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

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

Discernment Ministries International

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

Part 2 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The “Ministry” of the Catchers

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

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

Tips For Catching People:

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

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

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

4. Men- be careful when touching women.

5. Get them to fall back, not forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

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

The Convolutionaries

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

The Shaker’s

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

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

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

People Were “Slain” During the Cane Ridge Revival

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

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

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

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

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

The Ministry of Charles Finney

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

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

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

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

The Ministry of Maria Woodworth Etter

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

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

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

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

The Ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson

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

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

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

The Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman

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

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

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

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

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

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted By Charismatic Christians Today

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

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

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

Slain- Carol Arnott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learned Behavior

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

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

(TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH!)

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith?

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

Discernment Ministries International

Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith? 

By Robert S. Liichow

 

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

slaintacf99

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

 

drsumrall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenneth CopelandWalking in the Realm of the Miraculous

Benny HinnMiracles DVD

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

Marilyn HickeyYour Miracle Source

Charles & Francis HunterImpossible Miracles

Kenneth E. HaginMiracles of Healing (tape series)

Kathryn KuhlmanI Believe in Miracles

Robert TiltonFaith Aid Miracle Healing Kit

Prophet T.B. JoshuaDivine Miracles (DVD)

Don Stewart — Miracle Seeds for Success and Prosperity

John Wimber Power Evangelism, Signs & Wonders Today

Signs and Wonders and Church Growth

Pat RobertsonMiracles Can Be Yours Today

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

R.W. Schambach Miracles: Eyewitness to the Miraculous

The Price of God’s Miracle-Working Power

T.L. OsbornReceive Miracle Healing

How to Receive Miracle Healing

Modern Miracles in Mombasa

Ruth HeflinMiracles that I have Seen

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

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

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

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

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

Popoff_Peter_2

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

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

scanTicket20060001

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

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

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

hinnstage

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

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

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

scancartoonmiracles0001

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

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

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

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

Has God Appointed Modern Miracle Workers Today?

healer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWSFLASH !

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

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

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

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

goldtooth5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.

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

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

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

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

2. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Ibid. p. 35 Underlining added.

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

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

12. Ibid, p. 27. Underlining added.

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

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