.” Joel’s excuses are just that excuses. Here is a man worth millions of dollars, who is well paid by his “church” and espouses a belief in continual improvement…yet personally refuses to gain any further training for his vocation, it boggles my mind! Joel could easily afford a private personal tutor to educate him in the basics of theology, hermeneutics, Church history, biblical Greek, etc…Yet for some reason he has not yet done so. I know Joel must have read the following text:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.   James 3:1

Doesn’t Joel realize that when he stands before 46,000 people in Houston and untold thousands more through television that his every word is being measured by a holy God? That one day he will have to give an account of what he has said (see Matt 12:36). How can Joel lead people into a biblical knowledge of Christ Jesus if he himself does not have such knowledge? The answer is — he cannot do so. When the blind lead the blind what happens? They all end up in the ditch of doctrinal ignorance and bondage (see Matt. 15:14).

In closing I repeat, I do not think that Joel is an “evil” person. I believe he is sincere, but like the Jews of old, his zeal is without knowledge (see Rom. 10:2) and the end result, as well intentioned as it might be, is not a good one. People must build their lives on solid biblical doctrine and not sand (see Matt. 7:24-27) in order to survive the storms of life which our enemy throws at us all.

I pray for him and I am sure he would make a fine neighbor {if I lived in a secured gated community of the ultra-wealthy as he & his family do}. Currently he is one of the most visible “preachers” in the world and he is in a position to do great good for the Kingdom of God. Possibly Satan has placed him in his exalted status in order to drag him down later and bring shame to the name of our Lord. Let us all pray for Joel that he will see the seriousness of being a pastor and that in seeing this, he will obtain a sound biblical base upon which to minister to God’s people.    Selah.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. CNN LARRY KING LIVE Interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen Aired – October 16,2007 – 21:00 CNN.com – Transcripts

2. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

3. Obtained from the NIV Bible Commentary on the Zondervan Reference CD Rom. Underlining added.





Will Victoria Be Victorious?

2 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007  Vol. 12  Issue 11 – Will Victoria Be Victorious? – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Will Victoria Be Victorious?

Last week, Victoria Osteen, wife of the televangelist Joel Osteen, pastor of the Houston-based Lakewood Church, was removed from Continental flight 1602 to Vail, Colo. , after she “failed to comply” with a flight attendant’s request, according to a report filled by the airline to the FBI.

The Osteens, like many of the passengers on the flight, were headed to Vail for a family ski vacation. Donald Iloff, spokesman for the couple, called the episode a “90-second misunderstanding.”

The misunderstanding occurred when the Osteen boarded the first-class cabin and Victoria Osteen noticed a liquid spill on her seat. She asked one flight attendant to clean it, but the attendant was unable to do so at the time because passengers were boarding. Osteen then asked another flight attendant. That attendant was also busy and instead gave Osteen napkins to clean it herself.

What happened next differs depending on who’s telling the tale. According to two written complaints filed by the attendant’s to union officials, Osteen became angry and barged toward the cockpit saying that she “wanted to speak to someone in charge.” One attendant tried to stop her and she pushed the attendant aside, according to the reports. A second attendant stepped forward and Osteen grabbed this attendant by the wrist and engaged in an argument outside of the cockpit.

Touching a flight attendant is a federal offense, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Iloff said that he didn’t know If Osteen had touched the attendant.

Osteen was removed from the aircraft and her husband and two children accompanied her. For nearly two hours, the flight waited at the gate as the Osteens’ bags were removed. The family latter took a chartered Continental flight to Vail, according to a source within the flight attendants union.

_____________________

The above article was obtained from www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/26/AR2005122600828.html  on 10/31/07.

During his interview with the Osteens Larry asked Victoria how the lawsuit against her was going and was she going to win. Her response? Of course it was a positive and emphatic “yes.” What we are reminded of in this incident is that Mr. & Mrs. “Happy” are really very spoiled and immature children who feel entitled to special treatment and privileges. Nt to fear, I am sure with the advance from Joel’s latest bestselling book he can easily afford to put a down payment on his own personal jet and thus join the ranks of Ken & Gloria Copeland, Creflow & Taffy Dollar, Joyce & Dave Meyer and the rest of the happy, healthy and wealthy preachers of faith and power. STAY TUNED !

 





THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

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

Discernment Ministries International

THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the Bible say?

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

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

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

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

Why this emphasis Peter, what is the big deal?

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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





The Coming Great Awakening

23 12 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – August 2007 -Vol. 12 Issue 8 – The Coming Great Awakening – By Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Coming Great Awakening

By Robert S. Liichow

“IT IS TRUE THAT AMERICA IS IN A DESPERATE SPIRITUAL CRISIS. BUT, I HAVE ASSURANCE THAT WE ARE ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH GOD’S REVIVAL POWER.”

RODNEY H. BROWNE

In May 2007 I wrote about Steve Hill’s claim that the greatest outpouring of all times was about to occur…this revelation was based on nothing more than his own opinion. Now Charisma magazine is touting Rodney Howard Browne’s (RHB) assertion that America is on the verge of a third “Great Awakening.” Unlike Hill’s proclamation, Browne bases his belief on a “higher” authority, i.e. some comments President George Bush made at a luncheon back in September o 2006. President Bush said that he felt that America was on the brink of a third great awakening.

In my days as a former charismatic extremist we would often be told that spiritual experiences, be they prophetic words, dreams, visions or new revelations must be authenticated/established by at least two witnesses, preferably three. We got this concept from the following text:

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. Deut. 19:15

With Steve Hill’s declaration of the coming “greatest” revival and now Rodney Howard-Browne’s assertion of a third “great awakening” many charismatic sign-gift folks are beginning to salivate over the coming next great move of the Spirit. Using the charismatic paradigm I guess it is going to happen. Or is it? What if your witnesses are proven liars? What would two liars establish other than more lies? Why should anyone believe these two SINisters in particular especially in light of their forays into deception and well documented money-grubbing in the 1990’s?

Consider the Source

Rodney Howard-Browne aka “the Holy Ghost Bartender” is the individual who popularized the anti-biblical manifestation commonly known as holy laughter. RHB came to America from South Africa in 1989. He began as an itinerate preacher and as he was preaching about hell in Albany, New York in April, 1989 people began to spontaneously break out into uncontrollable laughter (some people cried as well). The harder RHB preached about eternal damnation the more people began to laugh. Without going any further one would think that if people responded with uproarious laughter at the topic of hell and damnation that surely Satan was at work and not the Holy Spirit.

Yet RHB was not as surprised as he would like us to believe. DMI has in its film archive a clip of Benny Hinn ministering in South Africa in the mid 1980’s People are laughing and Benny is seen & heard declaring “this is holy laughter, holy laughter.” RHB is not seen in the clip, but it is extremely likely that he was there because not long after his meetings in New York RHB took his show on the road down south to Florida, starting off with a meeting at Hinn’s former Orlando Christian Center in 1992. (1) From there RHB moved to Carl Straders “Carpenter’s House Church” in Lakeland, FL. And there RHB held “revival” meetings from 1993-94.

By RHB had incorporated his fledgling SINistry (after all the donations were on the rise) and a good thing too because at Lakeland RHB and his new “move” of the Spirit caught the eye and ear of Oral and Richard Roberts. They came to the meetings, received the “new wine” and prevailed upon RHB to come back to Tulsa with them. It was during the Tulsa meetings that Vineyard Pastor Randy Clarke who admitted he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Clarke got the “blessing” and took the highly portable and contagious delusion with him up to another Vineyard pastor friend’s church in Toronto. Once holy laughter broke out at the Toronto Vineyard church it morphed into what became known as the “Toronto Blessing” and the rest is charismatic extremist history.

RHB had initially claimed that he was a former associate pastor of a Rhema Church (aka Kenneth E. Hagin/Word of Faith cult congregation) in South Africa; this lie can be seen in his earlier book publications.

It is to be noted that Howard-Browne’s standard biography claims he once served as an associate pastor at Rhema. But according to Rhema church officials contacted, Howard-Browne was never an associate pastor-nor did he ever hold any pastoral credentials or responsibilities. Said Kelmeyer “Rodney was never an associate pastor here. He was an ordained minister by the state and a lecturer at our Bible school, but was not involved in any form of pastoral work.” (2)

When the truth came to light RHB became to change his rhetoric regarding his past “ministry” in South Africa. Today his statement is as follows:

In 1983 they pioneered a church in the Northeastern Cape and pastured there for two years. After that, Rodney taught classes in a leading Bible School for another two years. (3)

Like most leaders in the charismatic movement when challenged with an uncomfortable truth, he simply ignores all inquires and moves on.

At some point in the mid 1990’s Rodney began to refer to himself as “Dr.” Rodney Howard-Browne. This was also a complete fabrication. To begin with there is no evidence that Mr. Browne ever graduated from an undergraduate college, nor is there any proof that he earned a Master’s degree and then went on to speed two or three years earning his doctorate. The fact is that he obtained his degree from a diploma mill:

Howard-Browne also claimed a “doctorate of ministry degree” from an obscure San Jacinto, California correspondence institution called “The School of Bible Theology.” A state Department of Education employee contacted likened the tiny school, which bills itself as “The Seminary to the World” and has no faculty, to a “diploma mill. (4)

Why does this matter? It points to his willingness to deceive people by attempting to give himself a veneer of theological education and training which he simply does not have. Personally, I have always been amazed at how often people like the deceased Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and RHB have always discounted seminary educations (since they had/have none), yet, they all accept the title “Dr.” in front of their names and are always referred to as “Dr.” in conferences, books and televised programs. RHB wrote about knowing a man who was formerly “anointed” until he attended seminary, then, according to RHB, he graduated totally bereft of any “anointing” (SEE “The Apostles Are Coming”).

As a personal eyewitness I saw that Mr. Browne is in ministry to transfer as many dollars fro those in front of him as possible. In Toronto my wife and I personally witnessed RHB berate people who dared to get up and leave during his impassioned plea for money. He publicly ridiculed those who left the auditorium, it was a sad and pathetic scene. I bring this up because of the comments he made in the article on the “Coming Great Awakening.” I guess if I was in a court of law I would declare to the Judge that my remarks go to “character” (or lack there of).

Revival, Oh Really?

It goes beyond the scope of this small article to detail the history of revivalism in America but suffice it to say that Pentecostalism (and all its sign-gift offshoots) owes its very inception to the concept of spiritual revival beginning with the Azusa Street “revival” of 1906. From there Pentecostalism split apart and formed into several denominations. Approximately forty years later we encounter the Post WWII revival called “The New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR). The next eruption came in the form of Charismatic Renewal movement/revival where tongues, prophecy and other “signs and wonders” bled over into established mainstream denominations. The date given for this “revival” varies depending upon who you ask. Some say 1950, others 1960 in Van Nuys, CA and others look to 1967 an the formal start of the Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement at the University of Notre Dame then moving over to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where I encountered it via the Word of God Community.

Nothing “revival-like” occurred between 1967 and 1994 until Mr. Browne popularized the alleged “new wine” of the Holy Spirit in the form of so-called holy laughter. This lasted for approximately eight years in full force and now it has pretty much petered out, leaving the masses of sign-seekers anxious and hungry for the next spiritual “high”.

What is important to understand is that Pentecostal/charismatic believers are hardwired into the belief that God sends revivals to the Church. The overall purpose of these revivals is to impart spiritual power to hungry people in order to help hasten the return of Jesus Christ. They base their belief on the following text:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3: 19-21

RHB is a product of charismania and knows which hot buttons to push and one of the major ones is “revival.” Obviously the “Gospel-giggles” was not the be-all and end-all consummation of the ages, ergo God must have something else in store for the Church. Since He (in some peoples deluded minds) used RHB before, He will no doubt use him again (RHB is banking on his past revival record to draw the crowds). So now we have RHB touting the “coming great awakening.” What does he base this on? Apart from President’s Bush’s non-binding statement in his own words he says:

It’s also very much needed. Although we have hundreds of thousands of churches in America and thousands of Christian radio and TV stations, America’s moral fabric is being torn apart–not just in the streets but also in the pulpits. People no longer have the fear of God, prayer and the Bible have been removed from our schools; the Ten Commandments have been removed from our courthouses and abortion, divorce, sexual perversion, sexual abuse and same-sex marriages are rampant. (5)

RHB cites the standard litany of woes our culture is facing as proof that America needs “revival.” As bad as the lack of morality is in America it is far worse in other nations, especially in Europe, yet for some reason RHB does not say anything about the need for revival in those nations. For example in the Netherlands prostitution is legal, homosexuality is totally accepted, and people come from all over the world to legally get “high” in Amsterdam because soft drug use is accepted. (6) Not to mention euthanasia and abortion as being perfectly visible “choices.” One might add the state of the Christian Church throughout Europe is atrocious. Rodney also seems to have forgotten that as bad and as rampant as sin is the grace of God does even more abound (see Romans 5:20).

As Christians we are to combat the decay around us by simply being who we are in Christ, i.e. salt (see Matt. 5:13) and light of the world (see Matt 5:14). This does not come about by a supernatural outpouring of power in a 3 day meeting. Christianity that impacts society comes about through the faithful preaching of Law & Gospel from pulpits. Societal change comes when God’s people after being equipped in Church go into the world and LIVE the Word the have received by the grace of God. The Church does not need “revival” we need faithful pastors and obedient congregations – it is just that simple.

It is important to ask the question of whether or not the very concept of revival is a biblical one. The word is not used in the New Testament at all and only four times in the Old in the form of “revive.” Some people mistakenly point to Peter’s preaching and the three thousand men that were brought to faith in Jesus Christ (see Acts 2:14) as “revival.” That was not revival at all! That was evangelism, those coming to Christ were not “revived” they were brought from spiritual death to newness of life in Christ Jesus. There is not one example of the Church being “revived” in the New Testament. In fact, the concept of “revival” does not even come into play in Church parlance until the mid 1700’s. For 1700 years the Church never considered such an event, it is very simply – an invention of man.

In the First Great Awakening what we saw were ministers, initially Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield (an associate of John Wesley) primarily preaching to Christians who had grown lax in the Christian walk. Upon hearing “law” being preached to them they became afraid and felt condemned, which is exactly what the preaching of “law” does, it shows us our failure in light of a perfectly holy and righteous God. However, preaching the “law” does not bring about repentance or salvation that comes through the proclaiming of God’s grace in Christ as evidence by the cross and His resurrection. The first great awakening devolved fairly rapidly into rampant emotionalism, pietistic experientialism (mainly due to Wesley, Whitfield, Samuel Davies and others) and ungodly enthusiasm. There were good things that also transpired during this time period as well. In the minds of many people who looked back at the Great Awakening, it seemed to them to be the pattern in which God “moved” to further His kingdom. So if there was a “first” awakening, then naturally there had to be a “second” awakening!

The Second Great Awakening which started around 1800 through the 1830’s was even more overrun by emotionalism, false doctrine and aberrant practices. The most recognizable name involved with the second awakening was Charles G. Finney, who was a total heretic and not a Christian. This second move of excess also helped give rise to Mormonism, Millerism (and later its offshoot the Jehovah’s Witnesses) and Seventh Day Adventism. The first awakening was primarily Calvinistic in theological tone, the second awakening was decidedly Arminian at best. The teachings of Finney have held sway on much of what is considered “evangelicalism” in America, I.e. decision theology, faith proceeded salvation, alter calls, etc…

The next “revival” was that of Azusa Street in 1906, which as I have written extensively about, was almost total chaos, occultism, excited ignorance and doctrinal error. Every other subsequent revival has spiraled down even farther into doctrinal darkness and bizarre practices (much of which can be laid at the feet of RHB for popularizing it and calling it the work of the Holy Spirit).

This meander through Church history brings us back to the present and Browne’s declaration of the next “great awakening.” He goes on to say in his article:

We don’t need more life coaches and success motivators, running the same circuits, with messages that all sound exactly the same. We don’t need more people who treat ministry as a moneymaking business, publishing books that have a form of godliness but no power in them, and producing albums with wishy-washy lyrics void of the anointing. (7)

Well I have to agree with Browne there, he is right we do not need any of the above. However, he is more than a little disingenuous when he makes his statement considering he is friends with Paula White (a life coach), Joyce Meyer (a success motivator) and of course Joel Osteen. He is guilty of treating ministry as a moneymaking venture. RHB has incorporated yet another non-profit corporation, this one is called “Revival Ministries International,” he has another organization called “River Bible Institute” his own non-accredited “Bible school, and he also has “The River Church,” where he is the senior pastor (how he can be a pastor and travel weekly is beyond me). He is currently going around America on what he is calling his “2007 Great Awakening Tour,” (8) and it is evident to me that RHB is not missing any chances to wrest a dollar from the unwary sign-seeker!

RHB tells us what to expect during this next great move of the Spirit:

The move of the Spirit in and through every believer, will result in signs and wonders taking place outside of the four walls of the church…God’s power will be demonstrated in all these places, resulting in mass conversions and whole regions begin shaken by the power of God!…The economy will be impacted; the educational system and the media will be transformed. (9)

Does he base any of his statements on the Bible? No, he does not cite any text to buttress his argument for this alleged “great awakening.” The reason why he does not is simple, he CANNOT. There is absolutely not a shred of scripture to back up any of his assertions.

The Biblical Witness of the “End Times”

I have returned to a very simple worldview, if someone is proclaiming anything that is not founded within the context of the Holy Scriptures, then I personally do not care what is said by that individual, period. Here is the biblical picture of what the “last days” (keep in mind these last days have been going on for 2,000 years):

“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come…For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive , but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.   Matthew 24:4-25

Just consider how Jesus responds to His disciples asking Him about the consummation of the ages. Our Master begins by saying (1) watch out that NO ONE deceive you. Deceive us how? (2) By coming in the name of Jesus, claiming to be Christ (or in charismatic extremist terms “I am Anointed” ) and WILL deceive many. Jesus goes on to say that in these very last of days that (3) MANY will turn away from the faith and hate each other. (4) MANY false prophets will appear and deceive MANY people. Due to all these things (5) the love of MOST will grow cold. He goes on to warn us that both false Christs and false prophets will appear and work GREAT SIGNS and MIRACLES to deceive even the elect if possible! He ends by saying “see, I have told you ahead of time.”

What is missing from Jesus’ comments? He is warning His followers to be on the alert and to watch out for the very real possibility of being deceived. He says just because people come using His name does not mean that He sent them and the undiscerning (many people) will be deceived by these frauds. Jesus does not say “oh there will be great revivals and nations will be swept into My kingdom.” On the contrary, He says that MANY will become apostate and defect from biblical Christianity. Bill Hamon wrote in the 1980’s that “God” showed him that God was releasing 10,000 prophets into the earth. (10) Bookstores are filled with books by self-proclaimed prophets and alleged “anointed” ones. Sounds like a fulfillment of “Many false prophets” deceiving MANY. He closes by warning that some of these false Christs and false prophets will work lying signs and wonders of such a compelling nature that if it were possible they could mislead even the elect of God! Compare the words of Jesus with those of RHB. RHB contradicts everything Jesus plainly said about the end times, now who will you believe?

What about the Holy Spirit’s warning through Paul to the Thessalonians?

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Paul does not seem to be proclaiming revival or great awakening either in the last of days. He warns Timothy of the following:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

But mark this — in the last days there will be great times of mass conversions, all of God’s people working signs and wonders so much so that the government and media will be transformed! No, we read exactly the opposite. I really have to wonder what translation of the Bible RHB and his followers are reading.

Near the end of his ministry the Apostle Peter warns his reads (and us) about what to be on guard against:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

This has ever been true, but how much truer it seems in our day! False teachers proclaiming every brand of heresy are on television, holding conferences, traveling the globe (in their private jets). Literally millions of people gladly follow these liars. How many people have been exploited by the likes of Mary K. Baxter, Jesse Duplantis, Cho Thomas and others regarding their alleged trips to heaven and hell? Countless others build their SINistries on personal encounters with Jesus (Kenneth E. Hagin) or meeting with angels (Roland Buck, Cindy Jacobs, etc.). Why doesn’t Peter tell us of the coming great wave of power and glory? Why is he so negative? I don’t see any of these statements as either positive or negative, they are simply statements of truth that we would do well to listen to. There are many other verses I could cite that deal with the dangers from false apostles and false brethren, but I think I have cited enough to demonstrate that what Mr. Browne is proclaiming is a lie.

Please understand I am not some doom-and-gloom person, I have read the end of the Book and Jesus Christ returns and every knee bows to Him and He established everlasting righteousness on the earth and we His people are with Him! I am in total agreement with all legitimate forms of evangelism where God’s Word is accurately presented and the Holy Spirit is allowed to draw whom He will to faith. But do not be deceived by anyone who proclaims some tremendous “move” of the Spirit ( always just on the horizon) and cities and countries being swept into the kingdom of God by last day/end time super anointed spiritual warriors. Anyone who teaches such things is at best biblically ignorant and at worst is a person saying what he or she knows will “sell” even through they don’t believe it themselves.

Make no mistake Rodney Howard-Browne is that type of calculating individual who is simply pandering something he knows will not come to pass, but he is willing to make money from God’s gullible saints who are looking for something beyond Word and sacrament.  ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Date obtained from an Ives Brault article for PFO. This article is located at : http://www.pfo.org/intoxic.htm

2. Ibid

3. Obtained from RHB’s officla website http://www.revival.com/www/r.aspx?p=54.

4. Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/lewd.html.

5. Charisma, July 2007, The Coming Great Awakening p. 53

6. “Soft-drugs” are not considered to be a problem by the Dutch this includes marijuana hashish, and basically anything other than heroin and cocaine.

7. Charisma, July 2007, The Coming Great Awakening p. 53 Underlining added for emphasis.

8. All of these organization are cited on his official website found at http://www.revival.com Charisma, July 2007, The Coming Great Awakening p. 55.

9. Charisma, July 2007, the Coming Great Awakening, 0p. 55.

10. Hamon, Bill

The very corpulent king of “gospel giggles” is smiling all the way to the bank.

As he preached about hell and eternal damnation the people laughed and RHB called it “revival.”

Admittedly, Browne is not the “great apostasy” but he is indicative of it.

 





Bob the “Bully”

27 10 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – Bob the “Bully” – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Bob the “Bully”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

“Nowadays any one who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is at once suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term “pure doctrine” has been proscribed and outlawed…If any one goes to the extreme, as it is held to be, of even fighting for the pure doctrine and opposing every false doctrine, he is set down as a heartless and unloving fanatic.”

C.F.W. Walther, September 11, 1885.

Dr. Walther made the above statement over 125 years ago in his book “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.” (in fact all his quotes are from that book) and I have learned over the years of involvement in this type of ministry that his words are truer today then when he initially spoke them. It is the responsibility of every minister, as our ministry motto says to “teach truth and expose error.” Yet when any minister does this he is indeed called a “heartless and unloving fanatic,” and that is putting it mildly compared to what I am called on a regular basis by those who walk in doctrinal darkness. Walther goes on to say:

There is no question, then, but that both, yes, both these efforts are necessary: to defend the truth and to oppose every doctrinal error.

Walther’s position is most assuredly the biblical one as we read stated in Jude:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3

When I embarked upon this facet of ministry over ten years ago I did not expect the vitriol, personal attacks and unreasoned arguments that were to come. Initially, I assumed that others involved in charismatic extremism would rejoice and embrace the truth when it was showed to them as my wife and I did. It did not take long for me to realize that biblical truth (pure doctrine in Walther’s words) is fought against and often out rightly rejected by the ones who should be embracing it. The following e-mail is merely that latest of many attacks DMI endures form those who call themselves Christians. This “sister” wrote us regarding our article about Joel Osteen:

The greatest Christian sin is not adultery. Adultery is one of the greatest wicked acts. It’s not stealing. Stealing is a terrible thing because it puts others at a disadvantage. It’s not lying. This is the worst kind of deception and must be condemned. It’s not murder. This is inhuman. It’s not prayerlessness or lack of Bible reading. It’s not absconding church services. This is because Christians do not commit any of the above sins. What then is the greatest Christian sin? The greatest Christian sin is judgment. How? True, because judgment is only reserved for the judge or for the King and in our case God. It’s God’s privilege to judge and we cannot share that honor. I pray that God will help me not to judge in these entire short messages. I write….

How incredibly arrogant you are. Again nothing but judgment from someone who thinks he is so above every thing and everyone including God…Your response was no surprise and is typical of someone who can’t see the forest for trees. Sham on you! Funny thing is God and the universe will find a way of humbling you. It’s called the two by four between the eyes and it happens to those whose arrogance clouds their real vision and keeps them from loving kindness. When it happens I hope you will see that attacking others is not Christian, nor is it kindness. It is arrogance at it’s worst. You’ve taken something you’ve incorrectly interpreted and spun your own arrogant view on it and use it to bear false witness against those you have NO RIGHT to judge. I agree you will not stop being a bully or being arrogant. Your motivation is jealousy and hatred. I just wanted you to know that your lies and hateful behavior will never reach those of us who love unconditionally the way God and Jesus do.

Note how the writer says the “greatest sin” is judging another person. First of all, this is not the greatest sin in the Bible and if it was then she is extremely guilty of this. Note the following judgmental statements: (1) incredibly arrogant you are, (2) thinks he is so above every thing…including God, (3) a bully, (4) motivation is jealousy and hatred and (5) lies and hateful behavior. Fortunately for sister Bailey, these 5 spiritual deficiencies of mine will NEVER reach her or those like her who “love unconditionally.” In responding to her I kept asking what specifically had I written concerning Mr. Osteen that was factually wrong, or what comments I had written that were hateful towards him in any way; she never answered me. I also told her that neither I or DMI doubts the sincerity of Mr. Osteen nor do we doubt that he loves Jesus. However his sincerity does not abrogate Mr. Osteen’s lack of biblical education or the lack of sound biblical preaching to the congregation Osteen, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren and others all fit perfectly in with another comment by C.F.W. Walther:

The worst offenders in this respect are the so-called rationalistic preachers, who with diabolical audacity mount Christian pulpits and instead of preaching Christ, the Savior, to all sinners, recite their miserable moral precepts for a virtuous life and fill ears of the people with their empty bombast.

I guess Walther would have been excoriated by sister Bailey too as a bully and filled with envy. Pray that our Lord mercifully opens Ms. Bailey’s ears to the truth and all those like her. She is just one of the many emails DMI receives each month. Pray for us too, that we will stay the course and continue to teach truth and expose error.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





Joel Repents!

14 07 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – August 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 8 – Joel Repents! by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 

Joel Repents!

Shortly after his television interview Osteen’s office was inundated with letters of concern and no doubt some anger over his lack of clarity regarding salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Due to the tremendous amount of negative responses Joel did put a short statement on his web site apologizing to his fans regarding what he said. Here are some excerpts of his “mia culpa” (the underlining is added).

It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to what I believe and Whom I serve. I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life. I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life. Jesus declared in John 14:1  I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation. However, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven.  It’s about th individual’s choice to follow Him.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (see Matt. 12:34) Actually Joel was very clear in what he said on Larry King Live, he stated that Jesus was the way for him personally, but people in other religions loved God too which clearly implied that Jesus was not the only way. Anyone with half sense knew exactly what Joel said which is why he got so much mail.

God has given me a platform to present the Gospel to a very diverse audience. In my desire not to alienate the people that Jesus came to save. I did not clearly communicate the convictions that I hold so precious.

Joel still does not “get it.” Preaching Christ crucified is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (read 1 Cor. 1:23). To those being saved we are an aroma of life and to others the stench of death. (read 2 Cor. 2:15,16) and if we are faithful to the Gospel message we will suffer persecution, it is inescapable.

Jesus did not worry about alienating people. After telling the crowd following Him one day that His flesh was food and His blood was drink and if they ate His flesh and drank His blood they would have eternal life, the crowd was upset at His words and Jesus said to them “Doth this offend you?” (John 6:60). The end result of His teaching was that those following Him left Him (John 6:66) and Jesus facing the twelve says “will ye also go away?” “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Jesus spoke the truth in love and then He lets the “chips” fall where they may. Osteen needs to take a lesson from our Master and quit trying to please everyone because the result always ends in compromising the truth. I will try to believe the best concerning his apology and I do sincerely hope he does us this as a learning experience as he stated in the close of his letter. You can read his letter of apology at his web site: http://www.Joelosteen.com it was up there at the beginning of the month I do not know how long it will remain there. ♦

Copyright © 2005   Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 





OSTEEN’S IGNORANCE

13 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – August 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 8 – Osteen’s Ignorance by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

OSTEEN’S IGNORANCE

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If there has been one article on our website which has drawn the most criticism is the reprint of “The Leaven of Lakewood.” DMI has received numerous emails from people who believe Joel Osteen is truly one of God’s most anointed servants and a force for good within the Church and world.

Almost all of the complaints and demands for us to take down that article seem to focus on my concern over his lack of theological training. Many people simply cannot see the need to go to seminary in order to be a pastor of a church. The following comments are taken from an interview given on Larry King June 20, 2005. I will let Joel speak for himself and you, the reader, be the Judge whether or not a formal biblical education is of benefit to someone who serves as “pastor” of the largest congregation in America. My comments will be in (Blue) King and Osteen’s will be in (Black type) I have tried to tie the salient points of the interview together, which at best can be described as a stream of consciousness on both King’s and Osteen’s part.

Regarding Sacred Ministry

On Preaching/Pastoring

King: Why are you a Preacher?

Osteen….He tried to get me to minister, I didn’t have it in me…But when my father died, I knew—-I don’t know how to explain it, it sounds kind of odd, but I just knew down in here I was supposed to step up to the plate and pastor the church. And it was odd because I had never preached before.

I do not doubt that one can have a second calling in life and become a pastor after having a career in some other field. However, most men who are engaged in pastoral ministry will almost universally tell you that they always “know” serving as a pastor was what God had for them. In his Charisma interview Joel told the readers that he never wanted to be a pastor/preacher. In fact when his father told him to preach his first message on a Sunday evening, Joel refused at first, then eventually got up and told some stories and found out he liked it and off he went.

Regarding Seminary

King: You didn’t go to seminary?

Osteen: No sir, I didn’t

King: They can just make you a minister?

Osteen: You can, You can.

King: That’s kind of an easy way in.

Osteen: Yeah, but I think it happens more than you think. But I didn’t go to seminary. I have a lot of great friends that did. But I didn’t. But I did study 17 years under my dad.

Sadly, Joel is correct when he says “it happens more then you think.” regarding people leading congregations without any formal education or training whatsoever. Almost every independent charismatic congregation’s pulpit is filled with a man or woman who has little or no accredited biblical education.

The extent of Joel’s education consists of what he was able to gleam from his father’s heretical Word of Faith cultic teachings and those of the other WOF heretics John Osteen had as regular guests in the pulpit at Lakewood Church. Joel has little or no concept of Church History; Systematic Theology; Hermeneutics; Expository Preaching; the Greek and Hebrew languages; Pastoral Counseling, etc…I refer back to his interview in Charisma when he stated that he does not teach theology because the people are really not interested in it! He is the epitome of the blind leading the blind. What little he knows comes from a polluted stream of charismatic extremism, theosophy, and positive thinking. What is sad is that the people who come to hear him do not demand more than pleasant platitudes. The mob welcomes his feel-good message since it in no way points out their shortcomings before a holy God.

Law and Gospel

Regarding Theology

King:….But when the people call you cotton candy theology. Someone said you’re very good but there is no spiritual nourishment. I don’t know what that means….,

Osteen: I think I hear it meaning a lot of different things. One I think a lot of it is that I’m not condemning people

I could have told Larry King what people (like me and others) mean by that statement. We mean that Joel offers people no genuine spiritual “meat” but only gives them spiritual Twinkies. Yes, Joel is engaging; he smiles a lot and is upbeat. Those are good characteristics to have as a public speaker; however they have absolutely nothing to do with the truth of God’s Word.

Joel equates the criticism he receives regarding the abysmal lack of theological content in his message from other ministers to the fact that he is not “condemning people.” This means that Joel does not present the law of God to the people in his messages. The law magnifies God’s perfection, shows forth His righteous standard, and convicts us all of our lack of ability in and of ourselves to fulfill His requirements. This is called the second use of the Law in Evangelical theology “God’s law exposes the really of human sinfulness.

In Latin that was ‘usus theologicus,’ the law’s role in ‘driving us to Christ.” (1) In Joel’s mind he is taking the moral high ground by not “condemning” people. The reality is just the opposite. He is failing to carry out his sacred trust as a pastor by not showing them their desperately sinful condition by presenting the fullness of God’s Word to them. He is doing a grave disservice to the 30,000 people who listen to him at Lakewood and untold multitudes that hear him on television or read his best selling books.

Because Osteen refuses to preach the Law his presentation of the Gospel is anemic at best and not a gospel message at all at its worst. Any sound preaching will present both Law and Gospel in its content.

This difference between the Law and the Gospel is the height of knowledge in Christendom. Every person and all persons who assume or glory in the name of Christian should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew, of such supreme importance is this differentiation. This is why St. Paul so strongly insists on a clean-cut and proper differentiating of these two doctrines. (2)

The other word of God is not Law or commandment, nor does it require anything of us; but after the first Word, that of the Law, has done this work and distressful misery and poverty have been produced in the heart, God comes and offers his lovely living Word, and promises, pledges, and obligates himself to give grace and help, that we may get out of this misery and that all sins not only be forgiven but also blotted out and that love and delight to fulfill the law may be given besides. See, this divine promise of his grace and of the forgiveness of his is properly called Gospel. And I say again and yet again that you should never understand Gospel to mean anything but the divine promise of his grace and of the forgiveness of sin. For this is why hitherto St. Paul’s epistles were not understood and cannot be understood by our adversaries even now, they do not know what Law and Gospel really are. For they consider Christ a Legislator and the Gospel nothing but the teaching of new laws. This is nothing else but locking up the gospel and obscuring everything. For “Gospel” is Greek and means, “good news,” because in it is proclaimed the saving doctrine of life, of the divine promise, and grace and the forgiveness of sins are offered. Therefore works do not belong to the gospel; for it is not laws but faith alone, because it is nothing whatever but the promise and offer of divine grace. He then, who believes the Gospel and receives grace and the Holy Spirit. Thereby the heart becomes glad and joyful in God and then keeps the Law gladly and freely, without the fear of punishment and without the expectation of reward; for it is sated and satisfied with that grace of God by which the law has been satisfied. (3)

Joel Is A Confused Semi-Pelagian

King: Don’t you ever doubt?

Osteen: No I don’t —- I wouldn’t say that I do. I guess I do and don’t think about it too much.

I’m not trying to be too nit-picky but Joel throughout the interview is constantly contradicting himself. King asks if he ever has doubts regarding spiritual matters. Joel immediately says “no” I don’t “ then he contradicts himself in his next sentence by saying that he guesses he does have doubts at times but that he does not think about it too much.

In the real world it is perfectly normal to have some doubts and questions regarding God’s plan at times. These doubts and questions are part of our fallen nature and they should drive us deeper into God’s Word to seek answers for them. But in the fantasy world of the Word of Faith cult we (and Joel) were taught to  in Kenneth Hagin’s words “doubt our doubts.” Doubt to the cultist is a sign of a lack of faith versus a lack of understanding and any doubt will cut off the blesings of God in their minds.

King:   Well, 9/11

Osteen: Well, yeah,

King:  Didn’t you say what? Why?

Osteen:  You do. You definitely do.

King: And how do you answer?

Osteen: To me it comes back and God’s given us all our own free will. And it’s a shame but people choose….

King: The people in the building didn’t have free will.

Osteen: But the thing is, people can choose to do evil with that will. And that’s unfortunate. But you know, of course you always doubt, I mean, you have to override it.

Since 9/11 Larry King has asked this type of question to every preacher he has had on his show. Billy Graham gave about the same response as Osteen did. King’s real issue is that of the problem of the existence of evil and why do people sin. This is very obvious when you consider his interviews with Graham, Pat Boone, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Robert Schuller, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, etc. None of these people have given King a solid biblical answer. The question has a “simple” answer with exceedingly deep ramifications. The answer is: Due to Adam and Eve’s sin all humanity exists in a fallen condition. We are by nature sinners who love the darkness and hate the light. In the language of the Reformers, we are totally depraved. (4)

Due to Joel’s lack of a biblical education he does not understand that mankind does not have ‘free will’ in the way he conceives of it. Man is not totally free in his choices (to believe humanity is totally free is to follow the heresy of Pelagius). After the fall his will is bound to sin (read all of Romans Chapter 7). A great book to read on this subject is Dr. Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will. Joel fails to understand that man is indeed free to choose evil, but he is not equally free to choose to do God’s will apart from the enabling grace of God given through Christ Jesus. Note that Joel slips up and admits (again) that “you always doubt,” but he quickly recovered by saying “I mean, you have to override it.”

On Moral Issues

King: How about issues that the Church has feelings about? Abortion? Same-sex marriages?

Osteen: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don’t go there. I just….

King: You have thoughts, though.

Osteen:  I have thoughts. I just you know, I don’t think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don’t think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I’m not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open to everybody.

Even though the Bible speaks very plainly about these two issues and condemns them as sinful Mr. Osteen simply does not go there when he addresses his congregation and the multitudes on television. Personally he does not believe that same-sex marriage the plan for God, but he apparently lacks sufficient conviction to share his beliefs, which I hope are based on a biblical world-view with his followers. He lacks the same moral fiber concerning abortion. It is poor leadership not to biblically address the tough moral problems in our society. Frankly, we are in the condition we are in because good men kept silent while the plague of immorality grew in our midst.

I agree with Osteen that our role as pastors and Christians is not to condemn people who are homosexuals or women who have had abortions. We are however, to make them acutely aware of what God position is on these issues and the pardon He offers by grace alone in His Son.

King: You don’t call them sinners?

Osteen: I don’t use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don’t ….So I don’t go down the road of condemning.

Jesus called people sinners and taught a great deal about sin. He used the word and concept quite a bit (as do all the biblical writers). Calling someone a “sinner” is not condemning them necessarily it is a statement of fact. We are all sinners in need of the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. To neglect to tell the lost of their condition before God is to send them happily on their way to hell. One caller did challenge Joel regarding salvation by asking if Joel believed that Jesus Christ was the only way to the father. Osteen replied “Yes I would agree with her.” (I’ve combined Osteen’s comments regarding salvation).

King: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?

Osteen: No. Here’s my thing, Larry, is I can’t judge somebody’s heart. You know? Only god can look at somebody’s heart, and so— I don’t know. To me, It’s not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn’t. I just say, here’s what the bible teaches and I’m going to put my faith in Christ.

King: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept at all?

Osteen: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven, I don’t know…

King: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?

Osteen: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong…I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

I hope from these statements you can see the dire need for a sound seminary education. Here Osteen is on a global television show and he either cannot, because he does not know, or will not give a clear message regarding salvation in Christ and in Him alone.

Joel cannot have it both ways. Either Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by Him or He isn’t the only way. This is a very confused young man with seemingly no convictions concerning the unique claims that Christ made concerning Himself. All Joel had to do was quote for Mr. King the following text and let the chips fall where they may.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.   John 3:15-18

Osteen: “But I know they love God.”

Oh really, then I guess the Holy Spirit was wrong when He had Paul cite Isaiah. 41: 6 in his letter to the Romans. As it is written, There is none righteous, no ont one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood ; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace have they not known; There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10-18

Love God, the natural unconverted man is at enmity with the God of the Bible, which Joel should know and not be ashamed to state clearly. Joel sounds very much like a man who is actually ashamed of the Gospel. When he could be speaking words of life to untold millions of viewers, he balks and refuses to stand up for the truth for the sake of the approval of fallen men. What a shame indeed.

Giving

King: I love to give.

Osteen: I know.

King: Giving is selfish. You get a great reward.

Osteen: I know, you really do. That’s what life is all about. We were not made to be ingrown. I believe, maybe I’m off.

King does give to many charitable works and stated in the interview that according to the Talmud giving is the greatest thing. King admits that he gives out of a selfish motivation, in giving he receives a great reward. Osteen agrees that giving is selfish! There are blessings in giving true enough. I will go as far as to say God does indeed reward our giving, but not in the manner the prosperity pimps teach. Joel did correctly state a little earlier in the interview that giving is the “whole spirit of Christianity.” Please keep in mind that Mr. Osteen is a multi-millionaire and that Lakewood Church receives millions of dollars a year in offerings. Osteen would agree that we “live to give” and with his millions of dollars personally and congregationally the next comments strike me as particularly troubling:

“Fontana, California Hello: Caller: Yes — Joel?

Osteen: Yes.

Caller: I have a question for you. We’re a small congregational church here and we’d like to come and see you next month, but you charge to get in and we’re a very poor congregation. Why do you charge to get in to your appearances?

Osteen: Yes. The only reason we charge—- I hated to charge. The only we charge….

King: Do you charge at the church?

Osteen: No, no never. Never.

King: When you travel?

Osteen: Yes. The only reason we did it is because when we went to New York Madison Square Garden they wouldn’t let us do an event without doing a ticketed event because of the crowds. We sold it out two nights and we turned so many people away in Anaheim and Atlanta, it was just a shame to do that.

When I was viewing the interview I had the exact same question. Osteen’s response was very feeble and dishonest. Billy Graham has held crusades at Madison Square Garden and never charged an admission, how come they “made” Joel charge one? All that Osteen had to do was simply pay the rental fee for the Garden and give away the tickets until the venue was filled. Even Benny Hinn, as money grubbing as he is has never charged for a miracle crusade! What is more after people pay the fee to listen to Joel he has a multitude of tables set up inside of each venue selling his books, tapes and CD’s. So Joel is not only guaranteed a dollar amount per seat, he makes additional money from the sales of his materials on top of it. Whatever happened to holding an event and asking for a donation from those in attendance? If they wish to purchase his materials on the way out then fine and dandy. (5)

Joel:  Hey, you know, you need to write the church, because we’ll make a way that anybody can get in to those events. I don’t like charging.

King: What do you charge?

Osteen: $10.00

I am glad to hear that if one writes Lakewood Church Joel has promised to make a way for anybody to get in. I plan to write them because he is coming to Detroit and I will not pay a cent to hear him or anyone preachMy question is if Joel does not like charging, then why does he do it? Who is running the ship? It is not a question of money, he has enough money personally to bankroll the events and charge nothing at all. I am also curious to know where the proceeds go. Does the profit go to Osteen personally? Does it go to Lakewood Church?

The arena at Madison Square Garden seats 19, 522 people, at $10.00 a person that equals $195,220 per evening. Multiply this by two sold-out evenings you have $390,440, plus add in additional merchandise revenue. So in two evenings Osteen took in around half a million dollars. When he comes to the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mi. we have a seating capacity of 22,076, assuming he sells out this venue (minus the cost of my ticket) he will make a little over a quarter of a million dollars. He has 20 events scheduled for 2005. At a minimum Osteen will take in somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million dollars in appearances alone. When you add this amount to his undoubtedly large salary as senior pastor at Lakewood, plus the income from his best selling books along with the accompanying ‘Journal’ you can understand why Joel is always smiling… smiling all the way to the bank.

I would like to believe Joel is sincere and as down to earth as he attempts to be on television. Yet I am beginning to have my doubts about his sincerity as I begin to do the math and see the marketing. I have always been concerned over his lack of a sound biblical message, but now I am beginning to believe he is just another charismatic star, getting as much money out of sign-seeking people as fast as he can before the next superstar eclipses him. He is a young man and there is time for him to repent and obtain the pastoral training he so desperately needs. He might even wake up one day and see the poverty and suffering of his brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and begin to divest himself of his millions and actually live to give to those in need. Well at least that is my prayer for Mr. Osteen. I will keep you apprised of what happens regarding my ticket request or any other insights regarding the man with America’s largest congregation. ♦ 

Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow

scanosteenbook20050001

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.crossings.org/thursday/Thur121803.htm

2. Luther, Martin, sermon on Galatians in 1532. Underlining added.

3. Luther, Martin, Luther’s Works, Saint Louis edition, 11:81ff. Underlining added.

4. DMI offers a very good CD entitled “Total Depravity” taught by Rev. Liichow and it is available from DMI for $5.00 plus 1.00 for shipping and handling.

5. DMI has no problem with Joel or anyone selling their books or materials at a fair price. There are legitimate costs in production, time and marketing. It is completely another issue to “charge” people to hear one “preach” a message.

As of 08-0105 you could obtain the entire transcript of Osteen’s interview at

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/1k1.01





Sacred Cow Number Three – Jesus Died Spiritually

1 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – Vol. 10 Issue 4 – April 2005 – Sacred Cow Number Three – Jesus Died Spiritually – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Sacred Cow Number Three – Jesus Died Spiritually

(see also special note at the end of article)scancow20050001

 The problem with doctrinal error is that when it is left unchecked, like leaven in bread, it spreads and expands into further deeper errors; which is why our Lord warned us:

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees….Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Matthew 16:6,12

This is especially true of the Word of Faith (WOF) cult and their heretical stance regarding the Person of Jesus Christ. From their error concerning His humanity and deity the gyre of error widens and now must include the atonement for our sins by Jesus.

Last month Truth Matters examined the WOF belief that Jesus ministered only as a man while on earth, albeit a man anointed with the Holy Spirit. The Word of Faith (WOF) cult so divided His divine from human nature that, according to their belief, Jesus never operated as God from His divinity. This is an ancient heretical view taught chiefly by Nestorians, and is condemned as a damnable doctrine by various Church Councils, especially that of Chalcedon.

Since God had given Adam complete dominion over the earth and he in turn gave it over to Satan, Satan became the “god” of this world. In order to exercise any legal authority here one must have a physical body and be a human being, which is why Christ came in the flesh. So, according to the cultists, He could battle Satan as a man, just as the first Adam had done (and lost). This second Adam hopefully would be victorious where the first Adam failed. This time the battle ground was not in the Garden of Eden, but at the cross and beyond it into the bowels of hell itself. Let me allow E.W. Kenyon to explain his view:

Jesus the Sinner Man

“The Revelation that Paul received in II Corinthians 5:21 is that God actually made Him to become sins for us. he not only bore our sins, but the sin-nature itself was laid upon Him, until He became all that spiritual death had made man…1Timothy 3:16 reveals that Christ was justified in Spirit. He in identification, had become so utterly one with us that He Himself needed justification when man’s penalty was paid. The next step in Redemption was that He who had been made sin be begotten of God…Jesus Christ, when man’s penalty has been paid, had to be born of God and pass from death into life just as man, because He had become identified with our Spiritual Death. After Christ has been justified in spirit and born of God, He conquered Satan as a man. It is evident that Satan tried to hold Christ within his authority. Satan did hold Christ until God could declare man righteous.” (1)

He is the first born out of spiritual death, the first person who was ever born again…His spirit absolutely became impregnated with the sin nature of the world…Christ did not have sin reckoned to Him. He was made to be sin….This is a remarkable fact, that Jesus was born again before He was raised from the dead…Jesus, after He had been justified and made alive in the spirit, became Satan’s master. And ‘having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it’ (Col. 2:15). It is more graphic in a marginal rendering. ‘Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers (It would seem as though the whole hosts of hell were upon him he was going through agonies beyond words, and suddenly is justified, made alive) ‘He hurls back the hosts of darkness’….He had conquered Satan. He had stripped him of his authority. Keys represent authority. Jesus was master of all hell. He did not conquer Satan for Himself. Jesus conquered Satan for us, for you and for me. (2)

Every WOF teacher proclaims this message regarding the atonement and it is nothing less than damnable blasphemy. According to Kenyon’s doctrine (which is parroted by Copeland, Meyer, Price, Capps, Butler, Tilton, Savelle, Duplantis, Dollar, et al.) Jesus did not bear our sins on the cross. He became an actual sinner. As any sinner, He needed to be regenerated spiritually (born-again) by God, which according to Kenyon this is what happened in hell.

Kenneth Copeland has popularized Kenyon’s heresy to such a degree he did a tape series entitled “What Happened From the Cross to the Throne” which is the exact title of one of Kenyon’s more “popular” books. The book and tape series are available in may non-discerning Christian bookstores.

Now here’s the part I want you to get When He said, “It is finished,” on that cross he was not speaking of the plan of redemption — the plan of redemption had just begun. There were still three days and three nights to be gone through before He went to the throne…See, you have to realize that He (Jesus) died; you have to realize that He went into the pit of hell as a mortal man made sin. But He didn’t stay there, thank God. He was reborn in the pit of hell and resurrected…The righteousness of God was made to be sin.

He (Jesus) accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit and at the moment that He did that He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? You don’t know what happened at the cross. Why do you think Moses, obeying the instruction of God, hung the serpent up on the pole instead of a lamb? That used to bug me. I said, “Why in the world would you want to put a snake up there the sign of Satan? Why didn’t you put a lamb on that pole.” And the Lord said, “Because it was the sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross.” He said, “I accepted in my own spirit spiritual death and the light was turned off.”    (3)

“It wasn’t a physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin…anybody can do that.    (4)

“It is finished” obviously does not mean that, now we have “greater light” on the true meaning of Jesus’ words. Christ did not win redemption for sinful humanity on the cross. NO! The human sinful man Jesus in hell won it for us after being tormented by Satan and his demons for 3 days! Lest no one thinks Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest congregation in America, is not a WOF heretic, at least regarding this most central tenant of our faith simply read the statement below from one of his sermons:

“The Bible indicates that for three days, Jesus went into the very depths of hell. Right into the enemy’s own territory. And He did battle with Satan face to face. Can you imagine what a show down that was?    (5)

Joel Osteen is on record stating in Charisma magazine that “people aren’t interested in theology.” Which unfortunately is true and sets them up to believe such utter nonsense as Osteen is cited spewing.

Kenneth Hagin’s (6) “son in the Gospel,“ Fred Price (raised a Jehovah Witness), pastor of the mega-church, Crenshaw Christian Center in California, teaches the same heresy:

Price explains  “Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God…Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had Him bound. And they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence.     (7)

I do not want to be remiss and leave out one of America’s most popular female Bible “teachers” Joyce Meyer, on this subject since she is equally dogmatic in her assertions:

“Jesus said ‘It is finished.’ And He meant the Old Covenant. The job He had to do was just getting started. He really did the job the three days and nights that He was in hell. That’s where the job was done. He was pronounced guilty on the cross but He paid the price in hell. (8)

“There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place in hell. (9)

I could cite five or ten other televised WOF preachers, but they would all be saying the same thing. Sadly, to our knowledge none of these media stars has ever recanted their heretical views concerning Christ Jesus and His atoning death on the cross. Nor have any of them repented of their biblical inaccuracies regarding His nature as both God and man.

Did Jesus Atone For Our Sins, As a Sinner in Hell?

To begin with, the WOF cult faith has resurrected a concept of the atonement that was deemed heretical by the Church. The “ransom theory” of the atonement taught that Jesus died to buy mankind back from Satan

Remember that in the March issue of Truth Matters, I discussed the WOF view on how Adam gave Satan his authority in the fall, thus making Satan the “god” of this world. In their belief system, God had to buy back mankind, who, due to Adam’s sin were the property of Satan. Charles Hodge, the Reformed theologian gives us a good understanding of this concept:

The [theory] appeals to the old principle of the rights of war, according to which the conquered became the slaves of the conqueror. Satan conquered Adam, and thus became the rightful owner of him and his posterity. Hence he is called the god and prince of this world. To deliver men from this dreadful bondage, Christ offered Himself as a ransom to Satan. Satan accepted the offer, and renounced his right to retain mankind as his slaves. In answer to the question, How Satan could accept Christ as the ransom for men, if he knew Him to be a divine person? It was said that he did not know Him to be divine, because His divinity was veiled by His humanity. (10)

There are at least four reasons why the ransom theory was later rejected by the Church. First, Satan has no claim on the lost per se, they are not his property which have to be purchased by Christ’s death. Secondly, Satan is not the one who must be satisfied by the sacrifice before sinners can be redeemed.

Thirdly, in the Bible the Greek work for ransom simply means “redemption-price”, it does not necessarily imply a price paid to Satan. Fourthly, The Bible plainly teaches that Christ’s atonement was a sacrifice to God (read Eph. 5:2 and Isaiah. 53:10). So their initial premise is wrong and thus everything that springs from it equally wrong.

This WOF teaches that when Jesus said “it is finished” He was not referring to His atoning death (read John 19:20). They teach that what He meant was that the Abrahamic covenant was finished, redemption was yet to be completed. Jesus at this point, a sinner, had to be dragged into hell by demonic forces and suffer being tormented by Satan and demons for three days.

To begin with, Jesus was not a sinner. How can God ever sin? If He did then He would cease to be God and Jesus never ceased being God as we examined in last month’s issue. WOF heretics misinterpret 2 Cor. 5:21. Here is what A.T. Robertson, Greek scholar has to say regarding that text:

2 Cor 5:21Him who knew no sin. Definite claim by Paul that Jesus did not commit sin, had no personal acquaintance with it. Jesus made this claim for himself (John 8:46). This statement occurs also in 1 Peter 2:22; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1 John 3:5. Christ was and is “a moral miracle” (Bernard) and so more than mere man. He made to be sin  The words “to be” are not in the Greek. “Sin” here is the substantive, not the verb. God “treated as sin” the one “who knew no sin.” But he knew the contradiction of sinners (Heb 12:3). We may not dare to probe too far into the mystery of Christ’s suffering on the Cross, but this fact throws some light on the tragic cry of Jesus just before he died: “My God, My God, why didst thou forsake me?” (Mt. 27:46). That we might become Note “become.” This is God’s purpose in what he did and in what Christ did. Thus alone can we obtain God’s righteousness (Ro 1:17). (11)

Jesus bore our sins, God the Father poured out His wrath on the Lamb of God who took our place on the cross. When Jesus said “it is finished” He was directly referring to His atoning death for the sins of the world.

Next, we have no evidence of Satan or demons dragging this “man” whose nature was now united with Satan’s into hell to be tormented. Satan is not currently in hell, he does not rule hell nor do his demon hosts. There is not one text which shows Satan as a ruler in hell. His followers will be cast into the lake of fire (read Rev. 19:20) and he himself will be cast into the bottomless pit (Rev. 19:2) but that has not yet happened. The only fallen angels/demons who are in “hell” are those who were locked up, imprisoned by God—

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. {first estate: or, principality}. Jude 1:6

The Bible teaches us that our sins were atoned for by Jesus on the cross, not in hell. There is not one scintilla of biblical evidence to support what the WOF teaching, in fact, quite the opposite is true:

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

When Kenyon cites this text he teaches that these events took place in hell by conveniently leaving out the rest of verse 15 “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” A better translation of this text would be triumphing over them on it. Either way “in it” or “on it” directly refers to the work done by Jesus on the cross. Kenyon and his followers simply ignore verse 14 where it states that all our sins against God’s holy law ere taken away by Jesus on the cross. A.T. Robertson says the following about verse 14:

And he hath taken it out of the way (perfect active indicative of airw, old and common verb, to lift up, to bear, to take away. The word used by the Baptist of Jesus as “the Lamb of God that bears away (airwn) the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The perfect tense emphasizes the permanence of the removal of the bond which has been paid and cancelled and cannot be presented again. “When Christ was crucified, God nailed the Law to His cross” (Peake). Hence the “bond” is cancelled for us. (13)

The Apostle Paul further states to the Church at Galatia that it was on the cross where Jesus became a curse for us:

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Gal. 3:13.

If the work of redemption took place in hell then why don’t any of the biblical authors state this? For that matter why don’t any of their followers (the early church fathers) write about this? It really is not until E.W. Kenyon comes along with his blasphemous theory which has never been supported by the Christian Church since inception.

We do confess in the Apostles Creed that “He descended into hell,” but that does not refer to His atoning work not being finished. Let me quote Crenshaw on this matter:

There are good exegetical reasons to reject the idea that He literally went to hell. First, in Luke 22:42, 43 we read “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ “ The Lord said that the thief would be with Him that very day in heaven, not in hell. That Paradise means heaven is seen from Paul’s statement when he speaks of the “third heaven” and “Paradise” as synonymous (2 Cor. 12:2-4)….Furthermore in Luke 223:46 the Lord said: “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father into Your hands I commend My spirit.’ And having said this, He breathed His last.” He did not commit His spirit to Hades or to the devil…A correct understanding of Peter’s use of David’s words, “You will not leave my soul in Hades…(Acts 2:27), is necessary. Hades here does not mean the fire but the grave. The early church understood it to be the grave. Also, “Hades” sometimes mean the grave (1 Cor. 15:56). Peter used the word to speak of the bodily resurrection of Christ, proving from the Old Testament tht Messiah would rise from the dead (see v. 30), the dead being those who are in graves, not in hell. (14)

There is an in-house debate among genuine Christians regarding what the Apostles Creed means in this statement. Another view is that Jesus did descend into hell victorious and proclaim His victory to those “spirits in prison” (read I Peter 3:18). In this view Jesus is in Abraham’s bosom and in this upper portion proclaims that redemption is complete and at His ascension He took the waiting believers with Him to heaven. This is the position I believe, but I cite Crenshaw to give you a better understanding of what Christians believe regarding this matter.

Jesus the First “Born-Again” Man?

As I quoted from Copeland’s tape series earlier in this article it is the standard belief among the teachers of WOF that Jesus, as a born-again man defeated Satan in his own domain. Their favorite proof text they cite is found in Hebrews:

For to which of the angels did God even say, “You are my Son today I have become your Father”?  {5 Or have begotten you}  (5 Psalm 2:7) Or again, “I will be his Father and he will be my Son”? (5 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13} And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” {6 Deut. 32:43 (see Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint} Hebrews 1:5,6

They interpret this text to mean that at some point God the Son ceased to be God, His human nature being completely torn away from His divine nature, leaving Jesus as only a man in hell and that once Jesus was spiritually re-born (in hell) then “again” the heavenly Father say “and He will be my Son.”

Furthermore they teach that when Jesus was reborn and took the keys of death, hell and the grave from Satan (in hell) and ascends back to the earth and is physically resurrected that is when God “brings his firstborn into the world.” That is the teaching of the WOF cult regarding this text in Hebrews.

Is this the correct interpretation? The WOF preachers miss the point of this text altogether, most likely because their house of cards needs to be shored up by some biblical citation, even if it is taken out of context.

In Hebrews 1:5 His deity comes to the forefront as He is presented as the exalted Son whom the angels are to worship. He is exalted in that He came into the world as the “firstborn,” the preeminent one. Jesus is “begotten” to this relationship with the Father, that is, recognized. The Father is not making Him God or giving Him something new regarding His deity but is not making Him God or giving Him something new regarding His deity but only recognizing what He is: son, begotten firstborn, and God…The today’ has no particular reference and the “begotten” is simply recognition that Jesus is the “Son, the Begotten, the Firstborn, and God” (Heb. 1:5-8). Again the context militates against the idea that He was morally born again. (15)

Crenshaw’s statement is very clear and A.T. Robertson’s comments on these verses also shed light on their true meaning and context:

Heb 1:5 – Unto which , “To which individual angel.” As a class angels are called sons of God (Elohim) (Ps. 29:1), but no single angel is called God’s Son like the Messiah in Ps. 2:7. Dods takes “have I begotten thee”, perfect active indicative of , to refer to the resurrection and ascension while others refer it to the incarnation. And again. This quotation is from 2 Sa. 7:14. Note the use of the predicate with the sense of “as” like the Hebrew (LXX idiom), not preserved in the English. See Mt. 19:5; Lu 2:34. Like Old English “to” or “For” See 2 Co 6:18; Re 21:7 for the same passage applied to relation between God and Christians while here it is treated as Messianic.

Heb 1:6 – And when he again bringeth in. Indefinite temporal clause with , the reference is to the Second Coming as in 9:28. It merely introduces another quotation (Ps. 97:7) parallel to; in verse 5, the reference is to the incarnation when the angels did worship the Child Jesus (Lu 2:13f.). There is no way to decide certainly about it. The first-born See Ps. 89:28. For this compound adjective applied to Christ in relation to the universe see Col. 1:15, to other men, Ro 8:29; Col 1:18 to the other children of Mary, Lu 2:7; here it is used absolutely. The world  “The inhabited earth.  See Ac 17:6 Let worship Imperative first aorist active third plural of here in the full sense of worship, not mere reverence or courtesy. This quotation is from the LXX MSS. (except F) have , but the substance does occur also in Ps. 97:7

The grammar is very clear as is the obvious meaning, the author of Hebrews was not referring to God the Father giving birth or reestablishing Jesus as God the Son. The WOF stresses the two words “again” in the verse in a vain attempt to prove their blasphemous doctrine regarding the atonement.

In putting a very sharp fork into this sacred cow, because it is finished, let’s be very clear that our Lord Jesus paid for the penalty of our sins by bearing them (not becoming a sinner) on the cross and certainly not in hell as a born-again man. This is one of the most damnable of the WOF sacred cows which demands cremation and then a scattering of its ashes over the grave of E.W. Kenyon.   ♦

Copyright ©  2005  Robert S. Liichow

 ** A SPECIAL NOTE CONCERNING THIS ARTICLE:

In writing about this “sacred cow” I used strong language such as “damnable heresy,” and “blasphemy.” It is important for you, the reader, to understand that when it comes to the nature of Christ and His atoning work on the cross it is essential that we have the correct biblical understanding. The WOF cult is wrong to such a degree that those believing what they teach concerning Jesus and His work on the cross cannot be considered Christians. This is no small issue. It is the center of the Gospel. You get this wrong then all that flows from that error leads one only into further darkness.

I am not saying that everyone who attends a WOF “church” is unsaved, only the Lord knows those who are truly His. Yet I do tremble with godly fear fro those who persistently teach such blasphemy even after being warned of their errors on several occasions by various ministers, including DMI.

Please pray for these teachers. They hold sway over millions of professing believers. Ask our Lord in His mercy to open their eyes and grant them repentance and the humility to publicly admit and recant their former doctrines.

________________________________________

End Notes

1. Kenyon, E.W. The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption Old Tappen, NJ 1969, pp. 165, 166,167. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

2. Kenyon, E.W. what Happened from the Cross to the Throne, Old Tappen, NJ, 1969, pp. 63,64,65. The reason for all of the ellipses is for the sake of space. You can find Kenyon’s book in almost any ‘Christian’ bookstore and read it for yourself, but what I have cited carries his main thought regarding the atonement of Christ. Bold type and underlining added.

3. Copeland, Kenneth. What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, side two of cassette one. Underlining added.

4. Copeland, Kenneth. What Satan Saw on the Day of Pentecost, audiotape #BCC-19, side 1.

5. Osteen, Joel. Sermon, CS-002 – April 23, 2000, “The Truth of The Resurrection.”

6. Kenneth Hagin senior, considered by many to be the “father” of the Word of Faith died recently. Sadly his legacy of error continues through his son and grandson, not to mention the several thousand graduates of his legacy of error continues through his son and grandson, not to mention the several thousand graduates of Hagin’s “Bible” school, Rhema Bible Training Center.

7. Ever Increasing Faith Messenger [June 1980] 7; quoted in D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel, 1988 120.

8. Meyer, Joyce. From the Cross to the Throne. Quote obtained from http://www.myfortress.org/DidJesusPayForOurSinsInHell.html Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

9. Meyer, Joyce. The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make. Pg. 37, 1991 edition. To DMI’s knowledge Joyce has not redacted her booklet which is given away to people who want to get “born-again.” In her mind if they do not accept the sinful man Jesus redeeming us then there can be no hope of them going to heaven! Pretty amazing when you consider that the Orthodox Christian Church has never taught such a doctrine nor accepted any aspects of what the WOF presents as the atonement.

10. Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theolgy vol. 2 pg. 564.

11. Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures, BibleWorks software ver. 4.0, 1999

12. Mary K. Baxter wrote a bestselling book which alleges she visited hell on 40 occasions with Jesus. In her book “The Divine Revelation of Hell” she shows Satan and demons ruling and reigning in hell tormented the damned. It is pure nonsense and contradicts the Bible on almost every page, yet has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and now is in something like 30 different languages!

13. Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures, BibleWorks software, ver. 4.0 1999

14. Crenshaw, Curtis. Man as God Foot Stool Publication, pp. 431,442, 1994.

15. Ibid. pp. 333-323. Underlining added.

16. Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures, BibleWorks software, vr. 4.0, 199.





Sola Scriptura

17 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – December 2004 – Sola Scriptura – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The Cambridge Declaration

THESIS ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURAscantri20040001

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

The above statement is a good reaffirmation of what was originally voiced by Dr. Martin Luther when he, as a Roman Catholic monk, stood before the governing authorities of the Church. The following is a brief summation of that encounter:

Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church and father of the Protestant reformation, was publicly rebuking the Catholic Church for its unbiblical teachings. The Catholic Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication (and death) if he did not recant. Martin Luther’s reply was “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning – unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, – and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!” (1)

What Luther and the reformers who followed his lead were saying was that Holy Scripture alone was the only true and infallible guide for all Christian’s faith and practice. Furthermore, that any traditions within the Church had to have their basis within the context of the Scriptures. Traditions are valid only when they are based on Scripture and are in full agreement with Scripture. Tradition that are in contradiction with the Bible are not of God and are not a valid aspect of the Christian faith. (2)

The Reformation was at its core a fight to get back to the Bible and discard a plethora of manmade doctrines and traditions which had been increasing over the years in the Church. At this point it is helpful to begin by defining our terms so that we understand how the following term “doctrine” is being used.

The word “doctrine” in the Greek is: {did-akh-ay’} Meaning 1) teaching 1a) that which is taught 1b) doctrine, teaching, concerning something 2) the act of teaching instruction 2a) in religious assemblies of the Christians, to speak in the way of teaching, in distinction from other modes of speaking in public. (3)

Doctrine simply means “teaching.”  The question before us is what is the source of the teaching we are adhering to? It is important for us to always remember that according to the Bible there are only three sources of doctrine impacting our lives at any time. Hopefully we are building our lives on the doctrine of God.

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,   Hebrew 6:1

Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Titus 2:10

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9

The Bible speaks much of the doctrine of God and of Christ (who is God) and this doctrine is found only within the pages of the Bible, it is not found outside of the Scriptures themselves. As Christians we have no other authoritative source that we can point to and say “this is the Word of the Lord.” The Bible also speaks of the doctrine of men. In the following citation we read of our Lord rebuking the religious leaders of His day:

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to [his] father or [his] mother, [it is] a gift, by whatsoever ever thou mightiest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, [he shall be free]. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:4-9

Manmade religious tradition will always supersede the authority of God’s commandments, it is simply part of our fallen nature to attempt to exalt ourselves above God. Manmade teachings and practices may seem religious and appear to promote the worship of God but this is simply not the case. Jesus reminds the religious leaders and the crowd surrounding him of what the prophet Isaiah said regarding people who attempt to draw near to God with their mouths and endeavor to honor God with their lips, yet their hearts are far from Him! The Apostle Paul addressed the same issue of the danger of false manmade doctrine in his letter to the Church at Colosse:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ… Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Colossians 2:8, 20-22

From the inception of the Church, various false teachers, false prophets and false apostles have tried to supplant the authority of Scripture by adding their own teachings and practices in an attempt to gain power over the spiritual lives of God’s people and to destroy the foundational doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

There is yet one more source of doctrine, which must also be considered and that is the doctrines of devils. This one in particular is often the source of the false doctrines of men:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1 Timothy 4:1-6

Expressly is used only once in the entire New Testament and here we read of the Holy Spirit stating unequivocally that in the latter times some people shall depart or fall away from the true faith in Christ and His work alone. What causes this apostasy? These individuals give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, that word can also be translated as demons.

How do demons teach? Obviously they speak through people who are open to them.  The examples that Paul cites specifically are doctrines of devils. The first one is the doctrine which forbids marriage. To this day the Roman Catholic Church forbids both its priests and nuns to enter into marriage. The Shaker cult forbade their members to marry and demanded people get divorced who joined their ranks. Other sundry cults and sects have also forbidden marriage among its members. The Bible clearly denotes this as a doctrine of devils. The other area Paul cites concerns dietary regulations. For many years the Roman Catholic Church forbid people to eat meat on Friday (I am not sure if this practice is still being enforced). Many other groups demand strict vegetarianism and some “Hebrew” roots cults demand strict dietary adherence. Obviously, Hasidic and Orthodox Jews still keep the Old Covenant dietary laws too. Any group that demands that their members abstain from eating anything that God has created to be enjoyed is promulgating a doctrine of devils.

The sign of a “good minister” is one who puts his portion of Christ’s flock in remembrance of what the Bible has taught, nourishing or feeding the flock in the words of faith and good doctrine. In verse 13 Paul exhorts Timothy to give himself over to reading, to exhortation and doctrine. Verse 16 he warns this young Pastor to “take heed” of his spiritual well being, the doctrine entrusted to him and to continue in them! I like Robertson’s commentary on this verse:  1 Tim 4:16(6)

Thus we see that according to the Scriptures there are three sources of teaching; God; man; and devils. The realization that Luther came to was that much of what was being presented as the doctrine of God was in fact nothing more than the commandments of men and doctrines of devils. He came to decry the fact that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had elevated its own traditions to a position of either equaling the authority of the Bible or even superseding it. The next quote is from a Roman Catholic web site giving their view of Martin Luther:

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) is to be given the credit for inventing the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Bible Only or Bible Sufficiency). He had separated himself from the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, and thereby so doing lost all authority regarding Church matters. He then turned to the Bible, a book as the sole source of authority. Can a book ever be a sole source of authority?

The above Roman Catholic apologist considers Sola Scriptura a false doctrine and that Luther had the audacity to turn from the traditional authority of the Pope and Roman Catholic traditions and look to the confines of the bible, “a book” the author says, “as the sole source of authority.”  (7)

This article is not about Martin Luther nor is it a polemic against Roman Catholicism (RC) as a religion. What is important to notice is that even to this day RC upholds its traditions as equal in authority with the bible and when the Bible and tradition do not agree it seems that manmade doctrines and those of demons prevail. Let me cite just a few extra-biblical traditions concerning the Virgin Mary within the R.C.C. These are taken directly from their own catechism in use today.

The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue and merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (CCC491) (8)

 The Bible never teaches any such thing! Mary was chosen by God to be His vessel through whom our Lord was born, but she too was born in sin and shaped in iniquity (see Psl. 51:5).  She needed to have her sins washed away by the blood of Christ just as all who would be saved. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (CCC493) (9)

No, Mary was a sinner as we all are. If she did not, then the Apostle John is a liar when he says in 1 john 1:10  “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” They teach at the time of her death Mary was taken spiritually and physically into heaven:

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven… (CCC974) (10)

There is nothing scripturally to base this claim upon. The Bible speaks of Enoch being taken up and Elijah riding off to heaven in a chariot of fire but no mention is made concerning much at all about the life or death of Mary after the resurrection of Jesus.

…the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix (CCC969) (11)

Mary is prayed to which contradicts the plain teaching of the bible when we are told by the Apostle Paul to Timothy in his first letter to him:

For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:5,6

In fact, within the R.C.C. there is a strong movement afoot to see to it that Mary is elevated to an even higher status, to that of being the Co-redemptrix:

The Blessed Virgin Mary is to be called Queen not only on account of her divine motherhood but also because by the will of God she had a great part in the work of our salvation…..In this work of redemption the blessed Virgin Mary was closely associated with her Christ…Just as Christ, because he redeemed us, is by a special title our King and Lord, so too is Blessed Mary, our Queen and our Mistress, because of the unique way in which she co-operated in our redemption. She provided her very substance for his body, she offered him willingly for us, and she took a unique part in our salvation by desiring it, praying for it, and so obtaining it…–Ad Coeli Reginam. (12)

The entire cult of Mary within the R.C.C. is an abomination and a blasphemy. These are not minor issues that we can agree to disagree about. Teaching that Mary played a vital role in our redemption is teaching a doctrine of devils; one which reduces the centrality of Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God who alone bore the sin of the world.

These are only some examples of non-biblical traditions that the R.C.C. practices, such as the infallibility of the Pope when he makes declarations from “Peters” seat in the Vatican. Or the belief in purgatory where the partially saved sinner goes to have the rest of their sins purged away by fire. Not the mention the practice of indulgences which are still being given.

It is easy to understand why the R.C.C. took such a violent stance against Luther and all those reformers who followed him. The R.C.C. knew that if the Bible ever got into the hands of the “common man” in a language they could read and understand that the R.C.C. would lose the stranglehold it had on the souls of millions of people.

The printing of the Bible by Guttenberg in German and Luther pointing people to the Bible as the only rule for faith and practice shook the very foundations of the R.C.C.

The medieval church assumed that Scripture, the church’s tradition, and scholastic theology were identical in content. Any tensions between Scripture and tradition were resolved by the use of the Quadriga, the medieval system of biblical interpretation which recognized four levels to the truth of Scripture: literal, topological, allegorical and anagogical. Great respect for the authority and content of the Scripture could thus coexist with a theology and practice quite different from the Scriptures…When the authorities refused to acknowledge the authority of the apostolic tradition in Scripture over the ecclesiastical tradition, the Reformers loyally continued to assert the apostolic tradition against those who claimed apostolic succession. (13)

In other words when the R.C.C. was faced with their own human traditions which did not agree with a plenary reading of the Scripture they created a system by which they could make the Bible agree (more or less) with their manmade doctrines. The Reformers refused to accept this and stood with Luther asserting that the Scriptures Alone, Sola Scriptura was the only authority to be submitted to when it came to faith and practice within God’s Church. One of the most succinct statements of the sufficiency of Scripture is found in the introduction of the Formula of Concord:

Thus understanding of the significance of the confession is also stated explicitly in the introduction of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord. ‘In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of Old and New Testaments and all other writings is maintained, and Holy Scripture remains the only judge, rule, and norm, according to which as the only touchstone all doctrines should and must be understood and judged as good or evil, right or wrong.” (14)

Today as Evangelicals and Protestants in reading the above statement we might respond, “So what’s the big deal? Of course, the Bible is our only guide.” After all, don’t all Evangelicals and Protestants agree with Paul’s statement to Timothy in:

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  2 Timothy 3:16

God has revealed Himself to us through His Word and He has given us the Bible as the only concrete source by which we are to measure every spiritual experience, doctrine and practice. The Word of god is an unwavering arbiter on all matters concerning the life of faith.

…the knowledge of god is not therefore at the mercy of human forgetfulness or mystical notions of spirituality. God has given Scripture and the church to connect the once-for-all act in Jesus Christ with the present act of the Holy Spirit, who is the presence and power of the risen Lord. God calls His church into being by the word of the gospel and by His presence as the Holy Spirit equips and empowers His people for His service. To His church He entrusts the Scriptures, the prophetic and apostolic witness to Jesus Christ, the bearer of His word. (15)

In 1860, Charles A. Hodge wrote an article on the value of Sola Scriptura in his book Outlines of Theology, the following comments come from the chapter heading “The Rule of Faith & Practice.” this chapter is written in somewhat of a catechism format with a question stated and then answered. The following citation is from question six and fifteen:

6. What argument do the Scriptures themselves afford in favor of the doctrine that they are the only infallible rule of faith?

1st. The Scriptures always speak in the name of God, and command faith and obedience.

2nd Christ and his apostles always refer to the written Scriptures, then existing, as authority, and to no other rule of faith whatsoever. (Luke 16:29; 10:26; John 5:39; Rom. 4:3; 2Tim 3:15).

3rd The Bereans are commended for bringing all questions, even apostolic teaching, to this test. (Acts 17:11; see also Isa. 8:16).

4th. Christ rebukes the Pharisees for adding to and perverting the Scriptures  (Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:5-8; see also Rev. 22:18, 19, and Deut. 4:2; 12:32 Josh 1:7.

15. What is meant by saying that the Scriptures are the Judge as well as the rule in questions of faith?

‘A rule is a standard of Judgment; a judge is the expounder and applier of that rule to the decision of particular cases,’ The Protestant doctrine is –

1st That the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

2nd  (1) Negatively. That there is no body of men who are either qualified, or authorized, to interpret the Scriptures, or apply their principles to the decision of particular questions, in a sense binding upon the faith of their fellow Christians.

(2) Positively. That Scripture is the only infallible voice in the church, and is to be interpreted, in its own light, and with the gracious help of the Holy Ghost, who is promised to every Christian (1 John 2:20-27), by each individual himself; with the assistance, though not by the authority, of his fellow Christians. Creeds and confessions, as a form, bind only those who voluntarily profess them, and as to matter, they bid only so far as they affirm truly what the Bible teaches, and because the Bible does so teach. (16)

The battle regarding trusting in the sole authority of the scriptures has been going on ever since God’s Word was written down as an eternal record of His truth. This explains the stern warning given in the Bible concerning tampering with its contents:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD.”  Deut. 4:2

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deut. 12:32

Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Prov. 30:5-6

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book. Rev. 22:18,19

Not only is the R.C.C. (and some mainline Protestant denomination) guilty of violating the above texts so is every “Bible-based” cult. Many within the charismatic movement directly violate the above Scriptures also. I have already mentioned several examples in the R.C.C. so I will briefly mention some examples in a few of the cult groups.

The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit, aka the “Moonies” have supplanted the bible with Mr. Moon’s revelation called “The Divine Principle.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka The Mormons, although using the Bible, their main focus of faith and practice is found in “The Book of Mormon,” “The Pearl of Great Price” and “Doctrines and Covenants.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own perversion of the Bible called “The New World Translation” which has been highly redacted to support their ungodly beliefs. The Children of God (now called the Family of Love) uses the “Mo Letters” as their guide. The Church of Christ Science, aka Christian Science, uses Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures.” The Christadelphians use “Key to Understanding the Bible.” All of these cults use the Bible but in reality have placed it below the interpretation and/or further revelations of the founders of the cult. The Bible is in no way the sole authority in any of these cult members lives.

I mentioned some mainline Protestant denominations. As many of our readers know there has been an ongoing battle over the use of “inclusive” language in newer translations of the Bible. This inclusive language is nothing less than deleting certain words and phrases from the original manuscript evidence the church has in its possession. Not only are these apostates subtracting words from the original Greek and Hebrew text, they are adding their own words to these newer paraphrases of what cannot really be considered the Word of God. The United

Methodist Church is one such mainline historic Protestant denominations who seek to be more politically correct and culturally relevant will also join the chorus of those whose fidelity is not to God but to the approval of fallen humanity. This “new” translation of the Bible is called “Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and is being published by the International Bible Society and is a revision of the NIV.

The 26 scholars’ statement was released Feb. 1. Meanwhile, a list of more than 100 “inaccuracies” in the TNIV was compiled by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a daylong review of the TNIV Jan. 31. A 25-page document listing the translation objections is posted at the organization’s Internet site, www.cbmw.org   (17)

The scholars (18) who examined this latest perversion of God’s Word were no spiritual lightweights nor were they supporters of the “King James Only” debate. Sola Scriptura implies having an accurate translation of the Scripture to begin with! This changing of God’s Word is very dangerous because it will mislead some people into thinking they are standing by the principle of Sola Scriptura, when it is not God’s Word, but man’s they are standing upon. The result will be disastrous for these peoples spiritual lives because they will discover that they have built their spiritual house upon sand and not the true rock of Jesus Christ, the Living Word (see Matthew 7:24-27).

Earlier I mentioned just a few examples of R.C. traditions and doctrines which have taken away from the rightful authority of God’s Word, but within the Protestant Church there are many traditions and practices that also do not bow their knee to God’s Word as final arbiter either.

I will cite just a few that I am personally knowledgeable with the fast growing and pervasive sign-gift movement.

Although Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations pay lip service to adhering to Sola Scriptura in reality they do not. For example, virtually every Pentecostal and Charismatic Church teaches as dogma the experience of being slain in the spirit. (20) There is neither contextual biblical support for this teaching nor any valid biblical example for the experience. This teaching and practice is completely manmade. The same can be said of their definitions for the gift of the word of Knowledge and the gift of the word of wisdom (see 1 Cor. 12:8). The Bible never explains what these gifts were or how they manifested themselves in the life of the early church. The definition for these two gifts were restored to the Church by a man named Howard Carter, a Pentecostal evangelist who claimed God revealed them to him while he was in prison! (21) Mr. Carter also claimed to possess all nine of the sign-gifts. His definitions have become the accepted Pentecostal definitions from the sign-gifts. Over a million professing Christians flew into Toronto to receive the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit in the form of holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, prophetic animal sounds and movements. (22) These so-called manifestations of the Holy Spirit spread rapidly around the world and are generally accepted as being valid demonstrations of God’s power in the midst of His people, Even though there is not one shred of biblical support for any of these spiritual enthusiasms.

When I have confronted those who endorse these practices and ask them to show me in the Bible where they can be found their only response is—”Well, brother you know what the Bible teaches don’t you? And they proceed to cite the following text as support:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. John 21:25   scanbook0001

There answer is that what is occurring now in their revivals (I also failed to mention the alleged manifestations of gold teeth, gold dust, angel feathers and jewels  being manifested in revival services) are simply part of what Jesus did in His earthly ministry but are not recorded in the biblical text. That response is extremely troubling because if one takes that approach to the Bible then you can allow anything to take place and point to John 21:25 as ones biblical support.

This type of response impugns the sufficiency of Scripture. To hold to such a position is to say that God left out things (such as these manifestations) which are needful for Christian growth and a closer more dynamic fellowship with God.

The secondary response given is “look at the good fruit being brought forth in the individuals lives.” Having been totally enmeshed in charismatic extremism for many years I can honestly say that I have yet to see any benefits from these practices in individuals’ lives or that of congregations that have embraced such practices. In fact, I’ve noted quite the opposite in those participating in practices not endorsed by God’s Word. Our ministry produced a book entitled “Fruit Proof,” which is over 100 pages long and consists of eyewitness accounts given by Pentecostal and sign-gift believers who went to revival services to get the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit and instead left oppressed and disheartened. Many congregations have literally been split and the sheep scattered when the local church leaders brought in these new gifts, which turned out to be curses. Good fruit is at best subjective. The Moonie, Mormon or Mohammedan can point to members in their groups whose lives have been transformed by their embracing of the cult or false religions demands.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 3:13,14.

Paul reminds this young pastor to stick to the scriptures which can make one wise unto salvation which is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. He declares that all scripture is given by God and is profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction and (4) instruction in righteousness. That by the faithful proclamation of the Bible those who hear and obey will grow spiritually and be equipped for good works. Then he solemnly charges Timothy before God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to “preach the word.”  I believe Paul is warning this pastor not to get caught up in the latest fad or gables. (he warned Timothy earlier of this in 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; and then again in 2 Tim. 4:4). Why? Because Paul knew by the Spirit that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine. Robertson says the following about this text:

2 Ti 4:3 – A time when . One of the (out of season) times. Will not endure ( ). Future middle direct) of ( ). “Will not hold themselves back from” (Col. 3:13). Having itching ears ( ). Present middle (causative) participle of ( ), late and rare form of the Attic ( ) to scratch, to tickle, here only in N.T. “Getting the ears (the hearing, ticked.” The Vulgate: has . Cf. the Athenians (Ac 17:21). Clement of Alexandria tells of speakers tickling the ears of those who want to be tickled. This is the temptation of the merely “popular” preacher, to furnish the latest tickle. (23)

These words of the bible fit so many of today’s Christians. They run from conference to conference, from fad to fad. As a former charismatic extremist I saw this firsthand and was guilty of it too. People went from Toronto to Pensacola seeking the new wind of the Spirit. After that they became “God Chasers” (24) from there they tried implementing the “Prayer of Jabez.” Once Jebez’s prayer grew stale the herd moved onto trying out “Cat and Dog Theology” (I kid you not) and after that failed to satisfy their itch they are now becoming “Purpose Driven”. (25)

The largest church in America is the Lakewood Church in Dallas led by Joel Osteen (you might remember him from a couple of issues ago). Joel stated in the article in Charisma magazine that people are not interested in theology…the knowledge of God. Thirty thousand people with itching ears and a “pastor” who can’t wait to scratch them.

Not only does the Apostle Paul warn the Church about the danger of being carried away from the sure anchor of our souls, the Word of God, the Apostle Peter also warns us:

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves sift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingered not, and their damnation slumbered not. 2 Peter 2:1-3

Teachers abound on both radio and television proclaiming damnable heresies and due to the biblical illiteracy of believers in the Church “many” follow their heretical teachings. Due to the heretics and those who follow them true orthodox Christianity will be (and is) spoken evil of by those outside the faith. All one must do is look back to the scandals of the 1980’s when the PTL scandal was revealed and Jim Bakker was shown to be immoral, then came revelations about Mr. Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, Larry Lea, Jimmy Swaggart and W.V. Grant. Now recently we learned that Paul Cain is a homosexual and alcoholic and that Paul Crouch, President of TBN, may also have been engaged in homosexual activity. The various healing frauds, often lead to the death of their followers. They have perpetrated false promises on God’s gullible sheep. Over the years, people like Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, A.A. Allen, Hobart Freeman, Jack Coe, William Branham and of course, Mr. Benny Hinn have peddled false hopes and produced no documented miracles.  All of these people have literally made merchandise out of the people of God and over the years bilking them out of over a billion dollars!

Some may say that I have set up a straw-man argument by citing the more notorious peddlers of God’s Word, but this is not the case. All of the above mentioned individual are (or were) leaders within Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal. These people are the “giants’ of this brand of belief and trust me when I say the fruit does not fall from the tree regarding these leaders.

How and why is this occurring today?   The answer is very simple; people have departed from looking to and relying upon the Scriptures alone. The Bible is no longer enough to satisfy their souls. Multitudes want to experience something mystical; they want to receive an impartation of power; they want a personal word from “God” through one of the multitudes of restored prophets and prophetesses. The simple exposition of Scriptures is not enough for this generation which Jesus referred to in His own day (and applies to ours):

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: Matthew 12:39

In the latest issue of the Issues Etc. Journal, Pastor Todd Wilkins authored an article entitled “The Fad Driven Church” in which he gave the following example of a pastor being purposed driven versus biblically led:

Mark Jones has been a pastor at Metropolitan Family Fellowship in Ventura since 2004. ’I feel a little betrayed. I mean, I’ve pretty much based my entire ministry on Warren and Hybel’s stuff, I don’t know what I’m going to do now. And I can’t imagine what I’m going to tell my congregation. It’s not like my congregation is going to put up with just interpreting Scripture every Sunday. That’ll hold their interest for about two seconds. (26)

Many pastors have departed from teaching biblical messages and are relying instead on whatever the latest church growth guru is peddling. Whenever anyone teaches or believes things which are not scripturally sound, i.e. doctrines based upon the context of the scripture they are headed for deceptions. Several very popular preachers have based their ministries outside of the godly confines of the Bible. These people are claiming to have been taken to heaven and/or hell. The Bible warns us of such people:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind, {beguile…: Col. 2:18

Mary K. Baxter initially wrote The Divine Revelation of Hell in which she says that Jesus took her on a personal tour of hell for 40 days. That book sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is now in several languages. People bought into her folly to such a degree Mrs. Baxter went on to pen The Divine Revelation of Heaven and most recently The Divine Revelation of Glory. These books are filled not only with outright lies but they contradict the Bible numerous times. Yet because of her alleged vision and experience she has gained an international following and is seen by many as an expert of the heavenly and hellish realms.

Jessie Duplantis wrote Heaven, Close Encounters of the god Kind, another international best selling book, available in 99% of the Christian bookstores. In his book Jessie denies he complete atoning work of the cross (we have to do some additional works when we get to heaven in order to perfect ourselves). He denies the sufficiency of Scripture and denies its infallibility not to mention teaching pre-incarnation human souls, heaven as a literal planet and a whole host of error and even blasphemy. Yet Mr. Duplantis is a regular teacher on TBN and travels world ide sharing his vision and other Word of Faith heresies.

These are just two examples of people who’ve based much of their ministry on their alleged encounters in the unseen realm; I could cite a dozen more people. My point is simply to demonstrate what occurs when people place their faith in anything or anyone, no matter how persuasive they may be, outside of the Bible.

God’s Word and His Word alone is our only guide for faith and practice. Any dream, vision, doctrine, manifestation or practice must be validated ithin the context of the Bible. If it fails this test than such matters must be avoided, those teaching/practicing them warned and if they persist in them, then it must be taken to the Church and God’s people made aware of the leaven in their midst. ♦

“IT IS WRITTEN”

Sola Scriptura,  Scripture Alone

scansolascroll0001

Copyright © 2004   Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. You can read the entire Cambridge Declaration written on April 20, 1996 by visiting the following web site http://www.reformed.org/documents/cambridge.html

2. Obtained from http://www.gotquestions.org/sola-scriptura.html December 3, 2004 Bold type and underlining added for emphasis

3. White, James R. Scripture Alone Bethany House Publishers 2004

4. Reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p 1999 software

5. Liichow, Robert Blessing or Judgment goes into great detail examining the charismatic Shaker cult and is an excellent resource for any Christian to have who is interested in knowing the origin of today’s revival manifestations.

6. Robertson’s word picture reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p. 1999 software

7. Stanley, Bob, May 1, 1999. Obtained from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/sorigin.htm on December 1, 2004

8. Obtained from http://www.reachouttrust.org/article/world/catholic.htm Underlining added for emphasis

9. Ibid. 10. Ibid 11. Ibid

12. Pope Pius XII, Ad Coeli Reginam Underlining added for emphasis.

13. Uanbeck, Warren A. Marburg Revised, A Reexamination of Lutheran and Reformed Tradition. Augsburg Publishing Home, 1966, pg. 16 Underlining added for emphasis

14. Ibid p. 17 Underlining added for emphasis.

15. Ibid p. 19

16. A.A. Hodge Outlines of Theology. Electronic edition obtained from http://www.homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/aahsolascrp.htm

Underlining added for emphasis

17. Obtained from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=12653 on 12/13/04

18. The 26 scholars who have stated their refusal to endorse the TNIV include two Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents. R. Albert Mohler. Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Semiary and Paige Patterson of South-eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, along with Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz, and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Harold O.J. Brown of Reformed Theological Seminary; R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries; John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and Raymond C. Orlund Jr. of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga.

19. I prefer to use the term “sign-gift movement” versus the more common phrase “charismatic movement,” when referring to the larger group because all of God’s people are charismatic in that we have all been gifted by the Holy Spirit with differing gifts.

20. DMI offers the only book in print (to our knowledge) that deals exclusively with this and the other practices cited in this article. These books can be purchased from our web site.

21. Truth Matters has dealt with Mr. Carter in past issues. To learn more about this man you can purchase his book entitled “Questions and Answers on Spiritual Gifts

22. These are all historically detailed and biblically refuted in our two books: The two Roots of Today’s Revival” and “Blessing or Judgment.”

23. Robertson’s Word Pictures reference obtained from Bibleworks for windows, release ver. 1999 software.

24. Tommy Tenney wrote the “God Chasers” which became a small industry with follow-up books, tapes, tee-shirts, devotional guides, etc. Few Christians seemed to mind that Tenney is a Oneness Pentecostal who denies the Trinity, believes in salvation through water Baptism in Jesus name only. He can be seen on a regular basis on TBN.

25. Rick Warren has written several books around the theme of being “purpose driven” and these books have also spawned an industry around them. Many struggling churches think using his curriculum will be their salvation and result in a population explosion.

26. Wilkins, Todd Issues, Etc. Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, 2004, p. 4 underlining added for emphasis.