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Archive of ‘False Teaching’ category

Truth or Snare? Testing Your Pentecostal/Charismatic Experiences Against Scripture

 

Do you know why you believe what you believe about your Charismatic experiences?

 

I apologize for the sparse blog posts – nerve issues are a recent challenge, and while grasping objects is amusing, typing is less so. There was a time when I believed that if I had enough faith, then I would be healed of my ailments. I was not only taught that physical healing was guaranteed in the atonement, I was also taught that because Jesus healed and because the apostles had the gift of healing, that Christians today could heal too. Sadly, my beliefs were a mix of faith healing, positive confession, and the continuation of the sign gifts. In this article, I will specifically address the healing and speaking in tongues aspects of these sign gifts.

In my Pentecostal and charismatic circles, we didn’t examine how, when, where, why, or to whom the sign gifts occurred; our conversations were based on experience and not on theology. That no one knew what the messages behind the tongues were (or what they even meant), or that no one was healed during the healing practices was not a concern – the experiences alone convinced us that something divine had occurred. The goal was not to glorify God, to proclaim the Gospel, or to grow in holiness – the goal was to have a spiritual experience.

I was unaware of the cessationist viewpoint; I believed that you were either “walking in the power of the Spirit” or you weren’t. The idea that the sign gifts had ceased never entered my mind. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to encourage my Pentecostal and charismatic continuationist sisters to examine, through a series of questions, why they believe what they believe about healing and speaking in tongues.

To Be Clear …

It is not my intention to attempt to end the debate between cessationism and continuationism, nor is it my intention to create division – whether or not the sign gifts operate today is surely not a salvational issue. If you have studied the Scriptures and you are fully convinced (Romans 14:5) that the gifts are still in operation today, then great. However, if you are not sure why you believe what you believe, then examine the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and make sure that your beliefs are founded on the Word of God alone. The Bible is authoritative over feelings, experiences, and intentions; therefore, “I just feel that…”, “This happened to me in church…” or “God knows my heart…” are not qualifiers for objective truth.

There is a misperception in general that cessationists believe that God no longer performs miracles. However, the question is not whether God is sovereign – God can do anything through whomever, wherever, and whenever He chooses. I believe that God still heals people today; however, Christians do not determine His choosing to heal. We do not control or direct God’s hand. Additionally, the concern is not whether experiences, such as the gift of speaking in tongues exists; rather, the concern is whether what occurs today is biblical. Cessationists do not question whether God can grant the gift of signs; the question is: is He granting it now? The hand of God is not held up for scrutiny, experiences are; there is a lot of spiritual activity in today’s churches, all of which must be tested against Scripture (1 John 4:1).

Following are questions to help you examine your beliefs; these questions address the sign gifts as well as two beliefs concerning salvation – the first is the belief that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement, and the second is the belief that speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation.

Questions to Consider Regarding Speaking in Tongues

1. If the unintelligible gift of speaking in tongues is from the Holy Spirit, then why do people from other religions speak in unintelligible tongues too? Egyptian priests in the 11th century B.C. spoke in tongues, as do present-day Muslims, Buddhists, and many New Age and occult practitioners.

2. If speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation, then why did the modern tongues movement start only around 1900? Shouldn’t the speaking in tongues have been a continuous practice since Pentecost?

3. If speaking in tongues is for everyone, then why did Paul teach that signs, miracles, and wonders (that obviously included speaking in tongues) were signs of a true apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12)?

4. If speaking in tongues is a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then why did Paul imply that not every believer was expected to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30)?

5. Since “tongues” were real languages at the time of Pentecost (Acts 2:6-11), why are the “tongues” that are spoken today nothing but babbling and gibberish?

6. Why, despite Paul’s warning against babbling or unintelligible speech (1 Corinthians 14:9-11), is this sort of speech still encouraged today?

7. Paul expressed that speaking in a language that was understood was better than speaking in an unknown language (1 Corinthians 14:19); therefore, shouldn’t there be no babbling today?

8. If, as some say, this babbling is “angelic utterance”, then why does Paul teach that there must be an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)? Are there angels in the church that can interpret these babblings?

9. If the gift of speaking in tongues is still in operation today, then why is it necessary to send missionaries and other volunteers to foreign language schools? And why is the Bible still painstakingly being translated into numerous real foreign languages, year after year?

10. If the speaking in tongues occurred spontaneously at Pentecost, then why do people today teach others how to speak in tongues?

11. If the gift of speaking in tongues was a sign for the benefit of unbelieving Jews (1 Corinthians 14:21-22), then why is it spoken in churches today, and amongst gentile believers of all people?

12. Paul taught that if tongues are spoken that only one person at a time is to speak and no more than three people (and not at the same time!) are to speak (1 Corinthians 14:27); however, as far as I have witnessed, this is not the case today. Many people speak simultaneously, which results in chaos and confusion. Why do churches willingly allow that which is in direct violation of Scripture?

Questions Regarding Healing

1. If faith is required for healing (and lack of faith is a reason for a lack of healing), then why were unbelievers healed?

  • The demon-possessed man from Gerasenes was healed (Luke 8:28-33)
  • Jesus healed Malchus, who had his ear cut off by Peter (Luke 22:51; John 18:10)
  • The man at the pool of Bethsaida was healed without knowing who Jesus was (John 5:11-13).

2. Why were people healed through the faith of others?

  • The centurion’s faith healed his servant (Matthew 8:5-10)
  • The paralytic was healed by the faith of the men who carried him (Mark 2:5)
  • Jarius’ daughter was healed by his faith (Mark 5:35-43)

3. Why were people of faith not healed?

4. Why do faith healers teach that we must continue to claim our healing for complete deliverance from illness when in the Bible healings were both immediate and complete?

  • Peter’s mother-in-law was healed instantly (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • The centurion’s servant was healed “at that very moment” (Matthew 8:13)
  • Jesus healed the woman with chronic bleeding “immediately” (Mark 5:29)
  • Leprosy “left” the leper and he was healed “immediately” (Luke 5:12-13)
  • “…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear…” (Matthew 11:5).

5. Why do we read in the Bible that obviously physical illnesses such as leprosy and paralysis were healed, whereas unseen afflictions such as arthritis or migraines are “healed” at healing crusades?

6. Why in the Bible were healings public and witnessed by people who knew the afflicted persons, whereas today we hear of “testimonies” of healing, often in faraway and remote places?

7. The apostles were given the power to heal – so why are there “healing schools” today?

8. Why aren’t faith healers curing the sick in hospitals or care centres? Additionally, as shown above, healing also occurred through the faith of others; therefore, if you, dear reader, have faith that healing is guaranteed, why are you not healing in the hospitals?

9. Why do faith healers wear prescription glasses? Why do they age? Why do they seek medical attention? Why do they fall ill at all?

10. Raising the dead, the handling of snakes, and the drinking of deadly poison without falling ill occurred in the Book of Acts, so why aren’t these activities occurring in the local assembly today?

11. Why did the believers in the Book of Acts seek healing from the apostles if they supposedly could heal themselves through their own faith?

12. Why is Scripture filled with the benefits of affliction and illness if we are supposed to be completely healthy?

13. If healing is guaranteed, why do all Christians (everyone, in fact) physically die?

Additional Questions to Consider:

1.In Scripture, signs verified the message of the messenger (Exodus 4:1-9;1 Kings 18:36-37;Joel 2:27-32;Acts 2:1-21;John 10:37-38;1 Corinthians 14:22). Today, we have the completed Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to testify to the truth (John 15:26;16:13). Other than salvation (since believers are performing “signs”), what would signs today signify?

2. If all Christians could perform signs and wonders, then why were they given to verify the identity of Jesus and true apostles (Acts 2:22; 2:43; 4:30; 5:12;14:3; Romans 15:18-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4)?

3. If there is a second baptism, which is evidenced by speaking in tongues, then why does Ephesians 4:5 state there is one baptism?

4. The Bible condemns against seeking signs and giving signs (Matthew 12:38-39; 16:4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:29), so why do so many Christian seek them?

5. Since Satan and his sorcerers can perform lying signs and wonders (Exodus 7:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 24:24), isn’t it dangerous to seek these experiences? Even those under Satan’s control can perform signs, so how do we know who the true believers are if everyone can perform these signs?

6. If signs are for today, why does Hebrews 2:3-4 state that signs were in the past?

7. The Holy Spirit was sent to testify about Jesus, who is the Word; therefore, why wouldn’t the Holy Spirit first correct the improper doctrine in the Charismatic movement before performing signs and wonders? Why wouldn’t this “Holy Spirit” testify about Jesus, as that is His main role?

8. If God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), why is there so much chaos at healing revivals and many Charismatic gatherings?

 Let Us Reason Together (Isaiah 1:18)

After considering these questions and studying the Bible, can you, dear sister, still claim that the Word of God backs up your spiritual experiences? Do you really believe that the modern “tongues movement” reflects Pentecost? Have you noticed any discrepancies between charismatic experiences and the Word of God? Is it possible that you could be reading Scripture to fit your experience instead of submitting to the authority of God’s Word, regardless of what you feel and experience?

As mentioned earlier, I do not expect to end the debate as to whether the “sign gifts” are still in operation today, but might I suggest that instead of seeking signs, that we rather seek after the truth! To seek the truth is to pursue Jesus – not only is Christ Jesus the Truth (John 14:6), but wisdom and knowledge are found in Him (Colossians 2:3). Don’t let your experiences and feelings guide you, but let the Word of God be a lamp to your feet and a guide for your path (Psalm 119:105).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

But-grow-in-the-grace-and-knowledgeof-our-Lord-and-Savior-Jesus-Christ

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The Christian Woman’s Guide to Conversing with Bereans

How should you respond when someone calls your favorite teacher a wolf in sheep's clothing?

 

Imagine the scene: You have finally found some time to sit down to relax; you tune into the Trinity Broadcasting Network only minutes before your favorite teacher (I’ll call her Joyce Osteen) comes on the air. During these few minutes, you check Facebook, and to your horror, you see that someone has posted a warning that Joyce Osteen is a “false teacher“, a wolf in sheep’s clothing! How dare they touch the anointed Joyce Osteen! Although you might be tempted to respond to this claim in a fury of rebukes in ALL CAPS, please read the considerations below.

The purpose of this article is not to point a condemning finger but to address possible obstacles to fruitful conversations. These obstacles may include immature defenses and wrong presuppositions. Ideally, people on both sides of the conversation should act with integrity and humility. But it is most important that we must be imitators of Christ Jesus; yes, even during these conversations.

First, let’s take a look at who the Bereans were. In Acts 17:1-15, we learn that the Bereans researched, tested, and compared what they heard and were taught to Scripture … daily! We are commanded to do the same (1 John 4:1; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, etc.), so that we will not be taken captive by lies (Colossians 2:8). Not only are we commanded to be Bereans, but we are also commanded to expose evil (Ephesians 5:11Titus 1:9-13; Galatians 6:1). False teachings in the church are evil because they lead to damnation. We don’t hesitate to warn about physical danger, so how much more important is it to warn about spiritual danger?

When Conversing With Bereans:

1. Pray for Discernment, Knowledge, and Wisdom

Be slow to address your concerns, and take the time to pray to God for discernment, knowledge, and wisdom (Philippians 1:9-10James 1:5; Proverbs 4:7). The path to destruction is wide (Matthew 7:13), and there are many false teachers WITHIN the church’s walls (Jude 1:4); so, unless you are behaving as the Bereans did, you might be deceived. The danger of deception is that the deceived do not know that they are being deceived. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide to truth those who are in Christ (John 16:13).

2. Respond as a Child of God

When responding to something, many people take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet; however, as Christians we know that God is watching and that we will be held accountable for what we say (and type!). Even if a Berean is rude, respond with integrity. A mature Christian woman is gentle, kind, self-controlled, loving, and teachable. Be assured (in giving and receiving) that warnings about faulty doctrines are not a personal attack any more than a caution sign along the road is meant to offend. There may be an urgency to these warnings since we do not know when Jesus will return or how much time we have left on this earth; please do not mistake immediacy for lack of love.

3. Do Not Resort to Name-Calling

Since God has given us the gift of understanding His truths (2 Thessalonians 2:13b), we should be humble and reverent when discussing His Word. There is no place for immaturity or condescension, such as the following remarks:

“You’re just jealous!”

Worldly success is not something a Christian should strive for, so it’s highly unlikely that Bereans are jealous of material success or popularity ratings, and they are certainly not jealous of the dire, eternal destination of a false teacher (1 John 2:15; Galatians 1:10; Galatians 1:8-9). Regardless, this accusation does nothing to help the conversation.

“You’re a Hater!”

Warning the Church about false teachers is an act of love. Would you call someone a “hater” for warning you if you were about to walk off a cliff? Jesus, Paul, and others warned about false teachers and even revealed who these false teachers were. Was Jesus a “hater”?

“You’re of Satan!”/”You’re grieving the Spirit!”/”You’re a Jezebel!”

Resorting to histrionics does not further your position; rather, it leads your listener to assume you do not have a Scriptural defense.

4. If You Respond With Cliches, Make Sure You Know What They Mean

It’s easy to respond with a statement that sounds good or that you’ve heard many other churchgoers say; however, please take the time to understand what your statements actually mean.

“Don’t Put God in a Box!”

It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it mean? Regardless of the definition, Jesus exposed false teachers – was He putting God in a box?

“Touch not my anointed!”

This verse is about physically harming a prophet (1 Chronicles 16:22), but since we are commanded to expose false teachers, and because Scripture does not contradict itself, this verse obviously does not apply to anything else. So, there’s nothing wrong in a fair, biblically-based criticism of a teacher, whoever that teacher may be.

“You’re creating division!”

Let’s look at Romans 16:17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” This verse explains that division is caused by those who teach contrary to the Word of God. Truth naturally divides itself from lies; therefore, Christians should not seek unity at the expense of truth … that’s what the world does.

“No one has perfect theology!”

True, but that’s not an excuse for heresy.

“This teacher has blessed me!”/”This teacher helps the poor!”

Following false teachers will lead you to destruction, and that’s not a blessing. There are many leaders and teachers who help people (including those in the secular arena), but that doesn’t mean we should follow after them.

Since false teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), we can’t assume their teachings are sound simply because they do good works. Remember, atheists also help the poor.

“They’ve led hundreds/thousands/millions to Jesus!”

Yes, but which “Jesus” have these teachers led people to? Jesus warned that many people will be misled because of false teachers who will come in His name and preach another “Jesus” (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24;2 Corinthians 11:4). These false teachers are in the church today, preaching their Jesus to their unsuspecting flocks.

Additionally, the Bible informs us that not everyone in church or fellowship is a born-again Christian, and that there are false converts who attend church services (Matthew 13:21; 1 John 2:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23).

5. Please Realize that Proclaiming “Do Not Judge!” is a Judgment

Not only is this crowd favourite a judgment, but if you take Matthew 7:1 out of context and apply it to everything, this then only displays a lack of biblical knowledge and application. There are many great teachings regarding the biblical use of judging, but for the sake of brevity, here is a short video that explains how we should judge:

 

 

6. Make Sure You Know What You’re Talking About

What you think is right, or what your “heart says” is right is not a substitute for the Word of God. Use Scripture in your arguments and interpret verses correctly.

A Berean examines what a teacher believes about important doctrines such as the Deity of Christ, the Gospel, the Trinity, and salvation. Do you know what the teachers you follow believe about these things? It may be difficult to know everything that a television preacher or Christian author believes, but the information is available. It’s also wise to educate yourself on the beliefs of movements that are within evangelical circles. Too many Christians are deceived by the belief systems of the Word of Faith Movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, the Emergent Church, and other unbiblical factions.

7. Converse with Etiquette

As with any conversation, make the effort to understand what is being communicated and read any information that is provided. It’s time-efficient and practical to link to information, especially on social media, so don’t ignore this information. Additionally, ask questions or ask for examples if you are unclear about anything, and remember that even if the conversation ends in disagreement, the goal of communication is understanding, not winning.

Remember Who You Are and to Whom You Belong

Christians belong to the royal priesthood and are joint-heirs with Christ. We have been saved out of the darkness by a merciful and loving God who does not want us to respond out of the flesh with tactics that are better left on the playground. We are a chosen race (1 Peter 2:9) and daughters of the King, who reigns in truth. Let’s make sure we act (and type!) like it.

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

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O foolish Christian, who hath bewitched you?

 

Can Christians Be Affected by Witchcraft?

It’s that time of year again – Halloween – when the forces of evil assault the children of God and destroy Christians’ peace and joy. It’s a time when Satan and his army are at full strength, a time when the Christian can do little but hope to win the battle against the mighty powers of the enemy.

Really?

According to many people in the modern church, the statements above are indeed the truth. In this article, author Jennifer LeClaire writes that witchcraft can affect Christians, and she lists the signs that reveal that there is a curse on a person’s life. I generally remain silent about the questionable content of Charisma News; however, I could not remain silent about this article because I was once deceived by the false teachings about the supposed power of Satan over Christians. This high view of man and low view of God notion is found in the Spiritual Warfare Movement (SWM), also known as Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare. Teachers and authors such as C. Peter Wagner, Neil Anderson, Frank Peretti (This Present Darkness), and Derek Prince promote spiritual warfare.

These teachers and authors claim that demons occupy specific, territorial ground and that Christians have the power and authority to bind Satan, pray for hedges of protection, and demolish strongholds. These teachers also explain the various ranks in Satan’s army and how one can identify which demons are causing one’s problems; yes, all of this according to the demon’s name and “assignment”. Not only are these teachings dangerous and false, but they also dishonor our sovereign God, who providentially rules (Isaiah 45:5). Remember, friends, that God commands us to test everything and to rebuke false teachers (1Thessalonians 5:21Titus 1:9). I will not respond to every claim of LeClaire’s  –  most of her claims are speculative at best and certainly not found in the Word of God. However, I will examine her exegesis of Scripture.

My Experience with the Spiritual Warfare Movement

I became involved with the SWM because I had been sensing a heavy oppression; I’d also felt blocked from God. Additionally, the victory and healing that many “Christian” teachers claim (back then and today) belong to the children of Christ were not present in my life. This absence led me to question my faith, and I concluded that I had not been fully delivered from my previous involvement with the occult (which had included witchcraft). I researched the topic of deliverance and spiritual warfare, and before long, I found myself in one of the largest Pentecostal churches in my city and sitting between two people who were fervently praying for me. The woman who prayed over me (I’ll call her June, only because that’s her name), had apparently spoken to the “main” demon who had been wreaking havoc in my life. According to June, this demon had told her that I had a line of demons attached to me due to my previous involvement in the occult; and according to this demon, these “attached” demons were never going to let me go or let me talk about Jesus Christ. That evening, after the deliverance session, I left with more confusion. My suspicions about the demonic activity in my life had been confirmed; however, how was I to rid myself of these demons? The deliverance didn’t work.

During the next few years, my spiritual struggle continued. I followed the instructions for deliverance as found in books such as Neil T. Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker, and I prayed the prayers from books such as Paul Eckhardt’s The Prayers that Rout Demons and Break Curses. Sadly, I still felt oppressed; there was nothing more that I could do. In fact, it seemed that the more I participated in this “warfare”, the stronger the enemy became. I started to physically sense demons – much like in my days in the occult.

Seven years after my first attempt at deliverance, I again met with a deliverance minister. Since he believed that demons were more active during specific hours at night, we arranged to conduct the ceremony in the company of two other deliverance “experts” at 11:00 pm, and at my home. Praise God, mere hours before the ceremony, confusion erupted about payment for the service and the deliverance was canceled. Today, thanks to God, His truth, and the granting of true repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), I am free in Christ. Freedom came once I understood who Christ is  – my Sovereign Master and Redeemer, and once I saw who Satan really is – a liar and deceiver. To think that anyone is held captive by the Spiritual Warfare movement’s deceptions pains me. Christ came to set the captives free.

You Foolish Galatians, Who Has Bewitched You?

In LeClaire’s article, she writes that the Webster’s Dictionary defines witchcraft as “An irresistible influence or fascination”; she then says, “The Bible warns us not to be bewitched: ‘O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified.'” However, the Bible passage she cites is not about witchcraft – the context of Galatians 3 is justification by faith. Here, Paul is warning the Galatians that they were being misled by the false promises and flattery of the false teachers. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes:

…a doctrine of salvation by works foolishly denies the necessity for grace and declares the death of the Lord Jesus Christ unnecessary. Yet this is what the Galatians were on the verge of embracing. They were being intellectually inconsistent, self-contradictory. How can such nonsense be explained? Paul suggests facetiously that perhaps they have been placed under a spell by some magician” (notes on Galatians 3:1).

In this light, it’s ironic that the book of Galatians is not warning about witchcraft but about false teachings and the abandonment of essential doctrine.

Next, LeClaire lists eight signs that are supposedly clear that a Christian is under the spell of witchcraft. The fourth point states:

“Forgetting who you really are: You are a child of the King. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). You are blessed coming in and blessed going out. Everything you put your hand to prospers. That’s your legal position. But when witchcraft attacks, you feel like a worthless worm. You forget who you are in Christ, have little to no interest in the Word, church, praise, worship or the like. You may feel guilt, condemnation or self-pity.”

Once again, her exegesis of Scripture is problematic – the context of 1 John 4:4 is the ability to discern between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error; this is obvious by reading the content before and after verse 4 – specifically verse 6, which states, “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Verse 4 has nothing to do with legal positions, prospering, or witchcraft; the message is that because God is in us, the Holy Spirit protects us from false teaching and that we have nothing to fear from the enemy who is in the world. In other words, Christians have overcome Satan and his false prophets because Christians have resisted their teachings through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my opinion that some Christians misread this verse as “Greater are you because He is in you….”

Who is Bewitching Whom?

LeClaire concludes with this warning: “We all need to be careful about tapping into spiritual witchcraft and releasing word curses against others and ourselves.” I’m not sure how a person can accidentally tap into witchcraft; however, the attempt to gain power through “word curses” (or using the “creative power of words”, “naming and claiming”, etc.) is witchcraft! Anything that attempts to manipulate or control events outside of God’s absolute rule can be viewed as this sin of rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23). What is the difference between reciting words from a Book of Shadows and repeating affirmations from a Joel Osteen book? In the latter, only lip service is paid to Jesus Christ – the faith of the outcome is in the so-called power of words. In my occult days, I experienced the fruition of certain spells I cast, so do not be fooled, albeit limited, Satan has power on this earth.

Please do not believe that any resulting manifestations (of our desires, mostly) stemming from reciting daily affirmations are a blessing from God – it might be a judgment (Romans 1:24). Friend, be careful to test everything, to discern, and to not go beyond the bounds of Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Concerning the earlier definition of witchcraft, it would appear that those in the SWM are “bewitched’ by witchcraft and Satan – there seems to be a fascination and obsession with demons and the things unseen to the point that Scripture is both added to and misinterpreted. Moreover, the power available to Christians, as taught wrongly in the SWM, can also be seductive and fascinating. Desiring secret wisdom and God-like status was the cause of both Satan’s fall from heaven and the fall of man. Pride is at the root of this SWM teaching – to think that man is able to rebuke Satan when not even the archangel Michael attempted to rebuke him is prideful (Jude 1:9). And to imagine that one can direct or force the hand of God through scripted speech is beyond words. The teachings of SWM remove the focus from Jesus and the Gospel; instead, it aids the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Not surprisingly, fear that should be reserved for God is now perverted and directed at Satan.

For those who are in Christ, there is no danger of being affected by witchcraft or curses (Proverbs 26:2). The real danger of the SWM lies in being led astray by false teachings and cleverly being drawn and tricked into pagan beliefs and practices. Surely, the SWM has more in common with witch doctors and shamans than it does with Christianity. To be aligned with this movement is to follow the teachings of men, not that of God; be aware of the doctrine of demons, for they have secretly crept into the church (1 Timothy 4:1Galatians 2:4Jude 4). The SWM causes confusion, which is of Satan, and its teachings toss Christians to and fro by human cunning and by craftiness in deceitful schemes (1 Corinthians 14:33Ephesians 4:14). With the widespread acceptance of these false teachings, I ask again: who is bewitching whom?

True Spiritual Warfare

Christians do not need to follow a bunch of legalistic rules to be free of Satan – the Gospel has set us free (John 8:32). True spiritual warfare is not about breaking curses, erecting hedges, or binding Satan and his demons. The passage in Ephesians 6:10-17 specifically addresses spiritual warfare; surprisingly, the teachings of the SWM are not found there. The Christian armor consists of truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. In Scripture, these pieces of armor are repeatedly mentioned in connection with God’s protection. Here are just a few of the verses that reflect this:

  • In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:6)
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you (Isaiah 41:10)
  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)
  • But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18).
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

The wondrous sacrifice of Jesus Christ frees Christians not only from eternal hell and from separation, but also from worry and anxiety. How can people experience peace if they believe they are under the power of witchcraft? Or if they believe they have a line of demons “attached” to them?

Friends, have nothing to do with the deeds of evil (Ephesians 5:11); we are to think of things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and anything worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). What a blessing that is! We are free to focus on these things because God is in control and because Christians belong to Christ Jesus. Someone advised that Christians should preach the Gospel to themselves every day. I think that is a great idea – let’s keep our eyes on the Savior. As the psalmist wrote, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation” (Psalm 42:5).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Resources for further study:

I highly recommend this series: Justin Peters’ interview with Jim Osman, author of Truth or Territory? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – Demolishing Strongholds, Part 4 – Hedges of Protection, Part 5 – Hexes and Generational Curses, Part 6 – Binding Satan, Part 7 – Rebuking Satan, Part 8 – Spiritual Mapping

How Deliverance Ministries Lead People Into Bondage

The Strategy of Satan – How to Detect and Defeat Him

Southern View Chapel: Spiritual Warfare Part 1, Part 2

Recommended Books (courtesy of Glenn E. Chatfield of The Watchman’s Bagpipes)

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelisation? by Chuck Lowe

Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare: An Urgent Call for Discernment by Edward N. Gross

Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare by David Kirkwood

Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare by David Powlison

The Bondage Breakers by Ignacio Rovirosa

Psalm 91:1-4

 

 

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Cult of Personality: The darkness under the evangelical limelight

The Cult of Personality – The darkness under the evangelical spotlight

I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your TV
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me
I tell you one and one makes three

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You gave me power in your God’s name
I’m every person you need to be
I’m the cult of personality

These lyrics from the 1988 song “Cult of Personality” (by the band Living Color) aptly describe the many preachers and teachers found in Christian media, megachurches, bookstores, and at conferences. Wikipedia states: “A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times, worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.” These prominent ‘Christian’ leaders deliver these false gospels and teachings, which flatter the ego and praise the flesh. They exploit the sheep, lie, (2 Peter 2:1-3) and tickle the carnal Christian’s ears with what the Christian desires to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), while they themselves are revered and put up with easily enough (2 Corinthians 11:4).

When we think of a cult, usually Jehovah’s Witnesses, the religion of Scientology, or someone like David Koresh comes to mind, as we’ve become accustomed to determining which group is a cult, based on society’s definition. However, cults and their leaders can be determined from a theological basis as well. While we can examine prominent leaders in the visible church from the societal viewpoint (which include devotion toward a particular figure, having beliefs regarded by others as strange or sinister or having a misplaced admiration for a particular person), I’ll use a theological viewpoint to show how some evangelicals in the limelight exhibit the traits of cult leaders. I’ll show how they teach so-called truths that deviate from the Christian faith.

Marks of a Cult–From a Theological Viewpoint

While society is concerned with whether a cult is physically dangerous, the theological viewpoint determines if a cult is spiritually dangerous, based on whether the original doctrines of biblical truth have been distorted. This is important because spiritual deception and heresies may have devastating eternal consequences.

The following points demonstrate how some evangelicals (personalities) in the limelight distort the original doctrines of biblical truth.

1. These Personalities Introduce Extra-Biblical Revelations or Teachings 

Teachings and practices not found in Scripture flourish due to some popular Christian leaders. These practices include: contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, lectio divina, prayer circles, deliverance ministries and false spiritual warfare teachings; mysticism, psychology,  positive thinking and humanism, word of faith teachings, modern-day prophecies, heaven and hell ‘tourism‘, the slain in the spirit phenomenon, to name but a few. Additionally, there are many women pastors who disobey God’s command that women should not teach men; sadly, many popular leaders support these women. Many high-profile teachers also support gay marriage through the lens of distorted scripture. Rachel Held Evans is an example of one who teaches men and who supports gay marriage:

Rachel Held Evans support of gay marriage

 

2. These Personalities Promote a Wrong View of God and/or Man

Many popular leaders have a wrong view of the members of the Trinity: T.D. Jakes is a Modalist, John Hagee denies Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, Brian Houston of Hillsong claims Muslims and Christians serve the same god (1:30 minute mark), while Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch and Kenneth Copeland proclaim we are gods.

The Word of Faith Movement is notorious for elevating man while mocking God’s sovereignty and providence, as recorded here:

 

3. These Personalities Minimize or Eliminate Sin

Absent from the limelight is the need for repentance and the wretchedness of sin. Joyce Meyer eliminates her sin altogether and says she is not a sinner.

Joel Osteen talks about his decision to not teach about sin.

4. These Personalities Teach a Different Gospel

Found amongst the teachings of these leaders are the false man-made gospels of Ecumenism, the Prosperity Gospel,  NAR/Dominionism, Chrislam, and the Social Gospel. New Age and Eastern Mysticism are present in most of these false gospels.

Yet another lie promoted by Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick K. Price, Kenneth Hagin, Charles Capps, and other Word of Faithers is that Jesus paid for our sins in hell.

Also tragic are the many teachers who wrongly state that speaking in tongues, healing, and/or sinless perfection are proof of salvation.

5. These Personalities Are ‘Guru Type’ Leaders 

These prominent Christians promise what the Bible does not promise–the seeking and fulfillment of carnal desires such as wealth, health, prosperity, and a comfortable life. Since Jesus did not teach that we are promised these things this side of heaven, it is clear that followers of these teachers are following the teachings of men and not those of God: ‘For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive’ (Romans 16:18).

These teachers toss the name of Jesus around as lip service in order to deceive the sheep and often blaspheme His precious name with heresies, so that these stars and starlets can be catapulted into fame and wealth. These prominent leaders have managed to acquire a large following rather successfully. Unfortunately, many in the church are blind as to how captive they are.

Biblically ignorant Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, perfectly demonstrates the strong hold over his followers:

 

Steven Furtick

Used with permission from Mary, who faithfully contends for the faith at Living4HisGlory

 

Steven Furtick is a visionary that his followers must unite under? Shockingly unbiblical.

Just as with traditional cults, followers of false teachers often passionately defend their leaders when these teachers are exposed as false teachers. Regrettably, the followers do not compare that what is being taught by their idols to Scripture, and they defend the teachings of these men and women, and not the Word of God. They demonstrate a willful ignorance and submission to these leaders.

Not surprisingly, most of these leaders are no better at receiving rebuke, and instead of prayerfully submitting to God’s wisdom and studiously studying God’s Word, they get angry and defensive. Again, Steven Furtick perfectly demonstrates this:

 

 

Furtick egotistically disagrees with God’s command to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), to expose false teaching (Ephesians 5:11), and to show ourselves approved in rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This video surely demonstrates many of the personality traits of a typical cult leader. A typical cult leader:

  • has a grandiose idea of who he is
  • requires excessive admiration
  • is arrogant and haughty
  • is hypersensitive to how he is perceived by others
  • publicly devalues others as being incapable, inferior or unworthy
  • calls those who question him the  ‘enemy’
  • refers to non-members or non-followers of him as ‘the enemy’
  • treats others with contempt and arrogance

Warnings and Judgements

As shown, the teachers mentioned above are teaching heresies; they are surely not part of the faith that was once delivered–they are teaching different doctrines and are therefore cults.

Scripture is clear regarding the seriousness of false teachings and the judgement that will follow. If you think there is nothing wrong with these teachers because they teach some ‘good stuff’ or their teachings have ‘blessed you’, please take your eyes off them and read these warnings from God:

  • And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed (2 Peter 2.2).
  • But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8).
  • As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3:11).
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).
  • Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).
  • Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2:1-3).

The warnings are clear, and yet many are ignoring them just as in Jeremiah’s day.

Don’t Believe the Lies!

If you are of the opinion that these teachers are Godly because they are successful, that is a lie. God’s definition of success is not popularity–think of the apostles and of others martyred for their faith, even to this day.

If you think examining doctrine is being divisive, that is a lie. Romans 16:17-18 is clear that it is those who teach unbiblical doctrines that are causing division.

If you think we are not supposed to judge, that is a misconception and lie. We are to judge righteously (John 7:24).

If you think questioning these people is unloving, that is a lie. Love is sharing the truth–the truth of the Gospel in the hope for God’s mercy and His granting of repentance.

If you think being doctrinally accurate is ‘stifling’ the Holy Spirit, that is a lie. The Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us through the Word of God. If we are ignorant to what Scripture says, that is ‘stifling’ the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, it is a lie and a deception to think that just because you love Jesus that you cannot be deceived. Matthew 24:24 teaches that false teachers will perform such signs and wonders that if possible they would deceive the elect. Therefore, these teachers are deceiving some in the visible church. If you think you might possibly be deceived by these teachers, you should examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith and if you’re truly saved (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Beloved, take nothing for granted. The time we have left is short; pray for wisdom and discernment and examine whom and what you believe. Stop following this cult of personalities and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, our rock and redeemer who deserves all the glory.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

ANNOUNCEMENT: CONGRATULATIONS Susie Glennan! YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THE JESUS UNMASKED GIVEAWAY! Please check your email inbox or spam folder 🙂

 

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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!

 

2 Comments

He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not: When bad teaching causes us to doubt our salvation

 

 

When bad teaching causes us to doubt our salvation

 

Since we are creatures who work to produce results, we find it difficult at times to completely rest in faith that God loves us and that our salvation is secure. We know we’ve done nothing to earn His love or the gift of redemption, and yet the thought that if we could just reach more people for the kingdom or tame our tongue more often would give God a reason to love us more. It’s tempting to take our eyes off Jesus and to rather begin focusing on ourselves and our works – or lack of them. It’s easy to bounce back and forth between “he loves me; he loves me not”, and before long, we’re questioning whether our salvation is secure.

Reading God’s Word daily strengthens our faith and keeps our focus on where it ought to be – Jesus Christ. When we seek extra-biblical teachings and follow the teachings of men, we may quickly become confused and be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, and by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). I see this confusion in two particular areas: sinning and suffering.

He Loves Me Not When I Sin

Contrary to Scripture that says we are born sinners (Psalm 51:5), and that we are slaves to sin (Romans 7:14), there exists the deception of sinless perfection. This lie – promoted by Pentecostals and many Assemblies of God churches – suggests that some Christians are able to achieve moral perfection in this life. Additionally, Word of Faith teachers like Joyce Meyer teach that Christians are not sinners (as heard in this recording). This is very troubling, since Scripture says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). These teachings exalt man and blind us to our true wretchedness. It is self-righteousness and leads us away from what God commands us to do such as confess our sins daily.

By denying we are sinners, we rob God of His glory. By buying into sinless perfection, we also neglect to mortify our sins. Puritan John Owen says, “Not to be daily mortifying sin, is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who hath furnished us with a principle of doing it.”

Paul calls himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and Peter, James, John, and Paul all admitted that they were imperfect. We can identify with Paul’s words when he says, “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). This is the battle we fight – not the battle for moral perfection. Oh, the anguish and confusion this lie from hell must lead to – we fail every day, and if we cannot control our sin, then we think, “Surely, He loves me not, and oh, I wonder if I’m saved at all?”

He Loves Me Despite My Sin

Thankfully, being morally perfect is not a requisite for eternal life. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit and God, who began a good work in us, and who will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Yes, we are to not to give in to temptation, and our battle is a spiritual one, but it is God who produces the good works and spiritual fruit in our lives.

We look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and we have reconciliatory peace with God through the blood of the cross (Colossians 1:19-20). We can be sure of our salvation because nothing can or will separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), being sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).

He Loves Me Not When I Am Suffering

Widespread is the lie that if you are a Christian you will produce miracles, perform signs and wonders, speak in tongues, perform healings, and receive direct revelations from God. Furthermore, you will have the authority to cast out Satan (and demons), seek a second blessing, and expect (or demand!) that God supply you with financial prosperity. The Word of Faith movement deceitfully uses the word “faith” to mean the “force of faith”, meaning that we, as “little gods” can manipulate God to manifest our desires.

Of course, we are not “little gods”, and we cannot manifest our destiny. God loves me not appears when we’ve sown our financial seed, and there’s nothing left for the mortgage or when our suffering subsequently increases. These teachings are heresies and very dangerous and teach a different gospel and another Christ (2 Corinthians 11:4). First, we must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), and then we should not allow our temporal circumstances to dictate our belief in what God says about His love and our eternal security.

He Loves Me In My Suffering

Being a Christian is synonymous with some kind of suffering. Paul suffered more than most and yet he said, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:2). As I previously mentioned, there are many benefits to suffering:

Surely, these benefits reveal a loving God who has our heavenly home in mind. We may not know the reasons for our sufferings, but we can rest, knowing that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

We Love Because He First Loved Us

We can rest in God’s love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19), and He drew us to Him (John 6:44). Even our love for God did not occur from our own effort because He first loved us! And how do we love Him? By obeying Him (John 14:15). We persevere to run the race God has set before us – we do not chase after a sinless perfection that we can never achieve, or seek to alleviate our suffering through false doctrine. Our faith is not in ourselves, but in Christ crucified (Galatians 2:20). We will always struggle with sin; however, we will be regenerated (Ephesians 2:5), presented complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28), and will dwell with the Lord for all eternity.

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

 

We love because He first loved us.

 

3 Comments

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Narcigesiest of Them All?”

Why we should not interpret the bible by asking, "What does that verse mean to you?"

 

First off, I’ll concede that “narcigesiest” isn’t actually a word, but since this post is about the subjective interpretation of Scripture, I chose to subjectively interpret the dictionary.

According to the Greek myth of Narcissus, a young man fell in love with his own reflection in a pond, and his desire for himself consumed him. Since eisegesis is a mishandling of Scripture, narcigesis is a brilliant term for those who take Scripture and personalize it. In an article from Apprising.org, narcigesis is defined as

  1. The reading of one’s own life experiences and/or that of another’s life experience into the text of Scripture and the need to make the Bible all about oneself.
  2. An interpretation of Scripture based on the interpreter’s self-authority, particularly driven by self-esteem, self-actualization, mystical experiences and/or the interpreter’s “felt needs.” (See Sola Experientia.)
  3. A personal and/or mystical interpretation of Scripture based on the interpreter’s own ideas, biases, opinions, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, experiences, impressions, dreams, revelations, or the like, rather than based upon the plain meaning of the text.
  4. The reading of one’s own doctrinal theories into Scripture (as opposed to exegesis, which is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of biblical text), particularly as a result of personal experience. (See Sola Experientia.)
  5. Self-centered, self-defined and self-authenticating biblical interpretation, application and counsel.
  6. The reading of one’s own interpretation into Scripture, based upon the egotistical belief that all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; and that only the learned, the elect, or the leadership elite (of which the interpreter considers himself to be one), may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (See Plura Scriptura.)
  7. The egotistical drive to invent new theologies, doctrines, revelations, applications and philosophies about Scripture that often manifest in self-aggrandizing activities, such as book publishing, conferences, setting up organizations and websites, moneymaking schemes and publicity drives.

A narcigetic reading of Scripture can be found wherever you hear, “What does that verse mean to you?” Usually, this happens when women gather around the Bible to choose ‘life verses’ that ‘speak to their hearts’, or when they want to ‘claim life verses’ for certain areas of their lives. Typically, these women then add these verses to their vision boards (and idea gleaned from a misinterpretation of Proverbs 29:18). This assortment of verses – taken out of context and personalized – results in an idolatrous smash book of Scripture ‘selfies’. The idol? The self, of course. Just as Narcissus failed to realize that he was being entranced by a mere image, many Christian women are similarly held captive by the reflections their false projections create onto the Word of God. Our rebellious nature tempts us to be like God; it makes our desires a priority. The following narcigetic reflections of Scripture clearly underlines my point:

1. Reflections of Carnal Desires

If the world were given an invitation to choose from a host of items to enrich lives, its first instinct would be to choose those things that increase health, wealth, and success. Since we are fallen creatures who are at war with our flesh (Galatians 5:17), it’s not surprising that verses are misapplied in hopes of acquiring worldly comfort. Consequently, when women are taught to ‘claim promises’ from over 31,000 verses, based on what these verses mean to them individually, they have more than 31,000 opportunities to wrench verses out of context. Whether it is the popular Isaiah 53:5 for physical healing, Malachi 3:10 for prosperity, or Philippians 4:13 for job promotion, the rate of mangled verses is high. Scripture is perfect (Psalm 19:7); it is our carnal hearts that see what is not written. Our hearts claim we can have whatever we want because our hearts misinterpret James 4:2 that reads, “You do not have because you do not ask God”, and we ignore the preceding verse that states we do not receive because we may spend it on our pleasures. We must stop following our fleshly hearts; they deceive us. We should submit, instead, to the Word of God – in context.

2. Reflections of Secret Knowledge

The Word of God is truth (John 17:17); however, when we interpret the Bible subjectively, truth shifts to relativism. From there, anything goes and before long, relativism mutates into mysticism, and soon we’ll be chanting the prayer of Jabez while walking in prayer circles. We listen to every televangelist who claims to have a prophetic dream or vision from God because Joel 2:28* apparently applies to anyone who mutters the name of Jesus. False teachings abound with formulas and affirmations that claim to be the keys to unlocking God’s blessings. However, the Bible is not a Book of Shadows to be gorged for hidden knowledge or to be perverted for mystical practices. Everything has already been revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29)**. We must stop looking for signs and mysteries, and rather correctly handle the Word of God to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15).

3. Reflections of Self-Glory

We are fallen and created beings under the sovereignty of God, and as Christians, we need to submit to our Lord and serve Him. Narcigesis appears when we identify ourselves in Scripture as co-creators with God. When we claim we can create our own realities because we misinterpret Proverbs 18:21, (the tongue has the power of life and death), who are we implying is really the Creator and bestower of blessings? When we become the directors of our lives because we misinterpret Proverbs 23:7 (as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; KJV), who is then really Lord of our lives?

Narcissism ignores the fact that Israel is being addressed in Jeremiah 29:11; no, we rather claim that verse as a life verse (and fridge magnets!). Pride reinterprets Acts 16:31 to mean that since I believe in Jesus Christ, God is obligated to deliver salvation to my house; furthermore, love of self implies God loves me as I am, but we forget that we are free of His wrath only because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Narcigesis elevates us as the authors and stars of God’s Word.

Who is the Fairest of Them All?

All Scripture is useful for Godly living (2 Peter 1:3), but should we want to choose verses to reflect upon, may I suggest those that point to our sin and wretchedness (Romans 7:24), so that we may be reminded and be thankful of God’s undeserved mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice for us? Or a verse like Ephesians 4:30, so we can remember not to grieve God with our lifestyles but to rather follow Jesus daily. Are we able to see ourselves as God truly sees us? Forgiven, and loved; yes, but also in need of confession, sanctification, and holiness (James 5:161 Thessalonians 5:231 Peter 1:16).

Friends, the Bible is not about us – it is about Jesus Christ … the fairest of them all.

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

* verse should link Joel 2:28: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

** verse should link to Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Further Reading:

Fighting for the Faith

The End Time

 

 

4 Comments

“Psst … Lectio Divina … your mysticism is showing.”

Beware! Lectio Divina is a mystical practice

 

One thing I appreciate about the clothing of Jesus’ day is that there were no zippers or grommets to contribute to a possible wardrobe malfunction. People from that time also didn’t have to worry about removing of an overkill of stickers and price tags from clothing. And who is not grateful when told a dryer sheet is stuck to a sweater? Oh, but are we grateful when someone points out our theological loose threads? Just as we would inspect and remove an offending item from clothing, are we just as quick to inspect and remove faulty doctrine from our lives? Are we as teachable with our theology as we are with our outward appearances?

Recently, I was privy to a conversation regarding the promotion of the mystical practice of lectio divina. Thankfully, there were many discerning women warning of it; however, there were many who could not see the error of this practice. Lectio divina has gathered momentum in evangelical circles and, like most deceptive practices, there is much ignorance regarding its origin and intent. I do appreciate the desire to be closer to God; however, we walk by faith, not by experience and feelings.

 

Beware of Lectio Divinia

 

What Is Lectio Divina?

Pronounced “lex-ee-o di-veen-a”, it is Latin for “divine reading” and “is undertaken not with the intention of gaining information but of using the texts as an aid to contact the living God.”* It is popular among Catholics and Gnostics and has gained wide acceptance within the emerging church. In general, lectio divina is being promoted as a form of Bible study and is found within the unbiblical practice of spiritual formation. Sadly, this practice has found its way into the evangelical/protestant church too, and many teachers and preachers are openly promoting and endorsing this unbiblical practice. Note that other faiths practice lectio divina too; so it does not matter whether one is reading from the Koran or the Bible, all one has to do is ‘adopt’ this practice for Christianity – you know, as the visible church has done with yoga.

The practice is described as follows, courtesy of Lighthouse Trails Research:

Reading (lectio)—Slowly begin reading a biblical passage as if it were a long-awaited love letter addressed to you. Approach it reverentially and expectantly, in a way that savors each word and phrase. Read the passage until you hear a word or phrase that touches you, resonates, attracts, or even disturbs you.

Reflecting (meditatio)—Ponder this word or phrase for a few minutes. Let it sink in slowly and deeply until you are resting in it. Listen for what the word or phrase is saying to you at this moment in your life, what it may be offering to you, what it may be demanding of you.

Expressing (oratio)—If you are a praying person, when you are ready, openly and honestly express to God the prayers that arise spontaneously within you from your experience of this word or phrase. These may be prayers of thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lament, or praise. If prayer is not part of your journey, you could write down the thoughts that have come your way.

Resting (contemplatio)—Allow yourself to simply rest silently for a time in the stillness of your heart, remaining open to the quiet fullness of God’s love and peace. This is like the silence of communion between the mother holding her sleeping infant child, or between lovers whose communication with each other passes beyond words.”

Where are these steps in Scripture? Surely, if we needed to repeat words many times over, it would be in the Bible. In fact, in Matthew 6:7 Jesus instructs us to do the opposite: “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again (NLT).”

Common Misperceptions about Lectio Divina

1. “It’s been practiced throughout the history of the Church”

First, lectio divina was started around the year 220 by contemplative monks, but the four steps date back only to the 12th century**. Second, which “church” are we talking about? The roots of this practice lie in Catholicism and has no ties to the true church of which Jesus Christ is the only cornerstone and head (Colossians 1:18). Catholics who are knowledgeable of and practice lectio divina, boldly declare it as mysticism, and they do not claim that it is found in Scripture. Additionally, as many have pointed out, if this practice is vital to ‘experiencing God’, then what did the church do before the year 220? Truly, the Body of Christ – the true Church – has nothing to do with this heretical and unbiblical practice.

2. “The Bible says we are to meditate and pray”

Yes, we should; however, the proponents of lectio divina have redefined meditation and prayer. These people do not mean biblical prayer – they mean contemplative prayer, which seeks to empty one’s mind to hear the ‘still small voice’ of God. Consider this description of meditation (courtesy of Southern View Chapel):

Meditatio: the next step is meditation but not meditation as we normally would understand it. Boa describes meditation as “a spiritual work of holy desire and an interior invitation for the Spirit to pray and speak within us (Romans 8:26-27).” [28]  Two brief thoughts before we move on.  First, note the misinterpretation of Romans 8:26-27, which is virtually universal in mystical literature.  The text does not promise that the Holy Spirit will speak to us in prayer but that He will intercede with the Father for us as we pray. This is an important and often overlooked point.”

and

‘Christian’ mystic Madame Guyon writes, “[In lectio you are not reading the Scriptures to gain some understanding but to] turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn to read, but…to experience the presence of your Lord!”

Since our Lord is the Word (John 1:1), to what ‘lord’ is Madame Guyon referring (2 Corinthians 11:4)?

Part of the misunderstanding is the belief that lectio divina is merely prayerful reading. However, according to mystics, “it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the ‘silence'”. Indeed, and that is the real danger. As this article in Lighthouse Trails Research points out, “There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy.”

In lectio divina, Scripture is merely a tool to bring about a mystical experience. A word or phrase becomes a mantra where it is repeated over and over, and the words become what the practitioner’s imagination or other influences – be they internal or external – come up with. The words do not hold the meaning that the original authors intended. In effect, what the adherents of this practice are saying is that Scripture isn’t sufficient and that extra-biblical revelation is needed – additional, personal revelation gleaned through man-made works. We are warned about being taken captive by human tradition (Colossians 2:8).

3. “It has affected me for good”

Why hasn’t Scripture done this? The Word of God thoroughly equips us (2 Timothy 3:15-17) and is perfect (Psalm 19:7). What is being gained through a mystical experience that trumps the Word of God? Nowhere in Scripture are experiences heralded; in fact, we have the more sure Word (2 Peter 1:19), which outranks experiences. Additionally, the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, convicts us of sin (Hebrews 4:12). It is good to be convicted and led to repentance, so we can become holy (1 Peter 1:16), as God expects us to be.

The different forms of contemplative prayer that I used to practice soothed and pacified me; I was courted for pride and destruction. My sin and wretchedness never came to mind during my devotional time because my wicked and deceitful heart always deceived me (Jeremiah 17:9). During this contemplative period, I was never affected for good because I needed a truth that was outside of me – the objective and authoritative Word of God.

4. “I belong to Christ; this has nothing to do with Satan”

Practicing man-made techniques and basing our approval on them through subjective evaluation and misinterpreted Scripture are dangerous. We are to renew our minds through the Word of God (Romans 12:2), not empty them; and we are commanded to guard our wicked hearts, not open them (Proverbs 4:23).

It’s erroneous to think one can be a Christian and practice whatever ‘spiritual’ ritual or fad one wants. Whenever the Israelites were about to enter a foreign land, God would warn them to stay clear of the pagans’ “abominable practices” (Deuteronomy 18:9-11). In our age of global travel and global communication, these pagan practices have come to us; and so we need to be on full alert (1 Peter 5:8). Additionally, the entire Bible is packed with warnings to the church about false teachings – simply because something is taught within the walls of a church does not necessarily make it biblical.

Unfortunately, many Christians believe Satan and his minions are only involved with Ouija Boards and spirit mediums; unfortunately, this misunderstanding is further complicated by deceptive TV shows and movies (Long Island Medium, Ouija, etc.) that glorify and glamorize these occult activities and that basically applaud Satan’s evil craftiness. Yes, of course Satan and his demons have a hand in these things. However, using his subtle deception, it’s inside the church where he does his best work. It’s within the ‘safe’ confines of a church that he deceives through false doctrine and tempts with experiences, personal revelations, and secret knowledge. He doesn’t show up as the visible boogeyman in pew number nine; he shows up as falsehood. Certainly, if he did show up in person, he would sit in the center of the front row, smiling, and clutching a well-worn Bible.

R.C. Ryle quote

 

The claim of this quote is supported by this Southern View Chapel excerpt about lectio divina. As we’ll see, an expository understanding of Scripture is frowned upon:

How the believer mines the treasures of Scripture is through the normal, literal (often called grammatical/historical) approach to its reading and study.  As God’s truth is understood through this process, it is then to be applied to our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not the approach to Scripture recommended and promoted within spiritual formation.  As a matter of fact, this approach is often ridiculed as merely an intellectual process that does not reach the inner person and does not lead to transformation.  Instead, we are told that if our lives are to be truly reformed by the Bible we must turn to an ancient technique, never actually taught in the Word itself, known as lectio divina.

Ruth Haley Barton adds that while reading we are to listen “for the word or the phrase that strikes us…we have a sense of expectancy that God will speak to us.  After reading there is a brief period of silence in which we remain with the word, savoring it and repeating it without trying to figure out what it means or why it was given.”

Rather than turning us to the Word of God to hear the Lord’s voice, lectio turns us inward to attempt to listen to a subjective thought that is being interpreted as coming from the Lord.  In addition, Barton cautions her readers not to think too much about the passage at this stage, rather “keep coming back to the word that we have been given.” [30] The word “given” to one of the students of Yaconelli, while reading about Jesus sitting in a boat, was “cushion.” After repeating the word “cushion” over and over “for the longest time” until he started to remember his grandmother lying on a pillow just before she died, the youth felt so peaceful he nearly went to sleep. [31]. This was supposedly the message that God was speaking to this young man from Mark 4:35-41.”

How tragic that Scripture is utilized for this! Since the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and seeing that the above eisegesis is unbiblical, exactly what spirit was guiding Yaconelli’s student?

Conclusion

I long to see my sisters and brothers free in Jesus; I long to see them consciously deciding not to chase after Satan and fall for his age-old lies. There is a growing appetite for experiencing God, and the enemy is more than happy to see us gorge on his deceit. Pagan religions seek to ‘experience’ God, whereas Christians live by faith. As true believers, we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) – how much closer to God can we be?

Therefore, if someone says to you, “Psst, you need a theological alteration”, please pray for discernment and knowledge (Psalm 119:66). Test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

Recommended resources:

Moody’s Pastors’ conference and lectio divina

Got Questions

http://www.lectio-divina.org/

** http://www.neomysticism.com/lectio-divina.html

 

15 Comments

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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