terça-feira, 22 de novembro de 2011

'Ichabod' - Has the Glory departed from the Church?

I Samuel 4:19-21 19His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” 21But she did not respond or pay any attention She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel", because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said,“The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

I would like to underline six religious deceptions that became part of the Church in our Western World. After a quick look on the Introduction you may just want to read one or two of the deceptions below:

1. Christianity in a Consumer Society
2. The Social Gospel became a dominant theology within Churches.
3. Having a right doctrine but wrong "love"!
4. Postmodern mysticism.
5. Signs and Wonders.
6. The issue of "Phenomena" in revival.

INTRODUCTION:

Satan masquerades as an angel...
I believe we are on  the cusp of a great wave of deception, with fallen angels manifesting as angels of light. "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" 2 Corinthians 11:14

A great wave of deception has impacted the USA first and then spread to Western Europe and other places too. Many Churches and organizations that have been deceived do not move in discernment or test things against scripture, and they think they are not really accountable to anyone.

Also, it seems that when people are moving further and further away from God, social systems are more prone to policy failure. Europe as a continent is spiritually in decline. So, if religion declines in a land, so will morality, demography and economic and political systems.

The reason I believe we can say today "Ichabod" - The Glory of God has departed from from the Church in our Western World, spiritually, economically, politically, demographically and morally.

America Doomed!
You might feel confused, or shocked  by what I am going to say:

I think we have assisted in the last 20 years events that clear showed us America's doomed, spiritually and socially.

But, England  are also doomed too fail, spiritually and also socially and we can say the same to all our Western World!

We already have religious, social and political problems affecting England and we will assist the coming of more problems and probably tragedies showing us that the Glory of God is departing from England.

But if we warn people and ask them to turn away from their sins and from these deceptions, in order that the heat of His wrath may be turned away from England, how do people respond to such a warning

How can people respond positively and objectively under this great wave of deception which is already flooding the church of the western world, and many undiscerning Christians have believed these claims? These errors have been sapping the resolve of many who have been disappointed and let them down again.

But, we see on the prophecy of the Prophet Joel, that repentance is never too late, when that happens God can forgive, restore and yet, in compassion, he makes restitution.

It's never too late.
Joel 2:12-14, 25 "Even now" declares the Lord "return to me with all your heart" ... "return to the Lord your God, for He is slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing" ... "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten"  

Repentance is always an option. It's never too late.

You may just want to give a look to one or two of the deceptions below:

1. Christianity in a Consumer Society
2. The Social Gospel became a dominant theology within Churches.
3. Having a right doctrine but wrong "love"!
4. Postmodern mysticism.
5. Signs and Wonders.
6. The issue of "Phenomena" in revival.


1. CHRISTIANITY IN A CONSUMER SOCIETY  

Christians are often followers of the Consumer Society and not followers of Christ.

Already in Jesus' day, when life was onerous enough for the great majority of people, and certainly devoid of the comforts that many westerners would now consider indispensable, Jesus did not hesitate to warn his listeners about the spiritual dangers of money and possessions.

Luke 16:13 "you cannot be slave both of God and of money".

Luke 12:15 "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions".

When we look around we can see the acculturation of so many Christians to the value-system and lifestyle of consumerism and their failure to appreciate that true faith in God requires an oppositional stance to all ideologies and forms of social life which depersonalise and dehumanise.

Modern advertising and marketing inculcate attitudes and reflexes among the majority of those who live in the Western world, including Christians. Many Christians seek happiness and meaning in the consumption of things and not in God.

But a follower of Jesus should find himself to be an outsider in a culture dominated by the commodity.  It should be no shame to be different, even to feel a bit disjoint and out of place, in a civilization which divinizes the THING.

An important component of the Old Testament Prophetic movement is its uncompromising demand for a just society where relationship between man and God is intrinsically measured by and correspondent to the right relationship between man and man.

In the Israel nation, when the institution of monarchy has corrupted the covenant vision of a society based on principle, justice, equality and love without listening to the cry of the marginalised of the society, the prophets arose to become the voice of the voiceless and took care that the ideals of the Exodus and Covenant be remembered.

The prophets became the champions of the cause of the underprivileged, the weak and the undefended of the society.

It is the widespread opinion of many that the capitalistic and consumer-oriented economic policies prevalent today affect adversely the equitable distribution of wealth.

The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. Those who reap the benefits of the profit coming from economic growth tend to lavish the gains on various luxuries without any concern for the deprived classes.

The greed for more and more money propels the elite minority to invest in more and more enterprises without thinking much about the impact on those who are on the margins.

In a world driven by misuse of financial power, political power, legal power, the prophetic voice on behalf of the voiceless of the society should still be relevant.

When the religious festivities become a demonstration of financial power, the prophetic voice should serve as a deterrent and a challenge to make the religious feasts a celebration of the believing community’s faith and priorities.

The prophetic advocacy for the marginalized poor begs for actualization in today’s context of denied justice and corrupt systems and greedy individuals.

When injustice and greed prevail in a consumer society God roars like a lion. God roars to bring judgement to those that oppose Him and His principles of justice and love.


2. THE SOCIAL GOSPEL BECAME A DOMINANT THEOLOGY WITHIN CHURCHES

The gospel is to be shared with a 'man' who are made up of body, soul and spirit. So, I totally agree that we should live a life that reflects the truth of the gospel through our good actions identifying our selves with people with several needs and that makes our task even more difficult!

Being a caring Christian church
I my self am a supporter of a few Christians and secular charities who are helping children in needy and also I have not nothing against being a caring Christian church in the community.

The problem is when good actions, building relationships, the so called  “living the gospel” becomes a substitute for the "verbal or written communication of the Gospel".

The reason I say this is that it’s my belief, which I would say is Biblical, that in most of the cases it is only the spoken or read message of the Gospel, which leads to an individual’s salvation.

Well, of course it is not good to preach and share the gospel if our lives do not reflect it’s Truth. But even then, Paul says that he rejoices whenever the Gospel is preached, weather by good or wrong motives Philippians 1:15-18

For me it boils down to this: The Gospel is Truth in and by itself totally independent of our experience, testimony and witnesses of it, hence the reason why it is the power of God for the Salvation to everyone who  believes... "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can believe in the one of whom if they have not heard?" Romans 10:13-14

Romans 1:6 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile

We have no choice but to preach "the verbal or written communication of the Gospel".

John Piper said:  "If the love you just showed or spoke cannot give eternal life by being believed, it may be good, but it's not the gospel."

My motto is "preaching and teaching the Scriptures accurately, sharing the gospel regularly and being a caring Christian church in the community and around the World".  


3. HAVING A RIGHT DOCTRINE BUT "WRONG" LOVE!

Revelation 2:22-23 "I know you cannot tolerated wicked men and that you tested those who claimed to be apostles but are not, yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place".

There is a saying that says: "You can be so right you can become wrong". Sadly some in Church are 100%  right in their doctrines (well nobody is 100% right) but in their love they are wrong.

In saying that, let me point out that the Bible shows us very clear that we must not "tolerated wicked men and we must test those who claimed to be apostles, but are not". It is not biblical to tolerate sin and heresy in the name of love and tolerance.

Ephesians 4:14 "Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray".

So, we must not be like Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis and Laodiceia that tolerated sin and heresy in their midst.

But, we must not be like the Church of Ephesus that kept doctrine right but lost the first love.
                     
... you have forsaken your first love ...
In revelation, Jesus walks among the seven golden lampstands and His eyes are like blazing fire, His feet are like bronze glowing in a furnace and His voice is like the sound of rushing waters.

To some He says: "I have this against 'you tolerate Jezabel'. Unless you repent of your ways, I will strike your children dead".

To others He says: "I know you cannot tolerated wicked men and that you tested those who claimed to be apostles but are not, yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place".

See Revelation 1:12-13, 2:22-23

Jesus reprehends Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis and Laodiceia, Churches that tolerated sin and heresy in their midst, but Jesus also reprehends Ephesus, a Church that didn't tolerate false apostles, but lost the first love and became legalistic and arrogant.

It is the same today, Jesus reprehends Churches that tolerate false apostles, but reprehends as well Churches that don't tolerate false apostles, but have lost their first love.

Jesus walks among the Churches and searches hearts and minds and He will repay to each of us according to our deeds. Revelation 2:22-23

When Churches lose their first love, although they might have good doctrines, they fail in the Trap of Legalism and spirit of judgement, and "If they don't repent, Jesus will come to them and remove their lampstand from theirs places".

The small section  below Legalism and spirit of judgement is from my post Spiritual Warfare

Legalism and spirit of judgement

When we think that God is only interested with people who follow the rules and doctrines of our Church, and because of that, we can only have fellowship with those believers, we fall fatally in the legalism, in other words in the hands of the devil.

Balancing Truth and Love 
Where there is legalism, reigns a spirit of judgement  Where there is a spirit of judgement  death reigns. The law of God, without grace, is a dead letter.

I I Corinthians 3:6 "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life".

I Corinthians 8:1-2 "Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

We must use the knowledge of the Bible with humility. When we think that our knowledge of the Bible is better than all the other believers and because of this we can't have much to do with them, will happen in our lives what happened to someone who said:

"As I made the Bible my God, I stopped listening to the God of the Bible."

The Bible is the sword of the Spirit and not a bullet to shoot against the other people, often against our brothers in Christ.

When believers want to be masters of the Bible (more than others) they fall in the path of legalism, which will lead them to a religious ritualism and hypocrisy.

The knowledge of the Bible (science) makes Christians proud, if it is not mixed with humility, love and the grace. They will be lead to a spirit of judgement which will open the door to the work of demonic spirits.

When Churches don’t live in unity, and there is not love and tolerance between them, who reigns? God or the devil?

Ephesians 4: 1-3 "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace".

Revelation 12:10  "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down."

James 3:14-18 "But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, non-spiritual,  of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness".

In saying all this, I need to say again that the Bible is very clear that we must not "tolerated wicked men and we must test those who claimed to be apostles but are not". It is not biblical to tolerate sin and heresy in the name of love and tolerance.

Ephesians 4:14 "Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray".

See my blog about:    Spiritual Warfare


4. POSTMODERN MYSTICISM: 

It is hard to imagine that most of our evangelical educational institutions are committed to postmodern mysticism. It is hard to find a Bible college or seminary that does not promote “Spiritual Mysticism".

Let me explain what I mean by “Spiritual Mysticism”:

Spiritual mysticism have at least two fundamental laws, according to the opinion of  *** Edgar Cayce:

First law, he says that the Bible is an allegory for each’ individual souls’ journey. We don’t really need to study its historical context, its interpretation or its application for our times. When we read the Bible we should only try to receive the stories as though they were personal insights for ourselves.

Are you a Guru or a Christian?
In a certain way, he is saying “I have to apply the Bible for my life the way I feel” it is from this idea that the concept of “rhema word” is gaining more and more power in Christian Churches.

'Spiritual Mysticism' say: the ‘rhema word’  is different than the ‘logos word’, as it is regarded as a more immediate word from God which we do not find in the 66 books.  So, we must have the prophets and apostles installed in our Churches to give us a rhema word, that sometimes can be a directly revelation from God, and other times can be just a “spiritual application” from the Bible, which is the ‘logos word’,  in the way the preacher and the audience 'wanted', not taking at all into consideration the context of the Bible text used.

'Spiritual Mysticism' is as simply than that: The Bible stories are our stories. We should read them as personal stories. It is true that they are stories from the past, but I can apply it as I feel to my present life.

Second law, Edgar Cayce says that the Bible contains metaphors of inner-life passages that occur as one awakens to "the Kingdom of God is within you" Luke 17:21. When a seemingly outer physical activity is described in a Bible story, let’s consider what it might mean to our inner process of spiritual breakthrough. The physical becomes symbolic of something deeper and, as a dream or parabola, it requires intuitive interpretation.

For spiritual mysticism the Bible is not our principal mean to regain God-consciousness and the Bible is to be used in the way the preacher and the audience 'wanted', not taking at all into consideration the context of the Bible.                                                                                                                 Also, for spiritual mysticism Jews, Christians and Moslems (Muslims) are all a trace of Abraham's heritage and we need to be familiar with their biblical stories in their religious literature. 

Spiritual mysticism is preparing the way for everyone and everything to be accepted in our Churches.

What is the aim of 'Spiritual Mysticism':

Some of  the comments below on 'Spiritual' mysticism and 'Signs and Wonders' are from the pastor Ken-Silva


The ultimately aim of 'Spiritual Mysticism' is to open the way to the new age movement.

One of the Bible text that is the base of 'Spiritual Mysticism' on Christian Churches is John 14:8-17:

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you

We and God are one!
According to 'Spiritual Mysticism' there was simply no way that Jesus could show the Father separate from himself. He and God are one. So, if the Spirit lives in us, we and God are one. So, they say that we are not all of God’s being, but we compose a portion of God and are ourselves composed of God. Because of this, Jesus said “ I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”. V12 So, we have more power than when Jesus lives on the earth.

This is the base of the doctrine of the 'Spiritual Mysticism', that we found more and more in our Churches, and Bill Johnson is one of the most preeminent teachers that speaks about 'Spiritual Mysticism'.

If you read about the New Age movement it teaches the same "we are gods within the great God".

This the reason why Bill Johnson the pastor of Betel decries the presence of doctrine. If you read about him, you will see how willing he is to depart from orthodox doctrine.

He resorts to an often misused passage that promotes his anti-scholastic bias: "A powerless Word is the letter not the Spirit, and we all know that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" Johnson: 116.

This twisting of Paul’s meaning in 2Corinthians 3:6 has a long history of use to promote subjectivism and mysticism. The false implication is that studying the Bible will kill you spiritually. The context shows that Paul was speaking of the letters written on stone verse 3, meaning the Decalogue. Paul explains how the law “kills” in Romans 7:5, 6. It kills because of our sinful passions that it exposes, not because it is studied for what it means.

We will see in the next section just exactly where Johnson has gone "off the map" and where he wants to take us. The claim that we cannot know the Scripture but can know what the Holy Spirit is saying by other means is absurd. The Bible claims that Scripture is the Holy Spirit speaking to the church. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures. We understand the Bible using our intellect.

Johnson has gone "off of the map"
But in reality, the Bible is a closed book. Anything I get from the Word without God will not change my life. It is closed to insure that I remain dependent on the Holy Spirit. Johnson: 93

His categories are false. The Bible is the Holy Spirit speaking to us and its power is not dependent on us using religious experience to escape its boundaries. Any lack of life-changing power is due to unbelief, not the meaning of Scripture as correctly understood. But Johnson claims that the Holy Spirit leads us off the map. Thus he denigrates sola scriptura.

The absurdity of Johnson’s claim is such that it amazes me how many are deceived by it. For example, the claim that the Holy Spirit leads us into truth which He does through Scripture by some subjective means that go “off the map” and beyond an “intellectual approach” is disingenuous.

Those who go off the map are going somewhere. If they have gotten information directly from the Spirit about where they think they should go and then follow it, they are using their intellect as well. The subjective information from the spirit realm must register in someone’s mind in order for them to act on it. So if the intellect is as bad thing when contemplating the Scriptures, why is it a good thing when determining which subjective impressions to follow?

But Johnson warns, "The Church has all too often lived according to an intellectual approach to the Scriptures, void of the Holy Spirit’s influence" This false dilemma (i.e., either intellect or Spirit) fools his readers into thinking that if they attend hyped up meetings such as Johnson promotes, the Spirit is at work; whereas if they were to carefully study God’s once-for-all revealed Word they would be stuck in a “powerless” situation.

*** Edgar Cayce is one of the greatest seekers of God-consciousness. His ideas about God and the Bible are completely wrong. Many of our modern preachers, like Bill Johnson and others are under the influence of Spiritual Mysticism. If you want to know more about Edgar Cayce click in the link below:


5. SIGNS AND WONDERS

Churches in our days have been misled by false teachings about  Signs and Wonders. Signs and wonders together with 'Spiritual mysticism' can link the Church with some of the ideas defended by the new age movement.
Are you tired of reading the Bible?

The teachers that are promoting false teachings about signs ans wonders, say:

The presence of signs and wonders—the more the better. Our mandate is simple: raise up a generation that can openly display the raw power of God. Having such power is what they call an “authentic gospel” because “powerlessness is inexcusable”.

They claim, "we are the problem, because God wants to do miracles but He cannot because of our bad thinking. Miracles await the coming of a generation of enlightened ones who will know the secret. Thus we have a New Age definition of miracles.

They believe that there will be a great end-time revival that will be initiated by an “Elijah generation” (a concept from the heretical Latter Rain movement used often by Bill Johnson).

This movement will transcend all other generations of Christians in regard to their ability to do great works of power, like Bill Johnson say: “We will carry the Elijah anointing in preparing for the return of the Lord in the same way that John the Baptist carried the Elijah anointing and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord” Johnson: 184


6. THE ISSUE OF 'PHENOMENA' IN REVIVAL

I believe that in all revivals 'phenomena' can come from the Spirit of God, but that doesn't mean that 'phenomena' are essential to revival. We must not seek 'phenomena' and strange experiences ... what we must seek is revival.

We must not seek 'phenomena'
And even in cases where a certain 'phenomena' could come from the Spirit of God, we must always allow for the fact that because of the very frailty of human nature, and of our physical frames, we will have a tendency to an admixture, partly along the physical, partly along the psychic, and partly as the result of the Devil's activity. 

We must be on guard against the false and spurious spirits as he Bible instructs us "believe not every spirit, but test the spirits. 1 John 4:1

Churches in our days are praying and seeking for phenomena. Christians are objecting more and more "the verbal or written communicating the message of the Gospel". 

Some Christians say: "to be under the preaching of the Bible is good but to be under a word of knowledge, tongues signs, wonders (phenomena) is better." There are Christians who are praying God for not allowing their pastor to preach on Sunday meetings, because they want to experiment phenomena, instead.

Anyone who tries to work up phenomena can become a tool of the Devil, and is putting himself in the position of been deceived by the psychic and by the devil.


CONCLUSION: 

What I have to do?
                                                                                                                           
If  you think you have been affected  by this great wave of deception which is flooding the church of our western world, you can ask forgiveness to God in prayer.


Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you right now in the name of Jesus Christ, asking you to forgive me because I have been deceived by this great wave of deception.

I now admit that I was wrong, and I ask you right now to give me strength to stand against this wave of deception by the power of your word and your Spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to defeat sin, death and Satan.

Lord, I want my life to bring You glory. Every moment. With all that I have. I want my life to bring You glory.

In Jesus' name! Amen.

It is tragic when the glory of God departs from a land or a life. When godliness goes, glory will soon follow. You look after your godliness, and God will look after the glory. Trevor Night Daily Thoughts

If you want to know my opinion about Spiritual Warfare, please click the button below:  


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