Posted by: excharisma | May 3, 2009

False Teachers of the Word of Faith

False Teachers of The Word of  Faith

http://excharismania.blogspot.com/2009/05/battlestar-galatia-sermons-from.html

http://brojeffssermons.blogspot.com/2009/05/sermons-from-galatians-2-false-teachers.html

(Gal. 1:9- “As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”)

Last week we began with Paul speaking to the Galatian church about how false teachers had crept into the church there and had polluted the Gospel message with error.  The false teachers and preachers had infiltrated from within and disguised as Christian teachers and preachers had added “improvements” to the gospel message making it not the gospel at all but heresy (grossly false doctrine).   Today I want us to look at one of the fastest growing cults within the church.  This false movement is called the “Word-Faith Movement” or “Word of Faith Movement” (hereafter will be WoF).  You might know some of the names of the false teachers I name today but most importantly we will expose the lies they espouse as gospel.

I. Cultic/Occultic Origins(2 Tim. 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”) – You may not be familiar with the name Word-Faith or Word of Faith movement but you might have heard of some of it’s teachers/preachers: Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Robert Tilton, Creflo Dollar, John Avanzini, Eddie Long, Marilyn Hickey, T.D. Jakes, Juanita Bynum, Fred Price, Rod Parsley, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis, Jerry Savelle, Paul Crouch (TBN), Charles Capps, Leroy Thompson, Benny Hinn, Paula White, Joel Osteen, Pat Robinson, R.W. Schambach, Myles Munroe.
The WoF movement did not start overnight, but began in the early 1900’s with a man named E.W. Kenyon.  Kenyon was greatly influenced by New Thought founder Phineas Quimby (his false teachings are the basis for the cult called Christian Science started by Mary Baker Eddy; early New Age beliefs). E.W. Kenyon went to Emerson College of Oratory in Boston which was a breeding ground at the time for the newly emerging New Thought cult. New Thought claimed to have discovered laws of faith, advancing a Christianized version of their occult teaching.
With these cultic/occultic teachings Kenyon would mix and blend it in with orthodox Christian doctrine to create the false, peculiar beliefs that became the WoF.  So we see then cultic/occultic roots of WoF and now let’s look who brought into the present. The man who was most influential in spreading this heresy into the 20th and 21st century is Kenneth Hagin.  And his disciples and devotees affectionately call him “Dad” Hagin.  “Dad” Hagin died in 2003 but the heresy of the WoF keeps rolling on even stronger today.  But what do you ask is the false teachings of the WoF.

II. WoF False Doctrines – (1 Tim 4:1- “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”)-

1. Faith in Faith- The primarily false teaching of the WoF’ers is that a Christian by their faith can make God do anything.  In the WoF they put their faith in their ‘faith’. To them faith is a force that we use to make God heal us and keep us healthy or make God make us rich and get us all that we desire.  WoF say faith is the stuff God made the earth, the universe, and even humans according to the WoF false teachers.  They twist the scripture in Heb. 11:1 (in the KJV)- “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…”; this proves to them that faith is a substance that allows God to be a slave for you, to make him create the world that you want and desire, to be healthy, wealthy, and master of your own life.  The WoF heresy is nothing more than Christianized humanism that we are in control because God is not and that only saved man can allow God to work in the world and we activate God by the law and force of faith but we will get to more of that later.  The truth of Hebrew 1:1 is that the archaic terms of the KJV is not very understandable to us, so the better translation of ‘substance’ here is the word ‘assurance’ (NASB). True faith is the assurance that the promises of God never fail, it is human beings trusting in a God they cannot see, to do things that He has promised.  To the WoF teachers faith is the substance that we get what we desire, even God has to have faith because faith is the source of God’s power.  And this leads us to our next WoF false teaching, positive confession.

2. Positive Confession- This is the WoF belief that we have what we confess because words are the containers of faith.  For example, if we speak positive confessions of healing and quote bible verses (even taken out of context) then the force of faith is activated and healing and health will eventually be manifested to you but you must keep on positively confessing in order to stay healed or if your broke it will make you rich if you use the same formula of faith: confess or speak it, believe it, and receive it because God is obligated to do so because we use faith and confession.  Because the WoF God used the same formula when He made the universe because to them He spoke (and visualized) it in the beginning when He said, “Let there be…” and of course He had to believe it would happen because it came into existence, for every faith-filled word that He spoke.  But there is a drawback to confession because if there is a positive confession there must be a negative confession.  Positive confession works off of faith and it attracts God’s power to work on the our behalf to make us rich and well, while negative confession is fear that attracts the Devil to allow him to make us sick and poor.  They say our words are so powerful that we attract sickness like cancer and even death if we just accidentally utter a negative confession like “My head is killing me” when we have a headache because it could cause us to die of a brain tumor or a brain hemorrhage.  The WoF teacher has the answer to reverse the curse by only having us utter positive things even though our bodies may tell us we’re sick, we are to ignore and deny the symptoms and confess we’re fine, we’re well, we’re healed, and free of pain and to quote over and over “by His stripes we are healed” or twist some other scripture with the word ‘healing’ in it to suit our need of confession. (Side note: If you ignore symptoms of being sick and deny them it won’t make you well no matter how much you confess you are healed, symptoms are God’s built in warning system that something is wrong and needs attention.) Contrary to the beliefs of the WoF movement sickness and poverty is not the individual’s results of each person’s sin. It is a part of this cursed and fallen creation we are born into without choice.  It is not sinful to be sick or poor (which is what they teach; K.Copeland: “Poverty is an evil spirit”; J. Hagee: “Poverty is caused by sin and disobeying the Word of God.”). They need to be informed that it is sinful to be spiritually sick and spiritually poor believing the heretical teachings of the WoF movement and living selfishly (Rev 3:16,17- “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”) that is their spiritual state.

3. Little Gods: Man Promoted, God Demoted- A hallmark of any cult is to alter the truth about the Godhead and specifically undermine the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The WoF does this as well, not only do they demote God but they promote man to a “little god” (they spell it with a little ‘g’).  They promote the same lie as Satan hissed in the Garden, “You will be like God”.  How do they get to the place to say that man is a “little god”?  Well many of the WoF teachers believe that when God created man in His image and likeness that He made a “little god”.  Their flawed reasoning to think this let me quote Joyce Meyer, “If you as human being have a baby, you call it human kind. If cattle have another cattle, they call it cattle-kind. I mean what’s God supposed to call us? Doesn’t the Bible say we’re created in His image? Now, you understand, I’m not saying you are a God with a capital ‘G’” (“Joyce Meyer-Little Gods” http://www.you tube.com/watch?v=7Y4eVu2oxP8). We are left with no doubt about what she is saying and the rest of the WoF teachers all mirror the same belief like Kenneth Copeland (“You don’t have a god in you, you are one!”; “The Force of Love”, Audiotape, 1987), Creflo Dollar (“You’re not a sinner saved by grace, your sons and daughters of the Most High God. You are gods!”; “Changing Your World”, April 17, 2002), and there are too many to quote but say and believe the same thing, they are gods.  They believe when God made man (the “little gods”) that He gave man dominion over the earth and their belief about dominion was that man was a god over this world.  But when the Devil deceived Adam and Eve well that defaulted man’s title over earth and gave it to Satan who became god of this world.  God then was locked out from doing anything on earth and in the affairs of mankind.  And God’s avenue back into this earth was through man and He found it in Abraham.  The WoF teach that because Abraham and other people of faith gave God permission to act on the earth.  They teach that their poor WoF God finally had access to earth and man finally had access to God.  How twisted the WoF teachings are, man is deified and God is humanized and the devil is on an equal playing field with God and man  is in control and allows God to work. How that false, evil belief is shattered by this verse about the sovereignty of God (Dan 4:35 – All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”). God is in control and we aren’t, thank God.

4. Spiritual Death of Jesus- How could any God-fearing, saved Christian man or woman believe that there is any other redemption or salvation other than the suffering and death of Christ on the cross.  Well, the WoF false teachers do it again.  According to them, Jesus paid for our sins not on the cross but in the very pit of hell itself they falsely claim Christ had to die spiritually and burn in hell to save us.  I will quote one of the popular WoF teachers, “if you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on the cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price.” (Fred Price; ‘Ever Increasing Faith Messenger, pg.120).  This is believed and repeated by all the WoF teachers from Kenneth Copeland to Joel Osteen, from Joyce Meyers to Paula White, and Benny Hinn to T.D. Jakes.  But Galatians 6:14 gladly says this, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  We can boast only in the suffering, shed blood, and death of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and nothing else.

III. Things to Consider- This is just a small part of the false, cultic teachings of the WoF.  It seems that I’m making this up and surely Christians don’t believe this fractured fairytale. They push these false teachings anywhere and through any outlet they can where they can make a buck and fleece the sheep.  Irregardless if their false promises for healing kill someone because going to the doctor or taking medicine is sneered at for a “lack of faith” or if people have fallen on hard times or born into poverty their seen as sinful by these false brethren and tell those who have been deceived by them that if there sick or poor, it is because it’s their fault.  These false teachers will have a fearful end. The Apostle Paul pronounced upon them anathema, destruction, false teachers will face the wrath of God and will receive their reward at the Great White Throne Judgment. Remember Jesus’ warning, Matt. 24:4, Stay true to the truth of God’s word and false teachers will easily be seen.

A Word of Warning

Romans 10:17 reads, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

This is true, but I would add a word of caution. Note that another truth is brainwashing cometh by hearing and hearing. Be sure that as you are endeavoring to listen and study the word of God, that you aren’t actually being brainwashed by men.

My husband and I have recently realized that we were willingly and actively being brainwashed by constantly listening to recorded sermons and also reading certain books over and over again. Imagine: No one came to our house and held us captive to brainwash us. We pursued the brainwashing!

By all means possible, seek truth, but under no circumstances, believe what a man tells you just because of whom he says he is.

-MW

http://theautonomyofthebeliever.blogspot.com/2009/04/word-of-warning.html
Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 30, 2009

Spiritual Abuse: It’s Not Something You Just Get Over

It’s Not Something You Just Get Over

So you have left a controlling church after months or years of soul-searching. And maybe it’s been a while since you left. I’ll bet I know what people are telling you: it’s time to move on, get over it. You talk to Christian friends, ministers you feel you can trust or family friends and it seems like everybody is ready for you to get over it. Let me assure you, if you don’t feel like you are going to get over it anytime soon, you are…..normal!
I have friends who have left controlling churches that have rebounded quickly. Others who were more deeply invested in our old church or in the faith movement had their lives turned upside down when they left and are still recovering.
I personally am still in recovery mode after 18 months. This experience has caused me to deeply question the church’s ability to be a social institution and yet remain ethical and faithful to God at this point in history. I am also taking my sweet time committing to any particular doctrinal stances. I definitely believe we can know truth…but me being able to wrap my brain around it is another thing. And I do not want to just accept what anybody says as correct doctrine just because they say so, no matter how orthodox it all seems. That’s partially how I got into this mess in the first place!
Despite it all, I am very glad to accept the responsibility of thinking for myself. I no longer feel like I have to see what Pastor So-and-so thinks…or Bishop Whats-his-face…or Rev. Dr. Dignified…or Brother Deep-fried.
So if it takes a long time to feel like you have come out the other side of this situation, that’s okay. Some if it we should never “get over” because we are dealing with people’s spiritual lives, which is no small matter. I believe it’s indicative of the times we live in.
Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 30, 2009

I Wrote the Vision: an Ex-Word of Faith Testimony

Every new year at our church, our pastor would preach a sermon called, “Write the Vision”. He read from Habakkuk chapter 2, encouraging each person to write down a list of goals or things he/she wanted to see happen in his/her life.

From the very first days at my Word of Faith church, I took to heart much of what I was learning and had a growing vision for my family that included homeschool, missions, and ministry in general. I was building my life on the hope that that vision would become a reality. Church wasn’t just church for me. It was a new way of life and the start of my family embarking on God’s calling on our lives. I had such confidence in the direction we were going. I felt such optimism. I believed that our lives were actually going to count and that not only could we raise children that would come to personally know Jesus as savior, but also that we could impact the world and change the course of history.

Of course, the plan majored on my children. I had an intense desire to homeschool them to be independent thinkers and have stellar character. This plan to homeschool was dependent upon the church to be our social outlet.

Another component of this vision was ministry, specifically missions. The plan was not just me and/or my husband but the entire family taking the Gospel to a lost and dying world. We would bring living bread to dying souls. The children could see how the rest of the world lives outside of the pop culture bubble that is America. It was a call my husband and I heard very clearly-on more than one occasion.

The calling was intertwined with our work in the church. We thought the mission opportunities would arise as we volunteered in various departments of ministry.

I had confidence that I could believe that God would bring all these things to pass. Every time I began to sense the slightest worry about what would become of my children, I would go back to the things I had written down. I would quote scriptures and pray. I was so thankful to have a hope and a future for my kids. But, gradually, my plans began to crumble.

The social network and support I had been counting never materialized. We didn’t have a lot of money which meant the kids didn’t “fit in”. Camaraderie and emotional connections never grew. But, I thought, no worries! I’ll try harder…but it was to no avail. Then the final and most devastating blow came.

We found out that our “pastor” was a covetous liar, hungry for money and covering up the truth. We left our “church”.

We then set out on the intimidating task of finding a new church. After a year and a half, we think we have found one. The problem? It’s tiny. There are no peers for my kids. So, I am going to have to abandon homeschooling and enroll them in public school.

The point of this post is try to communicate to people how someone can become invested in something so twisted as the Word of Faith and why the aftermath can be so devastating. Our entire life’s plans fell when we discovered the truth about our “pastor”.

http://theautonomyofthebeliever.blogspot.com/2009/04/i-wrote-vision_24.html

 

EW Kenyon was the founder of the Word of Faith. He taught extensively on positive confession, but died from a massive malignant tumor.

Kenneth Hagin plagiarized much of Kenyons writings and also taught extensively on Divine health and positive confession of the Word. He died of a massive heart attack.

EW Kenyon was heavily influenced by the New Age and Christian Science teachings of his day, and his writings are full of catch phrases and definitions from the Eastern religions and cults.

EW Kenyon taught that Jesus went to Hell after he died on the cross. According to this doctrine, the Blood of Jesus was not sufficient. A proper rendering of the Greek words for Hell in regards to the death of Jesus would be translated as grave.

Kenneth Hagin preached a mixture of Kenyon’s New Thought and his own claimed visions of Jesus. Hagin claimed that Jesus Christ appeared to him on eight occasions in which he received hours of one on one instruction on faith, healing and other doctrines. This is in direct violation of Galatians 1:6-9

Kenneth Hagin claimed that during a trip to Heaven, that Jesus laid hands on him and transferred a special healing anointing, and that if people believed in that anointing that they would be healed. Hagin’s sister died of cancer, his brother-in-law died of cancer, his wife was sick for years, and his grandson had medical treatment for a brain tumor. Many of his students have died of cancer and other diseases.

Kenneth Hagin claimed that Jesus said that when Hagin was speaking out of the Spirit, that if people did not receive what was said, that they would die. This is nothing but spiritual control and manipulation.

Charles Capps, another Word of Faith teacher, that specializes in positive confession of the Word, has had to wear thick eye glasses for years. It is reported that his wife had to have a major organ transplant.

Numerous Word of Faith teachers are under Senate investigation because of their extravagant lifestyles which are financed through seed faith offerings.

Kenneth Copeland, another prominent Word of Faith teacher, has had to cancel meetings because of health issued. He is refusing to cooperate to with the Senate even though he has taught extensively on submission to authority.

Many Word of Faith churches are very controlling and teach the tithe far more than they do the cross. many Word of Faith people are living in a state of continuous fear because they believe that whatever they will say will come to pass.

The Word of Faith teaches that believers can create and change their circumstances by mixing their words with faith.

The Word of Faith teaches that God no longer can do anything upon the earth because He has put Man in charge.

The Word of Faith teaches that we were healed by the stripes of Jesus on Calvary. If this were true then everyone would automatically be healed at the moment of salvation. Word of Faith teaches that man should have a lifespan of 120 years. Kenneth Hagin told a crowd of 7,000 people that he would live to be 135 years old. He died the next year.

The Word of Faith takes hundreds of scriptures out of context to build their doctrines. They use Old Testament promises to Israel to promise health, wealth and total victory for the Church.

If you used a computer word counter, the tithe would be mentioned far more than repentance or Calvary. That is because the Word of Faith is obsessed with money and materialism.

The Word of Faith uses many of the same formulas as does witchcraft and New Age.

The Word of Faith preachers constantly report incredible miracle healings as a result of their prayers, but the fact is that there are no healings that do not involve medical treatments. A true miracle is when someone is healed instantly of a serious organic disease or injury without the aid of medicine.

The Word of Faith is full of teachers such as Mike Murdock which tell people that if they will send money that God will send miracles.

The Word of Faith is obsessed with faith. It is a religious system that is based on works and formulas that do not work. Word of Faith churches have just as many people die of sickness as any other denomination. Word of Faith people suffer the same afflictions as other believers all over the world. Word of Faith people promise Divine protection, but die in plane crashes, car accidents and other tragedies just like other believers do.

The Word of Faith message is that man is in control of his destiny. It is Humanism. It is the Gospel of me, myself and I.

http://faithpreacher.blogspot.com/2009/04/true-facts-about-word-of-faith-movement.html

Posted by: returningking.com | April 30, 2009

Wolves in Wool Conclusion: From Christ to Antichrist

NOTE:  This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series.  This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)

As it has been demonstrated that an apostasy must precede the tribulation, and an utter “anti-gospel” is to be the characteristic of a singular religious system during the great tribulation, it only stands to reason that one may trace the roots of the former apostasy to the latter full-fledged abomination which is spawned from it.  As noted, I cannot positively contend that our current growing apostasy in Christendom is indeed the apostasy which scripture warns will precede the day of the Lord.  Yet, I am compelled to examine such possibilities.

If a man, for example, sincerely believes his life to be in danger by one of his associates, he would surely watch for signs of such growing antagonism toward himself.  He may become quite paranoid, in fact, and pre-occupied with an investigation concerning the possible playing out of his fears.  I do not desire to become paranoid nor to anxiously accuse every false theological principle as a precursor to the coming worship of Antichrist.  Yet, I do wish to heed Jesus’ own warnings concerning our need to be watching for the proper signs of such coming events.

Matthew 24:32-33 (NIV)
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

Indeed, as the leaves are a sign of summer, apostasy will be a sign of the advent of the day of the Lord.  While I am not certain that this present apostasy is “the” final warning sign of pending tribulation, I do find plenty of scriptural indication that it indeed may be.  As such, I’m compelled to evaluate the possible threads of further degradation of these current apostate movements and ask the question, “how may these current renegade trends lend themselves to a future disintegration into the final blasphemous religion of Antichrist?”

The Destination of the Emergent Path

Beginning with the liberal Emergent movement, one trend that can easily find itself an ally in the hands of Satan as preparation for Ecclesiastical Babylon is the massive shift toward universalist beliefs in Emergent practice.  It seems that the crux of Emergent theology is to be kinder and less dogmatic in the application of Christian theology.  For a group which claims disdain for systematic theology they are doing an exceptional job of re-writing it in their own image.  Among other things, soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) is being increasingly re-cast in this movement to be something which does not demand an affiliation with Christ.  In fact, it seems that Emergent soteriology doesn’t even necessarily demand one to believe in Christ at all. 

McLaren claims that people can be a follower of Jesus while sharing their religious affection with false gods.

…I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherence to the Christian religion.  It may be advisable in many(not all!)circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. 
Brian  McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan), 2004, page 260.

Alan Jones relegates Jesus to a position among “all great spiritual teachers” as he notes,

“Jesus is the way to a new kind of life.  Jesus and Buddha have this in common with all great spiritual teachers– to make human beings more conscious of themselves, to get to be more real.”
Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity, p. 194

And Rob Bell at least honestly describes his (shared) views in terms of a universal nature of the gospel.

“So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.”
- Velvet Elvis p. 146

He later articulates more fully, “If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody” (p. 167).

If one can follow Christ, Buddah or Hindu gods and yet still be assured salvation, what motivation is there for anyone to resist whatever “new” doctrines Oprah is teaching this week?  What motivation should prevent them from joining in with Antichrist when he calls for the allegiance of man?  Such is the heart and soul of the false gospel of universalism.  The Jesus of their minds (and only of their minds) is one who requires no repentance- even from those who reject him outright and serve other gods.  Indeed, their attempt to make the gospel “relevant” has landed them in a place where any and all religious practices are acceptable, providing that the proponents of such practices are “doing what Jesus did.”  Bell notes,

“Jesus tells a parable about the kind of people who will live with God forever. It is a story of judgment, of God evaluating the kind of lives people have lived. First he deals with the ‘righteous’, who gave food to the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited the prisoner. These are the kind of people who spend forever with God. Jesus measures their eternal standings in terms of not what they said or believed but how they lived, specifically in regard to the hell around them”
-Velvet Elvis (p. 148).

In this understanding, one’s beliefs are irrelevant to his salvation.  While Bell does attempt to leave some wiggle room in his writings that he can claim not to be universalist, in the end it is clear that Emergents simply do not equate salvation with the name of Christ alone.  If not everyone is saved in this weird theology, at least anyone can be- without submission to the Lordship of Christ, or even believing on him.  Bell’s eternal “standings” are appropriated “in terms of not what they said or believed but how they lived.”

This view, of course, has led to the new ecumenicism between this group and all others who are willing.  Indeed, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’i, Wiccan, and anyone else need not worry about the content of their creeds, but only the actions which are deemed as living rightly.  As noted, Emergents pride themselves for the adoption of the religious practices of other groups, such as transcendental meditation, which has found its way into every major world religion.  As such, new bonds of fellowship are now being established between mutually exclusive religions, serving to systematically destroy all lines of division which formerly existed between these groups.  As Jones so kindly notes,

“Our first task in reimagining religion, then, is to move from the narrowly tribal, where our story is the only story, to a wider definition of “tribe” that can embrace stories other than our own, told by people who are different from us.” 
Reimagining Christianity, Page 16

As this discourse on Emergent practice has unfolded, then, it has been demonstrated that they embrace the teachings, practices and beliefs of other religions with open arms.  They have no doctrinal issues with paganism, believing that all can be saved without confessing the lordship of Christ.  They indeed have a new fellowship with the proponents of other gods.  And, all of this new fellowship is now neatly bonded together by the glue of mystic practice.

With Emergents fully enslaved by transcendental meditation, they have indeed increased the strength of their ecumenicism with every idolatry imaginable.  And, this is seen as a good thing, being viewed as a sort of common ground with these who reject Christ.

Paul unconditionally disagreed as he noted,

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (NIV)
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

The apostle mandates that a yoke of such fellowship is not to be entered into with those who do not believe in Christ.  He affirms rhetorically that there is no fellowship which can be obtained with paganism.  He quotes God’s own command from the law, affirming it as an enduring New covenant principle, “come out from them and be separate…and I will receive you.”

Yet, as Tony Campolo sees it,

…a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God, which seem at odds with their own spiritual traditions but have much in common with each other. Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind , p.149

He continues,

I don’t know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystic experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?…The founder of this movement was Hasan Al Basri (A.D. 642-728)…[Basri's] attempt to bring about religious reform very much paralleled the path of Francis [of Assisi], both in style and spiritual direction. Both men sensed a sacred presence in everything and claimed to have experienced a mystical union with God.
P. 149, 150

In the end, this new spiritual alliance is quite well poised to lead a lost world into the welcoming arms of Antichrist.  Supposed “Christians” are now teaching that anyone can be saved within the confines of their own religious system, and without having to take any actions of allegiance toward Christ whatsoever.  They are teaching that “to do the things Jesus did” is synonymous with “following Christ.”  As such, any religious order which, for example, feeds the hungry, is easily able to ascribe themselves to this guaranteed salvation.  Couple that with every major world religion now engaging in massive experimentation with mystic meditational practices in which participants “hear from God” while voices of demons guide them into “new” revelations.  The end result is a religious soup in which all are simply free to believe and do as they choose in light of their new fellowship of acceptance.

In light of this continually merging religiosity of our times, one can see how easily the text of Revelation 13 can be brought to fruition.

Revelation 13:11-15 (NIV)
11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.

This false prophet will draw the entire world worship Antichrist by performing great and miraculous signs.  What better mechanism than the current state of growing religious ecumenicism to support such a truly global acquiescence of a one world religion.

Revelation 13:8 (NIV)
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
 

The Destination of the Word of Faith

While the Word of Faith movement is not inclined to such obvious fellowship (at least yet) with paganism, they are certainly establishing themselves as solid candidates for acclimation into the new world religious order of Antichristianity.  As noted earlier in this series, their “ready to believe you” attitude concerning just about every strange doctrine spoken by anyone wearing an Armani suit will certainly not help them to detect a false christ when they see one.  Let’s face it: if they believe Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo (give me a) Dollar they’ll believe anyone.  They have literally been trained to do precisely that by a never-ending host of arrogant spiritual superstars.

For decades the collective congregation of Word of Faith-ers has been taught several things which will come in quite handy for an up and coming new world deceiver.  Among others, they have been taught to readily receive “revelation knowledge” without resistance.  When Benny turns his head, squints his eyes and says, “I’m getting revelations from the Lord,” they are poised to hear and obey without question.  There is no outcry for scripture to affirm such revelations, as has clearly been demonstrated in this series.  All that is needed is the promise of some grand spiritual benefit and perhaps some stage antics which feign “the movement of God.”  To date, the best that Team TBN has had to offer are some people falling on themselves on Benny’s stage or perhaps barking like dogs when Todd Bentley screams obscenities at them.  What will such a gullible audience do in response to the incredible demonic prowess of the false prophet? 

Revelation 13:13 notes that he (the false prophet) will have the ability to call fire down from heaven.  Verse 15 notes that he will cause an idol of Antichrist to come to life and speak!  By whatever means people fall and quiver while Benny’s man-handlers assist, it will be of no comparison to the supernatural call to worship of Antichrist.  Couple such depths of demonic power with Antichrist’s own utterance of “revelation knowledge” and this group will be instantly converted.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV)
4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

The “new revelation” of this day will be Antichrist’s claim to be God in the flesh.  He will assume the counterfeit role and identity of Christ having returned to the earth, as Jesus warned.

Matthew 24:15-25 (NIV)
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

What on earth will dissuade people who have been subjected to decades of unverifiable revelation knowledge from believing such proclamations from Antichrist – miracles included?  The Word of Faith wolves have played an exceptionally key role in the preparation of the soil for this final abomination.

Moreover, the WoF visionaries have established power and success as key components by which a supposed man of God is to be distinguished.  Their false claims are continually focused on God’s desire for his people to be powerful, wealthy, and able to perform any actions which their own word of faith can envision and “speak into reality.”  How will such a deceived mass of people respond when the new TV preacher can literally rise himself from the dead?

Revelation 13:3-4 (NIV)
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”

Antichrist may very well be viewed as the ultimate example of the Word of Faith in action by this deceived group.  He will have more money than Paul Crouch and will be more powerful than even Bob Jones’ fantasy-tales of heavenly vacations.  While Benny Hinn claims to have raised the dead (though the ever-present cameras were mysteriously turned off), Antichrist will do it while the entire world watches.  He will be the epitome of what a Word of Faith disciple would expect to see in the returned Christ he will claim to be.  He will be wealthy, influential and will exhibit supernatural power through sings and wonders.  What is there for a Word of Faith student not to love about this coming deceiver? 

Conclusions

In conclusion to the matter of the continued pillaging and degradation of the church at large by Emergents, Word of Faithers and many other smaller groups who are equally determined to change the glory of our Lord into images made to look like mortal man, truthfully only one exhortation needs to be given. 

Know God’s Word.

2 Timothy 3:12-17 (NIV)
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

May the reader of this series make a very simple choice at this time.  Choose to believe Paul the Apostle rather than Paul Crouch.  Believe Paul instead of Rob Bell.  Believe Paul over Tony Campolo. 

The Word of Faith group teaches that God’s word is not necessary for spiritual truths to be passed down.  They teach revelation knowledge and every form of fanciful story as proof enough of their false doctrines.  Yet, Paul said that it is scripture which is able “to make you wise for salvation.”  It is scripture which is the measure of truth.  It is the proof of a man’s testimony.  It is the essence of what is valid theology.

The Emergent teachers claim that community acquiescence is the required litmus test for spiritual revelation.  Being suspicious of scripture, they often re-write it and more often misquote it, all the while adding random flecks of inspiration from other world religions (which apparently are much more trustworthy).  But, Paul said that “all scripture is God-breathed.”  It is theo pneustos – directly from God’s Spirit.  As such it is useful “for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  It is trustworthy, regardless of whether Rob Bell has faith in it or not.  It is sufficient.  It is not lacking in relevance.  It is the essence of spiritual revelation.

Believer, you have an obligation to the One you call Lord.  That obligation is not to follow anyone who claims to be his servant here on this earth, but to follow Him.  No spiritual teacher can give you anything outside of what God’s word has established.  Scripture is given to us “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  The teachers who present wild speculative theologies which cannot be demonstrated from scripture are not from among us.  They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  The teacher who distrusts scripture and requires it to be deconstructed by his own community is not from among us.  These men are the imposters who “will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  They are creeps in the church.

But as for you- your instruction is clear: “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Speaking both to the WoF and the Emergent liberals, Paul’s assertion is that the Word which was sufficient yesterday is sufficient today.  

The next time someone appears on television or a YouTube video with some great “new” revelation, consider Paul’s words.  The next time a weird book attempts to “reimagine” your faith, think of Paul’s words.  The next time someone touts a great new “word for this generation,” consider Paul’s words.  

The same Word of God which was sufficient in first century Israel is sufficient here and now.  It is the fact that it has not changed which gives it credibility.  Read the Word instead of the New York Times latest spiritual challenger.  Meditate on the Word instead of the practices of gurus who will die in their sins.  Believe the Word which led you to salvation instead of the latest buzz from the masses, for wide is the road which leads to destruction.

The Word of God will save you from error, teach you the truth and guide you into spiritual maturity.  To the apostate religious rulers of his own day,

Matthew 22:29 (NIV)
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

May this not be the verdict when you stand before Him.

http://www.returningking.com/?p=439

Posted by: returningking.com | April 30, 2009

Wolves in Wool : The Coming One-World Religious System

(NOTE:  This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series.  This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)

Skipping ahead from the slow-burn apostasy which permeates Christendom today, scripture also clarifies the finality of this degradation of worship and truth.  While scripture specifically notes that apostasy is a characteristic of the latter days, it further demonstrates the fruition of such apostasy; being characterized as a great harlot of world-wide influence. 

In Jewish thought, there existed two ages.  “This” age referred to the age before the advent of Messiah’s reign, and “the age to come” referred to the age of Messiah’s reign.  Such thinking is what prompted the disciples to ask Jesus in Matthew 24,

Matthew 24:3 (NIV)
3 … “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

To ask Jesus concerning the signs of the “end of the age” demonstrates clearly that the disciples understood Jesus’ second coming to be the catalyst which will bring about the coming “age” of their traditional understanding.  While the disciples had faith that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, they also understood that he had not yet established his kingdom, but would do so at his second coming.  Thus, their question, “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age,” emphasizes their understanding of the nature of Christ’s return:  he will return to establish the prophesied Messianic kingdom of God on earth.  Jesus ends his answer in chapter 25 with his analogy of the sheep and the goats.  The goats are separated out for eternal destruction.  The sheep are told (Matthew 25:34), “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

In following a literal interpretation of scriptural prophecy, it can be understood that the coming Messianic Kingdom of Christ will directly follow a period of great distress, as Jesus noted in verses 21-24 of his answer.

Matthew 24:21-24 (NIV)
21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.

This season is commonly referred to as the Great Tribulation.  Throughout scripture, the Great Tribulation is given another name much more frequently.  That name is “the day of the Lord,” or one of numerous variations on that phrase.  It is this very same Tribulation period which Paul speaks of when he noted,

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 (NIV)
1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Indeed, the “day of the Lord” refers to this tribulational season of God’s wrath against the continued rejection of his Son throughout history.  From the oldest Old Testament reference to the New Testament notes, the “day of the Lord” refers to this end-time season of great despair and judgment from the Lord.

It is this coming day of the Lord which Paul wrote in our earlier examination concerning a pending great apostasy.  Paul noted,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 (NIV)
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

As noted earlier, the day of the Lord cannot come until “the rebellion” (Gk. apostasia) occurs and “the man of lawlessness is revealed.”  As such, the rebellion demonstrates the nature of circumstances on the earth leading up to the time of the great tribulation.  Likewise, Paul noted,

1 Timothy 4:1 (NIV)
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Jesus noted in Matthew 24 in his answer to the question, “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age:”

Matthew 24:12-14 (NIV)
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Emphatically, scripture asserts that the season prior to the end of this age is one characterized by an increase of wickedness and apostasy.  While this assertion has been strongly demonstrated in this series thus far, it has not yet been fully developed, for this apostasy is further noted in scripture to arrive at a future point of full fruition; an imminent point of maturity which will culminate in not a mere state of error, but a full-blown antithesis of the true gospel.  It will be an anti-gospel, fitting for an anti-Christ.

The Great Harlot, Babylon

Concerning the full-blown fruition of this apostasy during the tribulation, the book of Revelation gives this religious program a symbolic name and further description.  The entire chapter of Revelation 17 is devoted to the portrayal of this religious system.  The introduction to this neo-church system notes,

Revelation 17:1-2 (NIV)
1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

“The great prostitute” is spoken to John as something of previous reference.  “The” great prostitute is obviously something which John has already encountered in his vision, as no further explanation is given as to what is spoken of.  While the terms “great prostitute” do not appear earlier than Revelation 17, a description of what this prostitute represents does. 

Chapter 13 notes the actions of “the Beast,” commonly known as Antichrist, during the tribulation as he installs himself as the god-head of a world religious system. 

 Revelation 13:1 (NIV)
1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

Revelation 13:5-8 (NIV)
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

Antichrist is indeed a fitting name for this person, as he will literally attempt to establish himself as Christ-incarnate.  He will blaspheme God, slander his name and will be given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation on earth.  In the end, “all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life.”  This worship of the beast is accomplished by his own liaison, commonly known as “the false prophet.”

Revelation 13:11-17 (NIV)
11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

This false prophet will make “the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast.”  As such, the false prophet will serve as a sort of counterfeit Holy Spirit for the counterfeit Christ.  Assigning an identification system, inhabitants of the earth are forced to worship the beast, or else starve for lack of ability to purchase food or goods.

A full depiction of the events of the tribulation are beyond the scope of this work.  The author’s book, The Return of the King, however, goes into a much deeper examination of such tribulational events.

What is of chief concern for this study is that a world-religious system is clearly taught in scripture to exist during the final days of the tribulation.  Specifically, for “forty-two months” (v5) Antichrist is demonstrated to have an utter monopoly on the worship practices of earth.  It is this understanding which brings the description of the great harlot, Babylon, into focus.

Re-examining Revelation 17, it is noted,

Revelation 17:1-2 (NIV)
1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

In the context of John’s overall vision, the nature of the prostitute is easily discernable.  John sees her, having “committed adultery” with the kings and the inhabitants of the earth.  While the imagery John sees is clearly not a physical manifestation, it does teach a literal set of circumstances.  Such is the nature of the entire book of Revelation; commonly using figurative imagery to depict real-world events which will occur on the earth in latter times.

Prostitution, when used symbolically in scripture, always refers spiritual deviance, particularly the worship of false gods and the turning away from the true “husband” of Israel, God, unto others.  Examples of this metaphorical usage are seen in Hosea and Jeremiah.

Hosea 1:2 
When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.”

Jeremiah 2:20
Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds;
     you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill
     and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.

Also, Ezekiel 16:15-41; 23:5-44, and numerous other texts note a metaphorical usage of prostitution.  In each case, a metaphorical prostitute is one who “cheats” on God with a false god.  Israel was identified in the Old Testament as the wife of Jehovah.  Symbolic prostitution, then, is when the metaphorical wife has an affair with another god.

In keeping with literal biblical interpretational methods, then, this Harlot represents a religion or a religious system which deviates from the Lord and gives his glory to another; a false god.  In this case, Satan’s own campaign entices the people of earth to follow a false god, Satan’s counterfeit christ; Antichrist.  In verse 2 the “kings of the earth” are noted to have also committed adultery with her, signifying that the full acquiescence of the earth’s political system is involved in the worship of Antichrist through this religious order. 

It apparently is also a tremendously provocative venue of worship, as, “the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”  Intoxication is indicative of excess.  The excess in this text is “the wine of her adulteries,” referring to the obvious stupor which one revels in during the worship practices of this religion.  All who believe or teach that “experience” is a suitable affirmation of the validity of one’s religious beliefs should consider this phrase very carefully.  At this point in time the whole earth will worship Satan vicariously through his agent of Antichrist.  Yet, the experience will be one of drunken delight.

In verse 3-5 the nature of this religious system is further described.

Revelation 17:3-5 (NIV)
3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

“Mystery Babylon” is commonly referred to as “ecclesiastical Babylon” because of her “church-like” nature.  This prostitute will sit upon the same beast which was described in Revelation 13, the Antichrist, who was “covered with blasphemous names,” indicating his defamation of God, and “had seven heads and ten horns.”  Thus, the beast that gave rise to the religious system in chapter 13 is the same beast upon whom this prostitute is carried along.  She is the fruition of Antichrist’s earlier demand for worship by humanity. 

She is also noted to be wealthy, being dressed in purple and scarlet, the colors of royalty and sinfulness, and “glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.”  It is unimaginable the wealth an utterly global religious system, of course, especially one whose “god” is not the least bit interested in reinvesting ministry funds into evangelistic and community programs!

While much more can be gleaned concerning the nature of the tribulation worship system, it is beyond the course of this series.  What is important within the context of the study of Wolves in Wool, is the knowledge that a latter day apostasy is noted in scripture to rise up, and that the ultimate fruition of such apostasy is a literal one-world super-church which worships a false christ.  This false christ is not just “different” from the true Christ, but is one who is characteristically the opposite of the true Christ, all-the-while claiming himself to be just that.

The clear cry of scripture to our generation, however, is that an apostasy will begin prior to the day of the Lord and will come to maturity during the same seven-year season as a full-blown worship of a man aptly named, Antichrist.  

It seems impossible to some that today’s apostasy may have such a formidable and evil destination.  After all, no one would relegate the teachings, for example, of the Word of Faith movement and the liberal Emergent movement to that of anti-christ status, would they?  Well, yes, some would, merely for the understanding of the nature of apostasy to endure into such monstrosities.  But, whether one is comfortable making such a call today isn’t really the issue.  The issue is the nature of apostasy.  It grows.  It develops.  It continually changes and degrades.  Once something has gotten off course there is literally no estimating the degree of its future error.  If a spaceship were orbiting the earth only one degree off of a perfect course, it would in time gyroscope itself 180 degrees away from its intended original target.  Luckily, in the case of the spherical earth, it would then correct itself.  Apostasy is based on a two dimensional plane, however.  There is only truth, and error, to whatever degree.  The slightest margin of error will continue to take that which is wrong further away from the truth.  In geometry, a short line can be drawn from the same starting point as another line, but one-half of a degree off course.  If the line is very short, the distinction will be virtually unnoticeable.  Yet, the greater distance that line travels, the more visible it becomes that its error is unyielding. 

The error of these two groups (Emergents and the Word of Faith) is already relegated to “no gospel at all” by those who are serious about contending for the faith of the written Word of God.  Yet, in time, doctrines which have been “tweaked” for the sake of the consumerism of the gospel will indeed enter the waters of utter antithesis of Christianity.  Even today Emergents are co-worshipping with other religions; Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, and whatever other weird mystic belief is out there.  How can Christianity merge itself with untruth and end up anywhere other than the complete opposite of truth once enough time has passed?

In the final observation, I would be hard pressed to positively define the heretical positioning of the Word of Faith and/or the Emergent movement as the final apostasy which will yield the earth to the whims of God’s enemy.  Yet, considering other signs of the times, one who is honest would have a difficult time demonstrating that in fact we are not in the final days of this age and that the heretical course of these groups may not very well be the forerunners of ecclesiastical Babylon.

The observation of the migration of Christendom into the one-world religious system of the tribulation will be the subject of our next and final post in this series.

http://www.returningking.com/?p=410

Posted by: John Edwards | April 30, 2009

Attention Word of Faith Preachers: The Cross Is The Cure!

My wife said that she watched the Osteens crusade on television. I think that they were in New York City. She said that Joel did his usual self-help speech with a smile, and that Victoria also did her self-help spill as well. Coni said that Joel’s older brother then came on and preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Kudos to big brother! That is what the Church and the World needs more than anything else is the preaching of the Cross. Paul said that he preached Christ and Him crucified, and that he preached no other Gospel.

Jesus preached a crucified life. The Gospel is about believing and repentance, not designer clothing and a successful life. The Cross is the cure for all of our problems. Instead of teaching self-help, preachers need to be preaching dying to self. God cannot help those that are trying to rely on self.

The road to Hell is paved with good works. The only way for a marriage to work is to live a crucified life. The only way to walk in the power of God is by living a crucified life. The Word of Faith preachers have taken Humanism and tried to form a Gospel out of man’s pride of life. They are trying to attract people to Jesus by promising wealth and success. It may be though, that God’s plan for someone might be to live in poverty as a missionary to Malaysia. It might be that God will call on some to serve prison time for being a witness for Christ. While the Word of Faith preachers are on the television circuit preaching a candy and cake Gospel, many Christians are being imprisoned and tortured for their faith. I have a link on my other site, http://www.faithpreacher.blogspot.com that is updated daily with reports of Christians being killed almost everyday. These Believers are not driving around in Land Rovers to the latest Prosperity Seminar. They are spilling their blood for Jesus. The Word of Faith Movement will never be able to reconcile their message of greed with the New Testament. It is Humanism in its sickest form, mascarading as the Gospel.

http://junkerjorge1.blogspot.com/2009/04/attention-word-of-faith-preachers-cross.html

Posted by: John Edwards | April 30, 2009

Filthy Rags

Filthy Rags 

Everything that we get from God is pure grace and mercy. I can do all the good works and try to avoid the Filthy Five, the Sinful Seven or the Dirty Dozen but I still fall short. I do not believe that we can earn our salvation, and I do not believe that we can ever be good enough to keep it either.

 

I clean carpet. I clean section eight crack houses in the projects, and I clean mansions in gated communities. I can find dirt and crud in both. You expect the crack house to be dirty, and believe me they are. I clean them up and pour out all sorts of crud when I’m done. Nasty stuff. Then I drive across town to do the rich and famous of Birmingham’s houses. You go in and the carpet looks clean. Until I start my machine. I can find dirt, oil, bugs, feces, dog poop, hair and all kinds of garbage in any ones carpet, even if they vacuum. I can still pull stuff out that no one dreamed was there.
That is the way it is with the human heart. You may look good on the outside, but the heart and mind are filled with all manner of sin and shortcomings. Motives, intentions, negative thoughts, fears, pride, lust, hatred, greed and failure can be found by the Holy Spirit. No matter how hard we try, we can never ever measure up to God’s standards. Not on our best day.
Thank God for Grace. It is by grace that we have been saved, and it is by grace that we stay saved. Our good works could never keep us saved. Ephesians 2:8-10 The best verse in the Bible.

http://junkerjorge1.blogspot.com/2009/04/filthy-rags.html

Posted by: excharisma | April 28, 2009

Another Gospel?

Another Gospel?

(Galatians 1:6-9)

04/26/09

   We are going to begin a study of the book of Galatians.  Paul wrote this letter to the church of Galatia and this is the local church Paul started and discipled.  This church had the privilege of having the greatest teacher of the church, besides Christ, to learn the fundamental and foundational teachings of Christianity.  But from these few verses we read that false teachers had crept in and began to teach “another gospel”.  Today, we will see from these verses: Paul’s wonder, Paul’s wisdom, and Paul’s warning about the deception and false teachers in Galatia.

 

I.  Paul’s Wonder of Their Deception (v. 6- I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel) – The believer’s at Galatia were taught by the Apostle Paul himself.  He lead many of the believers there to Christ, discipled, and preached the foundational truths of doctrine to them directly and yet there had been false teachers gain a foothold in this local body that had led them into gross error and deceived them into believing they were teaching another gospel.  

A. These people were believers- they were Christians, according to passages to them by Paul in chapter 3 and 4 describing their coming to faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and Paul calling them Christian brothers (brethren) in this book and yet they had become seriously confused and led into deception.  They knew Christ and had heard the true message of the gospel and were led into this error.  The amazement of Paul was that they were deserting the truth of the gospel that led them to Christ, actually deserting like soldiers desert their fellow soldiers, their general, and their allegiances to their Supreme Commander and country.  The KJV says that they were removing themselves from the gospel truth and the grace that they were called to in Christ.  Not that they were deserting the gospel of Paul but the gospel of Christ and the very One (Jesus) that had called them into grace.  Understand they didn’t lose their salvation in Christ but they had lost their fellowship with Christ because they had put this false gospel before Christ.    

B. The False Gospel Infection- What exactly the false gospel that caused their defection was that of the Judaizers.  They were false teachers that had become part of that local body after Paul had left to go on to build other bodies of believers (churches) in different countries.  

   The Judaizers taught that for the Gentile believers in Christ had to become physically and ritually like the Jews to continue being Christians by being circumcised and keep the dietary laws, religious days and festivals, and Sabbaths.  You’ve got to understand they taught that Christ died and rose again from the dead for their sins but they taught you must do all the Jewish religious laws and regulations in order to stay saved.  They did not deny Christ as Messiah or death for our sins on the cross.  If they had denied the work and person of Christ they would not had been accepted by the Galatian church.  The way they introduced error into this church was to “improve” on the gospel of Christ by adding religious ceremonies, requirements, rituals, and standards of the Old Covenant (side note: the WoF also supposedly “improves” on the Gospel and doctrine).  

   When you add anything to the grace of God, even the Old Covenant Law, then you destroy grace.  It did not matter that even though they added the Law to grace, then grace ceased being grace (NASB Rom. 11:6- But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace).  You see the only gospel of Christ is grace, (“God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone”).  Eph. 2:8-10a says it best, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship…”; the work of salvation is not through the power, abilities, or merits of man in any way but only through the grace and mercy of God through what Christ has done for us.  We as mankind cannot individually or corporately by what we are or what we do attain salvation for ourselves or even sustain the salvation that Christ provides for us.  It is all by God’s grace we are saved and are kept saved unto glorification.  It is a foolish idea to believe that such a gracious salvation can be kept by any human effort on our part by religious ritual or ceremony.  It says in Romans 5:2 that only in Jesus, “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand”, it is only on this grace we stand in salvation and by and through nothing else.  

   Because the Judaizers promoted works with grace then it put the focus of salvation off of the Cross of Christ and onto the works of flesh.  When this is taught then people are putting faith into their works instead of Christ.  Then instead of them preaching the grace through faith in Christ the emphasis is then on the human works to save thus having not only false teachers in a church but a body of false believers.  

   When a church places an emphasis on baptism to save (Church of Christ, UPC, Church of Jesus Christ) or an evidence of an experience to save (speaking in tongues; UPC, Church of Jesus Christ), participation to receive a sacrament (ex. communion, Eucharist; like the RCC), or church on Sabbath proves true believers (SDA) then it is a false teaching because it is dependant on a work based salvation and not God’s grace. Remember anything added to God’s grace is not ever grace.  Just because it was a little error added to mostly truth don’t think it wasn’t deadly.  Even if you add a little drop of poison to a glass of pure water it is still deadly.

II. Paul’s Wisdom Concerning the Deception (v. 7- Which is not another; but there be some that trouble (disturb) you, and would pervert (distort) the gospel of Christ)- Is there another Gospel? To answer like the Apostle Paul the answer is an emphatic no.  Paul says it best there is no other gospel of salvation than what was preached to you concerning Christ.  That gospel message says that God alone saves through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The message of works maintaining salvation destroys the powerful message of the true gospel message by falsely proclaiming to mankind the false belief that we can save ourselves.  And if it is by our works and efforts then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21- for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain). 

   If it had been in our ability to keep the moral law and standards of God then the death of Christ would have been needless because not only did Christ die for our sins but also fulfilled the Law in our behalf (Rom. 8:2-4a, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us”). The truth of scripture shows us that it is not by our efforts or strength but by the powerful work of salvation made possible for us solely through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:6- For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly).  

   The false teaching was troubling and disturbing to the church here in Galatia.  We see the word for trouble here meant a great disturbance and distress.  It was tearing this church apart and it was tearing families apart.  It was causing all of this because it perverted the true gospel message making it into something entirely opposite of what it really was.  Whenever the gospel message or any biblical doctrine perverted it will cause that church to become unsettled and destroy people, families, and maybe a once thriving congregation (Titus 1:10-11- For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain) and the main reasons usually are for power and monetary gain.  

   There are many supposed Christian ministries on TV and radio that fall under the title of false teachers.  Many who preach “another gospel” of health/wealth varieties (prosperity, WoF), positive confession, and experience centered groups (signs and blunders, I mean wonders) that supposedly are preaching a message that has been hidden or suppressed until God has revealed it to them.  I’m not going to be able to go into them this time but needless to say they preach a false gospel that is destroying churches and families and causing them to fall into unbelief.  But Paul wants to be aware of them and the wisdom he shares is that although they do not openly contradict the Bible and denounce Christ but these demonic teachers so subtly distort and undermine the word of God, that they gradually lead people into error.  Never compromise the truths of the Word of God irregardless of how Christian it sounds because false teachers have an excellent teacher of deception, Satan (2 Co. 11:13-14- For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light).  Deception is one of the greatest tools that Satan uses.

III. Paul’s Final Warnings (Gal. 1:8-9- But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed)- There are so many false teachers and ministries out there that use every avenues of media to push their false doctrines of devils.  There was a so-called Christian revival meeting in Florida recently by a young man named Todd Bentley saying that God was going to use him to bring a world-wide revival. In fact he said that an angel had come to him named “winds of change” and that God was going to usher in this great revival through him.  I listened to some of his messages and what I noticed was a great emphasis on himself, his visions, his words from God, and his supposed healings.  But another thing I noticed was a lack of biblical preaching, lack of reading from the Bible, false experiences, and an emphasis on a sideshow performance of faith healing.  It was all emotional, all experienced based (truth dependent on false experiences rather than Biblical truth), and little if any preaching from the Bible (Mt. 7:20 – Therefore by their fruits you will know them).  I knew he was a false teacher first from his false teaching and preaching (angels giving him messages, erroneous and retarded doctrines) and false allegations of great healings (no evidence of these healings provided or proved) and later it became evident from the life he lived in private that became very public (he left his wife for another younger woman that was one of his assistants and this happened during this false revival). Paul has not only warned the church at Galatia this time but even before of false teachers but this is the warning that he speaks twice that if anyone preaches anything other than the powerful truth of salvation alone through Jesus  let them accursed.  This word accursed in Greek is anathema which means that which is devoted to destruction.  So what Paul is saying is if they are so devoted to destroying the gospel message and destroying lives by their false teaching let them go to their destruction and feel the wrath of God.  Strong words but that is the false teachers’ end.  

We will explore the false teachers and teachings next time but let’s leave with this.  Keep in God’s word, study God’s word, and know His truth because through this it will keep you from the troubling of false teachers and error. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.

Fwd: Joel v. John (Your Best Life Later)

My good friend, general counsel, and confidant, Mr. Austin Kinghorn, recently wrote a blog entry I would like to share.  As always, his thoughts are both witty and weighty.

If you could choose five people, dead or alive, to sit down with over a meal, who would you choose? We all get asked this question at some point in our lives. 

I would not pick John Calvin. Why waste a seat on a man who so eloquently and perfectly expressed himself in his life when you could invite someone who, in spite of everything he said and wrote, still has a lot of explaining to do. Which is why I’d invite Joel Osteen.

Joel Osteen claims faith in God’s promises will deliver your best life now, but the God of the Bible promises something far different but ultimately more rewarding—your best life later. (Credit given to Jake Porter for coining that response.)  

If John Calvin and Joel Osteen sat down for a meal, I think Calvin would light Joel’s world on fire and would probably lead off with the passage below from The Institutes of Christian Religion. And his beard was definitely cooler than Joel’s mullet. 

“God knows very well that we are naturally drawn to love this world. So, to keep us from clinging to it too closely, he finds good reason to call us away and wake us up. You would think that heaven and immortality would be the height of our ambition through life. We should be ashamed to be no better than the animal world, since our hope of life beyond the grave is the only thing which makes their position lower than ours! But when we look at men’s plans, desires and actions, there seem to be nothing but earthly values. How stupid we are! Our minds are so dazzled with the glare of wealth, power and honors, that we cannot see beyond them. The heart also, preoccupied with greed, ambition and lust, is in the grip of worldly attractions, and looks for happiness only here on earth. To combat this disease, the Lord makes his people aware of the futility of their present life by frequent proof of its misery. So that we don’t have false hopes of deep and lasting peace, he often allows us to be disturbed by war, riots, burglary and a variety of other disasters. So that we don’t get over-ambitious for wealth that doesn’t last or rely on what we already have, he reduces us to poverty or, at least, a modest income. So that we don’t become selfishly preoccupied with married life, he even allows us to be saddened by the foolish behavior of our partners, the wickedness of our children or the trauma of bereavement. If we are spared this, he still has to keep us from pride and complacency. He shows us by illness or accident how all human advantages are flimsy and fleeting. We profit by the discipline of the cross when we realize that this life is, in itself, restless, troubled and unhappy. Even its so-called blessings are uncertain, passing, empty and tinged with evil. From all this, we have to conclude that the best we can hope for here is a struggle. When we think of the crown of life, we must look up to heaven. We must realize that our minds never genuinely long for future joy until they have learned to make little of this present life.”

Part IX, Chapter 9, Section 1
The Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin

http://jakeporter.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/fwd-joel-v-john-your-best-life-later/

Posted by: John Edwards | April 23, 2009

Good Ole Smiling Joel Osteen

I like Joel Osteen. I think that he is a wonderful man. My mama really loves him. He is probably the best known minister in the world today. He is warm, gentle and uplifting. He is a great encourager and I have no doubt that he is absolutely sincere and that he loves God. His message is positive and uplifting. It is also half baked and full of error. Of all of the Word of Faith televangelist, he is probably the most conservative when it comes to the Health and Wealth message.

The problem is that Joel only paints half the picture. He only presents one side of the Christian experience, and he does not preach and teach the whole Bible, nor will he say anything that would offend sinners. He just teaches the fun parts. I liken Joel to a mother that only feeds her children cake and candy. No meat, no milk and no veggies, only the sweet stuff. Of course her kids would be happy with the constant diet of snacks and desserts, but soon they would die. 

The only part of the Bible that Joel majors on is the blessings. He is right in saying that God is a good God, but God may not always have the kind of life for us that Joel preaches. Think of all the preachers and Christians rotting away in prison cells all over the world. Think of the Apostle John working the rock quarries on Patmos as a prisoner slave. Think of all the parents that will welcome a special needs child into the world. Think of all the born again Christians living in severe poverty and famine in Third World countries. Believers all over the world are being tortured and executed because they profess Jesus.

Word of Faith people suffer the very same problems, sicknesses and crisis that other church people do. Even Joel Osteen’s father died of sickness and disease. The point is that God has appointed many trials and tribulations to us all. This life on earth is a proving ground. We live in a sinful and fallen world full of mean people.

Your best life will never be here. Good times and bad times come and go for everyone. The New Testament is loaded with promises of trials, persecutions and wilderness experiences. Not everyone will be blessed with multiplied millions of dollars as Joel has been. Some Christians will always suffer in poverty. I know preachers in Kenya and Tanzania that live in dire poverty, lack and sickness. Last year one of the churches was burned to the ground with forty children inside. 

The Jews had no promise of eternal life and Heaven. Their Heaven was down here on the earth. Their covenant promised health, wealth and protection as long as they walked in complete obedience to the covenant. The New Testament believer lives under a spiritual covenant which promises eternal life, forgiveness and sonship. Israel’s covenant was a physical one. The vast majority of Health and Wealth doctrines are Old Testament promises to Israel.

Joel Osteen is so successful because he is selling what everyone wants: health, wealth and success in life. But the New Testament paints a much different picture. I cannot find any scriptures where Jesus promises success and wealth to everyone in this life, but he did say that would suffer much tribulation.

http://junkerjorge1.blogspot.com/2009/04/smiling-joel-osteen.html

“If Jesus is the Answer, What was the question?”

Have you ever seen this loaded statement before? What is the loaded implication? That bible based Christianity is irrelevant. I have seen it on bumper stickers and in various forums displayed by atheist. I believe that many atheist use this catch phrase to express their distaste, hate and mocking ridicule of biblical Christianity. AND THAT IS SAD. But NOT NEAR AS SAD AS THIS. 

Most who call themselves Christians today could not answer the question,,, “If Jesus is the Answer, What was the question”

Can you state why Jesus is the answer and JUST WHAT IS the question??? Jesus is the answer to what????????????????????

Here is the question and the answer IN A NUT SHELL Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE PROBLEM, THE QUESTION and THE ANSWER! Is stated in my article entitled What is Justification? Is Justification Salvation?

Here is a very small portion of my article,,,
“mankind’s most basic problem that must be solved is that God is just, holy and righteous (PS 97:2, PS 119:142) and mankind is unjust, unholy and unrighteous. (Isa 53:6, Rom 3:10-18, 3:23, Gal 3:22, Eph 2:1, James 1:5) God is intrinsically by His nature just and he cannot even look upon sin (iniquity) Holiness is an immutable attribute of God’s character. Hab 1:13a Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. Therefore, God must punish our sin. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Eze 18:20a The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Spiritual death (separation from God) has always been the wages of sin. (Gen2:17, 3:6,23,24, Eze 28:15,16) The solution to mans problem is the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you do not know how to answer the question,, ”“If Jesus is the Answer, What was the question”,,, please learn how. And if you cannot explain what Justification by Faith is,,, please learn how. Read my article above.
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FROM: http://www.youtube.com/user/LaneCh

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Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | April 23, 2009

“CROSSless Christianity”- Getting Saved in America

 

FROM: http://www.youtube.com/user/denyyourself20

This episode from the White Horse Inn talks about the Crossless Christianity that is being “preached” these days throughout the land. Is there really such a thing as Christianity without a crucified Christ, though? Some people try to make it out to be that way, but crossless Christianity does not exist. http://www.whitehorseinn.org

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Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | April 23, 2009

“Christless Christianity”- White Horse Inn

 

FROM: http://www.youtube.com/user/denyyourself20

Has America somehow found a way to ‘develop’ a Christianity without Christ? White Horse Inn discusses this topic on their weekly radio show.

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Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | April 23, 2009

VIDEO: Joel Osteen and Groundhog Day

FROM: http://www.youtube.com/user/bezel333

Joel Osteen has one sermon that he preaches over and over again, just like the movie. “Groundhog Day”.” He just says it a little differently each Sunday but the message is self improvement and techniques for becoming a better you.

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Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | April 23, 2009

VIDEO: If You Love Jesus Christ, You Defend His Doctrine Regardless

FROM: http://www.youtube.com/user/LaneCh

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
(Joh 7:16-17)

Preach the word; be diligent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they draw to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
(2Ti 4:2-3)

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This is posted with permission of the White Horse Inn. For more information about this program or other programs, visit: http://www.whitehorseinn.org
White Horse Inn
January 20, 2008 Commentary:
Joel Osteen: A Case Study in American Religion

Hello and welcome to another broadcast of the White Horse Inn where we are launching our new year-long series, “Christless Christianity: The American Captivity of the Church.” In the last two programs we looked at Christless Christianity in general and Crossless Christianity which is really the heart of the problem as we are assessing it here. And then in this program we want to take a look at a specific example of what we are talking about. We realize an extreme example, but it does reflect a wider tendency and drift towards Christless Christianity that probably evangelicals would not have been attracted to in the 30s and 40s and 50s but today Joel Osteen is now considered an Evangelical leader.

If Charles Finney’s legacy helps us to understand how we arrived at the current crisis, Joel Osteen the Pastor of Lakewood church in Houston, Texas may be the clearest example in contemporary American religion. Name it/claim it, heath and wealth, or prosperity gospel, these are nicknames for a heresy that in many respects is an extreme version of perhaps the most typical focus of American Christianity today more generally. Basically God’s there for you and your happiness. He has some rules, and principles for getting what you want out of life and if you follow them you can have what you want. Just declare it and prosperity will come to you. Although explicit proponents of the so-called “prosperity gospel” may be fewer than their influence suggests, its big names and best-selling authors, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are purveyors of a pagan world-view with a peculiarly American flavor. Its basically what Martin Luther called the “theology of glory.” How can I climb the ladder and attain the glory here and now that God has actually promised for us after a life of suffering. The contrast is the “theology of the cross.” The story of God’s merciful descent to us at great personal cost, the message the Apostle Paul acknowledged was offensive and foolishness to Greeks.

Every few years a religions best-seller sweeps the nation with the message of self-help. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive-Thinking, Robert Schuller’s TV ministry and series of best-sellers, Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, and other sensations have come and gone. Each time the media treats the appearance of a work in this vein as though it were a new phenomenon, but the success of this genre has long been established. The attractions of Americans to this version of the glory story is evident in the astonishing success of Joel Osteen’s runaway best-seller Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential and the sequel, the recently released Become a Better You. Beyond his charming personality and folksy style, Osteen’s phenomenal attraction is no doubt related to his simple and soothing sampler of the American gospel–a blend of Christian and cultural elements that he picked up not through any formal training but as the son of Baptist, turned prosperity evangelist, who was a favorite on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. However, gone are the eccentric caricatures of prosperity tele-evangelism with it flamboyant style and over the top rhetoric, and bad hair. At least in the televised broadcasts of his services there are no healing lines with people falling or fainting when the preacher blows on them. He doesn’t send blessed prayer cloths or speak endlessly of sowing seed in his ministry in order to reap their desired miracle.

The pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, which now owns the Compaq Center, and is now the largest church in America does not come across as a flashing evangelist with jets and yachts , but as a charming next door neighbor who always has something nice to say. However Joel Osteen is definitely a leader of a new generation of prosperity evangelists. His explicit drumbeat of health and wealth, or word-faith teaching is communicated in the terms and the ambiance that might be difficult to distinguish from most mega-churches and other seeker driven ministries. In this broadcast we are going to take a look at Joel Osteen as an example of that increasing creeping fog that we are calling Christless Christianity.

You can read Michael Horton’s review of Osteen’s Become a Better You here:
http://tinyurl.com/2mm5vp

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*This video is posted with expressed permission from the White Horse Inn. Go to http://www.whitehorseinn.org to learn more about this great show. You may also find past shows there.On this edition of the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton talks with R.C. Sproul, Chairman of Ligonier Ministries and author of numerous books including The Holiness of God, The Truth of the Cross, and Knowing Scripture. Mike & R.C. discuss many of the themes relating to the year-long WHI theme, “Christless Christianity,” and evaluate the overall health of Evangelical Christianity.

http://www.whitehorseinn.org

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Posted by: John Edwards | April 22, 2009

Kenneth Hagin Stealing Thunder From Jesus

Kenneth Hagin Stealing Thunder From Jesus

EW Kenyon
I was doing a Word of Faith apologetics sermon the other night and made an observation. It struck me how Kenneth Hagin had a way of exalting himself above Jesus when telling about his claimed visions.
In one vision, Hagin says that the Lord Jesus laid His nail scarred hands on Hagin’s and passed on a special anointing to heal with. In the vision, Jesus told Hagin that if people would believe that Jesus had anointed him, and believe in that Anointing, that they would be healed. So, who is the hero now? Kenneth Hagin is. He becomes the object, not Jesus.
I used to go to dozens of what the Word of Faith folks call Holy Ghost Meeetings. When the doors would open there would be a stampede of people trying to sit up close or in the aisle so that Kenneth Hagin would lay hands on them or prophesie. I was one of them. Hagin claimed that the Anointing would be all over him when he was in the Spirit, and that there would be power going out to make people fall on the floor and laugh. Again, Hagin is the focus of the meeting.
In another vision, a demon appears between Hagin and Jesus and causes a big commotion. Finally Hagin rebukes the demon and the demon runs off. At this point Jesus thanks Hagin for doing something about the devil, cause He could not.
In still another experience, a Sunday school teacher dies and goes to Heaven where Jesus sends him back to earth because hagin wont let him die.
It never ceases to amaze me how duped I was into believing this nonsense. It is pure humanism and self glorification.
http://junkerjorge1.blogspot.com/2009/04/stealing-thunder-from-jesus.html
 

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 22, 2009

Going Through Hard Times? THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Going Through Hard Times?

I had the pleasure of preaching at County Line Baptist Church yesterday. I had been praying over the sermon and the service for several weeks and felt like God wanted me to encourage folks to hang in there.
I saw a preacher on TBN promise that if we mailed in some good money, that the economy would not affect us. The truth is though, that the Word of God promises us hard times. Every character in the Bible suffered. Paul told Timothy to endure hardness like a good soldier. No one is exempt from suffering in this world.
We are being taught that if we pray right, talk right, tithe and go to church that everything in life will be sweet victory. But the fact is that you can do all of these things with a good heart and still find yourself in the midst of a terrible storm.
Jesus had troubles. Abraham had troubles. Paul had troubles. Moses had troubles.How about Job? A Baptist preacher sent me a painting of the Early Christian about to be fed to the lions. Underneath the caption read: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”. I’m sure that smiling Joel Osteen would not agree, but it is the truth.
God sends us many trials, test and storms. Those that He does not send Himself are permitted by Him. Every time we find ourselves under pressure, we need to focus on a few points that will comfort and encourage us.
1) The Word of God says in Romans 8:28 that ALL THINGS work for the GOOD of those that love God and are the called according to His purpose. All means all. Good times and bad times. God is totally in control and has a perfect plan. When things are hitting you from every direction at once, just remember that somehow all of this stuff is working out for your good and for His Glory.
2) Things could be a lot worse, but they can also get better. My wife Coni is a hospice nurse. The other night she had a patient that took their young son to the Children’s Hospital for test. They were given the grave news that their child had leukemia. They left the hospital only to realize that their house had burned to the ground while they were gone. People are suffering all over this world and will be until Jesus comes back. Be thankful for what you do have. The Bible also promises us that these afflictions shall pass and that all things are temporary. Praise the Lord!
3) The deeper the trouble, the deeper the Grace. Paul suffered from a thorn in the flesh. He asked God three times to remove it. God replied that His Grace was sufficient. When we get ourselves between a rock and a hard place, then that is where the grace of God is strong and heavy!
Do not lose hope. God loves you and has a plan.
http://junkerjorge1.blogspot.com/2009/04/going-through-hard-times.html
 

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Posted by: John Edwards | April 22, 2009

The Baptist Church (from an ex-Word of Faith perspective)

The Baptist Church 

I am preaching at a Baptist Church this Sunday. I’m not much of a preacher, but I can teach almost anything in the Word and make it easy to understand. The shocking thing is that I am preaching at a Baptist Church! I can’t believe it!
When I was caught up into the Word of Faith I felt sorry for all Baptist. I couldn’t stand anything about them. I sincerely thought that they were blind and ignorant. I was full of spiritual pride and arrogance. I thought that anyone that was not Word of Faith was missing out on about 95% of God’s blessings. Every time I heard a Baptist preach on television or on the radio I would get mad. I almost hated the Baptist Church. I felt like they were responsible for not informing the Saints about all of their rights and privileges as believers. I thought that they were withholding miracles, healings, signs and wonders. I would drive past a big Baptist Church and wonder why anyone bothered going to the services! I mocked the Baptist as much as I could in my sermons.
My what a year of change will do. I have renounced the Word of Faith. I have flip-flopped on about most everything that I believe. I have joined a Southern Baptist Church. And to top it all off I’m preaching at a Baptist Church this Sunday. I think it’s funny. God has a sense of humor. God is patient. I never realized how much error I had been into and teaching until recently. The more I learn, the more Word of Faith I unlearn. It’s almost like having a complete overhaul of my faith. I am learning what it means to follow Jesus instead of living for a vision.
I’m looking forward to preaching my message Sunday. I cant wait! It’s gonna be too much fun.
 

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Why The Word Of Faith Is So Popular 

The Word of Faith movement is so popular because it promises people that they can be in control of their lives. The Word of Faith began in the Garden of Eden when the Serpent told Adam and Eve that they could be like God.
Word of Faith people have a different definition of God’s Sovereignty than the one most Orthodox Christians do. The Word of Faith definition of Sovereignty is that God is able to do anything within the bounds of His Word, but that He cannot do certain things unless people cooperate. The Biblical and Orthodox definition of Sovereignty is that God can and does do what ever He wants and that He needs no help.
The Word of Faith is Humanism. It gives you control over your health, wealth and circumstances. It puts man on the throne of his life. God is no longer in control, faith is. Everything is now up to you. Good, bad, or indifferent, everything that occurs in your life is because of your confession or faith.
The Word of Faith promises a long healthy life, money and victory over every situation. All you have to do is believe the right way, talk the right way, and sow a whole ton of money and life will be Heaven on earth. You will never get sick or get injured. You will never be in lack. You will be happy every day. Your not a sinner more. God wants to pour money all over you.
This message sells like hot cakes. It’s all over the television. It’s all over the Church. It’s even in the Baptist bookstore. It is the fastest growing segment of the Church today and is sweeping across Third World countries like a wild fire.
The Word of Faith is a New Age spin on the Gospel. It makes man his own God. Man is self-centered and wants to be in charge. Man is full of pride and self-trust. The Word of Faith appeals to the sinful nature of man.
 

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Posted by: John Edwards | April 22, 2009

Jesus Would Vomit watching TBN and other “Christian TV”!!!

Jesus Would Vomit 

If Jesus were on the earth today, he would craft a whip and flog most of the Word of Faith preachers on television that are prostituting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and perverting the Word of God. I think that Jesus would vomit. When I watch ministers like Michael Murdock selling breakthrough blessings on TBN it makes me want to puke.
The New Testament Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins so that we could be forgiven and granted eternal life as sons. He did not die on the cross so that we could have financial breakthroughs, drive fancy cars and live in mansions. Michael Murdock and the rest of the Word of Faith Gang have created a sickening money racket on television promising miracles to all that send them money. This is a disgusting practice.
The Blood of Jesus was not shed so that we could wear designer clothing and vacation in the Caribbean. This is a blasphemous teaching. Creflo Dollar, Fred Price, Norman Robertson and many other Word of Faith teachers are getting big time rich off of this heretical teaching. It is wrong. It is dead wrong. It is heresy and blasphemy.
In my line of work I spend many hours in the homes of the poorest folks in the Birmingham area. It is a common thing to find Creflo Dollar CDs and other Word of Faith propaganda laying around their houses. These ignorant and desperate people are the very ones being robbed by these false teachers. Sending in what little money they have trying to get a breakthrough. It is a shame. Raping the Bride of Christ.
 

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 22, 2009

A “Word of Faith” Conversation on the Book of Job

Our groupblog Author Adam K has a real good “discussion” on his site with the Son of a Word of Faith Pastor who is soon to be headed off to Rhema. I think you will find this “talk” to be very interesting since Adam is a Rhema graduate himself,, and an Ex-WoF believer and teacher. 

A Conversation on the Book of Job Part I, A Conversation on the Book of Job Part II, A Conversation on the Book of Job Part III, A Conversation on the Book of Job Part IV

 

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Finding The “Perfect Church” Was Never The Issue

perfect_churchThree years ago my family and I were in the midst of a process that eventually brought us out of a church we had been involved with for over 25 years. In the midst of that process more then a few people made the remark, “No church is perfect” or, “You’ll never find the perfect church.” These statements were true enough in and of themselves, but were pointing to a matter that was never the real issue in all the cogitations and wrestling of soul that lead us out of that church. In fact those who made those remarks were actually way wide of the mark, and missed the real issues at hand. The “no perfect church” mantra became a smoke screen to avoid the real issue.

The real issue never was that of finding the “perfect church”. The real issue was a toxic spiritual culture that was antithical to the advancement of true spirituality. We were not talking about an imperfect church, we were talking about a destructive church that was choking and smothering true Christian spirituality.

As I look back over the years in that church, I realize that any real growth I had in true spirituality was when I was standing against some of the prevailing tides that would sweep over that particular congregation; the times when I refused to accept the pulpit pronouncements on this or that, and forged my own opinion on the basis of my own study and wrestling before God, and my own observations of the wider cultural scene.

But overall the toxicity corroded the soul and heart to the point where I knew if I stayed, true life would be extinguished and I’d become another spiritual zombie in the congregation of the “Stepford Christians”.

It is amazing to me in looking back, how some who should have known better, would go to such lengths and twisting of reason to justify issues and actions that were just plain unjustifiable. I observed a Protestant version of Jesuit-like casuistry that was very cultic like in its fruits.

So the next time someone tells you there is “no perfect church”, please tell them finding the “perfect church” is not, and never was, the issue.

~ The Billy Goat ~


Note: This article originally appeared in The Billy Goat weblog. Reprinted with permission.

http://www.batteredsheep.com/perfect_church.html

 

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 20, 2009

Are Churches The Home Of Wolves? by Van Robison

Are Churches The Home Of Wolves? by Van Robison

wolves1Many wolves (Matthew 7:15) have made their home in the world of churchianity. They prey upon the unsuspecting, the naive and the undiscerning. They devour their prey on the pretense that they are “ministers” of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:5). They don’t prance around as if they are wolves, but on the other hand, they come in sheep’s clothing. Wolves come in many different disguises using flattering titles to make their prey think they are legitimate. Some wolves are pastors, some are senior pastors, some are pastors of megachurches, some are youth pastors, some are pastors of cults, some are pastors of whatever group they supposedly have power over; while others are so-called prophets (Matthew 7:15), and some call themselves “apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:13), while others are book authors, some are musicians and singers, and others are in different categories. Some wolves are infiltrators for political cause or other reasons. Some wolves are money hungry, power hungry, control hungry and love the praise of men. Some wolves are even classified as “scholars” and “translate” the Bible into their own biased version. Wolves in churchianity have different ministries and they are often very persuasive public speakers.

Many wolves love to be called “Doctor” (of theology) because that title gives them credibility. Jesus said of false prophets in Matthew 7:16 “You shall know them by their fruits.” And again in verse 20, “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” The teachings and life of every leader of men must be weighed against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians have to be fruit detectors, discerning (1 John 4:1), prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), take nothing for granted, and search the scriptures as did the Bereans to see if what is spoken is scripturally accurate and truthful (Acts 17:11).

A great key way to know if a leader is a wolf, is if they seek personal followers instead of pointing people to Jesus Christ, or if they are money oriented as many are, or if they focus your attention on anything other than Jesus Christ and His Lordship. Wolves love to focus your attention on their supposed “authority” over your life. Wolves love to make you think that by sowing seed money into their ministries, you will be blessed by God. No where did Jesus Christ ever say to “take up your cross and follow human pastors or church denominations.” Wolves come as “angels of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14), but are in fact–deceivers. No wolf calls himself a wolf, instead they proclaim they are “ministers” of Jesus Christ–2 Corinthians 11:15 “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers (that is, Satan–verse 14) also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Discernment is a vital necessity in a world of great deception and propaganda. There is a great deal of propaganda in the world of churchianity, and in fact so much so that the church world is drowning in an ocean of deceptions from many sources. Hearing the voice of Jesus Christ through His teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also through the Holy Spirit is vital to not being deceived. Great signs and wonders are not a key to truth as Jesus Himself stated at Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise FALSE Christs, and FALSE prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Have you been looking for a rapture? Here is what Jesus said in His own words at John 17:15 “I PRAY NOT that you should take them OUT OF THE WORLD, but that you should keep them from the evil.” Did Jesus Christ appoint us to “escape” the world, or to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)?

What is it about wolves that cause people to believe that wolves represent Jesus Christ? Here are some clues:

  • Wolves come as innocent sheep.
  • Wolves come as angels of light.
  • Wolves seem friendly.
  • Wolves smile.
  • Wolves often have flattering titles.
  • Wolves focus on their “authority.”
  • Wolves focus on giving them money.
  • Wolves use the name of Jesus Christ falsely.
  • Wolves often are obsessed with issues other than Jesus Christ.
  • Wolves take scriptures out of context.
  • Wolves twist scriptures to fit their purpose.
  • Wolves sometimes are very strong personalities.
  • Wolves sometimes claim to be healers.
  • Wolves sometimes claim to be apostles.
  • Wolves sometimes claim to be prophets.
  • Wolves sometimes claim to be pastors.
  • Wolves love control and power over your life.
  • Wolves are sometimes obsessed with your pocketbook.
  • Wolves are often legalistic.
  • Wolves cause people to live in fear of their authority.
  • Wolves cause people to fear for their salvation if they don’t yield to their authority and teachings.
  • Wolves sometimes act as if they are infallible in spiritual knowledge.
  • Wolves lead astray and away from the truth in Jesus Christ.
  • Wolves (at least some of them) focus on the Old Testament, instead of Jesus Christ.
  • Wolves sometimes focus on issues in the Old Testament that have long been fulfilled in Christ.
  • Wolves love the praise of men.
  • Wolves often brag about their charitable deeds (Jesus said to do your alms in secret–Matthew 6:1-4).
  • Wolves love to build great temples, cathedrals, church buildings and monuments that glorify themselves (God does not dwell in temples made with hands–Acts 17:24).
  • Wolves deceive even themselves as well as others.
  • Wolves are often very forceful in their personality.
  • Wolves do your thinking for you and expect you to follow them.
  • Wolves tell you that they represent the will of Jesus Christ.
  • Wolves often tell you they have a special anointing.
  • Wolves are obsessed with themselves and their self importance.
  • Wolves will tell you that you are obeying God if you sow “seed” money into their ministry.
  • Wolves promise you healing, financial blessings, and spiritual rewards that they have no power to give.
  • Wolves may be spiritually abusive.
  • Wolves are often very defensive when others point out their false teachings.
  • Wolves never cease to prey upon others.

No doubt there are many more points that could be listed about spiritual wolves. Anyone can be fooled by frauds, charlatans, fakes and imposter’s–unless they are discerning and are deeply rooted in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Sadly, many wolves are themselves deceived by their own false beliefs, and some wolves are simply money hungry con-artists who use the name of Jesus Christ for monetary gain. When sheep follow anyone other than Jesus Christ, they are following the wrong voice (John 10:27 states, “My sheep hear MY VOICE, and I know them, and THEY FOLLOW ME.”).

True representatives of Jesus Christ only POINT others to Jesus Christ and not to themselves. True representatives of Jesus Christ do not seek personal followers, nor are they obsessed with your pocketbook, nor do they control your life, or pretend that they have “authority” over you as if they are your Lord and Master. There is ONLY ONE MASTER–JESUS CHRIST (Matthew 23:8-10), and any human leader who proclaims that they are your “head or master or spiritual father” is a liar and a wolf–1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I would have you know, that THE HEAD OF EVERY MAN IS CHRIST… .”

http://www.batteredsheep.com/wolves.html

 

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 20, 2009

Candyman Preachers by Van Robison

Candyman Preachers  by Van Robison

candymanAlmost anyone today is very familiar with the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Many modern day prosperity preachers are a lot like the “Chocolate Factory”, who promise all sorts of goodies, including the “Everlasting Gobstopper” (the miracle candy that never diminishes and lasts forever). Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is, of course, pure fantasy. Prosperity Candyman Preachers are just like the fantasy chocolate factory–a world of make believe. It has become amusing how certain television “Christian” networks seem to solely exist to have their “everlasting fundraisers”. While they do so, they promise all who partner with them “everlasting gobstoppers”.
Prosperity preachers would have people believe that somehow they are the “Candyman”. They make claims that sound delicious, appetizing and irresistible. Many are the gullible who stand in line for their “Financial Chocolate Bar”. Prosperity preachers promise you a “Golden Ticket” to prosperity if you only buy their candy.

Here are some of the Candyman Preachers “Miracle Candy” promises:

  • Sow a seed out of your need and prosper.
  • Activate your miracle by sowing your seed now.
  • Come into agreement with God; sow the best seed possible and reap a harvest.
  • Sow your financial seed and expect God’s harvest on your life.
  • Your future is in the seed you sow today, go to the phone now.
  • This is your time for transition into God’s favor by sowing your seed now.
  • Release the seed in your hand and God will release a harvest into your life.
  • This is God’s appointed time for you to be blessed; sow a seed and reap a harvest.
  • God is ushering in a new season of prosperity for your life.

And of course, many candyman preachers accept all major credit cards, and offer toll free call ins to make your pledge for your “everlasting gobstopper” (miracle harvest of financial prosperity). My deceased aunt, while living, gave tens of thousands to a church organization, and ended her life nearly broke. I wonder what happened to her financial “harvest”?

When we stop playing games with the teachings of Jesus Christ, it will be observed that Jesus Christ is not now, and never has been, purchased with money. Sins are not remitted through donating money to preachers and the Holy Spirit is never purchased with credit cards. Making preachers wealthy and prosperous was never a teaching of Jesus Christ in the four Gospels. Many are the deluded Christians, sitting in the pews of megachurches making preachers materially wealthy. And many are the lonely and deceived television viewers, who make pledges to fill the bank accounts of false prophets, false pastors and wolves in sheep’s clothing.

http://www.batteredsheep.com/candyman.html

 

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 20, 2009

Ten Myths About Church Leavers: by Alan Jaimieson

Ten Myths About Church Leavers by Alan Jaimieson

Despite the almost mantra-like status of the statement “people are leaving the church” there still appears to be little understanding about who is leaving, when they leave, why they leave, and what happens to them and their faith after they leave. Of course everyone has their own view on these issues but few, especially our church leaders, have taken the time to sit down and talk with an actual leaver or two.

It is much easier dealing with stereotypes than actual people, even if the stereotypes don’t help us understand what is really going on. For those interested in moving beyond the stereotypes and asking: “Who are these people who are leaving our churches?” an examination of some myths about church leavers may prove helpful.

Myth one

It is only the traditional mainline churches that have large numbers of leavers. While it is true that people are leaving the traditional churches (1) people are also leaving evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal churches. These are the churches which have been growing both in New Zealand and overseas. They are the churches which – with their focus on overt biblical teaching, vibrant worship and greater opportunities for participation – have attracted many young converts as well as those disillusioned with the traditional churches.

However, these growing churches also have a ‘back door’. Estimates as to how large this back door is vary depending on who you’re talking to. But studies like those done by Elaine Bolitho on the back door in the Baptist churches in New Zealand have shown something of the degree of loss in these so-called ‘growing’ churches.

Bolitho’s study looked at membership figures for the Baptist churches. (2) She found that between 1989 and 1996 the Baptist churches of New Zealand had a small overall membership decline (from 23,601 members to 23,031). However during this period over eleven thousand new members were added to Baptist churches. Taking into account those who died and the fact that Baptist churches had transferred more people in than out, she found that 10,118 members were ‘lost’ without record.

This means that for those seven years (1989 to 1996) the net result was a loss of 570 people – a percentage loss of 108% of new members. In effect this means that for every one hundred new members added to the Baptist churches of New Zealand one hundred and eight left. These leavers could not be accounted for as moving to another church or dying.

This was a substantial increase in back door leavers from previous periods between 1948 and 1988, for which Bolitho provided comparative figures. (3)

Figures from Pentecostal churches also point to a large number of church leavers. The Apostolic Church in New Zealand figures, for example, have shown dramatic recent growth, but a closer look at the figures also indicate a steady back door loss rate of approximately 10% per annum. (4) If Bolitho’s findings and those from the Apostolic church are replicated in other groupings of evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal churches it indicates that there is a sizable number (perhaps even a growing number) of leavers from these churches.

Myth two

The people who leave are young adults, people on the fringe of our churches, and people who have not been in the church for very long.

Obviously some leavers are in these categories, but they are not the only ones to leave. In the research I did – based on 108 interviews with church leavers across New Zealand – I found the church leavers from Pentecostal and charismatic churches were predominantly middle aged (70% were aged between 35 and 45 years) and had been involved in their respective churches as adults (ie., beyond their 18th birthday) for an average of 15.8 years. While there are other categories of leavers, here is one category of leavers that few seem to consider.

Myth three

Those with children are less likely to leave.

In 1990 (5) Newsweek magazine ran an article titled “And the children shall lead them: Young Americans return to God.” The article suggested that people brought up within the church who left in the turbulent period of the 1960s were likely to return to church when they became parents themselves.

This was later supported by Roof’s (6) study in which he stated “unquestionably, the most frequently cited reasons (for people returning to church) have to do with family life. The influence of a spouse and keeping harmony within the family are strong factors, but far more important is the religious upbringing of children. The presence of young, school-age children and feelings of paternal responsibility for them drives (baby) boomers back to church.” (7)

While we may have an understanding that children will draw people back, or hold them in our churches, this assumption is called into question by the choices the people I interviewed have made. 80% of them had children under their care but nevertheless they chose to leave their church, with the almost inevitable result that the children left too.

For some time now youth leaders have been suggesting that the intermediate age group is becoming the crucial age point in terms of children’s continued interest and involvement in church. (8) It may be that when these children’s grumbles about going to church connect with the deep dissatisfaction of the parents, the stage is set for the family to eventually leave altogether.

Myth four

If Mum and Dad go to church, their children will grow up to be churchgoers too. (9)

Generally speaking there is an understanding that strong church beliefs and practice through childhood will influence subsequent adult behavior. While such an influence may well affect subsequent beliefs, values and faith contents, recent research has begun to question the degree to which church attendance and involvement is also set in childhood.

An American study of five hundred Presbyterian adults between 33 and 42 years of age found that “the influence of positive parent-child bonds was very weak. They concluded that “the effect of early social learning was weaker in our data than in most past research and the reason is probably that our sample consisted of adults at least 33 years old, whereas earlier research looked at persons of high school age or college [university] age.

“The effects of childhood social learning during childhood and youth apparently wear down under the pressure of later influences.” This is supported by another study (10) which found that spouses became more important than childhood religious backgrounds.

In my own research (albeit qualitative research and therefore involving a relatively small sample) there were no indications of any major differences between the faith of those who had strong church childhood backgrounds, and those who were from nominal family backgrounds – or even a non-church background.

The leavers I interviewed were made up of 28% (11) who had strong church backgrounds as children (that is they attended children’s and youth programs run by the church and were supported in doing so by their parents’ own involvement in the church). A further 40% came from nominal church backgrounds (that is they attended some church-based children’s programs and/or youth programs but were not supported by the regular attendance and involvement of their parents in a church). Finally, 30% of the leavers interviewed had no church background in their childhood and teenage years.

Myth five

The people who leave lack commitment.

All 108 of the people I interviewed had made adult (post 18th birthday) commitments to their Christian faith and to their local church. For a number this was the continuation of a previous commitment, while for others it involved a deliberate step of commitment in their adult years.

94% of those I interviewed had also been involved in significant leadership positions within their churches and 40% had been involved for one year or more as either a full-time (paid) Christian worker for a local church, para-church group, or overseas missionary organization, or studied full-time in a theological institution – many had done both.

Myth six

Leavers don’t have an adequate grounding in the faith.

Again this is hard to substantiate if the people I met are indicative of church leavers. The people I interviewed had been, on average, part of their respective churches for 15.8 years.

94% held significant leadership positions within the church and 40% had been full-time Christian workers for at least one year. A third of those interviewed had undergone some form of theological study. Coupled with this, most spoke of very clear and vivid experiences of God at work in their lives.

Myth seven

They leave because of the increased pressure on people’s time today.

Many church leaders point to today’s increased demands on people’s time (the net effect of longer working hours and women returning to the work force) and the greater leisure options available to them (Sunday sport and shopping, television, and the growing restaurant and café industries) as reasons why people cease to attend church.

Although the leavers I spoke with were well aware of these changes to their lifestyle, and a number spoke of them as contributing factors, none of the people who mentioned time pressure as a factor indicated that it was the major factor in their decision to leave.

Underlying each person’s account were far more significant factors than those raised by the time involved in being part of a church community. In fact, many of the leavers had gone on to replace time spent in church with other faith-nurturing commitments.

Myth eight

They leave because of personal issues and disagreements with church leaders.

For a small percentage of those I spoke with, the principal reasons for their leaving were to do with the direction or vision of their church, or issues of disagreement with those in leadership. Seldom were these one-off issues. Most involved a series of disappointments and disagreements with those in leadership over a protracted period of time.

For the vast majority of leavers, however, such points of disagreement were a minor part of the overall decision to leave. For many they merely acted as a final straw in a process of leaving that had been going on for a period of months, if not years.

Myth nine

They’ll be coming back.

The leavers I spoke with were adamant that they would not be returning to the kind of church they had left. In some cases I have been able to keep in touch with these leavers and to date the majority of them have not returned.

Some do become loosely involved on the fringe of a different group of churches to those they left. They tend to do this by attending the occasional Catholic mass, Anglican communion, Taize, Celtic, multi-media or alternative service.

Even when people do go back to another evangelical Pentecostal or charismatic church they tend to stay very much on the fringes and do not become involved in the leadership and core roles where they were once to be found. Often there is another reason for their return – perhaps the church provides an attractive youth-group for their teenagers, for example.

Myth ten

They are backsliding and giving away their faith.

When I began this research I expected to find that the longer people were out of the church community the more their faith would decline, and in the end most would to all intents move away from Christian faith. This was not the case for a very high percentage of the church leavers I was to meet.

In fact, while these people are clear that they have left their churches and have no plans to return, they are equally adamant that they are continuing in Christian faith. It is to this paradox that I want to return in the June/July issue of Reality.

Notes
  1. By ‘traditional’ I mean the big four denominations – Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic. Census and denominational attendance figures have repeatedly indicated the decline in these churches. (back to text)
  2. Which are lower than Baptist church attendance figures as they only record people who through baptism or transfer from another church have chosen to formally become members of the church. (back to text)
  3. Bolitho, E.E. (1997) Hole in the Bucket. Seminar to Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty Baptist leaders, October 1997 (Auckland). (back to text)
  4. Taylor L. 1997 “Denominational Growth” in Patrick B. (ed) New Vision New Zealand Vol II, Auckland, Vision New Zealand. p 69 (back to text)
  5. December 17 (back to text)
  6. W C Roof: A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation, San Francisco Harper, 1993, p 246. (back to text)
  7. This was supported by other studies and predictions – for example Hoge, D.R.; Johnson, B.; Luidens, D.A. (1993) “Determinants of church involvement of young adults who grew up in Presbyterian churches”, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion: Vol. 32 No 3, p 242-255. (back to text)
  8. The Presbyterian Church report titled “How to keep the young people you have and get more” 1998. States that of the young people interviewed in this report who left the church “Most dropped out of church based activities (Sunday schools, clubs etc.) before or during their thirteenth year”. p 31. (back to text)
  9. A common interpretation of Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (back to text)
  10. Willits, F.K. & Crider, D.M. (1989) Church attendance and traditional religious beliefs in adolescence and young adulthood: a panel study, Review of Religious Research. Vol. 31, No 1, p 68-81. (back to text)
  11. These percentages have been rounded. (back to text)

Note: This article originally appeared in Reality.org.

Note: Alan is part of a Wellington-based group called ‘Spirited Exchanges’, which provides a forum for those who have left church or are finding it unhelpful in their continued journey of faith. The group is an endeavor of Wellington Central Baptist Church, where Alan is co-senior pastor. He has completed a PhD (in sociology) on the topic “Churchless Faith”, which analyzed why people leave churches and their journeys of faith outside the church.

http://www.batteredsheep.com/myths.html

 

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 20, 2009

Abusive Churches by Pat Zukeran

Abusive Churches by Pat Zukeran

preachermanWe are all familiar with traditional cults such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are, however, other groups with cultic characteristics that do not fit the same profile as the traditional cults. Sometimes called “abusive churches” or even “Bible-based cults,” they appear outwardly orthodox in their doctrinal beliefs. What distinguishes these groups or churches from genuine orthodox Christianity is their abusive, cultic-like methodology and philosophy of ministry.

In his book Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ronald Enroth carefully examines several of these churches throughout the United States. He reveals the cultic methods these groups use and points out several distinguishing marks of abusive churches. At this point I will briefly introduce each of these characteristics and some of my own. Later, I’ll discuss all these characteristics in detail.

First, abusive churches have a control-oriented style of leadership. Second, the leaders of such churches often use manipulation to gain complete submission from their members. Third, there is a rigid, legalistic lifestyle involving numerous requirements and minute details for daily life. Fourth, these churches tend to change their names often, especially once they are exposed by the media. Fifth, denouncing other churches is common because they see themselves as superior to all other churches. Sixth, these churches have a persecution complex and view themselves as being persecuted by the world, the media, and other Christian churches. Seventh, abusive churches specifically target young adults between eighteen and twenty-five years of age. The eighth and final mark of abusive churches is the great difficulty members have in getting out of or leaving these churches, a process often marked by social, psychological, or emotional pain.

Those involved in a church that seems to reflect these characteristics would be wise to evaluate the situation thoroughly and leave the church if it is appropriate. Staying may increase the risks of damaging your family relationships and multiplies the likelihood of losing your perspective. Members of such churches often develop a distorted view of reality, distrust everyone, and suffer from stress, fear, and depression. Some former members even continue to experience these things after escaping from an abusing church. There are also several documented cases in which associating with an abusive church has led to the deaths of individuals or their relatives.

Some of these groups have networks of many sister churches. In some cases these groups have split off from more mainstream denominations. Occasionally the new groups have even been denounced by the founding denomination. Such groups often disguise themselves by frequently changing the name of their organization, especially following adverse publicity. This practice makes the true nature of these organizations more difficult to determine for the unsuspecting individual. Some abusive churches have college ministries all across the country. On some university campuses such student movements are among the largest groups on their respective campuses.

It is important that Christians today know the Bible and know how to recognize such churches so as not to fall into their traps. In order to help people become more aware of churches which may be abusing their members, I now want to go through in more detail the eight characteristics I mentioned earlier.

Control-Oriented Leadership

A central feature of an abusive church is control-oriented leadership. The leader in an abusive church is dogmatic, self-confident, arrogant, and the spiritual focal point in the lives of his followers. The leader assumes he is more spiritually in tune with God than anyone else. He claims insight into Scripture that no one else has. Or, he may state that he receives personal revelations from God. Because of such claims, the leader’s position and beliefs cannot be questioned; his statements are final. To members of this type of church or group, questioning the leader is the equivalent of questioning God. Although the leader may not come out and state this fact, this attitude is clearly seen by the treatment of those who dare to question or challenge the leader. The leader of the movement often makes personal decisions for his followers. Individual thinking is prohibited; thus the followers become dependent on the leader.

In the hierarchy of such a church, the leader is, or tends to be, accountable to no one. Even if there is an elder board, it is usually made up of men who are loyal to, and will never disagree with, the leader. This style of leadership is not one endorsed in the Bible. According to Scripture all believers have equal access to God and are equal before Him because we are made in His image, and we are all under the authority of the Word of God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 believers are directed to measure all teachings against the Word of God. Acts 17:11 states that even the apostle Paul was under the authority of the Bible, and the Bereans were commended because they tested Paul’s teachings with the Scriptures. Leaders and laity alike are to live according to Scripture.

Manipulation of Members

Abusive churches are characterized by the manipulation of their members. Manipulation is the use of external forces to get others to do what someone else wants them to do. Here manipulation is used to get people to submit to the leadership of the church. The tactics of manipulation include the use of guilt, peer pressure, intimidation, and threats of divine judgment from God for disobedience. Often harsh discipline is carried out publicly to promote ridicule and humiliation.

Another tactic is the “shepherding” philosophy. As practiced in many abusive churches this philosophy requires every member to be personally accountable to another more experienced person. To this person, one must reveal all personal thoughts, feelings, and discuss future decisions. This personal information, is not used to help the member, but to control the member.

Another means of control is isolation. Abusive churches may cut off contact between a new member and his family, friends, and anyone else not associated with the church.

How different this style of leadership is from the leadership of Jesus, the Good Shepherd who lovingly, gently, humbly, and sacrificially leads His sheep.

Rigid, Legalistic Lifestyle

The third characteristic of abusive churches is the rigid, legalistic lifestyle of their members. This rigidity is a natural result of the leadership style. Abusive churches require unwavering devotion to the church from their followers. Allegiance to the church has priority over allegiance to God, family, or anything else.

Often members are required or pressured to attend Bible studies five, six, or seven days a week. There is a requirement to do evangelism; a certain quota of contacts must be met, and some churches even require members to fill out time cards recording how many hours they spent in evangelism, etc. Daily schedules are made for the person; thus he is endlessly doing the church’s ministry. Former members of one church told me they were working for their church from 5:00 am to 12:00 midnight five days a week.

Members of such churches frequently drop out of school, quit working, or even neglect their families to do the work required by the church. There are also guidelines for dress, dating, finances, and so on. Such details are held to be of major importance in these churches.

In churches like these, people begin to lose their personal identity and start acting like programmed robots. Many times, the pressure and demands of the church will cause a member to have a nervous breakdown or fall into severe depression. As I reflect on these characteristics I think of Jesus’ words concerning the Pharisees who “tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger” (Matthew 23:4). What a contrast from the leadership style of Jesus who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you… For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Frequent Changing of Group/Church Name

A fourth characteristic of abusive churches is a pattern of constantly changing the name of the church or campus ministry. Often a name change is a response to unfavorable publicity by the media. Some abusive churches have changed their name several times in the course of a few years.

If you are in such a church, one that has changed its name several times because of bad publicity, or if you feel unceasing pressure to live up to its demands, it is probably time to carefully evaluate the ministry of the church and your participation in it.

Denouncing All Other Churches

Let us now take a look at the fifth characteristic: abusive churches usually denounce all other Christian churches. They see themselves as spiritually elite. They feel that they alone have the truth and all other churches are corrupt. Therefore, they do not associate with other Christian churches. They often refer to themselves as some special group such as, “God’s Green Berets,” “The faithful remnant,” or “God’s end-time army.” There is a sense of pride in abusive churches because members feel they have a special relationship with God and His movement in the world. In his book Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth quotes a former member of one such group who states, “Although we didn’t come right out and say it, in our innermost hearts we really felt that there was no place in the world like our assembly. We thought the rest of Christianity was out to lunch.” However the Bible makes it clear, that there are no spiritually elite groups or churches. Ephesians 4:3-6 states, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope, when you were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all.”

The Christian church universal is united by the same God, the same Holy Spirit, and the fundamental beliefs of the Bible which include such things as the Trinity, authority of the Bible, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the deity of Christ, justification by faith alone, and so on. In these central truths we stand united. A church which believes itself to be elite and does not associate with other Christian churches is not motivated by the spirit of God but by divisive pride.

Persecution Complex

The sixth characteristic follows naturally. Because abusive churches see themselves as elite, they expect persecution in the world and even feed on it. Criticism and exposure by the media are seen as proof that they are the true church being persecuted by Satan. However, the persecution received by abusive churches is different from the persecution received by Jesus and the Apostles.

Jesus and the Apostles were persecuted for preaching the truth. Abusive churches bring on much of their negative press because of their own actions. Yet, any criticism received, no matter what the source–whether Christian or secular–is always viewed as an attack from Satan, even if the criticisms are based on the Bible. This makes it difficult to witness to a person in such a church for he will see your attempt to share the gospel with him as persecution. Often in cases like these, when I am accused of persecuting, I simply reply, “I am here talking to you with the Word of God which you say you believe. How can this be persecution?” This approach often helps in continuing the dialogue with a member of an abusive church who has been brainwashed to believe that all opposition is persecution.

Targeting Young Adults

The seventh characteristic of abusive churches is that they tend to target young adults ages 18-25 who are in the middle class, well educated, idealistic, and often immature Christians. Young adults are the perfect age group to focus on because they are often looking for a cause to give their lives to, and they need love, affirmation, and acceptance. Often these churches will provide this, and the leaders frequently take the role of surrogate parents.

Painful Exit Process

The eighth characteristic is a painful and difficult exit process. Members in many such churches are afraid to leave because of intimidation, pressure, and threats of divine judgment. Sometimes members who exit are harassed and pursued by church leaders. The majority of the time, former members are publicly ridiculed and humiliated before the church, and members are told not to associate in any way with any former members. This practice is called shunning.

Many who leave abusive churches because of the intimidation and brainwashing, actually feel they have left God Himself. None of their former associates will fellowship with them, and they feel isolated, abused, and fearful of the world. One former member of a particular campus ministry said, “If you leave without the leadership’s approval, condemnation and guilt are heaped upon you. My pastor told me he thought it was satanic for me to leave and wondered if I could continue my salvation experience.”

Let me conclude this discussion by sharing some practical ways of reaching those who are involved in abusive churches. First, we must begin with prayer. Witnessing to those brainwashed in abusive churches is often intimidating and difficult. Often leaders will not allow an individual member to meet with an outsider unless accompanied by an older, more experienced person who is trained in debating and/or intimidation. Therefore, we must pray (1) for a chance to speak with the individual and (2) that he would be open to what we have to share.

Second, lovingly confront the person and surface some biblical issues. Often, abusive churches have a bizarre teaching or a theological error that can be pointed out. In his book Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth documents several examples of this. For instance, the leader of one church had strange teachings based on his claims of extra-biblical revelations from God.(3) These included dietary laws, sexual behavior, home decorations, and others. The leader of another group called doctors “medical deities.” He also claimed medicines had demonic names and if taken, opened a person up to demonic influence.(4) Pointing out errors, inconsistencies, and bizarre beliefs may open the individual’s mind and prompt him to begin asking questions.

Third, share articles you may find in the newspaper or in magazines on the particular church under discussion. The book that I have often quoted from, Churches That Abuse, is an excellent resource. The key is to get the individual to start asking questions and research answers for himself. Tell him to test everything with the Scriptures and not to be afraid to ask questions. If the leader is afraid or hesitant to answer a member’s honest questions, the maturity of that leadership may be suspect.

Jesus, however, said that truth is a means of freedom, not bondage. He said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).


Notes

  1. Ronald Enroth, Churches That Abuse (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992), p. 118.
  2. Ibid., p. 181.
  3. Ibid., p. 128.
  4. Ibid., p. 170.

Note: This article also appears in Probe Ministries.

Patrick Zukeran is an associate speaker for Probe Ministries. He has a BA in Religion from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is an author, radio talk show host, and a national and international speaker on apologetics, cults, world religions, Bible, theology, and current issues. His radio talk show “Evidence and Answers” airs weekly on KWORD 100.7FM in Dallas, Texas. Before joining Probe, Pat served for twelve years as an Associate Pastor. Pat and his wife Kris live in Plano, Texas. He can be reached via e-mail at pzukeran@probe.org.

The above article is Copyright © 1993 Probe Ministries

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Fred Price said,,,,,, “…how can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn’t function right? How can you glorify God? How can He get glory when your body doesn’t even work? …What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside a body where He can’t see out through the windows and He can’t hear with the ears? What makes you think the Holy Spirit wants to live inside of a physical body where the limbs and the organs and the cells do not function right? … And what makes you think He wants to live in a temple where He can’t see out of the eyes, and He can’t walk with the feet, and He can’t move with the hand?…The only eyes that he has that are in the earth realm are the eyes that are in the body. If He can’t see out of them then God’s gonna be limited…” (Frederick K.C. Price, “Is God Glorified Through Sickness?” (Los Angeles: Crenshaw Christian Center, n.d.), audiotape #FP605) 

One hand piano – The Lord’s Prayer: With his left arm paralyzed in an auto accident with a semi, Brian Arnold plays masterfully with one hand.

PS!!!! I know a lady named Sharon from church who is blind. She plays keyboard and sings in our church praise band. She is pretty friskey and fun to be around. She has one blind joke after another. I can appreciate a self deprecating person. BUT I get a feeling that old Fred Price would not get away with saying such things in Sharons face. In fact,,, I am pretty sure that she would take off her shoe and nail him with it,,, if he said such things in her presence. And don’t think a blind person could not hit the side of a barn with a shotgun. Let that barn say one word, and its’ location is given away to the blind person.

 

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Is Your Church Free from Cultic Tendencies? A checklist for Responsible Christians

The following checklist of cultic tendencies by Charles Lesser was published in the October, 1991 Spiritual Counterfeits Project newsletter. They are typical of a number of aberrational cultic groups and churches on the scene today.

  • Is your pastor fully accountable to a board of elders, presbyters, etc.?
  • Is loyalty to Jesus and to one’s own calling placed before loyalty to pastor and church?
  • Does your pastor encourage questions and suggestions? Is he approachable?
  • Does your pastor give equal attention to all kinds of people in his congregation?
  • Does your pastor readily admit his errors?
  • Does your pastor avoid boasting or hinting at a “special anointing”?
    Is your pastor truly humble?
  • Are the sermons based on clear Biblical truths, not on “original revelations” or ax-grinding?
  • Does your church interact with other churches?
  • Does your church staff avoid secrecy?
  • Is power shared in your church (rather than preempted by a hierarchy)?
  • Does your church see itself as just one organ of the Body of Christ, and not the main one?
  • Is your church truly friendly?
  • Does your church emphasize ministry to people rather than church programs?
  • Are especially needy people cared for lovingly in your church?
  • Are church members encouraged and loved even when they leave?
  • Are relationships with former members encouraged or allowed?
  • Do the pastor and congregation avoid attacking and using as object lessons, former members or those who disagree?
  • Are families encouraged to stay together and spend time together?
  • Does your family worship Sunday service include children, at least for part of the service?
  • Are you encouraged in your own calling?
  • Are pleas for money rare and unemotional?
  • Are your children happy to attend church?
  • Are you happy to bring unsaved friends to your church?
  • Is there a diversity of classes, races, dress styles, ages, and occupations in your church?
  • Are people encouraged to hear from God for themselves?
  • Is there a single behavior standard for all people in the church?
  • Are all types of people considered welcome at your church?
  • Is the joy of the Lord present in your church?
  • Are you free from fear in your church?
  • Do you think more about God and Jesus than you do about your pastor and church?
  • Does your pastor include himself in any calls for repentance and forgiveness?
  • Are you clear that the pastors and elders never exaggerate or lie to make themselves look good?
  • Is your group encouraging of each other and free from gossip and rumoring?
  • Is there a humility of doctrine that points to the grace of God and His mercy for sinners?
  • Are you encouraged to serve in ministries or missions outside the local body?
  • Is there ever any pressure put upon members to give or lend money to leaders for their personal or business use (exclusive of church business or projects)?

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Posted by: Damon Whitsell | April 16, 2009

Faith Healing and the Sovereignty of God: C. Everett Koop

Faith Healing and the Sovereignty of God

I don’t know how many operations I performed in my surgical career. I know that I performed 17,000 of one particular type, and 7,000 of another. I practiced surgery for thirty-nine years, so perhaps I performed 50,000 operations. I was successful, and patients were coming to me from all over the world. And one of the things that endeared me to the parents of my patients was the way my incisions healed. No one likes big scars, but they are especially upsetting to mothers when they appear on their children. So I set out early on to make my scars small, as short and as thin as possible. These “invisible” scars became my trademark. But was I a healer?

The secret of thin scars is to make the incision precise-no feathered edges-and in the closing, to get the edges of the skin in exact apposition. I would do this by sewing the stitches inside the skin, but not through it, and the knots were tied on the bottom. All you have to figure out is how I crawled out after doing that.

I was the one who put the edges together, but it was God who coagulated the serum. It was God who sent the fiberblasts out across the skin edges. It was God who had the fiberblasts make collagen, and there were probably about fifty other complicated processes involved about which you and I will never know. But did God come down and instruct the fiberblasts to behave that way? In a sense, he did. But he did it through his natural laws, just the way he makes the grass grow, the rain fall, the earth quake. The question, then, is not, Does God heal? Of course he heals! We are concerned with this question: Granted that God heals, is it normally according to natural laws or an interruption of those laws (i.e., a miracle)?

Ordinary Providence

It is God’s providence that keeps the sea at the edge of the shore, or an airplane in the sky, or that makes cats out of kittens. When the twenty-three chromosomes of the sperm and the twenty-three chromosomes of the egg are put together, it is God’s ordinary activity that forms a baby. It is his ordinary activity that grows a baby into a child, a child into an adolescent, an adolescent into an adult, and an adult into an elderly person. It is also his ordinary providence that brings about the death of a person, set off by one phenomenon or another. Nevertheless, the phenomenon is part of God’s natural law. Can you interrupt or alter God’s law of nature? It may indeed appear that you can. You might accelerate the process or slow it, but you cannot avoid it. Whatever happens, it is according to God’s providence.

Suppose you get tonsillitis. Your doctor recommends penicillin, and your condition improves. You say to your doctor, “You’re a magician!” Not so. He was an instrument, just as I was an instrument in stitching the skin together. I used instruments to do it, but I was an instrument in so doing. You might say at this point, “What makes you so special?” And the reply is, “I’m not.” Nothing makes me special. God uses instruments who will spend eternity with him. I’m one of those instruments. But he also uses instruments who curse him and people who never even acknowledge him.

I remember well an incident that occurred during my days in training. A woman was recovering from gall bladder surgery. She said to her surgeon as he made his rounds, “I thank God for making me well.” The surgeon angrily grabbed the foot of the bed with both hands and shouted, “God didn’t do that; I did!” But whether this doctor acknowledged it or not, he was an instrument of God’s providence.

Now, back to the tonsillitis. God created a fungus that a man named “Penicillin notatum.” It has been around, I presume, since the beginning of time. But I was well into my residency before Alexander Fleming noted its properties. Penicillin killed bacteria, and it did so through a very complicated process: all part of God’s natural laws. Penicillin killed the streptococcus in your tonsils, and you were healed in accordance with the process and timing of God’s law.

Maybe you have had a severe illness. Let us say you have “hovered at death’s door,” as they say. Then you slowly improved, and here you are today, fit and healthy. I can just imagine that when you recovered someone told you, “It’s a miracle!” Not necessarily. God’s providence was again at work.

Let me offer an illustration that should be familiar to most city dwellers. I missed the entrance to the expressway and wandered all around parts of San Francisco I had never seen before. Finally, I got back to where I wanted to be, got on the expressway, and arrived at the airport with no time to spare. It was a miracle that I caught my plane! Miracle? Not so. Just a loose use of a word that is rarely employed in its authentic meaning. That was no more a miracle than the recovery from tonsillitis. Now, I can hear somebody say, “He doesn’t even believe in miracles!” But I do believe in miracles, and that is why it is worthwhile to define the term.

If the surgeon who reacted so arrogantly to the praise attributed to God were writing this article, you would be wasting your time to continue reading. But I have credentials in this matter. I am a Bible-believing, evangelical Christian steeped in the doctrines of the Reformed faith. I am absolutely committed to a belief in the sovereignty of God in all things, and because of my understanding of the art and science of medicine, I have a perspective on the process of healing as it ordinarily takes place.

Supernatural Intervention

Having defended my supernaturalism, let us turn our attention to a case study that does circumvent or interrupt God’s natural laws. It is the account of a man who never attended medical school. On one occasion, he encountered a homeless person who had been unable to walk since birth. The man’s heart went out to that disabled individual and, looking the man straight in the eyes, the non-credentialed physician said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”

Of course, this is an excerpt from Acts 3:6, and the unlettered healer was the apostle Peter. The next verses tell us, “And he took him by the right hand, lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he, leaping, stood up, walked and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” That was a miracle! An apostle uttered those words of healing. It was performed before there was a written New Testament, and the healing was immediate, radical, and demonstrable to those who knew the man when he was disabled. The healing of this lame man was instantaneous, and that is what made it a miracle. However, a miracle is more than a matter of time. It is an act of God produced in unusual circumstances in which he uses means unfamiliar to us but which are perfectly normal expressions of his character. Miracles may be a departure from God’s usual way of acting (as we understand it), but we can never say they contradict God’s nature.

Over the years I have had innumerable people say that I am wrong, that they have witnessed numerous miracles. For example, after I had spoken one night, a woman came to me and said, “God can do anything! … I once knew a woman who went into the hospital to be fitted for a glass eye. The surgeon turned his back to get an instrument, and when he looked back, he found a new eye in the empty pocket where there had been nothing before, and the woman could see!”

I said, “Did you say you knew this woman?”
“No. I knew someone who knows her,” she conceded.
“Well,” I said, “could you tell me who he or she is? I would like to have a conversation with even that person.”
“Well, I don’t really know that person either, but I know someone who knows her.”
“Even so,” I persisted “I would like to meet that person.”
“I don’t really know that person, but she knows someone who knows someone….” And so it goes.

 

Is It Faith or Faithlessness?

A surprising number of Christians are convinced God will not be believed unless he makes tumors disappear, causes asthma to go away, and pops eyes into empty sockets. But the Gospel is accepted by God-given faith, not by the guarantee that you will never be sick, or, if you are, that you will be miraculously healed. God is the Lord of healing, of growing, of weather, of transportation, and of every other process. Yet people don’t expect vegetables without plowing. They don’t expect levitation instead of getting in a car and turning a key-even for extraordinarily good and exceptional reasons.

Although God could do all of this, Christian airline pilots do not fly straight into a thunderstorm after asking God for a safe corridor, although he could give them such safety. We do not have public services and ask God to remove all criminals, prostitutes, and pornographers from our midst, although he could do that too. God could eliminate AIDS from our planet. While we pray for a speedy discovery of successful treatment, I must do all I can to employ medical science in its task, as all health care professionals must do.

We live in a fallen world and the afflictions of our bodies and souls are the result of that fall (not the immediate work of Satan). Disease and death are “givens” in this fallen world. They are the expectation; all will be straightened out only after the return of Jesus Christ-and not before. God is sovereign. By “sovereignty” I mean that God is in total control of this universe, at all times. If you and I could determine human circumstances by our “faith” (as it is called), God would not be sovereign, and I do not think, indeed, that he would be God. He did not create us and drop us down here, withdrawing control to see how we would make out. He does not act capriciously nor arbitrarily. It is all in line with the grand plan that you and I can only see in pieces now but will see in its completeness in the future.

Presumptuous Christian writers claim to know God’s intent, such as the author of the book that insists, “God wants you well.” Who says so? Why should he want you well when he did not want the apostle Paul well? Paul apparently had a serious eye disease to which he refers in his letters to the young churches. And indeed, Paul asked God to remove his thorn in the flesh several times. But God chose not to do so. Timothy, Paul’s protégé, had something in the way of a gastrointestinal complaint. Paul didn’t respond with the command, “Be healed!” Instead, he told Timothy to stop drinking only water and to drink a little wine!

Affliction is part of the Christian’s life just as much as the nonbeliever’s (sometimes more so). The proper response of Christians to affliction is not to demand healing but rather to witness to the world that through the grace of God a Christian is able to accept affliction, trusting in the sovereignty, grace, and mercy of God in time, knowing that all of these things will be removed in eternity.

Soon after the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself began to perform miracles. And those miracles, no doubt, authenticated Christ’s claims and his mission. Thereafter, he invested his twelve apostles with these same healing capabilities in order to authenticate this “new” religion, which we call Christianity. But after serving their purpose, these gifts ceased. With the completion of the canon of Scripture, the total revelation of God has been given (that is, not all that can be known about God, but all that God has decided to let us in on).

If miracles were commonplace, they would cease to be miracles. And I repeat what I said earlier: It is always God who does the healing, but he does not regularly do so in a miraculous way. He heals providentially. God can be, and should be, glorified when healing of illness takes place. But he should also be glorified when healing does not take place-and even when death ensues, in spite of the pain and grief it may cause. I don’t say this flippantly. I lost my own son to a rock-climbing accident, and I have learned how essential the doctrine of God’s sovereignty is in such circumstances. God was greatly glorified by that tragedy in ways I could have never predicted.

Miracles, then, were the credentials of Christ and the apostles, to whom he gave the gift of healing. And one can assume, I think, that the cessation of these gifts came at the end of the apostolic age. A few biblical statements would seem to promise, at first glance, that God will do whatever we ask of him. Obviously, though, these cannot be taken as absolute promises in an unconditional sense, because, if this were true, God could not possibly be sovereign. Such passages must be analyzed in light of other passages. For instance, we read in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (NASB). Nevertheless, there is a condition to this promise, given in 1 John: “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (5:14, NASB).

When a faith healer commands God to perform a miracle, in the absence of a prayer that says, “thy will be done,” it is, as far as I am concerned, the most rank form of arrogance. No doubt some have said that it is the will of God for every affliction of man to be healed, but you know that this could not possibly be true. Otherwise, we would have to conclude that God falls far short of his plans.

But if faith healing is really accomplished by faith, why is a mediator (the faith healer acting in a priestly role) necessary? Why are the healings often either invisible or said to have occurred over a long period of time? I want to see a person with one leg suddenly (“immediately”) have two. In fact, I want to see a person cold, flat-out dead, get up and walk. Now it is not that I want to see these miracles take place just to satisfy my own curiosity. I want to see them happen in such a way that there is no praise attributed to the faith healer. And I want to see it done in a situation that is not a carnival. Now if all of those conditions were in place, I suspect that a healing service would occur very much in private.

Did I Have Enough Faith?

I was once the president of an evangelical organization which hired an investigative writer to look into some cults and into some specific faith healers. Our investigator traveled to a southwestern city where a healing campaign had been advertised some weeks in advance. Adjacent to the huge tent into which thousands would pour for services was a smaller tent. For the whole week prior to the services, those who had physical infirmities came to this smaller tent in order to be screened by associates of the healer. The associates’ job was to pick the proper specimens for their “chief” to heal on television. They chose people with such conditions as asthma, which has a very strong emotional overlay. They dealt with hysterical people, and with those who were very open to the power of suggestion. With others, they tried to see if they could find samples of psychosomatic illness that could be altered by suggestion.

Among those who applied for healing was an elderly Christian gentleman who lived out on the prairie. His vision was becoming dim, and he most likely was developing cataracts. The only lighting in the little cabin where he lived was a kerosene lamp. He was a devout Christian, read his Bible daily-or tried to. Unfortunately, his sight had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer read. On the night of his appearance before the healer, the old man was led into the meeting which had the atmosphere of a sideshow. The faith healer said, “Well, Pop, you can’t see anymore. You’ve gotten old; you can’t even see with your glasses. Your vision is failing.” Then he reached over and took off the old man’s spectacles, threw them on the platform, stamped on them, and broke them. He then handed the elderly gentleman a large-print Bible, which under the lights necessary for television in those days, enabled the gentleman to read John 3:16 out loud, to the astonishment and applause of the audience.

The elderly gentleman praised God, the healer praised God, the audience praised God, and the old man went back to his dimly lit cabin and could not find his Bible, because his glasses were destroyed. The man went back to the healer, but was told the most discouraging thing a godly man could possibly hear: “You didn’t have enough faith, or the healing would have stuck.”

Now, obviously, this makes two classes of Christians: those who have enough faith to be healed-the first-class Christians-and those who don’t have enough faith to be healed-they, of course, are second-class. There is great poverty in that kind of religion. One’s willpower, not divine grace, becomes the basis for faith and life.

Biblical Christianity is different: It does not allow us to peek into the hidden workings of God to determine his purposes in all suffering. “Who sinned,” the disciples asked Jesus, “this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned … but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:2-3). Then Jesus, the Great Healer, did the work of opening the man’s eyes-not because the man had fulfilled some “work of faith,” but because Jesus is the Messiah who gives sight to the blind.

http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=616&var3=main

 

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Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | April 16, 2009

THE WORD on the Word of Faith TV: thewordonthewordoffaith.com

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http://www.thewordonthewordoffaith.com/

THE WORD TVCHECK OUT  THE 24/7 STREAMING/LINIAR LINE UP OF 60+ HRs OF THE VERY BEST Word of Faith EXPOSURE VIDEO AT

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warn

WATCHING TOO MUCH OF THIS HERASY IN ONE SITTING, CAN MAKE YOU PUKE!!! PACE YOUSELF!!!!!!!

Hank Hanegraaff exposes word faith doctrine by quotes from the person’s that he is rightly critiquing.

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Posted by: papagiorgio200 | April 16, 2009

VIDEO: Benny Hinn, false miracles and greediness

Years ago, Hank Hanegraaff (KKLA – The Bible Answer Man) was given three “confirmed” miracles by Benny Hinn, However, none of the supposed three best proofs of healing never panned out! Here to, we find the same thing by CBS. So secular persons/shows, and Christians/shows have disproved this ministry, so-called.

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CHECK OUT  THE 24/7 LINE UP OF 60+ HRs OF THE VERY BEST **Word of Faith**  EXPOSURE VIDEO AT
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Just a spoof against the Phony preachers

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Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | April 15, 2009

VIDEO: Give to me – God IS Free (word of faith spoof)

 

Let it be- God IS Free, no sale tax faith

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