28/07/2009

Dubious Practises - Dangerous Concepts

1. Healing

a. A concept that God wants to heal everyone all the time
b. A refusal to accept that the Apostolic healings were signs from God to Israel
c. A fear of sickness or of common aliments
d. A trivialising of Gods power to the mundane

This is one of the most common things in the churches and missions of today. Christians talk of healing all the time yet have no biblical understanding of its true significance.

Some Christians pray if they have a mild head ache or think that God should heal them because they feel a slight twinge which is more common as one gets older.

I do believe in God and l believe that God can heal. I also believe that faith can heal, however l do not believe in the modern healing movement one bit.

Let me tell you why.
I offered to take a local faith healer to the hospital to show me his gift in action. He declined. Then l would have taken him to the crematorium. Now that would have caused a fuss!!

No, The Apostolic gift of healing was not just to show
kindness to the sick The Apostolic healings were signs from the LORD to Israel (He confirmed his prophets with 'signs following') I believe that the Apostolic signs of healing/death tongues/interpretation prophecy/knowledge are not in existence today - because they were signs from God to unbelieving Jews.

However l do believe in God and in his power.

Has it ever occurred to you that Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel or the twelve Minor prophets and John the Baptist never healed anyone!!!

Nor did Augustine, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Theodorate, Cyril of Alexandria, Boethius, Bede the Venerable, John Scotus Erigena, Peter Waldo, Bernard of Clairaux, Bonaventure, Don Scotus, John Wycliffe, Geert de Groote, John Huss, Christian David, Martyn Luther, Hugh Latimer, Zwingli. John Calvin, Theodore Beza, Richard Baxter, George Fox, John Bunyan, Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, Daniel Rowland, Howell Harris, George Whitfield, Christmas Evans, William Carey, Anthony Norris Groves, George Muller, David Morgan, Humphrey Jones, Hudson Taylor, CH Spurgeon, Charles Finney, BB Warfield, Gladys Aylward, Gypsy Smith, Harry Ironside, Moody, LS Chafer, JN Darby, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Billy Graham, Nate Saint, John Hyde, Harold StJohn, George Verwer or John Stott.

So lets not run away with the idea that faith healing is a common thing.
Did God hear their prayers? Of course.
Did God heal someone occasionally? - no doubt, But none of them were 'faith healers'.

Miracles in scripture are in fact infrequent.

They occur at the beginning of a new ministry and
especially regarding Israel. For example in the life of Moses-Aaron, Elijah-Elisha, Christ-his Apostles.



2. Touch

a. An increase of the use of touch in everyday life.
b. A use of touch in prayer groups – holding hands etc
c. The idea that the laying on of hands is the means of spiritual blessing or the actual reception of the Spirit.
d. The touching of sacred things such as crosses, Bibles etc

Often Christians increase the touching of one another which is a sign of closeness and empathy. This use of touch can be symbolic of greater christian fellowship. But it can be an invasion of personal space and an interruption of normal social conventions. Often christians get over attached to ‘sacred things’ such as ‘christian’ jewellery or books such as their bible. They feel that God is present when they touch or are near these ‘things’. This is a form of idolatry.

3. Speaking in tongues

a. The idea of speaking in tongues as appropriate today and even in private.
b. The idea that speaking in tongues has magical powers

The apostolic gift of tongues was given as a sign to the Jews of the validity of the Gospel message being preached. It was always a sign gift to unbelievers not to believers. It was the actual speaking of a language that one had not learnt but it was always accompanied by another companion who also had exactly the same gift who could interpret the language for those who were listening. The idea that is was not a language or that it was a ‘heavenly’ language is just plain untrue.
Some christians are taught to not think and begin speaking any phrases that sound like a foreign language and this is how one learns tongues. This is self deception based on ignorance and peer pressure.

4. Prophesy

a. The idea that everyone can speak directly from God to people in a manner that is from God.
b. The idea that whatever comes into you mind is from God.
c. The idea that christians receive direct revelations from God all the time
d. The idea that certain people have a private hot line to God.

The Apostolic gift of speaking directly from God was a gift given before the coming of the NT scriptures and it enabled believers to be taught and edified until scripture was complete. Those who had this gift could say… Thus saith the Lord…etc etc. This gift is not in operation today. All prophesy in this sense has been superseded by the preaching of the Word.

5. Worship

a. The idea that worship is the main emphasis in a service rather than the ministry of the Word.
b. The idea that worship is a highly emotional ecstatic experience

The great emphasis is on worship rather than the preaching of the Word. The time period for preaching is drastically reduced and the worship period increased. The introduction of ‘New Ministries’ such as ‘song leader’ ‘worship leader’ is a symptom of this emphasis The modern idea that worship is a highly charged experience of God in which the worshippers get more and more emotional and mentally distracted is a false idea. The last fruit of the Spirit is self control. Self control will be greatly enhanced as one is filled more by the Spirit.

6. The idea that the Holy Spirit is to come

a. The modern idea that the Church does not have the Holy Spirit and that we are to pray for his coming is incorrect.
b. The idea that individual christians need to receive the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has been given by Christ to the Church and he remains with us forever. All believers have the Holy Spirit at the time of their conversion. However christians can be filled with the Spirit to enable them to minister for Christ. This is an act of faith and a willingness to submit to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit.

7. The Spiritualisation of locations

a. The idea that certain places are holy or sacred and that other places are evil.
b. The use of phrases such as ‘holy place’, ‘House of God’.
c. The concept that we call God into our presence or that we enter into his presence

Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem there is No Holy place. No specific location for God’s presence. Christians are to get away from the idea that we come into the presence of God

8. Spiritual warfare

a. An emphasis on the idea of ‘Spiritual warfare’.
b. Walking around ‘a territory’,
c. Binding and releasing,
d. Praying against, praying over.
e. An emphasis on fear of Satan and demons
f. A so-called ability to see demonic activity

Some christians are absorbed with the ideas of ‘spiritual warfare’. They think that they are involved in an actual fight. They think in terms of ‘gaining ground’ or ‘standing sure’ as if they are on an actual battlefield. This is naive in the extreme. There are Spiritual battles but we are no real match in the spiritual realm if only we knew. Some christians think they can ‘cast spells’ which they call binding and loosing. They speak of praying against or praying over something or someone. There is an over emphasis on Satan and demonic activity. This becomes a diversion in itself and Satan absorbs their energy and diverts them from their real mission of preaching the Gospel.

9. Prayer

a. The idea that a christian is able to speak things into existence
b. The practise of chaotic prayer, which is everyone speaking together.
c. The practise of emptying of the mind in prayer.

The idea that Christians have creatorial power is more common that it might appear. Christians are not able to say magic words to bring things into being. Sometimes christians think that prayer is best when everyone prays together in a cacophony of noise and chaos. This is often accompanied by a working up of emotional feeling into a crescendo of emotion. This ecstasy of thought of as being truly spiritual. Some Christians think that prayer is the emptying of the mind into a state of non thinking. Prayer is an intelligent conversation with God.

10. Emotion

a. An emphasis on how you are feeling.
b. The idea that we should be open to new people and new ideas without discernment
c. The idea that when we feel good that is Gods blessing

This is a very common thing among women and certain men who like to play on emotions. The emphasis is on how one is feeling at the time and this sense of wellbeing is interpreted to mean that one is in the blessing of God. This is inspite of the fact that scripture teaches that all the emotions of life and circumstances are not at all linked to spirituality. Christ even hinted at this in the Sermon on the Mount when he said Blessed are the poor in Spirit and Blessed are they that mourn. Our feelings may be up and down – some more than others but they have no relation to spirituality or our true relationship with the Lord.

11. Finding Gods will

a. An emphasis on visions, visions and even more visions.
b. The simplistic idea that good events are from God and all adverse events are from Satan.
c. A general lack of christian discernment.
d. Bibliomancy

This is a very important area of christian understanding. There is nothing more important than knowing Gods will, however immature christians often slip into over simplistic ideas which are a diversion from the real understanding and knowledge of the will of God.

Some christians think that Gods will is to be discerned by the receiving of visions yet they fail to realise that visions in scripture where given in the absence of specific scripture. They are often given to men who are outside of the nation of Israel and who have to turn to men of Israel for its interpretation. Most of the time the visions are not understood. The proliferation of visions of the most obscure nature are very common among certain types of christians who seem to place great emphasis on them.

Some Christians seem to think that every little event of life like missing a bus or the fact that it is sunny or raining are signs from God which tell them which way they should go. Christians should avoid an over simplification of the providence of God and an over superstitious view of ordinary events. These people mistakenly think that every good event is from God and that every adverse event is from Satan. In this way it becomes very easy for Satan to deceive these people anytime he wishes.

Some christians take a very simplistic view in relation to discernment. They seem to lack even the common sense they were born with and do things that are not only absurd but which even ordinary men would consider to be ridiculous. This path is then defended as ‘Gods will’ and anyone who questions it as persecuting them.

Some christians use the Bible as a sort of luck dip. They use it a sort of repository of fortune cookies, they only have to open it randomly to find a verse which will be ‘Gods will’. They don’t know what to make of… ‘Judas went and hanged himself’…followed by…’Go and do thou likewise’.

The discernment of Gods will is the most important thing to learn. The willing christian will always find Gods will when the Lord time comes to reveal it to him. However the Lord has a thousand ways to reveal it and the christian must place himself in a position of willingness to receive do it and patience to wait on God.

12. Diversion

a. An emphasis on anything apart from the simple preaching of the Gospel.
b. An involvement in mission activities that have a ‘mysterious’ aspect.

Napoleon said, ‘It is amazing what people believe provided it is not in the Bible’. The same is true of Christian work. It is amazing what christian missions do that is not specifically the preaching of the Gospel. Christians are often diverted into a thousand types of activity rather that the one thing of Prayer and the Ministry of the Word. I say one thing because Prayer and the ministry of the word are actually one ministry.
And so they become involved in Bible bookshops, Hospital work, Rescue missions, Homelessness, Challenging Abuse, Challenging religion, Challenging Social ills, Challenging the Politician’s. Counselling. Praying for sicknesses. Giving out literature by the 1000’s. Placards. March’s, Protests, Testimonies, Singing. Discussions. Dialogue etc etc. Everything and everything apart from the simple preaching of the word. Now I’m not saying that all these things have no place, what l am saying is that they should have second place. Prayer and the ministry of the Word should have first place.

13. Evangelism

a. An emphasis on not speaking about the Lord directly
b. An emphasis on a non direct approach in evangelism
c. A lack of evangelistic teaching to the participants
d. A general lack of evangelistic ability or experience

There is the idea of pre-evangelism, bridge building, ‘being present’ in the community. But No evangelism has happened until we preach the Gospel. Often Christians get sidetracked into questionnaires, or discussions and debates. We might even get to the absurdity of asking a godless man what his opinion is of the holiness of God as if he has anything to say whatsoever. Then we might even disgrace ourselves by giving him the respect due to his opinion. The Gospel is not an argument to be won. It is not a concept to be understood. It is not a thing to learn. It is a message to be delivered. It is the message of God to men and their response is to believe it. Its is as simple as that. The Gospel is a declaration of God which silences men in conviction and converts men in faith.
Some christians think that they can go out into the streets just to give their testimony but that is not evangelism – that’s testimony. Some christians think that there is nothing to learn about evangelism however Christ thought differently. He said, ‘Follow me and l will teach you to become fishers of men’.
The work of the evangelist is a specific gift from Christ to the Church in which he gives the supernatural gift of evangelistic ability. These men and women are the most misunderstood and undervalued christians of the church. Everything is focused on the Pastor in Church life and little if any attention is given to the evangelist.
Some christians go out to evangelise with no actual understanding of what they are doing and no training, thinking that this work is just simple, Its not!

14. Domination

a. The practise of dominating believers under the guise of obedience to elders.
b. The idea that we are to submit to leaders even when they are clearly not acting in a Christ-like manner.
c. The abuse of christians under the disguise of discipleship by giving them things to do that are deliberately uncomfortable or disgusting

This is a very important thing to understand. There was a strong movement called the Shepherding movement in which christians were bullied and coerced into very unhealthy relationships with strong cultic leaders. These leaders were either evil or extremely na├»ve. They bullied their ‘converts’ into a form of submission that created a very strange and dangerous relationship. This was the very reverse of the scriptural teaching of Discipleship. Discipleship is the spiritual development of those who want to serve God to empower them and develop them personally to discover and exercise their spiritual gifts. The beginning of the abuse of Christians is the challenge of the will to do some act that is repulsive or difficult in the guise of submitting to Gods will. This begins a downward path into servitude.

15. Extra biblical teaching

a. An emphasis on teaching that is either absent in scripture or has no specific relation to scripture. Such as ‘The Father heart of God’.
b. The use of Unbiblical terminology.
c. The use of teaching that has come from visions of a prophet’s new revelations.

There is a strong emphasis by some christians on teachings which have little or no support from scripture. And of course the list of subjects is endless. It includes ‘The Father heart of God’, Doctrines of Demons. Angelogy etc etc. Often these people bring up new words which summarise concepts which are not biblical. Very great care needs to be exercised to discern these errors. If new words or concepts are introduced then this concept should be written down and kept as a separate issue before it permeates your thinking.
Some christians say Oh the Bible was ok for the past but we are living in a modern world and the Lord has got new things for us.
Some leaders say that we are now moving into a new wave of freedom in the Spirit which previous generations never knew. This then opens the door for ANYTHING new!

16. Family relations

a. The separation of Family relations.
b. The emphasis on the mission as ‘a family’
c. The criticism or demonization of family relations

Often Christians try to separate family and friends from christians involved in missions, because as the old family ties are broken so the mission becomes the new family. The leaders are thought of a ‘spiritual fathers’. (this is inspite of the fact that Christ forbad the use of the term Father and of its meaning as spiritual leadership)
Of course family ties are never to be broken EVER. They are the very basis of our personality and the rock foundation of our lives. Christian leaders should never disagree with parental or Spouse opinions and should encourage the maintenance of family bonds. Cult leaders always try to demonise family to remove these links and to cause their followers to cling to them.







Appendix 1.

A description of the Apostolic Ministry

In this passage the Lord explains the whole of the Apostolic ministry. Which began during Christ’s lifetime and continued while the Apostles lived and is described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Matthew 10.
1: And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
2: Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3: Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4: Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
5: These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
9: Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10: Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11: And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12: And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13: And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14: And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15: Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
16: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17: But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18: And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19: But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20: For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21: And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22: And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23: But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Notice a number of things.
1. The apostles specifically had power over demons and sickness and disease.
2. The Apostles are Named as a group of twelve men. There are no Apostles in this sense today.
3. The Apostolic ministry was confined specifically to Israel called – the Lost sheep of the house of Israel.
4. The Apostolic message was a national call to Israel that they might return to the Lord because the Messianic kingdom was very near
5. The Apostolic signs were - Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. These were not ordinary miracles by men who were empowered by the Spirit, rather they were Miracles which the Rabbis had come to understand as being only able to be performed by the Messiah. These Messianic signs were described as.
a. The Cleansing the leper
b. The Restoration of sight to a man born blind
c. The Healing of a man who had never walked
d. The Raising from the dead of a man who had been dead four days
e. The Deliverance of a man who had a demon which makes him dumb.
6. The Apostolic method was.
a. To take no money
b. To take no spare clothing but to rely on Jewish traditional charity.
c. To stay with those who are worthy – and to not move.
d. To salute the house
e. To let the Shalom come on them or not.
f. To shake the dust.
g. The twofold principle of welcome, i.e. receiving and hearing.
h. Their spirit was to be wise and harmless
7. The Apostolic persecution by the Jews is predicted
8. The Apostolic mission will be incomplete

All of the Apostolic signs were signs specifically toward the Jews.
They include, Knowledge/Prophesy. Healing/Death. Tongues/Interpretation.

All these signs were given by God specifically to Israel and were indicative of a nation in a state of rejection.






Appendix 2

Other scriptures related to Signs

Here are a few scriptures that have bearing on the subject.

John 6v29: Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30: They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

The Jews understood that God gave them signs and so they asked Christ for a sign. However at this time they were refusing to accept the Messianic signs already given and so Christ refuses to cast his pearls before swine.

Acts 2v22: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Here Peter is addressing Israel. He says Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs. The Signature of God was upon his ministry by the miracles, wonders and signs which accompanied his preaching.

Acts 2v43: And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

The Apostles where still only preaching to Jews (Even as far as chapter 10 they were preaching only to Jews and later they continued to preach to Jews while occasionally preaching to gentiles too) The Apostolic ministry to Israel was characterised by Wonders and signs.

Acts 4v29: And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30: By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

After the Apostles were warned not to preach Jesus as the Messiah any more, the church did not cower away they asked God for boldness and for MORE Apostolic signs.

Acts 5v11: And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. 12: And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

The effect of the Apostolic sign of death on Ananias and Sapphira was that the fear of the Lord came upon the Church. And many more signs and wonders were done among the people.

Acts 8v13: Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Some of the Apostolic signs were performed by those who were not Apostles, Philip performed miracles and signs to the Jews that he met.

Acts 14v1: And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. 2: But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 3: Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

In the Jewish Synagogue Paul performed signs and wonders.

Romans 15v18: For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19: Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Here Paul describes the signs and wonders that he did at Illyricum. These were all for the benefit of the Jews there.

1Cor 1v22: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

Paul states the principle of how nationalities are reached with the Gospel and what appeals to them. He says the Jews require a sign from God. This takes us back to the first day when Moses stood before the burning bush and he asked what sign he would take to Israel to prove his authority to be their delieverer.

1Cor 14v22: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Her Paul states unequivocally that the gift of tongues was a sign not to believers (they don’t need a sign from God because they already believe God) but for unbelievers. So the Gift of Tongues was an Apostolic sign to unbelieving Jews.

Hebrews 2v3: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4: God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

The writer to the Hebrews gives the true significance of signs – that is they were a witness to the authority of the messenger in this case Christ himself.


Steve
Shrewsbury 2009