Etikettarkiv | christians

Spiritual gifts are in use today, but watch out for false spirits

Misunderstanding of the spiritual gifts

The evangelist Torben Søndergaard explains that the spiritual gifts are still valid today and very much in use by born again Christians. Unfortunately, he must also warn against false spirits among us in our churches, like those involved in new age and eastern religions with yoga practices such as kundalini.

The fact that someone gets healed does not necessarily mean that the person who heals him (i.e. someone with the gift of healing) can automatically be assumed to be right with God and someone who always lives a holy life. God is the perfect one who is the great Healer, and he gives authority to all Christians to receive the gift of healing (as well as other gifts). All Christians are not necessarily perfect even though they have the opportunity to be so. A person with the gift of healing can therefore not automatically be assumed to live a more righteous life than others, and might choose to go different paths in life – like into a much closer relationship with God or become consumed with the powerful gifts and subsequent fame (if we are perhaps talking about a TV evangelist) that he/she becomes worldly. You never know, but we should test all spirits and also judge people by their fruit.

Christians sometimes fall into one of two ditches:

  • Those who believe that NO spiritual gifts are still valid today (unless God would decide to zap a unknowing person on the street and make him/her possess one or more gifts) due to the possibility that fake instances of the gifts can be detected and due to their misunderstanding of the Bible text. Since they are basically cessationists (believing the spiritual gifts have ceased), they therefore assume that people claiming to speak in tongues (or with other types of spiritual gifts) are either lying (a sin), or are demonic (a sin) and are therefore not real Christians. For these people speaking in tongues is a sign that the speaker is NOT a Christian. (Compare with Mark. 16:17 where tongues are said to follow those who believe.)
  • Those who believe that a person with one or more of the gifts – particularly with the gift of healing – must be particularly loved by God and have a particularly advanced Bible knowledge. An authoritative Christian closer to God than others and who should be obeyed over others due to having such fantastic gifts.

We should have a more balanced view. Evidence of fake money is no evidence that all money is fake. Nowhere does the Bible tell us that the gifts of the holy Spirit were old news and should be forgotten even shortly after the New Testament was written. There are unfortunately Christians who totally misunderstand the spiritual gifts and believe such manifestations were only a sign for the unbelieving Jews (see here why this is not Scriptural).

It is not always the case that a healed person will automatically become close to God and interested in living a righteous life. In one occasion, Jesus healed ten lepers and only one of them returned to give glory to God (Luke 17:18). However, there is a great chance that people will indeed seek the true Healer after having been wonderfully healed themselves. It is wise to seek the one responsible for the miracles and find out what he requires from us (a holy life with love to Him and to others).

Maybe you have watched youtube videos showing people who have been healed, and who are so surprised over what just happened to them that they burst out in a curse word – probably because this is the language they normally use. If the evangelist team (or the person with the gift of healing) takes the chance to share the gospel with the healed person and welcome him/her into a Christian gathering there is a great chance that he/she will choose the right way. Those who produce such films might not include the entire communication because it is time-consuming, so do not be too quick to assume that the issue of repentance is not being taught.

Some healers might not be interested in sharing the gospel or explain the urgent call for repentance and if that is the case there is a problem. People do not get saved by getting healed (although it might sometimes be the first step that makes a person interested in finding out more about God), but by repenting for past sins and walking with the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is not possible to assume that the healing must be fake because the Healer has shown to not always live a righteous life. Again, God is the Healer and according to the Bible faith often has a lot to do with the success of getting healed. Nevertheless, a person with the gift of healing is naturally expected to live a holy life, just like those he/she heals. If you do not see an eagerness for repentance, but just a lot of empty manifestations which might even be disorderly done, there is a good chance that there are false spirits involved.

Be careful about those preachers who claim that the gifts of the holy Spirit have ceased (which is just what the devil wants you to believe), and be careful about those preachers who focus on the gifts, fame, money and worldly living.

Mark. 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues

1 Cor. 14:1 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for NO MAN understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

Annonser

Descent into error (about division among christians due to doctrines)

Thanks to blog.savetheperishing.com

This is the true story of a witnessing team’s birth and its subsequent fall into the errors of Calvinism by some of its members. I decided to write this as a warning to others who may be involved with Calvinists who evangelize or who may be on the verge of embracing the doctrine.  Looking back on my experience I am amazed at the subtle shift in behavior, doctrine, interpretation, attitude and mindset of the group due to Calvinism.  Its interesting to see how a doctrine like this can change humble, smart, loving people into prideful, contradictory, unthinking, unloving people.  It wasn’t one thing per se that caused problems nor was it one person but an accumulation of events with many people over a few years.  It took me a several years of prayer and bible study to come to the conclusions I am writing about in these posts.

Way of the Master Radio

One day in 2006 I heard on the radio that Kirk Cameron, the actor, had his own Christian ministry.  I decided to do a google search on him.  The Way of the Master website popped up and I started reading its material and watching the witnessing videos.  They also had a radio show where they record themselves witnessing to others.  I decided to share this with my friends.

What started out as a mere curiosity turned into a full-blown ministry.  Some of my friends and I took Way of the Master classes, read their books, and studied the bible to see if this method of evangelism were true.  It seemed to be so we started witnessing to the lost using this method.

For the first two years it was great.  We would go to the bus stops or the Sprint Center downtown, perhaps to a festival, we had the ministry listed in our church’s bulletin so we could have others join us if they wanted to, we could see God moving in the conversations we had with the lost.

Along the way we had others join our group and 4 of them were Calvinists.  We didn’t have Calvinists in our group before and at the time I was undecided on the doctrine but was leaning away from it.  Months later I started to notice some disturbing trends emerging in the witnessing group.

Shift of Interpretations

I was at my friends house before a bible study and there were four us standing in the kitchen.  We were talking about the lost and then the verse from  1 Corinthians 1:18 came up, “the preaching of the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing.”   Up to this point we had understood this mean’t the gospel is foolishness to those who have pride and think they are good.  This is the context of Corinthians and was in fact taught this way by Ray Comfort on the Way of the Master Training Course.  In other words, “Why would you preach the gospel to me?  I’m not a sinner!  I’m a good person!  Go preach to a sinner.”  The preaching of the cross is foolishness to someone with… pride.

While I was standing in the kitchen I was amazed to hear the reason why the “preaching of the cross is foolishness” is because sinners are “totally depraved” and unable to believe.  When I objected to that interpretation another verse was used, taken out of context, to further demonstrate how total depravity is true.  While it is true “totally depraved” sinners have pride it is also true Christians have pride, so I can’t say the reason why people have pride is because they are totally depraved.  Besides, the chapter in Corinthians we were discussing has nothing to do with total depravity.  It has to do with the pride of man and how God uses the weak things of the world to confound the wise.

What in the world was going on?

The Gospel Tract Enigma

When we witnessed we mainly gave out million dollar bill tracks.  They look like a real million dollar bill even though there is no such thing as a million dollar bill.  Several times after an evening of witnessing we would either have dinner or meet afterwards for fellowship.  Some questions would arise in the minds of my friends who later became Calvinists.  “Why do certain people take the tracks we give out and others don’t?  Its a mystery they say.  Twenty people don’t take a tract and then a bunch of people do.”  Some concluded this MUST MEAN God is drawing only those people who took the tract.

There are many reasons people don’t take tracts:

1) They think its a political ad because there is a president on it.

2) They think we are selling something and aren’t interested in buying.  This is a normal reaction.  People rarely give away material to people without selling something.

4) People in the back who see people in the front reject the tract also reject it.  “If the person ahead of me didn’t take it than I probably don’t want it either.”

5) Maybe they are upset, or tired, or who knows how many other reasons for avoiding taking a leaflet from a stranger.

There are many reasons for people taking tracts as well:

1) They are curious about what it is.

2) They like political ads.

3) They don’t want to be in an awkward situation where they must reject what someone is freely giving them so they take it.

4) People in front of them grab one so they grab one.

5) God is drawing them.

Calvinists attribute everything that happens to God.  While Calvinists vary in their opinion as to the amount of control God has on His creation many believe natural disasters, and even sin as something God has ordained, so its not a surprise the people in the witnessing group are focusing on why certain people take a gospel tract.

When I mentioned to them the different reasons why people may grab or not grab a tract it went in one ear and out the other.  Suggesting these ideas makes their exciting discovery that God controls everything not so exciting.

Popular Preachers and Popery

My friends in the group spent a great deal of time listening to Calvinist preachers such as Paul Washer, Alestair Begg, John MacArthur, James White, RC Sproul, and John Piper to name a few.  If you spend all your time listening to Calvinists preachers you will eventually be… a Calvinist.  Particularly if you spend more time listening to them than reading the bible for yourself allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret the Word.  Every Calvinist I have known or debated with spend far more time reading reformed titles, or listening to popular reformed preachers than they do reading the bible.

After they do this they believe Calvinism and then later tell me how “God opened my eyes to this truth.”  How deceived they must be to think “God opened my eyes” when in reality they spent more time reading theinterpretations of men rather than the words of God.  They have not learned the “deeper things” of God but rather what someone else thinks the bible says.  How can they possibly say “God opened my eyes” when in fact they are being told what to believe by human fallible preachers?  Are they confusing a preacher as God Himself?  Is this the Catholic church with a magisterium who speaks infallibly for God?  It seems so.

This is called indoctrination and thats what happened to the witnessing group over time.  They were becoming indoctrinated right before my eyes.

I used to be a Catholic and after that I was in the occult for several years.  Its not difficult to be indoctrinated, all you have to do is keep on listening, and believing it little by little until eventually it will take hold.  Before I was a Christian I was on the brink of worshiping the Earth due the shamanistic teachings I was studying.  I had the sudden realization that the next step in my learning was to worship the earth.  It made sense because of what I learned and knew.  Once I realized I was about to do this I stopped myself because deep down I knew it was wrong.  As a side note how would I know it was wrong?  I was “totally” depraved!  Perhaps the concept of total depravity is wrong, but thats another topic for another post.

Listening to the same preachers over and over again amounts to a type of popery similiar to the Catholic church.  Instead of one person as a pope there are several that teach the same things.  These people cannot be questioned because they are “Godly” men who preach hard on sin.  They couldn’t possibly be wrong about this doctrine!  They spend all their time studying this and are smarter than us, they know Greek and use fancy theological terms such as “doctrines of grace.”  Who am I to question them?

Oh what an insult to Christ!  The Holy Spirit, through His Word, is “unable” to teach believers better than men!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to forsake all preachers…I’m saying their interpretations are not the final word.  If you spend more time listening to other human beings than reading God’s Word you do indeed have a Pope, whether its in the form of one preacher or many.  If someone asks you “What do you believe about election” and your answer is “Read this book by James White” or “Here is an article on this by John Piper” or “Here is a sermon from RC Sproul” or “Here are some commentaries on this” you may possibly have a “pope” in your life telling you what to believe.

An objection to what I just wrote might be “I don’t have time to write a full answer to your questions, its easier to show you what <insert preachers name> believes.”  Yes I know.  You have spent so much time studying the interpretations of others you know what these other preachers believe.  Thats my point!  Do you honestly think you can listen to preachers everyday in podcasts or on the radio and not be influenced by them?  The reason you are listening to them is because you WANT to be influenced by them.  Perhaps its true you don’t have enough time to study.  Maybe your job forces you to drive frequently or you have many family responsibilities.  If thats true, why not listen to the bible on CD instead of a preacher most of the time?  Are you confident enough in the abilities of the Holy Spirit to teach you directly through His Word?

Furthermore if you know words like “monogerism” or  “synergism” or if you automatically think since I am not a Calvinist that makes me an “Arminian” or I’m a “free-willer” you spend way too much time studying the writings of men rather than the word of God.

The extent to which this idea of popery was entrenched in the witnessing group was made evident one day.  Tony Miano, a well known Calvinist who evangelizes, was saying some things to sinners on video which were questionable and confusing.  When someone in the witnessing group was asked to reexamine what Tony said he refused to do it.  He felt examining Tony would make him “sick” because he is after all a “Godly” man who apparently cannot be questioned.  Accusing Tony of teaching questionable doctrines would definitely disrupt the peace among the group and we can’t have that!

This is a far cry from the Bereans who examined what the Apostle Paul had to say to see if what he said was true.

It seems the witnessing group is not so interested in truth after all.

Cont.:

Descent Into Error Part 2 – Mottos to live by?
“Descent Into Error” Part 3 – Judgement Without Discernment
“Descent Into Error” Part 4 – Love waxes cold to the unsaved
“Descent Into Error” Part 5 – The Bible as a spell-casting device

If they shall fall away, to renew them again is impossible Hebr. 6:6

[If] they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Hebr. 6:6)

The people spoken of are christians. They:

  • have once been enlightened
  • have tasted of the heavenly gift
  • have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit
  • have tasted the good word of God
  • tasted the powers of the age to come

The whole context is:

Hebr. 6:4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 

The word IF is not in the Greek in verse 6!:

(IF) they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” 

Consider what Adam Clarke wrote about this and the aorist tense:

”And having fallen away” I can express my own mind on this translation nearly in the words of Dr. Macknight: ‘The participles who were enlightened, have tasted, and were made partakers, being aorists, are properly rendered by our translators in the past time; wherefore parapesontas, being an aorist, ought likewise to have been translated in the past time, ”HAVE fallen away”. Never­theless, our translators, following Beza*, who with­out any authority from ancient MSS. has inserted in his version the word ”if” have rendered this clause, IF they fall away, that this text might not appear to contradict the doctrine of the perse­verance of the saints. But as no translator should take upon him to add to or alter the Scriptures, for the sake of any favourite doctrine, I have trans­lated parapesontas in the past time, ”have fallen away” according to the true import of the word, as standing in connection with the other aorists in the preceding verses.

*) Theodore Beza was John Calvin’s successor 

Young’s literal translation reads: ”And having fallen away, again to renew them to reformation, having crucified gain to themselves the Son of God, and exposed to public shame” (v. 6).

(I can add that the word IF is not present in the common Swedish Bibles so I didn’t have to write all this stuff  about the added word IF when I wrote the equivalent post in Swedish.)

There are a couple of suggestions why the christians in Hebr. 6:6 could not be restored to salvation even though the rest of the Bible provides examples of people who have repented and were brought back to life (for example when Peter sinned by denying Jesus).

1) They might have ended up with a reprobate mind, as in Romans 1 

Rom. 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.—24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:—26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:—28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient

The above concerns people who have no excuse for rejecting God since he has clearly been seen and understood by them through his creation. Because they refused to glorify God and instead pursued sin, God gave them over to a reprobate mind and then they were totally absorbed in their vain life styles and were totally lost. People can harden their hearts to the extent that there is no return.

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent

Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

If God no longer calls/draws people through the Holy Spirit, and no longer grants people repentance, then people will be for ever separated from God.

2) It could be the unpardonable sin that is spoken about

Those addressed were Hebrew Christians, who were tempted to return to Juda­ism.

Hebr. 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Mark 3:22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?—28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

Before being received again into the synagogue they would have to announce publicly that Jesus was not the Son of God; that His blood would not be able to save anyone; and that His miracles were done by the power of the devil. Before their con­version they had belonged to the nation which had crucified Christ; to return to the synagogue would be to crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame; it would be the awful sin of apostasy.

If one accepts this interpretation then he can better understand why those in Heb. 6:4-6 who fell away (parapesontas) could not be renewed by repentance unto salvation as they were enemies of God (10:29), but others, like Peter, who didn’t sin to that degree, could be renewed. The word in this verse translated fall away (parapesontas) is found only once in the NT and that is here!

Moreover, Peter and the other apostles fell away (skandalizo) (Mt. 26:31,33) and perhaps multitudes like them throughout the centuries, but it is not the same Greek wordJesus taught that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is directly related to saying that the Lord had an evil spirit by which he was driving out demons. Hence, a link seems to exist between eternal sin and openly insulting the Spirit of grace (Hebr. 10:29). This could possibly explain why the ones referred to in 6:6 could not be renewed unto salvation.

We already know from numerous examples in the Bible that a sinner CAN be renewed and cleansed from his sins, if he confesses his sins and repents, but no one can be forgiven for the unpardonable sin.