“Christians need to be on the cutting edge of creativity!”–Kevin Dedmon

This morning I was treated to a screenshot of a post from Kevin Dedmon Ministries. The highlighted portions seemed to be the main point of the post – if the church is on the cutting edge of cultural creativity, outsiders (the Queen of Shebas) will covet our (the church’s) wisdom. So says Kevin Dedmon.

Dedmon

Kevin Dedmon is a player at Bethel Redding, a graduate of Vanguard University (Pentecostal with roots going back to Azuza Street and false prophetess Heidi Baker one of the ‘distinguished’ alumni), and the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM).

While cutting edge entertainment might draw in outsiders to a ‘church’ (but not necessarily Christ), Bethel is a hotbed of heretical teaching and not a genuine church. That makes Mr. Dedmon’s post irrelevant on its face.

Having said that, I found some of the 18 comments interesting, if not illustrative.

A couple of those comments recognized the veiled references to the 7-Mountain Mandate that teaches the erroneous notion that Christians are to ‘take over’ the major areas of culture. Some others were justifiably critical of the need to be creative geniuses for anyone to listen to the church. And as is quite usual on social media, a few very little sense at all.

And while the comments were correct in criticizing Mr. Dedmon (and by extension, Bethel, Redding) I couldn’t help but notice the claim that for us Christians to be invited to speak on news programs (have a voice in secular culture) we need to be as admired by the world as the most popular “musicians, scientists, business leaders and star athletes”. That seems to say that we need to be liked by the world to be listened to by the world.

It was then that I had what I called a ‘Johnny Cash moment’. If you ever listened to the song “Jesus Said”, you might know what I mean. Two passages of scripture flashed in my aging mind:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18 – 19)

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy.” (James 4:4)

The world might be drawn to our cutting-edge creativity but will it be drawn to Christ? Not according to Jesus:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

“But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:44 & 65)

Genuine drawing to Christ for salvation is God’s work. Our part as believers is merely to lovingly share the gospel message that Christ died for the sins of men. God will open hearts to listen and pay attention (See Acts 16 and the story of Lydia). We need to follow the example of the Apostle Paul and “keep it simple”.

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

We share the good news and God saves His people from their sins.

______________________

I did visit Kevin Dedmon’s FB page. I don’t recommend it. Just more similar posts, all of which were followed by lots of “Amens” from his deceived followers. It was also painful for this old guy because I was reminded of a decades old close friend who I believed to be a genuine Christian (we would pray together over the soldiers of our unit in Massachusetts). He has very close ties to Bethel and Bill Johnson, believing him to be a great man of God..

The Pelagian Captivity of the Church

by R.C. Sproul

(This is actually a repost of article that appeared here on The Battle Cry in 2013.)

Shortly after the Reformation began, in the first few years after Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, he issued some short booklets on a variety of subjects. One of the most provocative was titled The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. In this book Luther was looking back to that period of Old Testament history when Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading armies of Babylon and the elite of the people were carried off into captivity. Luther in the sixteenth century took the image of the historic Babylonian captivity and reapplied it to his era and talked about the new Babylonian captivity of the Church. He was speaking of Rome as the modern Babylon that held the Gospel hostage with its rejection of the biblical understanding of justification. You can understand how fierce the controversy was, how polemical this title would be in that period by saying that the Church had not simply erred or strayed, but had fallen — that it’s actually now Babylonian; it is now in pagan captivity.

I’ve often wondered if Luther were alive today and came to our culture and looked, not at the liberal church community, but at evangelical churches, what would he have to say? Of course I can’t answer that question with any kind of definitive authority, but my guess is this: If Martin Luther lived today and picked up his pen to write, the book he would write in our time would be entitled The Pelagian Captivity of the Evangelical Church. Luther saw the doctrine of justification as fueled by a deeper theological problem. He writes about this extensively in The Bondage of the Will. When we look at the Reformation and we see the solas of the Reformation — sola Scriptura, sola fide, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria, sola gratia — Luther was convinced that the real issue of the Reformation was the issue of grace; and that underlying the doctrine of solo fide, justification by faith alone, was the prior commitment to sola gratia, the concept of justification by grace alone.

In the Fleming Revell edition of The Bondage of the Will, the translators, J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, included a somewhat provocative historical and theological introduction to the book itself. This is from the end of that introduction:

These things need to be pondered by Protestants today. With what right may we call ourselves children of the Reformation? Much modern Protestantism would be neither owned nor even recognised by the pioneer Reformers. The Bondage of the Will fairly sets before us what they believed about the salvation of lost mankind. In the light of it, we are forced to ask whether Protestant Christendom has not tragically sold its birthright between Luther’s day and our own. Has not Protestantism today become more Erasmian than Lutheran? Do we not too often try to minimise and gloss over doctrinal differences for the sake of inter-party peace? Are we innocent of the doctrinal indifferentism with which Luther charged Erasmus? Do we still believe that doctrine matters?1

Historically, it’s a simple matter of fact that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and all the leading Protestant theologians of the first epoch of the Reformation stood on precisely the same ground here. On other points they had their differences. In asserting the helplessness of man in sin and the sovereignty of God in grace, they were entirely at one. To all of them these doctrines were the very lifeblood of the Christian faith. A modern editor of Luther’s works says this:

Whoever puts this book down without having realized that Evangelical theology stands or falls with the doctrine of the bondage of the will has read it in vain. The doctrine of free justification by faith alone, which became the storm center of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformers’ theology, but this is not accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed by Augustine and others, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only, and that the doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a more profound level still in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration.2

That is to say, that the faith that receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God. The principle of sola fide is not rightly understood until it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of sola gratia. What is the source of faith? Is it the God-given means whereby the God-given justification is received, or is it a condition of justification which is left to man to fulfill? Do you hear the difference? Let me put it in simple terms. I heard an evangelist recently say, “If God takes a thousand steps to reach out to you for your redemption, still in the final analysis, you must take the decisive step to be saved.” Consider the statement that has been made by America’s most beloved and leading evangelical of the twentieth century, Billy Graham, who says with great passion, “God does ninety-nine percent of it but you still must do that last one percent.”

What Is Pelagianism?

Now, let’s return briefly to my title, “The Pelagian Captivity of the Church.” What are we talking about? Pelagius was a monk who lived in Britain in the fifth century. He was a contemporary of the greatest theologian of the first millennium of Church history if not of all time, Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. We have heard of St. Augustine, of his great works in theology, of his City of God, of his Confessions, and so on, which remain Christian classics.

Augustine, in addition to being a titanic theologian and a prodigious intellect, was also a man of deep spirituality and prayer. In one of his famous prayers, Augustine made a seemingly harmless and innocuous statement in the prayer to God in which he says: “O God, command what you wouldst, and grant what thou dost command.” Now, would that give you apoplexy — to hear a prayer like that? Well it certainly set Pelagius, this British monk, into orbit. When he heard that, he protested vociferously, even appealing to Rome to have this ghastly prayer censured from the pen of Augustine. Here’s why. He said, “Are you saying, Augustine, that God has the inherent right to command anything that he so desires from his creatures? Nobody is going to dispute that. God inherently, as the creator of heaven and earth, has the right to impose obligations on his creatures and say, ‘Thou shalt do this, and thou shalt not do that.’ ‘Command whatever thou would’ — it’s a perfectly legitimate prayer.”

It’s the second part of the prayer that Pelagius abhorred when Augustine said, “and grant what thou dost command.” He said, “What are you talking about? If God is just, if God is righteous and God is holy, and God commands of the creature to do something, certainly that creature must have the power within himself, the moral ability within himself, to perform it or God would never require it in the first place.” Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? What Pelagius was saying is that moral responsibility always and everywhere implies moral capability or, simply, moral ability. So why would we have to pray, “God grant me, give me the gift of being able to do what you command me to do”? Pelagius saw in this statement a shadow being cast over the integrity of God himself, who would hold people responsible for doing something they cannot do.

So in the ensuing debate, Augustine made it clear that in creation, God commanded nothing from Adam or Eve that they were incapable of performing. But once transgression entered and mankind became fallen, God’s law was not repealed nor did God adjust his holy requirements downward to accommodate the weakened, fallen condition of his creation. God did punish his creation by visiting upon them the judgment of original sin, so that everyone after Adam and Eve who was born into this world was born already dead in sin. Original sin is not the first sin. It’s the result of the first sin; it refers to our inherent corruption, by which we are born in sin, and in sin did our mothers conceive us. We are not born in a neutral state of innocence, but we are born in a sinful, fallen condition. Virtually every church in the historic World Council of Churches at some point in their history and in their creedal development articulates some doctrine of original sin. So clear is that to the biblical revelation that it would take a repudiation of the biblical view of mankind to deny original sin altogether.

This is precisely what was at issue in the battle between Augustine and Pelagius in the fifth century. Pelagius said there is no such thing as original sin. Adam’s sin affected Adam and only Adam. There is no transmission or transfer of guilt or fallenness or corruption to the progeny of Adam and Eve. Everyone is born in the same state of innocence in which Adam was created. And, he said, for a person to live a life of obedience to God, a life of moral perfection, is possible without any help from Jesus or without any help from the grace of God. Pelagius said that grace — and here’s the key distinction — facilitates righteousness. What does “facilitate” mean?

It helps, it makes it more facile, it makes it easier, but you don’t have to have it. You can be perfect without it. Pelagius further stated that it is not only theoretically possible for some folks to live a perfect life without any assistance from divine grace, but there are in fact people who do it. Augustine said, “No, no, no, no . . . we are infected by sin by nature, to the very depths and core of our being — so much so that no human being has the moral power to incline himself to cooperate with the grace of God. The human will, as a result of original sin, still has the power to choose, but it is in bondage to its evil desires and inclinations. The condition of fallen humanity is one that Augustine would describe as the inability to not sin. In simple English, what Augustine was saying is that in the Fall, man loses his moral ability to do the things of God and he is held captive by his own evil inclinations.

In the fifth century the Church condemned Pelagius as a heretic. Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange, and it was condemned again at the Council of Florence, the Council of Carthage, and also, ironically, at the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century in the first three anathemas of the Canons of the Sixth Session. So, consistently throughout Church history, the Church has roundly and soundly condemned Pelagianism  —  because Pelagianism denies the fallenness of our nature; it denies the doctrine of original sin.

Now what is called semi-Pelagianism, as the prefix “semi” suggests, was a somewhat middle ground between full-orbed Augustinianism and full-orbed Pelagianism. Semi-Pelagianism said this: yes, there was a fall; yes, there is such a thing as original sin; yes, the constituent nature of humanity has been changed by this state of corruption and all parts of our humanity have been significantly weakened by the fall, so much so that without the assistance of divine grace nobody can possibly be redeemed, so that grace is not only helpful but it’s absolutely necessary for salvation. While we are so fallen that we can’t be saved without grace, we are not so fallen that we don’t have the ability to accept or reject the grace when it’s offered to us. The will is weakened but is not enslaved. There remains in the core of our being an island of righteousness that remains untouched by the fall. It’s out of that little island of righteousness, that little parcel of goodness that is still intact in the soul or in the will that is the determinative difference between heaven and hell. It’s that little island that must be exercised when God does his thousand steps of reaching out to us, but in the final analysis it’s that one step that we take that determines whether we go to heaven or hell — whether we exercise that little righteousness that is in the core of our being or whether we don’t. That little island Augustine wouldn’t even recognize as an atoll in the South Pacific. He said it’s a mythical island, that the will is enslaved, and that man is dead in his sin and trespasses.

Ironically, the Church condemned semi-Pelagianism as vehemently as it had condemned original Pelagianism. Yet by the time you get to the sixteenth century and you read the Catholic understanding of what happens in salvation the Church basically repudiated what Augustine taught and Aquinas taught as well. The Church concluded that there still remains this freedom that is intact in the human will and that man must cooperate with — and assent to — the prevenient grace that is offered to them by God. If we exercise that will, if we exercise a cooperation with whatever powers we have left, we will be saved. And so in the sixteenth century the Church reembraced semi-Pelagianism.

At the time of the Reformation, all the reformers agreed on one point: the moral inability of fallen human beings to incline themselves to the things of God; that all people, in order to be saved, are totally dependent, not ninety-nine percent, but one hundred percent dependent upon the monergistic work of regeneration in order to come to faith, and that faith itself is a gift of God. It’s not that we are offered salvation and that we will be born again if we choose to believe. But we can’t even believe until God in his grace and in his mercy first changes the disposition of our souls through his sovereign work of regeneration. In other words, what the reformers all agreed with was, unless a man is born again, he can’t even see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it. Like Jesus says in the sixth chapter of John, “No man can come to me unless it is given to him of the Father” — that the necessary condition for anybody’s faith and anybody’s salvation is regeneration.

Evangelicals and Faith

Modern Evangelicalism almost uniformly and universally teaches that in order for a person to be born again, he must first exercise faith. You have to choose to be born again. Isn’t that what you hear? In a George Barna poll, more than seventy percent of “professing evangelical Christians” in America expressed the belief that man is basically good. And more than eighty percent articulated the view that God helps those who help themselves. These positions — or let me say it negatively — neither of these positions is semi-Pelagian. They’re both Pelagian. To say that we’re basically good is the Pelagian view. I would be willing to assume that in at least thirty percent of the people who are reading this issue, and probably more, if we really examine their thinking in depth, we would find hearts that are beating Pelagianism. We’re overwhelmed with it. We’re surrounded by it. We’re immersed in it. We hear it every day. We hear it every day in the secular culture. And not only do we hear it every day in the secular culture, we hear it every day on Christian television and on Christian radio.

In the nineteenth century, there was a preacher who became very popular in America, who wrote a book on theology, coming out of his own training in law, in which he made no bones about his Pelagianism. He rejected not only Augustinianism, but he also rejected semi-Pelagianism and stood clearly on the subject of unvarnished Pelagianism, saying in no uncertain terms, without any ambiguity, that there was no Fall and that there is no such thing as original sin. This man went on to attack viciously the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and in addition to that, to repudiate as clearly and as loudly as he could the doctrine of justification by faith alone by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. This man’s basic thesis was, we don’t need the imputation of the righteousness of Christ because we have the capacity in and of ourselves to become righteous. His name: Charles Finney, one of America’s most revered evangelists. Now, if Luther was correct in saying that sola fide is the article upon which the Church stands or falls, if what the reformers were saying is that justification by faith alone is an essential truth of Christianity, who also argued that the substitutionary atonement is an essential truth of Christianity; if they’re correct in their assessment that those doctrines are essential truths of Christianity, the only conclusion we can come to is that Charles Finney was not a Christian. I read his writings and I say, “I don’t see how any Christian person could write this.” And yet, he is in the Hall of Fame of Evangelical Christianity in America. He is the patron saint of twentieth-century Evangelicalism. And he is not semi-Pelagian; he is unvarnished in his Pelagianism.

The Island of Righteousness

One thing is clear: that you can be purely Pelagian and be completely welcome in the evangelical movement today. It’s not simply that the camel sticks his nose into the tent; he doesn’t just come in the tent — he kicks the owner of the tent out. Modern Evangelicalism today looks with suspicion at Reformed theology, which has become sort of the third-class citizen of Evangelicalism. Now you say, “Wait a minute, R. C. Let’s not tar everybody with the extreme brush of Pelagianism, because, after all, Billy Graham and the rest of these people are saying there was a Fall; you’ve got to have grace; there is such a thing as original sin; and semi-Pelagians do not agree with Pelagius’ facile and sanguine view of unfallen human nature.” And that’s true. No question about it. But it’s that little island of righteousness where man still has the ability, in and of himself, to turn, to change, to incline, to dispose, to embrace the offer of grace that reveals why historically semi-Pelagianism is not called semi-Augustinianism, but semi-Pelagianism.

I heard an evangelist use two analogies to describe what happens in our redemption. He said sin has such a strong hold on us, a stranglehold, that it’s like a person who can’t swim, who falls overboard in a raging sea, and he’s going under for the third time and only the tops of his fingers are still above the water; and unless someone intervenes to rescue him, he has no hope of survival, his death is certain. And unless God throws him a life preserver, he can’t possibly be rescued. And not only must God throw him a life preserver in the general vicinity of where he is, but that life preserver has to hit him right where his fingers are still extended out of the water, and hit him so that he can grasp hold of it. It has to be perfectly pitched. But still that man will drown unless he takes his fingers and curls them around the life preserver and God will rescue him. But unless that tiny little human action is done, he will surely perish.

The other analogy is this: A man is desperately ill, sick unto death, lying in his hospital bed with a disease that is fatal. There is no way he can be cured unless somebody from outside comes up with a cure, a medicine that will take care of this fatal disease. And God has the cure and walks into the room with the medicine. But the man is so weak he can’t even help himself to the medicine; God has to pour it on the spoon. The man is so sick he’s almost comatose. He can’t even open his mouth, and God has to lean over and open up his mouth for him. God has to bring the spoon to the man’s lips, but the man still has to swallow it.

Now, if we’re going to use analogies, let’s be accurate. The man isn’t going under for the third time; he is stone cold dead at the bottom of the ocean. That’s where you once were when you were dead in sin and trespasses and walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. And while you were dead hath God quickened you together with Christ. God dove to the bottom of the sea and took that drowned corpse and breathed into it the breath of his life and raised you from the dead. And it’s not that you were dying in a hospital bed of a certain illness, but rather, when you were born you were born D.O.A. That’s what the Bible says: that we are morally stillborn.

Do we have a will? Yes, of course we have a will. Calvin said, if you mean by a free will a faculty of choosing by which you have the power within yourself to choose what you desire, then we all have free will. If you mean by free will the ability for fallen human beings to incline themselves and exercise that will to choose the things of God without the prior monergistic work of regeneration then, said Calvin, free will is far too grandiose a term to apply to a human being.

The semi-Pelagian doctrine of free will prevalent in the evangelical world today is a pagan view that denies the captivity of the human heart to sin. It underestimates the stranglehold that sin has upon us.

None of us wants to see things as bad as they really are. The biblical doctrine of human corruption is grim. We don’t hear the Apostle Paul say, “You know, it’s sad that we have such a thing as sin in the world; nobody’s perfect. But be of good cheer. We’re basically good.” Do you see that even a cursory reading of Scripture denies this?

Now back to Luther. What is the source and status of faith? Is it the God-given means whereby the God-given justification is received? Or is it a condition of justification which is left to us to fulfill? Is your faith a work? Is it the one work that God leaves for you to do? I had a discussion with some folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently. I was speaking on sola gratia, and one fellow was upset.

He said, “Are you trying to tell me that in the final analysis it’s God who either does or doesn’t sovereignly regenerate a heart?”

And I said, “Yes;” and he was very upset about that. I said, “Let me ask you this: are you a Christian?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Do you have friends who aren’t Christians?”

He said, “Well, of course.”

I said, “Why are you a Christian and your friends aren’t? Is it because you’re more righteous than they are?” He wasn’t stupid. He wasn’t going to say, “Of course it’s because I’m more righteous. I did the right thing and my friend didn’t.” He knew where I was going with that question.

And he said, “Oh, no, no, no.”

I said, “Tell me why. Is it because you are smarter than your friend?”

And he said, “No.”

But he would not agree that the final, decisive issue was the grace of God. He wouldn’t come to that. And after we discussed this for fifteen minutes, he said, “OK! I’ll say it. I’m a Christian because I did the right thing, I made the right response, and my friend didn’t.”

What was this person trusting in for his salvation? Not in his works in general, but in the one work that he performed. And he was a Protestant, an evangelical. But his view of salvation was no different from the Roman view.

God’s Sovereignty in Salvation

This is the issue: Is it a part of God’s gift of salvation, or is it in our own contribution to salvation? Is our salvation wholly of God or does it ultimately depend on something that we do for ourselves? Those who say the latter, that it ultimately depends on something we do for ourselves, thereby deny humanity’s utter helplessness in sin and affirm that a form of semi-Pelagianism is true after all. It is no wonder then that later Reformed theology condemned Arminianism as being, in principle, both a return to Rome because, in effect, it turned faith into a meritorious work, and a betrayal of the Reformation because it denied the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, which was the deepest religious and theological principle of the reformers’ thought. Arminianism was indeed, in Reformed eyes, a renunciation of New Testament Christianity in favor of New Testament Judaism. For to rely on oneself for faith is no different in principle than to rely on oneself for works, and the one is as un-Christian and anti-Christian as the other. In the light of what Luther says to Erasmus there is no doubt that he would have endorsed this judgment.

And yet this view is the overwhelming majority report today in professing evangelical circles. And as long as semi-Pelagianism, which is simply a thinly veiled version of real Pelagianism at its core — as long as it prevails in the Church, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I know, however, what will not happen: there will not be a new Reformation. Until we humble ourselves and understand that no man is an island and that no man has an island of righteousness, that we are utterly dependent upon the unmixed grace of God for our salvation, we will not begin to rest upon grace and rejoice in the greatness of God’s sovereignty, and we will not be rid of the pagan influence of humanism that exalts and puts man at the center of religion. Until that happens there will not be a new Reformation, because at the heart of Reformation teaching is the central place of the worship and gratitude given to God and God alone. Soli Deo gloria, to God alone be the glory.


Notes

1. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, “Introduction” to the The Bondage of the Will (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming Revell, 1957) pp. 59-60.

2. Ibid

Coronavirus “Spiritual/Prophetic” Garbage Summary

This is comparable to a cat’s litter box. Lots of waste matter in one place……….

So far we have, ……..

None of these things are true. May the Lord rebuke them.

_________

Online Source

“Restoring your Spiritual Alertness“–by Kris Vallotton

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A friend of mine messaged me with  the link to a Kris Vallotton sermon from 2018 called “Restoring your Spiritual Alertness “–by Kris Vallotton of Bethe, Redding.. I had previously seen it talked about on Facebook but had not listened to it, not being a big KV fan. My friend actually Neither is my friend, but his messaging me actually encouraged me to go ahead and listen to it.; that and the KV quote accompanying the Facebook ad that said “Sickness is part of the law of the first heavens.”

What follows are parts of the sermon I thought significant tin demonstrated KV’s (and Bethel/Bill Johnson) theology.  If really bad eisegesis (reading into scripture) and scripture twisting offend you, read no further.

At the very beginning KV begins scripture twisting. He reads Ephesians 3 , where Paul is talking about God revealing truth to him (Paul) by revelation and then, out of the blue, starts talking about slavery and how God wants us to move out of slavery and into a relationship of friendship. A mark of friendship, of course, is God giving revelation. So early on, KV starts, making a case for ongoing extra-biblical revelation. His reasoning:

“We are in a season transition from slavery to sonship and the manifestation of that is that we are beginning to get revelation of things never before seen or heard, or even thought of.”

Sorry, Kria, but we transitioned into sonship the moment we believed in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin.

He goes on to explain his overarching theology of ‘3  heavens’.

He begins his teaching by saying that we do not ‘inhabit’ this planet, we ‘cohabit’ the earth. Furthermore, he tells us that the Bible teaches that there are three dimensions to spiritual entities that live among us. We all 9believers and non-believers) live in the first heaven. The principalities and powers spoken of in Ephesians 6 live in the second heaven. God of course lives in the third heaven.

Note also, that  there are levels of authority in the first and second heavens.

As ‘believers’ , as opposed to non-believers, we live in the first AND third heavens.  This is based on a misinterpretation of Ephesians 1:3,  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” If Christ has authority in/over all three heavens,so do we. According to KV,we just need to take our ‘rightful’ place in the third heaven.

Also, according to KV, while there are five natural senses, there are many spiritual dimensions/senses  (supernatural spiritual intelligence) that  “enable us to make decisions based on what happens in the second and third heaven. “

A month before this sermon he knew about five levels of spiritual intelligence, but because of receiving more revelation,by the time this sermon rolled around, he knew about  five more. . He said “It’s up to us to police the cosmos.”  He also said the wisdom of man is not evil, it’s just natural, which contradicts what the Bible tells us about human wisdom, being “foolishness to God”.

He then repeated some previous teaching he had given about a month earlier, telling us about spiritual gifts that he has that we can ALL have!

  • Gift of discernment concerning what entity (good or bad) is influencing a city, store, person.
  • Gift of knowledge. (Word of knowledge). He knew a lady sitting next to him on an airplane by name and what her husband was doing that day(having an affair?).We should only use ‘positive’ prophecy.
  • Gift of prophecy. Access to history before it happens – about nations, cities, people. God has a special purpose for EVERYTHING, and we can know it ALL! Using our gifts we can counsel others who come to us regarding their futures. After all, we have access to all of it!

This quite was rather ‘interesting’:

“If you are a believer, you are a mobile home for the Holy Spirit. Everywhere you go, He goes. These gifts are resident in him (the Holy Spirit) so they are resident in you. You just have to believe it and you can operate in it. You just need to move your faith into the right kingdom.”

He goes on, presenting as logical:

  • God does not live in time and space,
  • We have the  mind of God.
  • God thinks outside of time and space, therefore,
  • We can think outside of time and space.

“The way a person gets healed is that a superior ecosystem superimposes itself over an inferior ecosystem.”

He goes on to say that  “God is moving us back into his divine design – to rule the earth”,  referring back to Genesis..

“Bethel uses words of knowledge to heal people. “Vallotton used to use words of knowledge to fix cars, after he heard Bill Johnson’s teaching on it.  He actually said that.

He talked about spiritual gifts & effects. As an example he described hot to do really well in the stock market using the gift of prophecy and the gift of knowledge (we all have them,  remember).  Call it supernatural ‘insider trading’?  The key is having intimacy with God. When you get close with God (intercourse-yada) he will tell you everything!

As believers, we are new creatures (true), both human and totally like Jesus. And according to Bill Johnson’s  kenotic’  view of Jesus, Jesus put his Godhood completely aside and performed all of his miracles, signs and wonders as nothing more than a man in right relationship with God.

Nearing the end of his teaching, he dissed denominational thinking, opinions, thoughts, and divisions. as all BAD. The most brilliant people on the planet keep their minds turned off. Denominationalism doesn’t want you to think for yourself (A common Bill Johnson teaching). He left us with the following, making sure to let us know that HE wrote it (he did that a lot – patted himself on the back.

“The wisdom of God is imprisoned in believers, guarded by the spirit of religion, shackled for generations by the fear of man, and locked away by mediocrity that undermines excellence and kills inspiration. The political spirit has robbed people of the mind of Christ by disarming creativity and marching Christian soldiers to the concentration camp of black and white thinking, This accumulated climax has reduced the most brilliant people on the,planet to echoes of worldly thinking and has undermined the triumph and call of ageless wisdom.”

“Thinking people destroy churches.”. By that he was not speaking of ‘churches’ in a good way, but as representative of ‘stinkin’ thinkin’.

After listening to all of that, I can see why so many young are drawn to Bethel (besides the music). They are taught that they can be just like Jesus!

Those who have left Bethel have something in common. They all seem to have read some of the Bible for themselves!  Yet Bethel continues to attract thousands of young people, first through their music., followed by a gradual diet of false teaching. the Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry (BSSM) has a few thousand continuously enrolled. If you want to know what is taught at BSSM, you can start here.

So there it is……..Dan’s take on an entire Kris Valloton sermon. I did listen to the entire thing and took a lot of notes, all of which are not in this short post. Do with it what you will.

The Office of Apostle in the New Testament

The following is excerpted  from an article by Costi Hinn defining the  New Testament office of Apostle, and making the assertion that this office no longer exists in the church.

This used to be an open and shut case. Few, if any, were arguing that the office of apostle was in operation today. However, this is now something preachers must be clear about time and time again.

Two distinctions should be made here.

First, in a sense, there is such a thing as being apóstolos (ἀπόστολος) today. This Greek word means “a delegate” and is synonymous with those who are commissioned to pioneer new gospel-work through planting, missionary work, or other frontier-like ministries. This is being a gospel-ambassador!

Second, there is no such thing as being an apostle in the sense of the New Testament office. This was restricted to a very specific group who met a specific criterion. When you survey the New Testament, you can gather that real apostles were:

  • Commissioned and appointed personally by Christ (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13 John 15:16; Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:7-9)
  • Personally with Christ from baptism to ascension (Acts 1:21-22; Acts 10:38)
  • Fulfilling prophecy when Mathias replaced Judas’ specific office (Acts 1:19)
  • Performing undeniable and instantaneous signs and wonders (Acts 5:12; 2 Corinthians 12:12)
  • Given direct revelation from God (John 16:13)
  • Operating as the initial foundation for the Church (Ephesians 2:20; 4:11)
  • Distinctly gifted for their uniquely foundational office (1 Corinthians 12:29)

While many people will be “apostolic” in their ministry in the sense that they are sent forth to do gospel work, based on what the Bible teaches about the requirements for being an apostle, it’s impossible for there to be any more apostles today.

You can read the complete article, which critiques the New Apostolic Reformation, here.

Turning Romans 8:28 into a Ball of Spaghetti

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I saw a Facebook post this morning that contained a short video clip, apparently taken from a Joel Osteen sermon, advertising Joel’s Podcast (available from iTunes). The above quotation is what he told anyone listening to the clip.

“On the other side of the difficulty is a new level of your destiny. If you keep the right attitude, all things will work for your good. Not some things, the good breaks, the promotion, but even the loss, the disappointment. The person that walked away, it wasn’t random, it was ordained by God.” – Joel Osteen

Although he didn’t quote any actual scripture passage, the obvious reference is to Romans 8:28, which claim that “all things work together for good.” Joel would have you believe that “If you keep the right attitude, all things will work for your good.”  Now that’s a nice thought, and a positive attitude (what Joel is teaching) helps, but is that what is actually taught in the Roman text? Let’s take a look, shall we?

 28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28 – 30, ESV)

Joel maintains that:

1.  ALL things will work for your good and “the next level of your destiny” is the “good” (goal) for which all things work.

2.  All things are ordained by God, even the bad things.

What is true in the above? That all things work together for good and that God ordains all things.

What is NOT true? Well, just a couple of things.

1.  Joel is speaking to a very large audience, to every individual sitting in the former basketball arena turned into a ‘church’ (I use the term loosely), outlying ‘campuses’, as well as television/digital media viewers. The author of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul, was speaking to a particular group of people, the Christians in Rome. He also spoke about a specific group of people, those who “love God and are the called according to His purpose.”  2. Joel defined the “good” in the “all things that work together for good”, as the next level of your destiny, even implying that since God ordains all things, He has ordained for you some sort of divine destiny, a concept NOWHERE taught in scripture.

He has a lot of company in that regard. There are countless faux preachers and teachers who make the Christian life all about us, and our personal aspirations and dreams for life in the here and now.

Scripture, however, tells us it is those who would give up their lives for His sake would find eternal life (Matthew 16:24–25; Mark 8:34–35), that the whole life of the Christian as a dying to self and living for and in Him who died for us (Galatians 2:20), and that if we want to be Jesus’ disciples we must DIE to self (Luke 14:27). Dear friends, these passages teach the exact opposite of searching for some personal ‘divine destiny’!

Sadly, the ‘divine destiny’ lie might be the most dangerous cancer eating away at today’s church. And it’s really not a new teaching at all. I think the journey to where we are now on began over 15 years ago with a book by a portly West Coast Pastor that was about finding your unique purpose in the world. That book began by saying “It’s not all about you,” but then talked ALL about you for the rest of the book! The mantra for much of American evangelicalism.

So what’s Romans 8:28-30 really about? I’m so glad you asked! Let’s look at it again.

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28 – 30, ESV)

These passages are about God’s eternal purpose, NOT our temporal destinies! And anyone who teaches or preaches this dream destiny lie turns God’s eternal purpose on its head and has tricked thousands, if not millions of professing believers into dedicating their lives as Christians to pursuing their earthly ‘destinies’, and remaining trapped in this world, even as they are already citizens of a heavenly Kingdom and recipients of countless heavenly blessings!

Pray for all those who have been deceived. Prey also for Joel Osteen and all prosperity gospel preachers. They WILL be held accountable.

Francis Chan Defends His Friendship With False Teachers

March 17, 2019, Pastor Gabe Hughes,. Junction City Kansas

(Dan’s Note: This might be the best commentary I have read concerning Francis Chan’s situation)

Yesterday, Francis Chan responded to the harsh accusations that he has been aligning with heretics. A recent article published at The Cripplegate was entitled Farewell Francis. The author Jordan Standridge warned that Chan “is sharing the stage with false teachers who will spend eternity in Hell (Gal. 1:6-9).” He pleaded for Chan to repent and “come back to your first love!”

Chan has been on a steady decline over the last few years. Preaching with Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer may have been a head-scratcher, but it wasn’t enough to denounce Chan as developing an alliance with the enemy. Maybe Chan didn’t know that Bickle claimed to have gone to heaven and had a personal audience with Jesus. Maybe Chan didn’t know Bickle teaches that we bring about Christ’s return through prayer (according to what Jesus personally told him). Maybe Chan didn’t know that Bickle has claimed there will be new apostles preaching things you will not be able to find in the Bible, and they will be superior to the biblical apostles.

But since his appearances at IHOP, Chan has ventured into other strange territory, like preaching at Bethel Church in Redding, CA—known for manipulative gags such as pouring gold dust in the ventilation system and calling it a glory cloud from God. Teachers from Bethel under pastor Bill Johnson also claim to have face-to-face conversations with not only Jesus but God the Father, whom the Bible says no one can see and live (Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, 1 John 4:12).

Everything came to a head last month when Chan preached at a conference in Orlando known as The Send, featuring some of the worst teachers out there—Benny Hinn, Heidi Baker, Todd White, and Bill Johnson to name a few. Following The Send, pictures started emerging of Chan being buddies with these charlatans. He embraced them as brothers and praised them for being bold men and women of God. This has prompted many, including myself, to warn people to stay away from Francis Chan. He is no longer trustworthy.

Questions have been raised for a few years regarding Chan’s associations, but Chan has remained silent. Finally he responded this weekend in a blog entitled A Response to Some Concerns by Francis Chan. I won’t post the entire thing word for word—you can read it for yourself by clicking the link. I will highlight some critical points, and then my response will follow.

Chan wrote:

From what I hear from friends and critics (I stay away from social media, etc), there have been a lot of conclusions drawn from my decision to speak at The Send conference as well as other venues. Some people have questioned my willingness to take pictures with anyone who asks for a picture with me. So I thought it might be helpful to explain some of my theological beliefs which have come under scrutiny as of late, as well as some of my practices/decisions. I realize there are many questions, but let me at least clarify a few things.

What do you believe regarding the “Prosperity Gospel”?

My understanding of that term is that it refers to teachings which imply that if you follow Jesus, He will make you healthy and wealthy. It is often used to attract people to make a decision to follow Jesus so that they can spend the rest of their lives in health and prosperity. I believe this is a dangerous teaching for several reasons. First and foremost (in my opinion) is that it contradicts the teachings and example of Christ and the apostles. Jesus taught His disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It was not a call to come and prosper but rather the opposite—a call to come and suffer.

Chan goes on in his repudiation of the prosperity gospel. I am not in disagreement with him here. Prosperity theology is a lie from the pit of hell. It’s precisely because of Chan’s views regarding health-and-wealth teaching that he has become a hypocrite in his ministry partnerships. He preaches with the worst of the worst among prosperity charlatans. Teachers like Hinn, Johnson, White, and Heidi Baker preach exactly the false gospel Chan condemns!

In a video of a Bethel Church service from March 25 of last year, Bill Johnson is seen leading his church in an absurd prayer which he called “a decree and confession.” Before praying aloud together, Johnson said, “I want your faith to be recognizable in your volume. No small task.” He then led the congregation to recite the following, the audience practically yelling it as they proclaimed:

As we receive today’s offering, we are believing the Lord for jobs and better jobs, raises and bonuses, benefits and sales and commissions, favorable settlements, estates and inheritances, interests and income, rebates and returns, checks in the mail, gifts and surprises, finding money, debts paid off, expenses decrease, blessing and increase. Thank you, Lord, for meeting all of my financial needs that I may have more than enough to give into the kingdom of God and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

Bethel Church teaches you have the power to speak things into existence, especially your health and your wealth. By praying such a prayer, they are taught that they will have all of their professions.

Do not be fooled by Bethel’s intention to “promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Bill Johnson preaches a false gospel. He thinks the gospel is miraculous healing and has taught heretical things about God. Astonishingly, Chan has said, “Prosperity preachers often promise greater wealth if their listeners will give more to their ministries. This is never promised in Scriptures. We can never hold God to something that He has not promised.” Yet that’s exactly what Johnson was doing in that prayer!

What would it take for Chan to recognize Bethel Church actively advances the thing he condemns? Yet he has preached that if you criticize Bill Johnson, you are taking a sledgehammer to the house of God, and you will have to answer for that before God. He referenced 1 Corinthians 3:17 which says, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” My friends, Bill Johnson’s “gospel” is anything but holy. Chan is defending these guys and making people fear calling them out. That’s deceptive, whether or not the intention of his heart is to deceive.

Chan’s blog continues:

Why do you sometimes accept speaking engagements in places that tolerate theology that is different from yours?

I speak at events almost every week of the year. Often times, it’s more than one event a week. I don’t really enjoy it—I hate the travel, but try not to complain about it. Despite the toll it can take on myself and the family, it is always an honor to preach the Word. I believe it is my calling. Some question my choice to speak so often, but my best discernment and the discernment of the elders of our church is that it is still a part of my calling in this season.

I am asked to speak at approximately 500 events a year. I decline approximately 90% of the requests. It’s a difficult thing to do. Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe. My reasoning is that it may be a waste of Kingdom resources for all of us to be there, speaking largely to people who already agree with us. It seems more effective to speak where there is less Bible teaching. It has not been my practice to ask who will share the platform with me and to research the other speakers. While some may be dear friends, there are many that I know little about. This current experience has caused me to consider exercising more caution and to develop a team to help me research. That being said, I speak in many places where I am not in alignment theologically. I actually believe that is where I can be most effective, as long as they give me freedom to address anything I believe the Lord wants me to address.

I recognize, now more than ever, that sometimes my participation can give the impression that I align with every other speaker at the event. I’m not sure what to do about that other than to tell you that I don’t. Unless the elders of my church direct me differently, I will continue to be found preaching in venues with those I disagree. I will preach in just about any kind of setting if I’m given freedom to preach from any passage of scripture. The elders and I are trying to come up with more safeguards for future events to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. Pray for us.

From what it sounds like, Chan is going to be developing a team to help him decide whom he should preach with and whom he shouldn’t. I appreciate that, and it will be interesting to see where this goes. Will there be change? Will Chan realize he’s been teaching with liars and apologize? Or will Chan use this group he’s assembling to validate his alignment with false teachers? Time will tell.

That aside, how is Chan’s reasoning regarding where he preaches biblical? He gave numerous biblical references in his condemnation of the prosperity gospel—he gave no biblical references with regard to which speaking invitations he accepts. He says, “Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe.” Does Chan think there is little to no value in preachers gathering together in doctrinal unity? Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Isn’t it a better witness for laypeople to see teachers in one accord and not in discord?
Now, even at events like the Shepherds Conference or the Ligonier Conference, both held in just the last couple weeks, not every teacher is doctrinally aligned at every point. Some preachers are Baptists and some are Presbyterians—there’s doctrinal disagreement right there. But those preachers rejoice in that while they may disagree on secondary issues, they are exactly the same on their love for the true gospel. They love word of God and pursue Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

When Francis Chan preached at The Send, he aligned with heretics. There may have been no true gospel presented except what Chan preached. But Chan was not there in a Matthew 23 moment calling out sons of hell that produce more sons of hell. He called Todd White “a bold, bold man of God.” Todd White is a con-artist and self-professed faith healer who said his father in the faith was Kenneth Copeland. Chan did nothing to discredit these charlatans. Rather, before the audience at The Send, Chan made them appear more credible.

Romans 16:17-18 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

The Apostle John warned, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 1:9-11).

There’s simply no excuse for Chan’s ignorance. If Chan is so busy that he cannot do even a little bit of research, then he needs to say no to some of his speaking engagements and free up time to “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This is his responsibility. It’s on him, especially as a teacher. For the Spirit of God says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Seriously, how does Chan not know who Benny Hinn is? He needs a team of people to tell him Hinn is a charlatan? If Chan simply watched the documentary American Gospel, he would receive so much insight into the false gospel these “friends” of his have preached and the damage they are causing. Chan knows the documentary exists. He was interviewed for it because of his outspokenness against the prosperity gospel. However, he was dropped from the final cut because the director of the film recognized the inconsistency in Chan’s witness.

In his blog response, Chan continues:

Why did it take so long for you to write a response?

Early in my ministry, I had a professor warn, “Don’t spend your time defending yourself. Let God defend you and those closest to you defend you. You can spend your whole life dispelling rumors.” I have followed that advice for the past 30 years. I hope this response doesn’t sound like a person who is trying to save his reputation just for the sake of saving his reputation. My hope was to bring clarity to those who might trust my life and preaching and assume that my being in a picture or on a stage with someone means that I align with them. In regards to pictures, I live a very strange life. Most people take pictures with their friends and family. I end up taking thousands of pictures with complete strangers who ask to take pictures with me. I have struggled over the years with whether it is wrong to sign books or take pictures with people. I would be perfectly happy to never take another picture or sign another book. It just feels rude and discouraging to say no. My intention was never to show allegiance with those who request selfies.

First of all, I can appreciate not wasting your time defending yourself against critics. I don’t. Dozens of videos have been made denouncing what I’ve preached. I’ve never responded to a single one of them. A pair of former members of my congregation once wrote a 9,000-word diatribe against me and posted it on Facebook. They lied about me in just about every way they could. But I did not type a single word in response—to them or anyone else (until just now, I suppose).

But this is not a trifle criticism over some idle comment Chan made. This is Chan aligning with heretics on a digression that keeps getting worse and worse. I have made several public appeals for anyone close to Chan to reach out to him and alert this brother to what he’s doing. He just doesn’t get it, and he still doesn’t get it.

The criticism regarding Chan’s associations has never been about selfies—not even in the last few weeks since images and comments have emerged following The Send. He’s not merely taking selfies. He’s heaping adulation and praise onto ministers of Satan. He’s standing shoulder to shoulder with them and calling them friends and brothers and men of God. Through pictures we’re seeing with our eyes what we’ve been hearing with our ears. It’s alarming! I’m not trying to spread rumors and gossip. I want Chan to repent!

This is serious—deadly serious. James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Chan recognizes that the prosperity gospel is worldly, yet he calls those who teach it his friends. I pray the Lord will open his eyes to whom he is playing with.

Chan concludes:

Another reason I took so long to write this response is because I read Paul’s defense of his ministry. He was able to do it out of love for people and the furtherance of the gospel. I needed a little extra time to make sure I wasn’t responding out of anger, pride, hurt, or cynicism- things that I have been guilty of. I think my heart is in a good place now, and I am writing because I believe I have a calling to proclaim the gospel and preach unpopular truths in a crooked generation. Though some are trying to deter people from my ministry altogether, I believe God has given me a calling to teach His Word. I plan on teaching faithfully until I die. I hope you take this in the spirit in which it was written.

One final thought—We should all be careful to guard against false teaching of any kind. In the process of refuting false teachers, however, we can unintentionally falsely accuse good teachers. That might be equally harmful to His Kingdom. God desires unity in His body, so it is no small crime to bring division into the church.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Titus 3:10

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Jesus deeply longed for unity amongst His children. This should not come at the expense of truth. There are times when the truth will divide. Let’s all humbly beg for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to know how to love our brothers without compromising truth. As we diligently confront false teaching, let’s show equal fervency in defending those who are truly our brothers and equal zeal in confronting those who unnecessarily divide the body.

Truly, it is weird to read Chan call for unity when he said in the same blog that he tries to preach in places where he is not in unity with other preachers. Maybe Chan needs to offer a definition of what he thinks biblical unity is supposed to look like. The guy abandoned his church instead of shepherding them as a pastor should, so I have my doubts about his understanding of unity or even his role of a pastor. Titus 1:9 says that a pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it.”

But Chan didn’t rebuke anyone in his blog except those who have been rebuking. Exactly who are the “good teachers” Chan thinks we are accusing of being false? He refuses to name names. He’s still putting himself between the wolves and those trying to warn the flock. He’s being deceptive even if his intention is to tell the truth. Until he can be more discerning, we have to dismiss Chan as lacking credibility. He will lead others into believing the false prosperity gospel even while he condemns it. People will be confused about what the prosperity gospel is and isn’t when they see him aligning himself with those who preach it.

We cannot force unity. It cannot be manufactured by human will. We must be obedient to the truth, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16), according to the full counsel of God. God will provide the growth. Chan made a reference to 1 Corinthians 3:17. Here’s what that passage says in verses 18-23:

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present are the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

The ‘Breakthrough’ Gospel?

Is there a new ‘gospel’ on the street? Listening to much of evangelical Protestantism one might think so. ‘Breakthrough’ teaching/preaching is all the rage these days, and has been for a couple of years now. But is it new? This blogger would give you an emphatic “NO!” answer. It’s been around for decades, first in a relatively small charismatic/Pentecostal sector of Christianity but now all over the evangelical landscape.

This post mentions a specific ministry only because this ministry promotes the ‘breakthrough’ gospel. There are many more ministries teaching the same thing as this one does. I won’t give you a list of the others – it’s too long and would distract from the purpose of this post – to inform the reader and promote further individual Berean style research.

Read on. . . .

While on Facebook the other day I received a “Suggested Post” from Nina Keegan Ministries that said this:

“IT’S TIME FOR A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH! GOD IS AT WORK.. WATCH NOW AND LEARN MORE… GOD BLESS YOU!”

As I am prone to do, especially with the veritable plethora of ‘Christian’ posts promoting what can rightly be called the “Breakthrough Gospel”, I went all ‘Columbo’ (think short cigar smoking detective in a rumpled trench coat), and asked a question even before listening to the podcast:

Me:

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Nina Keegan Ministries reply:

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I found the above response to my question very interesting because neither passage teaches receiving personal ‘breakthroughs’, however I suppose you can superimpose that thought over the text (this is called eisegesis), and itching ears will perk up and applauding comments abound.

In our 1 John passage, John is stating the purpose of his writing ‘that we may know we have eternal life (the believer’s assurance). He then counsels his readers that if they pray ‘according to God’s will’ God will respond.

Proverbs 16 is a collection of moral, ethical and spiritual precepts, one of which tells us simply that when we are committed to the Lord and doing his will, our thoughts and plans will find success.

There is nothing in either passage that promises personal breakthroughs in every area of our lives. We are promised a measure of God given success in our endeavors when we are committed to his will and ask according to his will, not our desires.

Then I listened to the podcast and it was even more interesting. The above passages were not even mentioned in the podcast! Here’s the gist of the podcast’s teaching:

That ‘Jesus IS the ‘breakthrough’ was made clear from the beginning of the podcast, in those exact words. I have no issue with that statement, but we need to know what ‘breakthrough’ means. The ladies are quick to tell us:

 According to the Nina and Michelle, it can mean addictions, finances, jobs, relationships – whatever you can think of. Your experiences are ‘proof’? They provided lots of experiences.

If we need a breakthrough, we need only pray the promise then declare and decree it into existence. According to the ladies, that’s what God wants us to do. On our way to receiving the breakthrough concerning the aforementioned addictions, finances, jobs, relationships, etc., we also need to break free from any bad thoughts, or a ‘slave mentality’ like the Israelites had as a result of their bondage in Egypt. It’s only when you are free from a slave mentality that you can declare and decree in faith.

Passages taken out of context:

Php 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me (achieve a desired breakthrough).

That was Paul speaking to the Christians at Philippi, reminding them he had learned to be content in any situation, during hard times and good times. It’s NOT about obtaining personal breakthroughs, as implied by these ladies.

The ladies also trotted out Proverbs 29:18 “Without a vision, the people perish.” quoting the first half a KJV passage that actually says : “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

The ESV, and other translations render it more understandable to our non-KJV minds:

Pro 29:18  Where there is no ‘prophetic’ vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

In other words, where God’s prophets aren’t among God’s people to remind them of the law, they tend to sin more. This passage has absolutely NOTHING to do with needing to have a vision of the ‘breakthroughs’ we desire in order to see them realized!

And of course, according to the ladies, God will supply everything you need for your breakthrough. But you need to also ask yourself “What has God said you are going to do and you haven’t done it?” This seemed to be about small steps God is telling you to climb on the way to your big breakthrough.

That brings us to their real reason we should all be experiencing breakthroughs in our lives………..wait for it………. Are you ready?

Jesus went to the Cross, and gave up his life for OUR breakthroughs! That’s right! It’s right there in Isaiah 53, and here’s the ‘irrefutable’ logic:

1. Jesus received 39 stripes/lashes.

2. There are 39 major diseases/disease categories.

3. Physical healing is therefore available for every believer as part of the atonement.

4. Since we need all sorts of healing (from addictions, poor finances, bad jobs, bad relationships, etc.), our breakthroughs were ALSO part of the atonement!

First of all, the 39 stripes = 39 diseases theory has no basis in scripture, although it’s been trotted out for years to prove we could have perpetual divine health in this life. In fact, we are not told in scripture how many lashes Jesus received. We can surmise that it was either 39 or 40 because 40 was the maximum allowed by Roman law. Sometimes the counting stopped at 39 to make sure the law was not broken due to miscounting.

Furthermore, that there are 39 major diseases/disease categories has no basis in science other than a single mention in an AMA journal by one doctor. I was able (with the help of Goggle) to find estimates of 10, 17, and 22 disease categories, with 22 being preeminent in medical journals.

So let’s take a look at the passage in Isaiah that tells us “by his stripes we are healed”:

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV)

The obvious referent for the ‘stripes’ mentioned at the end of the passage is ‘our transgressions’, or sins. Physical healing and personal breakthroughs are NOT reasons Christ died.

As the Apostle Paul stated:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” (emphasis mine).

Physical healing from all diseases in this life was never part of the atonement, and neither are personal ‘breakthroughs’. The teaching that they are is pure poppycock, balderdash, rubbish (take your pick).

The ladies concluded their podcast by declaring and decreeing breakthroughs for everyone watching, no matter what the need. The comments section was full of ‘Amens’ from those whose itching ears were satisfactorily scratched. If they decreed it for you and it doesn’t happen it’s your fault h for not having a vision, not taking the little steps God is telling you to take, or for not declaring decreeing it yourself, with sufficient faith of course. This is classic Word of Faith heresy.

So what? What’s wrong with people feeling good about the possibility of ‘breaking through’ – of having hope for the future? Nothing at all, unless of course it’s false hope.

I wonder how many have believed for their breakthroughs, decreeing and declaring until they were blue in the face, never saw them realized and gave up on their faith. How many have thought their personal desires were also God’s specific desire their lives? No doubt, some are, and some are legitimate needs. Some are nothing more than wants.

Are we to ignore the examples in scripture that seem to tell us we don’t always get what we want? Paul and his thorn in the flesh comes to mind. He prayed three times to have it removed but God taught him that His grace is sufficient.

At the end of the day, Christ’s death was all about our sin. If we experience blessing in our lives as a result of believing in Christ for forgiveness of our sin, it’s an outcome. The ‘breakthrough’ gospel is NO gospel at all. The same Apostle that clearly defined the gospel also had something rather harsh concerning those who would preach a different gospel:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8 (Paul)

Perhaps someone you know has been enticed by this breakthrough gospel that has flooded evangelicalism. Perhaps you have at one time, maybe under another name. I know I did. Let this post be an encouragement to you and if it is, pass it on.

I rest my case. . . .

What is kenosis?

From GotQuestions.com

Question: “What is the kenosis?”

Answer: The term kenosis comes from the Greek word for the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying in His incarnation. The kenosis was a self-renunciation, not an emptying Himself of deity nor an exchange of deity for humanity. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Jesus did not cease to be God during His earthly ministry. But He did set aside His heavenly glory of a face-to-face relationship with God. He also set aside His independent authority. During His earthly ministry, Christ completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father.

As part of the kenosis, Jesus sometimes operated with the limitations of humanity (John 4:6; 19:28). God does not get tired or thirsty. Matthew 24:36 tells us, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” We might wonder if Jesus was God, how could He not know everything, as God does (Psalm 139:1-6)? It seems that while Jesus was on earth, He surrendered the use of some of His divine attributes. Jesus was still perfectly holy, just, merciful, gracious, righteous, and loving – but to varying degrees Jesus was not omniscient or omnipotent.

However, when it comes to the kenosis, we often focus too much on what Jesus gave up. The kenosis also deals with what Christ took on. Jesus added to Himself a human nature and humbled Himself. Jesus went from being the glory of glories in Heaven to being a human being who was put to death on the cross. Philippians 2:7-8 declares, “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” In the ultimate act of humility, the God of the universe became a human being and died for His creation. The kenosis, therefore, is Christ taking on a human nature with all of its limitations, except with no sin.

Recommended Resource: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll

Why is this important?

Well, there are a number of ministries that teach a ‘kenotic’ view of Jesus. They tell us that All that Jesus did in his ministry years he did as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, but is not as God. They would have us believe that because Jesus operated as a spirit filled man, Spirit filled believers should also be walking around performing sighs and wonders as a normal part of our Christian lives. There is an excellent article here that discusses kenosis and provides a Biblical and theological answer to the doctrine. It s well worth reading.

The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion

A Christian movement characterized by multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism.

Interview by Bob Smietana| August 3, 2017, Christianity Today

A quiet revolution is taking place in America religion, say Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, authors of The Rise of Network Christianity: How Independent Leaders Are Changing the Religious Landscape.

Largely behind the scenes, a group of mostly self-proclaimed “apostles,” leading ministries from North Carolina to Southern California, has attracted millions of followers with promises of direct access to God through signs and wonders.

Their movement, which Christerson and Flory called “Independent Network Charismatic” or “INC” Christianity, has become one of the fastest-growing faith groups in the United States. Apostles like Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, and Ché Ahn claim millions of followers. They’re also aided by an army of fellow ministers who fall under their “spiritual covering.”

Many of these apostles run megachurches, including Bethel Church in Redding California, HRock Church in Pasadena, and the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. But their real power lies in their innovative approach to selling faith. They’ve combined multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism to connect directly with millions of spiritual customers. That allows them to reap millions in donations, conference fees, and book and DVD sales. And because these INC apostles claim to get direction straight from God, they operate with almost no oversight.

Nashville-based religion writer Bob Smietana spoke with Christerson (professor of sociology at Biola University) and Flory (senior director of research and evaluation at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California) about the appeal—and danger—of these burgeoning movements.

What’s the difference between INC Christians and the prosperity gospel movement or megachurch networks like the Association of Related Churches (ARC)?

Christerson: Probably the closest kinship would be prosperity gospel movement. But it’s a little different in that the INC movement has a network that cooperates more often. My sense of the prosperity gospel is that it consists of individual entrepreneurs, TV preachers, and megachurch leaders, but there’s not as much cooperation.

Also, the theology is different. The prosperity gospel would focus more on the individual’s health and wealth. This group is unique in that they really think God has put these apostles on earth to basically transform the world. It’s a sort of trickle-down Christianity, where these apostles are at the top of the mountain, exercising this power from the top down. That’s how the kingdom of God comes in.

Ironically, this group isn’t really focused on building up big congregations. Their ideas are spreading through other means, like high-profile conferences and the media products that they are selling.

Flory: These apostles are able to access a lot more money, because they are operating with a pay-for-service model, rather than relying on people’s donations and their goodwill. Congregations bend over backwards to keep people happy and keep the butts in the seats; people don’t have to pay unless they feel like it. But this is a completely different financial model, and it tends to generate much more money.

How do the people in this group identify themselves? Are they Pentecostals? Charismatics? INC Christians?

Christerson: They would use the word prophetic or apostolic—or they would align themselves with one of the apostles. They would say, “I am a follower of Bill Johnson,” or Mike Bickle, or Cindy Jacobs. People would tell us, “he’s my apostle” or “he’s my prophet.” The other term we hear a lot is “spiritual covering”: There’s this idea that you are under spiritual covering of your specific apostle or prophet. A related term is “impartation.” The apostles basically impart their power to you. If you are under them, the power that they have straight from God trickles down to you.

They consciously avoid any kind of formal organization or denomination. They see the strength of weak ties—it allows them room to experiment and to work with all kinds of different people. They can focus on putting together these big events—they don’t have to support a staff or donate to a seminary. They can just go straight to the marketing activities.

How do you become an apostle? What’s the process?

Christerson: It’s all sort of self-appointed. Leaders in the moment would say that people are recognized as apostles because of the influence that they have—not only over your own congregation but over other leaders. But there’s definitely a good deal of self-appointing going on. Peter Wagner, a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, referred to himself as a “super apostle,” because he was influential with a bunch of other apostles.

Ironically, this group isn’t really focused on building up big congregations. Their ideas are spreading through other means, like high-profile conferences and the media products that they are selling.

It’s easy to see the advantages for leaders—it’s great to be the guy at the top of the pyramid since they get all the cash and no one tells them what to do. But it also seems like lay people really like this model. What do they get out of it?

Christerson: For the young people, they’re searching for meaning, and they’re also looking for adventure and excitement. These kinds of churches appeal to them in ways that traditional congregations just can’t. They are not merely trying to learn how to know God, live a godly life, or share their faith with other people. They really believe they are participating in this cosmic spiritual battle to transform the world. They are involved in this battle for whole cities and nations.

And then you have the appeal of direct access to God—getting direct downloads from God. God is going to talk to me and tell me what to do. Or my leader is getting direct downloads. For many people, that’s more exciting than a 45-minute sermon examining the Greek terms from Paul’s writings.

INC movements don’t have same “priesthood of all believers” theology as the Protestant Reformers, because power is still flowing down from particular apostles, and then others can access it. There is definitely a hierarchy. But since they are not building institutions, there is a lot of freedom for people to experiment with the tools they get from these apostles. So that opens up a lot of opportunities for people to lead, innovate, and create their own way of doing Christianity. That participatory aspect is a major part of the appeal.

Rather than traditional worship services, many megachurches say they have “experiences.” What kind of experiences are INC churches trying to create?

Christerson: The traditional megachurch uses music and exciting preaching from great communicators. But we found that wasn’t the case with these INC-lings. They are actually not very exciting preachers. That really surprised us. For them, it’s all about encountering these supernatural manifestations. That’s the exciting experience.

It’s very spontaneous. We went to a conference where a number of apostles were speaking and Bill Johnson was doing a Bible teaching. He had probably talked 20 or 30 minutes, and you could feel the restlessness in the room. He said, “I know you are just waiting for me to stop preaching because you want the power. But just hang with me here.” People weren’t there to listen to him. What they wanted was for him to lay hands on them.

After he finished, people came up to the stage, and they were being slain in the spirit. People were falling down and getting healed. That’s what they are there for. They don’t want to sit and watch other people. They want to access the power themselves to make a difference in the world.

Flory: The desire for this kind of experience is broader than just this group. It works out in interesting ways among these INC Christians, but we see it across different religious groups that we have studied at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Particularly among evangelicals, we’re seeing a more experiential, embodied way of understanding religion.

It’s remarkable how effectively INC personalities can get their message out without owning a television studio or buying airtime. How do they manage?

Flory: INC leaders have leveraged digital technology to get their message out—smartphones in particular, where you can get anything you want as long as you have some kind of digital connection. That just expands the world exponentially for these people.

Christerson: It’s also basically free to put your product out there. IHOP is particularly good at doing that. They say their website—in terms of viewed video content—is one of the top 50 websites in the world.

Between the internet and the conferences, they have figured out ways to leverage that big, exhilarating, hyped-up experience you get in a stadium venue. That’s where their networking comes into play. They can bring in four or five apostles, and then their followers flock to see them. People have these significant experiences that juice them up to contact the apostles over the internet. If they can go to a conference two or three times a year to get a new jolt, that becomes the new rhythm, as opposed the weekly rhythm of church life.

Let’s talk about the “7 mountains” theology, which is popular in these circles. On some levels, it sounds like theocracy. Christians are in charge of every part of life: the “mountains” of business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and religion. On the other hand, it sounds like there’s no actual plan—aside from putting these Christians in charge. So what’s going on?

Christerson: They really believe that God is behind it all, that he is appointing people into these high positions, and that they will know what to do when they get there. They will be listening to God, and he will use them to supernaturally make America or the world into the kingdom of God. Some of the people that they claim are in these high position—like Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, and Rick Perry—are part of the Trump administration. But they are not Pentecostals, and they have nothing to do with these groups. The movement just latches on to them and claims God is using Trump to bring in the kingdom.

Some INC people describe Trump as a King Cyrus figure—he’s not one of us, but God is using him to defeat our enemies and restore our nation. If Trump collapses or gets impeached, they will not look very good. Some of them have staked their reputation on Trump’s performance, but not all of them.

They don’t have policy goals, other than anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage sentiments. They don’t have an idea of what it takes to reduce poverty or curb international conflict. None of that is even on their radar.

It’s a very different approach than other religious groups take. If it’s the Catholic Church, the religious right, or the religious left, they actually have a strategy. They have think-tanks and organizations, and they’re involved at different levels with political parties. This is nothing like that.

Flory: In some ways, it’s a really romantic vision. For most of the 20th century, most Pentecostals and evangelicals were pre-millennial—they imagined that God’s reign would appear in full only after the second coming of Christ. But the INC movement is explicitly post-millennial. In their minds, God’s kingdom can come to earth before Christ returns—and, by the way, it will be in America. There is this interesting combination of America first, Americans as God’s chosen people, and a romantic vision of God working it out through the people he chooses.

Do INC leaders engage in any self-reflection about the dangers of holding major power without oversight?

Christerson: I haven’t seen a lot of self-awareness on their part. They think they are an instrument of God—and that’s all they need. There’s a suspicion of any kind of accountability structures, because these limit the power of God working through individuals. When you have a church board and an elder board that hires a pastor, then that pastor can’t do the things that God is telling him to do—because he has to go to the board to get everything approved. The real danger, they would say, is when institutions become more powerful than the individuals that God calls.

But they do seem different than the prosperity gospel preachers, in that wealth isn’t flaunted.

Christerson: Peter Wagner talked about the differences between the two groups. He said that the prosperity gospel thought that money was a blessing for the sake of blessing. For his own New Apostolic Reformed movement, the prosperity comes from God in order to transform the world for God.

Interestingly, INC leaders think that the business world is the key to all of this—because wealth is more powerful than all other forms of power. They anticipate this huge transfer of wealth to believers. But they see this wealth as an instrument for bringing about God’s kingdom on earth.

For prosperity preacher, it’s more that God is going to bless me individually to show me favor and to show that he is God. We didn’t get that from the INC leaders. They dress casually and don’t drive expansive cars or fly in their own planes.

Many INC apostles are very successful. So why have they stayed out of the spotlight, at least in the broader culture?

Christerson: One reason this movement hasn’t gotten a lot of press is that the leaders don’t seek it out. They have their own networks for disseminating information and getting attention. They are not sending our press releases. For example, they had this Asuza Now conference at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and it drew 50,000 people on a rainy day—if not for the bad weather, the crowd probably would have been even bigger. And it didn’t even make the Los Angeles Times. Fifty thousand people show up for an apostle’s conference at the LA Coliseum, and nobody covered it. That was mind-boggling to me.

They don’t seem to be on anybody’s radar, in part because they are not promoting themselves through normal institutional channels.

And yet they do seem like friendly people, at least in public. And they seem to lack the kind of ostentatiousness that turns people off from prosperity gospel preachers or televangelists.

Christerson: They are super down-to-earth. And there isn’t the angry edge we’ve seen from certain religious-right activists or the more traditional pre-millennial dispensationalists who want to fight evil. For these guys, God’s taking over the world, and they are just riding the wave.

Source CT Article

Other NAR related links:

The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church

The New Apostolic Reformation (Many Articles and Links) by Sandy Simpson

Interview with Sandy Simpson (with outline and additional links) on Echo Zoe Radio

The New Apostolic Reformation (Multiple Articles) by 4 Truth Ministry

List of Direct Quotes from C. Peter Wagner by The Zedekiah List

The New Apostolic Reformation by Apologetics Index

The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation by Bob Dewaay

The Changing of the Apostolic Guard: 13 Names to Watch by Holly Pivec

The Apostles Who Don’t Do Anything by Grace to You

Interview With Caryl Matrisciana: New Apostolic Reformation by Amy Spreeman

Dominionism and The NAR by Berean Research

Apostles and Prophets are the Foundation of the Church by Bob Dewaay

The New Apostolic Church Movement by Let Us Reason

What Is The New Apostolic Reformation? by Got Questions

Do Miracles, Signs and Wonders Create Faith? by Robert Liichow

Christianity Today Should Correct Heidi Baker NAR Story by Talk To Action

Debunking the Seven Mountains Mandate and the NAR by Chris Rosebrough

What’s Wrong With the Passion (NAR)”Translation” Bible?

The New Apostolic End Times Scripture by Steven Kozar

C. Peter Wagner’s Apostolic Movement on Issues, Etc.

The Apostolic and Prophetic Movement by Keith Gibson

Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church by Tony Miano

The Latter Rain Movement on Issues, Etc.

The History of the Renewal Movement: Interview with Lyndon Unger on Echoe Zoe Radio (with links and notes)

The NAR: A Warning About Latter Day Apostles by Orrel Steinkamp

What Is Dominionism? by Apprising

I Refuse to Believe Bob Jones-I’m Staying Home by Steven Kozar

What Is The NAR? by Asleep No More

C. Peter Wagner Spins the NAR by Herescope

The NAR-You Will Know Them by Their Nuts by Church Watch Central

HAW and WOF NARpostles by Church Watch Central

The New Order of the Latter Rain by Spirit Watch

Quick Thoughts: What is the Seven Mountain Mandate? by Lyndon Unger

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

— Galatians 1:6-9