What is the “Gospel”?

Sunrise-Nov-2012

   The short answer is that the word “Gospel” means GOOD NEWS. But good news about what, exactly?  Glad you asked!

   To appreciate, and to even understand the good news of the Gospel, one much first understand the bad news.  I’m going to explain the bad news of the human condition, but the following good news is mind-blowing. Stick around for that part.

   Here is the problem we all face. Everyone who is born, is born into sin. We all have a sin nature. Humans are inclined toward sin.  They love the sin which offends a holy, righteous, just, and loving God. Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).  You sin, I sin, we all sin. Surely you have heard of the Ten Commandments in the Bible?  You and I have broken them….all of them, most likely. Here they are, in case you were wondering:

  1.  “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

    -Exodus 20:3

  2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…”

    -Exodus 20:4

  3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…”

    -Exodus 20:7

  4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

    -Exodus 20:8

  5. “Honor your father and your mother…”

    -Exodus 20:12

  6. “You shall not murder.”

    -Exodus 20:13

  7. “You shall not commit adultery.”

    -Exodus 20:14

  8. “You shall not steal.”
    -Exodus 20:15

  9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

    -Exodus 20:16

  10. “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    -Exodus 20:17

   You may say, “wait a minute, I certainly haven’t committed adultery!”   Jesus Himeself said “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).   So you see, you can commit adultery in your heart without ever touching a woman (or man).

   God demands perfection of anyone who will be with Him for eternity. But WE CANNOT REACH PERFECTION. People are lost in their sin!  They will all be all hopeless and helpless when they stand before God, the righteous judge on judgement day. But there is a way given to man, where we can be seen as righteous and sinless in the eyes of God. The way is through Jesus Christ. You can have access to that way!  I’m going to get to that soon. But first I have to explain the bad news a bit more, so that you truly see how good the good news is. If Jesus doesn’t mean much to you right now, that’s because you don’t understand the position you are in, without him, destined to eternal damnation in hell.  The bible says “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).  So it is written, that the wrath of God abides on everyone who does not have forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

To further explain the situation we all find ourselves in, before Christ, I will use an analogy I have heard from my own pastor.

During WWII, on July 27th, 1945, the Navy battleship USS Indianapolis was traveling at sea, near the Philippines.  It carried, among other things, 1,196 men aboard.  A Japanese submarine spotted them, and the captain wanted to sink the battleship, as he had never before actually accomplished the sinking of a ship. After firing several very powerful torpedoes at the American battleship, two of them hit! The ship was shaken in a big way, and many died instantly. Many were burned, but were running for safety.  There was no safety, because the ship would soon be going down. And down it went, with about 880 men going into the water, still alive. This was shark infested water, to be certain. Many men were able to join with others and form groups. Some had a raft, most did not. Most men did have life jackets on.

Due to a breakdown in communication prior to the sinking of the ship, the US Navy did not even know exactly where the ship was, or when it was supposed to be arriving at its destination. These men were about to live out four days of “hell on earth”, afloat in the Pacific ocean. Four days!  No food, no water to drink, and the sun beating down on them. Many began to die off. Some were killed by sharks, some killed by the elements, dehydration,  or exhaustion. It was a dark, dark time for them. They did not even know why the Navy  had not come to rescue them, as they assumed would happen the very first day.

Floating on the water, some of them still IN the water, they were in despair. They realized  their plight. They understood their situation was grim and hopeless at this point. They had now spent four long days in the water. Friends were dying in each other’s arms, sharks swimming all around them. But then…..some of them saw the most beautiful thing they had ever seen on earth. It was stunningly beautiful to their eyes! What was it?  A normally boring old sea plane. Oh, but it was not boring to them on that day! These men recognized their dire situation, being lost at sea, and clinging to life. So this plain old sea plane was to them at that time, the most beautiful sight they could imagine. They were soon to be rescued!  Only 316 men lived to see the sea plane. The rest perished horribly. But to the ones who lived, to this day, they will tell the story with tears in their eyes that nothing has ever been so beautiful as that sea plane.

So this story synonymous of the spiritual plight of mankind. All of mankind is spiritually hopeless, sinking, and dying. All are doomed to eternal damnation, no matter how “good” we think we have been. In the Bible, it says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. That means all of us.  Romans 3:10 says “There is none righteous, not even one.   

We are all on track to be punished eternally in hell. Yes, these are hard words, but Jesus spoke of hell not just a little bit. But what can we do so that we can be saved from the penalty of our sins against God? How can we be reconciled to God, and live with Him forever, if we are full of sin and iniquity, and He is holy and righteous? Remember the sea plane? Jesus is your rescuer, and your redeemer!  HE should be the most beautiful person you can imagine, at this point. He is the most amazing, perfect redeemer and rescuer.  Let me explain how Jesus paid the price for the sins of ALL who will call out to Him to be saved. 

The bible says “…without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22)  Jesus, the perfect and righteous one,  shed his blood on the cross for the sins of all who will put their faith in Him.  We call it “substitutionary atonement.”  Jesus, the son of God, took on human flesh and became sin for us, so that we can become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21)   He lived perfectly sinless, but He took on OUR sins on the cross. Those who would trust in Him, would receive Jesus’ perfect righteousness in return.

God hates sin, and must punish sin, since He is a just and righteous judge.  But if we repent, and put our faith in Jesus as our savior and redeemer, we will be saved from God’s impending wrath. We cannot add anything to what Jesus did on the cross. At this point, this should be the most beautiful offer you have ever heard of. Jesus offers you His perfect righteousness for your sin!  Just as the sea plane was beautiful to those hopeless men at sea, so is Jesus beautiful to those who understand the desperate state of their souls.

What greater love can God demonstrate to us, than to send His Son from Heaven’s glory, down to this earth in human flesh, to be mocked, beaten, crucified, and to die a death WE deserve?  Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.   Jesus takes our punishment, and we receive His righteousness in return. Oh what love!  Oh what grace He gives to us!  

Do you believe God has shown you the truth of this Gospel, and you now feel a sorrow and brokenness for your sins? Do you have faith that Jesus is the only savior?  Then call out to God now. You can pray quietly or loudly. Repent and believe!  It’s the best thing you can ever do in this life.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using Facebook….to reconnect and ask forgiveness.

Flying-Bird

(I shot this photo about 2 years ago)

No really, I did just that. I used Facebook this week to seek forgiveness of someone I would never have a way of finding, short of hiring a private investigator.  Facebook can be a good thing.

First, here is the story. In much of my childhood, I grew up in a very small town in southern California. The town is called New Cuyama, and it is in the hills and plains, about 30 minutes from Santa Maria, which is more toward the coast. Just to clarify how small the town is, it is currently just over 500.  Back in the 70’s when I was growing up there, it was certainly smaller. It was a great place to grow up, and I have fond memories of it.  To get to the point, while I was in grades K-2 in New Cuyama, there was a boy who was a bit different. Honestly, I don’t even recall what was so different about him. But he was not “like us” other kids. For the sake of his privacy, I will call him Robert.

Robert attracted a lot of teasing and belittling. I recall being on the school bus one day, and several of us boys really razzing him badly. I don’t recall details, but I recall us being very mean to him. This was unlike me, because I was a pretty nice kid usually. I seemed to have fallen into the trap of following others, no matter what they do. I was raised Christian, but I had my bad moments for sure. You don’t have to teach a child to misbehave. The child will do it naturally. No lessons needed in sin. Some try to say we are born “basically good”. The Bible tells us otherwise. But I digress.

I have always remembered teasing Robert, especially on the school bus that day. I have always felt bad about it, and regretted it. This week, I decided to look him up on Facebook. I found him right away, still living in New Cuyama too. I was thrilled to find him, but even more thrilled to see that he follows the Lord. I immediately felt a need to write to him and ask forgiveness. He may not even remember me, but I promise he remembers all the teasing he got while growing up. It was dreadful. I am remorseful that I ever took part in that. I myself was the victim of a lot of teasing while in school. I can relate to being on the receiving end of insults and teasing.

So, I wrote Robert a kind Facebook private message, asking forgiveness, and also encouraging him in the Lord. I can see that he is not on FB that often, so I may never know if he gets the message or not. I truly do hope he gets it. I am not satisfied that I “did my deed” in apologizing. It is far deeper than that. I truly hope that he reads the message and that it releases some of the pain that he likely still feels. And yes, I do hope for forgiveness, more for his sake than mine.

Matthew 6:15 says “but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.  Forgiveness is a serious matter. The above scripture is pretty strong. Jesus actually said that. Most preachers do not preach that scripture, or even the idea of it. Although I have now brought up the flip side of the forgiveness issue, speaking of forgiving rather than asking forgiveness,  it stands to make a point that forgiveness is a serious matter. According to Jesus, we cannot be forgiven our sins unless we forgive others first. Let us all keep forgiveness at easy reach. Do you need to forgive? Do you need to ask forgiveness of someone? Oh the power of forgiveness!

I would encourage you, if you are a Facebook user, to look at some possibilities of seeking out a person or two, or more, and ask forgiveness.  I’m speaking of people who are distant and disconnected from you. I’m not speaking of your close friends or pastor or such. We can ask them forgiveness face to face, or at least on the phone.  Facebook is a great way to reconnect with someone who you cannot otherwise find or contact. Maybe an old girlfriend or boyfriend who you did wrong. Maybe a classmate like mine. Maybe an old workmate. This is powerful stuff!  Forgive. Be forgiven.

Here’s another scripture. Mark 11:25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will forgive you your trespasses.”

I plan to do some more searching of my heart and mind, and see if there are more people I can ask forgiveness of.  Wisdom must be used of course, as we do not want to stir up things that have long been put to rest. Sometimes I think we simply have to hope and pray that someone has forgiven us.

If you are not on Facebook at this point in your life, you are probably better off! It can become an addiction for many. Many Christians are spending vastly more time on FB than in their Bible or in prayer with the Lord. Lord help us all to keep You first in our hearts, minds, and time scheduling.

Let’s forgive….and be forgiven.

Posted in Forgiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “King James Only” controversy. .

Bibles-KJV-only

(Pictured above are three of my personal bibles mentioned in this blog post. Click photo to enlarge)

Surely you have at least cracked open a King James Bible and read a few lines out of it? The beautiful old Elizabethan English can be captivating, making some feel that this version is THE one true, prefect English translation of the Bible. Or maybe for them, it is the fact that they believe it is the only correct translation of the Bible, in spite of the Elizabethan English.  For other people, the old, outdated English can be a serious blockade to their ability to understand what they are reading. This can be very hard to overcome for some people. Sometimes, nearly impossible.

The original KJV translation bibles came out in 1611 AD.  It has held strong for 400+ years!  Since then, newer, more modern translations have come out. Some good, some not so good. Some are just plain corrupt, such as the New World Translation, customized and used by the Jehova’s Witnesses. This article will focus more on the more sound, modern translations vs the King James Version. I am going to approach this article from a very simple, laymen level approach. There are hundreds of names and dates I could throw out there, speaking of ancient biblical translators, manuscripts, dead sea scrolls, Codex Sinaiticus, Constantine, etc.  I want to keep this article easy to read for everybody.

To get right to the main point, here is the crux of the great debate. There are many Christians out there who hold to the belief that the King James Version of the Bible is THE ONLY true translation. We call them “King James Onlyists”. They proclaim that the KJV is the only true Word of God, and ALL other translations are “new age”, or just plain “of the devil”.  I nearly fell into this trap myself, just a couple of years ago. I was nearly convinced the KJV was the only Word of God.  But then I studied the subject for a couple of years, weighing all arguments. Before I tell you what I found, let me first tell you this fact. I love the King James Version. I am in no way against it. I am only against the belief that it is the only true translation. I own several bibles that are KJV, including a facsimile of the original 1611 version, which is QUITE different than today’s KJV.  That brings me to my first point.

The “KJV only” Christian will tell you the KJV is the only true Bible. To that, I would ask them this question: Which version of the KJV is the only true translation? You see, there have been plenty of updates and changes made since the first KJV Bibles came out in 1611. So, which version is perfect?  In fact, the original KJV Bibles included the Apocrypha.  What is that you ask?  The Apocrypha is the name given to the 15 additional books that are not part of the true canon of Scripture. You will find these extra books in the Catholic bibles, but not in any normal Protestant Christian bibles. These books include 1st and 2nd Maccabee, Tobit, Judith, Prayer of Manasseh, and more. They are not inspired, and they are inconsistent with canonized scripture, which we have in our standard Bibles.   Aside from the original 1611 KJV having the Apocrypha included between the OT and the NT, there were many other updates and changes made of the years. So, which version of the KJV is the perfect one?

I have another question. How about all those Christians in China, India, Russia, Germany, France, Mexico?  They have no KJV bibles. None. Are we so chauvinistic as English speakers, that we think God has given us the ONLY true Word of God?  Many in the KJV Only crowd believe that you cannot even be saved without reading or hearing the KJV scriptures. I guess every Christian in the aforementioned countries are not true Christians? It seems they need to ALL learn English, then learn how to read and understand old Elizabethan English on top of that, just to be saved. Give me a break.

The truth is, most of the KJV Onlyists are a bit on the wacky side. Most are very well-meaning, I have no doubt. But that does not mean they are not a bit wacky, and totally immune from logic. Logic does not seem to affect their stance. Ask them about the Chinese Christians. Do Chinese bibles not count as bibles? (there is no Chinese KJV)  They also tend to think that because the KJV Bible is referred to as the “Authorized Version”, that is has some added weight because of that. It was authorized by KIng James, not by some nameless panel of judges that have some authority to declare a translation “authorized” of God. The KJV Onlists also fall into the trap of grading all other translations by the KJV, without applying the same textual criticism to the KJV which they apply to all other translations. To them, by default, the KJV is the “God standard”. There is no truth or reality in this thought process.

What other translations are good? This is something that itself can be debated, but I am going to throw out a few translation names that are well-known as being solid. There are many new translations out there, and most of them exist because of publishers wanting to make money, just to be honest. We do NOT need another translation! Personally, I read the NAS (NASB)  “New American Standard Bible”  It commonly known for being the most accurate. Many serious Bible scholars and pastors use this translation.  I also like the NKJV, ESV, and RSV.  I do not advocate the NIV for various reasons. Although it does read very smoothly, and it does teach the essential doctrines, it is too far from a literal translation. It translates “thought for thought”, rather that “word for word”.  I like literal. As a side note, The NKJV version was translated from the same manuscripts as the KJV.  (The Textus Receptus, or “received text”)  Other manuscrips were found after the 1611 KJV came out, and these manuscripts date back even further that the T.R.   Some say they are corrupted, but when pressed for evidence of this, they only have speculation and accusation.

Many “KJV only” advocates would be quick to point to Gail Riplinger’s teachings on KJV Onlism. She wrote a book called “New Age Bible Versions”, which is very popular among KJV only advocates.  If you care to hear her in a radio debate, and be completely exposed as a bit wacky, dishonest, and just wrong, then please see this radio debate against theologian James White on YouTube.  James White pretty easily dismantles her entire argument,  and her book. Here below is a link to part one of the video.  Follow to the next parts after this if you choose. Each part is about 10 minutes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVXjw4jd61M

James White, I believe, is the leading authority on Biblical manuscripts and the history and process of the creation of our Bibles. If you wish to dive in a bit deeper, and hear a 2.5 hour debate between him and KJV Only adherent Steven Anderson, this this following link with take you to the full length video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJrptikLjq8.  Judge for yourselves, but again, when James White applies some common sense to the whole issue, it really makes the “KJV Only” belief seem a bit silly.  Again, I want to specify that neither Mr. White or I stand against the KJV Bible!  It is a fine translation, but it is NOT the standard.  In fact, the Geneva Bible preceded it, and when the KJV came out in 1611 (by order of King James), the KJV was not immediately welcomed by all.  What about the 1,000’s of saints before 1611?  What about all those who stood strong in the faith through persecution and burning at the stake? These steadfast saints did not have the KJV. It didn’t exist.  So…did the true Word of God not exist then?  Of course it did, in various forms and volumes throughout the ages.

I hope this blog causes some of you to look deeper into this issue, if it has ever been something you were interested in or concerned about. I know this article can bring some serious fire toward myself, but I am going to continue writing about topics that I feel are worthy of discussion.  (Eventually, that would be the entire Bible)  Feel free to leave a comment, whether you are for or against my stance on this. I’m happy to respond to all. But please, if you are a KJV onlyist, and you want to blast me, listen to the full 2.5 hour debate first. It may answer many of your questions. It may even change your mind.

Until next time……Maranatha!

Posted in Bible translations, King James Onlyism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valuing our seniors in church

old-man-praying-bread

A couple of days ago, a friend and I were at the local Habitat for Humanity store, looking at home furnishings and such. He ended up a few aisles away from me, and he was soon in conversation about the Lord with an old man of about 80 years. I saw them talking for a couple of minutes, and then worked my way over to them. Turns out his name is Cecil, and he is a seasoned, Bible believing Christian. Tall, thin, wearing jeans, full of life, and words of wisdom in the faith. He had a real “salt of the Earth” personality. The three of us stood there for probably 30 minutes and spoke about the things of God, sharing in some laughs as well. We let him do most of the speaking. What a great experience! He was surely a blessing to us, and we hope we were the same to him. He loves the Lord. He knew a lot of things, and is fairly deep in knowledge of church history (one of my favorite topics). It was great conversation, and ended with a prayer as we finally parted ways out of necessity of time. For all we know, he could be one of those “angels unaware”, as mentioned in Hebrews 13:2.

Here though, is my point. Older people are needed in the church, yet they are often greatly undervalued in the modern churches. In fact, they are sometimes driven out by the excess of rock and roll music and ultra-modern “too cool for old people” type services. The word “hymn” has almost become a bad word in some churches.  It’s not just the music that drives them out, but also a variety of other factors. This should not be. I believe the elder members of the body of Christ are essential to any church’s spiritual health. I honestly would not want to be part of a church that had no seniors (or had very few in proportion). I hope we can all place added value and respect to those seniors who have been walking with God longer than we have been walking on our two legs.

Seniors have so much to offer us, and are so often left alone and ignored by the younger folks in church. Over the past few months, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone at church, and have been speaking to people who I usually would not immediately go to for conversation. I, like most people, tend to be drawn to the people closer my age group. (I am 45 at this time) Upon initiating conversation with some elder members, sometimes I am immediately amazed at their warmness, and their savvy wisdom.  Most of them have seen much more than I have seen, and certainly lived much longer than I have lived. They have much to offer, and not just stories of their past. There is much to be learned from them.

As for the old man at Habitat for Humanity…God bless you Cecil, wherever you are. May God grant us the crossing of paths again!

Posted in Church life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They were not drunk as you suppose! (They were just loud)

 pentecost-fire

What REALLY happened in Acts chapter two, on the day of Pentecost?  Were the 120 in the upper room acting drunk?  Were they staggering around, falling and screaming and convulsing?  We know that some observers nearby said mockingly “they are full of new wine”.  But let us not make a doctrinal belief from a few words from those who mocked a move of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did not inspire those mockers to say what they said.  Just because an unbeliever says something, that does not become foundational for our understanding of truth, doctrine, or the testing of manifestations.   Many Christians use those mocking words of the unbelievers to create an acceptance  and foundation of ecstatic, extreme behavior in the church. Is this REALLY what was going on when Pentecost came? Drunken stupors, staggering around, and uncontrolled laughter and convulsing?

You may be new to my blog, so I want to take a quick paragraph to give you my background. At the time of this writing, I am 44 years old, and I was in the charismatic movement for my entire life. I was raised in it. I have been everything from a zealous young disciple in a church chair, to a musician and worship leader on stage as well. I have fully participated in churches and conferences where there was some very questionable, very ecstatic and unseemly behavior going on. I remember the days when I didn’t know any better, that I too thought that maybe being “drunk in the Spirit” was a great thing. I never fully bought into it, but I was around it. Although I have never ever felt so much as a tingle from all of that, nor have I  ever been “slain in the spirit”, I am very familiar with all things related. I left the charismatic movement in 2012. If you are a charismatic Christian, you may now be saying “this guy just does not know the power of God yet!”.  Well, after 40+ years in the movement, I can tell you I have experienced all the opportunity anyone could want to be “slain” or “drunk in the spirit”.  These things do not affect me, as they do some others. I can tell you that I do fully know what many call “the presence of God”, and His power. I have led worship at various charismatic churches for years.  This entire paragraph was written only to convey to you that I have been part of all things “charismatic”.  Now I digress, back to the wonderful account of Pentecost!

To paraphrase the well-known story of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the men in the upper room were waiting for the Holy Spirit that was promised. (side note: they were simply waiting. It does not say they were asking, begging, or pleading for the Holy Spirit. They were waiting for the day of Pentecost to “fully come”.   The Holy Spirit came at the APPOINTED time, and did not come because they were imploring God)  OK, so they waited, and then …(Acts 2:2 and following)

“suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  4) and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”.

 (keep in mind, “tongues” simply means “languages”. They were speaking in known human languages which they had not previously learned)  There were many people around them, even “devout men from every nation..”   Vs 11 says the ones from the upper room were speaking “the wonderful works of God” (in languages) .  So far in the account, do we have any form of what could be taken as drunken behavior”?  No, we don’t.   All we have is men “speaking the wonderful works of God” in various earthly languages (tongues).   Let’s go to the next pertinent verse.  Vs 13 “others mocking said “they are full of new wine”.   STOP!  That’s it!  This one statement made by a few unbelievers has become used by many to justify outrageous behavior in churches and Christian conferences, which label it “the work of the Holy Spirit”.   Now, let’s examine the evidence here so far in the story.

So far, we have 120 men who were filled with the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues (Languages) the “wonderful works of God”.  (Note: it does not say they preached, They simply spoke aloud.  Later, Peter gets up to preach the Gospel in the local language)   So, we have the Holy Spirit filling them all, we also have tongues, and they were “speaking the wonderful works of God”.  Then, we have some mockers nearby say “they are full of new wine”.   So what?   Why would they say that?  Here’s my answer that I believe to be true. The men who were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues were likely a bit loud, and excited.  If you were hearing a large group of men suddenly get excited and speak in about a dozen or so different languages, all at the same time, would you not possibly think they were drunk?  In no place in the Bible  does it state or imply that they were staggering or convulsing or laying on the floor!  They were simply speaking all at the same time in different languages, and were likely a bit LOUD.  That alone would be reason to call them drunken, if you didn’t know better. Keep in mind that in those days, all the adherents of pagan religions would actually BE drunk during their religious gatherings. That very predisposed way of thinking may be what the bystanders were using for their assumptions of the 120 being drunken. It was very common for pagan religious gatherings in that day to be dominated by drunkenness and ecstatic behavior. The mocking bystanders likely saw this as just another group of religious drunkards. Why? Because they were being loud!  We have no indicators whatsoever of “drunken behavior” in Acts 2.  We do have strong reason to assume all 120 of them were speaking excitedly and loud.  It would be very easy to label them as “drunk” for only that reason.   But let’s also take another viewpoint, using a bit more information of Biblical times and culture.

“New wine”.  What is it?  It is new, barely fermented wine. Barely, maybe not even at all fermented. It was often the equivalent of grape juice. You could say the mockers were simply poking fun at the newly Spirit filled believers, saying effectively “you bunch of light-weights! You are drunk on grape juice!”.  (This actually makes me laugh when I envision it)   This scenario is certainly one to consider. When interpreting the Bible, we must always try to have an understanding of what the surrounding factors were. We must take into account the culture, the traditions, the mindset of the people in the story, the language and time barrier between us and them, and more.  So, new wine was barely alcoholic, or not at all. It was not yet fully fermented.  If the 120 in the upper room were staggering around acting like drunkards, then why would the mockers say “new wine”?  (grape juice)

Spiritually drunken? Demonized?
Spiritually drunken? Demonized?

To be clear, there is never-EVER a place in scripture that speaks positive about acting or being drunk.  Drunken behavior is NEVER a good thing in the Bible. You can look up all the occurrences of the words “drunk” or “drunken” in the Bible, and you will see that it is always a bad thing. Always.  It doesn’t matter if some modern-day preacher wants to run around calling himself “The Holy host Bartender”, and using manipulative, possibly demonic  means to create a false drunkenness in the congregational. This is not a good thing, according to Biblical standards.  It is certainly not in line with Acts 2, try as they may to twist it.

So, to recap. The 120 in the upper room were simply speaking in various earthly languages, all at the same time, and they were likely a bit loud and excited. That’s all there was to it.  We cannot read anything more into it.  There is no  drunken behavior mentioned. Neither is there is such a Biblical term as “drunk in the Spirit”.   What then, causes people to fall prey to these modern-day preachers who encourage and promote, and cause such behavior?

As is typical in the charismatic movement, there is a LOT of manipulation going on. Emotional and mental manipulation. Some of it is purely mass-hypnosis. This is not done by dangling a medallion in front of their faces, but through other methods, such as repetitious music, suggestion and anticipation,  and several other commonly used methods.  It is quite easy to manipulate humans into an altered state of consciousness, and the aforementioned methods all work.  Sometimes demonic activity is involved. I believe this is a far cry from Godliness, and can actually be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. (Don’t panic here, this sin was not forgivable to the Jews during Jesus’s time on Earth. But almost all Biblical scholars agree it is not an unpardonable sin in our day)  Christians will defend God the Father. They will defend God the Son, Jesus Christ.  However, in modern day Christianity, it seems just about anything goes with regard to what is attributed to the Holy Spirit. Almost nobody will strongly defend what is the true work or nature of the Holy Spirit.  There seems to be no limit to what type of ecstatic behavior can be attributed to the Holy Spirit. Many actually seem to think there is some sort of contest to see who can act more ecstatic, more drunken than another group of Christians. False revivals are big in the past 20 years or so. One seems to compete with the other for who can outdo the other is bizarre behavior.  Many people are now anxiously awaiting more of this,praying for it, and paying for it.  Is this really the work of the Holy Spirit?

You may say to me “wait a minute, I have experienced being drunk in the Spirit, and it felt amazing, etc”   To that I would remind you that not everything that glitters is gold. Also, we cannot base our Christianity on experiences, and then try to find ways to make scripture line up with our experience we have had.  That is called “experiential theology”.  We will always be doing better to have “Biblical theology”. We learn our beliefs and doctrines from Scripture, not the other way around. We cannot be constantly “proof texting” our learned beliefs that we learned from somewhere besides the Bible. “Proof texting” is where people have a specific doctrine or belief that they try to find Biblical text to justify it with. In the world of Biblical interpreting, we call this eisegesis. In these last days, we simply must keep our eyes and our minds pointed toward true Scriptural theology. Many will be deceived in the end times. Let that not be you or me.

In Ephesians 5:18, Paul said “and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit”. This scripture is not equating drunkenness with being filled with the Spirit. It is drawing a contrast. Again, nowhere in the Bible is drunken behavior condoned. It is always condemned. Let us all be wary, and be wise, and watch out for  the perverted false gospels and false spirits that are out there today.  Let us keep our minds sober in every way. The last fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is “self-control”.  That is a fruit of having the Holy Spirit dominate and operate in your life.  Self control. Not staggering. Not uncontrolled manic laughter.  Self control.  Let’s not forget love and peace!

I will close with this positive scripture as a reminder of some of the true inner workings of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 14:17–“for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

Amen!

Posted in Bartender, Drunk in the Spirit, False prophets, Fruits of the Spirit, General religion, Kundalini, Manifestations, Pentecost, Pentecostal movement, Test the spirits, Tongues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talkin’ to the devil

Leroy-The-Cat-3

(Photo above by me. This is Leroy,  our outdoor wild cat we feed)

  I want to speak to something today that has been on my mind for the past 2-20 years. Yes, that long!  Even in my now distant youth, the following issue is something that always struck me as not right. There is a certain learned behavior that is predominant in the charismatic world. Many, many well-meaning Christians are spending a lot of prayer time talking to Satan. Yes, prayer time.  Many of them likely do not even think about what they are doing, and if some of them did, it would not matter to them, as this tends to be a standard practice in the charismatic world.  Christians are bowing to pray to God, then talking to Satan.

I just wanted to lovingly admonish those of you who have been caught up in talking to the devil while you are talking to God. This is not Biblical behavior, or doctrine. When we pray to God, this is not the time to talk to Satan. Following is an example I just drew up. It may come out like this when you do pray:

“Father, I just thank you for taking care of my needs, and that you love me, and died for me. Now Satan, I just bind you and command you to loose your hold on my finances!  You must obey me, you lousy devil!  I just cast you off of my life and I command you to be bound up with chains!  Now Father, I just thank you again for favor in my life. Now Satan, I already told you I bound you, so you must flee!  Now Father, I love you……wait a minute Lord….ok…Satan..get out of my life!!  Thank you Jesus for all the victories you give me. I bind you again Satan. Thank you Lord! Amen”.

OK, so I exaggerated  the common Charismatic prayer just a little, but not by too much. Sometimes absurdity is a great way to illustrate a point. I am not trying to be inflammatory in my example.  Aside from the fact that binding demons is not the proper interpretation of Matt. 18:18, I want to make another completely different point on this. (we will get  to the frequently misinterpreted “binding and loosing” teaching in a very soon coming blog)  What I want to point out here is that we all need to keep our prayers between us and God, and not bring Satan into the conversation.  No place in scripture does Jesus or an apostle start praying to God, then switch over and start talking to Satan, then back to God. Wait a minute, who are you praying to anyway?  Even if you believe in the practice of binding demons, why do it during prayer? This is completely foreign to biblical example and teaching.  Let’s now  look at the Lord’s prayer, just as an example of the model prayer.

Our Father, which art in heaven

Hallowed by The Name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive them who trespass against us

and lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil

for thine is the kingdom,the power, and the glory,

forever and ever

Amen

   This prayer is not a mantra to be prayed in vain repetition, but it is a guideline  to how we should pray. That being said, can you spot the part of that prayer where Jesus starts talking to Satan or the demons?  Well of course not, because it’s not there. (I admit I was tempted to put it in there, to make a further point)  When Jesus prayed, he always spoke to the Father. He did not go back and forth between the Father and Satan. We should certainly take our example from that! Further, let us consider the apostles. How often were they recorded in the Bible talking to Satan while talking to God?   None.  Zero. Never.  If Jesus didn’t do it, and the apostles didn’t do it, then why do so many Christians do it?  Answer: They have been taught to, wrongfully. Some were taught by instruction, and some have been taught through example of others. I think the latter reason applies to most who practice this. They see it, then they do it. I think we are all guilty of copy-cat behavior in some way or another.

   You can look at every prayer ever recorded in the Bible, and nobody ever spoke to Satan while in prayer to God. So if you practice this, you may want to reconsider. How do you think the Father feels when you meet with Him to pray, and start talking to His enemy? As usual, I am simply pointing out scriptural truths that are easily applied to our lives. There is much false teaching in the land, and we have to fully examine everything we are being taught, or are picking up from others. We are reminded time and again in the Scriptures to test and verify everything. (think of the Bereans in Acts 17:11)   Again, if you insist on practicing the binding of demons, at least consider not doing it while in prayer to our Father in heaven. Perhaps you can set aside another time for it.

   I do want to emphasize again that neither Jesus nor any apostle was ever recorded as saying “I bind you Satan”.  If this were a valid practice, surely we would see some examples of it in scripture. Many even believe we can bind demons via email. Two years ago, a church member from my last church had some pretty heavy doctrinal discussions with me via email. In one of his last emails to me, he actually tried to bind some demons he believed I must have (since I do not believe his way).  I believe he typed out “I just bind the spirit of unbelief”.  If this were a valid practice, then I think surely the apostle Paul would have been binding a LOT of demons in his epistles to the Corinthian church! The church of Corinth was a big carnal, sinful mess. They had no shortage of spiritual gifts, but were corrupted, sinful, and carnal at the same time. ( I Cor 1:7, and 3:1)  So I would think that if we could bind demons via email, or in Paul’s case, via written epistle, then Paul would have been binding demons left and right, verse by verse!  Even with regard to verbally binding a demon, it is never once recorded in the Bible. Not once.

     The holy scriptures set our examples, and we really must stay within those bounds, or else we get caught up into all kinds of spiritual mess. Those of us who choose to stick to only scriptural practices are often accused of having a “religious spirit”.  We are accused of “putting God in a box”.  I could easily turn the tables on a Pentecostal, and tell them that they are boxing God in by assuming God always has to do things their way. (many of which are totally unscriptural)   And if I have a “religious spirit” because I stick to what the Holy Bible has spoken to us and laid out for us, then call me religious all you want. I can take it.

  I hope this blog has been helpful to you today, and brought some clarity on some things.  Now let’s keep the faith. The faith once for all delivered unto the saints. Amen

*to hear a less than two minute long clip on the binding of Satan, and how it has sadly turned into “prayer” in today’s churches, click and listen this this clip.

Posted in Charismatic movement, Jesus, Test the spirits, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus-the perfect image of God on Earth.

Barn-Christian-Jesus-Blog

(Photo above by me)

   Have you ever wondered what God is really like?  I’m not referring to His appearance, because he is invisible to the physical eye. But what is He really like, in word and in character?  What would He say to us if He were here on Earth, and we could record His very words?  We could even take note of His very character! Well, you may have already picked up on where I’m going with this. Maybe you haven’t.  The answer is that we have already had God on Earth, in the flesh. His name is Jesus!  This may not sound like any type of  new revelation to you, but when I started letting this truth sink in to my mind recently, it astounded me. I don’t claim that I have had some new revelation on it, but I do say that I have received new illumination!  God was demonstrated through Jesus. This is nothing new, and neither is the fact that Jesus was God. However, it has become so vitally important and exciting to me recently. This truth caused me to look at certain Scriptures with even more interest than I already had before.   When I want to know what God is like, I just open up the four gospels and read Jesus’ words, and learn from His actions.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Each are filled with the words of God. Of course, the entire Bible is the perfect inspired Word of God, and Holy Spirit breathed. However, the truth that was written through let’s say the apostle Paul, was still coming through a mortal man. Please do not hear me wrong here. Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired words were all true and inspired, but Jesus was God. I want to focus on that. I want to focus on Jesus and His words and actions.

For starters, this article may not help you if you do not hold to the orthodox view of the Trinity.  God is three in one.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Trinity is one God who exists simultaneously in three persons. Yes, Jesus WAS God…in the flesh.  He was  100% man, and 100% God at the same time. Let me first bring out a couple of Scripture texts that support the Trinity. It’s amazing to believe, but some well known TV preachers do not believe in or teach Trinitarianism.  Most of the “Word Faith” teachers such as Ken Copeland and TD Jakes hold to some very errant doctrines on the Godhead. (Many of their teachings are very heretical) If you follow any of them, or if you follow any of the cult teachings (Mormonism, J.W.’s, etc), then you may have had some bad teaching about the Godhead as well. If you use the NIV Bible, you don’t even have the word “Godhead” in the Bible! But that’s another story. Let me digress again to the topic at hand.  Jesus was God in the flesh. If you want to understand God, just read up about Jesus. Obviously, there is much more to be ascertained about God in the Old Testament as well. Consider His dealings with everybody from Adam and Eve, to Moses, to Israel through the prophets.  There are even some wonderful mentions of Jesus in the Old Testament. (not by name) For now though,  I want to focus on the earthly, fleshly manifestation of God.  First, a couple of brief foundational scriptures on the Trinity, just to make the point.

Here is one scripture which contains the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son (Jesus) all in one passage. This is the moment when John the baptist baptizes Jesus.  I’m using my trusted King James Bible, as usual.  Matthew 3:16-17  “and Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: v17,  And lo a voice from heaven , saying, ‘this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Bold words made bold me)

Trinity-Graph

In the passage above, we see all three members of the Trinity are mentioned in the same place, and same time.  In this next passage, we hear about them all together in heaven.  1 John 5: 7  “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one”. Now just who is “the Word”?  It’s Jesus.  Here’s another one;  This from John’s gospel.  John 1:1  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.   V2 “The same was in the beginning with God”  V3  “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made”.  Jesus is the Word!    (also see Col. 1:16)

Now to my proof texts for this article. I want to look at the relationship only between God the Father, and God the Son.  This is a powerful scripture, and it reveals so much amazing truth!

John 1:14 ” And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth”  

 Did you catch that?  “and the Word was made flesh”.   Jesus was always in existence, even before the foundation of the world.  He was there with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the beginning, and He was later “made flesh” and dwelt among us. Let’s look at one of my very favorite Scriptures next.

   Colossians 1:15 “(Jesus) who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature”

   So, Jesus is an exact duplicate of God. Again, clearly not in a visible sense, but in character, and in knowledge, power, and every aspect.  Do not be thrown off by the statement that He is the “firstborn” of every creature. Of course, He IS that, but this does not refer to a chronological birth order. It is a positional status.  It is the same as saying He is “King, and heir of all things”, positionally.  Remember, although Jesus was born in the flesh about 2,000 years ago, He always existed before that.  He was with the Father. He is the image of the invisible God!

  Colossians 2:9  “for in Him(Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily”

   Right there we see that in Jesus, dwells all the fulness. I don’t want to get too deep into scripture on this particular article, but I wanted to cause readers to really stop and think about this.  Jesus is God, and He came and dwelt among us in the flesh. When we read those red printed words in our Bibles (if indeed you have such a “red letter edition”), we are reading God’s very words. Sure, the entire Bible is Holy Spirit breathed. I believe that all the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet filtered through the men who wrote them. Hence, we have the four separate gospel accounts, for example. The four different men wrote their account of the story of Jesus’ life, but the Holy Spirit guided them much stronger than what we know today as that “still, small voice”.  In other words, the Holy Spirit was very heavy handed in writing the scriptures. All of them. Now, what of Jesus’ words? They are the very words of God. Straight-up. No filter. No filler. No small minded man’s point of view.  Now, what can we do with this knowledge, and how do we apply it?

   Am I saying that we should only pay super special attention to the red letters in the Bible? No I am not!  The entire Bible is the Word of God.  It is infallible.  It is perfect. What I am saying though, is that when we look at Jesus’ words, we can clearly see the character of God.  Think of his verbal blasting away at the scribes and pharisees. He really lit them up!   In John 8:44 Jesus said to them “..ye are of your father the devil”.  Wow, that is not something I would want to hear from Him.  But let’s look at another facet of Jesus.

In Luke 11:9-10 He says “and I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”  V10  ” for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”.   These are such encouraging, beautiful words from our savior, Jesus.  Just ponder for a moment. This was God talking to us. Do you see the gravity of this?  This was God’s very words to us.  Wow. We are talking about the very maker of the universe here. The one and Holy God.

    How about when the woman was caught in the very act of adultery, and the scribes and pharisees brought her out to Jesus?  He used such wisdom in His response. He also exhibited His divine mercy!  First, he simply stooped down and wrote something on the ground. Maybe the 10 Commandements?  Maybe the names of her customers? We don’t know. But then, what He said next was amazing.  John 8:10  “When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”   V11  “She said, no man, Lord. And jesus said unto her, ‘neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more'”.    I’m not wanting to analyze or exegete these scriptures right now. I want you to ponder them, and just take them in.

   Applying the words of Jesus throughout scripture to ourselves is essential.  It is sometimes very indicting. It is sometimes very consoling. Occasionally, it can be hard to understand exactly what He is saying. He often spoke in parables so as to keep the truth hidden from those who do not truly have an appetite for it.  Then, there are some people who have their own carnal ideas of  what the scripture means to them.  What it means to you?  That is irrelevant. The scripture (whichever one is in question) means what it means. We do not each get our own interpretation of scripture to make our own. Now as for application of scripture, that’s certainly open to individuality.  How you apply a scripture to your own life is between you and God. But the scripture means what it means, and nothing more, or less. Jesus’s words were God’s words. They ARE God’s words. They are eternal, powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword!

   In the four Gospels, we see God in action–in the flesh. That was God who asked the woman “where are your accusers?”.  The words spoken there were God’s words.  The character shown by Jesus at that moment was God’s character. Isn’t that powerful?  I love to read the very words of our Lord Jesus, and say to myself, “that is God talking to me”.  Now, I do not get carried away as some do with this.  I think it was the great Charles Spurgeon who once said “All scripture is for us, but not all scripture is TO us”.   Much of what Jesus said to the Jews was TO the Jews, not us. That must be understood by any reader of Scripture.  However, everything He spoke to the Jews is also FOR me to learn from, and for you.

    I LOVE the Word of God. I love to read it, to indulge in it, to taste of the wonders of all that it offers. I hope I have even scarcely  began to relate to you what I see in the words and the character of God…..in Jesus.  He was God. His words are life, and they abide forever.  Remember John 1:14  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”   How amazing.

I leave you with this powerful scripture. In the Gospel of John, as Judas and the pharisees and officers came to arrest Jesus at night.  John 18:4, Jesus asked them “whom seek ye?”  (V5) They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them “I Am”

Posted in 1 John, Colossians, General religion, Image, Jesus, Pentecostal movement, Trinity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The testing of manifestations

Sk-Flowers-2

(photo above by me)

In many of today’s churches you can see some truly astonishing things taking place. Many far-out manifestations are happening, and people are giving the Holy Spirit credit for them, when in many cases the Holy Spirit truly had nothing to do with them. People falling over backward, violently shaking on the floor, barking like dogs, howling, laughing uncontrollably, staggering around and falling over like drunkards, shaking their heads back and forth rapidly, as if demon possessed.  The list goes on and on. My first question is this:  Are these type of manifestations found anywhere in the Bible?  The short answer is “absolutely not!”.   First, let me offer this test you can apply to any manifestations you may encounter at your church or in a meeting you may attend. Read on.

First of all, I have to admit that this “test” as I call it, was originally articulated by what I call a “clear thinking charismatic”  named Zach Poonan. He is a pastor I admire, even though he is in the charismatic movement.   I have always used this following test myself in a very similar form, but I had never broken it down into four simple parts as Mr Poonan does.  When it comes to the type of manifestations I mentioned above, here is a great test to apply to any of them.  It is four easy steps.  Consider any single manifestation or supposed move of the Spirit, then ask yourself:

1) Did Jesus ever do it?

2) Did Jesus ever teach it?

3) Did the apostles ever do it?

4) Did the apostles ever teach it?

   It’s that simple, and if we apply those tests to the things we see going on today in many churches, then we clearly have some things to call into question!  If we hold to this test of manifestations, then we keep ourselves safe from most error.  Did Jesus ever stumble around like a drunkard and fall over, laughing uncontrollably?  Absolutely not. Clearly the Bible does not record Him as doing such, but can you even imagine Him doing that?  I cannot.  Sure, I can imagine Him laughing! Jesus was not some stoic Mr. Spock personality.   But this thing today called “holy laughter” is clearly not found in scripture. Uncontrollable laughing is attributed to the Holy Spirit in many charismatic churches today. There is no scripture whatsoever to back it up. Is God doing a “new thing”?  If you want to accept any “new thing” that comes down the pike, you have that right.  You are opening yourself up for deception, and even to the demonic in some cases.

    There is one famous preacher named Rodney Howard Browne, who dubs himself  “The Holy Ghost Bartender”.  He is not known for his Biblical preaching, but rather for his talents of  manipulating people into a laughing, staggering frenzy. I’m sorry, but my Bible does not mention such behavior! Oh, you might say, “what about in Acts 2, at Pentecost, when they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues (languages)?  Weren’t THEY all “drunk in the Spirit”?   To that questions I will answer plainly with another question: Are you going to make a doctrine out of what a few unsaved mockers said?  For in Acts 2: 13 it says “Others mocking said, ‘these men are full of new wine'”.  First of all, it seems to me that they (who were filled with the Spirit) were being made fun of  because they couldn’t handle “new wine”.  New wine was basically grape juice!  It was new, unfermented wine.  The onlookers were basically doubly insulting them by saying they were drunken on grape juice, which would be even more of an insult than saying they were drunk with fermented wine.  In other words, they were likely saying that they could not handle even unfermented wine!  But now you ask, why were they being called “drunken” anyway?  Weren’t they staggering around?  I seriously doubt it.  There is no place in scripture where drunken behavior is spoken of in a good way. It’s always sinful. God does not want His children losing control of their minds!   Sure, at Pentecost they had just received the Holy Spirit in a very dramatic fashion!  They were certainly more than a little excited.  They were likely being very LOUD. In those days, when any gathering of a religious nature escalated to something remotely out of the pattern of normal behavior, it was usually because alcohol was involved. I’m speaking of the pagan religions which dominated the age. Pretty much all the ancient religions were marked by drunken gatherings, often including orgies, ecstatic speech, staggering, and the like.  At Pentecost, the apostles were filled with the Spirit, and certainly they were a bit excited when they were speaking “the wonderful works of God”. Who wouldn’t be?  The onlookers were assuming they were drunken, as would normally be the case for a religious gathering in that day!  “Look, those Christian goodie-goodies are drunk on new wine!”.  Again, for that time in history, any gathering that became remotely loud or energetic would be automatically assumed to be of alcohol induced behavior.  Nowhere does the Bible say they were staggering around, or falling over, as you would see in many Pentecostal churches today as they try to constantly reenact Pentecost.

   Well, I did not originally plan to cover the second chapter of Acts to that degree, but there you have it. That’s my take on it. I will soon write an article on Acts 2, so watch for it in the near future. Now, let’s move on to some other manifestations.  First, let’s look at a few that are quite easy to judge by the Word of God. In many of today’s false revivals and chaotic meetings, you will see bizarre behavior, and all is attributed to the Holy Spirit. Some of it is simply ecstatic emotional behavior, and some is downright demonic.  We all, including myself, must be careful as to what we attribute to which Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us to “test the spirits”.   Jesus spoke of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit when the scribes asserted that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. (Satan)  Mark 3:22. “And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils'”.   In this case, the scribes were attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan.  Today what we see is often the reverse, which is where people ascribe to the Holy Spirit works that are done by demons. Now, if you have ever done this yourself, and many of us have, do not let this send you into great panic. It’s a very deep subject to explain, but if you are a believer, I do not believe you can commit the “unpardonable sin” of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  If you have concerns, just do some research on it. It’s too much to cover here.   Now I digress back to the manifestation issue.  Barking like a dog in church?  Flopping wildly on the floor?  Well, we can certainly mark off barking like a dog as being totally unscriptural, and outright ungodly nonsense.  If you are ever in a gathering where this behavior is accepted, RUN for the door!   Did Jesus ever do it, or teach it?  NO.  Did the apostles ever do it, or teach it? NO.  Discard it.

  Flopping on the floor. This one is certainly in the Bible!  Well, sort of.  But the thing is, it’s not a good thing in the Bible, if you are flopping on the floor like a fish.  First, let’s apply the test. Did Jesus ever do it or teach it?  No.   Did the apostles ever do it, or teach it?  No.   Discard it.  In the Bible, when people were flopping and convulsing, they had a demon!  There are NO places in scripture where “the power of God was so strong, Bobby just fell down and convulsed under the power of God”.  This is not Biblical behavior, unless you have a demon.  Luke 9:42 speaks of a demonized boy, and  says ” and as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father”.  In the Bible, ONLY people with Demons ever convulsed on the floor.  NEVER did Jesus or any apostle ever lay hands on someone and knock them over, or cause them to fall down and convulse-unless they had a demon.  Wild shaking, convulsing, flopping around is not something Christians ever did in the Bible.  Jesus and the apostles picked them up, not knocked them down!  Today, we call them the “Holy Rollers” of the Pentecostal movement. Also, there are new and different variations in the charismatic and “Third Wave” movements.  Much of this produces the exact same manifestations as found in the cultic Kundalini experience.  Someone may defend the manifestations, saying that the Kundalini movement is just a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit’s manifestations on a person.  Well, Kundalini has been in operation for over 1,000 years. Today’s wild, serpentine type “Christian” manifestations are still fairly new in comparison.

shaktipat-diksha_3037       Benny-Again

   How about being “slain in the Spirit”?  You may have been “slain” before, or have been to a church where it is practiced.  This one is a bit of a controversy in the church world today. It is yet another completely unscriptural behavior that we will now examine. First, let’s apply the test!  Did Jesus ever knock anyone over backward, or teach others to do it? (either by physical force, or by the power of the Spirit in Him)  Absolutely not!  Did the apostles ever do this, or teach this? No they did not. These reasons alone are enough to make me “just say no” to slaying in the spirit. Like Zach Poonan says, “hey if you want to fall over backward, then go ahead, but don’t expect me to do it”.  Much of this is simply learned behavior. It’s expected in certain churches or meetings. Some view it as a way of appearing to be extra-super spiritual.  If the pastor touches my forehead, and I fall over backward, then I must be spiritual–or at least my super-ultra anointed pastor is!  Well, again, let’s be good Bereans and check EVERYTHING against scripture. Jesus never, ever knocked people over when touching them. So why are we doing it?  The apostles never ever laid hands on someone who then fell out. Truly, it is a modern phenomenon. This behavior is very popular today in charismatic churches, yet scripture is completely devoid of any hint of it. This should set off your alarm!  “Slaying in the spirit” basically became popular with Kathryn Kuhlman. Benny Hinn greatly admired her workings, and he took it up subsequently.  Did you know this practice also exists in occult religions? (see photo above. The Hindu “Shakti-pat” being performed in the photo is often followed by being “slain in the spirit”, complete with wild writhing on the ground )  This is completely unbiblical behavior. Yes I do know  the reasoning used by those who practice this in Christian circles. I know the reasoning they use to justify this behavior.  They say that the power of God is so strong, that your physical body cannot handle the anointed man’s touch, and you simply fall out.  To that, I say– please show me that in the Bible.  It’s not there. Anywhere.  It is man-made, or worse.  In most cases, it is simply the equivalent of fainting. That’s all it is. In the pentecostal world, or at a Benny Hinn show, the expectation is so built up in the people’s minds, and when the person is touched, they fall out. There are also “catchers”, ready to catch them. (please find that for me in the Bible also, of you can. If you do, I will send a free copy of the King James Bible) Sometimes it is done without a touch. Benny Hinn likes to show off his hypnotic skills by blowing on people, or by whirling his white coat around, thus “slaying” many people who are prone to such things. Remember, I came from a charismatic background. Really, my whole life up until recently was spent in the charismatic world. I even spent a short year in a Pentecostal church, with much “slaying in the Spirit” going on every service.  I’ve seen a lot. I’ve had hands laid on me several times. I have never once even slightly been “slain”.  Not even a tingle. Frankly, I have never believed in it. Was I REALLY charismatic then, you may ask?  I certainly was!  I fully believed what I was taught, that all the gifts of the Spirit are for today. I fully believed that. The thing is, I never believed much in those people who were claiming to have the miracle sign gifts. I believed in the gifts, but I never saw anyone who truly had them (gifts of healing, etc)   Falling over backward is NEVER a good thing, scripturally speaking. Those who fell backward in the Bible were under a judgement of God. Those men who came to arrest Jesus before His crucifixion, they fell backward. I would not consider that a “blessing”!  Other places in scripture, it speaks of people “falling down on their face” to worship God.  Many charismatics try to use that as an argument for slaying in the spirit.  Clearly, falling on one’s face–forward, to worship in the presence of the Almighty Holy God is different that being knocked backward. It is speaking of a willful, yet almost automatic planting of one’s face on the ground in the presence of almighty God.  This is not slaying in the spirit.

   I have gone too long in this blog already. I have so much more I would like to say on the subject of manifestations. For now, I would only want to warn those who read this, please take heed as to what you are believing in and what you are practicing. Do not exceed what is written in the Scriptures!  I would urge you to always, always apply the four part test.

1) Did Jesus ever do it?        2) Did Jesus ever teach it?         3) Did the apostles ever do it?         4) Did the apostles ever teach it?

If none of those apply, then you can keep it. I don’t want it. We keep safe when we stick with what is written. The Bible warns of much deception in the final days. I believe we are in the final-final days!  Watch out for the apostate churches and pastors. Study your Bible and do not be deceived.  Be blessed, and mind your manifestations!

Posted in Benny Hinn, Charismatic movement, False prophets, General religion, Gifts of the Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman, Kundalini, Manifestations, Pentecostal movment, Test the spirits, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apostle Paul VS Joel Osteen

ShannonFlowers-5 

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and they will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. ”  (NAS)  II Tim. 4:3-4

The topic I am going to write about here, is born out of my undying love for truth. I love truth dearly. I love God’s truth, found in His Word.  It is the only truth!  I often pray to the Lord to show me where I am missing truth, as I am certain I do not  have a corner on the market of truth. Far from it.  I also earnestly wish to balance truth with grace. All truth and no grace equals judgementalism.  But there are certain teachers in the world today who are either teaching a false Gospel, or promising miracles they cannot deliver, both of which are extremely harmful to the hearers, and to the justice of truth. In this case today, I want to examine some of the teachings of the very popular Joel Osteen.  I do not say these things for the sake of having something to point at in an accusatory way.  The Bible very clearly commands us to “test the spirits”.  1 John 4:1  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world”.  Was John telling us to be “judgemental”, or to test the spirits?  Call it what you will, but we are told in many places in scripture to check things out, whether they are true or not.  Yes, we are to judge whether certain teachings are true or not.   In Acts 17:11, Paul and Silas were in Berea, speaking to the Jews in the synagogues, and it says “now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”.   In this passage, “noble character” was equated to the Bereans for doing their scriptural homework! Let’s be good Bereans, and let us always examine what we are being taught. We examine it against the scriptures, and not against somebody’s dream, vision, philosophy, or anything else.  Scripture is the key. It is out safe place. It is our lighthouse of truth. When we go outside of the scriptures, we are opening the door to every conceivable evil and untruth. We must LOVE the Word of God. Not all church teachings are good, and not all teachings are of God. For certain, the false teachers that the Bible warns us about are not going to be wearing a t-shirt that says “False teacher” across their chest.  They will come as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, using a facade of godliness, usually speaking in smooth wording, tickling the ears of those who truly cannot stand the truth of the real Word of God, or of those who are ignorant of the scriptures.

One of the most obvious ways to tell a false teacher is by their fruits, and the following scripture is a test that Jesus told us we can use to spot them.  Matthew 7:16  Jesus said” You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Clearly, Jesus gave us a mandate to be “fruit inspectors” of those who claim to be prophets of God. Keep in mind, “prophets” in many cases means “proclaimers of the Word of God”.   The sad thing is, Osteen’s very wonderful sounding teachings are not Biblically based, though he makes a very loose effort to convince people otherwise.  Many of his teachings are squarely against sound Biblical teaching.  In fact, as John Macarthur describes it, Osteen is a quasi-pantheist.  In pantheism, God is one and the same with “the universe”.  In new age teachings today, such as the very popular  law of attraction teachings on the DVD “The Secret”, they replace God with–the universe.  In their view, God is not a person, not a spirit, but rather, some mystical power called “the universe”.  In Joel Osteen’s teachings, it is quite clear that God is very non-personal,  in his view of God.  God is relegated to being some impersonal power in the sky. Osteen calls this mystical power “God”, but we have to look closely at what his intention is behind his terminology.  Joel Osteen’s teachings are simply repackaged “christianized” law of attraction teaching.  He teaches the same “law of attraction” as found in the new age movement, except he invokes God’s name, where the new agers would call God “the universe”.   Remember, I mentioned the term “quasi-pantheist” in describing Osteen.  I’m not saying he is a pure pantheist. From another angle,  Joel Osteen’s teachings could very well have been taken right from the past teachings of the famous motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. It’s very similar material, slightly repackaged using the word “God” frequently, but focussing on our “inner strength”. Just who is God to Joel Osteen anyway? Personally, if I wanted his type of teaching, I would rather hear Anthony Robbins.

I would also note that Osteen rarely, if ever mentions the words “Jesus”, “sin”, or “hell”.   Here is another thing a false teacher would never mention:  False teachers.   False teachers rarely ever mention false teachers, either in a general sense, or by name. The same goes for a phony charlatan “faith healer”. You will never hear a fake healer mention a word about “fake healers”. Isn’t that interesting?  Now I digress back to the subject.

Joel-Osteen

“You will know them by their fruits”.  Always look at the lifestyle of the prophets/preachers. The money issue is usually a dead give-away.   Osteen lives in a 10.5 million dollar mansion. Does this sound even remotely like the apostle Paul, or Jesus?  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21)   If you believe preachers of the gospel (the TRUE gospel) are supposed to be living in mega million dollar mansions, then you have been sold a lie. Please re-evaluate the scriptures in light of the scriptures.

A few words from the apostle Paul about himself. Keep in mind Paul wrote much of the New Testament, and was an apostle of Jesus Christ. A sent one. Paul you could say, was VERY spiritual. He is maybe the greatest Christian to walk to ever the earth! Let us look at what Paul says of himself and his earthly lifestyle when he was here . Does the following sound anything like the prosperity lifestyle Joel Osteen promotes and promises?

Paul said of himself in II Cor. 11:23-28 —” Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

  It seems that the great apostle Paul was not very blessed, by Osteen’s measure! What was wrong with Paul? Did he not speak blessings into his life often enough?  Did he fail to “call himself happy and healed”?  Paul sure had a rough time as a sold-out disciple of Christ. Maybe he should have read a “Christian”  book on prosperity!  Where was Joel Osteen when Paul needed some teachings on how to live an easy, prosperous life?  Maybe Paul never tapped into his “best life now”?  No, I assure you, Paul’s best life is NOW, and not when he was on this earth.  Paul was beaten, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, often hungry, imprisoned, and  eventually beheaded!  I’m sure all of that does not fit into Osteen’s self serving prosperity message.  Who is right, when the teachings and life’s goals are compared between apostle Paul and Joel Osteen. Osteen offers a “gospel” of self fulfillment and earthly “happiness”.   In his view, Christians don’t serve God, but rather God serves us. He offers us the supposed keys to health, wealth, and prosperity.  Weren’t these the same things that Satan tempted Jesus with?  I am going to quote some of Osteen’s teachings in a soon coming blog post, and we will plainly see some sharp contrasting doctrine between him and the apostle Paul. I use the word “doctrine” very loosely when speaking of Osteen.   If ever there were a preacher who “tickles the ears”, Joel Osteen would win that award many time over.

Let me close this by bringing up my opening scripture quote again. Does this Scripture not sound like it was written with Osteen in mind? To me, it does.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and they will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. ”  (NAS)  II Tim. 4:3-4

I leave you with this video of John Macarthur on Joel Osteen   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDuDN2FtrIo

Here is a longer video that describes Osteen’s new age teachings in detail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CRWZNUkrk

Here is yet another website that details Osteen’s new age, anti-biblical teachings http://beginningandend.com/prosperity-gospel-wild-joel-osteen-myles-munroe-charging-100-services/

Posted in False prophets, General religion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“You love the world and you’re avoiding Me”

Gatlinburg-Trees

(Photo above by me, in Gatlinburg, TN.)

This post is about a very powerful passage of scripture found  in 1 John 2:15-17     It speaks of the kind of love that we are not supposed to have as Christians.  This is about Christians who have a “love of the world” within them.  I will explain just what the “world” is in a minute. In this case, it’s certainly not the created Earth and it’s beauty, which God made and even admired himself. It’s not the world of humans. After all, John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world”.   But first, let me quote the scripture from the NKJV. So, the passage goes like this:

1 John 2:15  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”  v 16  “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”  v 17  “and the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he that does the will of God abides forever”.

The “world” that Christians are commanded not to love, is the world of Satan.  It’s the anti-Christ system that sways so many. It sways and controls the vast majority of humanity.   1 John  5:19 says that “…the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”.    A true Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, and not in the world’s system.   Our pleasures are not to be in worldly lusts, and coveting of what others have.  The book of James speaks of this as well.  James 4:4 says “.. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an ENEMY OF GOD” (emphasis added)    Many Christians are absolutely without understanding of these things. Carnal Christians abound. In fact, the love of the world is one of the the marks of a false Christian.  I didn’t say a weak Christian,  I said a false Christian. That is one who was never really saved or regenerated.  Many are submerged so deep into the world, they cannot even recognize the fact that they are drowning in the system of this evil anti-christ world!  Obsessed with their TV shows, movies, idolizing of celebrities, love of money, personal pride, philosophies of men, religions of men, they crumple up spiritually and wither away into an impotent dust.  They are essentially dust, tossed around by every wind.  They may even be high ranking in their man-made religion or system, but they are devoid of any true love of the Father. Where is the passion for the things of the Lord?  Many false Christians would say “I was saved years ago when I said a prayer at an altar, and me and Jesus are fine!”  According to the scriptures, they are not fine. They are enemies of God if they love the world and care nothing for the things of God.   I would not want to be found in that category.  Sure, I have my own problems, and I am not sin-free.  Neither I, nor you, nor any Christian will ever be sin-free until the Lord delivers us out of this earthly body of sin. That will not be in this age.   But that’s another subject.

I want to bring up the lyrics to a song from the very dedicated Christian artist, Keith Green.  He wrote and recorded many very powerful, heartfelt songs, and his life was certainly in alignment with his lyrical writings.  This is an upbeat song with a serious message.  It was written from God’s point of view, and is what He would say to a person who loves the world.  The title of the song is also the title of this very blog post you are reading. It’s called  “You love the world and you’re avoiding Me”.  Here are the lyrics:  (written from God’s point of view to us)

Keith-Green

I want you here with me.
But you’ve been keeping other company.
You can’t sit still it’s plain to see.
You love the world and you’re avoiding me.
My Word sits there upon your desk.
But you love your books and magazines the best.
You prefer the light of your TV.
You love the world and you’re avoiding me
You used to pray, you were so brave.
Now you can’t keep even one appointment we’ve made.
Oh I gave my blood to save you life.
Tell me, tell me is it right?
Will you leave me here alone again tonight?
Well I love you, still more and more.
But you’re fighting everything I’m working for.
You’re acting like my enemy.

You love the world and you’re avoiding me.

These other loves, they’re hurting you.

If you end up losing me, then what will you do?

Oh, I gave my blood, to save your life.

Tell me, tell me is it right?

Will you leave me here alone again tonight?

Well, I want you here with me.

But you’ve been keeping other company.

You prefer the light of your TV.

You love the world and you’re avoiding me.

You love the world, you love the world,

You love the world and you’re avoiding me.

Oh, you love the world.

You love the world and you’re avoiding me.

 My favorite line in the song, which is both clever and pointed, is the line that says “you prefer the light of your TV”.    Wow, what a line! I’m also a musician and songwriter, and I can really appreciate someone writing such a powerful, yet clever line in a song.  Does your TV stay on too much?  Is it on during the majority of time you are at home? I’m not trying to sound legalistic, or judgemental.  I am being honest though, in that I believe TV is a pipeline of lies, lust, idolatry, pornography, greed, anti-Christ sentiment, witchcraft (even in cartoons), deceit, and a myriad of other things that God hates. Do you have the love of the Father in you?  If anyone does have love for the Father, how can he also love the world and all it offers and promotes?  Love for God pushes out love for the world. Love for the world pushes out love for God. The world offers nothing but satanic, worldly, sensual lusts.  We are ALL tempted in these things. It’s what you do with the temptation that counts. Jesus himself was tempted in every way. He had to have been, or else He would not have truly lived “as a man”.   Yet, He was 100% sinless.    Jesus could not have possibly loved what God hates.  Why should we?

The apostle Paul had to deal with the heartbreak of seeing one of his own friends defect from the faith, because this man loved the world.  Paul says in II Timothy 4:10 “..for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world”.  Demas had worked alongside the apostle Paul for years.  This was surely a heartbreak for Paul to deal with, seeing Demas desert him.  Demas loved the world more than the Lord.  Demas was most likely never a true convert.  Then again, perhaps his love for the world was only temporal. Maybe he returned to the Lord after Paul was martyred.  We do know that he loved the world, which led to him leaving Paul, deserting him to go to Thessalonica.

Let us not  fall in love with this world. The temptations will always be there. Sure, a lot of the world looks great to our human flesh.  Sometimes we have to deny ourselves. I think what is an even more powerful way of fending off temptations, is to be so full of the love for the Father, that we cannot help but hate the worldly system!   I encourage you to fill up on the Word of God. Delight yourself in His Word (the Bible)  Love the things of God. Love the beauty of all that is God!  The rest of the scripture in 1 John 2:17 says “and the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he that does the will of God abides forever”.   God abides forever. We can abide with Him forever!  This world truly is passing away.  Let us all expend more of ourselves loving God, and forsaking the things of this temporary and evil, anti-Christ world.  The choice is always right in front of us to make, every day. Choose either the love of the world, or the love of the Father.

Maranatha!

Posted in 1 John, Do not love the world, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment