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A Low View of Suffering

How God uses suffering

image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Healing, Isaiah 53, and a Conversation about It All

This blog post just may be important to someone (or not), but I want to bring awareness to the fact* that every day, one in four** Christians will experience the following conversation in one form or another, as demonstrated by Well-Intentioned Christian (WIC) and Sufferer (S):

WIC:  Hi, how are you? Are you healed yet?

S:      No, I’m not, but I’m good. Thanks for asking.

WIC:  You only have to have faith. God cured my friend/friend’s grandmother/friend’s grandmother’s milkman, from two towns over, of diabetes/gout/lactose intolerance; He can heal you too!

S:      I agree. God can do whatever He wants. But He chose not to heal the apostle Paul, and if He chooses not to heal me, then I’m in good company.

(awkward silence)

WIC:  You know, in Isaiah it is written, ‘By His stripes we are healed’. You are healed already, because Jesus gave you the victory! You just have to believe and claim the healing for yourself. Jesus doesn’t want you to suffer.

The conversation then ends by claiming more promises and rebuking the devil, or hopefully, with some gentle correction and prayer.

(end of dialogue)

Dear reader, due to afflictions, I am one of the one in four Christians who will have that conversation today, and if I don’t have it today, I will have it twice tomorrow. Having this conversation is always tough on me because I realize Well-Intentioned Christian means well (hence her name); consequently, correcting a caring, well-meaning friend on this topic is difficult.

Even so, we need to interpret that particular passage of Isaiah correctly. As it is, the number of people who have been affected and misled by the Word of Faith movement’s twisting of this passage is shocking and worrying; here is one example:

Friends, until we receive our glorified bodies, we are not “free from the curse of sickness”; otherwise  Christians would never die.

Let’s look at the passage, Isaiah 53:4-5:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus was pierced and crushed for our iniquities–our sin. The context clearly implies spiritual healing–Christ’s substitutionary atonement; peace with God through Jesus–not physical healing. 

This exegesis from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

 In these verses is an account of the sufferings of Christ; also of the design of his sufferings. It was for our sins, and in our stead, that our Lord Jesus suffered. We have all sinned, and have come short of the glory of God. Sinners have their beloved sin, their own evil way, of which they are fond. Our sins deserve all griefs and sorrows, even the most severe. We are saved from the ruin, to which by sin we become liable, by laying our sins on Christ. This atonement was to be made for our sins. And this is the only way of salvation. Our sins were the thorns in Christ’s head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. He was delivered to death for our offences. By his sufferings he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls. We may well endure our lighter sufferings, if He has taught us to esteem all things but loss for him, and to love him who has first loved us.”

We will receive (or be transformed into, if we are alive at the time) our healed, renewed, glorified bodies, in the future…when Jesus Christ returns. Christ himself will change our bodies (Phillipians 3:21), and thereafter there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:1-4).

I believe God still heals and we are to pray for healing (James 5:14) but healing is not guaranteed as Word of Faith preachers want you to believe. There is a low view of suffering when comfort and pleasure are focused on. In one breath, praise and thanks are given to our Savior who suffered on our behalf, then in the next breath, curses and rebukes are hurled at suffering. We are called to be patient in our trials and follow in the suffering footsteps of Christ (1 Peter 2:21).

The Treasures of the Thorn

The thorn that was given to the apostle Paul kept him from becoming conceited (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Oh, but not only did Paul benefit from this affliction, but God–because He is so much greater than anyone else–also used the thorn to further His gospel, His work, His purposes. Obviously, there are benefits and riches in suffering that the Word of Faith movement misses because of its focus on earthly comfort. Here are some of those riches:

Naturally, I would be thankful and overjoyed should God choose to heal me of my afflictions; however, what I desire most is not to miss the opportunity for growing in righteousness that the unexpected gift of suffering offers. I want to be equipped to comfort others. I desire endurance, character, and steadfastness. I want to be prepared for eternal glory. I want God to be glorified in my trials. I don’t want to waste my suffering.

Do I forget these things? Every day.

Do my words and attitude always reflect the character of a mature Christian? Not a chance.

It seems I need the suffering.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

_________ 

* Not a fact

** It could be higher or lower; I don’t know, because I made up the statistic

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I can do all things through me, myself, and I who strengthen me

 

How New Thought and the Human Potential Movement are wrongly supported by Christians through inspirational quotes.

 

Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Him who strengthens me) is used ad nauseam to invoke everything from winning a football game to dealing with crowds of shoppers on Black Friday to baking the perfectly risen soufflé. While God permits us to do every good work (because all good things come from God), this verse is not about being empowered to accomplish what we desire. This verse encourages us to be content in all things despite the circumstances―for example, being shipwrecked, beaten with rods and stones, or thrown into jail for the sake of the Gospel.

To add to the confusion, this verse is often followed by a self-empowered and self-glorifying ‘inspirational’ message such as the ones below:

:

strengthenme3

 

strengthenme2

 

strengthenme4

 

While there are many ideologies that give rise to this manner of unbiblical thinking, two stand out as having affected the modern church concerning positive thinking and attitude―New Thought and the Human Potential Movement. I will only give a brief overview of each; however, I will include links below the article for further research.

New Thought and Positive Thinking

New Thought has a long history; however, it picked up momentum in the 1800s. This ideology promotes an ‘Infinite Intelligence’ and a divine thought force that can be used for healing. This view claims our mental states manifest our daily living. New Thought can be found in books and the teachings of Chicken Soup for the SoulThe Secret, Oprah Winfrey, Creative Visualization (and Vision Boards), Napoleon Hill, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Yonggi Cho, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyer.

Got Questions gives a brief history of New Thought and the Word of Faith Movement:

The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word of Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word of Faith teachers align themselves with.”

Examples of New Thought in the Word of Faith Movement are Joyce Meyer, who says, “You cannot have a positive, exciting life and a negative mind”, and Joel Osteen, who says, “Start believing today that things are going to change for the better. Your best days are still out in front of you.”

Also popular in Christian circles is author Norman Vincent Peale. His most successful book is The Power of Positive Thinking, which stayed on The New York Times’ list of bestsellers for 186 consecutive weeks and sold 5 million copies, making it one of the best-selling ‘religious’ books of all time. This book is a blend of Christian Science, biblical twists, and psychology that teaches that you can have peace of mind, improved health, and that your life can be full of joy and satisfaction through the power of positive thinking.

This is a telling conversation with Peale, as reported by author Walter Martin:

I will never forget my teacher, Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse, told me of a luncheon he had with Norman Vincent Peale, who was then riding the crest of the wave on the power of positive thinking. Dr. Barnhouse chatted with him for a few minutes, and Dr. Peale said, “I would like a candid answer, Dr. Barnhouse. I know you will give me one. What do you really think of what I’ve written on the power of positive thought?”

Dr. Barnhouse said, “Well, I can only tell you what a great many clergy-men have said to me.”

“And what is that?” asked Dr. Peale.

Barnhouse replied, “Paul is appealing, but Peale is appalling.”

Dr. Peale just stopped in the middle of his soup and asked, “What?”

“You have forgotten the most important thing,” Barnhouse continued, “Before anyone can think positively, they must think negatively.”

“What do you mean?” asked Peale.

“Look”, said Barnhouse, “I am a sinner–negative or positive?”

“Negative,” said Peale.

“I am a lost sinner–negative or positive?”

“Negative.”

“I am going to eternal judgement–negative or positive?”

“Negative,” Peale repeated for the third time.

Barnhouse said, “Here are three negative propositions without which you cannot think positively. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). But if you do not think the first three, you will never get to the fourth.”

“I never thought of it that way before,” Peale replied.

Dr. Barnhouse said, “You must write a new book: The Power of Negative Thinking!

“I couldn’t do that–it would ruin me!” said Peale.

“Get out the truth,” replied Dr. Barnhouse, “and the Lord will take care of it.”

Peale never wrote the book, but he was told what he should do. The truth of the matter is this: whatever the cost, tell the truth. Speak the truth in love, but for the sake of Christ, we must speak it.”*

Shocking and sad―not just for Peale, but for the millions he has deceived.

The Human Potential Movement

This philosophy arose in the 1960s and teaches that we have unlimited potential for happiness, creativity, and fulfillment. Proponents include Brian Klemmer, Forum (Landmark), Stephen Covey, and Anthony Robbins. Popular in Christian circles is author, speaker, and former pastor John C. Maxwell who often misuses Scripture and endorses New Age teachings despite his vast amount of seminary training. His quotes include:

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”

“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me.”

Terri Savelle Foy is another teacher who promotes human potential disguised in biblical language and misused scriptures. Her purpose is to “teach people how to make their dreams bigger than their memories and fulfill God’s assignment on their lives”. Her quotes include:

“You have to become your own best cheerleader & remember: the secret of your future is hidden in your daily ROUTINE.”

“Do not die with your potential untapped because of something that happened in the past.”

“If you’ll change what you’re SAYING ~ you’ll change what you’re SEEING! (James 3:9)”

She also promotes the use of a vision board to manifest dreams and desires.

Sadly, many women asked Foy about using vision boards, hoping to learn the magical formula to creating the ideal life.

Speculations and Lofty Opinions

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and to take every thought captive to obey Christ. We must do that with these teachings from men, which elevate man and make him sovereign and providential instead of God. At best, these teachings promote faith in one’s ability, and at worst, they practice occult teachings. Everything we need to know has been revealed in Scripture; we should not seek out these secret things taught by men. Secrecy is not part of the Christian faith, as Jesus taught in the open (John 18:20).

We are not commanded to ‘fulfill our potential’, we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). Besides, how would we know what our potential is? Are we the Alpha and Omega who sees all things from beginning to end and Who is able to bring everything together for His purposes? Those are large, sovereign shoes to fill! Is suffering (which is beneficial) or persecution (part of the Christian life) on our vision boards? If we were in charge of our potential, I doubt if the spreading of the Gospel or the glory of God would benefit at all!

Assuming that our wicked and deceitful hearts knew what was best for us, we would not need vision boards, positive thinking, or other methodologies to bring about successful living. It is God alone who fulfills our ‘potential’ (Philippians 1:6). As Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” God doesn’t need our help to make anything happenTragically, many have forgotten that God alone has complete control, authority, and power:

  • Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? (Lamentations 3:37)
  • Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
  • The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33)
  • Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

Biblical Striving

While I do see value in setting and achieving goals, I sometimes wonder whose goals are being sought. Are we striving for what the world or the flesh tells us to desire? I have a sense that these vision boards would rival Dream Barbie’s lifestyle as opposed to that of Jesus Christ’s.

 

Instead of striving for worldly success:

Creflo-Dollar-Book-Prosperity-Gospel-Apostasy

 

Strive for obedience and righteousness:

overcoming-sin-john-owen

 

Friends, search the Scriptures to see if what I say is true. I pray that you will place your faith in your Creator and the Sustainer of life and stay clear of vision boards and the ‘power’ of positive thinking. I would like to leave you with a teaching on biblical thinking in hopes that we might loosen the hold of the world and the teachings of men. May it help us to strive for what is biblical and righteous, such as remaining faithful to biblical convictions, rendering love to others, and cherishing the effects of adversity, all for the glory of God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

* Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Occult (Nashville,TN: Jill Martin Rische, 2008), 665-666

Further Resources:

New Thought–A Warning for Christians

The Human Potential Movement and Motivational Seminars

The Pagan Mind Techniques of Paul Yonggi Cho

Norman Vincent Peale

John Maxwell

 

 

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If it Heals Like a Snake and Prophesies Like a Snake, It’s Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light

Do healings and prophecies in the modern church have more in common with the occult than the Bible?

I have been hearing about the power of the Spirit in regards to prophecy and healing frequently, and not only from professing Charismatics and Pentecostals. Is this healing and prophesying done in the power of God, or is this Satan masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)? While Scripture is our first and highest authority, I’ve noticed that the healing and prophesying being performed in the modern church have more in common with the occult than it does with the Bible. I will discuss healing and prophesying as done in the occult, the apostate church, and the Bible.

Although I am questioning the methods and practices of man, I do believe that God still heals today.

 

When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed (<a href=

When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed (Numbers 21:5-7). However, the serpent became an object of worship (2 Kings 18:4). source.

Healing in the Occult

 

May the Force Be With You

In the occult, energy and vibrations are manipulated for emotional, physical, and spiritual ‘healing’. Those in occult circles claim that this energy is an impersonal force that is in all creation. It is referred to as consciousness, energy, vibrations, spirit, or force. The goal of occult ‘energy work’ is to ‘enlighten’ the individual and to raise one’s frequency to attain a higher consciousness. In The Kingdom of the Occult, Walter Martin writes,

Energy can be defined in countless ways: creative life forces, moving power, or ley lines (energy lines said to crisscross the earth). Reiki (the energy associated with Reiki massage), Prana, polarity, chi – there are many names for occult energy–but generally it refers to the creative life forces within human beings and/or outside of them. This energy is the power that can be controlled by human beings through various means –crystals, cards, ceremonies, meditation, the correct diet, and yoga. This is the power source worshipped by the kingdom of the occult. God has revealed that this power source does not originate with Him, and that leaves only one other source: the prince of darkness–the devil (p. 324).”

Initiations and Spiritual Teachers

The occult world offers many different techniques and training in spiritual healing. Sometimes, there is an initiation or ceremony which involves a ‘transfer’ of the power or an activation of the supposed ability. Spiritual healers are channelers of energy and they impart this energy to the initiate.

Experiencing the Supernatural

A spiritual healer reports the following regarding the experiences of his client:

I have had people tell me they have experienced temperature changes, heat and coolness, tingling feelings, a feeling of weightlessness, sometimes a feeling of heaviness, feelings of their bodies moving even though they are on their back, sharp pains for a short time, which then disappear, feelings of some kind of manipulation, and have seen emotional releases (crying).”

That was also my experience as a former Reiki practitioner. During my involvement in that occult practice, there was a strong presence of energy coursing through me and my clients; there were also vibrations, heat, and emotional releases. Counterfeit feelings of ‘love and peace’ were also present. There is a definite psychic component to this type of healing, which is not surprising since holistic healing encompasses mind, body, and soul. Please not that there is also a strong connection between prophesying and healing in many apostate church ministries.

Healing in the Apostate Church

Please read the following and ask yourself if it appears biblical:

Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have been listening to the call of the Spirit, being anointed by God, and providing healing and life-saving prophetic information for others. In the church, a man or woman may be called to the gift of healing by God Himself. This call may come through a dream, or while in the wilderness, a vision. Sometimes, a serious illness may be used by God and lead to this anointing. When the call is answered and the person begins receiving impartations with an elder, the illness is often healed altogether. There are three big stages in the initiatory process: suffering, death, and resurrection.

As a discerning Christian, you’re most likely feeling uncomfortable about what you’ve just read–as you should. That statement is from a website* which promotes the occult practice of shamanism; all I did was edit the words so it appears biblical. Here is the original text (note that I did not alter the last sentence!):

“Since time immemorial, shamans have been listening to the calling of the spirits, being initiated by them and bringing back healing and life-saving oracular information for others. In indigenous cultures, a man or woman may be called to the path of the shaman by the spirits themselves. This call may come through a dream, or while in the wilderness, a vision. Sometimes, a serious illness may foreshadow the path toward shamanism. When the call is answered and the person begins training with an older shaman, the illness is often healed altogether. There are three big stages in the initiatory process: suffering, death, and resurrection.”

This exercise shows how easily the undiscerning Christian can be deceived when statements appear biblically sound. Many movements take advantage of this weakness, and they also redefine words such as ‘faith’ and ‘power’.

God is an Electric Force

In the Word of Faith movement, faith is a ‘force’ to be manipulated. This movement’s false teachers claim you have a ‘miracle in your mouth’ because words have power, and through these words, you are able to create your destiny. Likewise, faith healers speak of the anointing power that is required for healing. This power causes people to fall backwards, stumble, and/or shake uncontrollably. The faith healers claim you are ‘slain in the Spirit‘ because the power of the Spirit has come upon you.

About 40 years ago, Benny Hinn says he met this counterfeit ‘power’ at a healing crusade of the late faith healer Kathryn Kuhlman. He recalls:

As I stood in line, I suddenly began to shake. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It didn’t stop. I was too embarrassed to tell Jim or anyone around me. Even when we got to our seats on the third row of the auditorium, the shaking continued. The longer it continued, the more beautiful it became.”

After Kuhlman talks about what she perceives to be the Holy Spirit, Benny Hinn says,

At that moment, I cried and said, “I’ve got to have this!”

Then, within moments, the service was over. I was shaken to the core. God had used that service and His mighty evangelist to reveal His power that day.

All the way back to Toronto, I kept thinking, “What did she mean? What was she saying when she talked about the Holy Spirit?”

I was totally exhausted when I arrived home, but I could not sleep. As I lay on my bed, I felt as if someone were pulling me off the mattress and onto my knees. It was a strange sensation, but I didn’t resist.

I had never spoken to the Holy Spirit before. I didn’t know He could be addressed that way.

Finally, I prayed, “Holy Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman says You are her Friend. I don’t think I know You. Before today, I thought I did. But after that meeting, I realize I really don’t. I don’t think I know You.”

Then, like a child with my hands raised, I asked, “Can I meet You? Can I really meet You?”

A few brief moments passed, then like a jolt of electricity my body began to vibrate all over again, exactly like at the church in Pittsburgh.

I was afraid to open my eyes. I felt like a warm blanket of God’s power was wrapped all over me. That continued until I finally dropped off to sleep that night. Even then, I still didn’t realize all that had happened to me.”

This interaction with the ‘Holy Spirit’ is not biblical, but it’s interesting that Benny Hinn says, “I’ve got to have this!” What is this? It sounds more like the impersonal force of the occult than the personal being of the Holy Spirit. Benny Hinn should be seeking a who, which is Jesus; not a what.

Todd Bentley is another faith healer who speaks about this force: “When people visited me at my home, they’d get zapped by an invisible electric force field in whatever room I was in, and then they’d bounce back.” Extra-biblical healing practices have a strong appeal to the senses and may cause tingling, heat, and seeing light.

Teachers and Initiations (Impartations)

As with the occult, the so-called ‘Christian’ community also has many leaders who impart power and who teach how to perform healings. This is from Bethel’s Healing School website:

At the Bethel Healing School, you will be inspired, trained, and activated in a lifestyle of healing & miracles. The school is more than just a seminar of teaching. It is a quick immersion into a culture of joy, freedom, and understanding of everything that Jesus paid for! During the school, you will increase in understanding how to carry the anointing as well as learn ways to cultivate and maintain an atmosphere conducive to healing in your churches and ministries.”

There is much nonsense in that paragraph; for instance, how is power from God ‘activated’ and where in the Bible does it teach us how to ‘carry the anointing’? Additionally, does it make sense that the Holy Spirit would give us this gift (1 Corinthians 12:11) but then require man to activate it?

Another alarming occult practice is grave sucking – the transferring of supposed energy from the dead. Many professing Christians do this bizarre ritual. Benny Hinn admits to frequenting the tomb of Kathryn Kuhlman to receive anointing from her dead and decomposed body. Well, this is nothing but necromancy. Todd Bentley claims to have received his anointing from false teacher William Branham, even though Branham had died nine years before the birth of Bentley.

Putting aside anointings from the dead, consider what this article from LetUsReason.org says about anointings in general:

Many today are taught to get an impartation from the anointed preacher. There is no need when Scripture states we all have the same standing before God; all believers have the same Holy Spirit and Christ as our mediator. We can all receive from Jesus, who is the one we should all be seeking. Going to a certain person or meeting to seek an anointing by impartation is unbiblical. No other person is to be our mediator to receive the Holy Spirit. Whenever men become mediators, Christ’s teachings diminish and men’s teachings increase. We are then giving them, not the Lord control over our lives.

Laying hands on the sick to pray is not the same as imparting the spirit and watching them buckle.

A ‘transferable anointing’ is not seen nor practiced anywhere in Scripture. We also find that the Apostles did not rush around laying hands on people to impart an experience of ‘fire’ or power. They did not chant words over and over and expect a immediate response. The impartations done today that come through certain men are not the true anointing, who is the Spirit of God. Only God can give the Spirit; Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit, not man. Man cannot control God- there is no teaching on how to obtain or release the anointing to another.”

John MacArthur also warns, “Dear ones, Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, right? Demons are mediators between hell and man. They make captives out of man”.

Supernatural Experiences

As explained above, the healings of the apostate church provide sensations of electricity, shaking, and vibrating. When I was still spiritually immature and lost, I experienced similar sensations with two different faith healers, and these abnormal feelings were uncannily similar to the electric sensations I had experienced  as a Reiki practitioner.

Healing itself is not proof that it came from God; also, it’s worth knowing that falling to the ground (or lying prostrate, e.g.) in repentance and grief over one’s sin is very different to falling backwards and shaking uncontrollably.

 

Healing In the New Testament

We are commanded to test all things (1Thessalonians 5:21), including the spirits (1John4:1), and when we examine the healings in the New Testament, we see that they were instantaneous and permanent. Since they were obvious and public, they went unchallenged. The apostles were given authority to heal every disease and every affliction–unlike what we see at healing crusades, where those in wheelchairs are pushed to the sidelines.

Do healings and prophecies in the modern church have more in common with the occult than the Bible?

The Pythia, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the name of any priestess throughout the history of Temple of Apollo. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. source

Prophecy (fortune-telling) in the Occult

Merriam-Webster defines a fortune-teller as “a person who claims to use special powers to tell what will happen to someone in the future.”** Fortune-tellers work with energy as well and claim to be sensitive to vibrations from the spirit world. Since Satan and demons are not omnipresent or omniscient, fortune-tellers’ predictions are often wrong. However, they know that if they get some things right or are able to manipulate circumstances in favor of their predictions, that their victims will be held captive. Divination practices such as astrology, palmistry, and tarot reading are never entirely accurate; however, millions of people are in bondage to these enchantments. God forbids fortune-telling (Deuteronomy 18:10-13).

Prophecy In the Apostate Church

If we believe that the office of prophet is still active today, then we have a duty to test and investigate the practices and prophecies being made against Scripture.

GotQuestions.org says,

Prophecy – The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” in both passages properly means to “speak forth” or declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence people. The idea of telling the future was added sometime in the Middle Ages and is in direct contradiction to other scriptural passages that condemn such fortune-telling or predicting the future (Acts 16:16-18).”

The kind of prophesying we see in the apostate church is one of fortune-telling. God has already revealed in Scripture all that He desires us to know. As Jude says, we have the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3). However, many people are dissatisfied and seek personal revelations, despite the command not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). Not only are the vast predictions of modern-day prophets incorrect, but their collective theology is among the worst in the church. If the Holy Spirit, who is truth (John 16:13), is actually the one giving these revelations to these fraudsters, why would He not first correct their doctrine?

Prophecy In the Bible

In the New Testament era, the early believers did not have the completed Bible, so prophets (or apostles) proclaimed messages from the Lord. Prophets were foundational to the church (Ephesians 2:20), and they were 100% accurate.

Furthermore, GotQuestions.org says:

Note the transition from prophet to teacher in 2 Peter 2:1: “There were false prophets among the people, even as there shall  be false teachers among you” (emphasis added). Peter indicates that the Old Testament age had prophets, whereas the church will have teachers. The spiritual gift of prophecy, in the sense of receiving new revelations from God to be proclaimed to others, ceased with the completion of the Bible. During the time that prophecy was a revelatory gift, it was to be used for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of men (1 Corinthians 14:3). The modern gift of prophecy, which is really more akin to teaching, still declares the truth of God. What has changed is that the truth of God today has already been fully revealed in His Word, while, in the early church, it had not yet been fully revealed.”

Examining the Fruit

Mysticism and the occult seduce the flesh because they provide subjective experiences and promise to reveal secret knowledge. This is the opposite of how Christians are commanded to live. We walk by faith in God, trusting that He will direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). Much of what is occurring in the apostate church is divination and speaking to spirits – forms of sorcery that mark the lives of unbelievers (Galatians 5:19-21). Sorcerers are given power by Satan to lead people away from God (Matthew 24:242 Thessalonians 2:9) and since there will always be sorcerers, even in the end times (Revelation 18:23), we must always be vigilant (1Peter 5:8).

One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23), not falling down and shaking uncontrollably or speaking false prophecies – these practices are the work of Satan. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit does not allow Himself to be the focus; He does not seek the spotlight.This is in direct contrast to the blasphemous way that these unbiblical ministries so falsely portray the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, not Himself (John 16:14); the Holy Spirit also testifies about Jesus (John 15:26), not about Himself.

Our enemy always promises something that we think will benefit us, and it’s important to remember that our minds can be corrupted (2 Corinthians 11:3). To think that we cannot be deceived simply because we are Christians is contrary to the many New Testament warnings about deceptions. To assume we can dabble in the occult because of a response to an altar call is as much a lie as the belief that the occultists can surround themselves with ‘white light’ to protect themselves from evil spirits. If we claim to follow Jesus, then we should truly follow Him. We should have nothing to do with pagan and occult practices. Do not be deceived – God performs miracles; Satan performs magic.

Friends, do not subject yourself to anything that ‘awakens’ you, that encourages you to open your heart, or that manipulates energy. Do not seek ‘fresh fire’, new revelations, or impartations. If God desires for you to be healed, trust that He will providentially provide for the healing. Do not believe everything you hear, but test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Let’s leave signs and wonders alone; instead, let’s strive to be holy and righteous, and living a life that’s pleasing to God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

* http://www.shamanicuniverse.com/shamanic-initiation.html

** “Fortune-teller.” Merriam-Webster.com, n.d Web.24 May. 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortune-teller

Additional Resources:

A Call For Discernment Part 1, 2, 3

Kundalini Warning Part 1, 2, 3

Is the anointing tangible and transferable; can we impart it?

The Lord Told Me – I Think!

 

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Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frog, In the Name of Jesus, Abracadabra, Amen

What does 'praying in the name of Jesus" mean

 

Why is it common for Word of Faith teachers to repeat “in the name of Jesus” so frequently during prayer? Is it out of reverence for His name? Is it because they are under the impression that’s how we are commanded to pray? Or is there a presumption that the phrase amplifies the effectiveness of prayer? After all, if we can believe and conceive, and our words have power, why not throw a mantra into the potion?

Here is but one example of the “in the name of Jesus” incantation. Since Joyce Meyer speaks rapidly, I have included a transcript below the video:

 

 

Transcript: How many of you have some kind of pain or sickness in your body? See? Oh my gosh. Just imagine; no wonder the devil wants us to feel bad; imagine what we could do if we had full energy (crowd screams and cheers). Okay, Father, I pray in the name of Jesus, the name that is above every name. And I believe that we have authority to pray in that name. I bind Satan; we join our faith together and we bind the devil and every demon, principality and power and we especially bind demons of infirmity and sickness. And we cast them out…in the name of Jesus. We say they have no access to our lives. And if we’re giving them any, God, we’ve opened the door, then show us how we’ve opened that door and give us the common sense and the wisdom to close it. I pray for people who need mental healing, emotional healing, and physical healing, that you would heal us in every area of our life. So I speak over you today, the Word of God and I say, “Be healed” in the name of Jesus. Amen. Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen!

I won’t discuss the Word of Faith Movement’s teachings on healing* or spiritual warfare** in this blog post, as I want to stay on topic. However, since Meyer’s conference was named “Love Life”, it’s not surprising that there would be guidance on how to obtain carnal wants. This is not unexpected, as Joyce Meyer is merely feeding her followers what they desire to hear. If she held a conference titled “Whoever Loves Her Life Will Lose It” (John 12:25), the stadium would be empty.

Meyer used “the name of Jesus” four times during her one-minute prayer on the video clip. So, the $64 000 question is this: was she praying in Jesus’ name?

What’s In a Name?

To do something in someone’s name means we do it according to that person’s character, will, values, and with the person’s blessing and/or authority. As believers, we have access to God through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

Thy Will Be Done

Praying in Jesus’ name equals praying according to the will of God (1 John 5:14-15) and for things that will glorify and honor Him. When Jesus told His disciples that whatever they asked in His name would be granted to them, He was teaching that our prayers need to be consistent with what is His will.

Whose Name Is Being Prayed In?

Concerning Meyer’s sample prayer: Is it Jesus’ will and purpose to bind, cast out Satan, and to deny Satan access to our lives? Is it His will and purpose to heal us mentally, emotionally, physically and in every area of our lives? I’m unaware of any verse that supports these claims. Were the audience members healed? Did anyone wonder why no one was healed?

In these pagan circles, Jesus’ name is heralded as a magical incantation which orders God to grant requests without any regard for His will. Our God is our sovereign Lord; He does not kowtow to us; in fact, He abhors superstition and sorcery (Deuteronomy 18:10).

If they are not praying in the name of Jesus, then in whose name is the audience praying? Whose will are they asking to be done? It might be tempting to think these followers are praying in the name of Joyce Meyer, but they are praying in the name of the father of lies (John 8:22;1 John 5:19Ephesians 2:22 Timothy 2:26). “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). These worldly desires are what Meyer and the rest of the Word of Faith Movement pray and believe for. These fleshly desires represent the name, character, and values of Satan, who seeks and destroys (1 Peter 5:8).

Am I suggesting that anyone who ends prayers with “in the name of Jesus” is practicing superstition? No, not at all. I’m asking that we check our motives. Are we using “in the name of Jesus” to signal the end of the prayer? To remind us with gratitude of the Son who secured us direct access to our Father? And suppose we step out of this habit–if it is one, of course–and end our prayers with a sufficient “amen”, do our hearts skip a beat because we wonder whether God has heard our prayers, that the prayer has somehow lost power? Do we become confused and falter in the faith that was not secured in the name above all names (Philippians 2:9)? We should always examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

What a glorious, undeserved gift we have – access to our Creator, the Alpha and Omega. Let us pray for wisdom to know the will of God, and let’s focus on what pleases Him, on what will have eternal impact for His Kingdom, and on what will glorify His glorious name.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Further Reading:

* The Word of Faith Movement’s false view of healing

** Binding and Loosing

Where Two or More Are Gathered” relates to church discipline

 

 

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Wolves Tending to the Sheep

Wolves Tending to the Sheep

 

As I thought about the power and ramification of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, my thoughts drifted to the wolves and deceivers in the visible church. I realized how much their teachings contradict the events surrounding the cross. For instance, they teach that we do not have faith if we experience suffering, yet Jesus, whom we are to follow, suffered the most. Also, some teach that we must give God permission to act and do anything in our lives; however, that flies in the face of the fact that Jesus went to the cross willingly, submissively, and obediently. Finally, the resurrection proves the deity of Jesus (Romans 1:4) – how can Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, and others claim they are ‘little gods’? Jesus triumphed over death!

These masqueraders of light always seek to usurp what Jesus did and who Jesus is. Those in the health-and-wealth movement claim creative power, the Copelands claim sovereignty over nature, and the Word of Faith movement claims divinity.

Being curious as I am, I checked the Facebook pages of some of these workers of iniquity to see what they had to say over the Easter weekend.

At the time of writing, Kenneth Copeland acknowledged the Lord’s resurrection, quoted Revelation 1:18, and then it was back to the business of promoting his own good works.

T.D. Jakes said, “Happy Resurrection Sunday!” and posted various odd comments including his sermon titled Sit On Me Jesus. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

And, just for fun, I looked at the Jesus Calling page, which said, “After I was crucified, My miraculous resurrection empowered Me to be your living Hope. In fact, I am more abundantly alive than you can begin to imagine. When your hope is connected to Me, you share in My vibrant, eternal Life.”

Sigh.

Next, I looked at Joyce Meyer’s Facebook page, which was filled with self-promotion and false teaching all weekend. I especially enjoyed this, posted on the day of the Lord’s resurrection:

 

journey

 

I was surprised to see that Joyce Meyer Ministries did not have one post for most of the weekend that acknowledged Easter. There was not even a whisper of her false teaching that Jesus paid for our sins in hell. Finally, on Sunday evening, at 5:00pm (EST), she posted “Easter means so much more with this”. And what was “this” that she referred to? Her teaching, followed by an interview with contemplative prayer promoter Priscilla Shirer.

Even Benny Hinn managed to post this:

 

benny hinn easter

 

So what’s my point?

At first I was taken aback to see that Joyce Meyer Ministries neglected to mention Jesus’ sacrifice until the end of the weekend. Then I was offended that the other wolves did mention it. These wolves’ teachings conflict with the cross, and yet they dangle the Crucifixion like a carrot to unsuspecting millions to attract them. By doing this, these wolves are pretending that they are part of the body of Christ. How many times have you heard, “Well, they confess Jesus has risen, so they must be okay”? At least the Joyce Meyer Ministries page was honest–the self-centered false teachings were strewn across its page, and when it came time to mention Easter, the post followed suit by connecting the importance of Easter to Meyer herself. In fact, the site did not promote the importance of Easter, but hinted that Meyer could make Easter better. The Come-To-Jesus-He’ll-Make-Your-Life-Better-Because-It’s-All-About-You Gospel was front and center. However, I don’t think her 8,940,509 fans saw it that way.

Many wolves are more than happy to tend to the flock and fleece them. In fact, when combined, a staggering 16,845,893 people “like” the ministries of these false teachers on Facebook. How many more unsuspecting people/victims are out there?

These stats should serve as a stark reminder that we must contend for the faith – the true faith once delivered to the saints, (Jude 3). Also, we should proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) to the visible church, so those in it may not fall as eternal victims to the wolves and die as goats, but that they may be rescued and die as sheep (Matthew 25:31-46).

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

doctrine divides the sheep from the goats

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