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Jesus sets the standard for total self-denial. In Luke 14 you find the message is always the same. There’s a great multitude in 14:25 accompanying Jesus,”and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life. he cannot be my disciple.” (vv.25-26) It’s not about you, it’s not about your self-esteem–it’s about your sin, your desperation, and your need to see Christ as so priceless and valuable as your Savior from sin and death and hell, that you would willingly give up everything, even if it costs you your family or your marriage. In verse 27 Jesus says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” If can’t be any clearer than that.

In Luke 17:33 Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it. and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” It’s the same principle. If you try to hold on to your plans, your agenda, your success, and your self-esteem….you lose.

From Landmark Sermons

The Starting Principle of Discipleship

November 3, 2002

John MacArthur

As a  childrens’ Bible teacher in BSF I can usually tell  the children who are home-schooled and are not allowed to watch TV. They usually always have their lessons done and seem to be quite a bit more articulate.  Here are some excellent excerpts from David Clouds site, Way of  Life.

By David Cloud

FAMILIES THAT HAVE GIVEN UP TELEVISION
The following is taken from “Keeping the Kids,” which has just been released.

Following are some of the testimonies that were sent to me recently by Christian parents who have gotten rid of the television. I requested these in the context of a new book I am writing entitled “Keeping the Kids.” These testimonies are extensive and there is some repetition, but I believe that it is important to publish them in order to offset the status quo that exists even in most allegedly staunch Bible-believing churches today.

“Sick of the nasty language, barely dressed women and/or men, sexual content, drugs, drinking, murder, the commercials, the list goes on, we have not had cable/antenna hook up for about six years in our home and we LOVE IT! The result has been wonderful! We are no longer couch potatoes. We enjoy the quietness in the home. We enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy more time spent with Father God. We spend more time in prayer, reading God’s Word and being with the each other. We do more out of doors activities–walking trails, driving to the mountains, etc.”

“Being engulfed in front of a TV has nothing to do with family time. Real family time is getting closer to God and developing an intimate, passionate, and personal relationship with Jesus!”

“We were compulsive TV watchers. Enslaved is actually the word, so I had to eliminate it. Now we have a lot of time for the family. We do Bible study after dinner every day and play games with the kids. My wife and I have more personal time.”

“We gave up the television because of the wickedness of it and its effect on our lives and the kids. I can’t stand hearing God’s name being blasphemed! The kids are a LOT more obedient and listen to instruction. Reading has been the main replacement activity.”“We have four children from ages 16 to 8. We do not watch commercial television with the exception of occasional news and weather. Our children are not allowed to watch TV unsupervised. There are no TVs in the bedrooms. We found that even good educational shows had offensive commercials. Even most educational shows have a strong humanistic, evolutionistic, and anti-Christian bias.”“God spoke softly to our hearts. We just started feeling very uncomfortable when we were watching TV. My husband said that it’s time to get rid of it. It was not a slow process of just eliminating a few programs; we just threw the TV out. … It is a real tool of Satan to subtly get your mind off of Jesus. I mean when you’re watching Die Hard, or any other show for that matter, are you really thinking on things that are pure, just, holy, peaceable, etc. like the Bible commands us to do? We need to obey the whole Bible not just parts of it. Do you think Jesus and the Holy Spirit are sitting down with you as you watch TV hours on end? God has a higher calling for us. Just read James 1:27. Most people forgot that second half of that verse, ‘Keep yourself unspotted from the world.’”

“We have chosen not to watch television because of the ungodly influences. Scripture is very clear that we are not to learn the way of the heathen and that we are to be simple concerning that which is evil. We don’t feel justified in wading through the filth to enjoy a few decent programs. Some folks say they can control it, but we don’t believe that is possible. It ends up controlling those who watch it and they become desensitized to the wickedness that is on it. We also believe that TV viewing is a great waste of time, that it hinders creativity and results in a short attention span. How can we ask for the Lord’s blessing on our home while pumping the filth of this world into our living room? How can we expect our children to be spiritually minded and to have a heart for God and revival while having a steady diet of ‘garbage’ from TV?”

Jesus went to Samaria with a purpose. Usually the Jews avoided Samaria, for the people worshiped false gods, and they had a religious mixture. So the Jews despised them. But Jesus took the initiative to speak to this woman who was in an immoral relationship. Men did not talk alone with women in those days, for they had no rights and it was not proper for a Rabbi to be seen talking alone with a woman.

Jesus in his graciousness, convicted this woman of her sin. He did not condemn her, but He did lead her to repentance. There is not genuine repentance without the turning away from sin.

There has to be a:

1. Change of Mind – God brings conviction as in John 16:8 through the Holy Spirit “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”

2. Change of Heart – One must have true regret and sorrow, not just for the consequences that must be faced, but for sin against God.

3. Change of Will – There is a true turning away with a purpose to forsake sin. It  must be recognized that one has to turn away from self, die to self,  and to God, giving up selfish desires.

4. Change of Life: – A transformation occurs when one finally turns from self to God by picking up the Cross of Jesus. This is the evidence of one who is born again of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was willing to patiently work with others and teach them truth. Even the despised. Do we ignore the hard to love, or do we turn up our nose at the “problems” because they have issues or follow false doctrine?

We have an opportunity to be like Christ! We must not judge but at the same time we must be graceful and dispense the truth found in Scripture.

How is this possible? Are we not all sinners? Yes, so we must…

Live a life of repentance ourselves. We must realize that unconfessed sin hinders our spiritual life in Christ, so we must purposely deal with all known sin.

So Jesus purposely exposed this woman’s sin, her immorality. Then… He offered her living water. How did she respond? She believed He was the Messiah,and in joy she ran and told others, who also came to Christ. In her excitement, she left behind her water jug at the well, because she had found true living spiritual water instead of earthly water.

We must not be like the world that loves sin and tolerates it. Jesus did not ignore immoral behavior, instead He pointed it out. Sin must be confronted with the truth. Because of  biblical truth, true disciples will be hated. John 15:19 says “If you belong to the world it would love you as its own. As it is you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Do you belong to the world and its man-made philosophies or do you instead belong to Christ and His Word in the Bible? Do others see you as a witness for Christ and his Truth or do you instead follow horoscopes , psychological theories and false teachers. Paul warned Timothy that in the end times “Men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead so suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear..” 2 Timothy 4:3

“Those who oppose him (the Lord’s servant) he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:25

So we must use scripture in all of our arguments and confirmation of biblical truths because:

” All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 hebrews-11-61

I went onto the balcony and opened my Bible to the book of Hebrews. I started reading the first chapter in the way I always had, analyzing and studying the text as I read.

But something was wrong, I said to myself, “I’m not receiving a thing.” Then I looked right up to God and said aloud, “Father, You said that ‘man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord’ (Deut. 8:3). Now Lord, I am a missionary, and I am supposed to tell others that they can live by the Word of God. If I myself do not live there, I’m a phony. Now please prove that I can do this. Lord I am serious, I am asking You. You promise that You will reward a person who truly seeks You. Lord it is up to You! I am going to begin reading again. Lord, please make Hebrews come alive to me.” I began to read Hebrews again, starting from the beginning.

The next time I looked up, I had finished the whole book. Almost four hours had gone by. Looking back I cannot explain any particular truth the Lord gave me or remember any particular verse that shone with special meaning. But what happened was this. Through reading God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit and depending upon God to give life through it, it was as though God had picked me up and taken me into Heaven where He dwells. I had been with Him! My entire spiritual being was renewed. Leaving the balcony, feelings of lassitude disappeared, depression was gone–I had received God’s words and was rejuvenated in every part of my being.

I write this because it has been one of the secrets of my life. Again and again in China it was impossible to avoid acute loneliness. Sometimes there were acute problems and I suffered from depression. Then I would remember the solution–to saturate myself in God’s Word, in other words, God Himself.

 

A. Wetherell Johnson

“Created for Commitment”

pg. 112-113

 
 
Times are getting tougher. The economy is in terrible shape and things may only get worse. These are most certainly unsure times.

So, I have to ask, how strong is your faith right now?

How many novels have you read the last twelve months? Newspapers? On-line articles? Instructions on assembling an exercise bike? How many recipes have you looked at and considered? What about decorating magazines? Sports Illustrated? Fishing and Hunting News?

How much time have you spent watching TV? Listening to music? Playing cards? Going to restaurants and dining out? Visiting with your neighbors? E-mailing friends and family? Shopping on-line?

We can spend a lot of leisure time for many enjoyable activities. So…how much time do you spend each day reading your Bible and praying?

Again I have to ask, how strong is your faith right now? I can say that your faith is probably proportionate to the amount of time you spend in God’s word and praying. I am not talking about church going, although this is a positive. I am referring to the time you spend alone with God. Spending time alone with God and His Word is how your learn about Him and how you apply the truths to your life.

If you are not reading your Bible how can you know what God’s promises are? How can God speak to you through the Reader’s Digest?

Here are some of God’s Promises

Here is a promise to Moses when he worried about going to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites.

Exodus 3:12a “And God said, “I will be with you..”

When I was afraid to speak on a radio program the Lord showed me this verse.

Jeremiah 1:7 “But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Matthew records Jesus as saying much that directly relates to worry.

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear….”

Matthew 6 :26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…”

Matthew 6:27 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Matthew 6:30 “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

Matthew 6:31 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'”

Matthew 6:32 “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…..”

Jesus is telling over and over not to worry because He knows what our needs are. If we talk to God in prayer He hears us, so we are to trust Him to provide. Worrying about our basic needs is a lack of faith in God. So this is sin. But indeed we must first seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of Christ. Worry is not righteousness but unbelief.

Paul is pretty clear in Philippians 4:6-7 about worry and freedom from anxiety.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

One of the most amazing woman I have ever met is Jean who was formerly a leader in our Bible study. She told our group this story.

“As our house was burning to the ground I was filled with this incredible sense of peace. There we were standing outside helplessly watching the flames take everything we owned. But the Lord was with me. Later friends and family came to us supplying us with every little need. I remember looking for a kitchen utensil and someone came to my door with the very thing was I needing. The Lord supplied all that had been lost. But I knew this would be so ..that very day that all was consumed by the fire.”

As she told the story you could see the peace and tranquility on her face and I could imagine that is what she looked like on the very day her house burned to the ground.

What is your attitude? Are you anxious? Knowing God’s character helps calm our fears and knowing His ways give us confidence for the future. Are you trusting the Lord with your future? Are you trusting God to provide for you? How can you change your thinking so that He comes first? Put Him first and then trust for His provision.

What is God trying to burn away in your life right now? What gives Him glory in your life? Our greatest purpose in life is to give God glory. How can you do this if you don’t know Him? That is why a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is our greatest strength.

We must have faith to please God. So how strong is your faith this very moment? Are you rejoicing in your suffering as Paul did? Are you opening your Bible and leaning on the Lord and His Word? If not….will you?

UPDATE:  8/3/2010

PLEASE READ – There are some red flags about  BSF.

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/bsf-bible-study-fellowship-going-contemplative-going-off-the-narrow-path/

Hello……I would like to invite you to try a wonderful Bible Study called BSF.  This will be my 7th year in this 8 year program. This year we are going to study the Book of John and something new has been added. 1 John is going to be incorporated into the study.  John  presents the life of Jesus and His death so that one can come to believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God.

  Those who are already  familiar with BSF will think the above paragraph has a mistake. 8 year program? Yes indeed, 8 years. The good news is out. A new study is being prepared for the 2010-2011 year. Isaiah!  Yes it is true. Those who have completed the entire series will have a new study to look forward to.

We also got great news that the weekly questions will be available as a download. If for some reason you missed a week, you can download the questions and be ready for the next week’s discussion. I just tried the link and it works great. If you are enrolled in BSF, you will be able to  access up to 5 weeks of questions. Also all 5 levels of the children’s questions will be available too!

Access the questions at this site and if you have any problems you should contact your discussion leader.

http://www.bsfgroups.org

The adult program has men’s and women’s classes, days and night. Check this site for local times and dates. I teach in the Children’s Program on Monday nights and this program is intended to encourage child and parent to daily study the Word of God together during the week.

Through Bible study we learn how to have a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. On a daily basis we establish the habit of reading the Bible and knowing Jesus Christ through His Word.

The picture you see is me and my Bible and my study notes and questions.  That is it. This is the extent of the adult program paperwork.  By reading the scripture, and then answering the questions, you will learn how to apply the truths from the Word of God to your daily life. A discussion group follows and then you listen to the lecture afterward. 

So are you hungry for the Word of God and living a life that is dedicated to serving the Lord? Try BSF….

Please also read:

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/bsf-bible-study-fellowship/

If you have children please read:

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2007/08/29/bsf-childrens-program/

 

 

 

Volume 19  Number 4                              July/August 2008

 

 

 

 

What Language Do You Speak?

Jewel Grewe

 

Our spoken and written language is the most important aspect of our culture and identity as a people. In 1997 The Summer Institute of Linguistics noted that the Bible had been translated into 2,197 languages.  The Ethnologue Institute has a detailed list of 6,809 distinct languages. In the U.S. we recognize what part of the country someone comes from by their accent. As an American traveling overseas, my ears always perk up when an American accent floats across a crowded airport (Americans seem to speak quite loudly, especially overseas). We identify one another by our language. Our knowledge of the spoken and the written word enables us to hear and understand each other.

 

Likewise, true knowledge is gained through understanding. Understanding comes through applying oneself to the Truth. Proverbs 24:5 states that:  A man of knowledge increaseth strength.

 

The Word of God is the very fountain of all knowledge. The study thereof should be of utmost importance in the believer’s life. It will identify us as believers. Our knowledge of the Word will enable us to hear and understand His will for our lives.

 

The Language of the Redeemed

 

In I Peter 2:9 we are told that we are a peculiar people: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

 

This means that we have been set apart from the world.  We are part of a different world than that which is around us.  We speak a different language; it is the language of the Redeemed. True holiness before God is the daily goal of the true follower of Christ. I Peter 1:13&14 says: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.

 

The language of the redeemed binds us together even closer than the language of our native country.

 

It is because of this understanding that our hearts break over so many dear Christians who are not steeped in God’s Word today. They are not satisfied with the simplicity and beauty of walking by faith daily in the joy and blessings that He gives. This is the reason why Discernment Ministries has plodded along these many years weeping in the dreary dust of the crowds flittering here and there like the Athenians who spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.

 

Oh, but they say, God is doing a new thing in the earth.  That does not mean to jump ship without a life jacket.  When you hear those words, follow the admonition of Scripture – rather prefer to err on side of caution.  Listen to the language spoken. Oh, yes, websites of many errant teachers can copy a statement of belief that looks genuine. But is this what they really believe? They can make many claims that will suck in the gullible. But what are they really teaching?

 

After studying these things for so many years, it is hard to know who is deceived the most.  Is it the Leaders who have moved so far away from the knowledge of the Holy and instead, promote the profane and call it holy; or, is it the Followers who blindly run to and fro?

 

As a young girl, I grew up in Minnesota. The Voice of Healing had just started. Evangelists visited Minneapolis on a regular basis and my father, an Assembly of God pastor, supported every campaign that came through. My eldest sister was born with spinal bifida and was paralyzed from the waist down.  Naturally, the greatest desire for our family was that she be healed. We attended meetings by: William Branham, Oral Roberts, AA Allen, the Cerullo brothers, Raymond Richey, Velmer Gardner, Kathryn Kuhlman, and I could go on and on. My sister was usually relegated to a back corner somewhere as she was considered a “difficult case.” I wondered about that. William Branham told my father that “it wasn’t God’s will to heal her.” I wondered about that. In some meetings I would observe “set-ups” where people would walk in a side door, sit in a wheelchair and when the healing lines would form, they would be wheeled up and be proclaimed “healed” and walk off the stage. I wondered about that.

 

At 12 years of age we moved to Zion, Illinois where there was a lot of fascinating history.  My father had known John G. Lake personally when he had lived in Zion in his younger days.  My piano teacher would relegate us with stories of John Alexander Dowie. During this time the Charismatic movement started, and my father and I visited many Full Gospel Business Men’s Conventions as he was active in the local chapter. A whole new set of individuals became known to my father as he would drive speakers to their next engagement, and I would sit in the back seat drinking in every word. Derek Prince, Don Bashan, Nicholas Bhengu and many others passed our way.

 

Latter Rain

 

Stanley Frodsham, a dear man of God and the Editor of the Pentecostal Evangel for many years, became part of the Latter Rain Movement that started in 1948. He and many others left the fold of the Assemblies of God and joined with those who were part of the “new thing” that came out of that particular time. Stanley Frodsham and his wife moved to Zion and attended our church. Mrs. Frodsham became my Sunday School teacher. Rev. Frodsham was the biographer for Smith Wigglesworth. He and his wife had traveled extensively with him and I was fascinated with the many stories they told. When I went to Central Bible College, the Frodshams had moved there and they introduced me to the Latter Rain group called The House of Prayer. At CBC attending Brother Kessel’s class I learned one side of the story of the split in the Assemblies of God http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_January1997.pdf. After attending this particular group for awhile, I learned the Latter Rain side of the story.  I now realize all of this was part of God’s teaching process in my own life, even attempting such a ministry as Discernment Ministries.  (Many years later I questioned Stanley Frodsham’s daughter about his involvement in the Latter Rain. Her answer was: “My father was a glutton for the supernatural”).

 

Yes, there are wonderful sincere people who are genuine in their love of the Lord but are always looking for “supernatural experiences and revelations,” but in doing so cause division and harm to the body of Christ.  Yet, God in His infinite mercy has a way a working in the lives of His children who are humble and remain low at the Master’s feet, which I know was true of the Frodshams.

 

After several years of processing and growing in my Christian walk, I left for South Africa as young eager missionary to work with a 75-year-old lady with a genuine “apostolic ministry gift.” I say that because Ruth established many churches along with other wonderful  missionaries, and the work of God in the Northern Province in South Africa is a testimony to their lives and sacrifices.  Those people truly laid down their lives for the Gospel.  They gave their all! Many times Ruth would go out and spend her last mite to fill up the little pick-up truck with vegetables that she could pass out to the hungry. They gave unstintingly of their time and resources for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   It distressed me greatly when new innovative thinkers came on the scene and denigrated the work of these pioneers with a “new way of doing missions.”  They then would maneuver to get rid of those who had gone before.

 

Marriage in 1971 and arrival of a family took our lives into a different set of circumstances and new ventures in our ministry – even to then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Ultimately we came to the U.S. where many things already had changed in the church.  While pastoring in the States, we quickly became aware that Christian television was changing the whole direction of the church. A language was being spoken that somehow sounded foreign to our ears. Thankfully we realized that what at stake was the preaching of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

The Language of the Apostasy

 

It is grieving to me to write this as there are so many sincere people involved.   It is so hard for me to understand why so many get caught up in these things. My heart cries with Paul who said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  (I Cor. 2:1-2).

 

Please don’t dismiss me as a heresy hunter and shut up your mind to anything but your preconceived notions.  This is about Truth.  Whether you are Todd Bentley, C. Peter Wagner, Bob Jones, Paul Cain or a pastor of a church, you can be deceived.  None of us escape Satan’s devices. As simply as I possibly can, I will attempt to lay out some of the unscriptural language of the apostasy.

 

Let us examine the foundation for what we are now witnessing – from a 1993 Discernment newsletter,

www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_JanFeb1993.pdf

 

In the newsletter there is a review of a book by William DeArteaga entitled Quenching the Spirit DeArteaga makes the assertion that “God brings new truth to the church by first revealing it to cults and occult groups.”  He already had written a book in 1983 entitled Past Life Visions in which he lauds Agnes Sandford’s incredibly heretical The Healing Light and defends her belief in a pre-earth human existence (pp 145-6); seems to embrace evolution of man from a lower species (p. 126); declares the “ghosts” are “earthbound souls” (p 187) who may legitimately communicate with the living (p 182) and that the dead should be ministered to by the church (p 183). He argues that reincarnation is Biblical and was “validated by Jesus” (pp 197-209) and that such a gospel is helpful for India because it allows “the Hindu to maintain… the concept of Karma-reincarnation” (p 215); and he recommends regression into past lives as a standard method of spiritual healing for the church to adopt (pp. 151-163). [The Berean Call, Nov. ’92.]

 

The language of the occult

 

At the time this Discernment newsletter was written (1993), DeArteaga’s book was legitimized by the TBN, obviously to back up many of the teachings being promoted. There are ministries active today who have no problem introducing occult practices and call it “truth,” and claim we can use these experiences for a deeper “relationship” with God.

 

Satan’s language

 

I heard about one ministry that boasted, when invited to a Luciferian Initiation, that really Lucifer just means “angel of light” and after all, we all want “light”! Do you wonder why there is no mention of sin any longer?  Has it grieved you that the cross is a subject avoided like poison?

 

Patricia King (Extreme Prophetic) influenced Todd Bentley after his conversion.  I personally do not think he had any opportunity to sit under sound doctrine and learn the first principles. He was “channeled” into the supernatural realm to hook up with what taught him as getting “connected.””.

 

Her itinerant pastor, who doubles as a travelling DJ, calls the show “Club Mysterio”  on an online video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2i5k6WuwX4 Please compare this to the New Age version  at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxDebb9dLKY&NR=1

 

This newsletter could actually be a large book to do justice to this vast subject. However, if it just makes one person stop, think and repent, it is worth the effort.   It is about souls for whom Jesus died that our hearts grieve.  The days for “playing church” are over, folk.

 

Revival Language

 

“Well, revivals can be messy you know”.  This is the way the weirdness is excused.  After all, we want to “move higher” into God.  We hear sincere folk saying things like: We have to move into a ‘higher place’ – a place of intimacy with God.  Jesus did the things the Father told Him to do. WE MUST MOVE INTO THAT PLACE. A place of the knowledge of the Lord that the Lord yearns us to come into. Teachings on “intimacy with God” have sold many books.  But just stop here a moment. Isn’t that what any “religion” requires? Always striving after something? Bringing offerings to the many gods in Hinduism, faithfully bowing low in the mosques, dancing into a frenzy to obtain “oneness”?

 

Let us take a breath and rest in the Scriptures a moment.  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.  (I Peter 2:9&10)

 

The language of the Scripture tells us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God unto salvation. This is what this is all about.  The perversion of language is the ploy of the enemy to subvert the body of Christ to follow another gospel.

 

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.

 

II Thess. 2:9  Him, whose coming after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.

 

Language of Angels

 

Dear ones, nowhere in Scripture do we find angels appearing out of nowhere to just keep in communication with us.  The culture right now is crazy about angels and Hollywood is churning out movies to satisfy that desire.  To read and listen to the stories about Todd Bentley’s angels really denigrates the truth of Scripture. On his website in 2002 he talks about a particular rock on Rick Joyner’s property at Moravian Falls. This rock supposedly has some power, and as they approach it there are three young angels “horsing around, wrestling, getting each other in head-locks and giving noogies.” He learned from others that these were the worship angels who oversee the worship center.

 

Sorry, but this isn’t biblical. The worship angels are before the throne of God… and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. They give glory to God night and day without rest. We serve a Holy God.  His holiness NEVER CHANGES.  Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And some cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts:  the whole earth is full of his glory.

 

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kSlt0_8HwMk

 

Yet Todd Bentley says, “they [the angels] have nothing in heaven to do but waiting to serve God’s purpose in you!”

 

Language of the Lie

 

Bob Jones, who obviously has had a huge influence in Todd Bentley’s life, even introducing him to his angel in 1988, said, “the children will possess the Spirit without measure – for these are the best of all generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth. And the best of all generations are those ELECTED SEEDS that will glorify Christ in the last days… they will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. Every miracle, sign and wonder they’ll move in the power that Christ did…. They themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way and the church that is raising up in the government will be the head and the covering for them… the chosen generation of history that will go beyond all the others in power.”  He goes on to say, “This generation of the young people that are coming are going to see the beginning of this World-wide New Order… it is going to change the expression of Christianity in the earth in a generation.”

 

From a Discernment newsletter in 1990, www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_Sept1990.pdf you will read that Gnosticism has again entrenched itself in the thinking of Christendom.  Mystical knowledge is replacing the truth of the Word of God.   And they are talking of taking over the WORLD?

 

Language of Heresy

 

The greatest sorrow of all is that the deity of Jesus Christ is undermined by this teaching.   The divine purpose of the Holy Scriptures is the revelation of Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God.  Gnosticism gives way to “higher knowledge”.  It brings about disinterest in the Bible and Bible teaching.  The “anointed seed” is now said to be connecting with the supernatural realm, and this heresy draws the masses with its instant gratification.

 

The door is being opened, Eat this fruit and ye will be as god.  Accept this lie and you will find yourself at the altar of mysticism where all of the religions of the world worship based on subjectivity, humanism and brotherhood.

 

What Language do you Speak?

 

It is time to examine ourselves – whether we are in the faith or not.  Have we been led astray by “strange fire”? Has the siren’s sweet song lulled your senses and caused shipwreck to your walk with God? Repent and return to your first love that you may be found worthy to stand in His Presence.

 

The following are two recent podcasts that I did on the subject of The “revival” and The New Apostolic Reformation.  http://sliceoflaodicea.com/slicecast/

 

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, …For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.(I Cor. 1:10a, 2-3)

 

****This article was posted with the permission of Jewel Grewe****

 

http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLJulyAugust_2008.htm

 

 

Jewel Grewe and myself at the conference in Spring Hill, Florida.
Jewel Grewe (left) and myself at the conference in Spring Hill, Florida.

The goal of Bible study is to meet God daily through the study of his Word. First I pray that the Lord will illuminate the Word of God to my mind and my heart and then I pray for understanding.

There are many ways to study the Bible and here are some suggestions.

1. Read through the entire Bible. This is highly recommended. At a discernment conference I attended we were told to read through the Bible and when we were done, start over again.

2. Read an entire book. Look through the book first noting the subjects. Take notes and write down any applications you may find that apply in your life. Commentaries are great. You may want to read this AFTER your initial reading. God may want to show to something and when we read commentaries first this may obscure what the Lord wants to show us personally.

3. Concentrate on a passage. This is great for understanding of scripture but you should see how this passage fits in with the rest of the book or chapter you are reading. Many poor interpretations come from taking a single verse and using it out of context diminishing its proper meaning.

What is the content and facts of this passage? Who? When? Where? Why? What is the truth that is being conveyed in this passage? Is it a warning, or are we being commanded to do something? Does God give a promise or an encouragement in this passage? What are the parallel passages?

The parallel passages are important because scripture interprets scripture.

What are the specifics in this passage that we can pray about?

4. The Attributes of God. Go through a part of the Bible and look for attributes that describes the nature of God. Here is a sampling:

Light

Shepherd

Reconciler

Voice

Holy

Wise

Judge

Eternal

Truth

Love

Joy

Creator

Comforter

Forgiver

It is through these attributes that we begin to understand the character of God.

Lets look at Psalms 119: 114-117. I was looking at verse 114 specifically but noticed the many attributes in this passage.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Away from me you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God! Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live.”

Refuge

Shield

Hope

Word

Sustainer

Law

Promise

Life

Just look at the fountain of information is this single passage. There is a wealth of attributes about God that you can consider and thank Him for.

5. Word Study. Perhaps you want to study faith, perseverance, hope or fear. Whatever it is you want to concentrate on, you might start by looking up the word in a Bible dictionary. Look in your concordance or invest in a topical Bible. There are great websites that allow you to pull up every verse that has the word “holy” in it. Compare all of the verses asking: Who? What? Where? When? How? What can I apply what I have learned to my own life?

The applications of Bible study to our life is where the meat is. What is it that you learned that you can apply to your daily life? What specific action can you take? If you decide you want to spend more time in study, you may want to be specific by setting aside a certain time each day from 7:00 – 7:30 to pray and read God’s Word. Taking specific action is helpful to accomplish this goal.

You may want to apply something you learned to your work, (honesty on a time card), co-workers, ( being kind to someone who dislikes you), or maybe in your personal life, ( waiting on God’s time not your own.) Well, you get the picture. We need to apply the truths we find God’s Word to our everyday lives.

I often sit on my sofa, pillow on lap, with my Bible resting on it. I have 3 translations all handy. KJV, NIV, and a NRSV. Of course there is the computer for on-line versions of the Bible, commentaries and Greek/Hebrew concordances. I use http://www.blueletterbible.org but there are many others.

Many times I am filled with awe and love that God’s precious word is right before me. I am sitting at the foot of my Lord clinging to His feet and worshiping Him and His Word. Last week before writing this I felt like Mary who sat at the feet of the Lord when Martha was busying herself with chores. This is what I sense with Bible in hand. Communion with the Lord. I run my hand over the onion-skin paper and enjoy the crinkle of the pages. Such a sweet sound.

It is here that I find God. It is here Jesus Christ, God’s son lives for me. It is here the Holy Spirit illuminates the words that convict, instruct and compel me to live only for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

If a follow someone’s dream…I may be following another. If I hear another voice….I may be led to the wrong conclusion. If I follow another persons vision….I follow illusion which quickly turns into disillusion. That is why God’s voice is the written word.

We must use the Word of God as a measuring rod against all of man’s wisdom, thought, and actions. If it doesn’t line up with scripture it must be discarded. The Bible is the great discerner. It is the Truth, and so it is rejected by most of the unbelieving world.

But to those who love the truth it contains joy, salvation and guidance for living for the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Homiletics.

What is homiletics?

Homiletics is a study system often used by pastors to extract key information from a passage. This is done by analyzing the passage for key phrases and condensing it to determine its basic content. Once you have the key words or phrases try to summarize the entire passage into a single composed sentence.

Next write down lessons or truths that can be learned from the passage. It is amazing how many truths can be lifted from a single passage when you really begin to study and contemplate it. Pray before you start that God will open your heart and mind to receive his Word.

Once the key truths are realized then you can start to expand the passage back out with applications that you can use in your life. Think of situations where you can actually apply the truth. How can your behavior be changed to glorify God?

 

Here is an example using homiletics from Matthew.

 

First read Matthew 17: 1-13 —-The Transfiguration

Where is it? High on the mountain.

Who is it? God – Jesus – Peter – James – John – Moses – Elijah

Key words in each verse.

1. Jesus 3 disciples mountain

2. Jesus transfigured bright light

3. Moses Elijah Jesus talking

4. Peter build shelters?

5. Voice Son Love Pleased Listen

6. Disciples Terrified

7. Do not be afraid

8. Saw only Jesus

9. Don’t tell raised

10. Why Elijah first?

11. Elijah will restore

12. Elijah & Son suffer

13. Elijah/John the Baptist

The Sentence summarizing the passage.

Matthew records that Jesus is transformed showing the disciples His true glory.

The Lessons

1. Jesus is the light

2. Jesus will reveal himself to you.

3. Jesus knew the OT prophets.

4. Jesus is truly God.

5. God the Father made it clear his Son is Jesus.

6. We are to listen what Jesus says.

7. Even though we love God we are to also fear him.

8. Do not be afraid of what God reveals to you.

9. Do not be afraid to tell others about Jesus Christ.

10. Jesus would be rejected like John the Baptist.

Possible Applications – I Will’s

I will get to know Jesus by reading His Word, listening to sermons, or fellowship with others. I know that Jesus will reveal Himself to me as I follow Him.

I will be confident explaining to others that Jesus is truly the Son of God, since these word came from the Father Himself.

I will listen to what Jesus tells me.

I will boldly tell others about Jesus because I was told not to be afraid.

I will expect that the very presence of God would cause fear and trembling.

I will go into the valleys to serve as I descend from the spiritual highpoints.

I will ask God what truth He wants me to know so that I can share with others.

***********

 

I want to tell you that this was one of the homiletic lessons that I prepared last year for my students. Some see other truths that I did not see so I wanted you to know that this is only an example. The students are to do the above procedure on their own worksheet. At the end of the year there were students who could pick out the content words on their worksheet, write a sentence, find at least one lesson and application and more during discussion, in the 30 minutes we were allowed for this part of the evening. The age group I taught last year were 10-11 year olds. To watch what God has done in these children who seek the Lord is nothing short of amazing. It is totally a blessing and filling of the Holy Spirit.

**********

My personal summary of Matthew 17:1-13

The transfiguration revealed to the disciples the Glory of God and of Jesus Christ. It looked to the past and it looked to the future. Jesus left the glory of heaven to come to earth as man and then to return after His work on the cross to His resurrected glory. He now abides at the right hand of the Father till He returns and someday we will witness Jesus in all His glory just as the disciples saw Him that night.

The transfiguration gave the disciples a witness account of what he actually and truly looks like. What a gift this was for the disciples who at Pentecost would remember His glory so they would profess to the world as eyewitnesses, the significance of His majesty.

Peter had earlier proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah and he did so without seeing anything like the splendor that had been later revealed to him, and John and James. But once they believed by faith they were given a spectacular view of His glory. He revealed Himself to His servants, and they saw His radiant face and garments, Moses and Elijah and heard the voice of God.

A cloud enveloped them and the voice said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

What a wonderful confirmation of who Jesus truly is. God Himself assured the disciples and us, that Jesus is truly the Son of God.

The disciples fell face down into the ground in terror. (What does this tell us today about those who say they communicate directly with God?) However, Jesus told them not to be afraid, and when they looked up Jesus was alone. How could they ever look at Jesus the same way again? What awe this must have created. And to see Moses and Elijah. What an unspeakable honor to see the Old Testament prophets. Oh, to hear what they spoke of. We are told very little in Luke about their conversation.

They asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first? Jesus explained that Elijah did come as John the Baptist to prepare the way for Him, but he was killed just as Jesus would also be killed.

They then went down from the mountain and back into the world. After this spiritual high point they were to move on and were immediately met by a needy person. What a lesson in itself right here, that after a glorious experience, one is expected to help another.

How many people are continually seeking spiritual mountaintops? Meeting after meeting, conferences, seminars, always seeking signs and wonders, desiring only the high points, never serving.

There are times when all I want to do is sit in my little room and think about God’s glory. But I know that this is not what I have been trained to do. I can only serve God by coming down off the mountaintop and into the valleys to serve. But one of things I take away from this passage is the commandment to listen and to obey Jesus. His commandments are laid out in the Word of God. When I have a spiritual highpoint in my life now I take it as an encouragement to go forth and serve God. It is not something to bask in like we see so much of today. We are not to be afraid to do what He asks of us. He showed His glory to the disciples so that they would go out and preach the Gospel.

We can apply what we have learned here by listening to God’s voice in the Bible. We can boldly go forth and tell others because God has revealed himself to us through his Word. Doing so will please God.

Luke adds that Jesus was praying after ascending the mountain. Jesus prayed at all the important steps in His life and this time was no exception. This is a reminder that when we are facing an important decision or step in our life, we need to go the Father in prayer.

Peter later wrote:

“We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain”

2 Peter 1:16-18

What an affirmation for the disciples who actually heard the voice of God and saw the Shekinah glory. What a confirmation to them that Jesus not only knew Moses and Elijah, but that He was fulfilling their teachings. What a glorious vision to recall as they went out after Pentecost knowing what Jesus truly looked like in all his glory as He sits at the right hand of the Father.

Bible study is your personal time spent with God. Pray first for understanding from the Holy Spirit and let the Spirit guide you into the Truth.

Are we suffering for Jesus Christ?

So many people ask “Why do Christian’s suffer?”

I am afraid I have to ask instead, “Why are Christians NOT suffering for the Lord Jesus Christ these days?”

It seems as though we are seeing times of great reversal of thought. For instance, false teachings in the church of today are saying that if we give 100 fold we will receive back, 300 fold, 600 fold, 1000 fold, etc. While it is true that the Christian will receive blessings, and it is not wrong to want the rewards, it is not to be our focus. The Bible tells us we will suffer for Christ, but this makes us uncomfortable so we delight instead of being told of the riches we receive when we give to ministries.

With the attitude of “What’s in it for me?” the gospel perishes. This is the ugly result of Word of Faith and prosperity teachings.

While studying Genesis, I found the story of Joseph truly astounding. There is so much information about how we are live our own lives by Joseph’s example that it simply cannot be contained in this short article.

Joseph was hated by his brothers. He was chosen by God. They plotted against him and threw him into a pit to die, while they ate a meal. When a caravan approached, the brothers decided to sell him to the Ishmaelites so as not to spill his blood. They took revenge on their father Jacob and deceived him by staining the coat with blood of a goat. This is of course the famed coat which belonged to Jacob’s favorite son.

Joseph must have felt led by God after receiving his two dreams. What excitement he must have experienced, anticipating his service to God, only to be sold into slavery in which he suffered for 13 years. He was a servant in Potiphar’s house, only to be accused wrongly by his master’s wife. He then was imprisoned and thrown on the floor in chains. It was not until the Pharaoh summoned Joseph because he could interpret dreams, that he was removed from prison. Later he was elevated to the highest court in Egypt. He was 30 years old at this time.

So what did Joseph do to deserve the extreme suffering that was inflicted upon him? Nothing! There is no evidence that Joseph deserved such treatment from family and foes. He walked with the Lord and was obedient to God’s will.

Search the scriptures in Genesis 39-40 for the complaints put forth by Joseph for his unjust treatment and you will find nothing. Look at his amazing qualities and actions while he suffered and you will discover a model of what constitutes a great leader of God.

Search for the ways that Joseph was trained through his suffering. He always waited on God and learned faith through his difficulties. What trust and fellowship he had. There is no way Joseph would have understood why he was being put through these hardships. Yet there was no hatred, bitterness, doubt, or worry. Joseph’s faith puts my faith to shame. No matter what situation he was in, he endured, he was faithful, and he was determined to be the best slave he could be. The Lord trained Joseph for service in this manner.

How can you look at Joseph and apply his great faith and trust in the Lord to your everyday situations? Are you grousing and complaining about your circumstances? Is the Lord testing you? Are you being prepared for a future work? Is the Lord refining you? If you have never trusted the Lord in your difficulties how can you aid your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Times of trouble can strengthen us if we call upon the name of Lord. The problem with false teachings today is that we call upon the Glory of the Lord upon us and just “soak” in ecstasy. This is a deception of the enemy. The self-elevating process seems ridiculous when looking back at Joseph and examining his faith and actions in his life while he was suffering. What we can learn from the example set forth by Joseph, is how the Lord trained him to serve others. Joseph was eventually exalted. Was he proud? Did he pump his fists in victory? Did he hold his position over his brothers? No.

There was no self-exultation in this godly leader. No self-promotion. He did not touch God’s glory. There are few leaders who can shun the pride of success and fame. This pride is so evident today.

So why do Christians suffer? As a Christian other people are watching you. What is your reaction going to be if you experience a economic downfall? A death in the family? Declining health? Will you be complaining and grumbling, or will you instead be praying for strength in the Lord to bear up under difficulty? What example are you setting for those in your family or unbelievers who are watching you?

Suffering can be a blessing. It gives the opportunity to witness of the grace of God and the hope that He gives in adversity. Are you prepared to witness to the goodness of God when your situation seems impossible? Will others see the love and joy in your heart even though your circumstances may appear glum and dreary? God has a plan that He will work out for His purposes, and we may never know in our lifetime what that purpose may be.

Paul is a prime example of many hardships. Beatings, shipwrecks, persecution, distresses, sleepless nights, imprisonment, loneliness, poverty, riots, and pain. He suffered much while preaching the cross of Jesus Christ. Yet he was not discouraged. He kept running the race. In the midst of such sorrows there was also much rejoicing.

This rejoicing and glory was balanced by Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He asked three times to have this thorn removed. But God did not remove it. He was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

So Paul delighted in his weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10) “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

So how can we apply this to our own lives? We certainly have our share of sickness, trials and tribulations. The comfort God gives us will balance our afflictions and His grace will be sufficient. Of course, this is not what we are hearing from the pulpit. God’s grace is not enough so we are being sold the deception that healing and prosperity has been withheld from us because we lack faith. This destroys our walk with the Lord. How this cheers up Satan when we no longer rely on the sufficiency of God, and his abundance of grace. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

This lack of trust in the Word of God, stops the flow of comfort that we would give to others. (2 Corinthians 1:4)  So we should rely on the eternal glory that outweighs all suffering.

“Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18.)

Paul is saying that the eternal glory will far exceed the sufferings of this present life, since we have the resurrection to look forward to. Not all suffering will bring glory though. Faith is required. That is why we are not to fix our eyes on the unseen. When faith is not enough we allow ourselves to stray into realms of the paranormal to satisfy our lack.

Both Joseph and Paul experienced God’s comfort in their trials. But God gives a supernatural comfort, joy and peace. Is this your experience, that every trial is abounding with consolation? Are you anticipating the glory that is promised to all believers at the return of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to suffer pain for His name? Are you willing to endure persecution for the declaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

1 Peter 4:19

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

A Biblically based commentary on current issues that impact you

 

Unbiblical Teachings on Prayer and Experiencing God

 
How Mysticism Misleads Christians

by Bob DeWaay

 

To a Christian, praying to God is privilege, a blessing, and a Biblically defined responsibility. We are called to pray. But a genre of literature exists that I call “prayer secrets.” Practitioners claim to have discovered new avenues of prayer that can create power, excitement, success, and even new revelations from God. These “prayer secrets” add unbiblical practices and claims to prayer in the hope of spicing up the topic to make it more interesting. And this is not a new development; mystical practices have been brought into the church under the guise of prayer since medieval times.

However, since these teachings change in form and packaging, I will review three books about prayer and “experiencing God” subjectively. What they have in common is a form of pietism that promises better things than to go before the throne of grace to find help in time of need, as well as other basic Biblical teachings on prayer.

 

Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby

 

Blackaby’s book, co-authored by Claude King, promises readers that they can come to know God by experience and come to know God’s will beyond what is revealed in Scripture, thereby living out a life full of adventure.1 Blackaby promises his readers that they will, among other things, learn to hear God speaking to them and learn to identify God’s activities.2 He promises to alleviate their problem of being frustrated with their Christian experience.

Experiencing God does start out with some basic facts about the gospel and has a place for people to check to indicate that they have made a “decision for Jesus.” I am glad he told his readers about such things as sin and repentance but am disappointed in the “make a decision for Jesus” approach. We have addressed that elsewhere.3 But having checked the appropriate box, the reader is quickly ushered into the realm of subjectivity that permeates Blackaby’s approach from beginning to end. For example, we are urged to evaluate our “present experience with God.”4 However, I have known people who are totally deceived and in bondage to false doctrine who are very excited about their experience with God, so such evaluation doesn’t do much good. For example, I once met a pastor who just returned from the Toronto laughing revival and was so very excited because he had seen “God” cause people to bark like dogs and quack like ducks. That is just one example why what one thinks about his own “experience with God” is immaterial. What we need to know are the terms God has laid down for knowing Him and walking faithfully with Him.

In Blackaby’s theology, the importance of God’s self-revelation through the Scriptures is de-emphasized while personal experience is given priority. He writes, “We come to know God as we experience Him. God reveals Himself through our experience of Him at work in our lives.”5 I am not disputing that God is at work in our lives if we have truly been converted. But, like other subjectivists, Blackaby de-emphasizes specific revelation (Scripture) and puts unwarranted emphasis on general revelation (what can be observed in the created order). Our personal, spiritual experiences are unreliable. People observing general revelation and interpreting their own spiritual experiences in light of it have created the host of the world’s false religions.

For example, Blackaby writes, “Find out what the Master is doing—then that is what you need to be doing.”6 Here he suggests that by observing what is around us and studying human history we can determine God’s will. He further suggests that God reveals His will by some process in history—that He hasn’t revealed it once for all. But this subjective approach cannot reveal God’s moral law which is His revealed will. Someone’s estimate of “what God is doing” is likely to be based on their own prejudices and inclinations. Let’s look at another example. Consider a person who believes the social gospel. If they see a situation where social services are being provided, they will conclude that they are witnessing “what God is doing.” In the previous example of the laughing revival, that pastor was a charismatic. His thinking led him to believe that anything that appears to have a supernatural cause done in the context of a Christian meeting must be “what God is doing.” So he saw people behaving oddly in such a context and joined it so as to participate in God’s activities. Subjective evaluations can lead to falsely attributing things to God that in fact are not from God.

God’s providence unfolding in history is what we actually observe. But providence contains good and evil. We cannot know what God’s revealed will is by observing providence. We can only know His will through inerrant, infallible, special revelation—Scripture. Even our dreams and inner impressions are part of providence and they too are a mixture of good and evil (and indifferent). They do not reveal what God is doing or His will for our lives.

Blackaby fails to distinguish these categories, and thus uses stories of God revealing things to prophets and apostles in the Bible to suggest that these experiences should be normative for us. For example he includes a section about Moses, not to prove that Moses was an authoritative spokesperson for God, but to prove that God expects all of us to gain revelation like Moses did. This is false, and we have shown it to be false in a recent article. In the Moses section of his book Blackaby writes, “His desire is to get us from where we are to where He is working. When God reveals to you where He is working, that becomes His invitation to join Him.”8

Such a search for “where God is working” makes no sense. God is working always everywhere as He holds all things together by “the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Blackaby’s concept “where God is working” is vague. Is he talking about geography? God’s revealed will is to preach the gospel to all people everywhere. God works through the gospel to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment and to convert those who will be saved. There is no place off-limits, and this great work of God is not limited by geography. Blackaby’s kind of thinking causes people get on airplanes scurrying to the latest hot “revival.” But how do they know God wants them in Pensacola, for example, chasing a spiritual experience rather than preaching the gospel where they live? The simple answer: they don’t.

Blackaby’s book is filled with claims that we all need personal revelations from God, that these are binding upon us, and that if we do not gain these “words from God” we are going to fail God and live frustrated and empty lives. He claims that we are to obey these words seemingly without question: “When you do what He tells you, no matter how insensible it may seem, God accomplishes what He purposed through you. Not only do you experience God’s power and presence, but so do those who observe what you are doing.”9 This is simply wrong and is a version of works righteousness.

All that I can possibly know as God’s binding, authoritative will is what God TOLD me (Scripture) not what God “tells” me (subjective ideas that may or may not be from God). It is abusive to bind people to non-authoritative, fallible words (even insensible ones) and tell them that obeying such words is the key to God’s presence in their lives. This, in my opinion, is an attack against the gospel. We have the promise of God’s presence because of what He did for us through the cross, not because we have become mystics following ideas that enter our minds which we decided might be from Him. But Blackaby reiterates, “Obey whatever God tells you to do.”10 So, on that point I think I’ll choose to follow his advice based on what I know God has told me in the Scriptures. I know God told me not to listen to people who teach false doctrine; I am going to obey that and not listen to Blackaby.

Beyond promoting these personal revelations as laws to be obeyed (as if they were God’s revealed moral law), he further claims they are also infallible: “When we come to God to know what He is about to do where we are, we also come with the assurance that what God indicates He is about to do is certain to come to pass.”11 This is another problem, because the only things certain to come to pass are those God has predicted in Scripture. Personal revelations that we think might be from God are not certainly from God [we can’t be sure they are] and they will not “certainly come to pass.” Blackaby calls this type of word “revelation”: “When He opens your spiritual eyes to see where He as at work, that revelation is your invitation to join Him.”12 Subjective impressions are now to be considered revelation? This approach could lead to every imaginable error.

Blackaby makes personal revelations not only binding (they must be obeyed) and infallible (certain), but he also declares that they are necessary for everyone’s spiritual well-being: “If the Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life!” Furthermore, he says, “If you have been given a word from God, you must continue in that direction until it comes to pass (even twenty f13ive years like Abraham).” That means that if someone should get one of these “words from God” and if it actually was not from God, he would be obligated to follow whatever foolhardy, insensible path the “word” led him down. Such teaching, in my opinion, is foolish and abusive to the flock.

God physically appeared to Abraham many times as “the angel of the Lord.” Abraham received special revelations. We don’t. We do not have the same certainty that our subjective impressions are “the word of the Lord.” Amazingly, Blackaby sees the problem with his approach but still presses on with it: “If you have not been given a word from God yet you say you have, you stand in judgment as a false prophet . . . [cites Deut. 18:21-22].”14 EXACTLY! That is the very claim I made in the last issue of CIC.15 If these personal words from God are taken as binding, and we speak them to ourselves and they are not totally accurate, we have become false prophets to our own selves. Blackaby evidently agrees, yet he pushes on.

The flaws of Blackaby’s subjectivism are rather obvious when you examine his claims objectively. God’s revealed will is not found by subjective experiences, but in Scripture. Looking around in the world hoping to discover “where God is working” is impossible since God is always working everywhere as He providentially brings history along toward His ultimate purposes. We will be fooled by our own prejudices because we think “God working” must look something like whatever our religious inclinations tell us it will look like. Furthermore, he has elevated fallible words that may or may not be from God to the level of infallible Scripture and elevated every believer to the status of Moses and Abraham as recipients of special revelation. Following his approach is not how we “experience God.” We cannot not know if we are experiencing God in any way other than to come to Him on His own terms, by faith. When we do, we are assured that God is with us no matter what experiences we have.

 

Body Prayer by Doug Pagitt

 

Doug Pagitt,Emergent Church leader, wrote a book (coauthored by Kathryn Prill) that claims that using various body postures can bring people closer to God and deepen one’s life of prayer.16 Here is an example of some of the claims of this book:

 

Engaging the body in acts of being present with God, including certain ceremonial practices, opens us up to God in new ways. People of faith in ancient times understood that such physical acts and practices as rest and worship, dietary restrictions, and mandated fabric in their wardrobes were of great value to their faith and life.17

 

The problem is that the Bible says that these types of practices are of NO value:

 

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)– in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23)

 

Furthermore, creating dietary restrictions for religious reasons is called a “doctrine of demons” (1Timothy 4:1-5).

 

Pagitt claims that we can connect with God through body prayers. He calls his approach a “deeper” form of prayer: “This book is meant to be a companion and a guide into deeper forms of prayer; this book is not a specific prescription of how prayer must be done.” I appreciate that he does not claim that these postures are mandatory. But that introduces an important question—if his postures are not mandated by Scripture (and they are not) how can they be “deeper” than the sort of prayer the Bible does teach? Such claims are the problem with all the “prayer secrets” books. Why is praying to God in the manner taught in Scripture so inadequa18te that people need to discover new practices that are superior to those Jesus and His apostles taught? Would God withhold something so good and important to all but those spiritual innovators who discover the secret? The Bible says, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Peter 1:3). God did not forget to reveal to the Biblical writers key practices we need.

Pagitt teaches the same “breath prayers” that we have discussed in other articles:

 

As you begin to pray, close your eyes. Then inhale and exhale with deep breaths. Put your hands in a comfortable position—consider turning both hands palms up. Notice the tension in your head … and let it go as you take in a deep breath … and then exhale. Notice the tension in your shoulders and let it go, again by breathing in and then out. Notice the tension in your stomach and let it go. Move down your body doing the same.19

 

Concentrating on one’s breath is a way to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Jesus told us to ask the Father in His name, which we can do when fully conscious and requires no prior stress relief practice.

Some of the postures are similar in that they seem more like a technique for self awareness. One is pressing fingertips together: “There is a theory that pressing each fingertip to its corresponding fingertip activates a certain portion of our brain. Also, it is one of the gentlest ways to feel our own pulse.” Doing some of these practices is even confused with reconciliation which one comes through the finished work of Christ received by faith:

 

Start in a sitting position. Then use your arms to push your body up so you are standing. Inhale deeply through your mouth. Let your shoulders fall, release any stress in the top of your legs, and let your hips fall forward. Feel pressure on the bottom of your feet—and in that space alone. Keep breathing deeply. Allow the deep breaths to prepare you and arm you for the work of reconciliation.21

 

Reconciliation does not happen through some physical process, but through Christ’s blood atonement which we have received by faith (Romans 5:9-11).

It is not surprising, given the theology of the Emergent Church, that Pagitt’s approach is infused with theological immanence at the expense of transcendence. He writes, “So we extend to the rest of the world this hope: that good will be saved and increased and that God’s dreams will be done on earth as they are in heaven.”22 Pagitt claims that we are co-re-creators of the world: “God is never finished with creation, and God is never finished with us. We are constantly being re-created, and we are invited to join God as co-re-creators of the world.”23 There is no cataclysmic, future judgment of the cosmos in the theology of most Emergent Church leaders. Rather God is working in the world to transform it into a better place through the processes of history.

Pagitt’s terminology reflects a rather panentheistic worldview that is infused with God in some not totally explained way:

 

There is a rhythm to life. We find it in the ocean tides, in the rising and setting of the sun, in the beating of our hearts. And there is a rhythm of God—a rhythm that encompasses life, both the life we can readily see and the unseen life of the spirit. The rhythm of God beckons us, guide us, and dwells in us.24

 

This highly immanent theology implies that God is in the creation to be discovered, and not as the transcendent One who can only be known by His self-revelation in the authoritative Scriptures and in Christ who came in the flesh and ascended into heaven. Pagitt says, “As those who are created in the image of God, we are endowed with this rhythm.”25 Since all human beings are created in God’s image this is a universal statement, not limited to those who have been converted through the gospel. He continues, “We can find it [the rhythm of God] step into it, and live in it. This is the kingdom of God — to live in sync with the rhythm of God.”26

Sadly, the processes of “body prayer” described in this book reflect a theology that is gleaned not from authoritative Scripture but from creative efforts to create a version of prayer that is in keeping with the sensibilities of the postmodern culture. Key ideas that the Bible teaches about prayer (coming to God on His terms, grace for sinners, how we have access to God only because of the blood atonement, that God hears Christians who ask according to His will, etc.) are missing from this book. The techniques and teachings found in the book are not taught in the Bible. So the bigger question is whether God has spoken and revealed how we can come to Him or whether the means of access to God are discovered in the creation. Pagitt and his co-author leave us searching for the “rhythm of God” in the creation by means God has not ordained.

 

Prayer Quest by Dee Duke

 

The subtitle to this book is “Breaking through to your God-given dreams and destiny.” Duke speaks of our dreams and God’s dreams throughout his book. In the Bible God gave dreams to certain people. Those dreams, if interpreted by an infallible prophet, revealed God’s will and God plans. In the Bible, the dreams were from God, but they were not God’s dreams. They were the dreams of the people who dreamt them (for example Nebuchadnezzar’s in Daniel 2). Here we have to add a point of clarification: Only the dreams that are interpreted in the Bible by God’s prophets and spokespersons can be considered to authoritatively reveal God’s will.

The term “dream” in English can mean “hope for an ideal future,” as in, “I have a dream.” This denotes the hope for some better state of affairs that may or may not come into existence. Duke, in his book, is clearly not using the term in the Biblical sense as a dream a person has that has been interpreted by an authoritative prophet. Instead he says, “He calls us now to dream His dreams, to ask Him daily to display His power.”27 Duke is speaking of a hoped for future when he uses the term “dream”:

 

Welcome to the reality where dreams come true! God has a dream, and it is certain to happen just as He imagines it. He has placed the stamp of His image on our souls, so that we also dream great dreams. As we learn to passionately share and enjoy God’s dreams, we will see Him work in amazing ways . . .”28

 

This statement involves some serious category problems. Supposedly God’s dream is His imagination about the future. We (all humans evidently because all humans are created in God’s image) can dream like God. Either this is anthropomorphism run amok or some seriously bad theology. God is the one who says this about Himself: “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9, 10). God does not dream, He decrees. God calls things into being and works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He doesn’t imagine a potential future that may or may not happen.

Concerning us, the only thing we know about what God “dreams” (using Duke’s terminology) is what is revealed in Scripture. Our own dreams about what we would like the future to bring are not going to make God do anything. Duke says, “This book is intended to help you learn to walk so intimately with God that you will see Him fulfill His dreams in and through you.” This brings us back to the typical “prayer secret” genre of Christian writing. Supposedly there is some key to “intimacy with God” that is not based on the once-for-all finished work of Christ, not based on availing ourselves of the means of grace by faith, but based on our own level of personal piety and the use of practices not revealed in the Bible.29

Duke asks his readers, “Do you feel as though you’ve given up on dreams you had when your faith was new?” The implication is that our “dreams” (i.e., hopes for an ideal or optimal future) somehow authoritatively reveal God’s will and that we must make these come to pass by some process. But our ideas about what we hope life will be like are nothing more than ideas and may have nothing to do with God’s purposes. Our dreams are part of providence, but providence contains good and evil. Duke is treating personal imaginations about the future as if they were infallible guidance to be nurtured and followed. But personal dreams are not God’s moral law.

Here is a further definition of what Duke means by “dream,”

 

A dream is a desire felt so strongly that we think and meditate on it constantly until we see it in our mind as clearly as if it were reality. A dream believes that what is desired will happen; it is accomplished by anticipation and positive expectation. People who dream tend to be upbeat and enthusiastic.30

 

This is a very much the type of mind over matter thinking that has enjoyed popularity in self-help circles.

He gives people some practical guidance on releasing their “imagination” in prayer: “Envision yourself embarking on a day trip into the presence of God. . . . Envision yourself approaching God in His glory.”31 This is strikingly similar to guided imagery. He gives more examples of how to manage your dream time with God, including making lists of dream notes. This is a journey into the subjective realm under the guise of “prayer.”

Much bad teaching comes into the church by route of mysticism, subjectivism, and having faulty theological categories. In previous articles I carefully defined categories to help my readers avoid these pitfalls. Risking redundancy, I must again assert that there is God’s revealed will in Scripture as well as God’s providential will (containing good and evil) that is revealed as history unfolds. Though Duke wants us to dream God’s dreams about the future, he admits that these dreams we might have come from various sources. He lists thoughts from God, your own thoughts, thoughts from the world, and thoughts from Satan. His readers are supposed to sort through their dream notes to find ones that they think are from God. But how? God’s future providen32tial will is not revealed and cannot be known until it unfolds in history. Our dreams about the future cannot be determined to be from God by any means available to us because they are not revealed in Scripture.

Duke reveals his lack of Biblical understanding when he cites the scripture, “My sheep know my voice,” as proof that we can figure out which of our dreams is God’s voice. That passage in John 10 is about those whom the Father has given to the Son and who consequently will respond to the gospel and follow Christ, not about listening to various subjective voices in our heads and trying to figure out which one sounds the most like Christ.

There is no need to belabor how bad this book is theologically. It starts from a series of faulty premises and bad theology and builds from there a concept of prayer that is not taught in the Bible. The term “dream” as he uses it is basically the idea of one’s imagination. The Bible tells us about those who speak in this manner: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the Lord’”. (Jeremiah 23:16).

That a publishing house like Navpress produced this book shows how little discernment there is in the evangelical movement these days.

 

Conclusion

 

God has not left us to fish around in the world of spirits and subjective experiences to know Him and speak to Him. God send His Son, who pre-existed as God and with God, to be born of a virgin and live in history in the flesh. The apostles heard Him, touched Him and saw Him (see 1John 1:1-3). He died for sins on the cross, shedding His blood to avert God’s wrath against our sin. He was bodily raised on the third day and He bodily ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father. Before He left He promised His followers that they could ask the Father anything in His name. He inspired eyewitnesses to write His inerrant words so that we would know the truth from Him. The Bible promises us that He hears us. It doesn’t give us a set of techniques to hear inner voices and call these techniques “prayer.”

The mystics are confident that their extra-biblical techniques and extra-biblical experiences are certainly from God and are making more pious Christians than those of us who only have prayer as taught in the Bible and the Word of God to go by. Having discovered the secrets to increased piety and “intimacy with God,” they write books so that others can become similarly “enlightened” and be saved from their “ordinary” Christian lives. Dear readers, they are selling you a bill of goods. They are not infallible apostles and prophets, they do not speak authoritatively for God, their theology is unbiblical, and their practices are not ordained by God. I have touched on three examples of this approach but there have been literally thousands of them in church history. The simple application is this: do not listen to them. They can only deceive you; they cannot make you more holy or pleasing to God. Only the finished work of Christ and His ordained means of grace can do that.

Find more of Bob DeWaay here:

http://cicministry.org/articles.php

June 2022
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