A Scenario

Consider this scenario and give me your reaction.

Someone in church stands up and claims

“Pray such and such scripture for 21 days and see what God will do”.

What is this?   Word of Faith?    Witchcraft in the church?

An applicable method of praying scripture?    A promise?

What happens if it appears God does nothing at the 22nd day?    Isn’t it true we don’t know all, see all that He does?    But, can He be expected to perform in such a way?

What say you?

WOF Lie – Jesus Died Spiritually

For those who don’t know, the ‘Word Faith’ movement is a movement within the Pentecostal and Charismatic church which emphasizes miracles and money above the cross. There are many aspects to the Word Faith movement, but they seem to all agree on one false teaching. ‘Jesus died spiritually’.

Read this important article from Moriel

The ‘Jesus Died Spiritually’ Doctrine of the Word of Faith Teachers

Dominion and the Rule of Adam

When Adam sinned at “the fall”, he handed his dominion and his power to rule the earth over to Satan.

This is the claim made by Dominion and Kingdom Now doctrine supported by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)/Word of Faith teachings.

Is it true? I’ve thought about this quite a bit since it was brought to my attention. I’ve heard this claim by Cal Pierce, International Association of Healing Rooms; Bill Johnson, Bethel; and Cindy Jacobs, Generals International. I am sure there are others who teach it. So, I’ve considered it, read commentaries and searched the word.

It is important for us to understand the rule Adam was given, and the extent of his dominion given to him by God.

The rule of Adam-

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”. 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Clearly, the dominion given to man is over the fish, the birds, the cattle, things that creep; everything that moves.

Genesis 2:7-8 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man who He had formed.

v15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

So we have the creation of Adam, his placement in the garden of Eden and his work to tend and keep it. In addition is the command from the Lord God all the trees he may eat of, and the one tree he could not, along with the dire consequences if he so chose.

Notice there is no mention of spiritual authority or rule given to Adam. There was no need for it as the Lord God walked with Adam in the garden during the cool of the day. (3:8)

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

God brought the animals before Adam so that he could name them.

v 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

So, the creation of Eve, although not yet so named.

Adam does not create or declare or decree anything. He speaks nothing into existence. He was created by God, as was Eve, and given rule over the living things on the earth.  The word is very clear on Who the Creator is, and who is the created. Adam and Eve were simply gardeners in a very beautiful place, having a face to face relationship with their God who created them. I doubt they had much confusion on that issue. The main point here  –  relationship with God – let’s not miss out on that.

In Chapter 3 is the very sad deception of the serpent and the fall of mankind. The serpent, Satan, already a known usurper and deceiver to the Lord.

Isaiah 14:12-15 How you are fallen from the heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13For you have said in your heart; ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’. 15 Yet, you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.

Luke 10:18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven”.

Now, I am not sure when exactly Satan was kicked out of heaven. I don’t know if anyone has that answer, whether it was before the creation of man, or after. The point is, he was kicked out and is now a fallen being.

John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

I will leave you to read Genesis 3 on your own as I will only pull out pertinent verses to make the point.

3:14 So the Lord God said to the serpent” Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

You will notice in the verses prior, God calls out to Adam and asks him what he has done. This is not the case with the serpent as God did not call to him, or question him, He simply imposed the curse —done. Verse 15 is the first prophecy for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Even then, God had prepared a way for us to resume our relationship with Him.

Verse 16 is the curse on the woman which I won’t go into.

Verse 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’ : Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return.

In verse 24 God drove Adam and Eve out from the garden.

There is no swapping of power or dominion or rule from Adam to Satan. The dominion over the fish, the birds, the animals, etc. was given to Adam by God while he lived in the garden. When he sinned he was stripped of his rule and his dominion in the same way Lucifer was stripped of his place in the heavens at the time of his fall when he claimed to ascend the throne of the Most High.

Adam possessed the dominion and rule that was given to him by God, nothing more. He had no authority to give it away. I find it hard to believe he would hand it over to the evil, fallen being that he himself had fallen prey to. For Adam to do such a thing would seem he would have been in agreement with Satan.

Notice also God did not hand dominion over to Satan! We have a fallen state of creation, man and beast. Satan has been given permission to deceive and to wander throughout the earth. While the earth and all in it may be under the sway of the evil one, he is a liar and the father of lies, even his authority is limited.

As there is no basis for a “dominion hand over” found in scripture, we must question where this very popular teaching originated. If not from scripture, where? And that being the case, why do so many continue to be deceived by it?

It stands to reason those following the NAR and the teachings of the seven mountains prophecy buy into this as it gives them reason to “take dominion of the earth” from the very hands of satan. It must provide them a place of great power and authority to believe they can accomplish such a thing.

Lawsuit Filed Against Bethel Students

This article from Record Searchlight Redding.com is a heartbreaking story of two Bethel School of the Supernatural Ministry students, too much alcohol consumption and false promises of divine power in healing. A  man nearly lost his life because of some very bad choices that should not have been made. I hope people who attend this ministry or the church and those involved in Word of Faith teachings begin to do some real questioning on what they are being taught. Jesus healed all to prove He was the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God, the one who was prophesied to come. We, as His followers do not have the same power that He worked during His ministry here on earth. Believe otherwise as this ministry teaches, and other WOFers, and you may find yourself in a similar situation as this one, or at the least extremely disappointed with your faith in question.

Rather than call police when their drinking partner fell — or was pushed — off a nearly 200-foot cliff, two students at a Redding Bible school tried first to reach the severely wounded man and pray him back to life, a lawsuit alleges.

In a lawsuit filed this month in Shasta County Superior Court exactly two years to the day after he was pulled by search-and-rescue crews from the banks of the Sacramento River, Jason Michael Carlsen alleges that when Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students Sarah Elisabeth Koivumaki and Zachary Gudelunas couldn’t reach him to heal him with their prayers, they spent hours debating whether to call the police.

Bethel’s members purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life.

The two later told police they thought Carlsen was killed in the fall.

Worried that they would be exiled from the church, the two Bethel students also went so far as to try to cover up evidence they’d even been at the top of the cliff, the lawsuit alleges.

Continue reading

Convergence! Cries Godtv

After hearing of the upcoming cancellation of Godtv from DirecTV effective Oct 1 I had an urge this morning to take a peek at what Godtv was broadcasting. By the way, that is notGodtv.

I caught the last couple minutes of what I believe was a rebroadcast of their “Missions Week”, the time they set aside to beg for cold hard cash donations. Lance Wallnau who is a major speaker and teacher of the Seven Mountains had been teaching about “getting the stuff that you want from life”. I don’t know how else to put it, because that is what these people are teaching unsuspecting Christians. It is very much like Joel Olsteen’s “Your Best Life Now” garbage. It brings in donations, sells book and buys large expensive homes for the teachers. For the listeners, it sets them on a mission, takes up their time and their cash. And since everyone is so happy to please God they are willing to pay dearly. Everyone feels good and has something to look forward to, so why not “preach it”?

I wasn’t prepared to take notes, but here’s the basics –

Wallnau declared a “portal” over the time we are now in.

1. The Day of Atonement

2. They were currently broadcasting from Washington DC, the capitol of America

3. The right time and the right place – convergence – breakthrough

4. Use your gifts and talents to effect the blessings

Like I said, I believe this was a rebroadcast as they mentioned the month of May as the current time they were in.

These things constituted  a portal, an opening to receive what you need from above. (I hesitate to use God’s name in there.) In case you don’t know, a portal is an opening between heaven and earth in which blessings and even angels can ascend and descend. There are those who are so spiritually gifted that they can also travel to and from heaven through these portals. A portal can also be a holy place or an area deemed sacred, an area where God is, or an area where the anointing is felt. These teachings are twists on the truth so be careful. I am explaining them, not condoning them.

The next thing we hear is the word CONVERGENCE!. At that time Rory Alec begins repeating this word over and again as in a chant – CONVERGENCE! CONVERGENCE! CONVERGENCE! It very much reminded me of the time we heard Todd Bentley call for ANGELS! ANGELS! ANGELS!. Not only a few times, but over and again as though saying the word would make it happen.

Then friends, we have Wendy Alec who moves to “the altar” and begins to give a very poor rendering of a prophetic word, all the time bending backward as though some force is pushing her over. She raises her hands and as she bends back and we  see those long creepy fingernails raised. My mind says “witch”. Sorry. Gruesome, but it is not the for the first time. Her manner looks like an attack on her person, not an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

So CONVERGENCE. This is the time to send in your “very best gift now”, as much as you can, do it now for the portal is open, the time is now, the time is right, call now, send it in now.  Listen to the PUSH to part you with your cash – COMPULSION

1 Peter 5:1-3

1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly,not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Not for dishonest gain, nor as being lords -think about this.

2 Corinthians 9:7

7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Sounds like they have made giving into a necessity – if you wish to receive, give. Yes, we are supposed to give, but not to false teachers, not out of compulsion or emotion, but out of love and concern for those in need. We cannot buy a blessing or even, as they call it, a breakthrough. And we give to those who preach the gospel, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is not found on Godtv.

Next, Rory begins to worship with some creepy piano music. He moves over to “the altar” where Wendy is kneeling down. But wait! There is what appears to be a large fax machine or printer next to “the altar”. He pulls papers from it which can only be pledges of money pouring in. He then lays them on “the altar” and says “Hallelujah”. Why do I believe these papers were pledges? How often have we seen this scenario played out by others in the lying word of faith camp? This is their process.

That was all I could bear. Still, I never heard about Jesus, His death, His forgiveness or anything that resembled the gospel message. No. I didn’t hear mention that there is suffering in our lives that God uses for His good, to refine and strengthen us in Him. No my friends. This is all about getting what you want. It is not about spiritual refinement, but about personal want and desires of the flesh. And all you need to do is send Rory and Wendy Alec the cash. Find that in scripture. Chances are you will part with the cash and yet never recieve what you have paid for.

Here is a better way:

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part I

This is a new article written by Craig who commented and offered some great information under the article  Bill Johnson Falsely Teaches Scripture, the video sent to me by Heraldingtruth. Craig, now a new blogger, (his blog here – Crosswise) did a fine job in researching the biblical truths necessary to clearly reveal the false doctrine taught and freely offered by Johnson. This work leaves no room for doubt that what goes on at Bethel in Redding CA is not sound biblical teaching. It is with hopes and prayers that those who are followers of this false teacher will see the truth and leave his teaching.

Bill Johnson is the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, is a noted speaker and published author throughout the ranks of charismania. He is involved with International Association of Healing Rooms under Cal Pierce, whose teachings regarding physical and emotional healing are one in the same. Johnson is a follower and teacher of Word of Faith with strong emphasis on the supernatural. He is also part of the New Apostolic Reformation, headed by C Peter Wagner whobelieves the church should be governed by a group of apostles and prophets (self appointed) and as his teachings show, he is a supporter of manifest sons of God in which believers will actually become the Christ. This same dangerous teaching can be found from people such as Bob Jones and Rick Joyner. As is well known, Johnson also supported and defended Todd Bentley after the fallout of the Lakeland Outpouring in 2008.  The very first clue deception is at work is when an emphasis is placed on the person not on Christ. This is the norm for Bethel’s teachings and those who are like-minded throughout charismania. How do I know? I came out of this stuff 2 years ago after the Lord gave me eyes to see.

Johnson’s teachings have found their way into many churches and ministries as has often been discussed here on my blog. I’ve heard many personal stories of churches completely taken over by Bethel, the members becoming blinded by the deception to the extent that some will  no longer give ear to the truth and to the warnings given to them.  It is so important to check his teachings with the Bible as this is a growing trend that shows no sign of dying off; another instance of Christianity slowly becoming something else. It is no wonder the Lord has laid the burden of exposing Bethel on so many.

It is the Lord that we follow, not a man.

_________________________

Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part I

Part 2 here

September 17, 2010

[This article could not have been completed without the work of others who came before me, the assistance of those who pointed me to certain texts and documents, the expertise of those whom I consulted for advice and clarification on theological matters, and the help of the individuals who assisted me on readability before finalizing this document. To all of these I say, “Thank you!”]

On a recently uploaded YouTube video[1] there are two clips put together exposing some faulty teaching of “Apostle” Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.[2]  In the second part, which begins at 3:40, Johnson states that Jesus was ‘born again.’  Here[3] is the uncut sermon from December 20, 2009 with the ‘born again’ Jesus portion beginning at 33:48.  Following is the transcription:

“…Did you know that Jesus was born again? I asked… the first service and they said, “No.” But I will show it. It’s in the Bible. He had to be. He became sin.

In Hebrews 1 it says this, “For to which of the angels did he ever say, ‘You are my son. Today I have begotten you’?” And Acts 13 explains that: “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.”  He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time. He was ‘born again.’” [4]

Did Jesus become sin?  If so, when?  Was it at His incarnation?  Was it on the cross?  Was it some time in between?

As we examine Scripture we find, of course, that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.[5]  However, Scripture does say He ‘became sin’ as substitution for ours:

21God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. [II Corinthians 5:21 NIV]

Please note that Jesus Christ did not ‘become sin’ in that He did not become a sinful being with corruptible flesh but, rather, our sins were imputed to Him by the Father to atone for the sins of all who believe on Him.  The following explains this:

“God used the principle of imputation to benefit mankind when He imputed the sin of believers to the account of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for that sin – death – on the cross.  Imputing our sin to Jesus, God treated Him as if He were a sinner, though He was not, and had Him die for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).  It is important to understand that sin was imputed to Him, but He did not inherit it from Adam.  He bore the penalty for sin, but He never became a sinner…” [6]

We’ve established the correct interpretation regarding how Jesus Christ ‘became sin;’ but, what is Johnson’s belief?  Apparently, he does not ascribe to the orthodox view because, if so, he would not state that Jesus had to be born again.  Regarding this apparent view of Johnson: who would be worthy to atone for Jesus’ supposed sin in order for Him to be born again?

Going back to the second paragraph of the transcript, Johnson quotes the question from Hebrews 1:5a, then attempts to answer this question over in Acts 13.  The trouble with this is that these are two completely different contexts.  Why did he do that?  It just leads to potential confusion.

Logic would lead us to think that Johnson was making a thesis statement in the first paragraph while explaining it in the next.  So, to paraphrase Johnson: Jesus ‘became sin’ and thus had to be ‘born again’ which can be proven using Scripture.

Therefore, if we take Johnson’s words in the second paragraph as a strict chronology in the context he provides by isolating the verses in Hebrews and Acts, we should find the answer to his thesis statement.  In addition, we may be able to determine his underlying theology.  First, he quotes the first part of Hebrews 1:5:

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son; today I have begotten You?”

Next he states:

And Acts 13 explains that…

Explains what?  Explains ‘to which of the angels did God ever say…’?  No, that’s not what Johnson answers (it was a rhetorical question in the context of Hebrews and, hence, did not require an answer) as he has shifted to a completely different context over in Acts as pointed out above.  So, which question IS Johnson attempting to answer?

God has fulfilled this [“You are my Son; today I have begotten You” from above] for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus [at the Resurrection].  As it is also written in the second Psalm:

‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ [Jesus is the Father’s begotten Son, today at the Resurrection.]  [Bracketed comments mine for explanation.]

If we take his words at face value here he seems to be inferring that Jesus became God’s Son at the resurrection.  Johnson appears to solidify this thought by continuing with the following:

…And that he ‘raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.’

Johnson now states that Jesus was ‘born again’ “through the Resurrection:”

He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time.  He was ‘born again.’

So, can we conclude that Johnson believes Jesus was ‘born again’ through the Resurrection, and subsequently, or simultaneously, became God’s Son only then?  The view of Jesus being God’s Son at or through the Resurrection is only unorthodox if the belief is that Jesus was not the Son of God before this event.  We’ll return to this at a later point.

Now that we understand when and how Jesus was ‘born again’ according to Johnson, it may seem plausible to assume he is also explaining with the words in the second paragraph of the transcript when and how Jesus ‘became sin.’  Is it possible then, that he is saying it is through Mary that Jesus ‘became sin?’ This would make sense if he equated “corruption” with “sin” and that Jesus’ birth through Mary made Him ‘corruptible flesh,’ i.e., human.[7] We’ll attempt to answer this later.

In his book When Heaven Invades Earth from 2003, Johnson further defines his theology:

“Jesus lived His earthly life with human limitations.  He laid his [sic] divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin, and then die in the place of mankind for sin.  This would be essential in His plan to redeem mankind.  The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).” [8] [all as per original]

This is bad Christology[9] (the view of Christ’s nature, person and deeds) which we’ll explain more a bit later.  When did Jesus lay aside His deity?  And, when, if ever, did He pick it back up?  Did Jesus have to strive to be sinless?  This is just faulty theology.  [This issue of Johnson’s faulty Christology is also spoken of here. ]  Is it that Johnson just does not understand orthodox Christian doctrine?  This seems doubtful as he is a fifth generation[10] pastor by his own admission.

This also contradicts Johnson’s words in the transcript.  How could Jesus have been spotless and without sin yet ‘became sin’ thus making it a requirement that He be born again?  How can that be reconciled?

Perhaps the words from Johnson’s books can be harmonized with the words in the video/audio in order to understand his theology.

Returning to Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth we find Jesus as a boy at the Temple[11]:

“He was simply a 12-year-old boy with priorities that were different from everyone else.” [12]

With this he may be inferring that Jesus was not yet divine; but, this is inconclusive.

The “Anointing”

However, with his words below, Johnson claims outright that Jesus did not become The Christ until His baptism[13] which, by extension, means He was not divine at the Incarnation:

“Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means ‘Anointed One’ or ‘Messiah.’  It is a title that points to an experience… …He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.” [emphasis mine]

“The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him…”. [14]

Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was divine at His Incarnation[15] by identifying him as “Immanuel” (God with us)[16] and the “Anointed One” – The Christ[17] – at the virgin birth, contrary to Johnson.  Given his view that Jesus was not The Christ at His birth, then, by extension, does this mean he believes Jesus was born into the same fallen, Adamic sin nature as the rest of us?

This points, once again, to faulty Christology known as the Kenosis heresy.[18]  Adding Johnson’s words from a few paragraphs earlier: “The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless)…” drives it home.  Louis Berkhof in The History of Christian Doctrine quoting Everard Digges La Touche: “In the most absolute and consistent form it [the Kenosis doctrine] teaches what La Touche calls ‘incarnation by divine suicide.’”[19]

Adding to this, Johnson, in his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles states:

“…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.  He said of Himself in John 5:19, ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself.’  He had set aside His divinity… …Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…”[20]

Johnson lifts this Scripture out of its proper context.  So, was Jesus Christ really “powerless” with the ability to do “nothing of Himself?”  He makes clear His words:

17”The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again.  18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.” [John 10:17-18]

Johnson explains his belief that Jesus received the “title” of Christ at His baptism:

“The word anointing means to “smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit.” [21]

With the above, Johnson misconstrues the meaning of the word “anointing” in this context.  First of all, in the Gospel accounts the Greek word from which we get the word “anoint” is not used at all in regard to Jesus’ baptism.  The Holy Spirit ‘descended upon’ Jesus.[22]

In Acts 10:38, in which Jesus is described as having been ‘anointed’ with the ‘Holy Spirit’ (also see Acts 4:27, Luke 4:18 and Hebrews 1:9), the Greek word used is chrio which is defined:

To anoint (physically with oil; spiritually, with the Holy Spirit), to assign a person to a special task, implying a giving of power by God to accomplish the task. [23]

Johnson is over-literalizing a metaphor.  The spiritual application should be used rather than the physical.  Referring to the Holy Spirit as a ‘smearing’ smacks of sacrilege.  This error begun in the first two sentences has compounded itself in the third with its implications.  He’s equating ‘Christ,’ The “Anointed One,” with the Holy Spirit “anointing.”

Here’s the Strong’s definition of “Christ” from the Greek Christos:

“Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control.[24]

The orthodox view of the significance of Jesus’ baptism is stated here:

“Jesus was baptized to publicly announce Himself as God’s Son, and to pronounce the beginning of His ministry with the Holy Spirit’s power.  Jesus did not “need” the Holy Spirit.  However, to set an example for us, Jesus emptied Himself (Philippians 2:7) and relied upon the Holy Spirit’s power.  Jesus’ baptism and reliance upon the Holy Spirit is an example that we are to follow in our own lives.”[25] [see endnote 9 below on “Jesus emptied Himself”]

Note that Jesus “publicly announced Himself” as the Son of God; however, He already was the Son of God at His incarnation (and before this, of course).  Jesus Christ being ‘fully God and fully man’ at the virgin birth did not need the Holy Spirit.  He was already the “Anointed One.”

This same “anointing” is available to others according to Johnson.[26]  With his belief, then, by implication, when individuals receive the Holy Spirit – thus receiving the same ‘Christ’  “anointing” as Jesus – they will, in essence, be just like Jesus.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this leads to the view that once an individual receives this ‘Christ anointing’ he/she will be Joe/Jane Christ.   Quoting Johnson:

Through the shedding of His blood, it would be possible for everyone who believed on His name to do as He did and become as He was. [27]          

This seems to state outright that we can become just like Jesus Christ.  While we are to strive to be ‘like Christ’ by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are never going to be equal to Christ.  Jesus Christ is the one and only Son by nature.[28]  We, however, are adopted as sons (and daughters) by grace.[29]   There is only one Christ and He is Jesus Christ!

According to Johnson, after receiving the “anointing,” we are to pass ‘it’ to others.  Not necessarily others who are or wish to become Christians exclusively, but to anyone:

“For the most part, the anointing has been hoarded by the Church for the Church.  …thinking it is for our enjoyment only. …This wonderful presence of God is to be taken to the world.” [30]

“…When we are smeared with God, it rubs off on all we come into contact with – and it’s that anointing that breaks the yokes of darkness.” [31]

“…The anointing is substanceIt is the actual presence of the Holy Spirit, and He can be released into our surroundings” [32]  [all emphasis mine]

Johnson is claiming the “anointing” is a transferable, tangible substance; however, the “anointing” is also described as the “smearing” on of the Holy Spirit at baptism.  Are these one and the same?  Presumably not since Johnson refers to the “anointing” above as an impersonal ‘it.’  The Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity and part of the Godhead, is most certainly not an ‘it!’

This seems as though Johnson is implying the Holy Spirit may be manipulated almost at will.  If that’s the case, could we just ‘pass Him on,’ so to speak, to unbelievers – those in “the world” – in order to bring salvation?

The Apostle John makes it clear there is a counterfeit anointing.  Is it possible Johnson is passing a counterfeit?

20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth…

26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him. [1 John 2:20, 26-27 NIV; emphasis mine.  Underlined portion is rendered in other translations as “is true, and is not a lie”]

Johnson also speaks quite a bit about the antichrist spirit:

“The nature of the antichrist spirit is found in its name: anti, “against”; Christ, “Anointed One.’” [33]

“…The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.” [34]

“The antichrist spirit has a goal for the Church – embrace Jesus apart from the anointing.”[35]

The first sentence is nearly correct; however, it’s not a complete definition (see below).  However, in the second and third passages, once again we find Johnson confusing “anointing” with “Anointed One.”  Johnson’s view here then may be better stated as ‘anti-anointing,’ ‘anti-Holy Spirit,’ or, perhaps, anti-hagiopneuma [or anti-pneumahagios].[36]

Johnson defines further his version of the antichrist spirit calling it a ‘religious spirit:’

“The spirit of antichrist is at work today, attempting to influence believers to reject everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit’s anointing. …That spirit has worked to reduce the gospel to a mere intellectual message, rather than a supernatural God encounter. …But, never does this spirit expect the anointing of God’s power to be available in the here and now…”

“It is the antichrist spirit that has given rise to religious spirits.  A religious spirit is a demonic presence that works to get us to substitute being led by our intellect instead of the Spirit of God.” [37]

Since Johnson’s definition of antichrist would be more accurately termed ‘anti-anointing,’ or ‘anti-Holy Spirit,’ then this “demonic presence,” – the term he uses to describe those with ‘religious spirits’ (those who hold to doctrine over personal experience) – are actually those who are against Johnson’s “anointing” rather than against Christ.

The prefix ‘anti’ from which the term ‘antichrist’ is derived is defined as:

“in exchange for (often as a sign of benefaction), in place of (often as a sign of contrast), instead of (often as a sign of an exchange of a relationship), one after another (often as a sign of purpose or result).  Note that this preposition used in absolute does not mean to be ‘against’ or ‘in opposition to’ something.” [38]

Therefore ‘antichrist’ is not just ‘against Christ’ it can be ‘instead of Christ,’ ‘in place of Christ,’ et cetera.

Johnson’s Christology Defined

If we take Bill Johnson’s words in total so far, we have Jesus devoid of divinity at birth, but receiving His divinity at baptism by the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit and thereby becoming the “Anointed One” and consequently obtaining the ‘title’ of Christ. Immediately following this “anointing,” The Father declared, “This is My much loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[39]  In laying His divinity aside he was “powerless,” completely dependant upon the “anointing” in seeking to live a sinless life.  He was successful in living out a sinless life; however, because He had ‘laid His divinity aside,’ he died as the man Jesus – a “powerless” lamb – on the Cross.  Further, since He ‘became sin’ He had to be ‘born again.’  He was ‘born again’ through the Resurrection and was consequently reaffirmed as God’s Son.  Presumably, He reacquired His divinity which He previously laid aside.

The remaining question to attempt to answer: When was it that Jesus ‘became sin’ according to Johnson?  Logically, it was either at birth or at the Cross.  Let’s explore these two options.

First, if He ‘became sin’ at the Cross as per the orthodox meaning as described near the beginning of this article – i.e., our sin was imputed to Him by the Father– then it would not have been necessary for Him to be ‘born again.’  So, it is fair to say he either does not hold to this doctrine or he does not fully understand it.

Second, If Johnson’s view is that Jesus ‘became sin’ on the Cross like that of Word of Faith, then, it is considered heretical.[40]  We can’t know for sure since, of course, Johnson is not clear on how he supports this particular view.

The next possibility then is that Johnson believes Jesus ‘became sin’ at His incarnation. Since Jesus apparently did not have a divine nature until His baptism, according to Johnson, then it is logical to assume that He had only a human nature and, by extension, He inherited an Adamic, sin nature.  Going back to the second paragraph of the transcription: if we consider, as noted above, the possibility that Johnson was actually explaining his viewpoint on when and why Jesus ‘became sin,’ it is plausible that his interpretation of “corruption” in Acts 13 is “sin,” and thereby “corruption” could mean “corruptible flesh.”

It seems the most plausible conclusion is that Johnson believes Jesus ‘became sin’ at the Incarnation since Jesus was not divine until baptism; however, this is not made certain in the texts.

It appears Johnson has adopted a Christological view close to that of Cerinthianism, derived from its main spokesman Cerinthus.  A form of 1st century Gnosticism, this is one of the heresies the Apostle John was specifically refuting in his first epistle.[41]  He did this by proclaiming that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, was the Son of God, and had preexisted as part of the Triune God [vv 1:1-4].  Further, he identifies that which is antichrist [vv 2:22-23; 4:2-3].

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus [Christ] is not from God.  This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. [I John 4:1-3 NIV.  Emphasis mine.] [42]

The study note of 4:2 referencing ‘Every spirit that acknowledges that’ “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” ‘is from God’ states:

…Thus John excludes the Gnostics, especially the Cerinthians, who taught that the divine Christ came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and then left him at the cross, so that it was the man Jesus who died.” [43]

The Apostle John goes further in showing that Jesus was also divine at the Cross (blood):

6This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify:[the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit and these three are one] 8[And there are three that testify on earth:] the Spirit, the water and the Blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man’s testimony but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about His Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [I John 5:6-11 NIV] [44]

The study note referencing verse 5:6 explains the importance of Jesus being divine at the Crucifixion:

“…He [John] now asserts that it was this God-man Jesus Christ who came into our world, was baptized and died.  Jesus was the Son of God not only at His baptism but also at His death (v. 6b).  This truth is extremely important, because, if Jesus died only as a man, his sacrificial atonement (2:2; 4:10) would not have been sufficient to take away the guilt of man’s sin…[45] [emphasis mine]

Sad to say, but, Bill Johnson’s ‘Jesus’ is not the one of orthodox Biblical Christianity.  In addition, his ‘Christ’ is inconsistent with Scripture; and, this ‘Christ’ does not offer true salvation.

The Good News!

However, there is good news!  Salvation is available through the one True Savior: the Anointed One, The Messiah, the one and only Son of God – Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Christianity asserts that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, [John 3:16] incarnated through the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit coming upon and overshadowing her [Luke 1:26-35; Matthew 1:18], fully God and fully man [John 5:18; Philippians 2:6-7] – the unique God-man – at all times during His earthly ministry.  He was preexistent as part of the Triune Godhead (the Trinity) from ‘the beginning’ [Genesis 1:1; John 1:1] and He is ‘the alpha and the omega’ [Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13], the beginning and the end.

Salvation into eternal life is only through Jesus Christ [John 14:6] as a result of His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day [Philippians 2:8; Matthew 28:1-7; Luke 24:1-10,46] which atoned for our sins [John 3:16; Romans 5:8, 10:9].  Christ has now ascended to be at the right hand of the Father [Acts 2:33] serving as our mediator [Galatians 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:3-6].  Salvation is a free gift of unmerited grace through faith in Jesus Christ [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Jesus’ death also fulfilled the Law of Moses [Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:1-2]; consequently, Christians are free from this bondage [Galatians 3:10-25].

If you believe the above and acknowledge the fact that you are a sinner in need of a Savior [Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23], repent of your sins [Luke 13:5; Matthew 3:2], and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you will gain eternal life [Romans 10:9,13].  At the point of salvation the Holy Spirit indwells each and every believer [Romans 5:1-2,5] identifying each one as a Christian who has become a new creature [2 Corinthians 5:17].  Christians are a Royal Priesthood [1 Peter 2:9] with the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [Mark 15:37-38] to petition the Father by prayer [Hebrews 10:19-22] in the Name – i.e., in the character – of Jesus Christ, His Son as revealed through His Word.

The Holy Spirit empowers all believers [Romans 8:9-11] to live out the Christian life; and, His indwelling is a seal guaranteeing eternal life [2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14] if we stand firm to the end [Matthew 24:13].  The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and guides into all Truth [John 16:8-11,13].  He will testify and bring glory to Jesus Christ [John 15:26, 16:14].  The Holy Spirit gives believers spiritual gifts [1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Romans 12:4-8; I Peter 4:9-11] just as He determines [1 Corinthians 12:11] and, He intercedes on our behalf [Romans 8:26-27].  AMEN!

[This article is not copyrighted and may be reproduced with the stipulation that all endnotes be included as these provide additional explanation critical to the document.]
Endnotes:
[1] “raideragent” Bill Johnson False Teacher. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzAwFYKe3h0> 3:40 to 4:55
[2] Bethel Church, Redding, CA home page <http://www.ibethel.org/site/>
[3] “ewenhuffman” Jesus is our Model- Sermon of the week 20 Dec 09. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2009/12/23/jesus-is-our-model-sermon-of-the-week-20-dec-09/> 33:48 to 34:57
[4] Here Johnson quotes Hebrews 1:5a and Acts 13:33-34b from the NKJV
[5] Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22/Isaiah 53:9; etc.
[6] Got Questions? What is the Definition of Sin?. <http://www.gotquestions.org/definition-sin.html> par 4
[7] When taking the larger context into account by adding vv 36 and 37 it is clear the best definition for “corruption” is ‘the decay of the body after death.’  See Studylight.org diaphthora <http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=1312>
[8] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[9] Got Questions? What Is Christology <http://www.gotquestions.org/Christology.html> The claim that Jesus Christ laid His divinity aside is known as the Kenosis heresy – the misunderstanding of the words “emptied himself” of Philippians 2:7.  Jesus was never less than fully divine; however, some of his attributes were veiled.  See http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis.
[10] Johnson, Bill “Introduction.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 23
[11] Luke 2:41-52
[12] Johnson, Bill “The Works of the Father.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 98
[13] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[14] ibid.
[15] Luke 2:11; I John 1:1-3; Matthew 1:18-23; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6
[16] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s # 1694; p 1495 “Immanuel,” ‘God with us.’
[17] Strong, Op.cit. Christos Strong’s # 5547; p 1542 “Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control.”
[18] Theopedia Kenosis <http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis>
[19] Berkhof, Louis The History of Christian Doctrine. 1975, Baker, Ann Arbor MI; p 121
[20] Johnson, Bill “Change Your Mind.” The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 50
[21] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[22] Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22
[23] Strong, Loc.cit. Chrio Strong’s # 5548; p 1542
[24] ibid. Christos Strong’s # 5547; p 1542
[25] Got Questions? Why was Jesus baptized? Why was Jesus’ baptism important?.
<http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-baptized.html>
[26] Johnson, Op.cit. pp 79-80, 134-135
[27] Johnson, Bill “Our Debt to the World: An Encounter with God.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 138
[28] John 3:16-18
[29] Romans 8:15, 8:23, 9:4; Ephesians 1:5  We are adopted as sons by Grace; whereas, Jesus is God’s Son by nature.
[30] Johnson, Op.cit. p 134
[31] ibid. Johnson p 135
[32] Johnson, Bill “The Kingdom and the Spirit” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 75
[33] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[34] ibid. p 80
[35] ibid. p 84
[36] Not an actual word, but made from the Greek, hagios which is ‘Holy,’ and pneuma which is ‘Spirit,’ for illustrative purposes.  It is understood that these two terms are never used as a compound word.
[37] Johnson, Op.cit. p 81
[38] Strong, Op.cit. anti, Strong’s # 473; p 1480
[39] Johnson, Bill “The Works of the Father” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA;   p 99 (Here Johnson quotes Matthew 3:17 from the NKJV)
[40] Gospel Outreach Ministries Online. “Atonement” What is the Word of Faith Movement?. <http://www.gospeloutreach.net/whatwordfaith.html>
[41] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. “Introduction: I John; Gnosticism” NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society,  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 1905
[42] Strong, Op.cit. p 198 The word “Christ” put in brackets here is disappointingly omitted in the NIV; however, it is in the original Greek (Christos) and appears in the KJV and NKJV as well as other translations.
[43] Barker, Op.cit. p 1910
[44] ibid. p 1911 Bracketed portion is in “Late manuscripts of the Vulgate…”  However, this text is “not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century.”
[45] ibid.

How to build an empire by Godtv

Wanna know how to raise millions of dollars?  In this case, 4.9 M…

How to build and empire by Godtv

Watch this shocking video at the link to see how it’s done. A little false  prophecy mixed in with some false promises – you know, the BLESSING – combined with a false prophet misapplying scripture, speaking in unknown and unterrpreted tongues, one who claims the Holy Spirit will offend the flesh so that He can pray. (Where’s that in the word, Wendy? Cuz that’s not what Jesus said!)

Just for good measure lets get some well known false prophets and teachers in there – Benny Hinn, Dutch Sheets, Brian Houston, Lou Engle, Chuck Missler (that one broke my heart!) and a few others. Is that Steve Munsey?? I’m shocked Todd Bentley wasn’t a part of this as important as he is to them and their profits.

It is so very sad that so many have found these methods to work. Just tack the name of God to the scam, or claim “God said…” and people fall all over themselves to send in the money. I’ve read stories, testimonies of those who did so to their own detrement. Though the false faith healers claim it, the healing does not come. These word of faither claims a blessing or a breakthrough  if you give enough, give generously, give your best gift sacrificially and that blessing never arrives. Faith is destroyed because it is built on LIES like the house built on sand.  Our Father God is not a part of Godtv.

Anyone ever watch that Steve Martin/Debra Winger movie Leap of Faith?

The Global Revival is here whether we like it or not

Another great article from Kathleen exposing the dangers of the false prophetic movement, aka the Global Revival. (Don’t the words Global Revival just sound creepy???)

Let’s look at the teachings of scripture vs. the teaching in this revival.

2Timothy 4.1-4 says: I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers  in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Now instead of heeding this warning, many of these ministers including Bill Johnson of Bethel, Mike Bickle of IHOP, Patricia King of the Extreme Prophetic, Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries, are not teaching young believers to learn scripture and learn to rightfully divide the Word of Truth. They teach them that it is more important to experience “God’s love” and to listen to what he is “saying today.” They are taught to listen for prophetic words spoken to them by trained prophets. To listen to those who have been trained to be “led by the spirit.” They teach that people who have been trained in the supernatural are now able to be led by a new spirit. A spirit that is so new and so different that no one has a written guide book for this new thing God is doing. Those who are acting upon this new revelation are the “Radical glory forerunners”.

Don’t be fooled – Continue reading the truth….

The Global Revival

Out of the False Prophetic – A Short Testimony

Recently I had a woman contact me who I had given a “prophetic” word to a couple of years ago while at a women’s conference. We have been e-mailing back and forth since that day she contacted me, and I have been giving her some information to show her why the spirit that I had been operating under was not that of the Holy Spirit.

Our God does indeed work miracles today because this woman is able to see the truth. I am so grateful that the Lord is bringing her out of the false teaching and am very encouraged by this news. I know I have talked with many others here who at one point or another were also involved. Some of you I have talked with on the phone and through e-mailing. It has been an honor to help you, to hear your stories and to share in your lives.  And in return I have been helped by many of you through your experiences, your faith and your wisdom – and your prayers! Blessed be the name of the Lord. For it is only through Him that we are able to find the truth!

I know so many of us have been affected and even altered spiritually because of all the false teaching from Word of Faith, Bethel, the supernatural and the false prophetic and the many teachers and prophets who bring these heresies. We continue to see our God in His great mercy and love work in our lives and in the lives of those we pray for. This truly is the justice of the Lord! And so we continue to wage war against these lies of the enemy remaining confident that our Lord will see us through to the very end and we will stand with Him on that day. Please continue to pray for the deceived as well as the lost. There is hope – here is the testimony! Thank you Jesus! And thanks to all of you who take the risk to speak the truth the Lord has sown into your hearts and the truth of His word. We have this evidence that each of us had a part in this great testimony –  and there will be more.  BELIEVE it. 🙂

I am reminded of these verses – 1 Corinthians 3:7-9  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are Gods’ fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

Thank you for upholding the One who died for your sins – the one and only true Messiah Jesus Christ!

The Prosperity Gospel and Suffering Saints

I found this today over on Word on the Word of Faith. The link to the author follows the article.

I found it encouraging and if you have done any reading on my blog you are aware of the death of my daughter and step son. Even tho we know the truth it is wonderful to be encouraged by others and very often that encouragement is done unknowingly. After all, we never know how our words or actions will impact the life of another. All of us suffer loss, trials and persecution at some time in our lives.

At the same time, the article address the distinct differences between Godly suffering of all saints and the false promises of “all is well” given to us by the wolves. So again, if you follow a teacher from word of faith or prosperity gospel, it’s time to check their words with the word of our Lord!

Thank you to WOWOF for posting! 🙂

Blessings to you and may the hope of the return of Jesus Christ be with each of you. Glory to God for His undying mercy that cannot be found in another being!

_____

I have begun a series of messages at Walnut Hill Church from the Seven Letters to the Churches in Revelation.  This past Sunday we looked at the Church at Smyrna, from Revelation 2.8-11.

The Church at Smyrna is most intriguing for a couple reasons.

First, the name Smyrna litterally means “City of Myrh”.  If myrh sounds familiar it is probably because it is one of the three gifts the Magi brought to Jesus, the new-born king.  We sing about it at Christmas-time.  Myrh is an herb that when crushed emitted a fragrant aroma.  This is an appropriate gift for the young Jesus, who was born to become a martyred prophet. It is also an appropriate name for this church since it endured incessant crushing and persecution.

Second, the Church at Smyrna is one of only two of these churches that received no correction, only commendation. That alone ought to make us take note of them. They received only encouragement from Jesus, who commended them for faithfully enduring seasons of suffering and persecution.

As I considered the Church at Smyrna, and the message Jesus had for them, I could not help but contrast them from the television ministries today that proclaim, what they call, Prosperity Gospel.

The Propserity Gospel, in a nutshell, proclaims that God wants all his people to be Healthy, Wealthy, and Happy.  There are differnt versions of this.  The Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn disciples embrace this clear message.  The Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale disciples embrace a tamer Positive Thinking version.  And Joel Osteen has created a hybrid version, proclaiming you can have the best life now.

In my message Sunday I pointed out the erroneousness of this teaching.  I was pretty blunt pointing out that this message is unbiblical.  But there are words I did not use that now, in retrospect, I wish I had; I think I should have: Heresy, Lies, Dangerous.   That’s what this whole memvement is – no matter the sincerity of those behind it.

See, here the issue: they proclaim that the faithful will not experience hardship on this earth. Jesus proclaims to a church that is in the midst of persecution (not prosperity) that they are being faithful by enduring hardship. Clearly there would be no room for Jesus in the Prosperity Gospel movement.

Further, Hebrews 2.10 says:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.

In some sense, Jesus was made perfect through suffering.  So, the logic of the message of the Prosperity Gospel is:

Be more faithful, be LESS like Jesus.

For those who might counter that the suffering Jesus experienced was the price he took upon himself to free us from the penalty of our sin, I would ask you to consider…

1. Paul

  • When Paul was called to be an Apostle, Jesus said to a skeptical Ananias:

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  (Acts 9.16)

2. Stephen – What do you make of him being stoned for faithfulness? (Acts 7)

3. James, who wrote:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1.2-4)

4. Peter, who wrote:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  (1 Peter 1.3-9)

5. Paul, to the Romans:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5.1-5)

I find it somewhat disturbing to think that a church, based on its system of theology, would not embrace Paul, or Peter, or James, or Stephen because of what they experienced and taught.   But all these men are clearly at odds with the Prosperity/Self Help Gospel – which, is really no gospel at all.

While it is true that sometimes our suffering is a consequnce of our own sin and foolishness, it is not always this way. Sometimes we suffer simply because we live in a fallen world. But know this: Those who endure suffering are not second class Christians, but beloved Saints.  And anyone who says differently is telling you lies – and we know where lies come from…

So, as much as I don’t like it, suffering is part of this life.  And like it or not, there is pupose behind our sufferings: Sanctification & Holiness -and God’s Glory.

http://wdennisgriffith.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/suffering-saints/