Faithful or Faulty Preaching?

30 12 2011

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

 Discernment Ministries International

 Faithful or Faulty Preaching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Luther saw:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 

End Notes

 

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

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

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

 4. These are not in amy chronological order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Liar Liar Pants on Fire – Jesse Duplantis Stands by His Tall Tale of Heaven

11 05 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 2 – Liar Liar Pants on Fire – Jesse Duplantis Stands by His Tall Tale of Heaven – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Jesse Duplantis Stands by His Tall Tale of Heaven

By Rev. Robert Liichow

"Smiling faces, smiling faces tell lies" lyric from 'The Undisputed Truth"

Last month DMI dealt specifically with Oral Roberts and his very questionable legacy. I, like most people, do not want to see a man who told straight faced lies (or was so deeply deceived he really thought he was telling the truth) to God’s people in God’s name. It is simply outrageous that no one within Pentecostalism ever publicly took Oral Roberts to task. There has never been a time when Pentecostalism was a unified front in America and has never had any real overall structural leadership. This allows all their ministers to basically oversee themselves and account to no one, accept possibly their Board of Directors which often consists of family members and/or close personal friends who subsist off the fortunes of the SINistry.

Brothers and sisters Truth Matters. One of the immutable characteristics of God is His verity or inherent truthfulness. Since God’s nature is unchanging He is eternally truthful everything He does and we being created in His image He demands truthfulness from all creation. The Bible is filled with commands for us to be truthful in all our deeds: We are told not to bear false witness against our neighbor (see Ex. 20:19) or even more seriously lying in the name of our Lord (see Ex. 20:7). Here alone 20% of the 10 commandments demand truthfulness in our dealings with God and man. Two of the 7 things the Lord hates are (Prov. 6:17-19). (1) A lying witness who bears false testimony and (2) A lying tongue. Here 33% of the emphasis here is further insight into how much God hates the telling of lies. ‘These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates” ( read Zechariah 8:16). The Bible ends with a somber warning in Rev. 21:8 “…all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” What does this mean (a good Lutheran question)? It means, obviously, that God places a very strong emphasis on trustworthiness of our words and actions.

My dear brothers and sisters we must never lose sight of the fact that we are representatives, ambassadors for Christ in this world (read 2 Cor. 5:20). God Himself calls and sees us as living epistles know and read of all men (see 2 Cor. 3:2). By lying we can never represent our God in any form or fashion. There is no darkness in Him, there is no crookedness in His dealings and as His ambassadors there ought not be any dishonesty in our representation of Him.

With the aforementioned in mind let us again reconsider some of the claims of Mr. Duplantis and his alleged trip to heaven and compare it with the Word of God which we know is holy and inerrant in Its testimony.

Mr. Duplantis has built his SINistry in large part on sharing many alleged supernatural experiences the most detailed and widely shared is his account of going to heaven including a visit to the throne of Almighty God. The following citations are taken from Mr. Duplantis book entitled “Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind.”

In August 1988 Rev. Duplantis was preaching a revival in Magnolia Arkansas. He feels impressed to go back to his hotel room and pray about the service that evening. He notices the clock (again) it was one minute before one o’clock. He gets down on his knees and gets ready to pray then

“Suddenly I felt a suction as if I was being pulled up out of the room…I heard a sound Whoose! And I was pulled up out of the room…I didn’t know I had left the room and I was zooming along at a phenomenal rate of speed…in something like a cable car…Then I looked up. There stood another being I realized that it was the blond-headed angel who had visited me…”You have an appointment with the Lord God Jehovah.” (1)

Jesse has an out-of-body experience and finds himself in an angelic cable car with the same angel who told him to get some sleep. This time we are told why this is happening, Jesse has an appointment with the Lord God Jehovah!

“As I stepped out of the chariot, everything I saw was so beautiful. I had always thought that when I went to heaven I would see only a city. But the first place I saw was Paradise; it hadn’t been destroyed. Paradise is a big place, completely surrounding the Holy City. It is like being on another planet.”  (2)

We are now informed that Paradise has (1) not been destroyed, (2) paradise is a big place, and (3) paradise completely surrounds the Holy City. Not only is this without any Biblical proof, but we seem to have a dichotomy between Mrs. Baxter’s revelation in our last section and Jesse’s revelation now. Jesus personally showed Mrs. Baxter that Paradise has been taken over by Satan in hell. Yet now, a few years later we find that Paradise is now sort of the suburbs of heaven. Who are we to believe? Which is it? Is Paradise in hell or in heaven? These two nationally known charismatic teachers both claim to have had genuine experiences but their experiences in no way agree! This is a logical impossibility. Even if their accounts internally agreed with each other they are still at complete variance with the Bible, and must be discounted.

Jesse begins to describe the heavenly scene. He sees children, animals, beautiful flowers, the River of life and trees lining the River of life with thousands of people standing around under the trees. Jesse notices something that again is a totally new insight regarding some sort of caste system in heaven:

Then I saw other people who didn’t have on robes; they were wearing gowns. They started walking toward the city, but they seemed to get weak. I saw them walk over to the trees, pick what looked like fruit and eat it. Then they took some leaves off those trees, put the leaves up to their faces and breathed in, smelling them. I asked the angel, “What’s happening? He said, ‘Some of them have not lived the life they should. They believe in God and love Jesus, but they didn’t live to their fullest potential…Yes God is merciful to them,” he said. “But they have to be prepared to stand in the presence of the Almighty.” (3)

Even in heaven some people will have to work to make themselves ready to stand in the presence of God. They did not live up to their fullest potential on earth, so now they have to do some more works in heaven…then they can face God. The work of Christ is not enough, it obviously is not a finished work, we still have to do our part to make ourselves ready to face God. Hebrews 9:12 tells us that the work Jesus Christ did on the cross obtained for us an eternal redemption. Yet it appears, according to Duplantis, we still have to work on becoming perfected even in heaven.

“Some people don’t live close to God the way they should. They know Jesus as their Savior, but they could do so much better. In heaven they will eventually be able to go to God’s Throne, but it takes more time for them. (4)

Duplantis does not explain what it takes to “live close to God” but it obviously involves some type of work(s) on our part. I have no problem with the fact that one can live a dynamic Christian life or a mediocre one on earth. I have no problem with teaching that people will receive varying degrees of reward from the Master at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I have an extreme problem with people having to do some form of works in order to merit an audience with the God who loved them so much He sent His only Begotten Son to die for us! This insight is a lie because it directly contradicts Biblical teaching.

Romans 3:26

For the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 12:23

To the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,

With nothing more than a quick glance through the New Testament anyone can see that the one who has placed their trust in the work of Christ (as opposed to their own works which can never save or justify) and declared to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:17-21). We are exhorted to draw near with confidence (parresia, Greek NAS 3954; from Greek 3956 (pas) and rhesis (speech); freedom of speech, confidence, boldness, boldness of speech, confidently, openly).   (4)

Why then does this change in heaven? Why does one have to eat fruit and smell leaves in (works) in order to approach the throne of our God? The blood of Christ has perfected us in God the Father’s eyes. However, Jesse’s experience gives us what really takes place in heaven.

“When I began to feel weak, the angel walked over to one of those trees picked some of its fruit and brought it back to me…The angel said to me, ‘Eat this fruit so you will be able to withstand the glory of God. (5)

It appears that Jesse himself at this point has not been living as close to God as he should have been, even though in his walk with God thus far he had: (1) God previously appeared to him; (2) he’s seen angels, and (3) been supernaturally teleported to Lafayette, and (4) now is in heaven! Yet, even the highly “favored” Duplantis needs to eat some angelic fruit so he can withstand the glory of God!

Jesse Meets Abraham

After eating the fruit the angel asks if he is thirsty, he is, and lo and behold, father Abraham is close by and he comes with a golden goblet to give Jesse a drink. This wise looking fellow comes over and Jesse asks him who he is. Here is the response:

“I’m Abraham, Paradise is my place…I felt I knew him like I knew my father. I fell down on my face before him; but he said; ‘Stand to your feet. The only One you worship is the Lord God…I meet all the people who come here because Paradise is my bosom.   (6)

Jesse Sees Kids in heaven With Jesus –

After his drink he and the angel keep heading towards his divine appointment with Jehovah God. Then all of the sudden he hears children singing and praising God. What’s more they were carrying little harps (I kid you not). After this insight Jesse and the angel continue their journey to meet Jehovah God. At this point in the story Jesse is given further insight into heaven works system:

“They almost got there; then they stopped, turned around and had to go back. It seems as if they were depressed. I heard someone say, ‘There is no depression here. Just eat of the Tree of Life, smell the leaves for healing and let your spirit grow. You shall stand at the Throne of God.”   (7)

Like my grandfather used to say “close but no cigar.” Obviously these folks had made some progress in their sanctification but still they had to turn back to eating the fruit and smelling the leaves.

Jesse Meets Jesus –

All of the sudden, the angel stopped our chariot and said, ‘Kneel. He’s here.” I felt weak then fell to my knees. The angel handed me some fruit and said, “Eat this.” So I did…Jesus was taller than I thought He would be. I would guess Him to be from five feet eleven inches to six feet one inch…He looked at me and said, “There are many things you shall see and learn here, but I have brought you here so that you will go tell My people I’m coming(8)

Now we know that Jesus is probably just a tad under six feet tall, that He has light brown hair and that He especially wants Jesse Duplantis to tell the Church He is coming. Again, the Bible is not enough, the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is not enough, we need people to take special trips to heaven and come back to tell us Jesus is coming back for us.

Jesse Meets King David –

Jesus tells Jesse that He wants him to meet another king, king David. David we learn has a read beard and reddish hair. “Jesus said, “Jesse, I want you to meet the king of Israel.” The Lord said, “Take Jesse to his home. Show him what I have prepared for him. Then bring him to My Throne. I must go.”   (9)   David begins to take Jesse to see his heavenly mansion. On the way they go into another home and Jesse meets the Apostle Paul. Of all the questions he could have asked Paul here is what he comes up with:

“I said to Paul, “You went through great persecution.” “Yes”he answered, “but I kept the faith. I focused my life on faith. That’s how you get things done….Never change the message because of the hearers. Speak what God gives you.   (10)

That must have been sweet music indeed to the ears of a Word of Faith teacher like Rev. Duplantis, Paul kept his focus on faith, that is how you get things done! Isn’t that interesting? All this time I thought Paul had said he kept his eyes focused on knowing Christ (Phil 3:10-13).

Now we see that really Paul kept focused on faith, and that it is by the power of faith that things get done! Well the angel has to move Jesse along, he still has an appointment at the Throne of God. However, King David tags along with them to fellowship with Jesse. What Rev. Duplantis shares next is extreme heresy, King David is speaking –

“He did use Psalm 223 as an example as he explained, “I allowed God and the anointing to come through in that song. In other songs I sang strongly about my troubles. I think I should have allowed more of the answer to come through, instead of the complaining. Those weren’t his exact words, but I knew that was what he meant. Then he added, “I wish I had written more songs about God’s answers than about my problem.    (11)

There we have it! David allowed God and the anointing to come through on Psalm 23. Some of the other psalms in the Bible , I guess we cannot be so sure about. Like a good “faith man” David wished he had written more about the answer than the problem. David wished he had allowed more of the answer, i.e. God and the anointing, to come through instead of complaining.

I really do not think that Rev. Duplantis has thought through the ramifications of his alleged encounter with King David and David’s comments. David’s comments imply that what he wrote was not equally inspired. Some psalms he yielded to God and the anointing (as though they are separate from one another) and others, he did not yield as much.

Romans 15:4

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2 Tim. 3:15-17

And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Then after this astounding revelation David takes Jesse into his home where here we learn that in heaven “all desires are met here. Everything has been thought of – all your desires and some that you could not even think of.”   (12)

Jesse Finally Makes it to God’s Throne

“I felt weaker and weaker as we approached the Throne room. It looked to me like millions of people were there…When the light from the Throne hit me I couldn’t stand up; I fell down, and the angel gave me more of the fruit…I look up from the floor in the direction of the overwhelming Light, and I saw Him! I saw Elohim, Jehovah God. Yahweh sitting on the Throne! But I saw His feet – only His feet…He is so big – you can’t describe Him in a dimension. His had is huge! His body, the form if it, is sort of like energy, spirit. There’s a wall around the Throne, but the Throne is higher than the wall – that’s why you can see the Throne from every direction, from a distance. And that power, that energy-like smoke of God, covers all around the chair of the Throne itself.     (13)

Jesse still needs to eat the sanctifying fruit even though he has made it up to the very Throne of god. Like Moses he just to see part of God’s body, and not His face. Yet all-in-all even getting to see the feet of Jehovah is more than any of the rest of us have seen! Also we get the extra-Biblical insight about some type of wall around the Throne, I guess some sort of restraining wall to keep Him from being mobbed by adoring family members.

“There was a cloud that looked like smoke going up from the Throne and I heard that massive sound, “whoosh! It was power like I’ve never experienced in my life. Then I saw God’s finger barely move and when it moved, an angel that was flying near Him was thrown up against a wall. Bam! It didn’t hurt the angel.” (14)

I am reminded about the refrain from an old gospel blues song “when the Lord gets ready, you’ve got to move.” that angel must certainly have that as a revelation after getting splattered against the wall. During this time Jesse comes out of the glory of the Father and begins to preach to the assembled crowds “He was a preacher full of victory, shouting and hollering!”  (15)  Jesse enjoys the sermon and asks the angel “where’s the Holy Spirit?” He is on the earth He said.”  (16)  then he remembers this fact and feels “stupid” for asking such a “dumb question” at the Throne of God. So now we know that as of 1996 the Holy Spirit is not in heaven He is on earth. Now if asked, Jesse will admit that God is Three in One, but obviously the One God is somehow separated spatially. In any event, now you know that the Holy Spirit is not currently “in” heaven but is active here on earth.

“I saw new lives of little babies singing and flying around God’s Throne. It seemed to me that babies just came out of the breath of God. They looked like they were wearing nightgowns…I heard them saying God, “Can I be a spirit? Would You send me to earth so I can be a spirit? I want to be a redeemed person. Can I be a spirit? And while I watched, I heard that might sound of God’s power Whoosh! I saw these babies leave the Throne by the power of God.” (18)

Mrs. Baxter saw baby cherubim flying around the Throne of God kissing his face, feet, and hands while singing holy, holy, holy. Rev. Duplantis does not see these baby cherubim instead he see’s some type of proto-babies who want to become “spirits”. What is more these proto-spirit babies ask to be sent to earth and they ask to be redeemed persons. Who makes the determination to become a redeemed person? Obviously we did in our proto-spirit condition when we, in eternity past, flew around the Throne of God in our little nightgowns!

What utter drivel and heresy!  There is not one shred of Scriptural evidence to even remotely infer this type of theology. In fact, like with everything else Mr. Duplantis sees, the bible refutes it thoroughly. Here are just two verses of many –   

John 15:16

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you

Romans 9:11

“(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

I cannot take time to go into the doctrine of election. Yet the Scriptures are plain that it is always God who does the electing, not man! If we take Mr. Duplantis Throne room vision at face value then are we to assume that some babies want to be damned? After all, some ask to be redeemed people, do others ask to be allowed to be damned people? Even Jesse would admit that not everybody is saved, he does believe some folks do go to hell. So if what he saw is true, then those in hell made this choice before they ever came to earth. It is hard to imagine a preacher of the Gospel would write such things, and expect the readers to accept it as truth.

Before Jesse is sent back home to planet earth Jesus explains how He is dreading the day when He has to send some of the creation He loves to hell. “I wanted to reach out and comfort Him, so I put my hand on the Lord…I could tell that Jesus was hurting.”   (19)   Can you imagine? The One who upholds and sustains all things by His power (Heb. 1:3) feels sad and is hurting and Jesse tries to comfort the Lord God Almighty as best he can. In these closing discourses with Jesus, Jesse comes to believe “we can delay His coming by waiting for a sign before we act on His Word…” (20) Through this supernatural gnosis, we learn that people choose their eternal destiny as proto-babies and we also can delay the return of Christ by our actions or inactions. Earl Paulk, must be correct then when he teaches that it is up the Church as to when Jesus returns. Jesse continues to humanize God by saying;

“I didn’t know before how much He needed me to reach out to other people. I have always thought of how much I needed Him, not how much He needs me…He smiled at me and said, “I chose you. NO one else wanted you, and I need you Jesse.   (21)

Jesus Christ needs Jesse Duplantis! I do not doubt that the Lord Jesus loves Jesse Duplantis, I love him too, but I doubt He “needs” Jesse. If you, me or Jesse dies tomorrow God’s plan will roll on without as much as a hitch.

Jesse Comes Back to Planet Earth

Jesse returns to his body and walks up to the front of the church. “Look at Brother Jesse. He’s shining.” There was a light on my face. I had been in the presence of the glory of God.”  (22)  So like Moses, Jesse Duplantis’ face shines with the very presence of God. “I didn’t even preach that night. I didn’t say anything, but people began falling under the power of God’s Spirit! There was ministry throughout the auditorium without me saying any more.”   (23)

What is the result of this trip to heaven? Mr. Duplantis gets to church but does not even preach the gospel, yet apart from the Word & Sacraments we are supposed to believe the Holy Spirit moved! Instead something even greater transpires than preaching the Word, people begin to fall under the power of God’s Spirit. We are not told if anybody came to faith in Christ at the service, nor are we informed if anybody rededicates themselves to serving Christ. All we know, according to Mr. Duplantis, is that people see his face shining and fall into unconsciousness. However, Duplantis does not supply any COOBBERATING testimony to this alleged event.

I must denounce Heaven, A closer Encounter of the God Kind as a work of fiction masquerading as fact. None of his vision and experience remotely resemble what is revealed in the bible. In fact, Duplantis’ revelations contradict Biblical teaching and doctrine.

Out of Christian charity I am willing to grant that brother Duplantis had some type of experience but it was not of the “God Kind.” This leaves us with one of two possibilities, either his experience is demonically inspired or is the result of his overactive imagination. His concept of the doctrine of God, the inerrancy of Scripture, and salvation are aberrant and heretical according to what he relayed in his vision.

Mr. Duplantis is a well known international speaker in Word of Faith circles and yet none of his fellow charismatic leaders seem to have any problem with is revelations. The editors at Harrison House Publishers did not pick up any doctrinal errors or question the validity of his experiences as they proofread his text. “Christian” bookstores seem to have no qualms about selling a book in which the author says the following is absolutely true:

  • As a sinner, feels God presence continually
  • Hears His voice while high on drugs
  • Is personally visited by God
  • Has 100% of his prayers answered
  • Receives a personal message from the Lord’s angel
  • Has a company of angels knock out his audience for half an hour
  • Has he and his car teleported to Lafayette La and Jesse heals a girl near death.
  • Goes to heaven
  • Meets Abraham, Jonah, King David, Jesus, angels, the Apostle Paul, and the Father.
  • Comes back with his face shining like Moses & everyone this thrown into an altered state of consciousness.

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope you can understand why I am concerned about what is foisted upon the Church as a divine revelation when it obviously is not.

There is wide scale deception taking place and little or nothing is being done about it. A person can say or write just about anything and it will be published, sold nationally, and speaking engagements and television appearances will come from it, not to mention large amounts of money. If anybody dares to raise an objection then they are labeled a heresy-hunter and one who is sowing discord among the brethren, which we are constantly reminded is an abomination to God   (Prov. 6:19).

I agree with the prophet Amos when he says there is a famine in the land, one not of bread, but one of hearing the true Word of the Lord. The sign-gift section of the church really needs to get back to the Word of God and judge every experience by it and unflinchingly correct and rebuke those who err and those who want to propagate error. If they will not receive correction, then we must mark or scope out such false teachers and in love correct them and their hearers of their error. It is the only truly loving response there is. ♦

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Duplantis, Jesse, “Heaven A Close Encounter of the God Kind.” Harrison House, 1996, pg. 68-69

2. Ibid. pg. 70’

3. Ibid. pg 72

4. Ibid. pg 75

5. New American Standard Hebrew & Greek Dictionary, NavPress Dd Rom

6. Duplantis, Jesse. “Heaven a Close Encounter of the God Kind. Harrison House. 1996 pg. 76

7. Ibidpg. 76-77

8. Ibid. pg. 83

9. Ibid pg. 85

10. Ibid. pg.

11. Ibid pg. 93

12. Ibid. pg. 97-98

13. Ibid, pp. 100-1-1

14. Ibid pg. 102

15. Duplantis, Jesse. “Heaven, A Close Encounter of the God Kind.” Harrison House, 1996. Pg. 113-114

16. Ibid. pg. 115

17. Ibid. pg. 117

18. Ibid. pg. 118-119

19. Duplantis, Jesse. “Heaven A Close Encounter of the God Kind.” Harrison House. 1996. Pg. 119

20. Ibid. pg. 127

21. Ibid p. 129

22. Ibid. pg. 131

23. Ibid. pg. 138

24. Ibid. pg. 138

It is an eternally serious matter whenever anyone dares to stand up in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and preach/teach His Word. As James 3:1 reminds us: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  Why does the teacher receive a stricter judgment? Because God’s people will inherently trust their words, after all, who would dare speak that which is not in the name of the Living God? DMI will make it our business to send by registered mail this newsletter and a letter to Mr. Duplantis seeking an explanation of his heretical statements. We will let you know how it is received by JDM.





Flying High on the Widow’s Mite

10 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 1 – Flying High on the Widow’s Mite – By Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Flying High on the Widow’s Mite

By Robert S. Liichow

With Senator Grassley looking into a mere six SINisters and their money making machine, I thought it would be good to take a brief look at who is flying high on the donors dime (maybe Senator Grassley can expand the scope of his investigation).

“Dr.” Jesse the “Raging Cajun” Duplantis: A Cessna Citation 500 a mere $1.25 million. It burns approximately 1,700+pounds of fuel per hour (jet fuel costs more than gasoline).

Jerry Savelle: Another Copeland “clone” also fly’s a Cessna Citation 500 {they are the poorer relatives in the WOF cult-club}.

Mark Bishop: A wannabe player with the big boys is also at the starter private jet level of the Cessna Citation 500.

Joyce Meyer: Bombardier Challenger 604 a whopping $4.5 million. The Chalenger burns 1,192 pounds of fuel per hour and it takes 18,144 pounds of jet fuel to fill its tank. Obtained from www.aerospace-technology.com/projects/Challenger604/specs.html

Benny the “Healer” Hinn: Not to be outdone by anyone, Hinn fly’s very high in his Grumann Gulfstream II at the stratospheric cost of $4.5 million. It holds 28,300 pounds of jet fuel and can seat 12 “yes” men or shills. It costs $1,939.28 per hour to operate (not including the cost of the 2 pilots). Information obtained from www.jetsales.com/comp/planes/Irgjetcost.html

“Dr.” Fred Price: He also flys a Gulfstream II (drives a Rolls Royce when on the ground).

Paul & Jan Crouch: TBN has been good to these two hicks — they fly a Bombardier Challenger 604 at the heavenly cost of $16.5 million! 19 toadies can hitch a ride to Maui with Paul and Jan in supersonic style.

“SkyKing” Kenny Copeland: He started off as a co-pilot with the Oral Roberts Evangelical Ministry years ago and now owns several planes. But his daily ride is a Citation X which runs a modest $10 million. When you add Gloria’s Citation X that brings the total to $20 million! Here is a listing of the planes owned by Mr. Copeland and /or his SINistry:

1944 Boeing B75N1 “Stearman” Value: 70,000 to $140,000.

1953 North American T-28B “Trojan“, Value: $59,000 to $325,000.

1976 Beech E-55 “Baron”, Value: $144,000,

1947 Republic RC-3 “Seabee”, Value: One is listed online for $40,000.

1962 Beech H-18 “Twin Beech” * Value: $96,000.

1973 Cessna 421B “Golden Eagle” or “Executive Commuter” Value: $220,000

1975 Cessna 500 “Citation” Value: $850,000.

1998 Cessna 550 “Citation Bravo” Value: $3.4 million

2005 Cessna 750 “Citation X” Value: $17.5 million.

All make and model information is based on Federal Aviation Administration records. The church said that its Beech H-18 is a 1963 model. Sources: Cessna; www.aircraftbluebook.com; FAA: Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation; Doug Jeanes of Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison; Pete Lane, a retired University of North Texas faculty member; www.nasa.govere

Creflo “Cashflow” Dollar: A Gates Learjet (a small jet only seats 4 passengers) & a Gulfstream-3 which costs $37 million if purchased new.

The cost of owning a plane is only one of the costs involved. Other costs must be factored in, such as the cost of jet fuel, storing your jet in a hanger (unless you are Mr. Copeland who purchased a defunct airbase many years ago), paying the salary of one or two pilots depending on the size of your plane. These pilots have to be available 24/7 due to speaking schedules of their employers. Also airplanes must be maintained on a regular basis by highly skilled mechanics. Owning a private jet is an extremely expensive proposition. The question I have is simply this—do these people need to have their own jet(s)? Are they really being used to further the Gospel, or are they a means to “get out of Dodge” quick and to zip off to a country without an extradition treaty with the USA?

Sadly, all the people cited in this short article teach false doctrine and are misleading multitudes of people. What is equally sad is that those who follow their false teachings actually believe these SINisters have a right to fly anywhere on their dime!

Perhaps they don’t realize that they are paying over $1,000 per hour of flight time just so these charismatic superstars don’t have to associate with the hoi polloi sitting next to them on Delta.

To the best of my knowledge none of these people use their planes for philanthropic reasons. Their planes are used for their own personal needs. The only charismatic minister who purchased a plane for the right reasons was Lester Sumrall (deceased). He bought a Hercules jumbo cargo jet. He used his plane solely for the purpose of taking food and medicine to people in need around the world (Lester also never owned a car, he always drove a leased car) nor did he live in a “mansion.” His sons are running his ministry and continue to use the plane for world missions.

In light of the jets, mansions, luxury cars is it little wonder why Senator Grassley’s Senate Committee is taking a close look at some ways the money they receive as “non-profits” is being spent. It is a shame that the Church has not taken a stance against such opulence within Its own ranks and that God must use the government (sometimes newspapers, ask Jim Bakker) to clean house.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

The Gulfstream III is for those at the top of the heap





Words of the Profit

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

Discernment Ministries International

Words of the Profit

By Kyle Smith

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

Oh, divine and merciful God,

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

When you give me today, a place to park…

In Your care will I find respite. With Your

Guidance, will I find peace.

To stop, to rest, to idle, to park

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

Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Hey, Kenny, Where’s the Glory Fire?

25 09 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2006 Vol. 11 Issue 12 – Hey Kenny, Where’s the Glory Fire?by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hey Kenny, Where’s the Glory Fire ?

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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Anyone’s who has been around the charismatic circus for any length of time knows that in the center ring is no less than Mr. Kenneth Copeland along with his capable assistant Mrs. Gloria Copeland.

I suppose it is only fair to those of our readers who are unfamiliar with the origins of Mr. Copeland and the Word of Faith Movement (WOF) (1) which he has become heir to due to the untimely (2) death of Mr. Kenneth E. Hagin Sr. to give a little background before we launch off into the deep.

In a nutshell the WOF movement believes that God created the universe by using a force called “faith.” He did not create the universe out of nothing (Ex Nihilo) because according to WOF dogma faith is something, an actual substance (Heb. 11:1). According to their teaching faith is a spiritual force that is released by words, hence the pejorative appellation “the Positive Confession movement.” God created man in His exact image and likeness in the Garden of Eden:

God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself and in the Garden of Eden He did just that. (Adam) was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even…Adam is as much like God as you could get just the same as Jesus…Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh. (3)

“This eternal life He came to give us is the nature of God.” He then adds, “It is, in reality, God imparting His very nature, substance, and being to one human spirit…Zoe, then, means eternal life, or God’s life. This new kind of life is God’s nature,…Even many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real incarnation…Jesus was first divine, and then He was human. So He was in the flesh a divine-human being. I was first human, and so were you, but I was born of God, and so I became a human-divine being!” (4)

Man was created as a god, and like God Adam could create reality by releasing faith filled words. According to WOF doctrine and Mr. Copeland Adam committed high treason by sinning. He lost his divine nature and partook of Satan’s nature thus in the fall of Adam, Satan became the “god” of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Mr. Copeland teaches that redemption did not take place on the cross, as the Church has taught for 2,000 years. Redemption took place in hell, after Jesus was tormented by Satan and demons for three days. God looked down and said it was enough and the Holy Spirit came back into the formerly sinful spirit of Jesus (you see WOF people believe Jesus did not bear our sins, but literally became a sinner on the cross) and then Jesus, as the first born-again MAN defeated Satan and demons and secured redemption for all who would make a decision to receive Him as their Lord. All of this can be read in the following book: What Happened From the Cross to the Throne, by E.W. Kenyon {the true Father of this apostate group}. Mr. Copeland’s blasphemous and damnable doctrine is still available from his web site on audio cassette for $5.00, “What Happened From the Cross to the Throne.” (5)

Kenyon, Hagin, Copeland, Duplantis, Savelle, Meyer, Hickey, Tilton, Capps, Price, Crouch, and a host of others seen on Television regularly teach that the redeemed person is basically in the same situation as Jesus was when He was in human flesh, we are in essence little gods. Their logic behind such beliefs is based upon a hodgepodge of biblical texts ripped from their contexts. Passages such as John 14:12 state that the believer shall do the works of Jesus and ever greater works. Copeland and others all stress that Jesus did nothing as Almighty God in flesh, He operated only as a man “anointed” with the Holy Spirit.

Now the charismatic Christian has also received the indwelling of the Spirit, just like Jesus, so it is only natural that we are expected and empowered to do His same works and greater works…assuming we know who we really are in Christ and whom it is that indwells us and how to release the Spirit to flow through us.  In order to gain access to such knowledge we need to listen to and follow men such as Mr. Copeland! This brings us to his most current revelation as set down in his monthly magazine The Believers Voice of Victory entitled “Ready to Reveal His Glory.”

Copeland begins to spin his twisted tail of “the glory” by citing a couple of Old Testament Theophanous Ezekiel 1:27-28 and Habakkuk 3:4. In these examples the Lord God appears as a glorious rainbow (Eze. 1:27-28) and then as One with lightening like power flowing out of His hand (Hab. 3:4). From there Kenny jumps into the revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:14-16) which describes our risen Lord’s countenance like the shining sun. Maybe out of context, but Copeland has biblically-described our Lord as seen by a couple of the Old Testament Prophets and a New Testament Apostle.

Like Superman ®  Copeland leaps from one skyscraper to the next, exegetically speaking. He posits that since Jesus in His true nature (6) is a glowing power emitting spirit and He now indwells us that means we too can or should be working on manifesting the same type of glory as our risen Lord possesses. The goal of the overcoming Christian is to become literally glowing Holy Ghost empowered lords of this world, after all, Jesus is “Lord of lords,” and according to WOF dogma we are the lords Jesus is Lord over.

What is more, the charismatic aka “Spirit-filled” Christian is actually just like Jesus and then some! I quote Copeland’s article:

That image in itself is stunning enough. But what’s more astonishing is this: That blazing, all glorious King of Kings and Lord of lords with lightening-like power shooting out from His hands and the life of God Himself roaring in Him with such white-hot force that His very body glows with it, that Jesus is the One who is living inside us, our spirits have been recreated in His image. (7)

He anticipates his readers question of how can this glory be made manifest in our bodies as it was in Jesus. So he adds a rhetorical question:

But, Brother Copeland, how could that be? We’re still just flesh and blood. We live in earthy bodies. That kind of glory can’t shine through us! Yes it can. (8)

Before I allow Copeland to dig his exegetical grave deeper let me report that I have been hearing him teach this garbage since 1979. One would imagine that after almost thirty years of no manifestations of such confessions would make one stop proclaiming it. I believe Mr. Copeland is emphasizing this specific aspect of the Manifest Sons of God teaching (9) now because he is growing older, he turns 70 in January and he and Gloria among others have been faithfully confessing this to make it reality. They are so deceived in their minds that they really believe what they are saying must come to pass in order for Jesus Christ to return. You must understand that Jesus Christ CANNOT return to the earth UNTIL the restoration of ALL THINGS (Acts 3:20) which would have to include this manifestation of the shekinah or manifest glory of God shining literally from our spirits through our bodies.

Kenny begins by citing Moses as his initial example of what we are to experience as end-time believers:

In Exodus, when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the commandments for Israel from God, he spent so much time in God’s glory that his face shone with it. He had so much fire coming out of his face that he had to wear a veil over it to keep from killing people when they got close to him. (10)

His relating of this account is false in several areas. Yes Moses did go up and meet with the Lord God and received the commandments. Moses was even allowed to see a glimpse of the back of God who hid him in the cleft of the rock and covered Moses with His had as He passed by (Ex. 32:22). Moses was not up on the mountain with God just basking in His glory per se. The Bible plainly tells us that when he returned back wit the commandments he did not even know his face shone at all.

And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. Ex.34:29-33

Naturally when Moses returned and his face shone brightly it was frightening to Aaron, the leaders and the people. But READ what the text says (1) Moses was unaware of it, he did not seek to become a glory transmitter. (2) Moses called the leaders to come to him and “all the rulers returned unto him.” Nobody was killed by the reflected glory on Moses, nobody even got the sniffles from it. (3) Lastly, “all the children of Israel came nigh.” None of them were killed either and then Moses according to his own volition placed a veil over his face until he spoke with the Lord again (v.34). When he spoke to God he removed the veil and he left it off until he was done sharing the directives from the Lord to the people (v.35) so they could see his shining face Copeland’s statement regarding Moses is simply a fabrication and he embellished God’s Word (which is a sin) by making the text say more than it does.

But as we were fond of saying “let everything be established by two witnesses” Mr. Copeland brings forth his next witness concerning the glory we are supposed to be manifesting by appealing to the account of the transfiguration of Jesus:

…His earthly body was so transfigured by the fire of God’s glory that ‘His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them (Mark 9:3, NKJV).’ At that time Jesus’ body was just as natural, just as much flesh and blood as ours, yet it was totally lit up with the fire of God! (11)

The WOF cult has a long well documented history of demoting Jesus to a mere man and lifting sinful man up to the level of God. What Mr. Copeland seems to forget, if he ever knew it, was that Jesus’ body was not exactly like our bodies. Yes, His body was a real flesh and blood body with one significant difference; Jesus was without sin both body and soul. His was and is a sinless body. However we live in bodies that are sinful and subject to the ravages of this fallen world, sadly it decays daily (2 Cor. 4:16) just take a look in the mirror!

By now you have probably guessed where Copeland is leading the blind who follow him into this new revelation of glory. (12)

If that is not enough to convince you that God’s glory can shine through you, consider what happened in the book of Acts when the fire of God’s fell again…this time not just on a few special saints but on all 120 ordinary believers who had gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. (13)

Any careful exegete who examines the account of Pentecost originally set forth in Acts will easily determine that the 120 people cited by virtually all Pentecostal and CRM people falls apart, leaving only the 12 Apostles who initially received the endowment of Holy Ghost power. As in the above cited statements Mr. Copeland’s fevered mind continues to spin out of control:

The sound the 120 believers heard wasn’t an earthly wind at all. It was a sound from heaven. It was the sound of heaven pouring itself into earth, filling the atmosphere with God Himself. God left the throne and came to Jerusalem that day, and the roar that accompanied Him was so loud that everyone in the world heard it. (14)

God is omnipresent, how could God “fill” anything pre se in a philosophical sense? What texts state that God left his heavenly throne to pour Himself into the upper room? I guess Jesus was left sitting alone at the momentarily vacant throne to His immediate left. We know that the Holy Spirit’s “throne” (if He ever has one) was vacant because as Jesse Duplantis learned in his visit to heaven that the Holy Spirit is on earth and not in heaven! (15) The Bible never says that “everyone in the world heard it”? According to our research no ancient historians mention such a global sonic effect. Again we see Mr. Copeland off into la-la land. Sadly, he goes from bad to worse in this article alone:

Along with that heavenly sonic blast came the very fire of God’s glory…He sat on each of them, entering them in full power and glory and they absorbed it. They took into their reborn human spirit’s the blazing glory of the Holy Spirit Himself. (16)

The original twelve Apostles appear to have been able to absorb the full power and glory of God within their reborn human spirits. Does not the Bible teach us that the fullness of the godhead dwells bodily (Col. 2:9). Oh sure, the text is referring to Christ, but are we not “in Christ now? The text in Acts says no such thing, this is fantasy on Copeland’s part. He asks another rhetorical question “what does all that have to do with you? Here comes the astounding answer, I hope you are sitting down because when you read this you’ll become shout’ in happy and probably do the Pentecostal two-step unless you restrain yourself!

If you’re born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit, that same fiery glory is in you right now. That’s right! The same glory that lit up Adam and Eve, the same glory that made Moses’ face to shine, the same glory that transfigured Jesus’ flesh-and-blood body on the Mount of transfiguration, the same fire that filled the upper room and launched the first disciples into a ministry of power, signs and wonders the likes of which the world had never seen…the same glory now resides in the spirit of every born-again, Holy Ghost-baptized believer. (17)

Pay close attention to whom it is that has this power, it is not every Christian. Charismatic believers have a two-tiered level of Christians. First, there are those who have received a second experience called being baptized in or filled with the Holy Spirit which is evidenced by them speaking in ecstatic speech (what they call other tongues). Then you have the less blessed, lower wattage Christians who have not received this second work. Copeland is referring specifically to “Spirit-filled” people not the Church universal. The charismatic Christian according to Copeland’s glory doctrine have within them the exact same glory that “lit up” Adam and Eve (I wonder what version of the Bible he uses to find these hitherto unknown facts, it must be the notes in the Finis Dake paraphrase), that was seen on Moses’ face and was unveiled in Christ before Peter, John and James.

What is appalling, beyond the fact that Copeland is deluding people on several levels simultaneously is that he has not got one shred of proof to back up his claims. I cannot find any examples in the N.T. or even in the writings of the ante-Nicene and post-Nicene fathers of where believers went around exuding effulgent glory as id Moses’ face for a period of time. Nor can I find any examples of disciples looking like our transfigured Lord. One would have to imagine that if what Mr. Copeland is teaching is true then it would be plainly set forth in the New Testament and probably alluded to by the Old Testament Prophets. Yet none of the sixty-six books of the Bible give such glory to believers.

The next glaring error in his comment is regarding the first “disciples” being launched into a ministry of power and signs and wonders. The common misconception of most charismatic people is that virtually all Christians were running around working miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead. That simply is not the testimony of the Book of Acts. The Apostles did work genuine signs, wonders and miracles. Paul stated to those who were being misled regarding his status as an Apostle wrote “The things that mark an apostle-signs, wonders and miracles–were done among you with great perseverance” (2 Cor. 12:11). There are only a very few examples of non-Apostolic disciples being used to work any signs or wonders and those few who were used had been sent out specifically by the Apostles. According to Copeland that same glory resides within each Spirit-filled believer today, implying we ought to be doing these powerful signs and wonders too. Ok Mr. Copeland , “Where’s the Glory?”

Naturally he has an answer for this obvious power failure in the lives of the highly charged charismatic. The answer is that they have to learn how to operate in that kind of glory. He’ll give us the wisdom we need to do what Proverbs 4 says and guard our spirit above all so that nothing hinders the release of the glory that resides there. We’ll rid ourselves of devilish stuff like strife, envy and hatred because we know that trash will cause us to walk in darkness. It will keep the glory from shining through We’ll resist and rid ourselves of every trace of fear because that fear will pollute our spirits…We’ll walk in love–love for God and love for each other—not because we want to be religiously right but because we want to be gloriously bright. (18)

All the highly empowered ones need to do is open their hearts by faith (how does one do that?) and God will give them Gnostic insight that will cause them to learn how to release this inner glory and “shine” with His power. Again, I ask, if the Apostles and disciples of the early Church walked around like glowing lights why isn’t it recorded anywhere biblically or even by secular historians of the day who did write about the church? Peter, Paul, John James and all the Apostles at least should have walked in so much power visibly emanating from their spirits through their sanctified bodies that it boggles the mind as to how they could die as martyrs. After all, if just the glance Moses got of God’s back could have “killed” the Israelites, how much more so the FULLNESS of God’s glory and power that Copeland says flooded into them on Pentecost? How could any mere sinner get close enough to these walking powerhouses in order ot capture them, let alone kill them? Obviously, these initial Apostles and disciple failed. They must have gotten “religious” and turned out their glory lights. Thank goodness that God has once again restored prophets (profits?) and apostles (opossums?) back to the Church in these last days {I am joking here folks, ok?}.

Note the stress placed upon us in the former quote. Copeland is preaching sinless perfectionism through self-effort. We are the ones who will rid ourselves of various sins. We are the ones who will resist and rid ourselves of every trace of fear. We’ll be the ones to walk in love and not because it is the religiously correct thing to do, no, we’ll walk in love because we want to be gloriously “bright.” Jesus is never mentioned at all. There is no need to cry out to Him as the Savior from the weights and sins which so easily beset all of us. No, the super-saint can rid themselves of all these pesky devilish problems.

Even though the Church has failed and failed miserably to walk in this realm of supernatural glory and power for almost two thousand years, don’t despair my brothers and sisters. Copeland closes out with a great note of hope & victory:

That’s what true prosperity is all about! And we’re right in the middle of it now. We are grasping the revelation of this and becoming beacons of light— all of us shining together with the glory of Jesus Christ in the darkest times this earth has ever known. We are reaching out to others with hands filled with the lightning-like splendor of God’s power and finishing the job Jesus left us here to do. (19)

See my friends we are right in the middle of this new revealing of God’s glory and power. I’ve seen Mr. Copeland’s hands on television along with Benny Hinn’s, Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, Jesse Duplantis and others and I have yet to detect lightning-like splendor emanating from them.

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Maybe this is the charismatic extremist version of what others call the “emerging church.” Maybe like God, we are in process of becoming what we truly are meant to be, little gods and as such finish the “unfinished” work Jesus has left us to do. All I can say to this utter nonsense is that it is far more akin to Luke Skywalker fighting the evil Emperor who has bolts of lightning-like splendor coming out of his hands than anything ever remotely resembling biblical Christianity.

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DMI is very concerned about what is being taught by Copeland and others. We know that literally hundreds of thousands of people look to Mr. Copeland as a genuine prophet of God which means untold numbers of his followers are working hard (and failing) trying to reach this exalted level he declares is theirs for the taking, if they follow his directions exactly. There is no room for any margin of error within charismatic extremism. Any and all failure rests solely on the sagging shoulders of the one trying to grow closer to Jesus and be a vessel of honor for Him. Unless you’ve been on that pseudo-spiritual treadmill as I have you have no idea of the damage it does to people who try their hardest to work all the principles, to follow all the steps, to learn every formerly hidden key to Present Day Truth (2 Pet. 1:12) and to watch their every word so they can receive what has been promised to them by their blind guides. When people fail, and they always do fail at some point because their initial goal was not from God to begin with and no system of works righteousness has ever “worked.” They will not receive any compassion from their fellow drones, you see failure is simply not tolerated. When a leader fails there are multitudes of explanations and systems for restoration. Yet when a mere sheep fails, they get mercilessly kicked to the curbOur hearts grieve for our brothers and sisters on the treadmill today trying to become these glorious Christians Copeland has promised is just within their grasp.

It is because of what we have seen, taught and experienced that DMI keeps forging ahead. As I write this I am suddenly reminded of the words and image of Marlon Brando in the movie Apocalypse Now at the end when he says “the horror, the horror.” If by God’s grace I can spare one person the horror my wife and I experienced, then it is well worth all the sacrifice, pain, heartache and loss we’ve undergone in this small portion of His ministry.

I realize that possibly some of you reading this article may think that DMI is making a mountain out of a molehill regarding what Copeland has written. If he were the only squirrel in the pecan tree I might agree with you, but he is not.

Let me cite just ten of the newer books in print now and available in most Christian bookstores. All of these titles deal with the subject of tapping into God’s glory.

The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind 40-Day Devotional and Personal Journal by Bill Johnson “healing, deliverance, signs and wonders are the inheritance for all the followers of Jesus Christ…of a Transformed Mind teaches you how to remove the hinders of religious limitation to redeem the lost and transform communities.”

Miracle Workers, Reformers, and the New Mystics by John Crowder.

Secrets of the Ascended Life by Kelly Varner: “You are about to be infused with a fresh dose of resurrection life—His life—you are about to learn The Secrets of the Ascended Life.

Secrets of the Prophetic by Kim Clement.

The Fire of God by Joy Dawson: “The Fire of God unlocks the mysteries that surround the Fire of God, unveiling its significance in the life of the believer.”

Show Me the Glory by Bill Hart: …explores the current experiences associated with the presence of God.”

Dancing Into the Anointing by Aimee Kovacs: Miracles are happening as the Bride of Christ worships God in the dance.”

The Costly Anointing by Lori Wilke:“….boldly reveals God’s requirements for being entrusted with an awesome power and authority.”

How to Live the Supernatural Life in the Here and Now by Joe Ibojie

Return to Glory by Joel A. Freeman.

All of these books are published by Destiny Image which is located in Shippenburg, PA. The more bizarre the alleged revelation is or profound the mystical experience the more likely they are to publish them. It is important that you understand that Destiny Image does not just publish “flakes” per se, they also publish internationally know and respected (in their ever growing community) charismatic leaders such as T.D. Jakes, Myles Monroe, Tommy “God-Chaser” Tenney among a host of other heretics you can see on a regular basis on your local cable stations.

Every one of these books provide often conflicting keys, steps and principles that are supposed to enable the believer to enter into the promised land of the ascended Christian life. The poor charismatic runs from movement to movement seeking to put into action these keys to “open their hearts up to God.” Make no mistake about it these are dangerous, damaging and deceptive books that will only lead the readers further from Christ Jesus and not closer to Him. The “horror” is that the presence they may haveopened their hearts to” and coming to embrace will be that of a demonic entity masquerading as Jesus. Why do you think the Apostle John commands us to “test the spirits?”  (1 John 4:1)?   Is it really any wonder why all those smiling, seemingly healthy and very wealthy televangelists prove themselves by their very doctrines to be ministers of Satan (2 Cor. 11:14) disguising themselves as servants of righteousness? There are some of the people Paul warned the Ephesian elders against in Acts 20:29-31 when he said:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock. Also from your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Brothers and sisters if that text does not fit us today than which one does? I see Paul, like a Jeremiah warning these pastors about the danger to the Church from without and within for three years day and night and doing so weeping!

I cannot tell you how many pastors I and others, have warned about the dangers many of these men and woman present to the Church globally and their own congregations locally. Frankly, the usual response is rather blasé or one of  “well the Church has had these problems from the beginning.”   Yes, that is true but does that make the spiritual damage and shipwreck any less a disaster in the lives of their parishioners today? No ! Paul warned the elders so that they would in turn go back to their congregations and warn and educate their people concerning the false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, fake healers, liars and genuine pastors to recognize the dangers facing their people and boldly address it biblically in love but unapologetically too.  ♦

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. I never cease to be amazed by pastors and other church leaders who simply “lump” all tongue-talking people as either Pentecostal believers or charismatic Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are there massive doctrinal distinctions between classic Pentecostal denominations and the charismatic renewal movement (CRM) but there are great distinctions within the CRM itself. My wife and I were part of no less then five clearly defined aspects within the CRM. These five included: (1) The Word of Faith movement, aka “name it and claim,” fake it till you make it, or the health and wealth movement.” (2) The Discipleship movement aka the Shepherding Movement more or less started and run by the Florida Five [Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Don Basham, Charles Simpson, and Ern Baxter]. My exposure here was through the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, and later a nationwide campus group know as “Maranatha” stated Bob and Rose Weiner (3) The Prophetic movement then the (4) the Apostolic movement and lastly (5) the Signs and Wonders movement aka The Toronto Blessing/Holy Laughter, etc. There is some overlapping in belief and practice within these five I’ve mentioned (there are a few others, but my wife and I had no personal intimate experience with them, I guess you could cal them, “classic charismatic” congregations) but there are also major distinctions especially concerning the end times, the exact role of the restored prophet/apostle, global quasi-Calvinistic theocracy (Dominionism/ Kingdom Now) concepts among other issues. Few if any seminaries I am aware of teach their forthcoming pastors about not only the distinctions within the sign-gift community but the danger that these groups, especially the so-called Prophetic & Apostolic moves, pose to not only their local congregation but their denomination (s) as well.

2. I say untimely because the Word of Faith (WOF) movement Hagin helped propel to global status teaches that we are to live to be at least 120 years old, and then possibly longer. Hagin missed that mark by a good thirty years having passed away (due to illness of all things!) on September 23,2003.

3. Copeland, Kenneth Following the Faith of Abraham I, Side A, Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #01-3001. Underlining added for emphasis

4. Copeland Kenneth The Force of Righteousness, Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, 1984, p. 12. Underlining added.

5. http://kem.org/usstore/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=cross+to+the+throne.

6. All WOF teachers make a false dichotomy between the physical body, the soul, and spirit of man. They teach man as a tripartite being yet they do not view man as a complete unit, in fact, the spirit of man is often referred to as the “real” person and the human body is merely our earth-suit which gives us authority on this planet (which is why God has to become a man in order to gain back our lost authority).

7. Copeland, Kenneth. The Believer’s Voice of Victory, Ready to Receive the Glory. Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, TX, 76192-0001, October 2006m p, 14

8. ibid. p. 14

9. The Manifest Sons of God were an extreme offshoot of a very extreme brand of the CRM known as “The New Order of the Latter Rain.” The Manifest Sons of God, which find their expression today in much of the teachings of the restored prophets and apostles teach that Christians can achieve sinless perfection but because of his or her sinless perfection they will even overcome physical death itself which is the last great enemy (1 Cor 15:26). Christianize the world and hand a perfected world back to the returning Lord Jesus Christ. These concepts are found throughout the writings of Franklin Hall (many of his books are out-of-print, but DMI has reproduced his major works in PDF format on CD), Earl Paulk, Rick Joyner, Mahesh Chavda and other authors can be purchased at your local Kristian bookstore.

10. BVOV, Oct 2006, p. 4

11. ibid p. 4 Underlining added.

12. Please understand that this man is no “lightweight” when it comes to proclaiming his heretical doctrines and blasphemous thoughts. His ministry is so vast that someone can hear Mr. Copeland anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is a huge broadcasting footprint. He is a force to be reckoned with openly rebuked and God’s people warned about this tare sown among the pure wheat of God.

13. BVOV , October 2006, p. 4

14. Ibid p. 5 Underlining added

15. Lest you think I am making this up, simply buy a used copy of Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind written by Jesse Duplantis. While in the throne room, he sees Jesus, whom Jesse tells us is a great preacher he sees the feet of got the Father but does not see the Holy Spirit and asks the angel who has escorted him into the throne room “where is the Holy Spirit?” The angel tells Jesse that He is on earth and then Jesse says he felt so “stupid” for asking such an obvious question. Obviously, such a concept of the Godhead is heretical and sadly demonstrates the overall biblical ignorance of multitudes of charismatic believers who not only purchased Duplantis’ book, but actually ALL the tall tales, lies, heresy and even blasphemy contained in it. I highly suggest any budding apologist to buy the book and have a field day tearing it apart doctrinally.

16. BVOV, October, 2006, p5

17. Ibid p. 5 Bold type added for emphasis.

18. Ibid p. 5 Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

19. Ibid p. 5 Underlining added.

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Azusa’s 100th Anniversary (The Truth Behind the Hype)

19 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 4 – Azusa’s 100th Anniversary – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Azusa’s 100th Anniversary (The Truth Behind the Hype)

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I want to add a few comments before getting into the heart of this article because I am aware that we have new readers each month that may not be as familiar with my background as some of our more seasoned readers. I was raised as a child in a Christian home by godly parents and was baptized a member of the United Presbyterian Church. Years later when I was at the University of Michigan, having wandered away from Father’s house like the prodigal son, I came into contact with a charismatic community called “The Word of God Community” (WOG). (1) WOG offered a six week course called “Life in the Spirit” and at the end of the lessons, hands were laid on the participants they were supposed to receive their heavenly prayer language, i.e. begin to speak in other tongues. I underwent the training and became a member of the Pentecostal Church of God. I left that very small congregation and joined a new group on campus led by a man who had just graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center called Greater Faith Christian Center. It was there that I met my wife and became part of the Word of Faith movement, leaving behind the Discipleship movement and classic Pentecostalism. Without going into a lot more detail, my wife and I ended up participating in the Prophetic movement which sort of “morphed into the Apostolic movement and at the very end before our doctrinal deliverance, the Signs and Wonders move. I say all this, to simply alert the reader that I am not writing about something I have not personally seen, heard, experienced and unfortunately, taught to others. I write this article from both an experiential point-of-view as well as a researched position.

100 Years of Revival?

This April is the celebration of the so-called “Azusa Street Revival” which is traditionally considered the official beginning of Pentecostalism in the United States.

The very word “Azusa” conjures up nothing but positive images in the minds of virtually all Pentecostal/charismatic believers. To them, it was a time of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit as was experienced in the Book of Acts. The “proof” of this outpouring was the evidence of seekers beginning to speak in what was termed other tongues. (2) Supernatural gifts long dormant in the Church were being imparted and restored. It was a time of worldwide evangelism and divine healing and miracles. The emphasis behind the evangelism was the belief that Jesus Christ was very quickly going to return and rapture the Church. Thus He needed to again supernaturally equip His saints to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel. Azusa was fertile soil from which many “famous” Pentecostal ministries were birthed.

This is what I called the “hype” surrounding the Azusa experience. Yet nothing happens in a vacuum. People did not suddenly begin to speak in tongues, prophesy, sing in other tongues, dance in the spirit, slain in the spirit, etc…due to some sovereign move of God at Azusa. There was over 100 years of “priming the pump” before the alleged outpouring at Azusa street occurred.

Some Historical Background Prior to Azusa

The first thing to always keep in mind when thinking about any Pentecostal or charismatic group is that they are at the core restorationalistic in their belief system. This simply means they believe the Church at some point lost its spiritual bearings and power and God has had to “restore” the supernatural gifts (tongues, prophesy, miracles, etc) and spiritual direction (now through restored prophets and apostles) back to the Church in order to bring Her to a state purity where the Lord can return for Her. The basic text cited is:

Acts 3:19-21 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The mindset was and still is that God must send times of refreshing, i.e. revival to the Church. At some point the “big” revival will occur during which time God will restore everything lost to the Church and then Jesus can come for His Bride. Many groups prior to the Azusa experience claimed to be chosen ones to be used to restore the Church and bring back Jesus.

The Shaker Cult, America’s first Pentecostals

Ann Lee, the Founder of the United Society of Believers came to America in 1772 (a little over 130 years prior to Azusa). I have detailed their aberrant beliefs in my book “The Two Roots of Today’s Revival, of which we still have a few copies left. The Shakers were the first group in America to speak in other tongues, prophesy, sing in other tongues, manifest holy laughter, be slain in the spirit, dance in the spirit, shake, and become drunk in the spirit. All of this is fully detailed in my book and many places on the Internet. They believed they were the true Church and were very evangelistic due to believing the end of times was upon the world and also because they taught strict celibacy so numerical growth had to come from inducting new members into the cult.

The Cane Ridge “Revival”

Started around 1801 (just shy of 100 years before Azusa) as a gathering of Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist preachers who gathered to preach to the unconverted. Shaker evangelists also came to these meetings and brought with them their manifestations (the same ones we see in charismatic congregations today). The end result was that the Shakers imparted their gifts to many at the meetings and even gained some converts from Christian churches! Here are a few citations of the pandemonium brought on by the manifestations:

The first was held at Cabin-Creek. It began on the 22nd of May, and continued four days and three nights. The scene was awful beyond description; the falling, crying out, praying, exhorting, singing, shouting & exhibited such new and striking evidences of a supernatural power, that few, if any could escape without being affected. Such as tried to run from it, were frequently struck on the way, or impelled by some alarming signal to return, but there were moreover in the schismatic worship, a species of exercises of an involuntary kind, which seemed to have been substituted by the Great Spirit, in the room of the falling, &c. which had been among the New-Light. The principal of these, were the rolling exercise, the jerks, and the barks.

Still more demeaning and mortifying were the jerks. Nothing in nature could better represent this strange and unaccountable operation, than for one to goad another, alternately on every side, with a piece of red hot iron. The exercise commonly began in the head which would fly backward and forward, and from side to side, with a quick jolt, which the person would naturally labor to suppress, but in vain: and the more any one laboured to stay himself and be sober, the more he staggered, and the more rapidly his twitches increased. He must necessarily go as he was stimulated, whether with a violent dash on the ground and bounce from place to place like a foot-ball, or hop round with head, limbs and trunk, twitching and jolting in every direction, as if they must inevitably fly asunder. (3)

What these few examples tell us is that the people involved at Cane Ridge were overtaken by paranormal manifestations which included making animal noises (sound familiar?), jerking, spontaneous and uncontrollable physical movements along with spiritual drunkenness! All such manifestations were common to the Shaker cult and as I have been contending, this cult brought them into the religious gathering.

The end result of this revival? Schism and division occurred among true Christians. Ungodly manifestations were brought in by enthusiasts and the non-Christian Shaker cult. The defection of some former Christian pastors to join the Shaker cult. Many of the “holiness” denominations have their roots back at the Cane Ridge meetings. The holiness movement was another precursor to what was to become known as Pentecostalism. Some of these groups taught that there were various baptisms one must undergo with the goal of achieving sinless perfection. Some groups spoke in tongues, others practiced divine healing. All of this was transpiring almost 100 years before Azusa in the United States. Overseas other groups that predated Azusa were also active and laying groundwork for the Azusa experience.

Edward Irving, Founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church

IRVING

In 1831 Irving began to establish his own denomination (which still exists today) after being excommunicated as a heretic by the London Presbyterian Church. Irving, like all the other schismatic’s and cults of his time, was a firm believer in the need for the sign-gifts to be restored to the Church in order for Christ to return:

Irving’s study of the Bible had also convinced him that all Christians should be baptized in the Holy Spirit and as evidence they would speak in tongues. There should also be prophecies and healings. (The general view was that these outward signs of power had ceased after the death of the apostles and the baptism was now limited to the inward gift of sanctification and fruitfulness.) During 1830 there were claims that people in the west of Scotland were manifesting these signs. After careful investigation, Irving was convinced they were genuine and that this was the start of the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the return of Jesus Christ.

Irving was particularly interested in prophecy. He predicted there would be a widespread outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that the Jews would return to their own land. These have both happened in the first half of this century. Irving thought it would be much sooner. He believed the Millennium would commence in 1867. For many people, his prophecies convinced them he was a “crank.”

Irving not only believed in Divine healing but also that sickness came as a consequence of sin. Three of his four children died at an early age. Irving had believed God would heal them but then decided it was judgment for his sin. (4)

Irving ordained twelve men to serve as restored “apostles” in his new sect, although he himself was not one of these men, nor was he viewed as a prophet. What convinced Irving that the gift of tongues had indeed been restored is when he investigated reports concerning two sisters who lived in Scotland:

There had been a legend that the spiritual gifts of earlier days would reassert themselves before the end, and here apparently was the forgotten gift of tongues coming back into the experience of mankind. It had begun in 1830 on the western side of Scotland, where the names of the sensitives, Campbell and MacDonald, spoke of that Celtic blood which has always been more alive to spiritual influences than the heavier Teutonic strain. The Albury Prophets were much exercised in their minds, and an emissary was sent from Mr. Irving’s church to investigate and report. He found that the matter was very real. The people were of good repute, one of them, indeed, a woman whose character could best be described as saintly. The strange tongues in which they both talked broke out at intervals, and the manifestation was accompanied by healing miracles and other signs of power. Clearly it was no fraud or pretence, but a real influx of some strange force which carried one back to apostolic times. The faithful waited eagerly for further developments….These were not long in coming, and they broke out in Irving’s own church. It was in July, 1831, that it was rumored that certain members of the congregation had been seized in this strange way in their own homes, and discreet exhibitions were held in the vestry and other secluded places. The pastor and his advisers were much puzzled as to whether a more public demonstration should be tolerated….The sounds came from both women and men, and consisted in the first instance of unintelligible noises which were either mere gibberish, or some entirely unknown language. “Sudden, doleful, and unintelligible sounds,” says one witness. “There was a force and fullness of sound,” said another description, “of which the delicate female organs would seem incapable.” “It burst forth with an astounding and terrible crash,” says a third. Many however, were greatly impressed by these sounds, and among them was Irving himself. (5)

Irving himself never spoke in other tongues, yet he did endorse and promote the experience. He and his sect were on the forefront of pre-millenarianism which later became part-and-parcel of American Pentecostalism. Like all of the others, Irving was firmly convinced that the manifestation of the original sign-gifts was proof that the return of Christ was at hand. His date setting proved false as did various prophetic utterances within his sect Later Pentecostals would have done well to learn from Edwards mistakes.

John Alexander Dowie, Founder of Zion, IL.

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Dowie was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland and began his first pastorate in Australia in 1872 where he served over a Congregationalist church. While serving as a pastor disease hit his congregation and many of his members died. This drove Dowie to seek God concerning divine healing:

And there I sat with sorrow bowed head for my afflicted people, until the bitter tears came to relieve my burning heart. Then I prayed for some message, and oh, how I longed to hear some words from Him who wept and sorrowed for the suffering long ago, the Man of Sorrows an Sympathies. And then the words of the Holy Ghost inspired in Acts 10:38 stood before me all radiant with light, revealing Satan as the defiler and Christ as the Healer. My tears were wiped away, my heart was strong, I saw the way of healing, and the door thereto was opened wide, and so I said, ‘God help me now to preach that word to all the dying round, and tell them how ‘tis Satan still defiles, and Jesus still delivers, for He is just the same today. (6)

Dowie began to travel around the world proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Healer. His aspect of “restoration” can be summed up with the view of divine healing power being given back to the Church, especially through him. Eventually Dowie ended up in America preaching from coast to coast. While in Chicago he was deemed a fraud and a fake and was told to leave the city. In 1895 he founded an organization called “The Christian Catholic Church,” and eventually purchased land outside of Chicago where he began to build his version of the Kingdom of God on earth, know as Zion City.” His sycophants began to tell him that he was indeed Elijah who was to appear before the return of Christ. He began to believe their lies and shortly after proclaiming himself to be Elijah he suffered a massive stroke in 1906 and died in 1907. Many prominent Pentecostal leaders would come from Zion City, finding their way to the Azusa meetings. I guess with the death of “Elijah” it seemed pretty obvious to many people that the pillar of fire and cloud had moved on, this time to Los Angeles, CA.

The Keswick Movement, Total Sanctification Now!

This movement also had its roots in England and was also known as the “Higher Life” movement. It dates vary from as early as 1858 to as late as 1870, still a good 30 years prior to Azusa. Their main emphasis was the belief in a definite experience or work of grace they called “sanctification.”

The main idea of the Higher Life movement is that the Christian should move on from his initial conversion experience to also experience a second work of God in his life. This work of God is called “entire sanctification,” “the second blessing,” “the second touch,” “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” and various other terms. Higher Life teachers promoted the idea that Christians who had received this blessing from God could live a more holy, that is less sinful or even a sinless life. This teaching has its roots in John Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection. (7)

The importance of the Keswick Movement upon American Pentecostalism was the strong belief in a distinct experiential second work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. Without obtaining this experience, then the Christian could not progress on into deeper levels of godliness.

Pearsall Smith (1827-98) and Hanna Whitall Smith (1832 – 1911). This married couple became prominent higher life teachers who widened the popularity of Boardman’s teaching throughout Britain. The higher life movement reached it’s culmination through the labors of the Smiths. Out of their efforts in the early years of the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century grew the great Keswick Movement. The Smith’s “higher life meetings and conferences did much to set the pattern for the Keswick Movement. Their emphasis arose as the result of their own entry into deeper spiritual experiences.” Mrs. Pearsall Smith’s own account reveals that she was seized with wonder as to why spiritual victory was always out of reach. She finally identified the problem. She had stopped with the blessed truth of justification, but hadn’t gone on to the twin truth of sanctification by faith. She then learned that victory was by faith and “that there was an experience called the ‘second blessing,’ which brought one into a place of victory.  (8)

The reason why this specific movement was influential to fledgling Pentecostalism was because it was based on two concepts: (1) If there could be a “second blessing” or gift of grace from the Holy Spirit who had to say that blessing was sanctification? Also, if there could be a second blessing, why not a third or forth endowment with Holy Ghost power/fire/gifts/anointing? (2) It was based on individuals having a direct tangible experience. Early Pentecostalism and today’s charismatic groups are all extremely experiential in every respect.

The Welsh “Revival”

Wales has a history of revivalism but the one that most people are familiar with is the brief pre-Azusa revival of 1904-1906. The most prominent leader of this revival was a young man named Evans Roberts. Although he intended to attend school and obtain theological training he found himself at the beginnings of a massive outbreak of spiritual enthusiasm:

After his three months training at Newcastle Emlyn he was to return to Casllwchwr to start his ministry. He is said to have direct visions from the Holy Spirit; very specific visions such as the number 100,000 representing the souls God is to use him to save. As the revival unfolded Evan Roberts is said to depend more and ,more on what he considered the guiding of the Holy Spirit, thus neglecting the authority of the Scriptures. (9)

Roberts never obtained his theological education and as the citation notes, he depended more on what he considered the “guiding” of the Holy Spirit than the Scriptures. The revival meetings that Roberts held also included strange paranormal manifestations. These outbursts became so pronounced in the meetings that Roberts left the revival in disgust. Once he left his leadership role the revival sputtered out. After departing from what he saw as demonic activity in the meetings he worked on a book with another Welsh sister named Jessie Penn-Lewis. The book they wrote is titled War on the Saints. This book is in reprint, but if someone wants to purchase a copy I advise them to make sure and buy an unabridged version and not the redacted one that is most common. I would also put out a word of warning concerning Jessie Penn-Lewis, she herself was probably mentally unstable and most certainly theologically ignorant herself, however, what I find fascinating in her book is the portion where she and Roberts deal with how Satan counterfeit’s the genuine working of the Holy Spirit. As far as that portion of the book goes, she is “spot on” in my opinion. (10)

According to the revival reports 100,000 people are supposed to have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. The revival was well publicized to such an extent that what was transpiring in Wales was well known among the holiness movement in America. The “revival” in Wales with its attending signs and wonders only further whetted the spiritual appetites of American restorationalists.

Expectancy of revival intensified in Los Angeles, California, when believers there heard about the remarkable revival in Wales, where from September 1904 to June 1905, 100,000 people were converted to Christ. For the evangelicals around the world who had been praying for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Spirit as promoted by the Old Testament prophet Joel (2:23-29), the spectacular results in Wales suggested that the great end-times revival had begun. The world could now be evangelized in the power of the Spirit before the imminent return of Christ and the impending judgment on the wicked. (11)

The underlined portion of this citation regarding the Welsh revival is exactly the theological position of American holiness preachers. They already believed and had experienced a “second blessing” from the Holy Spirit and it seemed to them that there was more power to be obtained from God, and, in fact, necessary to receive in order to evangelize the world before the return of Christ. This brings us back to the United States and the “father” of American Pentecostalism, Mr. Charles Fox Parham.

Without the Work of Mr. Parham there is good chance that Pentecostalism as we know it today would not have come into existence. The Azusa meetings were not started by Parham and he really had very little to do with those meetings in person. The Azusa experience and the subsequent development of American Pentecostalism can genuinely be considered the “child” of “father” Parham’s labor. However, like any parent, he or she bears some responsibility for the actions of their children. Accordingly, it behooves us to take some time and look at Mr. Parham and his ministry before we can even begin to consider what occurred a few years later at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, CA.

Charles F. Parham, Father of American Pentecostalism

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To state that Mr. Parham was a man with a very checkered background is putting it mildly, Parham started out in the Methodist/holiness movement and became a preacher around the age of 14 or 15 (the Bible warns us about the danger of placing a novice in leadership positions, see  1 Tim 3:6).

Charles was converted in 1886 when he attended evangelistic meetings at a local Congregational church; a “Damascus road” experience that changed the direction of his life. Shortly afterward, Parham began attending a Methodist church where he taught Sunday school. At age 15, he began conducting revival services on his own. To further prepare himself for ministry, in 1890, he enrolled at Southwest Kansas College in Winfield. While a student, Parham “backslid” and decided to become a medical doctor. But following another bout with rheumatic fever, he recommitted himself to the ministry. Returning to evangelistic work, he obtained a minister’s license from the Southwest Kansas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North….Parham’s relationship with his Methodist superiors became tense. His ambiguous attitude toward denominational affiliation did not warm their hearts. More importantly, Parham’s adoption of Wesleyan “holiness” theology with its crisis experience of sanctification branded him as a troublemaker. Holiness preachers declared that following conversion, believers should seek for this “second blessing” to purge the Adamic nature from their hearts. To Methodist leaders, this smacked of doctrinal aberration…At the annual Southwest Kansas district conference in 1895, Parham surrendered his license to preach and “left denominationalism forever.” Denouncing Methodism as spiritually bankrupt, he had a “world-wide parish,” free of the confines of a pastorate, with a lot of theater-going, card-playing, wine-drinking, fashionable, unconverted Methodists.” Though freedom from denominational restraints offered Parham the liberty he desired, it brought new problems, uncertainties, and hardships. (11)

What we can see in Parham’s life is that he never received a solid biblical education which left him susceptible to aberrant beliefs. One major belief he was the fountainhead of was the idea that denominations were basically not of God and that churches should be independent groups without any real structural leadership. This concept was trumpeted by William Branham and those who followed him as a prophet during the late 1940’s. The desire to destroy all denominational distinctions lives on today in the prophetic/apostolic movements.

Parham’s issues with the Methodist Church went far beyond just a young man chaffing under the spiritual oversight of others. Parham believed several heretical concepts including:

Parham, the founder of Pentecostalism, was riddled with doctrinal heresies. He believed in annihilation of the unsaved and denied the Bible doctrine of eternal torment. He taught that there were two separate creations, and that Adam and Eve were of a different race than people who allegedly lived outside of the Garden of Eden. The first race of men did not have souls, he claimed, and this race of unsoiled people was destroyed in the flood. Parham believed that those who received the latter days spirit baptism and spoke in tongues would make up the bride of Christ and would have a special place of authority at Christ’s return. He believed in a partial rapture composed of tongues speakers. Parham believed that physical healing is the Christian’s birthright. (13)

As far as research can determine he never recanted any of these beliefs. His aberrant beliefs concerning divine healing became part of the original doctrine of what is known today as the Church of God in Christ, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations (sorry Charles) in the world:

In spite of his teaching that it was always God’s will to heal and that medicine and doctors must be shunned, one of Parham’s sons died at age 16 of a sickness which was not healed. In October 1904 a nine-year-old girl named Nettie Smith died. Her father was an avid follower of Parham and refused medical treatment for his daughter. Nettie’s death turned local public opinion against Parham because the little girl’s sickness was treatable and the community therefore considered her death unnecessary. Parham himself suffered various sicknesses throughout his life and at times was too sick to preach or travel. For example, he spent the entire winter of 1904-05 sick and bedridden (James Goff r., Fields White Unto Harvest, p. 94), in spite of his own preaching that healing is guaranteed in the atonement. Parham was the first Pentecostal preacher to pray over handkerchiefs and mail them to those who desired his ministrations (Goff, p. 104) (14)

Do his beliefs strike a familiar ring with any of our former charismatic readers? The Word of Faith cult teaches it is always God’s will to heal. Dr. Hobart Freeman (now deceased) also taught the shunning of medicine; this only cost him close to 100 deaths in his congregation in northern Indiana, the location of his church “the Glory Barn.” To this day various sign-gift sects teach against using medicine or going to doctors. It can all be traced back to Parham. However, Goff is wrong in his comments about Parham being the “first Pentecostal preacher” to pray over handkerchiefs. The first Pentecostal” in America to use handkerchiefs for healing purposes was none other than Joseph Smith, the first restored prophet to the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (15) Again, to this day it is in Mormon doctrine that their Bishops can have the ability to speak in other tongues, and obviously the Mormon Church believes in restored prophets. (16) Keep in mind that the Mormon cult was founded in 1830, 76 years before the Azusa experience.

Parham’s main claim to fame comes from his “Bible” school which was located in Topeka, Kansas:

In plush surroundings at the former Stone mansion outside of Topeka, Kansas, the first Pentecostal revival of the century began on January 1, 1901. This revival would give rise to the most dynamic force for evangelism and missions in modern times.

The elegant setting, however, meant little to the band of 40 students of the Bethel Bible School that the 27-year-old Charles F. Parham had begun 3 months earlier in these rented facilities. Convinced that God had commissioned them as missionaries in the “last days,” they gathered to pray for the promised “latter rain” outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:23,28,29), to acquire the same spiritual power that marked the expansion of the Early Church. In this intense atmosphere of expectancy on New Year’s Day, student Agnes N. Ozman became the first to receive the sign of Spirit baptism: speaking in tongues. “Thus was the Church militant again permitted to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” mused Parham. With the great end-times revival beginning and the army of harvesters prepared for the mission fields, the clouds would soon part and “the Lord himself…descend from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). (17)

Parham had been teaching his students that they should expect the Lord to give them supernatural power to evangelize the world. The manner in which they would know that they had received this baptism of power (just as with the Holiness belief in a secondary experience) would be the evidence/experience of speaking in other tongues.

In the fall of 1900, after leading his students through a series of Bible studies on repentance; justification by faith, sanctification, and healing, Parham instructed them on Spirit baptism. By the end of December, they were prepared to encounter Acts 2 in a new way. After the revival commenced on New Year’s Day, he announced that the students had spoken many languages. He himself had received the capability of preaching in German and Swedish, Agnes Ozman in “Chinese,” and others in a variety of languages including Japanese, Hungarian, Syrian, Hindi, and Spanish. Parham noted that “cloven tongues of fire” appeared over the heads of speakers. Sometimes interpretations followed such as “God is love,: Jesus is mighty to save,” and “Jesus is ready to hear.” (18)

During the formative years of Pentecostalism in America Pentecostal people believed that speaking in other tongues was a genuine language not some “angelic” tongue or private ecstatic speech as sign-gift people teach today. There is no independent proof that Agnes Ozaman, Parham or anyone else actually received the biblical gift of other languages. In 1905 Parham moved his school and students to Houston, Texas which is where the “Azusa” connection is finally made.

seymour

One of Parham’s students was a man named William J. Seymour, who can be considered the father of the Azusa experience. He was a black man and thus Parham would not allow Seymour to sit in the classroom, he had to sit in the hallway and listen through the door. It is worth noting that Mr. Parham was a racist and officially joined the KKK in 1910. (19) Nonetheless Seymour endured the humiliation. Seymour’s source for doctrinal education was a heretic, which explains why he too would later expound heretical concepts:

Seymour accepted Parham’s view of baptism in the Holy Spirit—the belief that in every instance, God would give intelligible languages—speaking in tongues to believers for missionary evangelism…Neeley Terry, an African-American and member of the new congregation led by Hutchinson in Los Angeles, visited Houston in 1905 and was impressed when she heard Seymour preach. Returning home, she recommended him to Hutchinson, since the church was seeking a pastor. As a result, Seymour accepted the invitation to shepherd the small flock. With some financial assistance from Parham, he traveled by train westward and arrived in Los Angeles in February 1906. (20)

Seymour, like Parham came from a holiness background and so was used to experiential religion. The Holiness view was that the “second blessing” of sanctification was the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Parham’s view was that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was proved by having the gift of tongues. All Pentecostal groups today hold to this belief. Back in 1906 such a concept was not well received among many Holiness groups:

Seymour immediately encountered resistance when just 2 days after arriving he began preaching to his new congregation that speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. On the following Sunday, March 4, he returned to the mission and found that Hutchinson had padlocked the door. Condemnation also came from the Holiness Church Association of Southern California with which the church had affiliation. (21)

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The congregation Seymour came to Pastor locked him out of the church building and this forced Seymour to take his “new message” regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit elsewhere. Seymour stayed at a parishioner’s home and led Bible studies there regarding the “Pentecostal” baptism. After a short while several people began to speak in tongues. News of this spread through both the white and black holiness communities and many of their members began to pray to receive this new outpouring of the Holy Spirit (according to their paradigm). The crowds grew to a size where Seymour had to relocate. The group rented a former African Methodist Episcopal (AMI) building relocated at 312 Azusa Street Los Angeles, Ca. This address had become synonymous with the birth of American Pentecostalism.

Seymour called his organization the “Apostolic Faith” and for a couple of years published a sporadic newsletter under the same name. People began to hear of what was taking place on Azusa street and came seeking to receive the Pentecostal blessing with the evidence of speaking with tongues.

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Most who visited the mission came to receive the empowerment of Spirit baptism and be equipped with intelligible new languages for gospel preaching overseas. This would enable them to bypass the nuisance of formal language study. The Apostolic Faith reported: “God is solving the missionary problem, sending out new-tongued missionaries on the apostolic faith line, without purse or scrip, and the Lord is going before them preparing the way.” Missionaries home on furloughs also attended and spoke in tongues and in a few instances identified the languages being spoken. The recipients, however, usually depended on the Lord to identify the languages they had received. (22).

People began to come to Azusa as word spread. There was the common belief that the return of Christ was imminent due to various millennial and rapture doctrines being propagated by various sects within the Church. It seemed logical to many people who already believed in subsequent distinct spiritual experiences apart from regeneration that God would once again restore the gift of other tongues to equip the saints for the last big world-wide missionary push.

African-Americans, Latinos, whites, and others prayed and sang together, creating a dimension of spiritual unity and equality, almost unprecedented for the time. It allowed men, women, and children to celebrate their unity in Christ and participate as led by the Spirit. Indeed, so unusual was the mixture of blacks and whites, that Bartleman enthusiastically exclaimed, “The color line was washed away in the blood.” He meant that in the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the sin of racial prejudice had been removed by the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. (23)

Admittedly, it was unique for that time for a black man (and black women) to be laying hands on white men and women to receive healing and blessings. It was virtually unknown within the Church in America for a black man, Seymour, to be leading white men and women spiritually. The sad thing is that this sense of “unity” lasted only a short time and within 3 years racism reared its ugly head and along with various false doctrines divided the fledgling Pentecostal movement.

The “hype” concerning Azusa was that untold numbers of people were coming to Los Angeles to receive power from on high. The people were all in one accord and hundreds if not thousands were sent forth around the world to reap the end time harvest. God was working signs, wonders and miracles on a regular basis at Azusa and testimonies were pouring in from their missionaries from around the world. (24)

The “truth” concerning these meetings tells another story altogether. The revival meetings were not Spirit-led, nor were things being done decently and in order. William Seymour, for whatever reasons had virtually lost control over the meetings, who spoke, who attended and what transpired under his oversight.

The meetings began in the mornings and continued for at least 12 hours. There was no order of services and usually no one leading. People sang at the same time but “with completely different syllables, rhythms, and melodies” (Ted Olsen, “American Pentecost,” Christian History, Issue 58, 1998). The services were characterized by much confusion: dancing, jumping, up and down, falling, trances, slaying in the spirit, “tongues” jerking, hysteria, strange noises, and “holy laughterOne visitor described the meetings as ‘wild, hysterical demonstrations.” The seekers would be seized with a strange spell and commence a jibberish of sounds.” A Time reporter noted that the participants “work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal.” There was little or no order to the Azusa Street services. Whoever felt “moved by the spirit” to speak, would do so. Seymour rarely preached. Instead, much of the time he kept his head covered in an empty packing crate behind the pulpit. He taught the people to cry out to God and demand sanctification, the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and divine healing (Synan, p. 99) (25)

Due to all of the chaos in the meetings Seymour wrote Charles Parham to please come to Azusa (he had not yet been to any of these meetings) and see if he could help establish order and decorum.

Seymour wrote several letters to Parham asking advice in dealing with spiritualists and mediums from occult societies, who were trying to conduct séances in the services. And the church publicly admitted that not everyone at the meetings felt the presence of the Spirit. (26)

Seymour wrote Parham who was visiting John A. Dowie at Zion, IL. Parham did make his way to Azusa street and the following are some of his impressions of what he saw taking place:

When Parham visited the meetings in October 1906, even he was shocked by the confusion of the services. He was dismayed by the “awful fits and spasms” of the “holy rollers and hypnotists.” He described the Azusa “tongues” as “chattering, jabbering and sputtering, speaking no language at all” (Synan, p. 102). The Azusa Street meetings were so wild that Parham condemned them with the term “Sensational Holy Rollers.” He testified that the Azusa Street meetings were largely characterized by manifestations of the flesh, spiritualistic controls, and the practice of hypnotism (Sarah Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, Joplin, MO: Tri-state Printing, 1930, p. 163). According to Parham, two-thirds of the people professing Pentecostalism in his day “are either hypnotized or spook driven (Parham, Life of Charles Parham, p. 164). In his writings about Azusa Street, Parham described men and women falling on one another in a morally compromising manner…When Parham arrived in Azusa Street in 1906, he began his first sermon by telling the people that “God is sick at his stomach” because of the things which were occurring at Azusa (Charles Shumway, A Study of the “Gift of Tongues,” A.B. thesis, University of California, 1914, pp. 178,179; cited by Goff, Fields White Unto Harvest, p. 131). He never changed his opinion. To the end of his life, Parham, often called “the father of Pentecostalism,” denounced Azusa Street as a case of “spiritual power prostituted.” Thus the “father of Pentecostalism” roundly rejected the Azusa Street meetings as phony, manipulated, and demonic, even though practically all Pentecostal denominations trace their heritage directly from those meetings! (27)

Parham was adamant that Seymour remove the spiritualists and occultists from the services. Seymour refused to remove anyone from the services citing that our Lord said to His worker to let the tares and wheat grow together and that at the end of the age they will be separated. The result of Parham’s visit was the first of countless “splits” within Pentecostalism. Parham and Seymour never ministered together again, nor were they ever reconciled. Parham was not the only person to denounce what was taking place in the Azusa meetings. (28) Here are some comments made by leading theologians of their day:

G. Campbell Morgan  described the Azusa Street activities as “the last vomit of Satan” H.A. Ironside said both the holiness and Pentecostal movements were “disgusting, delusions and insanities.” In 1912 he said of their meetings “pandemonium’s where exhibitions worthy of a madhouse or a collection of howling dervishes,” were causing a “heavy toll of lunacy and infidelity.” W.B. Godbey said of the Azusa Street participants “Satan’s preachers, jugglers, necromancers, enchanters, magicians, and all sorts of mendicants,” and he claimed the movement was the result of spiritualism. Clarence Larkin “But the conduct of those possessed, in which they fall to the ground and writhe in contortions, causing disarrangement’s of the clothing and disgraceful scenes, is more a characteristic of demon possession, than a work of the Holy Spirit. From what has been said we see that we are living in “Perilous Times,” and that all about us are “Seducing Spirits,” and that they will become more active as the Dispensation draws to its close, and that we must exert the greatest car lest we be led astray. (29)

The truth behind the Azusa meetings is that they were far less anointed than many Pentecostal and charismatic revisionists want the world to believe. People have a tendency to only remember the “good times” and forget about all the nastiness in life, and the Azusa meetings are proof of this tendency.

After the incident with Parham, Seymour’s own racist and sectarian attitudes came forth:

Along with the success, hurts and heartaches soon came to Azusa Street, Seymour and the faithful learned to expect criticism from newspapers and leaders of other churches–including the founder of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, P.F. Breese, who believed that Holiness people were already baptized in the Holy Spirit and that the Azusa tongues were not from God. But some of the harshest criticism came from inside the little mission, with the mother church splitting because of personality clashes, fanaticism, doctrinal differences, and racial separation. It was said that some whites left because the blacks had a lock on the leadership. Seymour proving that he was no more perfect than his critics, reportedly asked the Hispanics to leave, and later wrote by-laws that prevented anyone except African-Americans from holding office in the mission. The often-quoted line that “the color line was washed away in the blood” was true in practice for only a short time. (30)

Bartleman’s earlier exclamation “the color line was washed away in the blood” although theologically true, proved to be no more than excited ignorance when push came to shove in these meetings. As far as “race” was concerned the two earliest predominant Pentecostal denominations, i.e. The Assemblies of God in Christ (lily white) and The Church of God in Christ (African-American) formed specifically due to ethnicity versus doctrinal distinctions.

Building on the assumption that Azusa Street represents the moment in classical Pentecostalism’s past from which to chart decension, some have gone on to accuse the Assemblies of God of fostering racial division by separating in 1914 from the church of God in Christ. This line of reasoning celebrates the roles of black leaders and organizations in the formative stages of American Pentecostalism displaces Charles Parham, the white leader of the Topeka, Kansas, Pentecostal outpouring of 1901, with William Seymour, the black leader of Azusa Street; and maintains that at least since 1914 a steady process of white separation and domination has been under way. (31)

Actual confession and repentance of racism between these two denominations did not occur until 1994, almost 90 years after the Azusa “revival.” So much for the ‘love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (see Rom. 5:5).

Apart from the ensuing splits, during the revival meetings themselves a great deal of error was taught and then disseminated around the world. Some of the errors included the belief that people were supernaturally being given other tongues, actual foreign languages (xenolalia) and when Seymour or whoever at the meetings told the individuals what language they had been given, these folks often went to that nation as missionaries. The results were often tragic because when the people got to their destination, often at great expense, they learned they did not really speak the indigenous tongue at all. This brought reproach on the Gospel, because those claiming to represent Christ were (and were no doubt sincere in their attempt) ended up looking very foolish. There is simply no independent evidence that anyone who received the “baptism” at Azusa ever spoke in a genuine foreign language on the missionary field.

Another error with dreadful results was Seymour’s stance on divine healing, which he learned from Parham. He forbade people to go to medical doctors or to use medicine. The aberrant reasoning behind this belief in that Parham and others taught that physical healing was part of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Thus to go to doctors or use medicine was to deny the finished work of Christ (in their minds). Obviously, this resulted in countless deaths and much suffering.

The belief that Jesus Christ was retuning soon is the main reason people came to Azusa, they wanted Holy Ghost power to go preach the Gospel and “get” as many people saved as they could. As noble as their intentions were, they were predicated on a wrongheaded belief regarding the return of Christ. Various dates were given for His return, all of which failed to come to pass. One hundred years have now passed and Jesus has not yet returned.

The belief that there is a subsequent “infilling” or baptism with the Holy Spirit after salvation is erroneous. When anyone is converted they have the Spirit at that moment (See 1 Cor. 12:13) and all Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (See Eph. 4:30). The revivalists took Acts 2 to be normative for all Christians. They taught (and do teach) that all 120 people including the Apostles received the gifts of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Yet a careful reading of the text will prove that only the Apostles received the Spirit in such a dramatic manner. Furthermore, throughout the Book of Acts it is only the Apostles who are ever involved with imparting spiritual gifts, never lay people. Pentecostals must teach it was all 120 people because if they accept the biblical evidence of only the Apostles as stewards of the Spirit, if you will, then they know they are dead in the water. Acts 2 is not normative and the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled on that day. The Apostle Peter said “this is that “ (see Acts 2:16) and nothing in the Scriptures indicate that this experience is to be repeated time and time again 9as many neo-Montanist groups have been claiming over the last 2,000 years).

Apart from the fact that no real foreign languages were bestowed, there were also manifestations of occulist practices such as automatic writing and the ability to suddenly play musical instruments:

Also present among the alleged miracles was the not uncommon occult practice of “automatic writing” which, if we may recall, was practiced on occasion by the Irvingities, at Shiloh, and by Agnes Ozman. Also present among the “miraculous manifestations” was another phenomenon directly related to occult mediumship, the ability to play musical instruments without any prior musical training or perceived ability: The Lord has given the gift of writing in unknown languages, also the gift of playing on instruments. (The Apostolic Faith edition 1) Azusa Street was undoubtedly the vehicle for the propagation of this occult method of mediumism, and it proliferated far and wide, thanks, no doubt, to the international acclaim that the “revival” had by now acquired: “I am still talking and writing in tongues. A missionary interpreted what I have been writing in Syriac and Armenian. I was singing Chinese one night, a missionary said. I am busy every day and going from place to place. Strong opposition from many, but God gives the victory, Glory!” Andrew G. Johnson, Address, 48 Skofde, Sweden (ibid, edition 6) “I received the Holy Ghost in San Jose, in November, and came to Kelseyville, in December. And when I received the January paper and read what the Lord was doing in other places, the power of God came on me mightily. I was alone and was lifted to my feet and stood on tiptoe with both arms extended above my head, and began to speak in tongues and to interpret, which I never had done before except a very little. Since I came here, one lady has received the Holy Ghost with a tongue, also the gift of writing some unknown language and the deaf mute signs.” (ibid, 6) “One sister received the gift of writing and also the interpretation of her languages. She has spoken and interpreted the soon coming of Jesus.” – Elizabeth M. May, Whittier, Cal. (ibid,6) (32)

Brothers and sisters, the belief in being able to “write in tongues’ is nothing less than demonic deception. There is no such gift ever cited in the entire Bible! Yet it was commonly believed that people possessed this ability. For some strange reason we do not have any of these “writings” available to us today in order that they might be linguistically examined.

The Azusa “revival” lasted for only three years. Yet from this initial “root” of American Pentecostalism various forms of poisonous fruit have been borne over the years. For example, in spite of all the proclamation of how these “restored” gifts were uniting the Body of Christ, exactly the opposite occurred. One of the more egregious heresies to be spawned from Azusa was the restoration of the age old heresy of Modalism:

A more serious schism grew out of the “oneness’ or “Jesus only” controversy, which began in 1911 in Los Angeles. Led by Glen Cook and Frank Ewart, this movement rejected the teaching of the Trinity and taught that Jesus Christ was at the same time Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that the only biblical mode of water baptism was administered in Jesus’ name and then was valid only if accompanied with glossolalia. This movement spread rapidly in the infant Assemblies of God after 1914 and resulted in a schism in 1916, which later produced the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and the United Pentecostal Church. (33)

“Jesus Only” Pentecostal denominations are among the largest in the world and they are simply a cult. Apart from the Oneness groups other sign-gift cults have sprung up over the years, all of which trace their roots back to Azusa. Groups including: The Children of God, founded by restored prophet David Berg (Moses David): The Way International founded by Victor Paul Wierwille; House of Yahweh, founded by Buffalo Bill Hawkins; The Word of Faith cult, founded by E.W. Kenyon and Kenneth Hagin; various snake handling and poison drinking groups; The Local Church, founded by Witness Lee; the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (this Ugandan cult caused the death of 444 people); Faith Assembly, founded by Dr,. Hobart Freeman are just a few of the many examples of aberrant groups who can trace their heritage back to Azusa Street. Since the advent of American Pentecostalism there are several hundred Pentecostal denominations and sects in existence today, so much for unity!

Apart from aberrant sects and heretical cults some of the most ungodly behavior has been exposed in the lives of the “GIANTS” of Pentecostalism. (34) Charles Fox Parham was charged with child Sodomy, was a member of the KKK and a Mason. (35) John Alexander Dowie claimed to be Elijah. (36) Aimee Semple McPherson was twice divorced, an adulteress and died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. She founded The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a large Pentecostal denomination. (37)

DakeFinis

Finis Dake, author of the Dake Bible (the standard Bible used by many Pentecostals), he was convicted of taking a 16 year old girl across state lines and sleeping in the same hotel room with her under an assumed name in 1937. (38) A.A. Allen, famous healing evangelist died of a drug and alcohol overdose in June of 1970. (39) Paul Cain, healing evangelist later returned as an internationally recognized –

End Notes

1. The Word of God Community got its initial start at Notre Dame as part of the Roman Catholic Charismatic renewal. By the time it had expanded to the U O M campus it had become ecumenical. In fact, to me a member of the “community” you had to belong to a local church {I believe now that that was part of their strategy to infiltrate non-charismatic congregations}. The WOG community was part of a distinct segment of the charismatic renewal called “The Discipleship” or “Shepherding” movement.

 

2. It is important to note that from the original writings of early Pentecostalism the gift of tongues was believed to be that of genuine foreign language, given to equip the believer for missionary work due to the belief in the soon return of Christ. Today’s charismatic movement believes that other tongues can be a foreign language but is generally an “angelic tongue” given for the private use of the believer in prayer and for personal edification.

3. Obtained from The Kentucky Revival or A Short History of The Late Extraordinary Out-Pouring of The Spirit of God, In The Western States of America, Agreeably To Scripture Promises, And Prophecies Concerning The Latter Day; With A Brief Account of The Entrance and Progress of What The World Call Shakerism Among The Subjects of The Later Revival in Ohio and Kentucky. Written by Richard M. Nemar in 1808 underlining added for emphasis.

4. Obtained from http://www.geocities.com/lasttrumpet_2000/timeline/irvingbio.html.

5. Obtained form http://ww.spiritismonline.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=65.

6. Obtained from http://www.truthinhistory.org/Dowie.htm Underlining added.

7. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_life_movment.

8. Obtained from http://www.frontlinemin.org/higherlife.asp. Underlining added.

9. Obtained from http://www.answers.com/main/intquery;jsessionid=a8fgk86otl80g?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=1904-1905+Welsh+Revival&curtab=1904-1905%20Welsh%20Revival. Underlining added.

10 If you want to learn more specifically about Jessie Penn-Lewis you might contact Pastor Dick Fisher or personal Freedom Outreach. He has done some research and writing about her background. The only place Dick and I agree to disagree is possibly when it comes to her views on the demonic counterfeits. DMI believes that Satan can does actually manifest himself and does use paranormal lying signs and wonders to deceive the Church and world. Some Christian apologists deny any spiritual reality to any and all manifestations, chalking them up to mere human emotionalism.

11. Obtained from http://www.ag.org/enrichmentjournal/199904/026_azusa.cfm. Underlining added.

12. McGee, Gary Tongues, The Bible Evidence The Revival Legacy of Charles F. Parham. Enrichment Journal, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802. Underlining added.

13. Cloud, David. The Strange History of Pentecostalism. Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368. Underlining added.

14. Ibid.

15. Cullimore, James Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet Speeches, 218

University Press Building, Provo, Utah 84602

16. For more information go to http://www.josephsmith.net/portal/site/JosephSmith/menuitem.da0e1d4eb6d2d87f9c0a33b5f1e543a0/?vgnextoid=3b62982b9ab4201-VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD.

17. McGee, Gary. Tongues The Bible Evidence The Revival Legacy of Charles F. Parham. Enrichment Journal 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802.

18. Ibid. Bold type added.

19. Obtained from http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Charles%20Fox%20Parham.

20. McGee Gary, William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival. Enrichment Journal, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802. Underlining and bold type added.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid.

24. These reports were printed in the Apostolic Faith newsletters. DMI has all of the copies of these newsletters in our archives and they are available on CD rom for a nominal fee.

25. Cloud, David. The Strange History of Pentecostalism, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368. Underlining added.

26. Olsen, Ted. American Pentecost, the Story Behind the Azusa Street Revival. Underlining added.

27. Cloud, David, The Strange History of Pentecostalism, Way of Life Literture, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368. Underlining and bolding added.

28. It is easy for some people to ignore Parham’s comments because he was a racist. Nonetheless, his denunciation of the revival meetings was not based on ethnic issues, but on what even he recognized as occult practices, hynotism and demonic activity. Parham came t assist Seymour, but seeing what was transpiring in the meetings and Seymour’s unwillingness to address these excesses it led to an inevitable split. Parham’s comments about Azusa should not be ignored, after al, he is the “father” of America Pentecostalism.

29. All of these statements ere taken from “from Holy Laughter to Holy Fire” by Michael L. Brown, pages 197 &198. Michael Brown was one of the key leaders in the “Pensacola Outpouring” (American’s version of the Toronto Blessing).

30. Olsen, Ted. American Pentecost, the Story Behind the Azusa Street Revival. 31. Blumhofer, Edith L. Christian Century, April 27, 1994.

32. Obtained from http://www.unitypublishing.com/NewReligiousMovements/WhatSpirit8.html. Underlining added.

33. Obtained from http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/pentecos.htm. Underlining added.

 

34. Let there be no mistake in the readers mind, I am not saying that other denominations do have or have not had their share of fallen ministers. Yet it is the Pentecostal and charismatic leaders who claim to have received or achieved a higher level of spirituality than the “non-Spirit-filled” Christian, so their fall must be harder to explain away due to their claims of a higher anointing or closer walk with God than your general denominational leader.

35. McGee, Gary. Tongues. The bible Evidence The Revival Legacy of Charles F. Parham. Enrichment Journal 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO. 65802

36. Obtained from http://www.healing-ministries.net/etudes/men_women/alexander_dowie/default.html.

37. See http://www.who2.com/aimeesemplemcpherson.html for more information.

38. Spencer, Jeff. Dake’s/Dangerous Doctrines, 2004

39. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_A_Allen.

 

40. Obtained from http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c06.html.

41. Lobdell, William, Onward Christian Soldier, Los Angeles Times, 2002.

42. Personal Knowledge, plus tones of information on the Trinity website

43. Obtained from http://www.jesus21.com/portal/index.php?s=scandals. http://www.th-record.com/1998/10/04bakker.htm.

44. Obtained from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/011/2.19.html.





Joel Repents!

14 07 2009

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

 

Joel Repents!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2005   Rev. Robert S. Liichow