Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

1 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 6 – Harp & Bowl Ministry – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

(AKA the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Before being delivered from the doctrinal morass of today’s charismatic movement Tracy and I began to see some of the fledgling steps being made towards what is called today “Harp and Bowl” ministry. What we originally heard being bandied about by various leaders in the “prophetic” movement was the belief in the need to restore the Tabernacle of David in order to facilitate revival and even the return of Christ.

The Tabernacle of David

Non-charismatic, i.e. low-wattage Christians (such a yourselves) no doubt have less than no understanding of what the Tabernacle of David consists of. You probably are more familiar with the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon or the Temple King Herod built. Allow me to enlighten you regarding this interesting, yet often overlooked facet of Biblical history.

About 1,000 B.C. King David commanded that the Ark of the Covenant be brought up to Mount Zion in the midst of Jerusalem. It was carried up upon the shoulders of the Levites with songs and musical instruments. David placed the Ark inside of a tent and appointed 288 singers and 4,000 musicians to minister before the Lord and make petition to the Lord “day and night,” which means 24/7 praise, prayer and worship (see 1 Chron. 15:1-17-27). This was something new and unique in the worship history of Israel. In today’s parlance one could say King David “went contemporary” as opposed to the format used by Moses.

Once Solomon came on the scene and built the temple and the actual Tabernacle of David was superseded by a permanent structure the order of Davidic worship did not change (see 2 Chron. 8:14-15). In fact, the Bible makes known that five (5) subsequent kings who came after David and reintroduced his Davidic worship format experienced breakthrough, deliverance and military victories.

1) King Solomon (2 Chron. 8:14,15), we al know how greatly blessed by God Solomon was.

2) King Jehoshaphat set up singers according to the Davidic order singing the Great Hallel and he reinstated Davidic worship in the temple (2 Chron. 20:20,22,28).

3) king Joash reinstated it too (2 Chron. 23: 1-24,27).

4) King Hezekiah followed suit (2 Chron. 29:1-36, 30:21)

5) King Josiah also was a Davidic worshipper (2 Chron. 35:1-27)

6) Ezra, not a “king” but a very influential prophetic voice (Ezra 3:10).

7) Nehemiah, another prophet (Neh. 12:28-47)

Being the discerning person you have learned to become you immediately say “very interesting Bob, but what does this have to do with the Church?” Thank you for asking, because the Tabernacle of David (TOD) does appear in the New Testament. In order to understand the N.T. reference we need first to read the prophet Amos words concerning the TOD:

In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent (tabernacle). I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. Amos 9:11-13  (underlining added).

Obviously from the text God is going to restore the TOD and He is going to build it as it used to be. Attached to this restoration is an ingathering of the nations and great prosperity (occasioned by new wine) for God’s people. If God is going to restore the TOD, when is that going to occur? According to our sign-gift brethren it was initially fulfilled in the Book of Acts when the Apostle James stood up in the midst and uttered the following words:

When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The word of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “after this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things;’ that have been known for ages. Acts 15:13-18   (underlining added)

Before parsing James comments let’s continue with charismaticthink regarding the text. Obviously God is going to restore the TOD and that restoration began with the early Church. They go as far to teach that the TOD format of worship is in fact the model of true New Testament worship. Ergo, it is only logical to assume that the early Church practiced Davidic worship in their gatherings. The Apostle Paul encouraged worshipping with the Psalms (see Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) and we know most of the Psalms were penned by David after he established the TOD. The author of Hebrews tells us to offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:5) and at the TOD no animal sacrifices were made (according to our sign-gift brethren). Leaving the scant Biblical record our brothers’ state that Davidic worship has been a part of the great “revivals” in Church history.

Regarding 24/7 prayer and praise one of the founding neo-prophetic voices, Mike Bickle goes as far as to cite early Church history to prove the validity of establishing 24/7 centers of nothing but praise and worship around the world. Bickle cites many monastic examples of perpetual prayer and praise in various Roman Catholic sects. Bickle fails to mention all of the problems associated with monasticism. His next example is Count Zinzendorf who came to faith through one of the founders of Lutheran pietism, Phillipp Spener. According to Bickle Count Zinzendorf and later the Moravian believers were great champions of 24/7 prayer. He tries to tie John Wesley with Zinzendorf to edge his timeline a little closer to today, however his attempt is in vain. There is no evidence that either Charles or John Wesley ever practiced or endorsed 24/7 prayer as a means of “moving the hand of God.” So from the early 1700’s until around 1973 the practice of “Davidic worship” seems to have been silenced.

Along in the early 70’s comes one of the first Asian charismatic superstars, Paul Cho from South Korea. Due to what has happened to the Church under communism in North Korea Cho knew the value of having small “cell groups” as sort of mini congregations. These would join up with the mother church to worship. [As an aside, if your church has small groups, home groups, cell groups, etc. they all have their origin in Paul Cho’s original teachings, not necessarily a bad thing, just a historical factoid].

Cho also strongly believed that prayer can move God or somehow release God to move in the world. He eventually purchased property on what became known around the world as “Prayer Mountain.” It is a small mountain filled with small cells in which people would go and shut themselves “in with God” for protracted periods of time. It is important to know that Paul Cho is an adherent and teacher of Word of Faith heresies. He attributes his success due to positive confession which is synonymous with prayer to WOF cultists. What success? Cho is the pastor of the largest congregation in the world, his church in Seoul has over 780,000 members.

Mike Bickle was influenced by Cho and being a charismatic extremist felt that he needed to be sure that the fire on the altar (prayer) never goes out. So starting on Sept. 19, 1997 Bickle opened up the International House of Prayer  (IHOP) in Kansas City, Mo. Since that day 24/7 prayer and praise has gone forth. With the epiphany of IHOP now other leaders have jumped on board and we are seeing 24/7 centers of prayer and praise being set up on every continent of the earth (according to Bickle).

Harp and Bowl Prayer

 

This is today’s term and now that Bickle and his restored prophets have had a little over ten years to search out proof-texts to attempt to validate their practice we end up with another “movement” under the ever-expanding charismatic umbrella. The title “harp and bowl” comes from the following text in the book of the Revelation:

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev. 5:8

Isn’t it obvious from this one text that the harp represents musical worship and the bowls represent intercessory prayers, ergo harp and bowl ministry is a combination of intercessory prayer and musical praise/worship to God. Since the church on earth is patterned after the heavenly tabernacle (read Hebrews to see if this is so) then this is really how church is to be conducted on earth!

Not only does intercessory prayer have a powerful effect on a community, but so does the praise and worship of God. The Kingdom is brought down to earth as God’s people worship Him in a community, and a form of spiritual warfare takes place in praise…Music is closely related with prophetic ministry. Spirit-led and prophetic edged prayer is a goal of the Harp and Bowl model.

The above quotation pretty much sums up the theology behind the 24/7 movement. First of all it is based on the belief that prayer causes change to come to communities. Let’s consider this claim, is this really the case? As an example; for over thirty years Cho has had millions of people coming to Prayer Mountain and are things getting better between North & South Korea? Is North Korea closer to being converted to Christianity; are they even open now to the Gospel? The answer is no in every regard. North Korea has become increasingly dangerous to the stability of the region and the world. It is in no way open to evangelism. Evidently the millions of hours of prayer have not changed anything for the better. IHOP has been continually praying for over ten years and now other 24/7 groups have mushroomed around our nation. Is America better off today than it was ten years ago? We have Obama as President, G.M. and Chrysler bankrupt along with many smaller parts companies and car dealers (I know, I live in Detroit and I feel the negative impact daily). Our health car system is in danger of being nationalized like that of England; Social Security is almost bankrupt as well. Is immorality on the decline; is crime, how about homosexuality and abortion? I see no positive changes in any of these areas that can in any way be attributed to charismatic folks yammering away 24/7.

Next these devotees go on to say that praise brings the “Kingdom of God down” and impacts a community. Sorry friends, where the Church is there is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is here now, not in its final and fullest expression but it is a reality now in each of our lives. There is nothing “mechanical” we can do to make God manifest Himself (which is what they mean by bringing down the kingdom, they mean experiencing some form of emotional experience). There are plenty of things we can do to have emotional experiences such as speaking in other tongues for hours or singing mind-numbing refrains for hours, dancing around, chanting these practices can and do alter people’s consciousness. However, what our sign-gift brethren do is that they attribute these emotional experiences to: the presence of God; the anointing; the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, etc. As with their prayer, their praises have not changed a thing either.

The claim is also made that both prayer and praise is a form of spiritual warfare. This is no new claim. The so-called prophetic movement has long codified prayer and praise as tools by which we are to wage spiritual warfare. There are entire teaching series and conferences on what is called “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, led by Dr. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Bickle and others.

These extremists actually go to different historical site around the world in order to “bind” up the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness (see Eph. 6:11,12) and then “loose” God’s angels, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom to manifest and bring revival and salvation. Naturally the first thing one has to do on these over seas junkets is to discern what exact principality or power is in control of an area. Once this Gnostic insight is revealed via prayer & praise then the spiritual warriors can specifically pray against them and command them in Jesus’ name to come down from their high places and/or bind their operation from hindering the Gospel. Once the binding has taken place then these intrepid warriors can lose the power of God to bring revival and redemption!

The only problem with this practice is simply this — we are never told to do any such thing in the Bible.  This is a novel invention that looks very spiritually and deeply powerful but is totally devoid of any Biblical precedent. We are never told any of the names of demonic forces, only that they exist. Honestly, we are never told to “rebuke the devil (see Zac. 3:2; Jude 1:9) where the Bible says “The Lord rebuke you Satan.” Yes, we do wage spiritual warfare but not in this mystical format. Our warfare is daily against the temptations Satan and demons offer before us.

The 24/7 crowd take verses, such as this: May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Psalms 149:6-9 (underlining added for emphasis).

And interpret it to mean that via the praises of God in our mouths we wage and win spiritual warfare. However, in context (that dreaded word) David being a man of war, a man who had slaughtered so many people that God would not permit him to build His temple meant what he said. As we go into battle we do so with God’s praises in our mouths and a literal sword in our hand. The best analogy I can think of comes from clips of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Film clips showed the mujahideen saying “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) then firing off a RPG 3 at a tank, that is what David is getting at in the text. Our two-edged sword is the Word of God (see Rev. 1:16, 19:15). It is the weapon Jesus used against Satan in the wilderness temptations saying “it is written” to Satan time and time again.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists is a doctrine of God (as opposed to a manmade doctrine or doctrine of devils), then why isn’t it clearly taught in the Scriptures, why isn’t it being practiced by Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts? If it is a restored truth when was it initially practiced and when did the Church lose it? They cannot answer this question because they are without biblical support and historical support.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists worked then where are the results? What genuine quantifiable and verifiable results of true revival, redemption and community restoration can be shown to us? There are no results that can be shown. After over ten years of doing this, if it was indeed directed by the Holy Spirit, then there should be some evidence of change, actually there should be quite a bit of proof. It is like I tell people who believe Benny Hinn has a “miracle ministry.” Hinn has been holding miracle crusades every month for many years and by now he should have a warehouse full of medically documented healing(s) and miracles. Yet he does not have even a half a dozen which can be verified. Why do people follow him by the millions? Because they are deceived. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.

Those people have made prayer to God and the praising of God a device by which we move God or the devil. God does not need our prayers. We on the other hand need to desperately pray and seek God. The God of the Bible is totally sovereign and He does not need our permission to move in the universe of His own creation.

Our prayer life is to flow out of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise is simply our reaction to God’s goodness. We are called to “give thanks” in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). Prayer and praise should fill our hearts and thus be expressed by our mouths as naturally as our breathing. Jesus warned against thinking people would be heard for their “many words” when praying (Matt. 6:7). In that verse Jesus says “do not keep on babbling like the pagans” which is what these meetings are, a small or large group of people babbling away in ecstatic speech. It seems to me that they are engaging in the very thing Jesus warned us not to do.

Personally, I am all for prayer; it is undeniably part of our lives as a royal priesthood and holy nation unto God (1 Pet. 2:9). I wish my Lutheran brethren really knew how to pry from their hearts, as opposed to praying 99% of the time from a book of prayers. Prayer books are fine in their proper place, but you do not grow relationally by praying other people’s prayers all the time. I agree with Paul that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) but this can easily be done within the context of our vocations in life, it does not mean we must wall ourselves up in a monastery. I firmly believe that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Yet fervent does not mean long-winded spewing forth of words, it means heart-felt and sincere.

I love to worship God in song also. I would like to see more music and hymns be incorporated into our Sunday services, yet I sing to my Lord because of who He is and what He has done — not to wage spiritual warfare or bring revival. Psalm 92:1 tells us that “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

In conclusion what are we to make of this 24/7 movement? It cannot be called unbiblical because there is Biblical precedent for it, albeit from the Old Testament. Nor would I say that there is anything wrong with praying to God and offering Him praise 24/7 —IF (and it is a HUGE “if”) there is a proper understanding of what prayer and praise are. Unfortunately, this is where these folks veer off course. Their definition and use of prayer and praise is unbiblical. Their motivation for praying and singing to God 24/7 is unbiblical. The result is a veiled attempt at a form of works righteousness. By their pseudo-spiritual works they see themselves as releasing God to move, if they do not do this then God cannot or will not move in the Church and community. This is simply “foolishness gone to seed” as the dead heretic Ken Hagin used to say. These people have placed both prayer and praise even above the preaching of the Word of God. They also view all the performing arts as acts of praise and prophecy (they get this from Psl.150). Because they have redefined what prayer and praise is biblically and redefined what the purpose is for both expressions I come to the conclusion that what is taking place is nothing other than simply another form of charismatic extremism which will excite many for a season but it will produce nothing of value spiritually, other than another lesson learned in what not to do.♦

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Charismaticthink is a word I have coined and it simply refers to reading a text of Scripture without any consideration of its context or historical eschatological setting.

2. See: www.tabernacle-of-david.com/todchurchsmodel4praise.html obtained on 6-11-09

3. Ibid.

4. See: www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID-1000045365 obtained on 06-11-09

5. Ibid.

6. Obtained from http://www.nextga.us/impact/harpbowl on 06-12-09

7. Obtained from http://www.zionsong.org/art-giffting-bibquall.html on 06-12-09

8.ibid





Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned?

25 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2009 – Vol. 14  Issue 5 – Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned?

By Chris Elrod

Last Thursday night I got “the call”. My friend and fellow Lakeland pastor let me know that the news about Todd Bentley…the news that had circulated around Lakeland for weeks…was finally about to break. For months it had been rumors…with very little hard facts to back it up. Local church leaders had been hearing things about Todd…and Ignited Church…that caused us to question even more the validity of the “revival”. Then the truth began to come out bit by bit…first to Lakeland…then the world…and now Todd’s wife was in Canada getting help while he was “floating around” the United States trying to get his head together. Yes Todd had been convicted of molesting a 7-year-old boy in Canada. Yes Todd was legally separating from his wife. Yes there is an another women involved. Yes this was not the first time Todd had been involved with another woman. Yes Todd and Ignited Church had failed to address concerns …many being voiced by their own denomination and people that support such Charismatic outpourings…about the heresy being preached and displayed at the “revival”. Yes there was not one single medical document to prove that any healings had actually taken place. Yes the media could find no one…not one single person…to come forward and say they had been healed during the “revival”.

As the fall out continues and more facts are beginning to emerge about everyone involved with this mess, I have begun to ask myself some pretty hard questions. Did I handle this correctly?

When the first news began to break around here about Todd, healings and the revival…I went to see it for myself. In all I attended four separate “revival” meetings over a two month period. I also watched countless hours of the events on the internet. I witnessed Todd hollering “BAM” a lot. I witnessed “verification teams” in the parking lot carefully choosing people deemed candidates for “healing” while turning many others down. I watched ushers push ill children away from the state area because they had not been reproved for “healing”. I heard stories about pixie-dust spreading angels and conversations with the Apostles in some abstract heavenly cabin. I saw leg drops, high kicks, head punches and every other Wrestlemania cliché under the sun. I heard anonymous crazy stories about people being healed and others being raised from the dead. I heard and saw many strange things…but nothing that even remotely kept with sound doctrine. Every Biblical discerning bone in my body showed me that there was nothing going on at the “revival” that was in keeping with God’s Word.

I began to speak out against the revival, Todd and Ignited church to our people. Mainly it was through our Journey Groups, one-on-one conversations, phone calls and emails. However, I was advised by several other pastors not to speak out against it publicly because “I might be speaking against something that God is actually doing” (I wasn’t questioning God…I was questioning Todd). Therefore I never addressed it from the pulpit because our pod cast is heard by hundreds of people all over the world. I never blogged about it because I get a 1,000+ hits on a normal day. I dodged the questions about the “revival” from other folks all over the world. In essence I protected my flock from the three-ring circus and hoopla…but did nothing to protect the body as a whole.

Hindsight they say is 20/20. It now turns out that all of the rumors were true. It now turns out that the Scriptural discernment was correct. It now turns out that this was the same hyper-Charismatic craziness without accountability that the leadership of the sponsoring church is known for. The three ring circus has been packed up, the tents have been taken down, the moral failure has been announcement, everyone involved is pushing back and thousands of hurting people are left questioning God and their salvation. The question that I now have to ask myself…the question that will haunt me for quite a while is…did I sit on the sideline while the playing field burned? Should have I blogged about it…spoken out about it publicly…done more to get the word out to the rest of the world that this whole thing was about Todd and not God? I took care of my own house…but should I have done more to take care of the entire neighborhood?

______________________________________

Discernment Ministries International rejoices that Pastor Elrod’s vocal cords have been “loosed” to speak the truth and expose error. Sadly, as DMI shared a few months ago, Mr. Bentley is in the process of being “restored” by another self-proclaimed apostle and he will no doubt be unleashed upon the Church to prey on the desperate and ignorant in our midst.

Pastor Elrod’s last sentence is very meaningful to me because he has stated exactly what the problem is within the Church today. Too many pastors are content to feed their flock and DO and SAY nothing about the ravening wolves attacking millions of professing believers. The mindset is sort of like “you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.

The sad fact is that the heretics and blasphemers are affecting all of us. Oh maybe not directly in our local congregations, but I know very few people who do not have family members, who are “faithfully” being instructed in error by Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and others. There are very few Christian television programs that are doctrinally sound, and very slim pickings on Christian radio as well. Just go to your local Christian bookstore and see whose books they are promoting or how much shelf space is dedicated to the charismatic movement.

John Donne said it best when he said “no man is an island,” and so it is within the church. We are our brother’s keeper and God expects (and will hold us accountable) for us to warn those who are in sin {Eze. 3:18} and error. We are to rebuke those who are misleading others (Titus 2:15}. We are to correct those who err {2 Tim. 4:2}.

Brothers and sisters more than ever with what is transpiring within the Church and politically that “TRUTH MATTERS.” Our voice in Teaching Truth and Exposing Error was almost silenced recently due to a lack of financial support.

Because of a faithful few DMI has been able to get the newsletter back in circulation…BUT our website is still own and we would really like to see it up and running again so that millions of people can have access to literally 1,000’s of pages of documentation showing the abysmal lack of biblical support for the madness infecting millions of professing believers.

WE NEED YOUR FAITHFUL SUPPORT LIKE NEVER BEFORE. PLEASE HELP KEEP OUR “VOICE” FROM BEING SILENCED

 





Towering Todd Topples

8 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2008   Vol. 13   Issue 9  -Towering Todd Topples –  By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Towering Todd Topples

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

In my previous article dealing with Todd Bentley’s “commissioning” as an apostle you read some of the swelling words spoken over him by various false prophets and false apostles. In a matter of a few short weeks God has chosen to pull the plug on Todd the fraud by exposing him internationally and shutting down the so called “revival” in Lakeland, FL. In doing so our Lord has also shown those who commissioned Bentley at best lack discernment and at worst to be frauds themselves (both statements are true). It seems Bentley, according to his SINistry website had to step down because:

We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors an to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life. (1)

Fresh Fire denies any sexual impropriety on Bentley’s part but what saith the Scriptures? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:27-28). Let me make it perfectly clear that we all commit sin, none of us is neither perfect nor will achieve perfection in this life. Please understand that I am not “casting stones” at Bentley’s fall.

What I do want to focus on is the sad history of virtually everyone who has claimed to be a prophet of God or an apostle of the Lamb within the neo-Montanist movement, i.e. Pentecostalism in general. Todd is just the most recent example of someone who thought more highly of himself than he ought a clear violation of Romans 12:3.

I will take you through just a cursory look at some of the “giants” of Pentecostalism, men and woman who claimed to be on a higher level with God than others, people who claimed to have a special fellowship with the Holy Spirit who allegedly empowered them with supernatural gifts. Each of these people were and still are highly revered (if Pentecostals had saints, these folks would surely be among them) as examples of godly leadership. You judge for yourself if they meet the biblical qualifications of a leader. These folks are listed in somewhat of a chronological order. I begin with the modern granddaddy of charismatic chicanery John Alexander Dowie.

A Short Walk Among the Giants of Pentecostalism

“Apostle” John Alexander Dowie, was originally from Scotland but ended up here in America just outside of Chicago where he founded his city of God on earth, Zion, IL. Dowie was one of American’s earliest healing evangelists and when he founded Zion he became deluded and actually thought he was the second coming of Elijah! I personally heard Lester Sumrall (2) speaking about Dowie and he said that Dowie’s problem (apart from thinking he was Elijah) was that he loved money. After declaring himself to be Elijah he was stricken with a stoke and died within months of the Azusa revival

The spiritual oversight of Zion then fell into the hands of a man name Finis Dake, of the Dake Bible fame (the highly esteemed Bible used by many Pentecostals to this day). All I will say about Mr. Dake is that he was arrested for taking an underage girl across state lines, checking into a hotel with her under false names (a single room). Dake, like Todd claimed no adultery took place. Nonetheless, he became a convicted felon and lost the leadership of Zion (some giant, eh?).

Aimee Semple McPherson is unique among the healing hucksters in that she eventually founded her own denomination, the Foursquare Gospel Church, which exists to this day. She was a good looking flamboyant woman preacher who flew in the face of the religious notions of her day. She was America’s first mega-church pastor, was on the forefront of radio ministry and she set the pace for the women preachers who followed her. However, she had many moral problems. She was an adulteress, who faked her own kidnapping to be with her lover, these facts are all well documented in books, videos and on the internet. “Sister” Aimee died in 1944 of a barbiturate overdose, some say it was accidental, but for one who proclaimed “Christ the Healer” why did she need any barbiturates to begin with?

A.A. Allen was well known for his outlandish behavior on stage during his healing revival meetings (truly Mr. Bentley there is nothing new under the sun Ecc. 1:9). Allen claims to have locked himself in a closet and fasted and prayed until God revealed to him His miracle working power. God is supposed to have given Allen a list of several works one had to do in order to be used by God to work miracles. Allen never revealed the last step to his followers! GASP!!! He falsely prophesied the destruction of America on July 4, 1954 and the following year he fled the state of Tennessee following being arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence). In 1970 Allen was discovered in the Jack Tar motel, dead of an alcohol and drug overdose. His death was not revealed for several days while his two henchmen decided how to divvy up Allen’s SINistries spoils, those men were no less than Don Stewart and R.W. Schamback, both current televangelists, both still playing off Allen’s “fame” as a healer.

Leroy Jenkins jumped onto the traveling healing gig after allegedly being healed at an A.A. Allen meeting in 1960. Jenkins is probably one of the most controversial figures in the charismatic movement. Leroy is a convicted felon for his arson conviction of burning down a State trooper’s home, he was sentenced to twelve years in prison in 1979. (3) Leroy has also had issues with drugs and alcohol, like his mentor A.A. Allen. “According to the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Jenkins was arrested on more than one occasion on drug and alcohol related charges while in the ministry, and divorced his wife.” (4) More recently he married a handicapped elderly black woman in Las Vegas (who just happened to win a huge lottery prize):

The thrice married evangelist is said to ‘combine a little bit of Jesus, and a little bit of Elvis.’ His Las Vegas controversial marriage last Jan 12 (later annulled) 16 days after his 71 year old bride’s husband died, drew charges from her family that Jenkins wanted her fortune of about $4 million (8/4 Huntsville Times). (5)

I’ve seen Mr. Jenkins “perform” live on several occasions and I must admit he is every bit the showman that Benny Hinn is but on a much smaller platform. Married three times he and Mr. Tilton have that in common along with other noxious behaviors.

Paul Cain

“Prophet” Paul Cain  was at best a “bit player” in the 1950’s healing revival, tagging along with such giants as William Branham, A.A. Allen and the other fakes, frauds and healing hucksters of that time. He dropped out of sight towards the end of that phase of excited ignorance only to be brought back into the limelight by John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement  (Wimber later died due to a Chinese cancer spirit). Cain was highly regarded as the most accurate prophet alive (remember anything less than 100% accuracy biblically makes one a false prophet)! It was finally discovered by some of his fellow travelers that Cain was not all that moral of a man and they were forced to admit it on the Moringstar website:

In February 2004, we were made aware that Paul had become an alcoholic. In April 2004, we confronted Paul with evidence that he had recently been involved in homosexual activity. Paul admitted to these sinful practices and was placed under discipline, agreeing to a process of restoration, which the three of us would oversee. However, Paul has resisted this process and has continued in his sin…With our deepest regrets and sincerity, Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Mike Bickle.” http://www.morningstarministries.org/oages/speacial-bulleu.ns/0ct_19.html (6)

DMI dealt with Mr. Cain in 2004 when this was brought to light. Cain in his 70’s did not “recently” become involved in homosexual activity. No one just suddenly after 70 years of living and almost 55 of those years in ministry “recently” becomes an active homosexual. One last thing about the prophet Cain he might be well remembered as the man who prophesied that President Bill Clinton would take America into a great revival….what does “is” mean Mr. Cain?

“Prophet” Bob Jones  was one of the famed “Kansas City Prophets” of the Vineyard fame. “He was said to have been especially anointed with supernatural visions from the Lord and a prophetic gift.” If someone can convince an individual that they are a prophet of God then great spiritual harm can come upon that person (remember the “prophet” Jim Jones?). This is exactly what happened in Mr. Jones case. “Two women came forward in 1991 and told Vineyard leaders that Jones had used his prophetic authority to touch and fondle them sexually. (8) Like Bentley he too denied that he committed adultery with these deceived women. “In recent months, I have manipulated certain people for selfish reasons on the basis of my prophetic gifting.” Jones said in a statement that he dictated and signed before the Metro Vineyard Fellowship senior leadership on November 4, 1991“I have been guilty of sexual misconduct and I deeply regret this. (I have not committed adultery).

Benny “the Healer” Hinn   is well known around the world for his miracle crusades which he conducts almost monthly. Hinn has been conducting these crusades for many years and by now ought to have a warehouse full of documented miracles and healings. Yet after over ten plus years of “miracle” crusades the only genuine miracle is the fact that people still attend his meetings at all! DMI has established in the past that we can prove in a court of law that more people have died attending his crusades than he can prove have been healed. Mr. Hinn’s major moral problem is that he is a liar and false prophet (not to mention a false healer). Hinn has lied about a person being raised from the dead in Nigeria. He is on record of lying in the name of the Lord in several recorded prophecies over the years. Yet in spite of being a proven liar he is still a regular guest on TBN, unfortunately the largest Christian television company in the world. Even though he cannot document any genuine miracles in his meetings he continues to pack arenas around the world and siphon off millions of dollars from legitimate Church work. Probably the best documented resource regarding Mr. Hinn is the book entitled “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn” Published by Personal Freedom Outreach (www.pfo.org) DMI also offers a DVD on Mr. Hinn which exposes him for the fraud he is.

Lest We Forget the Television Superstars

Bentley can be added among the televangelists due to his man-made revival was televised on God T.V. and on the internet via You Tube from start to stop. It appears he has much in common with other infamous charismatic television leaders.

Peter Popoff

Peter Popoff is back like a bad penny. Back in the late 1980’s his alleged gifts of the “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” (1 Cor. 12:8) were exposed as being  fraudulent by former stage magician:

His earlier claims were debunked in 1987 when noted skeptic James Randi and his assistant, Steve Shaw, researched Popoff by attending shows across the country for months. They discovered that radio transmission were being sent by Peter’s wife, Elizabeth Popoff, where she was reading information which she and her aides (Volmer Thrane, the brother of his manger Nancy Thrane, and Reeford Sherrill) had gathered from earlier conversations with members of the audience. Popoff would simply listen to these promptings with his in-ear receiver and repeat what he heard to the crowd. After tapes of these transmissions were played on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Popoff’s popularity and viewing audiences declined sharply, and his ministry declared bankruptcy later that year. (10)

The expose on Popoff did not keep him off the pimping platform for very long. He can still be seen on early morning cable stations and still travels around the world fleecing the needy with false promises of healing and prosperity….laughing all the way to the bank. One way he gets his money is by sending out monthly “point-of-contact” items that when sent back to his SINistry with a donation will produce a host of blessings in the faithful devotee’s life. There are serious doubts that Mr. Popoff is saved (the Lord only knows). This much is certain, DMI prays he repents of his wickedness and is turned to Christ.

Robert Tilton

Robert Tilton was one of the first charismatic mega-church pastors, I’ve meet him in person, attended his Bible school in the 1980’s and I have written the only book exposing him for what he is — a false teacher and false prophet. One thing folks today do not realize is that for several years Mr. Tilton was the darling of the charismatic movement and helped launch several prominent SINistries today including Marilyn Hickey. He was exposed as a fraud by the Trinity Foundation in 1991 on the PrimeTime Live television program:

In 1991, ABC-TV’s “PrimeTime Live” program reported that Tilton’s Word of Faith World Outreach Center Church, then based in Dallas, was making $80 million a year from followers through its direct mail campaign. At the time, Tilton’s television show, “Success-N-Life” was broadcast by 200 stations nationwide and his church claimed 10,000 members. “PrimeTime Live” suggested Tilton’s ministry engaged in mail fraud and showed contributors’ letters, many of them requests for help, in a trash Dumpster outside Commercial Bank of Tulsa A Tulsa recycler said he also found thousands of prayer requests for Tilton’s ministry among the waste sent to him by a company that handled Tilton’s mail. The program sparked an investigation by the Texas attorney general and numerous lawsuits. Stations canceled Tilton’s television program until it eventually went off the air. (12)

Shortly after several court cases against Mr. Tilton he jettisoned his first wife, Marte, of over twenty years and married Leigh Valentine, whom Tilton divorced in less than two years. Currently he is on third wife, Maria Rodriguez who shows up on his television shows. Tilton lost his appeal to other charismatic leaders once his empire began to fall, but he has not lost his television appeal. Even though he is a proven fraud, false teach and false prophet he still is bilking millions of dollars from his television audience.

More than 10 years after his ministry collapsed in scandal, Robert Tilton is reaching millions of television viewers with his pitches for money, living comfortably in south Florida and maintaining a connection with Tulsa. Far from shrinking into obscurity, Tilton is reaping millions from his mailing list and daily shows on Black Entertainment Television. He has formed two companies, bought a 50-foot yacht and purchased a $1.3 million piece of oceanfront property in Miami Beach through his company, records show. (13)

Tilton feeds off the poorest of the poor making swelling promises to them and giving them nothing but a false hope in a false Gospel message. One closing thought, even though all other charismatic leaders jettisoned their allegiance to Tilton NONE of them has ever publicly rebuked him or spoken out against his excesses.

Jim Bakker was the darling of Christian television, he and his wife, Tammy Faye, were far bigger than Paul and Jan Crouch at the time. Long story short (due to space) we all probably remember his adulterous affair with Jessica Hahn, his conviction and prison sentence for defrauding his donors and his divorce from Tammy Faye. Unlike anyone else in this article Mr. Bakker seems to be the only one who genuinely repented of his sins, even though he has not changed too much of his theological stance and is attempting a television comeback via “prophet” Rick Joyner and others.

Jimmy Swaggart

Jimmy Swaggart  was another Pentecostal superstar whose moral failings brought him down, but not out of the limelight. Swaggart called Bakker a “cancer in the Body of Christ” due to his sexual dalliance with Ms. Hahn. Yet while Swaggart was making his charges he was involved with a prostitute and wanted her to allow him to take pictures of her and her young daughter in sexually compromising positions! Not only that he has admitted to being addicted to pornography — “When confronted by the Assemblies of God leadership, Jimmy had no choice but to confess. He told them that he suffered a lifelong addiction to pornography.”  (14)

In 1989, there were further allegations from a woman named Catherine Campen regarding an extramarital affair with Swaggart. But that wasn’t the end; a routine stop for speeding in 1991 led to the discovery that Mr. Swaggart was with another prostitute named Rosemary Garcia. But what most probably remember about Swaggart was his tearful “confession” (although he never specified his “sin” ) before millions of television viewers when he asked forgiveness of God and his wife. Swaggart was eventually defrocked by the Assemblies of god church after he refused to accept a two-year ban from televangelism, stating that “If I do not return to the pulpit this weekend, millions of people will go to hell. (15)

So much for humility! Last time I saw Jimmy he did not have any holes in his hands, i.e. he is not the Savior. At one time Swaggart was so big he had his own zip code in LA. Today after being exposed on several occasions with women of the night Swaggart’s empire is just a shadow of its former monolithic size.

How Is This Explained?

Robert Liardon

These moral and spiritual failings are so egregious that they cannot be hidden in a corner so some type of explanation has to be given to account for them. Roberts LIARdon created a series of videos entitled “God’s Generals,” which on the whole was a decent historical look at most of the above and several other questions leaders. When it came to the moral failings LIARdon addressed them in a unique manner. His position is that these men and women simply could not stand the weight of glory and the power of the anointing God had placed on them. When on the platform they were “giants” but when they stepped off of it, they were just regular folks because God’s power lifted off of them until the next time they ministered.

Many charismatic/sign-gift believers are experience junkies (I know I was) going from one mystical encounter to the next, always looking for a stronger “high.” For LIARdon these leaders simply replaced the high they got from the anointing to one of drugs, alcohol, sex, money or fame. According to LIARdon these folks simply did not know how to operate under the power of God.

That is a convenient explanation when we consider the fact that Mr. LIARdon was exposed as a homosexual by DMI several years ago, he and his Youth Minister (who fled the country to Central America). LIARdon’s grandmother defended Robert by basically rebuking his congregation fro not “covering him in prayer.” Robert was attacked by Satan to destroy his testimony and the valuable work he was doing for the Kingdom of God. Several years later LIARdon is back, teaching people how to withstand the attacks of Satan. What Robert fails to admit in his series is the terrible nature of these sins nor does he explain how or why these people fell into them. This much is certain —sound doctrine when acted upon produces a solid and godly Christian life. All of these “giants” past and present were and are not anchored doctrinally.

In Closing

The listing I have provided is by no means extensive (space does not permit looking at William Branham, Oral Roberts, Larry Lea, Kathryn Kuhlman, etc.) but it does hold up to the light some of the “best and the brightest” within the Pentecostal (sign-gift) camp. This list is not a cherry-picked straw man attempt on my part to railroad the enthusiasts among us.

Brothers and sisters for the most part every person cited is revered by millions of people as a giant person of faith and power. Books and videos lauding John Alexander Dowie, William Branham, A.A. Allen, Aimee McPherson and others abound. Yet what do we really have here in the lives of these leaders? We find homosexuality (I could mention and Ted Haggard here), often multiple divorces, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, adultery on the moral end of the Lord and a love of money on the spiritual side of the equation.

Now we learn that the latest restored apostle is in fact in need of restoration himself! His marriage, unfortunately, has been on the rocks for three years…but none of the restored apostles or prophets seemed to have had any revelation concerning Todd’s problems. If ones personal life is in shambles how can one be a leader in the house of God.

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 1 Timothy 3:1-12

Todd and the other “giants” of Pentecostalism do not even meet the requirements to serve as a deacon in a local church let alone serve as apostles or prophets! What is deeply troubling is that one cannot be a leader without followers. It does not matter what claims anyone makes if no one is willing to believe the claims.

The problem is that so many people are biblically ignorant that they cannot recognize a false teacher or prophet when they stand before them. Anyone with a sound doctrinal foundation can easily point out the purveyors of heresy and false practices. This is why this newsletter is entitled: “Truth Matters” because it is the truth of God that will set us free (see John 8:31-32) just as ignorance or misapplication of God’s Word will put us in bondage. Pray for these self-appointed leaders and more importantly pray for the millions of people who slavishly follow them. It is our prayer that one day they will take their focus off of sinful man and look upon Jesus the true Author and Finisher of their faith (Heb 12:2).  ♦

Copyright ©  2008 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.freshfire.ca/ on Sept 03, 2008 Underlining added for emphasis.

2. Lester Sumrall was a Pentecostal evangelist who by in-large was pretty sound biblically at least in comparison to the others. I meet Smrall personally and had him lay hands on me to “impart” some of his anointing many years ago before I knew better.

3. See further J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions. Tarrytown, NY; Triumph Books, 1991, Vol. 1, pp, 258-259

4. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, op. cit., pg 480.

5. Jerry Huffman, Editor, Calvary Contender, “Leroy Jenkins, ‘Faith Healer,” Vol. XVIII, No. 17, Sept 1 2001

6. Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrell19.html on Sept 03, 2008

7. Excerpted from “Heaven Can’t Wait” by William M. Alnor, 1996.

8. Ibid

9. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

10. Randi, James (1989) The Faith Healers. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-535-0 pages 141.

11. DMI has the only book in print on the doctrine of point-of-contact entitiled “Does the bible Support A Doctrine Called Point -of-Contact.” It is filled with many full color plates and is available for $25.00 per copy.

12. Obtained from http://www.trintiyfI.org/press/tulsaworld02.html

13. Ibid.

14. Obtained from http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/religion/televangelists/jimmy-swaggart/.

15 Obtained from http://rainbowsendpress.com/exposed/swaggart.html on 04-08.





The Lunacy In Lakeland – déjà Vu All Over Again

2 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2008 – Vol. 13   Issue 6 – The Lunacy In Lakeland – déjà vu All Over Again

Discernment Ministries International

The Lunacy In Lakeland

déjà Vu All Over Again

By Robert S. Liichow

Over the last month or so DMI has been inundated with reports (many of them “glowing”) with the latest revival to be sent, theoretically, by the Holy Spirit. Now many of the former sign-seekers who partook of the revival at Toronto and Pensacola are now flocking to Lakeland, FL to experience the latest outpouring of God’s power and presence.

What is amazing to me is that everything I have read about this latest manifestation of excited ignorance is that it is nothing new! The same “manifestations” of uncontrollable laughter, being slain in the spirit, reports of teeth being filled with gold, angel feathers being found along with gem stones after the praise services, etc. In short it is the same-old / same-old. The usual fanatical claims of miracles are being reported (and as usual unsubstantiated). Let me just cite one such “miracle” report before delving into the background of these meetings:

This is the 13 resurrection as a result of this outpouring. I’m saying to the media “the dead are being raised.” I received this testimony: “My dear brother died. We requested an all night wake. At the funeral we played the revival. We declared my brother alive. At 2:19 a.m. my brother began to stir in his coffin. My brother sat up in the coffin praising God. My brother went to heaven and he thought he would not return. He said Todd was Bring his spirit back from heaven. All of us the funeral home were praising God. (Obtained from http://www.revivallakeland.org/ May 25, 2008

Thirteen people have been raised from the dead as a result of this outpouring so the enthusiasts say.  I simply ask this — can you please supply DMI with the names, addresses, phone numbers and Death Certificates of these, any individuals? After all if thirteen people have been raised from the dead by the power of God then, obviously, their experience will stand any form of scrutiny. I doubt seriously that Fresh Fire Ministries (the vortex of this most recent Saint Vitas’ dance of delusion) will respond at all to our request.

Who Is Behind The Lunacy at Lakeland?

Revivalist Todd Bentley, an obese, massively tattooed and pierced individual who started a ministry called “Fresh Fire Ministries” several years ago in Abbotsford, Canada. The following information comes from his own ministries webpage regarding his ministry background: “In his late teens, Todd had a dramatic encounter with the saving and delivering power of God. This experience brought Todd out of a lifestyle of drug and alcohol addiction without cravings or withdrawal symptoms. He was also delivered from a lifestyle involving criminal activity, youth prisons, drugs, sex satanic music and bondage. Todd’s miraculous conversion to Jesus was much like the Apostle Paul’s on the Damascus road. Todd was instantly transformed into a radical disciple and soul winning evangelist for Jesus. (Obtained from http://www.freshfire.ca/index.php?Id=101&pid=8 on 05-28-08 bolding added for emphasis).

I rejoice that God delivered Todd from such a sinful past (mirrors my own in many ways). But to compare ones conversion to that of the greatest Apostle in the Bible is a little grandiose. “God has drawn Todd into deep and intimate places of prayer. These extended times in God’s presence has released a fresh prophetic and miracle-healing anointing…He ministers prophetically, corporately and personally as well as brings forth the word of God with the power and demonstration of the Spirit — God confirming His word with signs and wonders following. God has released an increase of the healing anointing into Todd’s life to the point where the blind see, the deaf hear & growths dissolve as Jesus still heals every sickness and disease. (ibid. bolding added)

This is the typical template of any of the revivalist of our past. AA Allen, Jack Coe, T.L. Osborn, William Branham all wrote about spending hours “shut in {“ with God in deep prayer with the end result of being given supernatural powers to work miracles and heal the sick. Not only did God allegedly give Todd a fresh (is there a stale anointing?) prophetic and miracle-healing anointing it seems that God has released an INCREASE of the healing anointing into Todd’s life! This increased healing anointing is so powerful that the blind see, the deaf hear, growths dissolve, as Jesus (through Todd Bentley) still heals every sickness and disease. The following are a couple of testimonies from the Lakeland lunacy proving Todd’s magnificent healing anointing:

George: We have a man that can see out of a glass eye!  Never have I heard of a glass eye seeing. I need a minute to process this. You can’t see out of a glass eye? Never have before. I can see light and shadow. When the optic nerve registers, I’ll be able to see. This is more of a miracle than if the Lord gave him a real eye. (Obtained from http://www.revivallakeland.org/ on 05-28-08 bold type added).

(I must admit that is pretty good when a guy can see through his glass eye. Let’s just set aside the FACT that no further verifiable information is given and let’s forget that the biblical Jesus healed by restoration, I.e. withered hand made whole, deafness cured vs. giving the person a gold hearing aid, etc.) This testimony and other’s we will look at just prove the susceptibility of people who check their minds at the door !

One thing that is patently missing from Mr. Bentley’s testimony is the lack of any biblical education (I know some of you are saying, “here he goes again”) yet facts are facts. Here is a man going around the world teaching the Bible, yet without having been taught himself ! The only credentials that sign-seekers want to know about is whether or not the preacher has some divine personal encounter with God. It is the alleged encounter that counts and is given a higher precedence over formal seminary training. To the sign-seeker the divine encounter is a spiritual revelation directly from the Holy Spirit to your human spirit. Formal biblical training is merely head knowledge; one mans understanding being transmitted from a mere man to another, man (or woman). Spirit ALWAYS trumps the mind in the extremists’ life. Since Todd (or Hinn, Copeland, Meyer, Dollar, etc) have no formal training then obviously their teaching is coming from a “higher” source, that source being touted as none other then the Holy Spirit Himself. In Bentley’s case we have a man who the testimony of the Apostle Paul & the Lord Jesus Christ, talk about your double portion! Here is a glowing review written by the Publishers at Destiny Image Publications:

Todd Bentley is causing quite a stir worldwide. Some say he is being used by the Lord to bring healing and miracles to thousands of people — others are deeply skeptical of him and his ministry, Fresh Fire founded in 1979. What started for the 32-year-old Canadian as an invitation to speak at a church in Lakeland, Florida, in April 2008, has turned into a massively growing revival that now accommodates 10,000 people on land at the local airport. According to Fresh Fire Ministries 1.2 million people have watched the streaming broadcasts on the internet, and more then 140,000 people from at least 40 countries have attended the meetings. Todd’s book, The Journey into the Miraculous, tells of his dramatic deliverance as a teenager from a life of alcohol, drugs, prison, and the occult, launching him by the Holy Spirit into a worldwide ministry… According to Todd, “I was told by a modern-day prophet that I am part of the ‘first fruits’ wave of a billion people whom God would light on fire. I am a forerunner and one of many who will carry the healing anointing to the nations. God has lead me to put this book together not just to tell about my personal journey into the miraculous, but also to help people understand what God is doing in our time, and encourage readers to take steps of faith in areas where they may have been holding back.” As an evangelist and revivalist operating in a fresh prophetic and miracle-healing anointing. Todd has witnessed God heal hundreds of people who were: diseased with cancer, blind, addicted to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and in bondage to Satan’s evil. Todd Bentley’s recently released book, The Reality of the Supernatural World: Exploring Heavenly Realms and Prophetic Experiences, teaches how Spirit-filled believers can take back what Satan has perverted, allowing them to explore the supernatural realms that God wants them to experience. Todd shares revelation about the supernatural world including: how to access it; types of experiences; locations in the supernatural; functions of angels; how to live under an open Heaven; and the price of accessing spiritual depth. (obtained from Destiny Image Communique” >dnj@destinyimage.com 06-06-08, (bold type added for emphasis).

I am troubled by everything about Mr. Bentley as I have already mentioned he declares to have had a conversion experience like Saul of Tarsus, is empowered with the miracle anointing of our Lord Jesus Christ and now we read that he is like John the Baptist in that he is a forerunner but his mission is to carry the healing anointing to the nations! Obviously, we are not dealing with a mere mortal but one of the super-charged end time remnant Ubermensch long prophesied to come by former heretics. A so called restored prophet Todd Bentley that he was one of a billion people God was going to set on “fire” Statistically that is pretty hard to swallow. There are around 2.1 billion professing Christians (obtained from http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html), so that means one out of 2 Christians will become “Todd-like.” Me thinks not.

What is more troubling than these grandiose claims of Bentley’s are his statements about teaching God’s people which are unbiblical and occultic in nature. He claims to teach God’s people how to take back from Satan the ability to “explore the supernatural realms that God wants them to experience.” Where in the entire Bible are we told that God wants us to explore supernatural realms? Where are we told that Satan has somehow hindered us from doing so? According to my knowledge of world cultures, and religions, Satan is constantly moving shamans, witchdoctors, crones, and others to delve into the supernatural to have mystical “experiences” via mind-altering drugs and practices. The Lord Never encourages His people to attempt to explore the supernatural or seek after supernatural experiences as Todd is teaching. Not only is this a false teaching it is a dangerous one. Bentley goes on to say that he will teach people how to access the supernatural, what types of experiences they can expect (I am sure it is nothing more than the usual holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, flapping, flopping and jumping about). Todd will reveal locations in the supernatural ! Again, where does the Bible speak of any of this?  This is all “new” revelation which does not proceed from the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of Mr. Bentley “ministering”. The following is a direct transcript from a You Tube Video:

The woman was standing in the back of the room when the faith of God hit the meeting, and her tumor exploded out of her right leg, slid down her leg onto the floor! (Audience applause) I said, “God I prayed for like a hundred crippled people, Not one? He said, “That’s because I want you to grab that lady’s crippled legs and bang them up-and-down on the platform like a baseball bat.” (Audience laughter) I walked up and grabbed her legs, and I started going, BAM! BAM! I started banging them up-and-down on the plat[form]! She got healed! And I’m thinking, God why is not the power of God moving? He said, “Because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.” (Audience laughter) And there is this old lady worshipping right in front of the platform. (Audience laughter) And the Holy Spirit spoke to me — the gift of faith came on me — He said, “Kick her in the face with your biker-boot.” I inched closer and I went like this [Todd Bentley performs a kick with his right leg and yells] BAM! (Audience laughter) And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God. (audience laughter ) Obtained from: http://www.christianresearchservice.com on 06-09-08).

Does this sound like the manner in which Jesus ministered healing? Is “God’s” power moving dependent upon anything we do, especially kicking an elderly woman in the face? To Bentley the gift of faith equals doing something bizarre and then attributing it to the Holy Spirit.

Is the Revival Biblical ?

Is revivalism biblical? That depends upon how we define our terms. To the charismatic extremist revival is when the Holy Spirit re-descends upon people in a certain locale and they are moved to repentance, or their spiritual joy restored or they are empowered to serve God in some dramatic manner. Please understand that the concept of “revivals” themselves comes out of either some portion of so-called restored Pentecostalism or pietism, both experiences based groups.

In the united States revivalism was directly tied to Pentecostalism and the belief that the Lord Jesus was soon to return. They believed He sent the Holy Spirit again to give people the gift of tongues to go into the entire world and proclaim the Gospel. This was the foundation of the Azusa Street revival of 1906. Well, Jesus did not return as quickly as hoped so Pentecostalism formed into distinct denominations. Forty years later after World War ll another “revival” broke out this time it was not a “soul-saving and healing revival” as opposed to seeking the salvation of the world, this revival was more concerned with healings and miracles. It was run by men such as William M. Branham, Jack Coe, AA Allen, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn and a few others. It died out due to the exposure of fraud, immorality, lack of verifiable proof and the people simply wanting something more.

Almost forty years later the next really true “revival” has to be considered that initiated by Rodney Howard Browne, dubbed “the Holy Ghost Bartender,” In short his unbiblical manifestations became the hallmark of the latest move of the Spirit and they initially became centered at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TAF) , from whence it spread to Holy Trinity, Bromptom England, from there via Steve Hill to Brownsville Assembly of God (BAG) in Pensacola, Florida. What differentiated this New Wine being poured out from the other two previous moves of the Spirit, was that it was a revival of “Joy” one in which the Heavenly Father came down to play with His children. I kid you not, I heard this in person, saw it played out in person at TACF, filmed it and dissected it and found nothing but filth. The end result of TACF and the BAG was that both churches underwent splits. The senior pastor’s left when the crowds died down and the sign-seekers were left unfulfilled and still hungry for “more” of God, since they had received little to no true spiritual nutrition. NEVER FORGET THE FOLLOWING QUOTE:

Son, let me tell you something. Do you know when you can tell a revival meeting is over? Do you know when God’s saying to move on to the next town? When you can turn people on their head and shake them and no money falls out, then you know God’s saying ‘Move on, son’, — A.A. Allen message to brother Marjoe Gortner. Obtained from the Preachers, James Morris St. Martin’s Press.

This is exactly what happened at TACF and BAG, the crowds thinned out, the other leaders in the church felt abused and used. The revivalists had all become extremely wealthy and left town! Now out of the blue we have another revival! Suddenly signs and wonders are being performed (this time down the way in Lakeland vs. Pensacola) Now the hungry can run and be filled with empty promises of power and glory. They can have a safe place to go enthusiastically mad and engage in the St. Vitas dance of delusion once more. Oh, make no mistake my friends, these experiences are powerful, fun, and very addictive (I speak from personal experience) and when they are grabbed in the clothing of the so called “anointing” of the Spirit they become holy to the practitioners. Let’s close with some simple Bible thoughts. Does the Bible prophecy a great world-wide end-time soul-saving revival? No it does not. As opposed to a great “ingathering” of souls the Bible speaks of a great falling away (2 Thess. 2:3) an apostasy. Our Lord Himself speaks rhetorically by asking if when He returns will He find faith on the earth (See Luke 18:8), no! Jesus is also caustic regarding those who run hither and thither seeking signs:

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.  Matthew 16:4

He considers such people (1) wicked and (2) adulterous, why? Primarily because these people are not seeking Jesus per se, they are seeking loaves and fishes, they’re looking to gain spiritual power and not the face of God. Jesus excoriates those who dare to claim to be the ones working the signs and wonders:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:22,23

I fear for Todd and all like him and their alleged “fresh prophetic anointing” and the false unfulfilled words they proclaim in the name of our Lord. The deliverances and miracles they say they have done in the name of Jesus… yet our Master says “I never knew you” Let me say that in the Greek this is very plain it does not imply “I used to know you, but I don’t know you now,” No Jesus NEVER knew these folks. What is more what on the surface seemed to be a good work, I.e. prophetic words, demonic deliverances, miracles Jesus calls those doing such things evildoers not doers of good!

The Bible is filled with warnings about false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, when will our sign-seeking friends awake to these warnings?

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruit ye shall know them. Matt. 7:15-20

Our Lord warns us to beware of the false prophets — they are coming in droves.

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.   Matthew 24:11-13.

What is the “fruit” of these false prophetic Sinisters? Many (a huge number in the Greek) shall be deceived, not blessed. The love of many (same word in the Greek) shall grow cold towards Jesus due to all the fraud being perpetrated in His holy name. The false words, the fake healings, the fraudulent claims will cause many unstable believers to become shipwrecked. Again and again our Lord warns His Church to beware (be-ware) false prophets, i.e. people who come in His name, show signs and wonders and YET do not belong to Jesus at all.

This is why the Apostle John warns: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Even from the beginning of the Church MANY false prophets went out to deceive God’s children, how many more so today? Many today even claim to be apostles (I have met and spoken with no less than six of these deceivers):

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

As a former charismatic extremist I taught much about the “five-fold” ministry of Christ (Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, and Evangelist) it was not until my deliverance from doctrinal darkness that I saw another false five-fold ministry in the Bible as well consisting of: false shepherds, false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, and false brethren… and to add a sixth, false Christs.

Charismatic extremists say that they have more faith in God to keep them doctrinally pure than in the devil to mislead them. I admit that sounds pious and faithful, yet if this were the case then why do we have ALL the warnings about being deceived in the Old and New Covenants? If what our extremists’ brethren proclaim is true then the Bible must be wrong. Scripture consistently warns us to “beware.” Beware of what and of whom? Without a doubt God is Almighty and Sovereign, yet the almighty and sovereign God has seen fit to warn His children to be alert to their foe. Here are a few examples:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing. But inwardly they are ravening wolves, Matthew 7:15

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues   Matthew 7:17

Beware of the dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.   Phip 3:2

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. Col. 2:8

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness 2 Peter 3:17

Truth Matters my brothers and sisters and in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son and all we need is to look to Jesus through God’s Word and find the satisfaction our souls yearn for. What is transpiring in Lakeland, FL, is not a move of the Holy Spirit anymore than what recently occurred in TACF and Brownsville, both revivals left behind them thousands of disillusioned people. Some of these no doubt have run to Lakeland hoping against hope that maybe this will be the “real deal”. Sadly, they will find out the hard way this Lakeland is nothing more then excited ignorance in which our Lord is neither glorified nor present. Pray for those being mislead by the plethora of false prophets and apostles today! ♦

Copyright © 2008  Robert S. Liichow

 





“HEARING” THE VOICE OF GOD

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

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing the Voice of God

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who “Heard” the voice of God?

Old Testament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Testament

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Charismatic Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The BIG Question

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





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.

 





The Discipline of Biblical Meditation

4 11 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 7 – The Discipline of Biblical Meditation – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The Discipline of Biblical Meditation

We live in a time when it seems our every waking moment is filled with chatter from our televisions, car stereos, ipods and cell phones. I received a newsletter, whose banner line is “is there enough silence for the Word to be heard,” which is a great question in today’s sensory overloaded society. Meditation is somewhat of a lost “art” to many of us because of how we live, yet it is an ancient Biblical discipline that can bear great spiritual fruit in our lives…if we will take the time to be silent and ponder the Words of God.

What Meditation Is Not

“Meditation,” when we hear this word today we often think of some Eastern guru sitting in a lotus position contemplating his or her navel. Or perhaps we may conjure up an image of a monk sitting in his cell in a lonely monastery in some forsaken desert.

Our nation has already experienced the full brunt of eastern meditative techniques taught by a variety of eastern guru, including the likes of Bagwan Shree Ragnesh, Muktanada Paramahansa, Maharishi Ji, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with his T.M., to the most recent flake called the “Hugging Saint.” After reaping millions of U.S. dollars from their demented disciples the gift they left behind are hordes of people who have drifted further into the darkness of what we call the “New Age Movement.”

On every major college campus in America you will find Hindu Ashrams and New Age Centers. Bookstores are filled to the brim with books on Eastern Mysticism and New Age Practices, which the section regarding biblical truth could be put in a few rather small boxes.

Eastern Hinduism and the New Age are really both the same, there is really nothing “new” about the New Age, it is just ancient Hinduism packaged in a format that is acceptable to Western people. The goal of meditation in both groups is the same — for the individual to realize that they are in fact God.

Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to what seems to be harmless spiritual practices on Oprah Winfrey’s television program on a regular basis through her two favorite spiritual “advisors” Depak Chopra, a Hindu & Mary Anne Williamson of the Unity cult…both best-selling authors, due in part to Oprah’s support. Both these individuals support the same goal — to lead people to believe they are in fact God. This is nothing new, this was the lie that Satan presented to Adam and Eve in the garden “You shall be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

In both Hinduism & The New Age Movement the practice of YOGA in its many styles is tied together with meditation in order to achieve “God-consciousness” or oneness with the “Universal Mind.”

Yoga has been widely accepted in the U.S. and is usually offered at Y.M.C.A.’s across this nation. Some Christians might argue — “Well brothers wouldn’t you agree that Christians can practice yoga for exercise without accepting its philosophy?

My answer is simple: No. Biblical Christians cannot practice yoga. Not only is it unbiblical, it is ungodly in its origins.

Yoga is specifically tied to Hinduism and there is no way to divorce the 2 from each other. Each form of YOGA (and there are over 30 different varieties of yoga) is specifically geared towards putting one in touch with various Hindu deities. So there is nothing spiritually neutral about it at all. Please, do not take my word for it, God Himself has spoken plainly and said in:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truthJ Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. Eph. 5:8-11

As Christians we are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. On the other hand we, as Christians, are to reprove, which in the Greek (elegchete) means to expose openly the error of these unfruitful works which have their origin in Satan and not Christ.

Yoga and eastern-meditation are most assuredly unfruitful works of darkness which have their origin in Satan and the demonic realm.

Many times in the newspapers you’ll see cartoons of some individual climbing way up on a mountain top to ask the meditating guru what is “the answer.”? And they generally give some funny response: even some companies use television commercials with this same concept of meditation. This Eastern/New Age view is generally what many believers think of when someone mentions meditation.

However, despite the great popularity of all the counterfeit forms of meditation that Satan and his demons use to lead people astray from the light of God into further darkness, one fact still remains: The Bible mentions the practice of meditation quite a bit and it is one of the spiritual disciplines attached to our prayer life and it is a discipline we need to both practice daily & master.

Biblical Meditation Defined

As always, we must begin with a biblical understanding of what we are talking about when it comes to meditation. What does the word mean? The first time we find it mentioned in the bible is in Genesis:

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels [were] coming. Genesis 24:63

In this text mediate is defined in the Hebrew as: “Soo-Ah” and in this setting it means to muse, commune, speak, and complain.

Without delving into Isaac’s problems we note that after his work day was over, it was eventide or sunset. One of the 2 most beautiful times of the day. In my opinion, the other is sunrise. He went alone and he went out to specifically meditate.

We do not know exactly what form his meditation took. We don’t know if he was pondering his fate, his future. Was he communing with the God of Abraham in the silence of his soul, was he speaking or complaining to God about his lot in life. Any and all of which as we have learned are forms of prayer — DIALOG, between ourselves and our God. Prayer is best defined as speaking & Listening. Probably a more familiar text and more practical one is found in the book of Joshua:

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous. that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest. Jos. 1:6-9

Moses had died and God had placed Joshua in Moses position and Joshua was afraid the people would not follow him. The Lord God speaks to Joshua and encourages him and reminds him that He will be with Joshua just as He was with Moses.

He tells Joshua to be: (1) STRONG and (2) COURAGEOUS. Why? That Joshua may observe to do all the law which Moses had handed down.

To “observe” in the Hebrew means to keep, to guard, to protect and act upon. Do you realize that at times, (and it seems like those times are multiplying in our day as Christians) that its takes strength and courage to uphold God’s Word and swim against the stream of popular religious opinion?

It takes both strength & courage to be a doer of His Truth and not one who compromises God’s Word for the sake of societal trends or even denominational stances on certain issues. To be such a person, to be one who is willing to swim upstream and at times stand alone in order to uphold God’s Word requires both strength and courage.

Where was Joshua supposed to get the STEEL he needed to keep Him from becoming a spineless jellyfish. You all know what a jellyfish is right? That is a somewhat amorphous sea creature that generally floats along with whatever direction the current may be flowing. Jellyfish do not swim against the current. They float along. Frankly too many preachers have no spine today and even though they know what the Bible plainly teaches about many “politically incorrect” issues they remain silent, they suffer from the disease of “non-rock-a-boat-itis,” a disease I am gladly immune to. As Lee Frank is oft quoted saying:

All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent.

My friends, America and the Church in general is in the trouble it is in because too many Good men have remained silent or have been silenced.

On Judgment Day brothers and sisters, I would not want to be in the shoes of any minister who knew the truth but refused to teach it to God’s people. Nor would I want to stand in the place of those who dared to silence the man of God from proclaiming what the Bible teaches because they were “afraid” of the potential fall-out fro the unvarnished proclamation of the Gospel.

This Fear is never from God, it comes from only 2 sources: (1) either from Satan or (2) ourselves when we lack faith in God. Three ties God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous and what is more He shows Joshua how to do it!

The Church today needs more Jeremiah’s who God told to “be not afraid of their faces: for I [am] with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD (Jer. 1:8).” Instead of being Casper Milk-toasts when faced by those who are not on the Lord’s side of an issue.

God teaches Joshua how to be strong, non-compromising and fearless in the face of his flock & his enemies.

Do you want to like Joshua, who went on to fight ten major battles and conquer a land and lead at times cantankerous stiff necked people?

If so, then you’re about to learn that meditation is a key ingredient in being a doer of all God’s Word versus a hearer only who ends up deceiving themselves and others according to James 1:22. Let’s re-read Joshua verse 8:

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Jos 1:8

Meditate here is a different Hebrew word than the word used in Genesis, here it is “Ha-ga.” It means to: utter, muse, mutter, speak, whisper, to murmur and study. It carries with it the connotation of a cow chewing its cud.

God commands (note, He does not suggest, meditation is not an option for a successful spiritual life) Joshua to meditate on it which means that he is to both to muse, ponder, i.e. think about what God has revealed in His law and he is to chew on it, dissect it and also mutter it softly to himself, or in today’s parlance he was to confess God’s law to himself.

“Oh come on now, surely Rev. Liichow you don’t expect us to believe Joshua walked around muttering the bible to himself do you? And of course, you don’t expect us to do the same do you? Oh yes, I am sure Joshua did exactly this. If you want to enter into a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit then you will do likewise and spend the time necessary to deeply consider the Word of the Lord.

What do you think Paul’s admonition to the Church at Ephesus was about when he wrote them saying:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Eph 5:19-20

This is exactly what the Lord was telling Joshua to do. Its called meditation. Your mind is always thinking about something, it might as well be zeroed in on God’s Word!

One easy way to do this in the workplace or anyplace is by listening to Gospel or sacred music or the Bible on your CD player in the car, while jogging or walking. That is a perfect way to help guide our wandering minds back to the Word of God and His precepts.

It’s easy to tell who lives a life of prayer and meditation because they view ALL of life’s issues through the lens of the Scripture. These folks obey the directives of their God as He gave them in —

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shall bind them for a sign upon thin hand, and they shall be as frontets between thine eyes. De 6:6-8

These Kingdom seekers embody —

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech [be] always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col. 4:5-6

Because these folks have sought the Lord early and spent time before the Lord in prayer and Bible stud and have been pondering the Word they’ve studied, they’ve muttered and memorized portions of it and contemplated how it applies to their daily lives. Pretty soon they are walking in wisdom towards unbelievers; they are making the most of their time; their words are gracious and seasoned with salt; they know, because they are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit how they ought to answer every man! Jesus said it this way —

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh Luke 6:45

Those who pray and meditate, who speak about the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God versus gossiping about others. Their hearts are full of God’s Word, that they have pondered, muttered and memorized! That’s why it is easy to recognize souls such as these. The bottom line: We talk about what we know, if we know the Lord and His Word fills our hearts & minds we will talk about it.

How Often?

How often was Joshua to do this? Day and Night. When it is not day, what is it? Night! When it is not night, what is it? Day! In other words Biblical meditation CAN and IS to be practiced both day & night.

Keep in mind that Joshua had a nation of people to lead, this tells me that biblical meditation is practical and can be done in the midst of our busy schedules.

It does not mean you have to go to some secluded area and recite Scriptures out loud to yourself, although if tie permits that is a form of meditation.

The Results of Meditation

God told Joshua, that through meditation he would be able to keep & do all the law. Then and only them Joshua was told that his way would be made prosperous and successful. Prosperous here means to advance spiritually and good success is defined in the Hebrew as to be prudent, to be circumspect and have insight!

Television preachers often teach this text to mean that if you will meditate in God’s Word that you will become financially wealthy, that is not in the Hebrew. It has to do with spiritual advancement and Godly wisdom in dealing with the affairs of life.

King David the Master of Meditation

But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Ps. 1:2-3

As I wrote regarding the first discipline, you make time and spend time with the people you love. If you love the Lord and delight in Him, then you will speak to and with Him in prayer. David DELIGHTED in the law. Ask yourself, do you delight in the Bible, if not, why not?

Those who LOVE the Word will spend time in the WORD and the benefit of their meditation will be: (1) A strong root system, (2) A consistent feeding from the Holy Spirit, the River of Living Water, (3) Fruitfulness (4) Spiritual advancement, the whatsoever he doeth pertains to the Word he or she has been mediating on. They will see the manifestation of it. Their position in Christ will begin to become their experience.

But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah  Ps. 4:3-4

At night when we lie down we can mediate, commune with our hearts and be still, listening for that still small voice. Note how David connects prayer “the Lord WILL hear when I CALL unto Him” with communing.

David says “Stand in awe”—are we in awe of God? If we recognize His presence is truly with us then we should “sin not.” Paul says the same thing in Corinthians:

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak [this] to your shame. 1 Cor. 15:34

He tells thee “Spirit-filled” tongue-talking, sign-gift manifesting Christians to wake up to who they are, the righteousness of God in Christ. He goes on to rebuke them saying that some of them do not have the knowledge of God, and he says that to their shame! Why didn’t they? They had not been seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness; they had not been meditating in the Word or walking in love. They were seeking gifts and not working on developing fruit. Meditating on God’s Word will help you develop spiritual fruit and fruitfulness. Our God is glorified when we bear spiritual fruit (John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples). Meditating on God’s Word will help us bear fruit! Let’s continue.

The fear of the LORD [is} clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are} true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] then gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward. Who can understand [his] errors? Cleanse thou me from secret [faults]. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Ps. 19:9-14

I believe we can see a progression in this Psalm. Meditation starts and finishes with the Holy, inerrant Word of God. His Word is true and righteous altogether.

As Christians we are to desire The Holy Spirit’s divine illumination more than gold —(I hope you’re seeing how seeking first ties directly into this).

His Word is sweeter than honey. God has given us His Word to warn us and in keeping, that is, doing His Word is great reward. What “great reward”? Through prayer, fasting, Bible study and meditation —The Holy Spirit will reveal to you secret sins, things you think nobody else knows about and He will graciously bring you to repentance of them. What is more the Holy Spirit will make you strong through the sacraments and help keep you from presumptuous.

Then you are in position to have fellowship with our Lord. Then the words of your mouth & the meditation of your heart will be acceptable in the sight of your Lord, the One who is both your Strength & Redeemer.

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Ps. 104:33-34

We already read in Ephesians 5:19-20 the role of singing and making melody in our hearts as a form of meditation. When I mediate on how good God has been to me and is towards me, then it is sweet! When I mediate on how He delivered me from the dominion of darkness and translated me into the Kingdom of His dear Son I am glad in the Lordmakes even this Lutheran boy want to shout and dance!

O how love I thy law! It [is] my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they [are] ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [are] my meditation. Ps. 119:97-99

Let me bring this discipline to a close with this text, it embodies what the Holy Spirit wants us to know: 1). David loved God’s Word —Proof—he meditated on it all the day and even when he laid down on his bed at night. 2) Through meditating on God’s Word he incorporated it into action, David did what he studied—Proof— he was wiser then his enemies. Wisdom is the Word being practically applied. 3). Through his time with God in prayer & study he gained more insight than his teachers—PROOF—for contents of the Bible were his meditation. Spiritual growth & advancement comes through spending time with God in fasting, prayer, Bible study and meditating on what you’ve studied so you can apply it to your own life and thus become a disciple of Christ who bears much spiritual fruit, fruit that endures. ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

AMEN !

 

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