Friday, March 21, 2008
2 Tim 2:8 (NIV) Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.
• The gospel is a message. It is also referred to in Scripture as a "word", a "doctrine", a "seed", the "good news", "the truth". Because God uses the message of the gospel to reconcile men to himself, it must be taught, heard, understood, believed, confessed and defended.
The Message is That Jesus is The Christ, that He Was Crucified, and Rose Again!
1 Cor 15:1-4 (NIV) Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
The Message Must Be Taught
Rom 10:14 (NIV) How, then, can they call on one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
The Message Must Be Heard
Rom 10:17 (NIV) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
The Message Must Be Understood
Mat 13:17-23 (Phi) "Believe me, a great many prophets and good men have longed to see what you are seeing, and they never saw it. Yes, and they longed to hear what you are hearing, and they never heard it. Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a man hears the message of the kingdom, and does not grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is like the seed sown by the roadside. The seed sown on the stony patches represents the man who hears the message and eagerly accepts it. But it has not taken root in him and does not last long--the moment trouble or persecution arises through the message, he gives up his faith at once. The seed sown among the thorns represents the man who hears the message, and then worries of this life and the illusions of wealth choke it to death and so it produces no 'crop' in his life. But the seed sown on good soil is the man who both hears and understands the message..."
The Message Must Be Believed
Heb 4:2 (Phi) For we too have had a gospel preached to us, as those men had. Yet the message proclaimed to them did them no good, because they only heard and did not believe as well.
The Message Must Be Confessed
Rom 10:8-9 (NIV) But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The Message Is Foolishness To Some, Good News To Others
1 Cor 1:18,21-23 (NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
1 Cor 2:2 (Phi) ...It was my determination to concentrate entirely on Jesus Christ. and the fact of his death upon the cross.
The Message Is True, and It Works
Col 1:5-6 (Phi) ...that hope that first became yours when you heard the message of truth. This is the Gospel itself, which has reached you as it spreads out all over the world. Wherever that gospel goes, it produces Christian character, and develops it, as it has done in your own case from the time you first heard and realized the truth of God's grace. (1 Thes 2:13)
The Message Was a Secret, But it is Now Fully Revealed
Col 1:25-26 (Phi) ...that I might fully declare God's Word--that sacred mystery which up till now has been hidden in every age and every generation, but which is now as clear as daylight to those who love God.
2 Cor 4:2-4,18 (Phi) ...We speak the plain truth and so commend ourselves to every mans conscience in the sight of God. If our gospel is "veiled", the veil must be in the minds of those who are spiritually dying. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, and prevents the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, the image of God, from shining on them... For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are permanent.
The Message Is Valuable, and Vulnerable; It Must Be Guarded
• Because the gospel is an invisible message, it is thus vulnerable to attack. Jesus labeled Satan the "father of lies" (John 8:44-45,47). Satan's agents are "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Mat 7:15,22-23). Satan's efforts are to "infect" the gospel with lies (Act 13:9-10). Much of the New Testament is written to instruct and encourage us to protect the message (Eph 4:14-15).
Heb 2:1-3 (Phi) We ought, therefore, to pay the greatest attention to the truth that we have heard and not allow ourselves to drift away from it. For if the message given through angels proved authentic, so that defiance of it and disobedience to it received appropriate retribution, how shall we escape if we refuse to pay proper attention to that greater salvation which is offered us? For this salvation came first through the words of the Lord himself.
Monday, March 17, 2008
There are several verses in The Old Testament that speak about the 'Lord's anointed'.
1) In 1 Sam. 12:3,5; 24:6,10; 26:9,11, 16,23; and 2 Sam. 1:14,16; 19:21 it is a reference to the kings of Israel.
2) In Psalm 20:6; the ‘anointed’ king is the divinely appointed means of the Lord’s deliverance.
3) In Lamentations 4:20 it either refers to the nation of Israel as a whole or the king at the time of the Babylonian invasion.
The mention of prophets in Psalm 105:8-15 and 1Chron. 16:15-22 is a reference to the patriarchs. They are called ‘anointed’ in the sense of being set apart by God’s Spirit, a phrase elsewhere used specifically for prophets (I Kings 19:16), priests (Ex 29:7), and kings (1Samuel 2:35).
(The patriarchs are called ‘prophets’ in the sense of being recipients of God’s special revelation, which was a title later used for those who proclaimed God’s revealed will, although some of the patriarchs did make specific predictions).
So the ‘anointed’ were the patriarchs, the prophets, the kings andr the priests
What does the Bible mean by “do not touch”
Again it is well to clearly define what God means when He says “Do not touch….”. Does touch mean physical injury or verbal opposition?
When God told Saul (His anointed) to “Smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not...” (1 Sam. 15:3) Saul disobeyed and “spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord...” (v.15). Upon which Samuel wasted no time in publicly denouncing Saul’s disobedience, telling him that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”. (v.23), and that God had rejected him as king. The Lord’s ‘anointed’ was verbally condemned by Samuel for his disobedience.
David who was anointed before God took away Saul’s position refused to touch Saul physically. When David and two other men sneaked into Saul’s camp at night one of the two men asked to strike Saul with a spear as he felt God had delivered Saul into David’s hand. But David refused and said, “Who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” (I Sam 26: 3-11). In verse 15-16 David even rebukes Abner for not guarding Saul and says he deserved to die for not protecting his master.
However this does not stop David from rebuking Saul for pursuing him since he was innocent and had done nothing to harm Saul. Saul then repented of his actions and called himself a fool. He added he would not harm David any more since his (Saul’s) life was precious in David’s eyes. David returned Saul’s possessions and said, “For the Lord delivered you into my hand but I would not stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.” (v. 17-24).
The story of Saul ends with David kept from the Battle that Saul and Jonathan lost their lives in, instead he fought the Amalakites. An Amalakite messenger came back with torn clothes and dust on his head showing he was in mourning, David inquired of him and he told David he killed Saul. “So David said to him, “How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. So David said to him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the LORD's anointed.’”(2 Sam 1:13-16).
The Bible makes it clear... to touch the anointed means to bring physical harm and/or death.
“Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance,’ When they were few in number, indeed very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people, “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.’” (Ps 105:11-15)
Again we are told that God protected His anointed (Israel) and His prophets from the enemies of Israel who would have done them bodily harm.
Are there any ‘anointed’ persons today?
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 1:20-22).
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (I Jn. 2:27).
These verses are unambiguous ...The entire body of Christ is ‘anointed’, not just certain people in the body, and all Christians have the same anointing… the same Holy Spirit.
Too many evangelists to day use Bible threats such as “don’t touch God’s anointed” or “You are blaspheming the Holy Spirit” in an effort to silence critics who expose their false gospels and un-Scriptural teachings. They claim the critics are speaking against a ‘Man of God’. This bears a striking resemblance to the situation in 1 Samuel where Saul, whose position was threatened, pursued the man who was innocent. Moreover when David became king he accepted rebuke and correction from Nathan the prophet. He did not say, “don’t touch God’s anointed” to protect himself.
Incidentally ‘blaspheming the Holy Spirit’, if read in context, referred to those that insinuated that Jesus’ miracles were performed by Satan. It has nothing to do with questioning another man’s doctrine, claims of healing etc.
When someone says they are “anointed” or “led by the Spirit” but consistently teach contrary to the Word in its accurate context, you can be assured that they’re not being led by God’s Spirit nor is the truth in them.
Furthermore if you are really anointed you don’t have to make threats since it is God who protects His anointed, “Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:6-7).
Interestingly Paul, who was questioned, never once hid behind “Touch not God’s anointed” or “do my prophets no harm”. On the contrary he applauded the Bereans and called them “noble” for checking Scripture to see if what they were being taught was truthful. If someone is truly anointed, they would want to encourage people to discern what is true and what is not. They would encourage people to pursue the truth no matter what.
Sadly there seem to be few Bereans in our church today. People are quite willing to tell others not to touch the so-called anointed but never spend the time to open their Bibles and see if there is any validity to the claims of critics. It is so easy in this day and time for the purveyors of false doctrines to quote a verse of Scripture and have their listeners swallow it hook, line and sinker, little realizing that the verse is way out of context and their interpretation of it is far removed from it’s original meaning.
But to find out what is true or false they must look into the matter and hear both sides and test both arguments by Scripture before they make a final judgment. “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).
Many so called leaders will tell you to not bother with doctrine since all the ‘proof’ you need is in your experience, yet the Bible states “Whosoever transgresses and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9). Emphasis added.
Another common protest thrown at those who take a stand for the truth is that we are not supposed to judge. However there are innumerable verses in the Bible dealing with false teachings and refuting the errors. [See Section Judge Not?] Hebrews 5:14 tells us that mature believers, those who are of “full age,” are those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern (judge) both good and evil.” In 2 Timothy 2:17 Paul not only warns of the heresies of two men, he also names them. Jesus Himself said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). “That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3).
“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:150
WHOM DO THEY THINK THEY ARE KIDDING?
There is a international anthem among an elite class of Charismatic celebrities today. It’s a stern warning repeatedly directed at their critics with a residual effect upon their devotees. It’s the frequent and methodical strategy that they recite against anyone who opposes their unscriptural doctrine and practice. It’s a charge of “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” and “touch not the Lord’s anointed.” The threats are sometimes delivered with trance-like (with a deep voice) intonations of various sicknesses, pox and plagues that will befall all the children of the detractors, “pharisees” and “heretic hunters.”
These indictments, however, are a flagrant misuse of Scripture and a tactic to ward off substantiated biblical criticisms of their Scripture twistings and lack of integrity. It is a diversion to hold the scripturally illiterate at bay and keep their faithful from questioning their most outlandish conduct and off-the-wall teachings. It is, in no uncertain terms, a form of blatant manipulation and spiritual terrorism. And the intensity of their assaults only heightens when they see their dishonesty and deceitfulness about to be exposed. Spiritual dictators always resort to pummeling and manipulation.
But just who is blaspheming whom? And who is really touching God’s anointed?
As has been carefully exegeted and shown in a previous PFO article: “the ‘anointed’ are the whole people of God! ... It is wrong to suggest that only a few select leaders are the anointed of God.” (See further, “Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed — Divine Command or Cop-out?”, The Quarterly Journal, Vol. 13, No. 3, pg. 4.)
Additionally, it should be noted, the Scriptures never give to any Christian unquestionable authority. No leader, in the Old or New Testaments or even today, is endowed with such an exclusive calling as to not be examined in their faith and practice or even chastised when found derelict. The command of “touching not the Lord’s anointed” is clearly an injunction against soliciting or initiating physical harm against God’s people. Context bears this out.
Consider, for example, the very persons — David and Saul — who are the chief participants involved in this “touch not” command (1 Samuel 24:6, 26:9). Both of these men, while kings, suffered rebuke in their lives. Saul by the reproof of both David (1 Samuel 24:10-15) and Samuel (1 Samuel 13:13-14), and David himself by the powerful admonition of Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:7-12).
In the New Testament, we find Apollos (“a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures”) being corrected and instructed by Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18:26 and the Apostle Peter being confronted “to his face” by Paul in Galatians 2:11-21. These men did not act in defiance to these rebukes, but accepted them. They did not set themselves upon a pedestal of distinction so as not to be challenged or questioned. They did not curse those who corrected them or wish harm on their children. The clear injunction of the New Testament for leaders and teachers was demonstrably at work here: James 3:1 — a more strict judgment, not a circumventing of scriptural accountability as well as Galatians 6:1.
More alarming, however, is the fact that these self-appointed spiritual aristocrats and demagogues are guilty of violating the very command of God which they flagrantly accuse others of doing. In the course of many years of evaluation and criticism, PFO and the ministries with which it closely aligns, have never stooped to name-calling or inviting disease and devastation to come upon those against whom we disagree. Yet, consider just a brief sampling of what has proceeded out the “anointed” mouths of some of the more prominent superstars:
“I place a curse on every man and every woman that would stretch his hand against this anointing. I curse that man who dares to speak a word against this ministry” (Benny Hinn at his July 1999 Denver Miracle Crusade as shown on the Praise the Lord show, Sept. 10, 1999).
“I have been disturbed by a bunch of, oh I’m just going to say it, a bunch of crap. ... Go ahead and tape it, put it on your slime-ball radio broadcast. You’ll have to pray it through Pastor Phil, but this old German, I’d say sue the bastards” (Paul Crouch on the Praise the Lord show, October 1994, cited in Christian Sentinel, Spring 1995, pg. 9).
“[Our detractors] continue to oppose Jesus Himself. ... Soon the Lord may say, ... ‘I rebuke you for speaking falsely in My name. Repent while there is still time. My kindness toward you is running thin.’ Are you willing to wager your salvation on the fact that you are correct?” (Michael Brown in Let No One Deceive You, pp. 19-20).
“Be careful! Your little ones may suffer because of your stupidity. Now I’m pointing my finger today, with the mighty power of God on me, and I speak. ... And your children will suffer. If you care for your kids, stop attacking Benny Hinn” (Benny Hinn at the World Charismatic Conference, Aug. 7, 1992).
“Several people that I know had criticized and called that faith bunch out of Tulsa a cult. And some of ’em are dead right today in an early grave because of it, and there’s more than one of them got cancer” (Kenneth Copeland, “Why All Are Not Healed,” tape #01-4001).
“I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there. Don’t even call me if you want to argue doctrine, if you want to straighten somebody out over here. ... I think they [i.e., those he labels ‘heretic hunters’] are damned and on their way to hell and I don’t think there is any redemption for them. I say, ‘To hell with you.’ I say, ‘Get out of God’s way, quit blocking God’s bridges or God is going to shoot you if I don’t’” (Paul Crouch on TBN’s “Praise-A-Thon,” April 2, 1991).
The type of judgment issued by these men is that which our Lord was truly addressing in Matthew 7:1. Never in any of its criticisms, has PFO been so bold to pass judgment on the salvation of these teachers, nor has it ever wished sickness, death and damnation on them (or their children). These teachers, who claim to be so greatly “anointed” of God and at a spiritual apex, demonstrate the absence of one of the most fundamental teachings of Christ and the inspired New Testament writers (Luke 6:27-28; Romans 12:14; James 3:9; 4:11-12; 1 John 2:9).
Christians are instructed to judge doctrine and actions, to test the spirits, and to expose the fruitless works (Matthew 7:15; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Ephesians 5:11). We are not, however, permitted to judge motives or salvation — those are judgments which belong solely to our Lord (1 Corinthians 4:5). We are never to crassly wish ill and evil on others.
Then too, there’s the question of “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” Once again, modern-day teachers have wrenched a passage from its proper context in an effort to sidestep accountability for their doctrine and conduct. They give new meaning to the title of “The Untouchables.”
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, as recorded in the Gospels (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30 and Luke 12:10), is an historical event which involved having a complete revelation of Jesus Christ and rejecting it by attributing His works to Satan. It has nothing whatsoever to do with religious superstars, latter-day revivalists and faith-healers. What sheer arrogance it is for these “untouchables” to suggest that a testing of their “signs and wonders” and their “revelation knowledge” is tantamount to the person, life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
The “unforgivable sin,” as it is also called, is one that has, no doubt, caused every sincere believer a moment of anxiety. As such, it is repeatedly and wrongly used to bludgeon away discernment and is worked to the advantage of these false teachers. Truly, as Christ said, “men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
Adam Clarke offers this sane and sound advice regarding blasphemy of the Holy Spirit:
“Many sincere people have been grievously troubled with apprehensions that they had committed the unpardonable sin; but let it be observed that no man who believes the divine mission of Jesus Christ ever can commit this sin” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, pg. 794).
But then there’s the question of Paul’s admonition not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Does an examination of the teachings and conduct of the men who claim a celestial calling cause one to grieve the Holy Spirit? Paul did not equate such action by the Berean believers, but rather commended them for their diligence and faithfulness to the Word (Acts 17:11). He also instructs Christians that their ways are not to be “secret and shameful” (2 Corinthians 4:2). We can grieve the Spirit by engaging in any of the bad behaviors laid out in Ephesians 4. The setting of the verse makes it clear as to what Paul is warning about.
In reality, if the Holy Spirit is being grieved, it is not by modern-day Bereans, but by men and women like Benny Hinn and his wife, Suzanne, with their reckless and unrestrained speech under the guise of the Holy Spirit. Consider the following:
“Those who put us down are a bunch of morons. ... You know, I’ve looked for one verse in the Bible, I just can’t seem to find it. One verse that says, ‘If you don’t like ’em, kill ’em.’ I really wish I could find it. ... Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun — I blow your head off!” (Benny Hinn on TBN’s “Praise-A-Thon,” April 1990, emphasis added).
“If your engine is not revving up, you know what you need? You need a Holy Ghost enema right up your rear end. ... Be God-pleasers, don’t be people-pleasers. Because if you’re a people-pleaser, you’re a butt-kisser. If you’re a people-pleaser, you’re a butt-kisser. There’s no other word for it” (Suzanne Hinn at the World Outreach Center, July 1997, emphasis added).
“The Lord also tells me to tell you in the mid-nineties, about ’94 or ’95, no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community of America” (Benny Hinn at Orlando Christian Center, Dec. 31, 1989).
Holy Ghost machine guns? Holy Ghost enemas? False prophetic words of destruction? Can any rational-thinking person believe that God is behind such comments? Can any sane Christian maintain that God is honored by these remarks?
Now, more than ever, the Church needs be on guard against these preachers, with their electronic pulpits and worldwide crusades. They have jaded their followers to where anything is acceptable. Christians must not be terrorized by their idle and angry threats, nor intimidated by their fallacious use of Scripture. Obeying the frequent commands of Scripture, to watch for and defend against false teachers and their teachings, are the activities which bring spiritual growth, discernment and maturity, and honor our Lord and Savior.