Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pop Culture in the Church


A few scriptures to refute this idea of making the church more "relevant" to reach the culture. Plus, the church is not going to be relevant to a culture who does not seek after God nor loves Him. The church body goes out into the culture and shares the message of the Gospel so that they can be converted and join the body of Christ.

"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Real Meaning of Salt and Light

(excerpt from "Religious Trojan Horse" by Brannon Howse)

"The New Religious Right uses the biblical theme of salt and light to argue that we are called to focus time, energy, and money on Christian activism. Yet the overarching message of Matthew 5:13–16 is not about Christian activism but about proclaiming the Gospel. In Matthew 5 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Christians should be involved in good works such as defending the lives of the unborn, caring for widows and orphans, and running crisis pregnancy centers. The reason, though, is that people will see
the transforming power of the Gospel in our lives. Good works when used as a platform for the Gospel offers unbelievers the chance to see the light of Christ within our lives and to give glory to our heavenly Father.
Christian activism apart from the Gospel has no eternal value and is, in fact, a sin because we are not obeying God and fulfilling the Great Commission. When Christians call on unbelievers to conform
to a certain “religious standard” without faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, we run the risk of leading them to believe that becoming a Christian means simply living a good life. This ignores the central fact that “there is none that are good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
Christians and the Church, not the civil government, are called to be salt and light. Romans 13 declares that government and laws exist to deter evil. The government causes lawbreakers to fear the consequences of their actions, but just because a man is afraid of the law and so decides not to steal, rape, or murder, that does not save him from the eternal wrath of God. No matter how many pieces of legislation become law and no matter the number of laws to which the unsaved conform, they are still lost in sin and need to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
When the Church takes on the role of morality police to penalize with a loss of sales, for example, the immoral actions of a company run by unbelievers, we are only addressing the symptoms of their unsaved condition. On the other hand, when Christians are spiritual lifeguards who preach the Gospel instead of moralism, we address the root cause of man’s immoral actions. Getting to this root of the problem is the world’s only hope. How can people change their values and conduct unless they change their worldviews? Jeremiah 13:23 echoes this impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian
change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil?”
How can the unregenerate be anything less than they are? Their worldviews are the foundation of their values, and their values are the foundation of their conduct. Until their unbiblical worldviews are transformed into a biblical view through faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, they are slaves to sin.
Moralism is just as dangerous and deadly as outright liberalism. As John MacArthur has said:
It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents  and believes the gospel.The hardest people to reach with the Gospel are not prostitutes,drug addicts, or reprobates who know they deserve to go to hell, but the morally upright who think they are good people that deserve heaven."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ashamed of the Gospel: Excerpts

The following are excerpts from John MacArthur's book "Ashamed of the Gospel." I feel like so much of what is written about in this book really gets to the issues of today within evangelicalism. Read for yourself and ask yourself if you see these trends in your own church.

"This ideas that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder." (preface)

"The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesman, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God's displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross (cf Gal. 5:11)." (preface)

"Size does not signify God's blessing. And popularity is no barometer of success. In fact, it can be a reason for condemnation.......Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences." (pg. 29)

"His (Paul's) goal as a preacher was not to entertain people with his rhetorical style, or to amuse them with cleverness, humor, novel insights, or sophisticated methodology-he simply preached Christ crucified.......The preacher's task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God's voice to speak to the congregation." (pg. 32)

"But people's deepest need is to confess and overcome their sin. So preaching that fails to confront and correct sin through the Word of God does not meet people's need. It may make them feel good. And they may respond enthusiastically to the preacher, but that does not mean such preaching meets real needs." (pg 34)

 "Evangelicalism has lost its tolerance for confrontive preaching. Now the church is flirting with serious doctrinal error. Christians madly pursue extra biblical revelation in the form of prophecies and dreams. Preachers deny or ignore the reality of hell. The modern gospel promises heaven apart from holiness. Churches ignore the biblical teaching on women's roles, homosexuality, and other politically-charged issues. The human medium has overtaken the divine message." (36-37)

"If the design is to make the seeker comfortable, isn't that rather incompatible with the biblical teaching on sin, judgment, hell, and several other important topics? So the biblical message is inevitably distorted by the philosophy. And what about the believer who should be fed?" (pg48)

"The contemporary user-friendly movement aims for just hte opposite. Rather than arousing fear of God, it attempts to portray Him as fun, jovial, easygoing, lenient, and even permissive. Haughty sinners who ought to approach God in terror (Luke 18:13) are emboldened to presume on His grace. Sinners hear nothing of divine wrath. This is as wrong as preaching rank heresy." (pg 63)

"Now evangelicals everywhere are franctically seeking new techniques and new forms of entertainment to attract people. Whether the method is biblical or not scarcely seems to matter to the average church leader today. Does it work? That is the new test of legitimacy. And so raw pragmatism has become the driving force in much of the professing church." (pg71)

"We don't need clever approaches to get people saved ( 1 Cor. 1:21). We simply need to get back to preaching the truth and planting the seed. If we're faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit." (pg 86)

"Many professing Christians appear to care far more about the world's opinion than God's. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that many have forgotten their first duty is to please God (2 Cor. 5:9). The church has been so over-contextualized that it has become corrupted by the world." (pg102)

"Human wisdom caters to self-will, intellectual and social pride, fleshly lusts, and the desire for independence from God. Human wisdom and the gospel are therefor constitutionally imcompatiable. Try to combine the two, and Paul says you render the gospel null and void." (pg 111)

"The gospel demands that people acknowledge their sin and spiritual impotence. It humiliates them, convicts them, and calls them sinners. Moreover, it offers salvation as a gracious work of God-not something people can accomplish on their own. In every way the cross crushes human pride." (pg 111)

"Paul would not have been able to understand preachers who, given the privilege of preaching the gospel, choose instead to entertain people, tell anecdotes, or give speeches on self-esteem. He was ready to suffer persecution, be beaten, go to prison, or even be killed for the privilege of preaching the gospel." (pg126)

"The gospel itself is disagreeable, unattractive, repulsive, and alarming to the world. It exposes sin, condemns pride, convicts the unbelieving heart, and shows human righteousness-even the best, most appealing aspects of human nature-to be worthless, defiled, filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It affirms that the real problems in life are not because of anyone but ourselves. We are fallen sinners, with deceitful hearts, evil motives, pervasive pride. We cannot blame anyone else for our future and misery. That is not a popular view, particularly in today's psychological climate. It comes as bad news to those who love sin, and many who hear it for the first time react with disdain against the messenger." (pg 128)

"If church history teaches us anything, it is that different times and different societies do not require different messages. Those who peach anything other than the unadulterated gospel forfeit the power of God in their ministries." (Pg 134)

"Faith in God's absolute sovereignty would deliver the church from the down-grade of pragmatism and worldliness. It would drive us back to biblical preaching. If preachers only had confidence in God's power and God's Word, they would not feel it necessary to trim and adjust and tone down the message. They would not view evangelism as a marketing problem, but they would see it for what it is-the proclamation of divine revelation as the only means by which God calls the elect to Himself." (pg 172)

"We don't want growth that is manufactured by human formulas, programs, and gimmicks. We are content to focus on aggressive biblical ministry and leave it to the Lord to add to His church (Acts 2:47). Our task is to be faithful in what He has designed for us to do." (pg174)







Thursday, February 19, 2015

Worship Service or Customer Service?


 "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!" - 2 Corinthians 11:4

(Excerpts from Religious Trojan Horse by Brannon Howse)

Following Peter Drucker’s model, the people who go to church can now be viewed as customers. in a 1998 Forbes magazine interview, Drucker bridges business and church strategies when he says, “non- customers are as important as customers, if not more important: be- cause they are potential customers.... Yet it is with the noncustomers that changes always start.”305
This suggests that nonchurch attendees are potential customers, so noncustomers are more important than the church’s customers. There are also more noncustomers than customers, and if you can find out why noncustomers aren’t yet customers, you can turn them into customers by doing the right things to attract them.
What market research can help you discover this necessary non- customer information? You go around your town or city and take a survey of neighborhoods, asking unbelievers how they would program a church so they would want to attend (this has really been done). The unsaved, not surprisingly, want a church that looks like the world and makes them feel comfortable. They want a pastor who is a life coach to assist them in having their “best life now.”
This is the same model Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church has promoted for years. Hybels also signed the Yale document and has hosted Rob Bell, Brian Mclaren, Tony Blair, and rock star Bono at his church or conferences. (His family aids in perpetuating the agenda as well: Bill Hybels’s wife writes for neo-Marxist jim Wallis in Sojourner magazine.) Hybels seems especially comfortable with the Drucker model as he declares:
unchurched people today are the ultimate consumers. We may not like it, but for every sermon we preach, they’re asking, “am i interested in that subject or not?” if they aren’t, it doesn’t matter how effective our delivery is; their minds will check out.306
The unbeliever who attends a church where the gospel is being preached might laugh and discount the message because the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). The un- believer may hear the gospel and decide that he or she wants to hear more. or he or she may hear, believe, repent, and come to faith. These are the three responses Paul received when he preached the gospel to  skeptics and critics on Mars Hill as recounted in acts 17. That’s the way it is supposed to work.
Yes, the unsaved may hear the gospel and reject it, but the solu- tion is not to water down the gospel to make it more appealing, but to preach the gospel and pray the Holy spirit convicts unbelievers of sin and that they respond by repenting and placing their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. it is not our job to get people saved. it is simply our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ to present the biblical truth of the gospel without compromise. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

False Revival Coming? PART 1 Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?

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Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?   (Radio interview about this booklet)Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion Booklet Cover
by Warren B. Smith (also see Warren Smith articles page) 
 
I watched the video again. It was titled Signs and Wonders Camp Meeting 1994.1 Pastors of huge charismatic churches were stumbling around the church stage "drunk" with "holy" laughter. Wanting to testify to the fact that "holy" laughter had transformed their ministries and their lives, many of them were unable to speak when called on to do so. But their "drunken" condition became their testimony. Their halting speech was seen as "proof" of the "power of the spirit" that had come over them. The congregation roared in approval as pastor after pastor laughed uncontrollably then fell to the floor. Standing alongside the "drunken" pastors was evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, the self described "Holy Ghost bartender" who was serving up this "new wine" of "holy" laughter. Many Christians believed that Howard-Browne was God's appointed channel for imparting joy and revival to the end-times church. Other Christians came to see Howard-Browne as a false prophet who has inflicted great damage to the body of Christ.
Early last spring we received a fax from someone expressing concern about a new phenomenon called "holy" laughter. He said that a San Francisco Bay Area Vineyard Church was experiencing what was being described as "revival" and that the manifestation of "holy" laughter was being cited as one of the signs of this "revival." Church members and visitors were reportedly breaking into fits of spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter during their nightly services.
Later when I visited the San Francisco Vineyard and talked with several members of the congregation, I was told how hundreds of people were getting "hit" with "revival"—how some people were getting so "soaked in the spirit" they would lose consciousness for up to several hours after falling to the ground with "holy" laughter. The Vineyard members described "holy" laughter unqualifiedly as "awesome" and definitely "the work of the Lord."
I learned that their Vineyard pastors had recently flown to a Vineyard church in Toronto where God had reportedly "touched down" and where "revival" had "broken out." The San Francisco pastors participating in the Toronto "revival" had then "brought it back" to San Francisco. It seemed that one of the characteristics of "holy" laughter is that it can be easily transferred from one person to another through the laying on of hands. Thus, the Toronto "revival" had now "spread" to San Francisco. Nightly meetings were being held at the San Francisco Vineyard to accommodate the streams of people wanting to get "touched" by this "move of God."
Within weeks of my visit to Vineyard, I happened to catch a program on "holy" laughter on a local Christian TV station. The panel of guests was enthusiastically discussing "holy" laughter and endorsing it unquestioningly as a latter days "outpouring" of God's Holy Spirit. Comparing "holy" laughter to the "work" of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were convinced that "holy" laughter was completely authentic. They equated "holy" laughter with the biblical notion of joy. As far as they were concerned, "holy" laughter was the "joy of the Lord." Scriptural references to joy were cited; testimonies were given; songs were sung; and by the end of the program, I felt like I had just watched a one-hour infomercial on "holy" laughter.
Then, several weeks later, there was a program about "holy" laughter on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While preacher Rodney Howard-Browne was giving what appeared to be a serious message, people in the audience were laughing wildly for no apparent reason. But Howard-Browne seemed oblivious to the disruption and kept on preaching. Then when the laughter was at its height, he began incorporating all that was happening into his sermon. He said that the "holy" laughter they were experiencing was a last days expression of God's "Holy Spirit." He also compared the "Spirit" that was manifesting to the Spirit at Pentecost. He reminded his audience how those gathered in the upper room had been viewed by others as being "drunk" on alcohol when in fact they were "drunk" in the Spirit.
Howard-Browne's audience continued to laugh hilariously as he spoke of a present-day "revival" and how "holy" laughter was ushering in this "revival." At the end of the service, Howard-Browne shuffled around the huge assembly hall, now breaking into long fits of laughter himself. As he walked around, talking and laughing and speaking in tongues, he began to lay hands on people. After he said "be filled" and repeated the phrase "from the top of your head to the tips of your toes," people fell to the ground in hysterical laughter. As the program ended, the evangelist continued to weave his way amongst the fallen bodies, many of them still convulsed in laughter.
Also during this time, I was sent a copy of a flyer saying that Charles and Frances Hunter, the authors of a new book titled Holy Laughter, were coming to Portland, Maine. The flyer said, "God is filling the church with holy laughter! Come and receive a baptism of joy! You will never be the same! Don't miss this unforgettable move of the Holy Spirit!" Another book on "holy" laughter titled Fresh Anointing: Another Great Awakening, was also brought to my attention at this time. In it, author Mona Johnian describes the "holy" laughter "revival" that erupted in her Boston church after she and her husband attended a meeting led by Rodney Howard-Browne.
In the midst of this same two-month period, there was yet another program on "holy" laughter. I was watching a locally televised church service, and the guest preacher was Richard Roberts, the president of Oral Roberts University and son of Oral Roberts. His whole sermon was on "holy" laughter and how it had changed his life and ministry. He described how "revival" had come to Oral Roberts University. Roberts explained how he had canceled classes for two days so that his four thousand students could personally experience the "joy of the Lord" and receive the "gift" of "holy" laughter. I was not surprised to learn that the "revival" Roberts was describing had come through the person of Rodney Howard-Browne.
And then to round out my summer crash course on the subject of "holy" laughter, the August issue of Charisma magazine had Rodney Howard-Browne on its cover. He was clearly the man of the hour. The cover story on this by now wildly popular "Holy Ghost bartender" was titled "Praise the Lord and Pass the New Wine." The article was yet one more endorsement of Howard-Browne and "holy" laughter. And what I was starting to realize was that all of the "holy" laughter I had recently encountered—the TV programs, the books, the various "anointings, and "revivals" could all be traced back to him: Toronto Vineyard, San Francisco Vineyard, the Hunters, Mona Johnian, Richard Roberts, and all the rest. The Charisma article described Rodney Howard-Browne as the "spiritual conduit" for "holy" laughter. But I wanted to know how Rodney Howard-Browne got his "anointing?"
The Charisma article stated that in South Africa, in the summer of 1979, Howard-Browne "spent hours praying for a deeper experience with God." In the midst of his prayers, he is quoted as having told God, "Either you come down here and touch me, or I will come up there and touch you." Charisma said that suddenly in the midst of that prayer Howard-Browne's "whole body felt like it was on fire. He began to laugh uncontrollably. Then he wept and began to speak in tongues." In Howard-Browne's book The Touch of God, Charisma quotes him as saying, "I was plugged into heaven's electric supply, and since then my desire has been to go and plug other people in."
And certainly one of the most outstanding characteristics of Howard-Browne's "anointing" and the whole "laughing revival" is that it is so immediately transferable from person to person. Those "anointed" by Howard-Browne can now "anoint" others. And that is what's happening. The "Spirit" that visited Howard-Browne has exponentially multiplied as it has been passed on from person to person around the world. A video advertised in that same August issue of Charisma documents the spread of Howard-Browne's "holy" laughter. It is titled The Laugh that was Heard 'round the World (see a video example below).
The "holy" laughter "revival" started by Howard-Browne is spreading like wildfire around the world. A recent conference sponsored by Toronto Vineyard drew 2300 pastors from countries as far away as Cambodia. They had all come to observe the "laughing revival" that was now being called "The Toronto Blessing." Even skeptical pastors were getting "hit" with the "Spirit" and then taking that "Spirit" back to their churches and towns.
Howard-Browne's "laughing revival" has now officially moved into the Christian mainstream with a recent endorsement from Pat Robertson on his popular 700 Club. On October 27, 1994, Robertson said this about holy laughter:
[W]hat this says to me is revival is taking place in the world in a mass wave . . . and we look to the coming of the Lord. I think this is a very encouraging sign in the middle of all this trouble and all these wars and all this confusion. God is saying I'm on the throne and I'm going to touch multiplied millions. It's wonderful. I applaud it.

But what does the Bible say about laughter?

Last summer, after watching Rodney Howard-Browne on TBN, I consulted my concordance to see if there was any biblical precedent for "holy" laughter. Surprisingly, I found only 40 references to laughter in the Bible; 34 of them were in the Old Testament, while only six were in the New Testament. Of those 40 references, 22 of them referred to scornful laughter, as in Nehemiah 2:19 when Nehemiah said, "they laughed us to scorn." Of the 18 remaining references to laughter, seven of them referred exclusively to Abraham and Sarah's initial disbelief and ultimate astonishment that God would give them a child in their old age. Barely into my study on laughter, I was already down to my last 11 references.
In Job 8:21, Bildad, one of Job's false comforters, wrongly advised Job that if he were in right standing with God he would be prosperous and full of laughter. The Psalmist in Psalm 126:2 recorded that when the captivity of Zion was over, "then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing." Proverbs 29:9 says, "if a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest."
With only eight remaining references, I had seen nothing in the Bible up to this point that suggested anything even resembling "holy" laughter. In Ecclesiastes 2:2, Solomon says, "I said of laughter, it is mad." Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there is "a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says, "sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." Ecclesiastes 7:6 says, "for as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: this also is vanity." Ecclesiastes 10:19 says that "a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry."
Interestingly the Bible's last three references to laughter—the only three references to authentic laughter in the New Testament—warn against laughter. These three references actually seemed to underline Solomon's contention in Ecclesiastes that "sorrow is better that laughter" and that now is a time to weep and not to laugh. In Luke 6:21, Jesus says, "blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh." In Luke 6:25, Jesus says, "woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." James 4:9 tells us not to laugh but to "be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness."
I had searched the Scriptures to find any biblical precedent for "holy" laughter, and there was none. To my amazement, I had discovered surprisingly few references in the Bible to any kind of laughter. Did this mean that God doesn't have a sense of humor or that people in the Bible never laughed? No. It just meant that laughter apparently was not something God chose to emphasize very much. And certainly Jesus' last words on laughter—"woe unto you who laugh now!"—were not ones that would seem to give any encouragement to a "laughing revival."
The Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18).

14 Concerns About "Holy" Laughter and the "Laughing Revival"
(1) There is no biblical precedent for "holy" laughter.
Laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible. Yet, when it is, the Bible seems to make more of a case for holy sorrow than for "holy" laughter. Scripture supports Solomon's contention that "sorrow is better than laughter." It does not support the present "laughing revival."
(2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is inaccurate and misleading.
There is no scriptural authority for equating biblical references to joy with the involuntary manifestations of "holy" laughter. Just because there are insufficient Bible texts to make the case for "holy" laughter, it does not follow that you can simply redefine the word laughter by substituting the word joy.
(3) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need to test the spirits.
The Bible warns us that not every supernatural manifestation is necessarily from God. 1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." Charles and Francis Hunter write in their book Holy Laughter, "Once you begin to walk in the supernatural you really have to be ready for anything and everything and never question the way God does it!"
(4) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Spirit's express warning that in the latter times some people will be supernaturally seduced by deceptive evil spirits into following them and not the one true God.
1 Timothy 4:1 warns, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
(5) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Bible's warnings of false prophets who come in the name of Jesus but bring with them "another spirit."
2 Corinthians 11:4 says, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
(6) Many laughter advocates condescendingly discourage and even openly intimidate sincere Christians who question the "laughing revival."
According to the August 1994 Charisma article, Rodney Howard-Browne "disparages" people who "try to apply theological tests" to what he does. The Hunters' book Holy Laughter refers to skeptics as God's "frozen chosen." Mona Johnian writes, "skeptics, hesitators and procrastinators do not get anointed." She warns that "any person or church that wavered could be eliminated."
(7) Rodney Howard-Browne's prayer to God just prior to his "anointing" ("either You come down here and touch me or I'll come up there and touch You") is unscriptural.
Howard-Browne's prayer was, in essence, "my will be done." It was not "thy will be done" as taught by Jesus in Scripture. Why should we automatically assume it was God who answered his prayer?
(8) "Holy" laughter advocates, in talking about "signs and wonders," rarely, if ever, mention the Bible's many warnings about deceptive signs and wonders.
In Matthew 16:4 Jesus warns, "a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." In Matthew 24:24, Jesus says, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, the apostle Paul warns of the coming Antichrist, "even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."
(9) "Holy" laughter advocates seem to lay hands on almost everybody. The Bible specifically warns against this.
The eighth chapter of Acts describes how the disciples would not lay hands on Simon, a baptized believer, even though he desperately wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost, because his heart was "not right in the sight of God." 1 Timothy 5:22 warns us to "lay hands suddenly on no man." Yet "holy" laughter is passed on from person to person without so much as a second thought.
(10) "Holy" laughter advocates blatantly disregard the biblical admonition that things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40 says, "Let all things be done decently and in order." Mona Johnian in her book Fresh Anointing says, "decently and in order! We must do things decently and in order. The Bible itself commands it, cry those who are frightened by that which is beyond traditional order."3 She advises her readers to "break with tradition."4
(11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the "laughing revival" contradicts the Bible's description of the Person of God.
1 Corinthians 14:33 states, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."
(12) Laughter advocates rarely if ever, discuss the well-documented demonic deceptions that have manifested in past revivals.
To combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century, authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God's people. Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The foreword to War on the Saints warns of "the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm."
(13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of "holy" laughter when they were in the New Age.
Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the "divine drunkard" because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the "Divine." As a former follower of Rajneesh, I met hundreds of Sannyasins who had flown to India "to drink" from "Bhagwan's wine." When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktananda would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru.
(14) The "laughing revival" could one day merge with what the New Age calls the coming day of "Planetary Pentecost."
Barbara Marx Hubbard (revered New Age leader and a 1984 Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States) writes in her book, Teachings from the Inner Christ, how the human race will soon experience a day of "Planetary Pentecost." Hubbard, claiming to be in contact with "Christ," writes, "the Planetary Smile is another name for the Planetary Pentecost. When enough of us share a common thought of our oneness with God, Spirit will be poured out on all flesh paying attention."5 In her book The Revelation, Hubbard says that "Christ" (in describing the Planetary Smile) said,
An uncontrollable joy will ripple through the thinking layer of the Earth. The co-creative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and attraction . . . as this joy flashes through the nervous systems of the most sensitive peoples on Earth, it will create a psycho magnetic field of empathy, which will align the next wave of people in synchrony, everywhere on Earth. This massive, sudden empathic alignment will cause a shift in the consciousness of Earth. 6
Writing in Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, Hubbard repeats what she heard from "Christ." He said:
As the planetary smile ripples through the nervous systems of Earth, and the instant of co-operation begins, and empathy floods the feelings of the whole body of Earth, separation is overcome, and I appear to all of you at once.7
The controversy over "holy" laughter is splitting congregations and causing deep divisions in the body of Christ. And while many people have already taken sides, there are many more who are still trying to figure out just what is going on. Is this really a move of God, or is this the kind of deception the Bible warns about in Matthew 24, 1 Timothy 4:1, and in the second chapter of Thessalonians?
Unity is indeed the heartfelt desire of every sincere Christian (Psalm 133:1). But the Bible warns of massive deception that will come at the end and in Christ's name. Before the Church—in the name of unity—free falls into a worldwide "laughing revival," we had better be sure what it is we are uniting with.
In reflecting on "holy" laughter during these very troubled times, I recalled a music special I had seen on television a number of years ago. In the midst of an otherwise polite Hollywood type crowd, a male vocalist sang straight faced and sober into the teeth of their celebration. His words were electric and piercing, and they seemed to hang in the air. He sang, "You're laughing now, but you should be praying. You're in the midnight hour of your life."

Some Examples of "Holy" Laughter in Other Religions
1) Kundalini Energy is typically described as a powerful energy source lying dormant in the form of a coiled serpent at the base of the human spine. When freed, it reputedly has the capacity to effect great physical healings. Christina and Stanislov Grof, New Age authors of the book The Stormy Search for the Self, describe how the awakening of Kundalini energy can be triggered by an advanced spiritual teacher or guru. And how the awakening can bring up memories of past psychological traumas. The Grofs state that:
Individuals involved in this process might find it difficult to control their behavior; during power rushes of Kundalini energy, they often emit various involuntary sounds, and their bodies move in strange and unexpected patterns. Among the most common manifestations . . . are unmotivated and unnatural laughter or crying, talking tongues . . . and imitating a variety of animal sounds and movements.8
The Grofs also state that "careful study of the manifestations of Kundalini awakening confirm that this process, although sometimes very intense and shattering, is essentially healing.
A. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the former Oregon guru, tells one of his followers in his book Dance Your Way To God:
Just be joyful . . . God is not serious . . . this world cannot fit with a theological God . . . so let this be your constant reminder—that you have to dance your way to God, to laugh your way to God.9
Often referred to as being "drunk on the divine," Rajneesh encouraged his followers to come and "drink" from him. Bhagwan's spiritual "wine" was often passed along with a single touch to the head. Many of his Sannyasins would fall to the floor in ecstasy after their encounters with Rajneesh.
B. Ramakrishna, an Indian saint, "daily went into 'samahdi,' a trance in which one involuntarily falls down unconscious and enters a rapturous state of super-conscious bliss (ananda), complete with beautiful visions and often involving astral projection. These states could last anywhere from a few minutes to several days and were often accompanied by uncontrollable laughter or weeping. He could send others into this state with a single touch to the head or chest."10
C. Swami Baba Muktananda would transfer what was called "guru's grace" to his followers through Shaktipat (physical touch). This "grace" triggered the gradual awakening of the Kundalini, which in turn produced various physical and emotional manifestations. Manifestations included uncontrollable laughing, roaring, barking, hissing, crying, shaking, etc. Some devotees became mute or unconscious. Many felt themselves being infused with feelings of great joy and peace and love. At other times, the "fire" of Kundalini was so overwhelming they would find themselves involuntarily hyperventilating to cool themselves down.11
2) African Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari—The Grofs, in their book The Stormy Search for the Self, also cite an interesting parallel between the Kundalini awakening and the trance dance of the African Kung bushmen. During rituals, the bushmen "enter a profound altered state of consciousness associated with the release of powerful emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear. They are often unable to maintain an upright position and are overcome by violent shaking. Following these dramatic experiences, they typically enter a state of ecstatic rapture. According to the bushmen tradition, the dance releases from the base of the spine a cosmic healing force called ntum or 'medicine.' This is then passed by direct physical contact from one person to another."12
3) Qigong (ancient Chinese practice)—Yan Xin, a Chinese Qigong master known to most of the over one billion people in China, gave a talk in San Francisco in 1991. Seventeen hundred devotees, most of them Chinese, showed up at the Masonic Auditorium to listen to Yan. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "minutes into his talk, several began experiencing what Yan Xin calls spontaneous movements." The Chronicle reporter said that "before long, the scene resembled a Pentecostal prayer meeting with many people waving their arms and making unintelligible sounds." Yan told his audience, "Those who are sensitive might start having some strong physical sensations—or start laughing or crying. Don't worry. This is quite normal." The article said that "since 1985, when a Qigong revival started sweeping China, 50 to 60 million Chinese have gone to see Yan."13
4) Subud—According to The Encyclopedia of American Religions, the central element of the Subud faith is the practice of "latihan." Latihan is the way one surrenders to the power of God. It is a group process. The Encyclopedia says:
The latihan proper is a time of moving the consciousness beyond mind and desire and allowing the power to enter and do its work . . . often accompanying the spontaneous period are various body movements and vocal manifestations—cries, moans, laughter and singing. These occur in the voluntary surrender of the self to the power. During this time, people report sensations of love and freedom and often, healings. All reach a higher level of consciousness.14
To order copies of FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?," click here

Endnotes:

  1. You can watch this video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduW9apCP1c.
  2. Charles and Frances Hunter, Holy Laughter, p. 65.
  3. Mona Johnian, Fresh Anointing, p. 35
  4. Ibid., p. 45.
  5. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Teachings from the Inner Christ, p. 79.
  6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, pp. 234-235.
  7. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, pp. 10-11.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why do some people see UFOs and some don’t?

Question: Why do some people see UFOs and some don’t? Why do even some sincere Christians see UFOs but others don’t? I believe these UFOs reveal nonphysical demonic activity, but they have been captured on video, and even the US military has claimed to have seen them. Do you believe that UFOs can manifest themselves in a visible physical manner? Or are these fancy camera tricks in order to hype up something that isn’t real?
 
Response:  We agree with you that UFOs are demonic manifestations. The fact that they have been captured on video only confirms what Scripture tells us. Angels (whether good or evil) have, on occasion, appeared in a recognizable form, such as the serpent in the Garden. Second Corinthians 11:14, speaking of the devil and his demons, notes, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
We should therefore not be surprised to hear reports of “heavenly” apparitions appearing to Catholics or the alleged angel Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith. This is of particular interest in view of the warning in Galatians:1:8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Furthermore, it is not surprising that UFOs /ETIs have been reported throughout history. Why a UFO may appear to one individual and not to another is open to speculation. Perhaps some may be more open to deception, such as treasure-hunting occult practitioner Joseph Smith. We know from Scripture that “[Our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pt 5:8). The implication is that not everyone is readily devoured. Why would Satan waste his limited time and effort on people who wouldn’t believe it?
Historically UFO appearances have mimicked the technology of the age. Ancient Egyptian accounts tell of a time when “sky gods” came down to Earth. They flew through the sky in what were described as “flying boats,” bringing laws and wisdom to men. Sightings in the late 1800s took the form of spheres or cigar-shaped craft similar to early dirigibles or balloons. Disk-shaped flying objects have been allegedly recorded since the Middle Ages, although one publicized sighting of a saucer-shaped object as late as June 24, 1947, is much better known. This was followed by what have been described as thousands of similar sightings. With such sightings being very common, the term “flying saucer” was interchangeable with “UFO” into the 1960s. In recent years, the flying saucer has been superseded by other alleged UFOs, such as “black triangles” (“Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defense Region: Executive Summary,”  Scientific and Technical Memorandum , 5/2/00), mimicking more recent developments in military aircraft such as the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter/bomber. Satan is not a creator; he is a counterfeiter.
In  TBC  April 1995, Dave Hunt wrote: “There are no physical ETIs. The only intelligent life beyond earth is all in spirit form: God, angels, Satan and demons. Satan and his minions are able to invade the physical realm. Satan put boils on Job, caused Sabeans and Chaldeans to rob Job and kill his servants, caused a ‘great wind’ to destroy a house and kill Job’s children—and in each case one person was left alive to bring the news to Job. Satan transported Christ to the top of a mountain and to the pinnacle of the temple. Jannes and Jambres (2 Tm 3:8) were able to duplicate by the power of Satan many of the miracles Moses and Aaron performed by the power of God.
“What limits there may be upon satanic ‘power and signs and lying wonders’ (2 Thes:2:9) we don’t know: Satan will cause the whole world to worship Antichrist as ‘God’ (Rv 13:8). [Since the Garden of Eden], mankind has remained open to contact and receiving advice and help from demons who are manifesting as UFOs and masquerading as ETIs. All of this helps to set the stage for the last days ‘strong delusion’” (2 Thes:2:11).

Source: UFO's

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spiritual Fitness

jan_nl_image_360.pngThe term “fitness” is one of the favorite marketing buzzwords that has attracted many to health clubs and spas, and it even has an appeal for those who are so out of shape that it remains yet wishful thinking. There is little doubt that the physical part of life just seems better when one is physically fit.
The Bible gives some credence to this idea in 1 Timothy 4:8, where Paul tells Timothy that bodily exercise profits [a] little. The verse continues, “but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” In other words, godliness, which is the spiritual exercise of living out what the Word of God teaches, is significantly more to be sought than “bodily exercise” in order to improve a believer’s everyday life on earth as well as to yield rewards in one’s eternal life.
The goal of spiritual fitness, according to the Scriptures, must be godliness. The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to “exercise thyself” unto godliness, and Peter declares that God has given believers “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:3). I hope that every believer reading this desires to achieve that goal no matter how far short of it he might feel that he comes right now. The good news is that there is good news, no matter what one’s condition!
In the sports world, when a team is struggling in more than one aspect of the game, many coaches have their teams return to practicing the fundamentals of the sport. That usually gets things turned around and headed in the direction of improvement. Such an approach may also be helpful for those who want to achieve spiritual fitness but are not exactly sure how to go about it. (And I am not recommending seeking out so-called “spiritual directors” or “spiritual coaches,” who frequently utilize the latest trends, methods, or techniques that are far from what the Scriptures teach.)
What are the scriptural fundamentals for growing in godliness? First of all, it must begin with a new birth. As Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God….Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3,7—emphasis added). Without that transformation of being born spiritually from above, it is impossible for anyone to manifest godliness. This new birth comes about when a person admits that he is a sinner, turns to Jesus by faith alone, believes that He paid the full penalty for his sins, and accepts the free gift of salvation that only Jesus could and did provide. He then becomes a “new man”: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even though he has been miraculously transformed into a new being, a born-again believer retains his old nature, but no longer is he under its sinful control: “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:8-10 —emphasis added). “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). We shouldn’t be surprised, however, when within the born-again believer, the resident old nature, though no longer in control, causes a sometimes-fierce struggle in our hearts and minds. This spiritual battle will continue throughout our temporal lives, but daily victory can be ours. Why? Because God himself has provided everything that a believer needs to grow in “righteousness and true holiness.”
What are some of these things that He has provided? One help that is foundational is that the Holy Spirit indwells every Christian at the moment that he believes the gospel. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is foundational, for without the Spirit of Christ, there would be no life in Him. This could be compared to having the latest model car but the engine is missing. Just as an engineless car would be useless regarding the purpose for which it was intended, so a person who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit (and thus does not belong to the Lord), is helpless when it comes to living above one’s circumstances, being a light in the world, and ultimately spending eternity fulfilling God’s plan for us. The analogy may be a little rough, but I think you get the point. On the other hand, the person who is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ has all that he needs to live a life of godliness—as long as he avails himself of it—which certainly includes being spiritually fruitful and productive.
Consider the incredible abundance that the Holy Spirit provides for the believer. He, the third person of the Godhead, is the born-again Christian’s comforter (which includes the meaning “strengthener”), teacher, enabler, empowerer, guide, convicter of sin, revealer of truth, baptizer, and imparter of numerous spiritual gifts. It was through the Holy Spirit that we received the Word of God: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). And it is through the Holy Spirit that we gain understanding of the Scriptures: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit’s involvement in giving us the Word of God and its value in equipping us in Christ is clearly revealed in 2 Timothy 3:15-17: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Indeed, God’s miraculous revelation through the Holy Scriptures is truly the Lord’s instruction manual, informing us of what we need to know in order to live a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers us to carry out the teachings of Jesus, who is the Living Word.
Jesus is the God-Man. He is eternally God, and through the incarnation He became the perfect Man. He will never cease to be both God and Man. We are finite beings, so that idea, along with others (such as the doctrine of the Trinity), may seem incomprehensible to us. As long as we are still in these earthly bodies, we will never be able to fully comprehend our Infinite God. Therefore we trust what He has communicated to us through His Word, and one day, we will be with Him and will know Him in perfect truth (1 Corinthians 13:12). In our pursuit of godliness, Jesus not only gave us instructions, but He, as the perfect Man, also demonstrated the necessity of depending upon the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Consider the following verses:
“And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1). “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about” (Luke 4:14). At a synagogue in Nazareth He declared himself to be the prophesied Messiah by reading from the Book of Isaiah. His words began with the statement, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:18). Our Lord not only demonstrated the importance of the Holy Spirit in His life as the perfect man, but He also emphasized the same for all who would follow Him: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24—emphasis added).
Although this article began by making references to physical fitness as an analogy, there is a critical difference between one’s penchant for physical exercise and one’s pursuit of godliness. Too often the former focuses on self, whereas the latter cannot. It must be “other-directed.” Godliness is manifested in one’s love for God and for others. This is made abundantly clear through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which God has provided to every believer in order to enable each one to grow in godliness and to be of benefit to one another. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, said: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7-13).
As described above, the gifts of the Spirit will certainly generate individual godliness, but, as noted, they also help us to grow even more as we minister to others. Peter, in his first epistle, confirms that the gifts are for all believers and are to be directed for the good of one another: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same, one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
The development of spiritual fitness is directly related to one’s dependence upon the Holy Spirit. He has given to every believer one or more gifts to be used as He wills and enables. If we do not yield to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then the gifts are not being exercised, and both we and the body of Christ are deprived of what has been given for the equipping, building up, and edification of the saints. Sadly, in these days of prevailing end-times apostasy, the church is backing away from the spiritual strengthening that God has provided through the Holy Spirit, who is often a much-neglected Friend. This is most evident in the area of spiritual discernment.
Although spiritual fitness is certainly aided by the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, there is another important exercise of the Holy Spirit that is a support for godliness and is necessary for God’s exceptional empowerment in order to accomplish His will: being filled with the Spirit. The Scriptures are very clear in the exhortations for believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit; John the Baptist was filled with Him, as were his parents; Peter was filled, and so were Paul, Stephen, Barnabas, and the disciples. In addition to these, every believer is exhorted to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and with the fruits of righteousness (Philippians 1:11).
In his Believer’s Bible Commentary, the late William MacDonald (who was a TBC Board member) shared these biblical principles regarding Ephesians 5:18, “How then can a believer be filled with the Spirit? The Apostle Paul does not tell us here in Ephesians; he merely commands us to be filled. But from other parts of the word, we know that in order to be filled with the Spirit we must: 1) Confess and put away all known sin in our lives (1 John 1:5-9)…. 2) Yield ourselves completely to His control (Romans 12:1-2)…. 3) Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16)…. 4) Finally, we must be emptied of self (Galatians 2:20)….” Mr. MacDonald then quotes an unknown author: “Just as you have left the whole burden of your sin, and have rested on the finished work of Christ, so leave the whole burden of your life and service, and rest upon the present in-working of the Holy Spirit. Give yourself up, morning by morning, to be led by the Holy Spirit and go forth praising and at rest, leaving Him to manage you and your day. Cultivate the habit all through the day, of joyfully depending upon and obeying Him, expecting Him to guide, to enlighten, to reprove, to teach, to use, and to do in and with you what He wills. Count upon His working as a fact, altogether apart from sight or feeling. Only let us believe in and obey the Holy Spirit as the Ruler of our lives, and cease from the burden of trying to manage ourselves; then shall the fruit of the Spirit appear in us as He wills to the glory of God” (pp. 1945-1946).
No one can obey Jesus’ command, “Take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21), without the enablement of the Holy Spirit. A person who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t utilize the power of the Holy Spirit in his life, perhaps because of wrong teaching or simply because of personal apathy, will likely be crushed by the cross that he is attempting to carry.
Spiritual fitness is vital and more crucial for believers than ever before. Times of persecution loom on the horizon for Christians in countries in the West, where seduction rather than overt persecution has until now prevailed. We can learn from the example of Paul and Barnabas: “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:50-52).
Therefore, our encouragement and prayer for all of us who know Jesus and desire to glorify Him is this: Let the study of His Word be our continuous habit, and let the leading, guiding, and filling of the Holy Spirit be our daily experience. That is true spiritual fitness!  TBC