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For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
(2Co 8:9)

What say ye? ***I really think regarding 2 Corinthians 8:9 that Albert Barnes (Barnes notes) said it best in the following: Btw, I will give what he said in two parts.

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Tim Challies Review of “The Shack”

13 Heresies in The Shack
1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

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Have you ever known someone that is more concerned with the next move of God or wave of the Spirit rather than reading , understanding, and applying the principles of God into their daily living. I do, there are numerous charismatic signs and wonders chasers being deceived in the Body  of Christ and in the Church today. I can compare it to a surfer trying to catch the ultimate wave, going from beach to beach in search of the ultimate wave but never finding it. The search for the next wave in Charismatic circles  has led believers down a path away from  Jesus instead of towards Him.

This testimony is from Victor who is originally from India and now lives in the United States.  Victor also runs http://blabitandgrabit.wordpress.com & http://blabitandgrabit.blogspot.com

I am from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The name of my home town is Ramnad. Only for less than 2 years I was under the influence of WoF . When it was first introduced in India many Christians including me were attracted to it. I thought WoF was an “advanced level” of revelation beyond what the traditional pentecostal/charismatic churches had. I concluded that WoF is the “full” gospel and other Christian denominations were lacking something. Then God started opening my eyes. God taught me that He is a Sovereign God and He always works in my life in mysterious ways and always does things more than what I can imagine or think.In the  eighties a Doctor called Justin from India got attracted to the WoF teachings. First he started to air his program from a Radio station which broadcasts Christian programs in some Indian languages from the Seychelles island. Initially he preached against evolution, apologetics and Bible and Archeology.  He was stealth in his approach in introducing the WoF message in India. Therefore many Christians including myself trusted him. He later took my home state by storm (converting the Christians there to WoF) using his seductive powers and charismatic personality.   He said that he would never get sick and he would leave his body at his own will.  By postive confessions about divine healing and health he thought he could live in this earth as long as he can.    He even ridiculed those who were still sick. He was unapproachable in spite of proclaiming a postive message.  Even one of his fellow minister used to tell people who wanted to meet him after the meetings that they need to go and see him with boldness.  He used ot say “You have to believe in your heart and not in your brain.  He was spearheading the WoF movement in my home state.   Many innocent Christians were deceived by his false teachings.  Dr. Justin’s influence was growing rapidly. He moved to state capital and was able to gather 2000 people in less than a year. Shortly after that he got a brain disease and suddenly passed away. He died with 800,000 Indian Rupees in debt and his Church split into 8. This incident puzzled many WoF followers in India. They started wondering why a man who boasted about living in divine health, death at his will and financial prosperity himself died of a disease and with a huge amount of debt (in Indian currency). But in spite of God expressing His disapproval by removing that man from the earth, his followers and relatives never repented. They are still advancing his legacy which was heresy!  A number of individuals were spiritually destroyed by this ferocious wolf.  He also asked Christians not to pray for a need more than once because “a prayer of faith must be prayed only once” and if you pray for the 2nd time it would invalidate the first prayer.

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The Book of Mormon by evangelicaloutreach.org

A. Contradicts Doctrine and Covenants.
1. “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord,” Jacob 2:24. In contrast to this, we read in Doc. & Cov. 132:1 that David and Solomon were justified because of polygamy! Which reference is wrong?

B. Refutes Mormon Doctrine.
1. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are ONE God, not three (Alma 11:44b; Mormon 7:7; 2 Nephi 31:21b and the last sentence in Testimony of Three Witnesses).
2. God is unchanging, not changing (Moroni 7:22; 8:18; Mormon 9:9,19; 3 Nephi 24:6).
3. God is NOT flesh and bones, but instead a spirit (Alma 31:15; 22:9-11; 18:24-28). Remember, Jesus said a spirit does NOT have flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39).

C. Condemns Joseph Smith for polygamy.
1. See Jacob 1:15; 2:23,24,27,31; 3:5; Mosiah 11:2-4; Ether 10:5,7.

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Unholy Trinity
Friday, Dec 11, 2009

(By John MacArthur)

I don’t watch much television, and when I do I generally avoid the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). For many years TBN has been dominated by faith-healers, full-time fund-raisers, and self-proclaimed prophets spewing heresy. I wrote about the false gospel they proclaim and the phony miracles they pretend to do almost two decades ago in Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. See especially chapter 12). I had my fill of charismatic televangelism while researching that book, and I can hardly bear to watch it any more.

Recently, however, while recovering from knee-replacement surgery, I decided to sample some of the current fare on TBN. From a therapeutic point of view it seemed a good choice: something more excruciating than the pain in my leg might distract me from the physical suffering of post-surgical trauma. And I suppose on that basis the strategy was effective.

But it left me outraged and frustrated—and eager to challenge the misperceptions in the minds of millions of unbelievers who see these false teachers masquerading as ministers of Christ on TBN.

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Joe Smith said : “As man is God was,,, as God is man may become”

I see at least 3 logical dilemmas in this statement. Do you agree?
Logical Dilemma 1: As man is God was

If God was once a man,,, where did man come from? There is no way around the fact that this statement implies that man originated apart from a creator. From my understanding there are only three possibilities for the origin of man.
1. Man was created by God and each kind makes after it‘s own kind. Animals do not evolve from one species to another. This is the biblical model of creation.
2. God created the cosmos and the basic materials for life and set evolution into motion. This is theistic evolution.

Wikipedia states: A Reductio ad Absurdum (Reduction to Absurdity) is used to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance

All ideas have inherent consequential inferences and necessary logical extensions whether they are stated or not. Have you ever talked to a baptismal regenerationsist and they said lets talk about Mark 16:16 or Acts 2: 38 and you thought, lets not, again. They will ignore part b of Mark 16:16 and try to wish it away. They will try to say baptism is for (not because of) remission of sins when Acts clearly states in later chapters that remission of sin come from belief in Jesus shed blood.

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In case you have not noticed I would like to point out to you that universalism is not Christian at all. But rather the one world religion of the coming anti-Christ/pantheist and new age system of religion. And universalism as with all the above stated, is really anti Christian. No matter how much someone may tout tolerance to and for all.

Pantheism is a religious belief in MONISM and the divinity of all things. It seeks to absorb all other religious systems besides biblical Christianity because the two are incompatible. The new age is really a revival of pantheistic paganism from way back to Egypt and Babylon. The NWO is a religious, political and financial system that is currently in place to offer it’s power thrones to the antichrist when he gets here. ( Spare me any debate on the antichrist right now to make this point). They all have the same conclusions and the only real difference is that the one world order religion will replace all these absorbed into universalism and replace it with a luciferian religion of luciferian worship and sacrifice towards the unholy one.. Do yourself a favor and Google “David Spangler, luciferian initiation” and see for yourself that ALL of our governments all the way up to the qausi government of the United nations has waiting for all humans and for us biblical Christians who will not take such and initiation or oath.

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http://www.mormondoctrine.net/testimonies/five_courageous_women.htm

How much Mormon frustration is projection against the LDS church itself?

Does This Describe You? You’re Not Alone….

I asked a question on an internet discussion board. (CARM)

I sometimes wonder if Mormons who get the most upset at LDS critics are genuinely and subconsciously upset at the “system” because they know that they’re just not measuring up {to LDS standards}?

I don’t expect true-believing Mormons to respond with friendly tone because they have wives and kids to think about. For them to say anything negative about the “church” might be tantamount to divorce or losing a job.

What about ex-Mormons?

When you were still LDS, what happened when you were met with “anti-Mormon” tracts? Why did you get mad? What happened that caused you to feel upset… even when you knew that what the “anti” was saying was true?

(Hey, I’m no psychiatrist nor sociologist. I’ve been thinking lately that the ones who get the most angry might be closer to God than they think. Just musing… or molting.)

Libs responds:

You’re molting? Ewww, messy.

You know, Russ, when I first came to CARM, I was really angry at the things I read, because I thought they were out and out lies. Now, I still think there are things that come up, fairly often, that are not exactly accurate, but for the most part, not lies. After I did some looking around on my own and discovered a LOT of the claims against the church and the prophets were true… then, I really got upset. Angry, fearful, distressed, and finally, very sad. Still makes me sad, at times. And angry, at times.

Sounds to me as if Libs got upset because she found out she was being lied to by her own “church.” Who can blame such a one? Sorry for molting on your computer monitor. 🙂

Magdalena responds:

I think I got angry because at least a part of it rang true, and that put me in a tough spot. You’re supposed to defend the church with everything you have. I was angry at having to defend things that I was doubting on some level. And when you’ve been taught that your eternal salvation hangs in the balance, that can be crazy-making.

The more I learned, the less I could defend. And I was angry at the Mormon church for putting me and other people in that position.

How ridiculous is it to expect people to defend someone who chased young girls, married already married women and lied to his own wife about it? This was supposed to be a prophet? I don’t think so.

The list of ridiculous things you’re supposed to defend is very long. If you don’t, you’re accused of not having enough faith. Well you need to be smart about where you put your faith. I wasted a lot of time and energy defending things that weren’t from God. And that did make me upset.

Sounds to me as if Magdalena was upset that she could no longer defend the indefensible. Sounds like she was frustrated at being lied to… and finally… enough is enough.

Justjo responds:

I was angry because I thought the “anti’s” were just lying, the more I found what they said was true, the angrier I got because of fear… fear as Magdalena said, loosing one’s salvation, loosing the progression one has already made and having to start over again if I left and I was wrong in doing so and had to go back. Angry that the org’s best answers at the time was people who have question lack faith, and Mormons know what God thinks of those who lack faith! Then, to actually leave and hear rumors that you left because of some great sin, you couldn’t live the high standards of the org (who the heck really can!?), or I was angry with someone in the org (as if that would be a reason to leave “the only true church”)… that was what made me angry the most!

As Shawn McCraney said… they were right! “I am a sinner, probably the lowest of the low!” But, name me one Mormon who isn’t. HELLOOOOO!!! I live a higher standard being away from the org than I did in it. Why? Because I am not trying to be something I am not…. perfect. Last but not least… who hasn’t been angry at someone else? Do you leave your faith because of that? SERIOUSLY….

Boy Russ… you must have hit a sore spot in me… LOL…. here… let me vent… tell you what I really think and how I really feel about it…

Yes, the more of God’s truth I found, the angrier I got, and the louder I spewed against those who spoke out against my Mormon religion…

Oh my heck! Sounds to me like Justjo was angry at being guilt-tripped into thinking she’d loose her salvation if she dared to question “Joseph.”

MistyAnn0414 responds:

I think I was upset because I felt I was being “picked on”. I was taught that this was the only true church, and the so called “persecution” was proof of it. I can remember going to the Hill Cumorah pageant, seeing the protesters and thinking very unChristian thoughts about them. I never once thought that maybe there was someone there who just wanted to share Jesus Christ with me. I thought I knew it all, that I had the whole truth. I believed that the people who spoke out against the church were only going on the limited knowledge they had, believing the lies they read in books, and heard from their pastors. You know to this day I have never been in a church where the pastor even mentioned Mormonism. It all came down to fear. I was afraid to go there, to take that step. I knew things didn’t feel right or add up. I just didn’t know what I would do without the church.

Sounds to me that MistyAnn found out that it’s okay to question Joseph and that Christians aren’t necessarily out to merely attack Mormons, but are rather asking Mormons to seriously examine what their “church” is asking them to believe.

Mishamari responds:

I was angry at the institution’s methods because I had been lied to. Milk before meat y’know. I was angry at myself because I was so naive’ and trusting, angry because I was out so much money… I overpaid tithing and when tax time came around I couldn’t get it back. I was sad too, that my loved ones bought into a lie as well and I was the first convert in the family.

I wasn’t presented with any “Tracts” and I don’t recall being upset with any “antis”. I only ran into a few “antis”; one was a roommate and we just agreed to disagree. And another was a gal I met at the library, she belonged to a campus Christian cult (college newspaper warned us about them) and approached me about a Bible study. WE got to talking about church and she said “You do realize your church teaches my people have the Mark of Cain, right?” I was a new convert and wasn’t familiar with such a teaching. She started stalking me around campus and I had to say “If you want to be friends, that’s great. You have to give me some space. If I’m only a project to you then I don’t want anymore contact.” I never heard from her again.

Y’know Russ… now, years later… I think the thing I am most upset about is the misrepresentation of God. This issue is what initially led me out of the church but wasn’t the source of my anger. I’m over the “lie” thing and now I’m angry about how God is defined.

Sounds like Mishamari got fed up with being lied to. Again, who can blame such a one?

The courage of these five women inspire me.

Jesus inspired them.

Jesus inspired them to take a close look at what the Mormon “church” was asking them (telling them) to believe and, more importantly, Jesus inspired them to take a real, close look at who He claims to be.

May Jesus also inspire you to look deeply into his life and then compare that to what Joseph Smith said about Jesus. Can such a person really be the brother of Satan? Or is he who he said, i.e. God in the flesh? (John 1:1 and 1:14) The very God of all creation. (Col. 2)

Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?”

Just a good guy? A special prophet? Lunatic? Liar? Offspring of God and Mother God? Brother of Satan who proposed a better plan?

Or God.

Choose this day whom you’ll serve.

Jesus or Joseph.

History of the canon and how we got our bible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCLLCYyVWYQ

http://www.youtube.com/user/Knowwhere…

Thanks to Chris White of http://nowheretorunradio.com for making all his videos available for download and re-distribution here http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheret…

If you have not checked out Chris’s ministry, your missing out. See all the revelation radio guys radio shows here http://www.revelationsradionetwork.com/ and here http://feeds2.feedburner.com/Revelati… and their video channel here http://feeds2.feedburner.com/Revelati…

 

GOD’S GENERALS: The Legacy (includes Todd Bentley, Jim Goll, Benny Hinn, Roberts Liardon, and more)

 

Charles Fox Parham and Freemasonry

Parham was probably a member of the Freemasons at some time in his life.[14] The 1930 biography on Parham (page 32) says “Mr. Parham belonged to a lodge and carried an insurance on his life. He felt now that he should give this up also.”[5] The question is one of timing, the extent of his involvement, and how much of their teachings became merged with his theology. From his wife’s comments, it appears he was originally involved because of the good deeds they did in looking after their fellow man (something he did not feel the churches did a good job of doing), not because of their beliefs. Because many in the Pentecostal movement oppose the Freemasons so bitterly, some have said that he left the organization when he started his “Full Gospel” ministry. This would fit with the comment in the biography. What is clear is that, at the peak of his ministry (between 1900 and mid-1907) he had little time for involvement in any organizations. His bible school and his preaching were an all consuming task. Even his active later ministry left little free time for activities like lodges. Some feel there is evidence that Parham was still a member of the Freemasons in 1928 (they feel he “appeared to still have Masonic tendencies”), but source documents for this are not quoted. They may be drawing an inference from a letter that Parham wrote back home from his Palestine trip where he said “I am going to bring a gavel home with me … I am going to present it to the Masonic lodge in Baxter Springs with my respects.”(p373)[5] Yet if he had been a member then, it is likely that his wife’s earlier comment in the same book, where it tells of Parham’s decision to leave the lodge, would have been different. She said “I had been taught in the Friend’s church not to believe in secret organizations, and was very glad for his decision” [i.e. to leave the lodge].(p32)[5] It is just as likely that the gavel was simply a present for friends he had known since his original involvement. If Parham was involved in Freemasonry, the ultimate question is what the level of his involvement was, when he was involved, and if there are any indications of these beliefs in his ministry, especially during the period of his highest influence in the early pentecostal movement (from 1900 to 1907). Lower level involvement in smaller communities can be more of a social involvement than a belief in or an understanding of their principles (as it appears was the situation with Parham’s early involvement with the lodge).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Parham

Cessationism is it True?

by coramdeo on Apr.14, 2009, under Religion

benny_hinn1

First I want to say that I do not believe that Cessationism or Continuationism are “essential doctrines”. Meaning I do not think that your salvation relys on what you believe in regard to them. However, like any theology what you believe will have an affect on your life, and closer you are to the truth the better your life will be. So, like in everything we must desire to adhere to the truth, to discover it, and follow it. When it comes to Cessationism I am no expert, but I do wish to bring here what I have learned. I am in no way so stuck on it that I cannot be convinced of another view.

 

I have agreed with Eric Kemp who authors the Blog Apologia at intelligentscience.org to participate in a informal debate on the topic of Cessationism vs Continuationism. I will be arguing for Cessationism and he Continuationism. I will write the first post and he will respond. We welcome your input and questions at any point along the way. This is our way of challenging ourselves while also benefiting you with both sides of the debate.

For your reference I will be using information found in these Sources:

Ligonier: 1. Miracles and 2. God Speaking

Modern Reformation: 3. Spiritual Gifts

Realgospel.org: 4. Cessationism

I will reference material with the preceding number for the source i.e (3).

I do believe, like many, that Cessationism gets a bad rap and that there are many false views, or arguments against it. First I will give a quick summery of Cessationism, then give some bad arguments against it, and lastly give some good arguments for it. I do not plan on going too in depth, but to be concise and if needed go more in depth in my responses.

As a preface I would like to point out that even if all of scripture can be shown to agree with Cessationism to a reasonable degree, that many people will still not believe it, because to be Cessationist means that you got there because you believe other things about the Bible, revelation, early church, apostles, spiritual gifts, Holy Spirit ect, than Continuationists, and if you are Continuationist, in order to become Cessationist you must change your beliefs on all these things and more, so it is no small task. It of course works the other way too, and Cessationists must change many of their beliefs to become Continuationists. This is because each side interprets the Bible differently in many of these non essentials, so you must change how you interpret and view the entire scriptures. Also this is why so many other doctrines are hard for people to change to, because it requires more than just changing your view on one doctrine. So, please just be aware that these discussions may challenge you and frustrate you, but will not necessarily be enough to convince you, because your views are supported by more than one doctrine. I became a Cessationist because of being convinced of other doctrines, of which Cessationism fits in with, and because it fits into how I understand the Bible and its proper interpretation.

Like in the other articles I linked, I too believe that many people do not understand the Cessationist view or have wrong ideas. Its not like we don’t believe in Miracles (1), we believe God is working Supernaturally, just that He no longer uses some of the Spiritual gifts He gave to the early church, because their use is no longer needed. Not all the gifts are gone, just some, just the ones that God gave to build the foundation of His early church and Scripture, and now since they are both done, built, there is no more need for these gifts (3)(4).

The basic belief is that Scripture is complete now, God gave the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues, and healings to validate the Apostles teaching while He built the early Church and Scripture. Since they are now built, there is no need for them now. Now God wants us to get direction from His revealed revelation (the Bible) not secret sayings or verbal communication from Him (2). He no longer needs prophecy, healings, or tongues to prove His word is true, we now have Scripture and the Apostles who were shown to be true through their miracles and gifts. Now God can if He wants, give these gifts again, we are not saying that, but that God doesn’t normally or regularly give them like He did in the early Church.

This is one of the main arguments for Cessationism, namely that our understanding of the Gifts and their intended use, differs from Continuationists. Cessationists now rely on scripture alone to hear from God, to prove His Gospel, and to be the catalyst that saves His people. We believe that 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 should be interpreted as signifying that the gifts will cease once the church is built (4). We also believe that Ephesians 4:11-13 seems to say that the Apostles, and Prophets will only be given until the fullness of the church has come, then they will cease (3). We argue that since you do not see Apostles now days, that you wont see Prophets, although you will see teachers, and evangelists. There are a few reasons for this. Apostles have ceased with the 12, Rev 21:14 seems to show that there will only be 12. Also Ephesians 4:11 says that the church will be build on Apostles and Prophets, and thus it can be inferred that when the church is built, these offices will cease. Timothy who is not an apostle is called a pastor / teacher by Paul and is encouraged to continue on even when Paul is gone. I think the N.T is quite evident that Pastors and Teacher are to continue on, but we do not have much evidence that Apostles or Prophets should continue on, and in light of other passages I think it is best to conclude that Apostles and Prophet offices have ceased.

So we believe that God had a time for the Apostles and Prophets, and the gifts of tongues, healings, and prophecy, namely to build His Church and Scripture, but now that they are both built, we have no need for any of them. We are to now rely upon Scripture alone for our revelation from God, we are to pursue love, faith, and joy and not prophecy, tongues, or healing. We are not to rely on experiences, but the evidence found in Scripture as our bases for truth and revelation. God still does work miraculously especially in His work to save people, and might at times even work miracles as responses to prayer, or just to do the work He wishes to do. However, we do not believe that He has gifted specific people with these gifts to use them all the time. Nor do we believe one miracle to evidence that the gifts are back, but that God is working still in this earth. We have a hard time believing the gifts are still here in the same power they were with the Apostles because we don’t see people being raised from the dead (like Peter did) or lame people being healed (like Peter did), or the blind given sight. We hear about such things, but we see no quantifiable evidence that they are real, or that they are consistent, meaning not a once in a while supernatural occurrence. If these gifts were still working today, considering the number of true Christians now days, one would think he would see tons of miracles happening everywhere, all the time, since we do not, it’s safe to say the gifts have ceased.

Bad Arguments against Cessationism:

1. “I have see people prophecy, heal, or speak in Tongues”.

First experiences should never trump scripture, and you should never interpret scripture from your experiences. Why? Well first our hearts are deceptively wicked, and who can really trust our feelings (4). Second we are called to test the spirits 1 John 4:1, and if we need to test them with Scripture, why is there a need to quote something other than scripture (4)? We are meant to use scripture, to test what other people are speaking, what “spirit” are they speaking / teaching in, does it align with scripture? Experiences can support scripture, but they should never contradict, and if they do, either your interpretation or your experience is wrong.

Second other religions speak in “tongues” or “prophecy” or do “healings”, so it seems they can be contrived, and not the real thing. Also people can be insane and hear voices or contrive such things, how are you sure you are sane or that person is?

Third I have found no proof for any true “healing” miracle to be done, at least the kind like done by apostles. This is more for other people to prove, but in all my study I have not seen a person who was blind, not bad sight, but blind, proven by doctors and others, who was given 20/20 vision instantly and proven by others / doctors. Or a person who had a shrived hand or leg, who was restored instantly in front of witnesses proven by doctors. Or a person raised from the dead. Not that miracles do not happen medically, or that things do not happen to people that cannot be explained, but as far as I can tell this kind of thing happens to non Christians and Christians alike. What I am saying is I have not seen or heard proven that any so called Miracle healer being able to actually perform true healing miracles like my examples before, and more often than not these healers have been proven to be charlatans. If this gift is not performed in power, given to specific people who have done it multiple times in big ways, then I do not think there is evidence for it. If it is sparse, given to random people for a specific time, well that doesn’t prove that the gift of healing has continued, but that God works Supernaturally in this world and answers prayers. A good article on this is Faith Healing and the Sovereignty of God.

2. “No where in the Bible is it specifically said that only Apostles and Prophets will cease along with Tongues and Healings”.

No where in the Bible is the word Trinity also, but we infer from careful study of Scripture that the concept is taught clearly. So it is with Cessationism, we believe that although it is not specifically taught, it is taught by inference.

3. “You guys don’t see miracles because you do not have enough faith.”

Where in the N.T does it say that the gifts are only given to people with enough faith? Where does it define enough faith? How do you know how much faith I have? You are assuming to know something you don’t, you are begging the question. You are asserting what you are trying to claim. You are saying “because gifts are for today, and because you don’t see or perform them, you must not have enough faith, because gifts are for today”. That doesn’t prove anything, it is just an assertion. Just like I could say that you do not have enough faith to see Santa Clause, thus you do not see him. It proves nothing, stop oppressing people with this statement. So many people who “could not” be healed by faith healers were told, “well you just don’t have enough faith”, not “it’s not God’s will for you to be healed” or “I’m a big fat liar”, but “God cannot work unless you let Him” (Faith Healing and the Sovereignty of God). Besides not proving anything, it is actually not Biblical. God doesn’t need your permission, or faith to work. Sometimes He seemingly doesn’t work because a person doesn’t have faith, but other times He does. Take Paul, Paul didn’t have faith in Jesus, didn’t want anything to do with Jesus, yet that didn’t stop Jesus from intervening and giving Paul faith, and changing him. Yes, God doesn’t need you, you are not God’s keeper or boss. This is the biggest problem with this response, namely it brings God down, and makes Him our servant, and brings man up, and makes him God’s boss.

Think about this too. The early church didn’t believe in Tongues, so they didn’t have “faith” in them, but then bam! Flames of fire and the Holy Spirit descending on them in the upper room, and then they spoke in Tongues. So faith doesn’t need to exist first, meaning faith in that Gift, only Faith in God. Thus, if only Faith in God is enough, there are plenty of people around with enough Faith in God, yet God doesn’t give any “gifts” to them in the way you want. Thus your only two options are: you are wrong, or you are pessimistic about how many people are truly saved, when the Bible seems to say a great number of people will be saved, uncountable number. Since you think there are so few people with true faith now days.

Things Continuationists must respond to:

1. If you are going to claim that Prophecy, Tongues, and Healings exist now, then you also are going to have to claim that Apostles and Prophets exist now. But in order to be an Apostle you must have seen the risen Lord in person. Commonly called the 5 pillars of the church, Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, and Evangelists.

2. Prophecy is adding to scripture. The nature of O.T Prophecy is communication directly from God, thus it is added to Scripture. The Canon is closed, God is not adding to the Bible any more, so there is no need for this type of Prophecy. And this type of Prophecy would only be adding to Scripture, and if true, on the same ground as Scripture. It was appropriate for the Apostle’s time because Scripture was not finished yet, but now that its finished, there is no need for it. All we need is Scripture as our authority, and it would be undermined if people were running around Prophesying.

3. Is the Canon closed or not? Is God still adding to scripture or not? If no, then why would he need the gifts of Tongues, Prophecy, and Healing now? If yes, then why haven’t we added any more books to the Bible? Are you saying that the Bible isn’t sufficient now? It must not be if you think that the canon is still open.

4. I think the biggest point is that the Bible seems to teach that God would build His church on the Apostles teachings, and that once He has built the foundation of His church on them, He would no longer call people as Apostles nor gift them like He used to. You must argue against this language, and then defend why God would need to add to His Scripture more, because it seems that Apostles and the gifts were meant for that main purpose, namely the creation of the N.T.

In conclusion your beliefs will ultimately be determined on what you believe on certain issues (I am only going to do either or, although there might be many more beliefs, I am going to take the mains ones:

Either you believe that God has given us Scripture alone as His means to teach us, and spread His Gospel, or you believe that God uses the Bible with Prophecy, Tongues, and Healings. But then why not Church leadership too like the Catholic Church? Or why discount Mormons and other false religions, because they speak in Tongues and Prophecy?

Either you believe the Bible is complete or it isn’t. But if it isn’t how do you know what things should be added, and why haven’t we added anything more?

You either believe God gave certain gifts in power for the building of His church, or you believe He gave those gifts for all church ages, even though there is little use, or evidence that they are here, and have to argue that they are limited because of the lack of faith. But again where is it in the Bible? There are plenty of people with faith, why aren’t they all acting accordingly?

You have to believe that either man is dependent on God for gifts like even Faith Eph. 2:8, or God is dependent on men’s Faith to act. Either God gives us the faith, and then we exercise it and He works, or else He waits for us to have faith (apart from Him) and then He works. One seems pretty Biblical one doesn’t.

In the end, we all can be brothers and sisters in Christ and still disagree on these things. But like I said before I do believe that they will have huge ramifications on your own life, joy, and spiritual growth. Let us be Biblical, and gracious to each other, and seek the truth. Let us lay aside our pride, and where we are wrong admit, and where we are right humbly assert. Let us not be so reliant on experiences for our evidence that we miss what God is actually saying in His holy Word. This article is by not means comprehensive, but is intended to spark conversation and debate. I will respond to any criticisms or questions to the best of my ability.

The Ball is in your court Eric. Have fun!

http://www.imthebeggar.com/index.php/archives/cessationism-is-it-true/

=========================================

http://www.thewordonthewordoffaith.com/

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

THE WORD on the Word of Faith TV 

 

warn

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

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/04/16/the-word-on-the-word-of-faith-tv/

A NEW BOOK BY AN EX-COC MEMBER
 
inside-church-of-christInside the Churches of Christ: The Reflection of a Former Pharisee on What Every Christian Should Know about the Nondenomination Denomination By Charles Simpson Published by AuthorHouse, 2009 ISBN 1438901402, 9781438901404 308 pages
 
The Pharisee of Jesus’ day placed obstacles between lost souls and salvation in much the same way that modern day Pharisees hinder today’s salvation seekers from accepting Christ. Inside The Churches of Christ reveals those obstacles as they are manifested throughout modern day Churches of Christ. Author, Charles Simpson, reflects an unmistakable Pharisaical attitude toward other Christians, Christian traditions and Christian institutions typical of those he personally witnessed as a 50-year active member of the Churches of Christ. Dozens of quotes from Church of Christ practitioners from all over the USA validate the legalisms prevalent within this group. Church of Christ readers will come away with a new perspective on the actual theology of their own brethren and the potential impact of that theology on other believers. All Christian readers will have a better view of the non-denomination denomination and gain much insight into the Church of Christ claim of being Christ’s “one true church.”

 

My next few post will come from http://www.dyingtoliveabundantlife.com/entry/teachings  

ABOUT Dying to live the Abundant Life.  

Have you ever wished you could die? Of course, you didn’t really want to kill yourself. You just didn’t want to be here anymore! When life gets painful, who has not wished they could just go somewhere and leave it all behind? In one of his Psalms, David expressed it like this: “O, that I had wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.”

Even the great apostle Paul, when imprisoned in Rome, said it would be better to die so he could be with the Lord. And when listing the many trials he had to endure through his life, Paul said he had “despaired of life.”

This “death wish” is a natural human response to seemingly endless trials. As a counselor for 25 years, I have met many persons who felt this way, even some who were suicidal. But as I counseled suicidal people, I learned this:

There is a right way and a wrong way to die!

When people say they want to die, they mean that they want to escape their painful circumstances. They are disappointed that life is not turning out as they had expected. And the greater their expectation, the greater their disappointment. Many have turned away in anger toward God! Who of us has not felt this way?

And it is not just the BIG things in life that cause us to feel this way. Daily we deal with these disappointments. We are angry because the paper was late this morning; the toilet stopped up again; the car needed to go in the shop for the third time this month. And we say, “I would rather die than live like this.” Wait a minute, you say! What’s wrong with wanting these things? My friend, that is the wrong question! The question is not whether it is wrong to want these things. The real question is: what will you do when you don’t get them? What will you do with your disappointment? And your anger?

The irony is that these hard times are meant to show you that there is something you need to die to, or said differently, to let go of. As children of God, we must learn there is a right way to “die” (let go) and a wrong way to “die” (let go).

This is the point of this webiste.

The real death blow is to give up, or die to, stop insisting on your own way, that is, your expectations of how things should be. This is what it means to die to self. Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat…dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears MUCH fruit. Jesus meant that you cannot be alive to this abundant life He offers unless you are willing to die to your own. When you give up your right to be in charge of your own life, that is, be your own god, you allow God to be God. And the life that He will give you is marked by contentment and peace instead of anger and depression.

Jesus suffered and died and then rose up to be seated at the right hand of His father where He lives a glorious eternal life. He extends that life to us right now – in time. It is called Abundant Life. Jesus invited you to have it, but you have to die to experience it. He calls you to deny yourself, to pick up your cross and follow Him. Picking up your cross means you are taking your place with Jesus, to die to your own will.

Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own…” Why should it be any different for you and me?

Dietrich Bonheoffer says “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” There can be no full receiving of this “new” life while we are unwilling to let go of the “old.”

Are you hungry for more of God? Are you eager to have the abundant life that Jesus offered? Are you dying to live the abundant life?

Jesus said: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Through pertinent articles written by Dr. Greg Burts and some of his favorite authors and teachers, you may read more about this “dying to live abundant life” truth. And this is why Greg has written his book Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?.

May God bless your journey to Abundant Living! 

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

Dr. Greg Burts is the Founder and Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling.

Greg says, the Lord called me to the ministry of biblical counseling after my own journey away from God because of confusion and ignorance about my identity in Christ. Upon discovering these truths, he became passionate to advance personal spiritual growth in the church through the ministry of biblical counseling. Although Dr. Burts holds a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from California Coast University, his therapeutic approach is singularly biblical.

You can learn more about Dr. Greg Burts’ ministry of Biblical counseling and training through his website at www.centerforbiblicalcounseling.org.

Dr. Burts is author of two books:

Strategic Biblical Counseling and Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?  

While both of these books present and explain the truths contained on this website, the latter was written specifically to accompany the Dying to Live seminar, taught by him in various locations several times a year.

Dr. Burts’ wife Altha, Founder and Executive Director of Well of Life Ministries, has written a book of her own journey of transformation and healing, called Come Up Higher. She has also written a strategic Bible study called Treasures of Truth, which can be viewed online at www.well-of-life.org, where you can also hear Altha’s testimony and learn more about her ministry.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

The Way of the Cross, by Zac Poonen

Jesus, as our Forerunner (One Who has run the same race ahead of us), has opened a way for us to enter the Father’s presence and dwell there all the time. This way is called “the new and living way” (Heb.10:20).

Paul speaks of it as “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor.4:10). He once said, as his personal testimony, that he was crucified with Christ and lived himself no longer. It was Christ that now lived in him, because he himself had died on Calvary. This was the secret of his amazing life and usefulness to God.

Jesus always walked the way of the cross – the way of death to Self. He NEVER pleased Himself even once (Rom.15:4). To please oneself is the essence of all sin. To deny oneself is the essence of holiness.

Jesus once said that no-one would be able to follow Him, unless he decided to deny himself DAILY and to die to himself DAILY (Lk.9:23). That is clear. It is impossible to follow Jesus if we don’t deny ourselves daily. We may be cleansed in Christ’s blood, have received the Holy Spirit and have a deep knowledge of the Word. But if we don’t die to ourselves daily, we cannot follow the Lord Jesus. That is certain.

Jesus once spoke of those who seek to patch up an old garment with a new patch. This He said would tear the garment. What was needed was to get rid of the old garment and get a brand new one. In another parable, He spoke of making the tree itself good, if we wanted the fruit to be good. It was no use just cutting off the bad fruit.

All these parables have basically one lesson: The old man cannot be improved. He has been crucified by God (Rom.6:6). Now we must agree with God’s judgment on him, and put him off, and put on the new man.

The way of the cross is the way of spiritual progress. If you are not overcoming sins like anger, irritation, impatience, lustful thinking, dishonesty, jealousy, malice, bitterness, and the love of money etc., the answer lies here : You have avoided the way of the cross.

A dead man does not stand up for his rights. He does not fight back. He does not care about his reputation. He will not take revenge. He cannot hate anyone or have a bitterness against anyone.

This is what it means to die to Self.

This way of the cross, like all the other provisions that God has made for our spiritual growth, is also something that we need DAILY, if we are to make spiritual progress.

© Copyright – Zac Poonen

This article has been copyrighted to prevent misuse. It should not be reprinted or translated without written permission from the author. Permission is however given for this article to be downloaded and printed , provided it is for FREE distribution, provided NO ALTERATIONS are made, provided the AUTHOR’S NAME AND ADDRESS are mentioned and provided this COPYRIGHT notice [“Copyright by Zac Poonen”] is included in each printout.

http://www.cfcindia.com/web/mainpages/word_for_the_week.php?display=01_05&year=06

 

ABOUT Dying to live the Abundant Life.
Have you ever wished you could die? Of course, you didn’t really want to kill yourself. You just didn’t want to be here anymore! When life gets painful, who has not wished they could just go somewhere and leave it all behind? In one of his Psalms, David expressed it like this: “O, that I had wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.”

Even the great apostle Paul, when imprisoned in Rome, said it would be better to die so he could be with the Lord. And when listing the many trials he had to endure through his life, Paul said he had “despaired of life.”

This “death wish” is a natural human response to seemingly endless trials. As a counselor for 25 years, I have met many persons who felt this way, even some who were suicidal. But as I counseled suicidal people, I learned this:

There is a right way and a wrong way to die!

When people say they want to die, they mean that they want to escape their painful circumstances. They are disappointed that life is not turning out as they had expected. And the greater their expectation, the greater their disappointment. Many have turned away in anger toward God! Who of us has not felt this way?

And it is not just the BIG things in life that cause us to feel this way. Daily we deal with these disappointments. We are angry because the paper was late this morning; the toilet stopped up again; the car needed to go in the shop for the third time this month. And we say, “I would rather die than live like this.” Wait a minute, you say! What’s wrong with wanting these things? My friend, that is the wrong question! The question is not whether it is wrong to want these things. The real question is: what will you do when you don’t get them? What will you do with your disappointment? And your anger?

The irony is that these hard times are meant to show you that there is something you need to die to, or said differently, to let go of. As children of God, we must learn there is a right way to “die” (let go) and a wrong way to “die” (let go).

This is the point of this webiste.

The real death blow is to give up, or die to, stop insisting on your own way, that is, your expectations of how things should be. This is what it means to die to self. Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat…dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears MUCH fruit. Jesus meant that you cannot be alive to this abundant life He offers unless you are willing to die to your own. When you give up your right to be in charge of your own life, that is, be your own god, you allow God to be God. And the life that He will give you is marked by contentment and peace instead of anger and depression.

Jesus suffered and died and then rose up to be seated at the right hand of His father where He lives a glorious eternal life. He extends that life to us right now – in time. It is called Abundant Life. Jesus invited you to have it, but you have to die to experience it. He calls you to deny yourself, to pick up your cross and follow Him. Picking up your cross means you are taking your place with Jesus, to die to your own will.

Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own…” Why should it be any different for you and me?

Dietrich Bonheoffer says “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” There can be no full receiving of this “new” life while we are unwilling to let go of the “old.”

Are you hungry for more of God? Are you eager to have the abundant life that Jesus offered? Are you dying to live the abundant life?

Jesus said: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Through pertinent articles written by Dr. Greg Burts and some of his favorite authors and teachers, you may read more about this “dying to live abundant life” truth. And this is why Greg has written his book Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?.

May God bless your journey to Abundant Living! 

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

Dr. Greg Burts is the Founder and Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling.

Greg says, the Lord called me to the ministry of biblical counseling after my own journey away from God because of confusion and ignorance about my identity in Christ. Upon discovering these truths, he became passionate to advance personal spiritual growth in the church through the ministry of biblical counseling. Although Dr. Burts holds a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from California Coast University, his therapeutic approach is singularly biblical.

You can learn more about Dr. Greg Burts’ ministry of Biblical counseling and training through his website at www.centerforbiblicalcounseling.org.

Dr. Burts is author of two books:

Strategic Biblical Counseling and Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?  

While both of these books present and explain the truths contained on this website, the latter was written specifically to accompany the Dying to Live seminar, taught by him in various locations several times a year.

Dr. Burts’ wife Altha, Founder and Executive Director of Well of Life Ministries, has written a book of her own journey of transformation and healing, called Come Up Higher. She has also written a strategic Bible study called Treasures of Truth, which can be viewed online at www.well-of-life.org, where you can also hear Altha’s testimony and learn more about her ministry.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

Bearing the Cross
By John Woodward
May 17, 1999

The story is told of a child in a church service who was intrigued by the hymn, “Gladly, the Cross I’d Bear”. Some time following church, the little one told his mother that he really liked the song they sang about the bear. “What song did we sing about a BEAR?” she asked. The child responded, “You remember, “Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear”! Hopefully his mom could enlighten him. . .

Perhaps we too feel a little confused about the various facets of the Cross. Andrew Murray noted two fundamental aspects of the Cross. Christ died for us–that is the REDEMPTION of the Cross: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18).

Believers died with Christ–this is the FELLOWSHIP of the Cross: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”(Gal 2:20).

Since our theme this month is “the flesh”, let us study some verses that relate the cross to “the flesh”. Galatians 5:24 states “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” In other words, because the believer is united with Christ, THE AUTHORITY OF THE FLESH HAS BEEN BROKEN! We are free!

Now I think we need to answer two questions arising from Galatians 5:24. First, Does this verse teach that the flesh is no longer present in the believer? No; the context indicates that the believer needs to “walk in the Spirit” to avoid the “works of the flesh” (v.13,16,17-see previous issue). [However, the “old man” (our unregenerate human spirit) WAS crucified with Christ and IS NO LONGER IN THE PICTURE because it was replaced with “the new man” (the regenerate human spirit) — Rom 6:6, Col 3:9,10, 2 Cor 5:17] .

Second, Does Galatians 5:24 teach that the believer somehow directly crucified his flesh? I propose that this crucifixion of the flesh is a consequence of our union with Christ at salvation. Our part was to repent and believe; God’s part was to unite us with Christ and BREAK THE AUTHORITY OF SIN in our lives–(John 8:32).

The believer’s indirect “crucifixion of the flesh” is comparable to the indirect use of “save” found in 1 Corinthians 9:22. Paul wrote, “To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means SAVE some.” Here Paul aims to “save some” through his preaching of the gospel. Would Paul directly save them? No; God would save them THROUGH Paul’s witness. Similarly, believers “have crucified the flesh” indirectly as a consequence of being united with Christ: “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor 6:17). So through Christ, THE AUTHORITY OF THE FLESH BEEN NULLIFIED BY GOD!

This truth is also taught in Colossians using the symbolism of circumcision: “And you are complete in Him [Christ], who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Col 2:10-12). Circumcision was the Old Testament sign of the covenant relationship with God. It conveyed the idea of putting off the sin inherited from Adam, and anticipating the promised Seed who would come–Christ (Gal 3:16). Those who are redeemed by Him are spiritually “circumcised”. As the prophet foretold, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33). When we walk in the Spirit we are living in accordance with our “new heart”.

There is another use of “putting to death” of the flesh that needs to be examined. In Romans 8:13 we read, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you PUT TO DEATH the deeds of the body, you will live.” Charles Solomon explains, “When flesh is in the ascendancy or control we are functionally (though not organically) separated from the Source of Life which results in a STATE of death (Rom 8:6) while having a STANDING of Life (Col 3:4)”. In other words, if the believer “walks according to the flesh” he does not lose his salvation, but he does hinder fellowship with God. (Fleshly thoughts and actions grieve the Holy Spirit–Eph 4:30).This “putting to death” the deeds of the flesh differs from the FACT of our crucifixion with Christ and the blessings that flow from it (as described above). Rather, Paul exhorts us in Romans 8:13 to apply the Cross to the flesh patterns which still exist in the soul.

Our POWER SOURCE for this is the Holy Spirit: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [for holy living] through His Spirit who dwells in you.”(Rom 8:11).

OUR STRATEGY is to set our minds on the truth, on our freedom, on Christ, and on the Spirit’s active ministry in us: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5).

One concluding reference to the cross in the believer’s life is Luke 9:23: “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Here our Savior calls us to say “no” to our will and “yes” to God’s will–no matter how difficult the consequences. The Lord Jesus demonstrated this commitment in His prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36).

Are we gladly willing to bear His Cross? This involves reckoning our true identity and freedom in Christ. Thankfully, we can rely on His Resurrection life in us to live according to God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will. This is the life God calls us to live–a life without regrets.

Our gracious God, we thank you for the freedom from the authority of the flesh that is our birthright in Christ. As we stand in grace, we choose to live by grace. In Christ’s victory we pray, amen.

JBW May 17, ’99 vol 2 # 20

http://www.gracenotebook.com/pub/163

ABOUT the Center for Biblical Counseling

Dr. Greg Burts, Founder and Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling and Altha Burts, Founder and Executive Director, Well of Life Ministries
 
The Center For Biblical Counseling is a non-profit organization, incorporated by the State of California to provide counseling and counselor training.

For 2000 years, the church has been the recognized community resources for counsel and advice. But, unfortunately, modern day “Christian psychotherapy” has become a replacement for what-used-to-be a pastoral function of caring for souls. The Christian psychology movement is marginalizing pastors and church leaders who are no longer being taken seriously with respect to counseling. Secular psychology has slipped in through the back door of the church; it is chipping away at the foundation of absolute truth with emphasis on self-esteem, self-love, and self-forgiveness. It is time to return the ministry of pastoral care and counseling to the church.

While most pastors want to meet this increased demand, they feel overwhelmed by the need.

The SOLUTION, many churches have found, is to establish Biblical counseling ministries, where mature, gifted persons within the church are able to do this work of pastoral care.

Gifted Biblical counselors can meet this need, and also free the pastor’s time and energy for other pastoral duties.

This website offers you a strategy for your church’s counseling ministry. The objective is spiritual growth through a Christ-centered proclamation of transformation. Biblical Counseling is about relationship with Jesus; the goal of Biblical counseling is Christ-likeness.

Vision

The vision is for lay biblical counseling in every church.

  • Lay Biblical Counselors can extend the effectiveness of the pastors’ shepherding responsibilities by providing one-on-one ministry to hurting individuals.
  • Lay Biblical Counselors promote a spiritual perspective, as they help counselees to apply the Word of God to issues.
  • Biblical Counselors have the advantage of working within the context of the church and can avail themselves of all the associative resources: small groups, bible studies, recovery ministries, to name a few.

About Dr. Greg Burts

Author of two books

“I have written a book to help you understand how to do biblical counseling. Strategic Biblical Counseling, available at Amazon.com or Winepress. I have also recently published a book on personal transformation called Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life? also available at Winepress or Amazon.com. Also visit my website at Dying to Live the Abundant Life.com.

The Lord’s Calling

The Lord “called” me into biblical counseling after my own journey away from God because of confusion and ignorance about my identity in Christ. Upon discovering these truths, I became impassioned to advance personal spiritual growth in the church through the ministry of biblical counseling.

Twenty-five Years Experience In Biblical Counseling My approach provides a biblical content combined with solid therapeutic techniques that strengthen the counselee’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Although I have a masters degree in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from California Coast University, my therapeutic approach is singularly biblical.

Pastoral and Counseling Experience

Over the last 25 years, I have been a pastor in two churches. One was very small and one very large. Therefore, I understand the needs of pastors of all kinds of congregations! My wife Altha and I have been involved in many Bay Area churches to assist them in training and equipping individual counselors, and establishing church counseling ministries. My wife Altha is Director of Well of Life Ministries in Sunnyvale and has written a book of her own spiritual journey, Come Up Higher.

Dr. Burts is available to pastors, by email, for consultation.

http://www.centerforbiblicalcounseling.org/about

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SOME TESTIMONIES

Pastors Testimonials

October 15, 2005

John Headley, Cell Director
Pastoral Care
GateWay City Church

To Pastors and Church Leaders,

While creating a peer counseling ministry in our Church we asked Dr. Greg Burts to come in and teach a counseling course. He did, and we are greatly pleased with what he did. We are a Cell Church and our ministry is made up of many small groups. He strengthened leaders to handle situations previously handed over to the Pastoral Staff. Our counseling load is diminishing as leaders are stepping up to the task. They are happily released into victorious ministry and we are enjoying the fruit of it.

I would highly recommend his ministry to you as it is Biblically based, clear and simple, and it can be applied realistically in almost every situation where counsel is needed. Dr Burts is easy to work with and has shown himself to be flexible, according to the needs of the particular Church or ministry he is serving. Thank you.

May 6, 2005

Steve Aurell, Pastor
Recovery and Biblical Counseling Ministries
Central Peninsula Church

In 2002, as our church was expanding in both size and need, the pastoral staff was grappling with how to best utilize God’s resources to help those in times of spiritual crisis. Although our staff would be considered large by most standards the counseling needs were far greater than our capacity to manage. For the most part, when we couldn’t connect them to bible studies, community or recovery groups we would then refer into professional counseling services as the only other option. Unfortunately, for many this is a costly alternative. But the cost is not merely financial for the body of Christ. For the church is called to be a place of restoration where the neglected and rejected sojourner finds peace in the midst of the storm. We cannot afford to take this calling lightly. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

Well, God had a plan for us. I don’t know why I’m surprised. He always seems to act when the need is in line with His vision. This particular plan began to unfold as various circumstances put us in touch with Greg Burts. After meeting with our elders, we bought into his vision for Biblical Counseling ministry. Greg then trained our first round of counselors; many of whom are still ministering in that capacity today. That was September of 2002. We hung our “shingle” shortly thereafter and have been operating at capacity ever since. Greg came back to train the second round of counselors in 2004 and provided us with the tools necessary to then replicate further trainings and internships on our own. Today we have 15 counselors on staff and are in the process of adding 5 more. Our relationship with Greg continues as he often provides support and consultation when difficult counseling issues surface within the ministry.

We are eternally indebted to Greg for his willingness to both equip and empower lay ministers to be an extension of pastoral care. Therefore, I highly recommend the Center for Biblical Counseling to any pastors who are struggling to meet the counseling needs of the church. We have found this approach deeply rooted in the truth of God’s word, intentional in design, and simple to apply. More importantly the Biblical Counseling ministry mirrors God’s compassion for His people. He is the One who works in the deep places of the soul. We are merely the conduits. And when we, as God’s servants, allow His Spirit to both reveal and empower His plan in our lives there can be peace in the midst of life’s storms.

June 15, 2002

Paul E. Sheppard, Senior Pastor
Abundant Life Christian Fellowship
Menlo Park, CA

Dear Fellow Pastors:

Several years ago when our church was understaffed and I was overextended, I began looking for Christian counselors in the Bay Area to whom I could refer some of our members. After my first meeting with Greg Burts I was convinced that God was going to use him to help lighten my load and effectively counsel some of my members, and he did. We found his counseling ministry to be Bible-based, Christ-centered, and rooted in the value of helping people discover who they are and what they have as children of God.

Later, I asked Dr. Burts to help us launch an in-house Biblical counseling ministry. He helped us recruit prospective counselors from the ranks of church members/attendees, led a series of training sessions, and supervised the internship of those selected from the class to be counselors. To this day, Dr. Burts continues to serve as a consultant to our counseling ministry and its director.

I’m convinced that churches will be healthier and pastors more effective when we equip and release lay people to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). It’s a win-win proposition. Believers are given a forum in which to exercise their spiritual gifts, church members/attendees receive genuine help by meeting several times with a caring and qualified Biblical counselor, pastoral oversight is maintained because the counselors are known and approved by the pastor or ministry director, and the pastor is free to focus more time and attention on the ministry of the Word.

Therefore, I highly commend CBC and its training program to every pastor with limited time, giftedness, or inclination to meet with all of the people in your church who desire and deserve to be helped through Biblical counseling.

Students Testimonials

“I prayerfully & patiently waited for this course for one year and it was well worth the wait!”

It has exceeded my expectations because of how my very spirit, eyes, heart and soul have been exposed to powerful truths from God’s word. This class is more of a journey than a mere class because it is lead by the Spirit of God through Dr. Burts. Because of this exposure my life is forever changed; “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:12 . I can truly say that I am eternally grateful that I am a beneficiary of Dr. Burt’s Ministry. I love him and his wisdom, humor, candor, intellect, knowledge and how he challenged our class to be transformed by God’s word.

Doris Stanley
Manager, Human Resources
Deloitte & Touche

“An uncompromising approach to Biblical Counseling. I was challenged to “higher” heights in God’s Word.”

Florence Wilson
Counselor – Abundant Life Christian Fellowship
Menlo Park, CA

“Dr. Burts’ training has equipped our church with the necessary tools to establish a lay counseling ministry…”

Dr. Greg Burts provided a very simple biblical approach for helping people find answers to very complex issues facing them today. Dr. Burts’ training has equipped our church with the necessary tools to establish a lay counseling ministry, also providing techniques that have been effective in bringing about change and helping people grow in their relationship with the Jesus Christ.

I recommend this training to any Pastor who wants to better meet the counseling needs of their parishioners.

Cora Harper
Director Abundant Life Christian Fellowship
Biblical Counseling Ministry

“Biblical counseling approach is the answer to my prayers”

A perfectly practical, profound yet simple, system of applying truth: Dr. Greg Burts’ Biblical counseling approach is the answer to my prayers personally, as well as for the church.

Geraldine Wilson
Biblical Counselor
Abundant Life Christian Fellowship

link here

 

 

A Response to, “The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an Evaluation” (Note: Click on the title to see the article being discussed).

 

Although I am not familiar with the author of this article in online theological journal, Cyberjournal For Pentecostal-Charismatic Research (http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/), I am familiar with pentecostal-charismatic theology in general and with the prosperity gospel in particular. Having spent ten years or more of my life within the pentecostal-charismatic movement, I feel that I am qualified to comment on the doctrinal aberrations and distinctions of various traditions within the broader movement. Additionally, my theological training was completed at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland, Florida. (Now known as Southeastern University, a mostly liberal arts college). Although my seminary training was completed at Asbury Theological Seminary, I was a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies for two years.

As a young pentecostal I at first accepted uncritically most of the things which were being taught in my new local church, which was a member of the Assemblies of God denomination, and in home prayer group meetings and Sunday school classes. Although I was well read in the Scriptures, I thought that these folks knew something that I did not since I was only a new Christian having recently accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at age twenty-five. But the longer I was a member of the church and the more I read Holy Scripture some things did not seem to agree with what the total context of Scripture seemed to say. However, I continued to set aside my reservations under extreme peer pressure and group control.

In my opinion the severe control tactics of pentecostal-charismatic groups approaches the level of spiritual abuse and maybe even the level of cults like the Moonies or the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Those who question the doctrines or practices of the group are severely attacked and forced out.

The theological roots of the pentecostal-charismatic movement lies within the Wesleyan holiness movement of the 19th century and its later influence upon those on the more Augustinian/Calvinist side of things in the so-called Keswick or Higher Life movement. The Wesleyan holiness movement further developed its theology from John Wesley’s theology of entire sanctification, which was apparently an adaptation from the Anglican doctrine of confirmation and from an Eastern Orthodox doctrine of deification.

While Wesley’s doctrine of justification by faith alone was taken from the Reformed views of the Moravians, his other doctrinal innovations came from a more semi-pelagian view of things via William Law and Eastern Orthodoxy. The real problem with Wesley’s doctrine of entire sanctification, however, is that it leads to a division between ordinary Christians and those who are “carnal” or “baby” Christians. While Wesley himself never claimed to have attained the state of entire sanctification it is almost certain that he believed he was in such a state. Later holiness theology of the 19th century went beyond Wesley in saying that a second work of grace or entire sanctification could be instantaneously received much like a conversion experience, whereas Wesley taught that entire sanctification was a gradual process and at some culmination later a state of entire sanctification or sinless perfect was reached. Phoebe Palmer, a female lay preacher with the Free Methodist Church, is credited with making this innovation of an instantaneous experience of entire sanctification, thereby laying the groundwork for the pentecostal revival of the 20th century. The Keswick higher life movement borrowed from the Wesleyans and led to such groups as the Moody Bible Institute and the Christian Missionary Alliance.

All this essentially created two groups of Christians, those who were in the know and those who were barely saved by the skin of their teeth. A spiritual elite, if you will, and a not so spiritual second class level of Christians who needed more. This, combined with the extreme emphasis on eschatology and the end times, led to the emphasis on the restoration of all the New Testament spiritual gifts from the apostolic period, including the supernatural gifts of healing, miracles, signs, wonders, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, prophecy, tongues and interpretation, etc. This emphasis on hidden knowledge available only to the spiritual elite sounds an awful lot like gnosticism.

Which brings us to the beginning of a second innovation that sprang up out of the pentecostal revival. From the initial pentecostal revival beginning in Topeka, Kansas and the Bible institute run by Charles Parham to the spread to the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California with the black holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, the pentecostal movement was prone to heterodoxy and even outright heresy. In 1914 the Assemblies of God was forced to formulate a basic doctrinal statement emphasizing traditional trinitarian theology in response to the so-called “New Issue.” The Jesus Only baptism movement had led directly to a denial of the trinity and the separation of many churches into several anti-trinitarian pentecostal groups.

A third heretical group arose from the theology of the 1940’s healing movement under ministers like Kenneth Hagin and William Branham. Hagin in particular is known as the father of the Word of Faith movement. Hagin initially claimed to have received his doctrines by “revelation knowledge” or by direct revelation from God. Later, however, scholars like D.R. McConnell, formerly a professor of New Testament at Oral Roberts University, exposed the fact that Hagin had instead plagiarized word from word from works by E.W. Kenyon, a baptist minister who had accepted the doctrine of divine healing. The trouble was that Kenyon himself had syncretized his baptist theology with Christian Science and New Thought doctrines he had picked up while a student of oratory at Emerson College in Boston.

This extreme emphasis on visualization and speaking positive confessions sounds like Christian Science precisely because that is the original source of such aberrant thinking. If you will forgive the pun, the Word of Faith Movement is “stinking thinking” in and of itself! I would agree with D.R. McConnell that the Word of Faith movement is indeed a heresy of the first order and that those involved in the movement are in need of a conversion to Christ. The health and wealth gospel or prosperity gospel is really a different gospel and completely foreign to biblical theology.

When the charismatic renewal struck the mainline denominations in the 1960’s, beginning with Dennis Bennett, a Episcopal minister in Van Nuys, California, the pentecostal theology of spirit baptism and spirit gifts was adapted by dropping the pentecostal insistence on the “initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues” as evidence of receiving the second work of grace or Spirit baptism. Unfortunately, liberal mainline converts to the charismatic movement did not forsake their tendencies to accommodate to culture and liberal theology. They also apparently had no problem with Christian Science or the Word of Faith movement as this was readily assimilated as well. Additionally, the traditional classical pentecostal denominations were one by one subdued by the charismatic movement, though they did “officially” stick to their doctrines of initial physical evidence and second or even third works of grace.

Thus, what we see today is a hodgepodge of theology within the charismatic-pentecostal movement at large such that the prosperity gospel is almost synonymous with the charismatic-pentecostal movement. I might also mention that classical pentecostalism has been assimilated into the charismatic movement for the most part. Thus, most pentecostal churches look and sound more like charismatic churches than pentecostal churches. The former emphasis on biblical exposition has given way to an extreme emphasis on the supernatural to the point that experience is the source of doctrine rather than Scripture. It is therefore no surprise that heretical movements within the pentecostal-charismatic tradition have arisen many times since the turn of the twentieth century. I might mention the Latter Rain Movement, the oneness pentecostal movement, the Word of Faith Movement, Kingdom Now, the Shepherding Movement, etc., et. al.

What I find particularly troubling about the article referred to in the link in the title is that the author, Dr. George O. Folarin, seems to have no problem accepting the prosperity gospel as biblical. He as much as admits there are problems with the doctrine in statements like these:

A major problem with the prosperity gospel as presently practiced in Nigeria is that it is not fully delivering on its promises. There are still many sincere Christians who are financially poor, sick, and/or demon oppressed. For Christians who believe in the truth of Scripture, the fault cannot be with God and his promises. It must be the interpretations that prosperity gospel preachers use to justify the theology that are wrong. Some Christians tend to believe that in the attempt to provide answers to the existence of evil on earth despite belief in an all-powerful and all-good God, preachers of prosperity have sometimes ended up creating a truncated gospel of salvation. http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj16/folarin.html 

The problem is that the prosperity gospel is based more on the confirmation by ecstatic experiences of charismatics or pentecostals than on a sound exposition of Holy Scripture. If Holy Scripture is the final word in matters of faith and doctrine, then experience must take a backseat to Scripture. Also problematic is the origin of the prosperity gospel in the Word of Faith movement, which is itself a syncretization of Christian Science and New Thought doctrines with Christianity.

Dr. Folarin also admits that many adherents, teachers and preachers within prosperity gospel circles have not been discipled in basic Bible theology or traditional Reformed understanding of the Holy Scriptures:

The prosperity gospel, as it stands, however, has serious weaknesses. Some of these are theological. These weaknesses are the results of the faulty hermeneutics that prosperity preachers adopt. Many of them never attended standard theological schools that could help them approach Bible interpretation more systematically. Unfortunately, many of them also never passed through good Sunday School classes that could have helped them in their formative years. Worse still, many prosperity preachers never underwent discipleship training after conversion. If they had been discipled, a fair grasp of biblical theology would have influenced their formulation of prosperity theology. http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj16/folarin.html

There are other serious flaws in the prosperity gospel, including its understanding of God and Satan as almost equals, which implies dualism rather than the sovereignty of God over all forms of evil (see Isaiah 45:7). The Word of Faith understanding of Jesus as merely a Spirit-empowered man sounds like they either have a deficient understanding of the hypostatic union or they have adopted a doctrine of kenosis which goes beyond merely the voluntary non use of the Son’s divine prerogatives. Thus, the prosperity gospel denies both the sovereignty of God and uses subtle deviations to describe a completely different Jesus from the Jesus described in Holy Scripture. Other issues that go beyond the scope of this brief post could be mentioned. However, I will leave that for another day. It should suffice, however, to note that Anglicans who think the charismatic movement is somehow “conservative” have misplaced their loyalties and joined ranks with those advocating heterodoxies and even outright heresies. If Christ had not said, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” I would have cause to despair.

May the peace of God be with you.

The Thought-terminating Cliché

Clichés are the simplistic, thought-negating, tired, and generally vague notions, ideas, images, and expressions that people use in place of true thought. Dictionaries typically define clichés as trite phrases or expressions, for example:

“You only get out of life what you put into it.”
“There you go!”
“Time takes time.”

What do these clichés really mean? When they are put in equivolent words their inanity emerges. For example:

  • “I’m a work in progress.” = “I’m still not dead.”
  • “Life is a journey.” = “In my life I will go places and do things.”
  • “It is what it is.” = “It exists.”
  • “It will be what it will be.” = In time something will change, or else it won’t.”

In other words these clichés are empty of thought beyond the transparently obvious truth they express. So why are they used so often. Perhaps it is becuase when real thought is desired to truly express the distinct meaning appropriate to a unique situation (a predicament that calls upon some reflection and search for appropriate expression – appropriate to thinker and his/her context) these clichés spring to mind. They come to relieve you of the difficulty of thinking for yourself: they’ll think for you. The more you use them the harder they are to get rid of. Keep in mind that clichés also include the ideas that they express! This is the true danger of using them. By doing so you relinquish your own awareness, feeling, and ideas and surrender yourself to the vagueness of the cliché. Thinking then becomes thought via “clipthoughts”.

Robert Jay Lifton calls this surrender to the cliché “thought-terminating cliché”. When such a cliché is used it does not permit analysis, or discussion. The conversation is over. It is characteristic of totalitarian regimes and totalitarian approaches to relationships. When someone trots out one of the following during the analysis of a complex human problem you know the conversation has ended. These clichés are by nature highly reductive, definitive-sounding, easily memorized, and easily expressed. They are also totally empty in that there is no relationship between the words, their meanings, and the topic or person at hand. Here are some we all have bumped into:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.”
“We will have to agree to disagree.”
“Such is life.”
“We are just different.”

Here Big Frank is making reference to the verbal clues (clichés) to the vacuousness of the thought. There are also visual clues, clipart, for example. Perhaps the key notion here is one of awareness of self and the world coupled with an ability to express one’s individual way of seeing things. It requires effort. Here’s William Stafford’s view on discovering his own way of looking at things, which he characterizes in almost romantic terms as finding his MUSE.

http://bigfrankdickinson.blogspot.com/2008/07/clichs-are-simplistic-thought-negating.html
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Autonomous Self“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

The Doctrine of Autonomous Self: A Hidden Idolatry
By A. Sutono

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:11-15)

I. Background

In this text, Isaiah describes the fall of Lucifer, as well as the cause and effect of it. We learn the cause of him being eternally condemned by God from v.13 and 14 is that he is so filled with pride and self-adoration that he declares himself to be worthy to ascend into heaven and be exalted above the stars of God. He considers himself to be as equally valuable, as equally worthy, if not more valuable and more worthy than God himself that he should be like the Most High. In response, God removed him from his original state and declares that his splendor be nullified and brought down to shame, and he himself be brought down to hell, to a place of eternal torment which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) forever as his eternal destiny. When Lucifer was removed from heaven, his name became Satan, and was cast to the earth. In the account of the Fall in Gen 3, after which God offered the promise of deliverance through the atoning work of the LORD Jesus Christ on the cross implied in v. 15, we may observe the correlation between Satan’s sinful ambition to what he tempted Adam and Eve with, which eventually led the couple to sin against God and caused the entire humanity to be totally and hopelessly depraved and under the same condemnation that Lucifer has as a result. The correlation is clearly seen in Gen 3:5, when Satan, disguised as a serpent, said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Here are the double lies being offered to Eve springing out of the same principle behind his botched coup attempt; first, that she would be like gods, and thus independent, able to rule over herself apart from God, and secondly, there is not one God, but many gods; each is sovereign over himself or herself.

From here, I would like to state the thesis of this article before expounding further:

1. That the doctrine of autonomous-self, or often referred to as “free-will”, whether it be “Christian” or non-Christian one, though may not appear explicitly, originates from the same spirit by which Lucifer rebelled against God, that is, the spirit of self-idolatry.

2. That the doctrine of autonomous-self is indeed a non-Christian doctrine because there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches such a doctrine and therefore, should be rejected by all true Christians.

I would like to first define what an autonomous self is. I would then attempt, by the use of the first thesis, refute the free-will Arminian argument to defend this false doctrine, particularly in regard to the Fall, salvation, and all the affairs of the world. Finally, I would close with the Biblical basis of my refutation with the exhortation given in the second thesis.

II. Definition of Autonomous Self

Throughout history, there are many who teach the doctrine of autonomous self, among whom is Pelagius. I would now quote from John Owen [1] on what Pelagianism teaches about the autonomous self:

“According to Pelagianism, God gives grace to all who hear the law and the gospel preached. Those who do this are persuaded to repent and believe by the promises of the gospel and the threatenings of the law. The things taught and commanded in the law and gospel are seen to be not only good in themselves, but so utterly reasonable that anyone would gladly receive them if they were not so prejudiced ( i.e., men can themselves respond favorably to the gospel preached by believing in the message without any regenerating work of the Holy Spirit), or deliberately chose to continue with their sinful life. Man has only to consider these promises of the gospel and threatenings of the law to remove these prejudices and so reform himself. When man believes the gospel and obeys it of his own free will and choice (again, no external divine influence at work to convince him of the truth of the gospel, on the contrary, this conviction comes out within himself), then he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, enters into all the privileges of the New Testament, and has a right and title to all the promises concerning both the present and the future life. So say the Pelagians. Thus man converts himself, and the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit are both excluded. All that is needed is the ability to persuade him to repent of his sin and believe and obey the gospel.”

In other words, the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that men in both unregenerate and regenerate states is completely independent and capable of self-determination of what is good and bad for him (hence the term autonomous) and from which make decision without any external divine influence or swaying to a particular direction.

To understand what autonomous-self is more clearly, let us look at Sproul’s definition of autonomy [2]:

“To be autonomous means to be a law unto oneself. An autonomous creature would be answerable to no one. He would have no governor, least of all a sovereign governor. It is logically impossible to have a sovereign God existing at the same time as an autonomous creature. The two concepts are utterly incompatible. To think of their coexistence would be like imagining the meeting of an immovable object and an irresistible force. What would happen? If the object moved, then it could no longer be considered immovable. If it failed to move, then the irresistible force would no longer be irresistible.”

Then for the definition of autonomous self, I would borrow from David Wells [3], defining the autonomy generation as:

“…those who belonged in this outlook saw themselves as being at the center of life, as being responsible only to themselves, as having the sole hand in deciding what beliefs to hold and what behaviors to follow.”

And therefore, continuing to quote Wells [3]:

“… the self becomes the main form of reality and the pursuit of its rights and unique intuitions, even in the face of others, is what life is about.”

My comment to Prof. Well’s definition is this. Isn’t the autonomous-self then the essence of prosperity gospel, where Christ has been reduced to a lackey or a genie to serve us to accomplish our agenda whether that be family, or money, or career, or, self-healing, self-improvement or anything other than Christ himself? Some may say they don’t believe in prosperity gospel but believe in free-will in the autonomous sense. This, in my view, is an implicit endorsement of the prosperity gospel.

II. Refutation of the Arminian Argument of Autonomous Self

Now I desire to refute biblically a familiar argument in regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation and all events throughout the course of history. In addition, I would also attempt to show the spirit behind all these arguments tends to resemble that of Lucifer as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. Before I go on doing so, however, I would like to point out ‘the goal of the commandment is love’. I can understand new Christians who believe in autonomous self, because I was like that. I tend to think it is natural for new Christians to have such an understanding of how salvation and all the affairs in the world work. I acknowledge I need the humility to understand those who are slow to grasp the truth in the sovereignty of God over all things. The fact is the LORD had mercy on me to reveal what I consider a precious biblical truth of his sovereignty that I have come to love, embrace, and desire to defend with hopefully a holy zeal, holy motive, yet with humility as well in this article. And may the LORD grant the grace to change and transform hearts and minds into ones that acknowledge and submit joyfully under his supremacy over all things (Col 1:18).

The argument that I would like to refute (though there has been many more qualified pastors and theologians than me, past and present who have done this, but I would try to do it from hopefully a different point of view), is a common free-will Arminian / Pelagian argument which was the first Arminian article in their remonstrance brought by Johannes Uitenbogaard and Simon Episcopious in 1610, which was refuted by the Calvinists’ Counter Remonstrance at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619, in regard to how salvation works as follows. This first article stated the following: “God’s foreknowledge, that is, divine election was conditiond on foreseen or foreknown faith”. In other words, it says “faith is the cause of election” the basis of which is for example in Rom 8:29, refers to God knowing in advance of who is going to believe by their own free will and who is not, and from there God elects them to be saved. Thus man’s faith existing apart from God’s will but from the man himself is the cause of God’s election. In other words, it all starts with man’s free will to choose to be saved. Men are the Alpha, the beginning, not God. Then based on each independent isolated individual’s decision to believe or to desire to be saved where God has nothing to do with because this comes out completely and independently from man and not God, God is obliged to save them because they have faith to believe. Here men call God to account and demand that because they initiated to believe the Gospel, God is required to save them. So God’s sovereignty consists in submitting himself to and making sure the wills of men are carried out. God is not free in ordaining anything because He is subject to the will of men that he values very much even more important and above himself. Here is the worst kind, the most blatant, the most arrogant, and the most blasphemous of man-centered doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Bible, and an example how the Scripture like Rom 8:29 is distorted to serve man’s needs or if I may borrow John Piper’s quote[4], the gospel has been abused for ‘psychological form of mind control’. I regard this Arminian stand on the free agency of man and God as the most self-centered among man-centered doctrines, even more man-centered than opentheism.

Opentheism at least admits the future is unknown, even God has no control over it and anybody could change it. The Arminian doctrine in regard to the free-will of men as we have discussed is worse than open-theism because it teaches the future is already known, at least in regard to salvation, who is saved and who is not, and who makes this decision before the foundations of the world is men. Then God responds to each individual decision either by saving or condemning. Here is the kind of abomination that I dread has been prevailing in the minds of many Christians, because this is how they were taught by man-centered, world-loving, money-loving preachers. Those who teach this doctrine usually insist that God is still sovereign and omnipotent. But I sense this is simply a futile attempt to cover up their self-centeredness and thus, self-idolatry. God, despite his omnipotence, has been domesticated to serve man’s needs. His omnipotence has become subordinate to man’s will and it is his to use for his benefit. Man makes the call first independently out of his own self-determination of good and bad. Then it is God’s turn to follow up on man’s actions and decisions, whether to clean them up if they are sinful, or to bless them if they are good.

As Mark Talbot says [5] (he explains it in the context of opentheism, but I believe it is applicable here as well) that the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that God values man’s free will so much that he is willing to pay any price. God is really good in cleaning things up to the point that the alternative plan B that he executes looks even better, more perfect than the botched plan A that man has frustrated. So in a way, the doctrine of autonomous self treats God like a lackey or a genie in a bottle whom man can stir as he pleases and wills. Everything God does is for the benefits of man, and here is man, the center of the universe and God’s idol. Therefore, men are not only the Alpha, the beginning, but also the Omega, the end of everything God does and the whole entire universe work for. This, I fear, may God forbid, is the desire behind those who embrace the doctrine of autonomous self which is nothing but the very ambition of Lucifer to be exalted above God (Isa 14:13-14) because the resemblance between the two is striking. It is all about desire for control, as Dave Wells pointed out behind autonomous self [6]:

“This preoccupation with the future is really about control. At least, it is about our attempts at controlling the future as it crests into the present by being able to position ourselves to avoid what is disagreeable and to capitalize on what is advantageous. Indeed, we even go further. We imagine that the future begins in our minds and we can actually create it.”

At this point, I would point to Scripture texts (that I also included somewhere else [7]) that I hope the LORD uses to show the fallacy of the doctrine of autonomous-self, to humble its proponents and exhort them to embrace the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of God over all things. While these texts tend to be self-explanatory in themselves but I shall attempt to expound a little on each:

– “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). John says the decisive power to become the sons of God ( v.12), i.e., to be saved, does not come from man’s will power, but God’s (v.13). Therefore, contrary to what the first remonstrance article says that faith is the cause of election, John says election is the cause of faith. God initiates salvation, not men. Men are dead in their trepasses (Eph 2:1). Physically dead people do not and can not have any desire (inclination) and ability to eat, drink, work, because they are dead, their brain is dead, their heart is dead, their digestive system is dead, and there is no way for them to revive themselves. So also dead Lazarus was unable to revive himself until Jesus called him and infused life to his body to revive him. (John 11). Lazarus did not revive himself. Jesus did. And thus Lazarus couldn’t brag he was alive because of his free will to be alive. Likewise, it is impossible for spiritually dead people to have any desire for God. Their heart is ‘desperately’ or ‘hopelessly’ wicked as Jer 17:9 says. St. Paul affirms the total depravity of humanity apart unless God changes this heart of stone with the heart of flesh (Ez 36:26-27) because “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law. Nor can it do so.” (Rom 8:7). Notice the last part that says “Nor can it do so.” So let us not brag that we have the free will to be christians or we in our sovereignty “decided” to be christians. Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3) but with sober judgment, I’d say, of who we were, and what we are now, and who God is. Do not rob God of something He did and claim we did it. The faith, the willingness to believe, to embrace Christ as our treasure, our LORD does not come from our self-determination, but He purchased it on the cross.

– “All the plans of the LORD stands firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11). God has written down the course of history from the beginning to the end. All his plans will happen, stand firm forever. Everything originates from Christ and returning to Christ, and the details for everything on its way returning to him is fixed and unchangeable (see also Heb 1:2-3, Rom 11:36). God does not make mistakes. God is not a God who is good in cleaning up mess created by men and coming up with plan B. Nobody can frustrate nor thwart nor prevent God from doing anything he wants, Dan 4:35, “All the people of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand, or say to him, ‘What have you done?'”

– “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God has written down not only the entire course of history before the foundations of the world, but also the scenario of each individual who ever lives, past present and future. This is good for believers for two reasons (but may cause free-willers to feel dejected because they don’t desire God to make the call for them, they desire to make the call themselves). First, it teaches humility that you and I are creatures and God is God. We have absolutely no right over ourselves because we don’t own ourselves, God does. Secondly, this is good news because God knows you and me better than we know ourselves. Therefore whatever plans he has for us can be guaranteed to be the most absolute best for our good and the magnifying his name first and most importantly (see Rom 8:28).

– “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isa 46:10-11). God is free to do anything he wants according to the pleasure of his will. His decision making is not constrained by anything, not by the will of men, not by the wills of angels, not by the will of the devil. He is absolutely free in making any calls. Isn’t this what it means to be God? If God has to submit beforehand in his foreknowledge to men’s decision to be saved or not to be saved, then men are gods, and God is their lackey.

A question then arises, “How, despite crystal clear words from the apostle that believers are slaves of Christ (e.g., Rom 6:18,22), can there be such an arrogant doctrine as the autonomous self in Christian churches?” The answer is because the LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely good, gracious, merciful, patient, loving Master. He is not a hard Master at all. Men, seizing this opportunity arising from their deep-rooted corruption inherited from the Fall, reinforced by the temptation of the old serpent, abuse the kindness of Christ for their own glory. Men, out of their odious mind resulting from the stench infected to them from the Fall, distort the grace of the Savior to serve their own vanity, and so distort the message of the gospel, that is the pursue of God’s (not men’s) glory in salvation through Christ. Since Christ is so patient, then it is their opportunity to question him, to hold him accountable to them, and thus, what John Piper pointed out [8], that men placing themselves on the bench and putting God in the dock, instead of the other way around (he actually quoted this from C.S. Lewis). I sense free-willers would feel uncomfortable in hearing what God’s goal is in everything he does in Eph 1:5-6, “… he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasures and will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” that God saves men not because he makes so much of them, but for the praise of his glorious grace, that his name may be magnified, cherished, worshipped for his great mercy upon mankind, “…that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rom 15:9). The only way to cure this discomfort is to acknowledge and repent of the pride and the self-idolatrous spirit behind the doctrine of autonomous self, renounce it, and embrace the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God who causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called he also justified, and those he justified, he also glorified. Amen.

References
1. J. Owen, “The Holy Spirit,” The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, p. 76-77.

2. R.C. Sproul, “Chosen by God,” Tyndale House Publishers, October 1986, Ch. 3, p.?

3. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 234, 153.

4. J. Piper, “Woe to Those who Trample the Son of God,” Desiring God Ministries (audio), April 13, 1997, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…he_Son_of_God/

5. M. Talbot, “All the Good that is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do Us,” Desiring God National Conference, Minneapolis, MN, October 7-9, 2005.

6. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 239.

7. A. Sutono, “The Defense for the Sovereignty of God in the Fall of Man,” Nov 25, 2006.

8. J. Piper, “Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election,” Desiring God Ministries, Nov 30, 2003, ttp://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…e_of_Election/

ttp://www.christianchatforum.com/articles/elect.shtml

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Healing the economy means going beyond ‘What’s in it for me?’
By Douglas Todd 01-10-2009

Healing the battered economy means going beyond the ‘self’; ‘What’s in it for me?’ is not an attitude that will work in the times we face

Many Pentecostal Christians have been among the hardest-hit victims of the economic meltdown in North America.

“Victims” might not be the best word to describe their fate, though. Followers of the popular “Prosperity gospel” suffered because of their own desperation, naivete and uncontrolled desire.

Prosperity gospel adherents have put too much stock in certain Pentecostal leaders in the United States and Canada who preach that God will provide worldly wealth if you just give your soul to Jesus Christ and your donation to the church.

The most prominent proponent of this theology of cars, boats and houses is Joel Osteen, author of Your Best Life Now.

With virtually no assets, many financially struggling Christians attracted to the Prosperity gospel of Osteen and others were eager to jump at the subprime loans offered by sleazy brokers.

Prominent Pentecostals have admitted that many followers believed God was miraculously answering their prayers when a bank gave them a loan they couldn’t afford. However, it’s not only adherents of the Prosperity gospel who have spiritual and moral lessons to draw from the financial collapse. After all, they haven’t been alone in their struggles.

The larger spiritual themes behind this financial meltdown are those of too much blind optimism about the financial system, too much faith in leaders and too much unacknowledged self-interest.

Which brings us to greed.

There can be benefits from modest amounts of each of the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, lust, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony and greed.

While there is something to be said for moderate self-interest fuelling our lives and the economy, greed has careened beyond control on many economic fronts. In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko was not much of an exaggeration of a real-life financier when he baldly preached, “Greed is good!”

Rebecca Blank, senior economic analyst for the Brookings Institute and co-author of Is the Market Moral?, recently said: “Greed is good to most economists. It’s greed that makes people work harder, be more productive, and helps the economy grow. Greed has certain economic advantages. It’s hard for an economist not to say that.

“But greed is clearly partially responsible for where we are right now. There’s a level beyond which greed can go too far, and . . . being greedy for more goods and to make another buck can make me stop paying attention to the effects of my action on you. That is when greed clearly becomes sinful — even, I think, in economics.”

Moral concerns about our over-avaricious attitudes have even been expressed recently by high-profile evangelical Christian leaders such as Chuck Colson (Richard Nixon’s former right-hand man), who has made a career of praising Jesus Christ in the same breath as free enterprise. Like theologian Michael Novak, Colson believes western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom and moral restraint. “Take away moral restraint and the stool collapses.”

But Colson’s solution — simply to talk more about morality in churches and elsewhere and to wish for greater moral behaviour — won’t make the economic system more stable or fair. That is what was uncovered through a revealing investigation of the moral behaviour of evangelical leaders by scholar Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.

Lindsay found precious few evangelical executives were “distinguishing themselves from their secular peers” by taking salaries capped, for instance, at a ratio between the highest- and lowest-paid employees of 20:1. Most tried to justify astonishingly luxurious salaries.

Just as the Communist Soviet Union fell apart because it wasn’t realistic to expect everyone to embrace the principle of equality, the western capitalist system cannot sustain itself just by hoping everyone will embrace justice.

Without regulations to enforce society’s moral ideals, the scoundrels prevail. Now nearly all of us are suffering because we were drawn, knowingly and unknowingly, into their unrestricted avarice.

As Aristotle said, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Spiritual insight into the economic collapse comes from Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago Divinity School, one of the most distinguished religious historians in North America.

Marty believes the economic meltdown grew out of a growing global obsession with the “self.” He points to the way many economists talk about how the “spreading disease” in the global economy will “self-heal.” But Marty believes the modern free world is fixated on terms such as “self-generating,” “self-developing” and “self-correcting.” It’s the kind of thinking that has led many to over-optimistically advocate for an “unfettered” and “unregulated” market that never impinges on the supremacy of the “self.”

But there are crucial limits to the “self.”

Marty suggests Americans (and, I’d add, many Canadians) haven’t been willing to face the dark, shadow aspects of an economic system and foreign policy that focused on serving only the “self” (including that of the nation).

Just as the Iraq war has proved disastrous on human and financial fronts, Marty says the battered economy is making us look at all aspects of what happens when “the self” is glorified as absolute.

“We are well aware of our own virtue, knowledge, power and security, and these are real enough to be celebrated,” he writes.

“But we did not recognize their undersides: vice, ignorance, weakness and insecurity, which overtook us.”

As a Lutheran, Marty responds to the financial crisis with a secular translation of the “body of Christ” theme, which teaches us to reflect on how “we are members one of another.”

Instead of “self-healing,” he wisely suggests the western economic system needs “mutual” healing.

To use the language of other traditions, a Buddhist might say we need economic solutions that recognize we are all interconnected.

In secular terms, the late American political philosopher John Rawls would teach that we need economic policies beneficial to us all, no matter where we find ourselves on the financial ladder.

The simplest way to put one of the spiritual lessons of the economic collapse, however, is simply to make it clear that creating a healthy society has to go much further than asking, “What’s in it for me?”

dtodd@vancouversun.com

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/10/healing-the-battered-economy-means-going-beyond-the-self-what-s-in-it-for-me-is-not-an-attitude-that-will-work-in-the-times-we-face.aspx

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Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?
Oct.03, 2008 in Commentary, Economy
According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.’” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

http://www.blackinformant.com/2008/10/03/did-the-prosperity-gospel-play-a-role-in-suprime-crisis

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Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row
Difficulties of high-profile pastors may reorient movement—or reinforce it.
Bobby Ross Jr. | posted 1/15/2009 09:40AM

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/2.12.html

Some of the high-flying icons of the prosperity gospel—the belief that God rewards signs of faith with wealth, health, and happiness—have run into financial turbulence.

Not all of their troubles can be blamed on the nation’s economic crisis, say critics of the name-it-and-claim-it theology found in some charismatic churches.

“I believe the charismatic movement, of which I am a part, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul,” said J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine. “God is shaking us.” Grady predicts the movement will look much different in a few years as it refocuses on evangelism and overcoming what he calls the distraction of “materialism, flashy self-promotion, and foolish carnality.” But Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches, is not so certain.

“Most clergy who preach a prosperity gospel would interpret for their congregation any conflict, scrutiny, or questioning as an attack of the Devil and proof that they are following God,” he said.

Among recent developments:

• In Fort Worth, Texas, a review board ruled December 7 that Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ $3.6 million jet did not have tax-exempt status. The ruling came after the ministry, whose 1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion, refused to release the salaries of Copeland, his wife, and others.

• In suburban Atlanta, Georgia, a sheriff’s deputy served an eviction notice November 14 at Bishop Thomas Weeks III’s Global Destiny Church. Court documents indicate the bishop, the ex-husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum, owed half a million dollars in back rent. The church has lost roughly half of its 3,400 members since Weeks and Bynum’s 2007 fight in a hotel parking lot, in which Weeks was accused of pushing, choking, and beating his then-wife.

• In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church—which once attracted 23,000 worshipers—has shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 they were divorcing. The church faces an uncertain future after the Evangelical Christian Credit Union began foreclosure proceedings November 4 and demanded repayment of a $12 million loan on the church’s property.

• In suburban Minneapolis on November 18, Living Word Christian Center pastor Mac Hammond won the first stage of a court battle with the Internal Revenue Service to keep his salary private. Yet in 2008, he was forced to put his private jet up for sale and cut Living Word’s hour-long television show in half to save money amid falling contributions.
Meanwhile, Copeland and the Whites are among six televangelists whose large organizations have been targeted in a Senate Finance Committee investigation into allegations of questionable spending and lax financial accountability. All six preach some form of the prosperity gospel.

Could followers of the prosperity gospel—encouraged by pastors to “sow a seed” of faith by spending money, often in the form of a donation to the pastors’ ministries—be turned off by the recent turmoil?

Craig Blomberg, author of a 2001 study of prosperity theology, said he expects the movement to “take a small hit among those who recognize that it can’t deliver on what it promises.”

But many followers could view the financial difficulties as consequences for sin and personal failings—from Weeks’s assault conviction to the Whites’ divorce—and determine to try that much harder to please God and prosper themselves, he suggested.

“Some may well interpret this as judgment on the leaders who have abused their positions or proved immoral in other respects,” said Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary. “And many may simply assume this is the time to call others and themselves to an even truer faith so that the ‘system will work’ as it is supposed to in their minds.”

In Grady’s view, the notion that “God blesses us so we can be a blessing” is biblical. What is needed, he believes, is a shift to a more selfless movement where people “realize that God wants to bless us so that we can feed the poor, lift up the broken, and transform society.

“We need that kind of prosperity,” he said, “and I think that is where things are going.”

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Is the Prosperity Gospel Financial Heresy?
By Mr. ToughMoneyLove | October 5, 2008

Mr. ToughMoneyLove tends to avoid mixing religion and personal finance for a variety of reasons. However, I am going to make a very brief exception to that policy this Sunday.

This week Time ran a story on the possible role of the “prosperity gospel” in the sub-prime mortgage mess that has played a significant role in the current economic crisis. I certainly don’t agree with the premise that God should be blamed for what has happened. But the article makes an interesting anecdotal review of how believers in the prosperity gospel could be led to accept that divine intervention would prevail over their lack of financial resources. According to the prosperity preacher, that belief is enough to put the believer in a home he or she cannot afford. I think we can all agree that there is no logic to that belief. On the other hand, religion is based on faith, not logic.

I submit that are two hard truth takeaways from this story. First, the “prosperity gospel” is really intended to bring economic prosperity to those who preach it, not to those who listen to it. Second, an all too common rationalization offered by broke people when they make yet another discretionary purchase is that they “deserve” that car or gadget or vacation. The prosperity gospel reinforces that misguided rationalization and gives it another dimension. Just as I believe that poor people are not being punished by God, I also believe that wealth on earth is not bestowed based on spiritual merit.

What do you think about the prosperity gospel as a contributor to current economic conditions?

http://toughmoneylove.com/2008/10/05/is-the-prosperity-gospel-financial-heresy/

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Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess
By David Van Biema Friday, Oct. 03, 2008

TIME.com

Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in Pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York: “The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.” If so, the situation offers a look at how a native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the Bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, the theology can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are “worthy of having more and doing more and being more.” In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade’s worth of ever easier credit acted like a drug in Prosperity’s bloodstream. “The economic boom ’90s and financial overextensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the Prosperity message,” he wrote recently on his personal blog as well as on the website Religion Dispatches. And not positively. “Narratives of how ‘God blessed me with my first house despite my credit’ were common. Sermons declaring ‘It’s your season to overflow’ supplanted messages of economic sobriety,” and “little attention was paid to … the dangers of using one’s home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations.”

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that Prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and they are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants’ fortunes. Says Walton: “You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology.” But he predicts they will persevere, since God’s earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recent publicly posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God, near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation — it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on Scriptural promises of God. But the believer’s note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. “Last Sunday,” it read, “You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1,020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace.”

And pray that the credit market doesn’t tighten any further.

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1847053,00.html?cnn=yes

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Understanding Word-Faith Teaching
by Rob Bowman

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Once upon a time, long long ago, on a faraway planet, there lived a good God. . . . Because Jesus was recreated from a satanic being to an incarnation of God, you too can become an incarnation – as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth! And, as an incarnation of God, you can have unlimited health and unlimited wealth – a palace like the Taj Mahal with a Rolls Royce in your driveway. You are a little messiah running around on earth! All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.

Hank Hanegraaff (summarizing the Word-Faith teaching)

It seems our friends, the book writers, have invented an entirely new theology called the “born again Jesus” built upon a conglomeration of quotations taken from 6 or 7 ministers, pulled out of context and combined as though we all believed identically the same thing or were even speaking about the same subject when quoted (which, in some cases, we were not). And the reader is told we all believe this “born again Jesus” theology, believe exactly alike about it, and we’re all heretics. Yet I am diametrically opposed to some of the doctrines held by those who are quoted on the same page as me! Kenneth E. Hagin

He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13

If we are to evaluate the Word-Faith teaching, we first need to understand it. As Solomon counseled, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). We need to grasp the Word-Faith theology as a whole and understand how it all fits together from the perspective of the Word-Faith teachers if we are to make an intelligent decision as to whether it is biblical. Moreover, we need to look at the movement from all sides and consider it from every relevant angle in order to make our assessment as complete and balanced as possible. In this chapter I will set forth an agenda for such a complete assessment and then explain the Word-Faith teaching in order to make its basic message understandable.

The Roots, Shoots, and Fruits

A complete evaluation of any movement’s teachings requires that we look at three aspects of the teachings, which may be called the roots, shoots, and fruits of a doctrine.

Exposing the Roots
The roots of a doctrine are the sources or origins of the teachings. Did the ideas come from the Bible? Did they come from the biblically based teaching of a sound Christian teacher? Did they come from a source that is clearly cultic or non-Christian? Or did they come from a mixture of all three types of sources? If certain ideas can be traced to non-Christian or cultic roots, how were these ideas transferred?

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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An examination of the “roots” of a teaching is never sufficient by itself, because non-Christians, after all, can express truths and can have genuine insights. It is perfectly fine for a Christian teacher to “plunder the Egyptians” by taking over ideas or formulations found in non-Christian thought and putting them into a soundly Christian context. So we must be careful not to argue that a particular doctrine is false merely because a cultist or other non-Christian advocated it. In logic this is called the genetic fallacy – attempting to dismiss an idea on the basis of its genesis, or origin.

William DeArteaga, in his book defending the Word-Faith movement, claims that Daniel R. McConnell’s critique of the Word-Faith teaching commits the “genetic fallacy” by arguing that “Hagin derived his teachings from Kenyon, who in turn was associated with the Metaphysical movement.” DeArteaga calls this error “the pharisaical objection of origins,” referring to his belief that the Pharisees erred by rejecting any workings of the Spirit that contradicted their theology or which they could not explain. This is an odd theory: the Pharisees never criticized Jesus’ teachings for supposedly deriving from a suspect source (say, that Jesus got his ideas from the pagan Greeks). They did accuse him of having a demon (Matt. 9:34; 12:24; John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20), but this is a “genetic” argument of a very different sort! Setting aside this strange reference to the Pharisees, DeArteaga’s criticism overlooks the fact that McConnell explicitly denies trying to discredit the Word-Faith teaching by a simple exposé of its origins:

The historical origins of the Faith movement are not enough, however, to justify the charge of cultism. That would be an example of theological guilt by mere historical association. To prove cultism requires that it be demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the beliefs and practices of the contemporary Faith movement (not just those of Kenyon) are both cultic and heretical.. . . The Faith movement is cubic not just because of where it comes from. but also because of what it teaches.

DeArteaga elsewhere shows that he does take the question of the origins of the Word-Faith teaching to be relevant. In answer to McConnell, he argues that Kenyon’s doctrines of revelation – knowledge and of the Christian life are not really Gnostic at all but are instead rooted in the theology of the apostle Paul.

If the genetic fallacy is to be avoided, then why examine the roots at all? There are two reasons for doing so. First, sometimes teachers will misrepresent the source of their teachings in order to exaggerate their own originality or because the true sources are a potential embarrassment to them. In some cases professing Christian teachers have been known to plagiarize whole sermons or books from various cultic or questionable sources. Obviously, if they pass off as new insights or revelations from God ideas that they actually lifted word for word from a non-Christian or cultic writer, this constitutes a serious problem. Exposing these teachers’ lack of honesty in this area serves its own purpose independent of evaluating the teachings themselves.

Here again, DeArteaga argues that McConnell has criticized Kenneth Hagin unjustly by accusing him of plagiarism. According to DeArteaga, “McConnell also accuses Hagin of passing off his theology as pure ‘revelation knowledge’ without any credits to human sources” (emphasis added). DeArteaga points to the preface of The Name of Jesus in which Hagin acknowledges drawing on Kenyon’s The Wonderful Name of Jesus as proof that McConnell is wrong. Yet McConnell himself quotes Hagin’s preface and comments, “This is one of the few candid, direct acknowledgments of Kenyon to appear in any of Hagin’s writings.” McConnell also observes that “Hagin demonstrates the ability to give credit where credit is due with regard to the sources that he drew on to develop a particular idea,” except concerning those sources from which he plagiarized extensively. His contention is simply that Hagin’s repeated, massive plagiarism of the writings of Kenyon, along with those of John A. MacMillan, demonstrate that Hagin’s claim to have learned the Word-Faith teaching directly from visitations and revelations from God is patently false. DeArteaga’s criticisms of McConnell in this matter are not cogent.

Second, identifying the source of someone’s questionable doctrines can aid us in pinpointing the real problems in those doctrines. If certain doctrinal errors have been taught before and have been answered by sound Christian teachers, then finding these antecedents can be very helpful in identifying and refuting the errors. Discovering the true roots of the Word-Faith teaching, once it is shown to be unbibilcal and damaging to authentic Christian faith, will then aid us in getting to the core of the problem. It will also enable us to be better on guard against similar errors in the future.

Again, we do not expose the roots of a doctrine to prove it false. We examine the roots to help us diagnose the problems and prescribe a cure.

Examining the Shoots
The second aspect of any doctrine is the substance or idea of the doctrine itself. This is what for convenience I call the shoots, though it would be more precise to talk about the trunk and branches. More technically, the shoots of a doctrine are the doctrine itself as a doctrine – what the doctrine says in theory and the arguments or reasons given in its support.

Most of the time, we identify a tree by its shoots. That is, we can usually tell what sort of a tree it is simply by looking at its overall appearance as shaped primarily by its trunk and branches. A quick glance at the shoots of a fir tree is enough to determine that it is not an oak.

Examining doctrines is often not as easy, of course, because doctrines are not tangible entities that can be perceived with a single glance. What we purpose to do in examining a doctrine, though, is not merely to identify it but also to evaluate its soundness and strength. When examining a tree, for example, we would check various branches to see if they are strong and well connected to the trunk. If there was some doubt about the health of the tree, we might cut through the bark to examine the interior of the wood. When examining a doctrine, we would test its soundness and strength by examining the reasoning used to support the conclusion and seeing if that reasoning is firmly based on the Bible.

Examining the shoots, then, comes down to comparing the contemporary teachings with the teachings of the Bible. The Word-Faith teachers tend to resist this kind of critical examination, offering various reasons why their teachings should not be critiqued. I have evaluated these objections to doctrinal discernment in Orthodoxy and Heresy. Here I will point out simply that this sort of study is strongly encouraged in the Bible itself (see Matt. 22:29; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16). It is the basic method used by Christians throughout the centuries to test novel and controversial teachings as they have arisen in the church.

Looking at the Fruits
The third and final aspect of testing a doctrine is to look at its fruit. This test is perhaps the best known because of the words of Jesus regarding false prophets: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16, 20). Unfortunately these words are among the most abused words in Scripture. They are all too commonly cited to prove that testing someone’s teachings by comparing them with Scripture is either unnecessary or illegitimate. Yet this claim is itself a doctrine that people try to prove by citing Scripture!

What Jesus says here is absolutely true: One can know a false prophet by his or her “fruits.” We need to ask, though, what is included, and what is not, in these fruits. One thing Jesus makes very clear in the context is that prophetic utterances and miracles are not included (Matt. 7:22). This is important because Word-Faith teachers and those who support them often point to stories of healings, apparent supernatural revelations, and other amazing incidents as proof that God has blessed their ministry. But Jesus specifically excludes such things from the “fruits” by which we would be able to tell a false prophet from a true one.

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On the other hand, Jesus does not discourage testing doctrines by comparing them with Scripture. Indeed, his focus is not on the truth or falsity of a particular doctrine but on the divine calling of a professed prophet. The purpose of the test is to tell apart true and false prophets, both of whom seem to speak in the name of the Lord (Matt. 7:21-22). The implication is that a true prophet must represent the Lord truly both in word and in action. Thus the point here is not that true prophets can say anything they want as long as their outward lives are good. Rather, it is that a prophet is false if his fruit is evil, no matter how good or true his words seem to be.

A short while later in the same passage, Jesus contrasts the wise person with the foolish person. The wise person acts on Jesus’ words, while the foolish person fails to do so (Matt. 7:24-27). The implication is that one may and should compare people’s actions to the words of Jesus to see whether their actions are wise or foolish.

One bad fruit that is always produced by false prophets is confusion and division. When false prophets come along and teach false doctrines or make false claims, it is their fault when confusion and division ensue. It is certainly not the fault of those who oppose their unbiblical teachings.

The sum of the matter is this. The test Jesus sets forth in Matthew 7 is intended to expose false prophets. It is not the only such test, but it is a valid and crucial test. It cannot be used to avoid responsibility to teach doctrine that is faithful to the same Bible in which this test appears. False and unsound doctrine always contradicts biblical doctrine and results in bad fruit.

On Defining the Word-Faith Teaching

Before explaining the Word-Faith teaching, I need to say some things about the approach taken here. In discussing this subject with advocates of the Word-Faith teaching and with its critics, I have learned that how one approaches the discussion virtually determines whether communication and understanding will ever take place.

Is There a “Word Faith Teaching”?
Some people object to any critique of the “Word-Faith teaching” on two grounds. First, it is sometimes said that the Word-Faith teachers are evangelists, healers, prophets, or pastors, not teachers or theologians, and that they should not be judged as if they were theologians. Second, it has been argued that the critics of the Word-Faith movement have created a straw-man “Word-Faith teaching” from statements taken out of context or shoe-horned into a theology that none of the Word-Faith teachers espouse. We are told that the Word-Faith teachers differ markedly on a number of doctrinal points, so that the doctrine attributed to them as a group is an artificial construct of the critics’ own imagination.

It is, of course, true that none of the Word-Faith teachers is a systematic theologian or even a methodical teacher whose theological “system” is easily encapsulated from his writings. This does not mean, however, that the Word-Faith leaders are not teachers. Whatever they may see as their primary calling, when they regularly present teaching on matters of Christian belief, they make themselves teachers. It is silly to say that individual – articles, and disseminate video and audiotapes of their messages on doctrinal topics are not teachers.

In any case, at least some of these men do claim to be teachers. Kenneth Hagin, who claims that his primary calling is to the ministry of a prophet, also claims to serve in the ministry of a teacher. Thus it is perfectly appropriate to hold the Word-Faith teachers to a higher standard of doctrinal accuracy than we do persons in ministry who do not presume to teach doctrine (James 3:1).

As for the second objection, it simply is not true that the Word-Faith teachers have no theological system. The lack of a formal Word-Faith “systematic theology” does not mean that there is no structural or thematic unity in their teaching. If a Word-Faith teacher’s teaching is at all coherent or consistent, it should be possible to systematize his teachings in order to bring out its coherence and essential ideas. If such systematization is not possible, it only goes to show that his teaching is chaotic and therefore that he is a poor teacher.

Kenneth Hagin has complained that the theology attributed to him and other Word-Faith teachers is an invention of the critics (see the quotation at the beginning of this chapter). Hagin’s objection has some justice, but the legitimate point he is making should not be exaggerated. There is a core of doctrinal teaching that makes the Word-Faith movement distinctive and identifiable, a core of teaching to which the Word-Faith televangelists generally subscribe and that sets them apart from other Christian traditions. I agree that some of the critics of the Word-Faith teachers have erred in superimposing on the Word-Faith movement a greater degree of unity than is actually there. But the error of this extreme does not justify the opposite extreme of denying any distinctive doctrinal unity in the movement.

In this chapter, then, I will attempt to state that core theology of the Word-Faith movement. It may be that some Word-Faith advocates will disagree somewhat with the way their doctrine is presented here, but I believe that overall this presentation of the Word-Faith theology is accurate and representative of their teachings.

How Shall the Word-Faith Teaching Be Defined?
It is easy to make the Word-Faith doctrine sound silly or absurd. Indeed, one can do so by just stringing together a number of the more colorful statements that have been made by Word-Faith teachers. When critics of the movement do this and then fill in the gaps with their own interpretative embellishments, the result is a caricature.

This is the problem, as I see it, with the way in which the Word-Faith teaching is represented in the section titled “Once Upon a Time . . .” in Hank Hanegraaff’s Christianity in Crisis. Hanegraaff himself makes the following admission in a prefatory note in very small print:

The following tale is a composite of the erroneous teachings of individuals like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, and many others. While not all the Faith teachers hold to every aspect of this tale, they have all made substantial contributions to both the production and the proliferation of these aberrations and heresies. (emphasis added)
What Hanegraaff fails to acknowledge, unfortunately, is that none of the Word-Faith teachers “holds to every aspect of this tale.” The “composite” fails to represent accurately the views of any of the Word-Faith teachers, because none of them holds to the whole thing. Moreover, some of the elements of this “composite” are not held by any of the Word-Faith teachers but are Hanegraaff’s own imaginative and colorful additions. Hanegraaff describes the Word-Faith teachers’ God as hoping to get “lucky.” He describes the Jesus of the Word-Faith teaching as becoming “a satanic being” when he died. He claims that the Word-Faith teaching asserts that Christians can have “a palace like the Taj Mahal. . . . All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.” These descriptions, however, make the Word-Faith movement sound more akin to Eastern religions or the New Age movement than it really is. In truth none of the Word-Faith teachers ever talk this way.

This way of presenting the Word-Faith teaching, while it has shock value, unnecessarily offends those who embrace the Word-Faith teaching. Just as we would not want our beliefs to be misrepresented, we must be careful not to misrepresent the beliefs of those in the Word-Faith movement (Matt. 7:12). When they hear the views of their favorite televangelists being exaggerated or sensationalized, they use that to dismiss out of hand the many valid criticisms of the Word-Faith teaching that critics offer.

We must never lose sight of the fact that many persons do, after all, find in the Word-Faith doctrine a convincing and coherent message. I will therefore be presenting the teaching in such a form as I think a systematically minded advocate of the Word-Faith teaching might articulate it. What I have attempted to do here is to set forth the Word-Faith teaching in the best possible light, focusing on the most prominent and essential aspects of that teaching. This way, what is being refuted is not the worst possible representation of the teaching but the doctrine at its best.

I hasten to add that the more colorful and extreme ideas that have been taught by Word-Faith teachers are certainly, in and of themselves, fair targets for criticism. I will be critiquing some of them in this book. But these more outlandish ideas need to be placed fairly in the context of the Word-Faith teaching.

In order to be as fair to the Word-Faith movement as possible, I will base my exposition of its teaching solely on the words of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Since these two men are the undisputed leaders of the Word-Faith movement, any doctrine to which both of them subscribe may be safely regarded as part of the Word-Faith teaching. With one important exception, I have avoided mentioning in this summary any doctrine taught by only one, and not the other, of these two men. Persons who acknowledge Hagin or Copeland as teachers and who accept the general ideas of the Word-Faith teaching, even if they deviate in one or a few particulars, may also be regarded as part of the Word-Faith movement.

What follows, then, is a summary of the theology of the Word-Faith movement, including the doctrinal issues that will be explored later in this book.

Human Beings Are Spirits

Basic to the Word-Faith theology is a particular understanding of human nature as spirit, soul, and body. Spirit is more real than the physical, according to the Word-Faith teaching, and therefore the spirit is the real person. It is the spirit that is made in God’s image, allowing the Word-Faith teachers to conclude that human beings are exact duplicates of God, or little gods.

Furthermore, it is the spirit to which God communicates (not the mind), and the spirit that is supposed to control the soul and especially the body. The problem with the human race is that we are allowing our bodies to control our lives, or our reason to dictate to our spirits, rather than having our spirits take control over our whole beings. This is fundamental for the Word-Faith teachers, since in their view we should disbelieve our senses when they tell us we are sick or poor, and disbelieve our reason when it tells us that the Word-Faith teaching is illogical or false (see chapter 6).

God and Humanity

According to the Word-Faith teachers, God is much more like a man than Christians generally have supposed. God is a God of faith; he created the world by faith and accomplishes all that he desires by believing in his heart and speaking the word of faith, thereby bringing things into existence (see chapter 7).

There is another respect in which Word-Faith teaching makes God more like a man than is traditionally thought. Although God is in essence a spirit, the Word-Faith teachers hold that God, like human beings, is spirit, soul, and body – albeit a “spirit body” (see chapter 8).

Likewise, the Word-Faith teachers insist that human beings are much more like God than Christians have usually believed. Our creation in God’s image is interpreted to mean that we exist in God’s “class” as the same kind of being as God, though on a smaller scale (as “little gods”). Moreover, the purpose of the coming of Jesus was to restore humanity to godhood by creating a new race of humans who, like Jesus, would be God incarnate (see chapter 9).

Humanity’s potential as little gods was, according to the Word-Faith teaching, thwarted by the fall. Adam forfeited his status as the god of this world by obeying the devil and thereby making Satan the god of this world. In sinning, Adam gave Satan legal dominion over this world and passed Satan’s nature of death, with its corresponding symptoms of sickness and poverty, down to the rest of humanity (see chapter 10).

Jesus Christ

To correct the situation arising from the fall, God, according to Word-Faith theology, implemented a strategy for reclaiming dominion from the devil. The centerpiece of this strategy was his becoming a man. Although Word-Faith teachers affirm that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, their understanding of what this incarnation meant is in some respects highly unusual.

First, all Word-Faith teachers argue that Christians are just as much “incarnations of God” as was Jesus Christ. This implies that “incarnation” in Word-Faith teaching does not mean the same thing it means in traditional Christian usage. Much of what the Word-Faith teachers say suggests that in their view anyone who is indwelled by the Spirit is an incarnation.

Second, Word-Faith teachers are not altogether clear as to whether it was the preexistent, eternal Son of God who became incarnate. Some Word-Faith teachers, such as Hagin, seem to assume this traditional, biblical view. Others, though, notably Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps, teach that the Word that became incarnate was God’s Word of promise that he would redeem humanity, and that this Word was “positively confessed” into personal existence by the Virgin Mary (see chapter 11).

The Word-Faith teachers also have a distinctive view of what Christ did to effect our salvation. In their view, what Jesus did that was unique was to die, not merely physically but spiritually as well (thus taking on himself Satan’s nature), and go to hell. There, they say, he was “born again,” rising from the dead with God’s nature (which, it is sometimes implied, he had lost in dying spiritually). By doing so, the Word-Faith teachers argue, Jesus paved the way for us to be born again and exhibit God’s nature in our lives (see chapter 12).

As has already been mentioned, the Word-Faith teachers tend to interpret the incarnation as the prototype of God’s Spirit dwelling in a human being. In this sense, they insist, Christians are as much an incarnation of God as was Jesus Christ. This lends support, in their view, to the claim that all Christians ought to be able to overcome difficulties in their lives and perform miracles in just the same way Jesus did. In principle any of us can do anything that Jesus did on earth (see chapter 13).

Faith, Prayer, and Confession

The distinctive ideas about God and man in Word-Faith theology are the basis for its views on faith and prayer. Faith is not only believing what God says but also believing that we have whatever we say. Prayer is not only speaking to God but also speaking to things and circumstances and commanding them to do as we say. This is the basis for the concept of positive and negative confession, the idea that what we believe and say, whether good or bad, will happen for us (see chapter 14).

On the basis of a positive confession – itself based on faith that we are divine spirits created and redeemed to rule our circumstances by speaking words of faith – Word-Faith theology says we are to obtain health and wealth. Since Christ died to free us from the curse of the law, reason the Word-Faith teachers, this must mean that Christians need no longer accept sickness or poverty in their lives. Christians ought to live in divine health and wealth as testimony to the power of God and as evidence that they are children of God (see chapter 15).

This is the Word-Faith theology to be studied in this book. For the most part, my focus will not be on the personalities who promote these views but on the biblical teachings that are relevant to evaluating the Word-Faith theology. However, in order to understand the teachings fully, we need to consider how they arose and know something about their sources. The next four chapters will deal with just these questions.

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Matthew 9:34 – But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub,[4] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

John 7:20 – “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

John 8:48, 52 – The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” – At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death.

John 10:20 – Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

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

Acts 17:11 – 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.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Matthew 7:16, 20 – By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? – Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:21-22 – “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

James 3:1 – Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

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Taken from The Word-Faith Controversy by Rob Bowman. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, copyright 2001. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company. You can purchase The Word-Faith Controversy for a total of $15 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172 .

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Word of Faith: Devastating Impact: Casualties

On a personal level, it seems that – in the long term especially – the WOF is devastating. It is devastating to the WOF believers because they have allowed themselves to be led astray and to be spiritually deceived. The presumption that God does not allow his own children to be deceived is obviously false, because in the Bible, Paul and John and Peter are constantly telling those early Christians to pay attention and to watch out that they would not be deceived – because the presumption is that it could happen, and in some cases was happening.

God has given us his Holy Word so that we can use it, and if we know it well, and if we use it often, and as our minds are renewed through the study of His Word, then When we know the teachings of the Bible, and how to defend our faith and identify false teachings, we are much less likely to be deceived.

But the impact of WOF for those who want to come out of it – is almost just as devastating for those who leave WOF (as it is for those who stayed), especially right after they have just left.

Where can a person go ? WHat Church would you send them to ? Who can they find to talk with, not only who will empathize, but who will actually offer them some seriously Biblical advice and genuine assistance ? And where do they start ?

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There are many thousands of walking casualties out there who have no idea how to respond to their WOF experiences: the first half seems to be those who thought that WOF was Christianity (Which it is not) – and who then have rejected Christianity because WOF did not work; the second half seems to be those who are Christians and realize that WOF does not work, and is wrong, and is misguided, but they do not have the practice nor enough spiritual understanding – to understand

1) where the problem is or 2) how to fix it and 3) how to go on from there. And the emotional consequences can be very heavy. For many of those involved, their friends and their Churches are still WOF. So they experience additional isolation from their friends, rather than support and comfort. This may be the price for also having friends not spiritually grounded, but that does not really help much either.

The solution should include books and authors that will talk about their own WOF experiences and help to highlight the contrast between 1) what the Bible says and teaches and 2) what the WOF teaches. All this can take a lot of time.

Another part of the solution seems to try to talk it out, work it out, write it out, and let it out, and to make these things part of the process of learning how to come to terms with WOF teachings and reject them, And THEN – replace those teachings with actual Biblical theology.

The “Soft” Cults

Changing your mind to change your master ?

It used to be that Cults were essentially those who operated using an environment of obvious mind-control, where a person was food-deprived, or sleep-deprived as part of their conditioning.

Cults today are much more sophisticated. Part of the dangers of the WOF movement is that its seduction is not so much what it does to you from the exterior – as much as it is what happens to the interior of the person, who has agreed to subject themselves to the same physical environment as the WOF Teacher.

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There are aspects of the WOF movement that resemble more the beauty and seduction of a “mass movement”, than they resemble the old cults or their methods. In fact, in some ways WOF movement is more dangerous because all of its impact is on the brain of the persons being affected.

They change you – by teaching you how to change your own consciousness.
They induce the atmosphere, but it takes the will and the cooperation of the person listening, existing there in that moment, and agreeing to “take it all in” and accept it – in order for them to have the impact that they do.

There are situations where a person can recognize faulty or wrong theology in a conversation in a Coffee place. Somehow, those same people are suddenly incapable of thinking of almost anything else – except to ACCEPT the experience which is offered, in the context of the WOF meetings.

One of the characteristics of God is that He does not require us to put our minds on hold, and experiences that are truly from Him 1) Agree with the Bible and 2) are Consistent with Biblical Teachings.

Its unfortunate to say this, but in many WOF meetings, it is insufficient to suggest that it is merely false teachings which takes place. I believe that in many of those meetings, demonic spirits are looking to control the audience and find people willing to accept the input of those Evil spirits. The Bible says that Satan comes as an Angel of Light. What better place for him to display this, than in the WOF meetings ?

I believe that increasingly – in the WOF meetings, the combination of the professional production, and the work of the Spiritual Enemies of the Cross are too powerful for those who are in the audience to not be affected by them.

We can all debate how long the impact of those meetings will be, but they must be long term: Because people coming out of WOF find it so hard to extricate themselves not only from having attended, but from the experiences that they were involved with.

====

In situations like that, I believe that it is important to recognize this for what it is: good old fashioned Spiritual Warfare. This is not the “demon of nail-biting” kind. It is rather simply the Devil making war on the saints, in order to attempt to paralyze us in as many ways as possible.

Praise God that there is a natural antidote called Prayer and Renewing of our Mind through reading the Bible.

Romans 12: 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is important to understand that we need to pray for

a) great wisdom and discernment,

b) to pray that we will understand what has happened,

c) to pray that we would understand Which part of our theology and teachings are wrong or have been changed and altered by Word of Faith.

Those of us who do not have a local church should pray that we would find one that has people inside with 1) great spiritual discernment and 2) great spiritual maturity – or that we would be able to find a group of Christian believers who are like that.

It is important to not Stay paralyzed. We do not mean a day or two. we are talking about weeks turning to months. It is important to recognize that God does not abandon us, (even though it can feel that way sometimes) and that He allows things in our lives which will make us stronger, but that there will be times when others hurt us and there will be times when we get burned, even by those who claim to be doing the work of God.

Often, what the Devil knows he may not be able to do anymore with deception, he may try to prevent us from serving Jesus Christ by Confusion or Paralysis. The only way to work out of those feelings is to try and process them, but not allow those bad feelings to become the basis by which we make our new everyday choices.

Bad things DO happen to Good people. And the fact is that although we like to think of ourselves as Good, we are really sinners saved by the Almighty Grace of a loving God. Having said that, it is important to know and remember that just because God lets us fall does NOT mean that He rejects us. On the contrary, God wants us to know Him better. We can never go faster than God, in His desire for our company, and in HIS desire for us to know Him better and continue to worship Him, in spirit and In Truth.

These times are exiting but they do bring some dark days. We know one of the reasons why things happen to us:

II Cor 1:
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Just to be sure we dont miss it, it says that we have tribulation (Difficult & Hard times)

quote:

that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Other Verses are also helpful:

I Thessalonians 15: 18
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober [minded].

we should remember what Paul said:

II Thessalonians 2:16
Now [may] our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and [e]stablish you in every good word and work.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_devastation_1.htm

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JONI A TRUE AND FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN

more about “Testimony of Joni Eareckson Tada“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

Joni Eareckson Tada & Word/Faith [Word of Faith]

A Personal Experience

On December 8, 1999, Joni Eareckson Tada was on the Bible Answer Man, and made the following devastating comments about Word-Faith teachings:

Kenneth Copeland or Kenneth Hagin or Benny Hinn – they’ve never called me and asked me to come on their program.

…I had read some portions of Scripture that seemed to indicate that if God’s Word abided in me, and I abided in Him, I could ask whatever I wished and the request would be fulfilled and my joy would be brighter.

I took that to mean that God wanted me healed. And my sister packed me into her station wagon and a couple of friends, and we drove down to the Washington DC arena and Kathryn Kuhlman swept on stage and praise choruses and testimonies and songs and all of us in the wheelchair section, we kind of like with baited breath were waiting and wondering, and nothing happened. In fact, the ushers came up to all of us in the wheelchair section, about 35 or 40 of us, and said, “Let’s escort you all out early so as not to create a traffic jam, and so there I was, Hank, number 15 in line of 35 people in wheelchairs or on crutches, waiting at the stadium elevator to go up to the parking lot, and we could still hear the distant strains of the organ and piano – Kathryn Kuhlman’s meeting was still going on – and I looked up and down this line of solemn-faced individuals and saw so much disappointment, and I thought “Something’s wrong with this picture.

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Either I wasn’t reading God right in His Word or God is not coming through on His promises.” And I knew that wasn’t true, and so Hank, it was that experience that drove me into God’s Word so deep I started reading people like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and Jeremiah Burrows and John Owen and Jonathan Edwards and other contemporary authors – Dr. John MacArthur, there’s so many. I really dove into God’s Word with both sleeves rolled up to understand the Lord’s perspective on healing and I can say now that I am so grateful for the wisdom of God.

…John 5 talks about where Jesus once visited the Pool of Bethesda, and among all these disabled people He touched and healed a man paralyzed on a straw mat for over 30 years. I remember I was in the dark at night. After my bible was closed I’d picture myself at that same pool. I would imagine me dressed in maybe a rough burlap coat lying on a straw mat, perhaps even near that man that Jesus healed, and I would plead with God in prayer, “Oh, Lord, do not pass me by.” I would even sing to Him that hymn, “Jesus, Jesus, hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” I would pray that, and yet I was never healed.

Well, as you know, years later, and I began to get my spiritual act together with the Lord Jesus and I realized He was using my affliction, my paralysis to push me up against a spiritual wall with my back, getting me to seriously consider His lordship in my life – years later – in fact, just last year my husband Ken and I had a chance to visit Jerusalem, and we chose to do the old city on a hot, dry, dusty day, midday, when we knew no tour buses would be around and we’d have the place pretty much to ourselves.

And Ken was pushing me in my wheelchair down the cobblestone streets and we arrived at the sheepgate, made a lefthand turn, and there, a couple of hundred yards down the path, it opened up into this grand old ruins of – my goodness, it’s the pool of Bethesda. Ken, I said, would you look at this. And although you could not make out the colonnades because the ruins were crumbling and tumbling, and there’s no water in the pool yet, the place was empty, and as I leaned against the guardrail with my elbow, Ken hopped the guardrail to jog down to the bottom of the pool to see if there was any water in one of the cisterns.

And while he was gone and the wind was warm and dry and the sun was hot, tears began cascading down my cheeks as I looked over this pool of Bethesda and I said, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how good of You to wait 30 years, almost as many years as that man laid on his straw mat, You waited this long to bring me to this place, a place where I imagined myself so many years ago, and I’m so grateful that You did not pass me by, because a ‘no’ answer to a request for healing has meant purged sin from my life, and it strengthened my commitment to you, Lord Jesus. It has forced me to depend on Your grace. It has bound me with other believers. It has produced discernment.

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It has disciplined my mind. It has taught me to spend my time wisely. It has given me a hope of heaven. Lord Jesus, You were so good in not healing me.” And I know there are many people listening now who wish to be free of their circumstances – they are looking for an escape hatch, or maybe a quick fix for their affliction, and they think they might find it in a divorce or they are pondering maybe with the idea of suicide, such as one caller mentioned earlier. Or they’re thinking that they’ll find it in pills or medication, or a healing service. But the 32 years that I’ve been in this wheelchair and being at the Pool of Bethesda last year, has taught me that suffering is that good sheepdog, always snapping at my heals and driving me into the arms of the Shepherd. For that, I am so grateful. I am so grateful.

God Is Not a Vending Machine

Who is Joni ?

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/joni’s_story.htm

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