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Friday, November 12, 2010

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Friday, October 29, 2010

What is a Pastors Primary Purpose?


Pastors have to care for those that are hurting and broken, and at the same time be open to have the other 4 ministry offices SHARE in the ministry, I think too often it has been supposed that the office of Pastor is the most important office, but they all are equally important. A Pastor needs an Evangelist to bring souls into a place where they can be nurtured and fed the sincere milk of the Word of God.

Why Are Teachers Needed in Church?


Teachers are guardians of Biblical Doctrine (Logos), the Bereans (Acts 17:11) Exemplify the character of a Teacher. Teacher search the scriptures. I am a teacher and I study the Word more than the average person, there are times when I have stayed up all night reading entire books of the Bible because I had to determine if something I heard preached in church was accurate. In many cases Teachers are somewhat cold, in that they care more for truth than unity or peoples feelings. If you remember Paul in Galatians, He read Peter and the Hebrew saints the riot act for the way they allowed the Judaizers to distort the Gospel of Grace. When I hear a sermon that is “off” scripturally it drives me crazy. I believe Teachers are like the Scribes of the Old Testament in that they were determined that every jot and tittle would be correct. Pricilla and Aquilla were teachers and they caught Apollos preaching doctrine that wasn’t correct, they pulled him aside and corrected him in love. If a church doesn’t have the office of a teacher within it’s ranks it is in danger of falling into error. (I Tim. 4:1-4)

Without a proper foundation, buildings don't stand, civilizations don't last, and Christians don't witness well. The foundation I am talking about is the foundation of basic Christian doctrine. Do you know what the Trinity is? How many natures does Jesus have, one or two? Are we saved by grace through faith or by grace and works? For what purpose did Jesus die? Did He rise from the dead? And If so, why?
Perhaps you do not believe that knowing doctrine is important. Maybe you think that we should just tell people about Jesus and let them choose to accept Him or not. Unfortunately, witnessing isn't always that simple. Knowing what and why you believe is essential. For example, if someone says he wants to receive Jesus as Savior but doesn't believe that He is God in flesh, is that important? If someone says that the Trinity is not biblical, what would you say? Is the Holy Spirit a force or God? Doctrine is important because it defines who you put your trust in. It is not simply that you have faith, it's who you put your faith in.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who is the Anti-Christ?

While you and I live in a time of the spirit of antichrist, and many false prophets; the person who will be the Anti-Christ has yet to be revealed. Chapter two of Second Thessalonians is very specific about the revealing of the Anti-Christ and its timing.

Paul articulates that the revealing of the Anti-Christ to the world cannot happen until the restrainer (The Holy Spirit) is removed. Consistently throughout Scripture and history, the Holy Spirit and His restraining influence is through God's People (Matthew 13,14; John 16:7, 11).

Paul challenges the believers in Thessalonica not to be shaken and troubled by thinking the day of the Lord had come (vs.2). He briefly explains what will happen during the Great Tribulation in verses 3 and 4. How that the Anti-Christ will exalt himself as God when he sits in the temple of God. Paul is simply assuring them that this did not happen yet.

The Antichrist will be the world's political dictator of the last days. The Scripture declares ...and power was given him over all kindred, and tongues, and nations... Rev. 13:7. The Antichrist will be a man whom Satan will fill to such an extent that he will be Satan incarnate. This is why Paul calls him the man of sin and the son of perdition. 2 Thess. 2:3

Knowing that the rapture of the Church is imminent, I believe that it is possible for the Anti-Christ to be alive today (2 Thess. 2:7). It could very well be a popular political figure today or someone who is poised to rise to power in whom the masses would be willing to exact worship. Yet, Paul makes it very clear that the Anti-Christ will be restrained until the Holy Spirit and the Church are removed. Due to the Anit-Christ' nature of administering Satan's will by signs and wonders, and successfully deceiving the unbelieving world by promoting idolatrous worship and possessing the power of death. and having all authority over commerce, and having an identifying physical mark; he cannot be revealed until after the rapture of the Church.

Jesus gave telling words about false prophets in Matt. 24:24, warning that in the last days many false prophets would arise and deceive, if possible, even the elect. False prophets with their mastery use of false doctrine easily influence people away from the biblical mandate of God's Word, namely, the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our only sufficiency necessary to expose false prophets and their teachings is the Word of God under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. And this is why the Anti-Christ hides in darkness. He cannot, even with all of Satan's potential overcome the body of Christ (Matthew 16:18; James 4:7; 1 John 4:4)... thus, he is restrained from exacting his hellish ministry until after the Church is gone.

What is the Origin of Satan?


Most, if not all, of the cultures of the earth express a belief in some kind of evil being. This belief is often personified as a supernatural, godlike being who takes great pleasure in cruelty and perversion. As the god of the Underworld, Hades or hell, the Egyptians had Seth; the Greeks, Pluto; the Romans, Dis. The Western world, of course, calls this personal embodiment of evil Satan the Devil. With him come countless other wicked beings known as demons.

Where did Satan come from? Some cultures, philosophies and religions believe that good and evil have always existed in a dualistic balance like yin and yang or light and darkness. Others believe that God created the Devil to test mankind and preside over the eternal punishment of the wicked. What is the truth? Using the "here a little, there a little" principle (Isaiah 28:9-13), we can uncover Satan's origin and destiny in the pages of the Bible!

1. In what state was the earth created? Genesis 1:1-2; Job 38:4-7; Psalm 104:30; I Corinthians 14:33.

Comment: God originally created the earth with such perfection and beauty that the angels shouted with joy! Our Creator does all things in an organized manner and completes all His works in exquisite splendor. But the earth had somehow become formless and chaotic so that God had to refashion it before man could be created.

2. Who was Lucifer? Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17.

Comment: "Lucifer" means "Light-Bringer" or "Day Star." Ezekiel calls him "the anointed cherub who covers," which means he was one of the chief angels whose wings covered God's throne in heaven. He is specifically shown to be a created being, possibly the most beautiful, wise and perfect of God's creations.

But this mighty angel grew proud and vain in his beauty. He began to become envious of God's authority over the universe, and over maybe millions of years, he schemed to induce other angels to support him in an attempt to overthrow God. When he finally led one third of the angels (Revelation 12:4) to war against God in heaven, God cast him and his angelic troops back to the earth (Luke 10:18).

3. How did Lucifer become Satan? Ezekiel 28:15-17.

Comment: God had created Lucifer a perfect spirit being, but He also gave him free moral agency, that is, the ability to choose to follow good or evil. Lucifer chose to become Satan the Devil, the Adversary, by allowing sin to mold his character. His rebellion against God sealed and hardened his evil nature, and now he opposes all that is good, right and godly (Matthew 13:38-39; I Peter 5:8; Revelation 9:11; 12:9-10).

4. Are Satan and his demons bound to this earth? II Peter 2:4; Jude 6.

Comment: When God cast them back down to earth, He placed restrictions on their powers and limited them to "their proper domain" or "first estate," that is, the earth. Here, they await their judgment for their rebellion. "Hell" in II Peter 2:4 is tartaroo, a place of restraint for the wicked. Though Satan himself may appear before God's throne in heaven, he and his demons can do only what God allows (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7).

5. Is Satan "the god of this age [world, KJV]"? II Corinthians 4:4.

Comment: By blinding the minds of men to the true gospel of God, Satan has set himself up as a counterfeit of the Creator God. As the prince of the power of the air, he broadcasts his evil, rebellious attitudes to all humanity, and except for a few whom God has called out of his deceptions, the whole world lives under his sway (Ephesians 2:1-3; I John 5:19; Revelation 12:9).

6. Has Satan been disqualified as ruler of this earth? John 12:27-33; 14:30; 16:11; Colossians 1:13; 2:15; Hebrews 2:9, 14-15.

Comment: When Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died for the sins of men, He qualified to dethrone Satan. The "god of this world" has been defeated! However, he remains active among us until the King of kings returns and sets up His government on earth.

7. Will Satan attempt to ruin God's plan before Christ returns? Revelation 12:7-9, 12-17; 16:12-16; 19:17-21; 20:1-3.

Comment: The Devil will again go on the offensive against God with the same results: He is cast back down to earth. In his anger over his defeat, he will savagely persecute God's people and gather the armies of man to fight against Christ when He comes. He and his human agents will be soundly defeated, and Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.

8. What is Satan's ultimate fate? Revelation 20:7-10.

Comment: After the thousand years of imprisonment, Satan will be released for a short while. During his parole, he will again unite some of the nations and take them to war against God's people. But this rebellion will be summarily ended when God sends fire out of heaven to destroy them. Because he is spirit and cannot die, the Devil will then be sentenced to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. Finally, God and man will be rid of their chief enemy, and peace will flourish for all eternity!

What Does The "Laying on of Hands" Mean


To someone in the world, "laying on of hands" conjures up thoughts like, "I'd like to get my hands on him for the way he cheated me!" or, "Just wait ‘til I get my hands on him!" In sharp contrast, God's use of the laying on of hands symbolizes the bestowal of blessings, authority and distinctiveness. It is a symbolic act designed to represent God Himself setting a person apart for a holy use, whether for service, healing, protection and guidance or blessing. This Bible study will analyze the fifth basic doctrine of God's church listed in Hebrews 6:2, "laying on of hands."

1. In the Old Testament did the laying on of hands play a part in offering sacrifices? Exodus 29:10; Leviticus 1:4; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:15.

Comment: The Aaronic priests were purified for service to God through the transferal of their sins to a bull. Similarly, when an Israelite presented a peace or a sin offering, he laid his hands upon the animal being offered, identifying himself with it and transferring his guilt to the animal. Thus, the animal was set apart by God through the laying on of hands.

2. Why did the high priest lay hands on the Azazel goat on the day of Atonement? Leviticus 16:7-10, 21-22.

Comment: The goat that represented Jesus Christ was offered as a sin offering, typifying His taking our sins upon Himself as an innocent substitute sacrifice. The other goat, representing Satan, was called the azazel. The high priest laid his hands upon the Azazel goat's head, confessing the sins of the people. The goat, now bearing those sins, was driven into the wilderness. After Christ's return, Satan will bear his own guilt and be completely removed from man's presence, being bound for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).

3. Was the laying on of hands used in Old Testament ordinations? Numbers 8:10; 27:16-23; Deuteronomy 34:9.

Comment: Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, signifying the transferal of some of his authority to lead the nation. This rite of ordination was always accompanied by a special commission and the giving of special authority.

4. Was laying on of hands used in passing judgment? Exodus 7:4; Leviticus 24:14; Deuteronomy 13:6-10. Was it used when sparing someone from judgment? Genesis 22:12; Exodus 24:9-11.

Comment: God laid His hands on Egypt in divine judgment by sending plagues. When trying a blasphemer, each witness placed his hands upon the guilty person to signify his acceptance of the verdict. Conversely, when a victim was spared death—as when God commanded Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac or when He allowed the leaders of Israel to see Him without dying—mercy is described as hands not being laid on the spared victim.

5. Were special blessings conferred by the laying on of hands? Genesis 48:12-20; Psalm 139:4-6; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17.

Comment: Jacob laid his hands on his grandsons' heads to confer God's blessing upon them. David considered God's hand upon him as a blessing and comfort. Jesus blessed little children by laying His hands on them.

6. Does the Bible sanction the laying on of hands for healing? Matthew 9:18-30; Mark 6:5; 16:17-18; Luke 4:40; 13:10-13; Acts 5:12; 28:8; James 5:14-15.

Comment: Jesus and His apostles touched the sick when they healed, yet miracles often occurred without this physical act. The miraculous power to heal derives from God's authority, not from the physical touch of the hands.

7. Are special spiritual gifts given through the laying on of hands? Acts 9:17; 19:6; I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6-7.

Comment: Usually, the Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of an elder's hands, confirming baptism. However, Acts 8:14-17 says that the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit after baptism, while Acts 10:44-48 says that it fell upon Cornelius' household before baptism. Sometimes God makes exceptions to work out His own will and plan.

Timothy received special spiritual gifts from the hands of the elders, including the gifts of wisdom and teaching. Paul reminded him that ordination bestowed such gifts upon him and that he needed to stir up God's Spirit to use them.

8. Is this rite used to set people apart for special tasks? Acts 6:3-6; 13:2-3; I Timothy 5:22.

Comment: As in these examples, the laying on of hands is part of a formal ceremony by which the church commissions selected people into their new service. Paul advises that this should take place only after the entire matter is properly and prayerfully considered.

Laying on of hands, performed by ordained elders of the church during prayer, signifies an ordination or setting apart. The church, following biblical precedent, uses the laying on of hands for requesting the Holy Spirit after baptism, anointing the sick, ordaining ministers, consecrating marriage vows, blessing little children and requesting special gifts of God.

What Did Jesus Preach?


The predominant focus of mainstream Christianity is the undeserved crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent forgiveness of sins that is available through accepting that sacrifice. While this selfless act was and is unquestionably momentous, and its effects exceedingly far-reaching, many would be shocked to find out that the Bible defines the gospel differently than what they have always been told. A thoughtful reading shows that accepting Christ's blood in payment of our sins—as foundationally important as it is—is actually not the focus of the "good news" that He brought and that the apostles continued to preach.

In addition to dying for our sins, Jesus Christ came to earth as a messenger from God the Father:

Behold, I send My messenger [John the Baptist], and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

Jesus did not speak His own words, but the words that the Father gave Him (John 8:38-42; 12:49-50; 14:24). His message was not primarily about Himself, but rather the good news that the Father ordained to be announced on earth. While Jesus Christ was categorically the most important individual ever to walk this earth, the Bible shows clearly that the gospel that Jesus brought was not simply about Himself. Read His statements, and prove this for yourself:

» And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

» And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)

» Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15)

» [Jesus] said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent." (Luke 4:43)

» Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings [gospel] of the kingdom of God. (Luke 8:1)

» The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. (Luke 16:16-17)

» And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

The inspired Word of God makes it abundantly plain: The "good news" that Jesus Christ brought was about the Kingdom of God! The "gospel of Jesus Christ" is simply the message of good news that Jesus preached—not a message about Jesus. It is not primarily a message about the events in His life and of His becoming the Savior of the world—although it most certainly does include all that. But if the events of His life are not seen in the context of what He said, the resulting "faith" will be full of error and ultimately disastrous!

The announcement of "good news"—the very best news that could be heard today—which the Father gave through Jesus Christ, was about His Kingdom being established on earth.

But what is a kingdom? It is essentially a nation, with all of its citizens, land, and laws, ruled by a government. In biblical usage, a kingdom can also mean a family from a single parent grown into a nation.

A kingdom has four basic elements: 1) a king, supreme ruler, or governing agent; 2) territory, with its specific location and definite boundary lines; 3) subjects or citizens within that territorial jurisdiction; 4) and laws and a form of government through which the will of the ruler is exercised. If we ignore any one of these essential elements—if we ignore the message that Jesus Christ brought from the Father—we will have a distorted faith, one that will not bring salvation.

Pt.2 Should Christians Drink?


These verses are among those often quoted by those who believe that it is wrong to drink alcoholic beverages. They claim that this passage proves it is sin to drink wine, and by extension, any drink containing alcohol. However, this scripture does not say these things. What then does it say?

It warns that:

» The excessive drinking of alcohol is a sin. The winebibber drinks too much and too often.

» Improper use of alcohol is as poisonous as a snake's venom (verse 32).

» God's children should avoid company with winebibbers (verse 20; see also Matthew 24:49; I Corinthians 5:11).

» Poverty is just one potential negative result of drunkenness (verse 21).

» Other potential—even probable—negative consequences of chronic drunkenness include woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, bloodshot eyes, hallucinations, nightmares, addiction, lack of self-control in speech and other matters, and bodily injuries without apparent cause—the cause being forgotten because of drunken stupor (verses 29, 33-34).

» We should not tarry long at wine (verse 30).

On this last warning, we know that a person who lingers where alcohol is consumed can so easily become a winebibber, or in plain, modern English, a drunkard. God, through Paul, lists drunkenness as one of the works of the flesh, warning that no drunkard will inherit God's Kingdom

Is it OK for a Christian to Drink Alcoholic Beverages?


Old Testament Approval

God's Word shows that it is perfectly fine to drink wine in moderation. It is replete with accounts of the proper uses of wine—accounts of people considered righteous according to God's standards. Here are some examples:

Melchizedek, whom we believe to have been Jesus Christ Himself, brought some wine to His meeting with Abram: "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High" (Genesis 14:18).

When giving his blessing to his son Jacob (who he thought was Esau), Isaac drank wine and asked for plenty of wine as a blessing from God:

He said, "Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's game, so that my soul may bless you." So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. . . . "Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine." (Genesis 27:25, 28)

Is it likely that Isaac would have asked God to bless his son with an abundance of wine if he knew that He forbade it? Wine was included in other blessings too. Through His servant Moses, God told the Israelites that wine would be included in the many blessings He would pour out upon them if they would obey Him:

And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, . . . in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. (Deuteronomy 7:13)

Then Israel shall dwell in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. (Deuteronomy 33:28)

Here we read of wine promised by God for the Israelites as a blessing for obedience. Conversely, if they were to disobey Him, He solemnly warned them that He would take their wine and vineyards away from them as a curse:

You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. . . . And they [fierce foreign invaders] shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, . . . until they have destroyed you. (Deuteronomy 28:39, 51)

In many scriptures in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—too many to list here—God commands that wine be used in Israel's drink offerings to Him. In addition, God's people are commanded to pay to Him His tithe of all the wine they produced: "The firstfruits of your grain and your new wine and your oil, . . . you shall give him" (Deuteronomy 18:4).

In His instructions on the proper use of the festival tithe (or "second tithe," as we often refer to it today) for the celebration of His feasts, God authorizes the purchase and use of wine and similar beverages (Hebrew shekar: "strong drink" or intensely alcoholic liquor):

And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, . . . that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. . . . And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. (Deuteronomy 14:23, 26)

New Testament Approval

The instruction and example continues throughout the Old Testament. However, in turning to the New Testament, let us begin with a question. In the transition between these two eras of time covered by the volumes we call the Old and New Testaments, did God change His mind regarding the use of alcohol?

It is certainly true that drunkenness and excess of alcohol are as clearly condemned in many New Testament scriptures as they are in the Old (see Matthew 24:49; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Romans 13:13; I Corinthians 5:11; 6:10; 11:21; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:21; I Timothy 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3; I Peter 4:3).

Jesus and His apostles mention wine and other strong drink numerous times in the New Testament, but nowhere do any of them say that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is wrong. A few verses strongly indicate that Jesus Himself liked the occasional glass of wine:

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, "He has a demon." The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" (Luke 7:33-34)

Why would anyone call Him a winebibber if it were anything other than wine that He had been seen drinking? Jesus drank wine with His disciples at His last Passover service, promising that He would again join them in a glass of wine after their resurrection: "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom" (Matthew 26:29).

The very first miracle Jesus performed was to turn water into wine (John 2:1-10). Some have argued that, at the Cana wedding, Jesus changed the water into unfermented grape juice, not wine. However, the Greek word translated "wine" throughout John 2:1-10 is oinos, which means "fermented wine." Not only did Jesus condone the proper use of wine, but He knew what the qualities of a good wine were, a fact confirmed in Luke 5:39: "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"

The apostle Paul follows His Master's lead on this subject. In the same letter to Timothy in which he soundly condemned excessive alcohol consumption (I Timothy 3:3, 8), Paul advises him to drink some wine to help ease his chronic stomach problems: "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities" (I Timothy 5:23).

God gave us wine and other alcoholic beverages for our enjoyment and so that we may learn to use them properly. We can develop character by properly exercising wisdom and self-control in consuming them. However, if one has a low tolerance for alcohol or one is an alcoholic, the wisest course is to abstain from them altogether (with the exception of the small amount required to be taken during the Passover service).

The proper use of alcohol is a great responsibility, but it is only the wrong use of it that is sin.

Are Blood Transfusions WRONG?


Although the Bible does not specifically mention this medical practice, we do not believe God will condemn one for having a transfusion. Some religious groups have misinterpreted God's command against eating blood (Leviticus 3:17), mistakenly extending it to receiving blood by transfusions. Ingesting blood and receiving it into the circulatory system are not the same thing. God specifically commands against the eating of blood, a prohibition reiterated in the New Testament as tied to idolatrous worship (Acts 15:19-20, 29).

While having a transfusion is not a sin, a proficient doctor would advise that medical risks are involved, as in any transmission of bodily fluids. Thus, one ought to weigh these risks and the anticipated benefits carefully.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Holy Spirit and The Word for Discernment....PERIOD!


What methods are being used for "discernment" today that don't have biblical support, and the ways in which the Bible does tell us to test teaching, prophecy and actions.

The following criteria are what many people who call themselves Christians are using to test reality and truth today:

(1) Experiences, manifestations
(2) Feelings, emotions
(3) Numbers of followers
(4) Numbers of people who claim to be saved
(5) The size of a church or movement
(6) Signs and wonders, purported miracles (whether real or false)
(7) Subjective testimonies
(8) Hearsay and rumors
(9) How successful and rich a teacher is
(10) If a person speaks with authority
(11) The atmosphere of a meeting

None of the above criteria being used by many churchgoers today are cited in the Bible as ways we are to test, discern and judge rightly.


Experiences
Experiences and manifestations can be from many sources; physical, emotional, mental, paranormal/demonic, or from the Lord. ALL experiences need to be tested against the testimony and teachings of the tried and true written word of God. "Slain in the spirit" is an occult technique imported into Christianity, and has nothing to do with what we are taught in the Scriptures. The prophets, Apostles and Jesus Christ did not do it or teach it as something that should be done. If you have an experience, you had better check the source. Think twice before you submit to people laying hands on you for whatever reason.


Feelings
Mormons made the "burning in the breast" standard fare for their followers, but now a large cross section of Christendom has been taught to judge everything by similar criteria. Modern Christians are, for the most part, not being taught to submit to the Word of God -- but rather to the way they feel emotionally. The phrase "I think" has been replace by the phrase "I feel". This is partially due to influences from the New Age through movies like Star Wars. But in the last twenty years teachers in the Church have taught a whole generation to rely on their feelings.

Emotions are a part of the realm of the flesh and the mind (soul). Emotions can be used by God, but often they are a way for the enemy to get Christians away from the truths of the Bible and gain a foothold in their lives.


Numbers Of Followers
Many leaders have large numbers of followers, including cultists and other religious "gurus". In fact some of the most popular leaders, who have the most followers, are not Christian. Numbers of followers is not a good test of the authenticity of a leader or his ministry.


Numbers Claiming Salvation
Ultimately, only God knows who is saved. Believers can certainly tell if people are false prophets and heretics and must be rejected, but we are not the ultimate judge of their salvation. One fact is certain. When someone claims to be saved they will evidence the fruit of the Spirit, believe in and teach sound doctrine, and not make false prophesies.


Church Size
Church size means nothing in the realm of discernment. God looks for quality over quantity, regardless of what "apostles" like C. Peter Wagner claim:

"... we ought to see clearly that the end DOES justify the means. What else possible could justify the means? If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method. If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?" (C. Peter Wagner, "Your Church Can Grow - Seven Vital Signs Of A Healthy Church", 1976, pg. 137. - emphasis in original)

Quantitative judgments are of men. The size of a church could be due to God blessing a ministry and people being truly saved or due to the oratorical skills of a preacher. Big clubs are not necessarily good clubs. Church size is no way to test a ministry.


Signs And Wonders
Signs and wonders are a dime a dozen today and have just as many evidences in false churches the occult as they do in biblical Christianity. Jesus did state that those who saw him perform miracles should have believed, though for the most part they did not. They couldn't even tell the signs of the times (Matt. 16;1-4). People today love to be able to claim they saw or experienced a wonder or miracle from God. Perhaps this is because they want to feel like they have been touched by God personally, are holy, or simply want to be accepted by their peers. If you are going to claim you have seen or experienced a miracle from God, then that miracle must be held up to biblical criteria to prove it is a biblical Divine healing as opposed to many other forms of healing. I cover this subject later on in the chapter called "Test Everything". True believers are careful not to use deceptive methods, to lie about experiences and signs, in order to gain converts.

2 Corinthians 4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.


Subjective Testimonies
Testimonies are nice and can even be an inspiration (if they are true), but they are also inherently subjective. In other words, they are hard, if not impossible, to prove objectively, unless incontrovertible proof exists. Don't allow testimonies, uplifting as they may be, to get in the way of biblical methods of testing. Don't rely on testimonies to shape your belief system. Just as you would test a cake to see if it is done by manually inserting a toothpick, instead of relying on the good smell of the cake and the feelings you get from it's aroma, don't use subjective methods to test stories--use the objective Word of God.


Hearsay
Most stories are being passed along today as hearsay. They often gain a little here and there until they have been blown all the way out of proportion from the original account. Don't pass along rumors, gossip and stories unless you check them out thoroughly. In this day and age of the Internet, that has become a much easier task, so there is no excuse to avoid researching claims from all angles. Don't just take people's word for it. Do the math yourself.


Success Of A Teacher
Anyone can be successful given the tools, the gifts, the right connections and the right circumstances. Some of the most godly men and women in the church have been dirt poor. Don't be swayed by rich televangelists. They have often raised their money off the backs of the less fortunate, the naïve, the hopeless, the poor, the fatherless, the widows. True success is not measured by money, power, number of followers, or any of the criteria of the "American Dream". Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart. We can get a pretty clear picture of the heart of a person if we test what they say and what they do against the Scriptures.


Apparent Authority
Many men and women are capable of speaking with authority. It can be a natural gift, a demonic gift or a gift from God. But it is no way to test whether a person is a true or false teacher. Authority can be put on, learned, acted. True authority from God is accompanied by true teaching, true prophecy and the fruit of the Spirit.


Atmosphere
Benny Hinn claims he needs an "atmosphere" to do his "miracles".

Interviewer: If Benny Hinn is real, he'll go into the hospitals and cure everyone there.

Benny Hinn: "I've been told that many times. What I tell them is quite simple. Healing most times needs an atmosphere of faith. I have gone to hospitals. I've done it actually many times or people's homes and pray for them. Most times, they cannot get healed. … God's people make it happen; bring this atmosphere of faith ..." (Benny Hinn, interview by Marla Weech, of WFTV , "Inside Central Florida")

When did the Apostles need an atmosphere to heal?

Beware of testing meetings by the atmosphere created there. Like and Amway meeting or halftime at a football game, an atmosphere can be manipulated. God does not need an stadium full of screaming Benny Hinn fans burning with fleshly passion to move. What He requires is simple obedience to His Word.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Was Paul's Thorn in The Flesh?


What was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”? I have heard Christians say all kinds of things about it, like Paul had an eye problem, or another illness, or even sinful lusts. Furthermore, many say that God gave him this affliction to test him or to keep him humble. What is the truth about it?

Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” has been just that for many Christian theologians and ministers through the years. It is unfortunate that so many erroneous theories about it have been postulated by sincere believers. When we handle the Word of God, we must be diligent not to inject our own opinions as to its meaning. As we will see, applying sound principles of biblical interpretation will yield a clear, concise, and correct answer to this question, one that will help shed great light on some key biblical truths.

Let us first take a look at the verse in which this phrase is found, and the subsequent verses that help frame its context.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJ)
(7) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
(8) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
(9) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What can we see in those verses? First, it is clear that the “thorn in the flesh” was not a literal thorn, but a figurative way of describing whatever it actually was. Second, we see that it was “a messenger of Satan,” which means that it was certainly not God who “pricked” Paul with it. Had it come from God, why would Paul have asked the Lord Jesus to take this “thorn” out of his life?

In response, the Lord told Paul that he would give him the grace and strength to deal with this problem. So whatever it was, the Lord could not just “delete” it from Paul’s life. That would indicate that the “thorn” was not a physical ailment, because the Lord Jesus did, and still does, heal “all manner of sicknesses.” Paul then said that for Christ’s sake he would “boast” in infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses, counting on the Lord’s strength to make up for his weakness.

In his excellent book, Christ The Healer, [1] written in the early 1900s, F. F. Bosworth does a superb job of showing what Paul’s “thorn” really was. He points out that the word “messenger” (v. 7) is the Greek word angelos, which is used 188 times, and is translated “angel” 181 times and “messenger” seven times. In each case, the angelos was a being, either spirit or human (p. 194).

Bosworth notes that the word “buffet” (v. 7) means to strike “blow after blow.” He cites Rotherham’s translation: “…that he might be buffeting me,” and notes that Weymouth’s translation reads: “Satan’s angel dealing blow after blow.” He then rightly concludes that if Paul’s “thorn” had been sickness, it would have to have been many sicknesses, or the same sickness over and over. And he points out that Rotherham uses the personal pronoun “he” rather than “it” (v. 8) to agree with the word “messenger.” And he quotes Weymouth: “As for this, three times I besought the Lord to rid me of him.” Again we see reference to a being or person rather than a disease (p. 194).

Before we look at other biblical uses of the key word, “thorn,” let us get a “running start” toward 2 Corinthians 12:7, beginning in Chapter 10. In verse 2, Paul speaks of “some [people]” who he expected to take to task about their opposition to him. A study of Chapters 10-13 shows that there were many “false apostles” in Corinth who spoke against Paul and boasted of their own spirituality as they tried to win the allegiance (and the financial support) of the Corinthian Church.

In fact, the word “boast,” which we saw above in 2 Corinthians 12:9, helps us follow the contextual trail through these chapters. Those whom Paul twice sarcastically called “super-apostles” were telling the Corinthian believers Paul had ministered to that he was leading them astray, and boasting that they were the ones with true knowledge and spiritual insight.

Paul thus spends most of Chapters 10-13 making his case as to how the Lord had worked in him and given him the authority to build up the Corinthian Church. He calls this “boasting,” and contrasts it to the boasting of his opponents.

Consider the following verses, and note the references to people who opposed Paul:

2 Corinthians 10:11 and 12
(11) Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
(12) We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

2 Corinthians 11:4 and 5
(4) For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
(5) But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”

2 Corinthians 11:12-15
(12) And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.
(13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
(14) And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
(15) It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Do you think that those people opposing Paul could be called “messengers of Satan”? It sure looks that way, doesn’t it? Let us point out that God never promises that He will take away all of the “buffeting” that comes from satanically-inspired human opposition. Rather, as the Lord Jesus told Paul, he (and God) will stand with us and help us bear up to such persecution, which, in fact, He guarantees will come our way (2 Tim. 3:12).

In that vein, we should point out that in 12:7 where the NKJ reads, “lest I should be exalted above measure,” the NIV curiously reads, “To keep me from becoming conceited.…” Huh? Given the definition of that word, wouldn’t Satan be the one who would want Paul to become “conceited”? Yes, so why would he send a “messenger” to stop that from happening?

Wasn’t it God who had given Paul the “abundance of the revelations”? Yes, and why did He do so? To lift Paul up amidst the spiritual battle raging around him, to encourage him to stay in the fight and not be discouraged, to “exalt” him big time. Chapter 12 says that God even showed Paul some of the glories of Paradise. Wow!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Where Can I Attend One of Your Bible Studies?


Advanced Bible Study Group
(Meat Eaters Only)

Every Friday at 6PM
Room 506
3 Cooper Plaza (Across from Cooper University Hospital)
Camden, NJ 08013

Are you REALLY hungry for God’s Word? Are you tired of Bible Studies that just skim the surface and never dig for the truths that defy denominational dogma and the traditions of men? Then this is the Group for YOU! Sometimes we will examine Books of the Bible, sometimes we will do Topical Studies, or we will attack controversial issues.

Teacher: Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min

October – The Letter to the Galatians
November – The Teachings of Jesus
December – The Holy Spirit

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is Anal Sex Wrong?

Anal Sex
***This page contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact. Please pray about your specific situation before deciding whether to continue reading this text. We don't want anyone to be tempted by reading this page.

We felt it was appropriate to post a page dealing with anal sex since pornography and the rest of the sex industry heavily glamorizes and promotes this practice.

The majority of this page addresses the question, "Is anal sex a sin when practiced in heterosexual marriage?" For the cases outside of marriage (i.e. fornication, adultery & gay sex), the Bible clearly identifies sexual activity (and therefore anal sex) as sin:

Fornication: Genesis 34:1-7; Deuteronomy 22:13-28; 2 Samuel 13:2-22; 1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:8-9
Adultery: Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 13:4; Genesis 39:6-12
Gay sex: 1 Corinthians 6:9; Leviticus 20:13, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-32
In the context of heterosexual marriage, the scripture may seem less specific about whether anal sex is acceptable behavior for God's followers. There are, however, basic principles in scripture that will help us answer the question. Here are some points to consider:

1. Anal sex uses body parts in way contrary to their designed purposes (i.e. perversion): The anus and rectum are specifically designed for expelling waste from the body. The tissue in those areas is designed for things passing out of the body, not vice versa. Also, since there is no natural lubrication in the anus or rectum, intercourse can cause fissures in the wall of the rectum, leading to infections and diseases such as AIDS. Additionally, the urethra in the penis can become infected from exposure to the bacteria in the anus and rectum. (for a doctor's perspective, click here)

The vagina contains tissue that is designed for both penetration (during sex) and expulsion (birth or menstrual cycle). The nerve endings in the clitoris, vagina and surrounding tissue provide a perfect match for the male sexual design. When the "conventional" sex position (face to face) is used, the man and woman are positioned for the ideal amount of stimulation for both partners to experience orgasms simultaneously. Alternate sexual positions may provide more enhanced stimulation for one partner or the other, but may lessen the potential for both people having simultaneous orgasms.

2. Anal sex gives lust a foothold: The sex industry goes to great lengths to promote the idea that anal sex is a natural and exciting way to express love. The truth is that anal sex is based on lust, not love. Tolerating lust in our lives will slow down our transformation into the "new man," and give the devil potential footholds for other forms of evil in us.
Lust works contrary to love in every way (see lust vs. love) - it is selfish and only cares about gratifying its desires. When we follow lust's impulses (ex. by having anal sex), we open the door to other forms of evil which can corrupt our minds and lead us further away from God. An example of what can happen when people follow lust is found in Romans 1:21-31 NIV:

"21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless."

As the people in this example pursued lust, they ultimately were "filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity" (29). In the same way, if we give lust a home in our life, we're basically opening up the door to other kinds of evil to fill our lives.

3. Anal sex is "out of character" for a Christian marriage: The Bible instructs husbands to love and nurture their wives. Paul wrote, "28Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church" (Ephesians 5:28-29 NIV). Paul characterized the husband's love for his wife as Christ's love for the church. Such love is to be pure, without any hint of lust.

An appropriate application of this love is to the sexual relationship. Unfortunately, pornography has helped inspire many people to crave sex acts that they might not normally desire. Under the guise of keeping the marriage sex life exciting, many couples succumb to "lust-based" sex (instead of "love-based" sex) by experimenting with perversions like anal sex. For example, A husband who pursues anal sex against his wife's wishes is being motivated by lust, not love. Furthermore, by having anal sex, he is putting his wife at high risk of contracting various infections. His wife may agree to participate, but most likely only to appease her husband. When this happens, sex becomes more of a spectacle for the husband's gratification than a mutually-enjoyable, loving experience. As love is removed from the relationship, sex will likely require greater levels of the bizarre to produce gratification (e.g. sex toys, swinger clubs, group sex, bestiality, bondage, fetishes, etc.).

4. Anal sex increases the participants' chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), infection or AIDS. (see health risks PDF document) As the primary exit for bodily waste, the anus is highly contaminated with harmful bacteria. Because of the potential tissue damage arising from anal penetration, both partners have a high risk of contracting infection. A less-publicized problem that can arise is the “Gay Bowel” Syndrome, which results from repeated anal intercourse. This is where the sphincter muscle in the anus loses its elasticity and can no longer close.

In conclusion, I believe that anal sex is sin in every case. Even so, some Christians may not agree with this conclusion, and may hold that marriage gives a husband and wife permission to do whatever they want with each other's bodies. If that's your rationale, I then urge you to consider Paul's "beneficial test" found in 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 NIV:

12"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

We can ask ourselves, "Is anal sex going to benefit me, my spouse and our relationship with God, or will it harm or hinder us?" If it is going to harm or hinder in any way, then we would be wise not to prac

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Should a Christian be a Mason?


There is something about the Lodge that has always attracted sorcerers. The list of occultists and witches in the last century who were Freemasons reads like a Who's Who of 20th century occultism:

Arthur Edward Waite - occult writer and Masonic historian.
Dr. Wynn Westcott - member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and founding member of the occult Order of the Golden Dawn.
S. L. MacGregor Mathers - co-founder of the Golden Dawn.
Aleister Crowley - master satanist of this century and founder of the anti-christ religion of Thelema.
Dr. Gerard Encaussé - (Papus) masterful author, teacher of the Tarot and leader of the occult Martinistes society.
Dr. Theodore Reuss - head of the O.T.O., a German occult/satanic society which made Crowley its head for the British Isles.
George Pickingill - the master warlock (male witch) of 19th century England, leader of the "Pickingill covens."
Annie Besant - leader of the occult Theosophical society and Co-Masonic hierarch. (Yes, there are female Masons!)
Alice Bailey - founder of the New Age organization, Lucis (formerly Lucifer) Trust.
Bishop C. W. Leadbetter - Theosophist, mentor to the failed New Age "Christ", Krishnamurti, and prelate in the occult Liberal Catholic Church.
Manly P. Hall - Rosicrucian adept, author, founder of the Philosophical Research Society.
Gerald B. Gardner - founder of the modern Wiccan (white Witchcraft) revival.
Alex Sanders - self-styled "King of the Witches" in London and one of the most influential leaders of Wicca after Gardner.

Would you really wish to belong to an organization which welcomed these powerful sorcerers into its midst with open arms?


The Mason is "unequally yoked" together with all these unbelievers and witches in rebellion to the Word of God (II Corinthians 6:14-18). That alone is enough to knock the spiritual stuffing out of any man!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Prosperity Preaching is Heresy


One of the lies of Prosperity Preaching is that ABUNDANCE means monetary wealth. The favor of God is not measured by the size of ones bank account. If this were true then Donald Trump and Bill Gates have more favor than anyone. This doesn’t mean a Christian cannot attain wealth, but wealth is NOT the indicator of an abundant or blessed life.


Luke 14:33 (Phi) "Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple."

Luke 14:33 (TEB) Concluded Jesus, "none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up everything he has."

Luke 14:33 (RSV) "Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Luke 3:11 (NIV) John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

Luke 6:30 (Jer) "Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you."

Now don’t get mad with me just read what Jesus said! Does our savior seem to agree with the preachers of greed that infest our TV’s and radio waves? This simply doesn’t line up with the “Name it Claim It” message of today. Wake up saints! Who are we going to agree with Jesus or the disciples of Prosperity? I get ridiculed all of the time because I am accused of “touching God’s anointed” When I criticize the likes of Benny Hinn and Oral Roberts. If some of these guys were in the Old Testament they would be stoned. Most Christians are so timid and awestruck by these preachers that they are scared to challenge their false teaching.

Why Prosperity Preaching is Heresy


One of the lies of Prosperity Preaching is that ABUNDANCE means monetary wealth. The favor of God is not measured by the size of ones bank account. If this were true then Donald Trump and Bill Gates have more favor than anyone. This doesn’t mean a Christian cannot attain wealth, but wealth is NOT the indicator of an abundant or blessed life.


Luke 14:33 (Phi) "Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple."

Luke 14:33 (TEB) Concluded Jesus, "none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up everything he has."

Luke 14:33 (RSV) "Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Luke 3:11 (NIV) John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

Luke 6:30 (Jer) "Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you."

Now don’t get mad with me just read what Jesus said! Does our savior seem to agree with the preachers of greed that infest our TV’s and radio waves? This simply doesn’t line up with the “Name it Claim It” message of today. Wake up saints! Who are we going to agree with Jesus or the disciples of Prosperity? I get ridiculed all of the time because I am accused of “touching God’s anointed” When I criticize the likes of Benny Hinn and Oral Roberts. If some of these guys were in the Old Testament they would be stoned. Most Christians are so timid and awestruck by these preachers that they are scared to challenge their false teaching.

Why Was Martin Luther so Important?


When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of the church, he did so not to create a denomination, as some believe. Martin Luther wanted to correct anti-biblical practices being promoted in the church. The main theme revolved around the practice of “selling indulgences”. What the church was doing was convincing people that they could “pay” their family members out of purgatory. The church did this primarily to finance the Popes greed and desire to finance the Cistene Chapel in Rome. Now we Protestants read this stuff in Church History books and we gasp, yet how many of us “enlightened” Spirit-filled Protestants that know of Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers in our Protestant churches that “sell blessings”. We have condemned Catholics for centuries, yet we have the same skeletons in our closets. From Reverend Ike, Robert Tildon, or to the pastor in the storefront in the inner city, we too have been guilty of “selling blessings”. Every Protestant denomination (and non-denomination) has had it share of “Greedy Popes”. I really admired Martin Luther’s guts, but where are the Martin Luther’s of today? When Oral Roberts said he would die unless he got 80 million dollars in donations, where was the outrage from Christians? Of course the world ridiculed his nonsense, but there was no moral outrage from any Christian leaders. Why? Well I’ll tell you why! It is a very lonely position when you stand on the truth of scripture. We are quick to condemn Catholics trust in traditions and church doctrine, but we are equally guilty! How often have you seen and heard things done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in your church, but in your gut (spirit) you knew it was against the Bible? And why didn’t you say something is the more disturbing question. Jim Jones was able to take hundreds of lives in Guyana because someone refused to listen to their gut (spirit). I firmly believe in supporting the local church and helping pastors, I want to make that clear. However there is a real epidemic of spiritually stupid “saints” that don’t study their Bibles and try every spirit by the Spirit. We were given the ability to discern so we WON’T end up giving our money to crooks and drinking poison Kool-Aid! Many of today’s most prominent preachers would be labeled heretics hundreds of years ago because MOST clergymen were devout Theologians and serious students of scripture. Today ordination papers and licenses are given to anyone that say’s they are called to preach. I agree that being Spirit-filled and called is the first priority of being a preacher, but ALSO there has to be training…SERIOUS TRAINING! A lack of understanding of just the basic Bible doctrines of the faith can lead to the types of abuses I am talking about. Martin Luther was able to stand up to the lies of Rome because he was filled with the knowledge of the truth. I am a Pentecostal preacher, I believe in the Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we must have a scholarly approach to the scriptures and it’s teachings. I have heard PREACHERS say stupid things like, “I don’t know the Bible that well but I am filled-with the Holy Ghost and fire!” This person is a prime candidate for deception and a good whipping from the devil! The Bible say’s in 1st Timothy 4:4 “In the last days some shall DEPART from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and DOCTRINES of devils.” The Devil will fill your head with HIS doctrine (teaching) if your head isn’t filled with sound Bible doctrine. Martin Luther unlike other priest actually studied the Bible for truth and not to support a man made lie. We must as individual believers have reformer’s courage to stand up to the church when it strays from the truth of scripture. I know it sounds crazy to say stand up AGAINST the church, I am of course talking about organized denominational/non-denominational institutions that profess to be of Jesus Christ, yet stray away from the truth of Jesus Christ. I have seen enough heresy in the church in the last 25 years of my life to make ones head spin and the majority of it went unchallenged. We allow “preachers” to say anything in our pulpits and we say AMEN! Because we are afraid, to be attacked for standing up for the truth. In 1980 I was stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. While there I heard a Baptist preacher tell a group in Bible study that “all roads lead to Rome” meaning every religion can get you to heaven. I was a new believer, but I knew this was wrong! I challenged him, because NO ONE else would say a word. He was a popular preacher and I was a new convert so you can imagine whose side everyone lined up on. My point is this, when you hear false preaching or teaching SAY SOMETHING! The Apostle Paul was the new kid on the block (Read Galatians) yet he challenged and corrected the Chief Apostle Peter for treating the Gentile believers wrong.

Ministers are NOT infallible, only the Word of God is! No matter how popular or how powerful a preacher is, they are NOT above reproach!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Are Mormons "Christians"



Mormonism, for example, says Jesus was begotten in the pre-existence from God and his goddess wife who used to be people in another world -- which is not what the Bible teaches. But that isn't all. Please check out this brief list of Mormon teachings documented from Mormon writers:

Mormonism also teaches that there are many gods, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163).
There is a mother goddess, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-347, 354).
God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321).
The Trinity is three separate gods, (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 35).
God the Father has a body of flesh and bones, (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22).
God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine p. 516).
By contrast, Christianity, which is based on the Bible, says there is only one God (Isa. 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5); that God is a Trinity of persons, not three gods; that God has always been God (Psalm 90:2); that God knows of no other gods (Is. 44:8); that you cannot become a god (Is. 43:10); and that God is spirit (John 4:24). This contradicts Mormonism. Therefore, Mormonism is not biblical, and not Christian. If Glen Beck holds to the teachings listed above, then he is not Christian.

What Kind of Courses Should a New Minister Take?



Old Testament Survey
This course is a basic overview of the Old Testament. The aim is to acquaint the student with the content, message and personal application of each book, and to study the unity of all the books in the progress of revelation and redemption.

New Testament Survey
This course is an overview of the four Gospels portraying the life of Christ. The Book of Acts is used as a historical framework for a study of the earlier New Testament letters and as introduction to its later letters and to its climax. Application of the New Testament’s teachings to our individual and corporate lives as believers is maintained throughout.

Homiletics

Students will learn to examine techniques, principles, and standard practices in the delivery of sermons. Students will practice delivering sermons and will critique the sermons of fellow students.

Evangelism and Missions
Students will examine some of the key methods that are employed in group evangelism, planning evangelistic crusades, and conducting public witnessing campaigns.
Leadership Principles. This course examines the diverse variety of leadership methodologies, principles and practices. It is the foundational course for the Leadership Studies Major. Students will learn the importance of developing their leadership styles and of helping organizations develop healthy leadership practices.

Pastoral Counseling
Students will learn techniques and theories for effective interpersonal and group counseling.

Church Administration
This course will examine all phases of church business administration: pastoral management, goal-setting, prioritization, time management, delegation of authority, accounting and decision ¬making. This course will focus on the practical application of these administrative responsibilities.

Introduction to Public Speaking
This course will provide information and practice skills in preparing and presenting speeches and oral presentations.

Stewardship
This course will examine the importance of the role and responsibilities of the lay member at the local, district and jurisdictional levels.

Human Relations

This course focuses on the importance of effective human relation skills in building positive relationships and presents practical examples based on biblical principles that can be used in the church community.

Time Management

This course explores time management tools and how to effectively apply them to various areas of ministry.

Teaching Methods
This course examines methods of effective teaching and suggests some principle, techniques and perspectives that will make the practice of teaching more purposeful, pleasant and productive.

How do I know If I am Called to Preach?


The Preacher... Who are they? And What has God called them to do? How to know for sure you are called to preach?

First and foremost, the preacher will have experienced the new birth and will be walking in a determined dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is a constant concern within the heart of a preacher.

Secondly, The preacher is gifted to preach and teach the Word of God. They are concerned with leading people to Christ and Christians to maturity. (1 Timothy 3:6). God's Preachers are NOT a dime a dozen. They are motivated and moved by a threefold cord:
1. The Greatness Of God (Isaiah 6:1)
2. The Grace Of God (Isaiah 6:7)
3. The Groaning Of God (Isaiah 6:8)

Thirdly, The preacher remains engaged in a systematic, structured and comprehensive study of the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

How Can one know for sure that God has called them to be a preacher of His Gospel?

The Biblical Answer Is: God's calling becomes the chief pre-occupation of your thinking and conversation. You just can't shrug it away (Jeremiah 20:9).

If you sense that God has called you to be a preacher, seek counsel from your pastor and other experienced and seasoned preachers. Seek the face of God in this regard. If God has called you to preach... you know that you will never be happy doing anything else (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Called To Preach? Take The Test...

To Which Capacity Has God Called You?

A. The Gift of Prophecy - Proclaims the Truth
B. The Gift of Knowledge - Clarifies the Truth
C. The Gift of Wisdom - Applies the Truth
D. The Gift of Teaching - Imparts the Truth
E. The Gift of Exhortation - Inspires obedience to the Truth

#1: Do you find yourself with great desire to proclaim Christ and do you follow through in that desire? If so, God has gifted you with the gift of prophecy (not foretelling but forth-telling); 1 Corinthians. 14:1,4. You are not called to proclaim revelation, you are called to reiteration of God's Word. Simply put, God has called you to be a preacher in the capacity of pastoring, evangelism or missions.

#2: Do you find that you have the ability to observe biblical facts and make a correct conclusion? If so, God has gifted you with teaching. This gift can be applied to both public and private audiences. Likely, God has called you to be a pastor or a lay-teacher.

#3: Do you find that you have the ability to understand God's will and make application of it? If so, God has gifted you with the Word of Wisdom (1 Corinthians. 12:8a) This can be applied in the area of counseling.

#4: Do you find yourself with the desire and ability to strengthen and encourage believers to walk by faith? If so, God has given you the gift of exhortation (Romans 12:8). This is the ability to come alongside someone who needs building up. Barnabas was a great exhorter. If this is your habit, God has called you to be an evangelist and can be applied in the area of pastoring, evangelism, and/or missions

It is important to note that if God has called you to be a pastor, all of the above is in your possession. It is imperative that you allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate these gifts in you in order that you may be proved and approved for the pastorate or whatever capacity God is calling you to. This is where a sound biblical seminary education becomes essential. Visit the Open Bible Institute online and begin the process to answering your call to preach with a sound biblical and affordable seminary education today.

Is Homosexuality NORMAL?


The Bible is not at all bashful about this subject. There are those in both the political and religious establishments who fervently attempt to legitimize homosexuality as an acceptable alternative life-style in spite of what the Bible says.

The Word of God specifically calls homosexual behavior sin (see Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9,11). Homosexuality (to exchange or abandon natural relations of sex) was as widespread in Paul's day as it is in ours. This behavior is strictly forbidden in Scripture. Tragically, homosexuality is considered an acceptable practice by many in our world today, even by many churches. Many homosexuals believe that their desires are normal and that they have a right to express them and even demand that society as a whole acknowledge their behavior and beliefs are God given rights. Many even believe they were born in this fashion.

Because God's Word is the only authority for life; Christians must accept the fact that homosexuality is born out of deception and the lust of the flesh. Homosexuality is by nature a predatory behavior and can only result in death.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Who is The Holy Spirit?



When we receive Jesus into our lives, the Holy Spirit comes and resides in our hearts as a guest - a guest who is with us forever (John 14:16-17), available to help us when we face difficulties. He fulfils this ministry in a number of ways:
1. The Holy testifies of our relationship with God
''Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us'' 1 John 3:24 (see also 4:13; Galatians 4:6).
When we were born into God's family as His sons, the Holy Spirit came and fused with our spirit in an everlasting relationship. Now the Holy Spirit ''testifies with our spirit" (Romans 8:16) concerning our new relationship with God. Even when we go through difficult times, we still have God's Spirit as a ''guarantee'' (Ephesians 1:14).
''This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" 1 John 3:19-20.
2. The Holy Spirit teaches
''But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" John 14:26.
God has sent into our hearts His very own Spirit - the Spirit who ''knows everything'' (1 John 3:20; Hebrews 4:13) and who "searches all things, EVEN THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD'' (1 Corinthians 2:10). Thus the Holy Spirit helps us by teaching us - and in times of spiritual attack, He helps us recall parts of His own Word, making it alive to our hearts (see Luke 12:11-12; Nehemiah 9:20).
''This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit... ' 1 Corinthians 2:13 (read also verses 9-16; 1 John 2:27).
3. The Holy Spirit guides
''... because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" Romans 8: 14.
As an expression of the Father's loving heart, the Holy Spirit is ever-present to help God's children follow the right path. The Book of Acts gives many accounts of, the direct guidances of the Holy Spirit (see 10:19-20;13:2; 16:6). Whenever we are faced with a decision that we can't handle by ourselves, we can ask for help from the Holy Spirit - for He is in us to express the mind of Christ so that we can fulfil the will of God.
''O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you . . . Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it' '' Isaiah 30: 19,21 (see also 42:16; 48:17).
4. The Holy Spirit helps us live a life pleasing to God
''So l say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature . . . Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit'' Galatians 5:16-17,25.
The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to live a righteous life. If we strive to do this in our own strength, we will fail - but with the Spirit's help, backed by the full legal work of the Cross, we have a God-given formula for success. This success is described as the ''fruit'' of the Holy Spirit's own character, and that fruit can begin to grow in our lives only when the Holy Spirit is allowed to express Himself.
''But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" Galatians 5:22-23.
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6. The Holy Spirit gives power to witness
''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth'' Acts 1:8.
The Holy Spirit is not only our power to live the Christian life, but is the power to tell others about the Good News of what God has done for us! God has given us a Commission (Matthew 28:18-19) that is far too big for us to fulfil in our own strength, but when we allow the Holy Spirit to demonstrate His power through us, we are enabled to fulfil the call.
'' . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly . . . With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was with them all'' Acts 4: 31,33 (see also 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
7. The Holy Spirit gives life
''And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you'' Romans 8:11.
The Holy Spirit works on every level of our lives. He has brought life to our:
• SPIRIT
''Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit'' John 3:5-6.
• SOUL: MIND, EMOTIONS AND CHARACTER
''And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 3:18.
And now the marvellous truth is that the Holy Spirit is also the agent for bringing life and dynamic power into our physical bodies. We can look to the Holy Spirit for physical strength when we have to face situations that would normally wear us down (see Ephesians 3:16; John 6:63).
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen'' Ephesians 3:20-21.
The Holy Spirit's work is not limited solely to the believer; He is also very much at work in the world, and His ministry is fulfilled in five ways:

How do you help someone that is grieving?


HOW TO BE OF COMFORT
1. Don't desert. After the initial contact with the patient, there is a tendency to leave the bereaved alone and forsaken. If this has been true for you, question yourself as to why you did that? Was it out of concern that you might further distress those who have suffered loss? In other words, were you afraid that you might trigger another round of tears which can look like you are bringing more pain on them then they already have? If you realize that your presence is what matters not your words, you will hang in there and not leave.
2. Be a pathway. Look at your presence as a pathway to healing. And healing often comes through pain. The rule of thumb is the quicker and more intensely a person grieves, the sooner they heal. This rule does not negate a person’s will or choice. It just reminds caregivers that being with a griever and giving them permission to feel and express their grief, is what we’re all about. Don’t try and control the grief process, let it be what it will be.
3. Don't try to fix the pain. Bereavement is painful. There must be pain before there can be healing. The most difficult thing to learn about comforting is to permit the bereaved to live their own pain. It is one thing to sorrow with a person but quite another thing to interfere with their pain. We are not doing anyone a service by trying to take their pain from them. Nothing YOU can do will take away the pain.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why Should We Witness?



Have you ever asked yourself, "Why should I witness?" Several reasons should come to mind. First, because Jesus commands you to: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (Matt. 28:19). Also, Ezek. 3:11 says, "and go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not..."
Second, you must witness because you love the unsaved (if you don't, you should). The most loving thing you can do is present the gospel in hopes of bringing others to salvation. Galatians 5:22 lists love as one of the fruit of the Spirit. It is love's nature to give. Take for example John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." Love gives, and if you have only a small portion of His love, you will want to give to others.
Third, witness because it is a wise thing to do. Prov. 11:30 says, "...he who is wise wins souls." Now, I know I am not a very wise person. But, since God says I'll be wise to win souls, or try to, then great, let me at it. I want to be wise in God's sight.
Fourth, witness to keep people out of hell. Hell is a terrifying place of utter anguish and eternal separation from God. Those who are not saved go there. Witnessing is an attempt to keep them out of hell.
Fifth, witness because it pleases God and brings glory to His name.
And finally, witness so they may find the love and fellowship of God (1 John 1:3), the greatest of all treasures. I can think of no greater gift than salvation. It frees the sinner from sin, it delivers the lost from damnation, and it reveals the true and living God to those who don't know Him.
The angels of heaven rejoice greatly when anyone passes from judgment into salvation (Luke 15:10). Shouldn't we as Christians rejoice too? Shouldn't we weep over the lost? Shouldn't we ask the Lord of the field to send laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2)? Certainly! The salvation of others is the goal of your efforts. The love of God is your motive. Is there anything greater? So, give.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What About Speaking in Tongues?


The Gift of Tongues

''I would like every one of you to speak in tongues. . . I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you'' 1 Corinthians 14:5,18.
Tongues (and its accompanying gift of interpretation) is the only gift not operating in the Old Testament - although it is foretold in Deuteronomy 28:49 and Isaiah 28:11 (see 1 Corinthians 14:21). It acts as one of the signs of the accompanying presence of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4), and is specifically designed by the Lord for the building up of the believer:
"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself . . . " 1 Corinthians 14:4.
According to 1 Corinthians 13:1, the gift of tongues appears to fall into two main classifications:
The Tongues of Men
These tongues are natural languages that the Holy Spirit can supernaturally enable a believer to speak.
"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them . . . a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked, 'Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!' " Acts 2:4,6-11.
The Tongues of Angels
These tongues are not the natural languages of men, but heavenly languages. As opposed to the tongues of men, the purpose of these tongues is for the edification of the believer as his spirit communicates with God's Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 14:14-18).
"For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" 1 Corinthians 14:2.
Some sections of the Body do not fully understand the gift of tongues, but the Scripture clearly says: " . . . do not forbid speaking in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:39), provided things are done in an orderly way (verse 40).
The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues
Tongues, by themselves, only build up the believer who is speaking, not the rest of the Body, but the gift of interpretation takes a message in tongues and makes it intelligible for other believers. It elevates the gift of tongues from individual edification to Body-edification, so that everyone can be encouraged and built up by what is said. The gift of tongues CAN be used in the church when it comes to individual or corporate worship, because worship is simply between the individual believer and God. But when it comes to a message to the Body, then ''the man who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says" (1 Corinthians 14:13).
''He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, UNLESS HE INTERPRETS, so that the church may be edified" 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 (see also verses 6-19).
Those who exercise in the gifts must remember that the giving of those gifts by the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of building up the lives of God's people in a framework of love and concern for one another.
"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy... Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church"1 Corinthians 14:1,12.
The Promise of the Father
Right throughout the Old Testament, the Bible reveals one major problem in man that God continually came up against:
''The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure . . . '' Jeremiah 17: 9.
In all his dealings with mankind, people would inevitably rebel against God, and through Jeremiah and many of the other prophets. God identified the root cause of this as the heart of man - his nature of sin. But God also gave a special promise that would remedy the problem forever:
''I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees . . . '' Ezekiel 36,:26-27.
God's Power Within
''I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high'' Luke 24:49.
When the Holy Spirit was outpoured on the Church, He fulfilled every detail of the Father's promise in Ezekiel 36. The Spirit's infinite power was given to the believer so that he could live a life pleasing to God. This the Spirit does by:

What are the Gifts of The Spirit?


SPIRITUAL GIFTS
''There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men'' 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.
There are nine gifts of the Spirit actually mentioned in the Bible, and God has distributed them evenly amongst different members of the Body, so that each member is dependent on the other. The gifts are not natural talents, but supernatural - given by the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose.
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit THE MESSAGE OF WISDOM, to another THE MESSAGE OF KNOWLEDGE by means of the same Spirit, to another FAITH by the same Spirit, to another GIFTS OF HEALING by that one Spirit, to another MIRACULOUS POWERS, to another PROPHECY, to another THE ABILITY TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN SPIRITS, to another THE ABILITY TO SPEAK IN DIFFERENT KINDS OF TONGUES, and to still another THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each man, just as he determines" 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11.
The gifts fall naturally into three categories:
• GIFTS OF REVELATION
These gifts embrace the message of wisdom, the message of knowledge, and the ability to distinguish between different spirits - all three involve special revelation knowledge straight from the Holy Spirit.
• GIFTS OF POWER
The gifts of power include faith, gifts of healing, and miraculous powers - they are an expression through the Holy Spirit of the power and earthly ministry of Jesus.
• GIFTS OF DIVINE COMMUNICATION
These three gifts include prophecy, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of those tongues - these are all divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit and are an expression of Christ's will and direction.
THE ENEMY'S PLAYGROUND
The three chapters of 1 Corinthians 12-14 are totally devoted to a proper understanding of spiritual gifts. In chapter 12, the Apostle Paul defines the gifts, and places them in the context of the Body of Christ. Then chapters 13 and 14 are respectively devoted to:
• BALANCE
''And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, l am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, l am nothing'' 1 Corinthians 12:31 -13:2 (read also verses 8-13).
Spiritual gifts, says Paul, are nothing without love - for that is their whole reason for existence. The church in Corinth was moving in the area of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1:7), but had obviously become unbalanced in its understanding of the use of those gifts, and this needed to be corrected. In 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul encourages the Corinthians to "follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts . . . "
• ORDER
"For you can all prophecy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of tprophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace . . . Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophecy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way'' 1 Corinthians 14:31-33,39-40.
The Corinthian church had obviously got into areas of difficulty with those misusing the gifts. We must understand that when we enter the realm of spiritual gifts we enter the arena of the supernatural - where the enemy also works. For this reason it is important for the gifts to operate under the covering of experienced ministries - those mature in the gifts themselves - for leadership is a God-given safeguard in the Body against the misuse of gifts.
THE BASIS OF OPERATION
''What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. ALL OF THESE MUST BE DONE FOR THE STRENGTHENING OF THE CHURCH" 1 Corinthians 14:26 (see also Colossians 3:16).
The reason for the gifts given by the Holy Spirit and the basis for their operation must be to build the Body of Christ up in love, so that all may grow into a deeper relationship with the Lord. And so, for this reason, it is the Holy Spirit's desire that we:
" . . . eagerly desire the greater gifts . . . '' 1 Corinthians 12:31.
Gifts of Revelation
1. The Message of wisdom
''Keeping close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him, 'Teacher, we know that you speak and‚ teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. ls it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 'Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?' 'Caesar's,' they replied. He said to them, 'Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.' They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent'' Luke 20: 20-26.
Jesus Himself, the source of all revelation, provides the best examples of the message of wisdom (see Luke 4:1-13; 10:25-37; 20:19-39; John 8:3-11).The message of wisdom operates in circumstances where we may be faced with a problem that we don't know the solution to. The Holy Spirit can prompt our hearts, and suddenly we find ourselves with a wise answer. This gift is particularly useful in counselling or witnessing to others.
''If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault; and it will be given to him . . . 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" James 1:5; 3:17.
2. The Message of Knowledge
"When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.' 'How do you know me?' Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you' '' John 1:47-48.
The message of knowledge, like the message of wisdom, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is not natural, acquired learning, but a portion of knowledge that could not have been received by any other means than supernaturally. Once again, this is a gift of the Spirit which can help when we talk to others about the Lord - we can ask the Lord to isolate for us the key-problem in their lives so that we can speak right to the heart (see Matthew 9:1-8; 17:27; John 4:18; Acts 9:11-12; 2 Kings 6:8-12). God is all knowing - He has a complete knowledge of things past, present and future (Psalm 147:5; Hebrews 4:13) - and in the operation of a message of knowledge, the Holy Spirit gives the believer a portion of specific knowledge straight from the Throne of God.
'' . . . that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge'' Colossians 2: 2-3.
3. The Ability to distinguish between Spirits
''From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never ha ppen to you!' Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Out of my sight, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men' '' Matthew 16:21-23.
This gift is the God-given ability to distinguish the difference between good or evil spirits, between right and wrong attitudes of the heart, and between the Holy Spirit's work and that of the spirit of Satan (see Matthew 23:13-36; Luke 9:51-56; Acts 5:3; 8:9-24). The gift of distinguishing between spirits comes into crucial use when on the outside it is impossible to tell whether something that is said is from God or from the enemy (see Acts 16:16-18). Like the first two gifts of revelation, this gift can be used particularly in witnessing and counselling, and is designed to help us perceive the spiritual powers and forces we are dealing with (see also 1 John 4:1-3,6; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Gifts of Power
1. The Gift of Faith
The gift of faith is NOT saving faith - the faith we put in Jesus when we are born again. Nor is it the daily trust we place in God's character when we need His help. It is a dynamic, direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit related to the boldness which many Old Testament heroes experienced and which the early Church was birthed in (see Joshua 10:12-13; 1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1: 1-15; Daniel 6:16-23; Mark 4:35-41; Acts 3:2-7; 27:22-25).
" . . . I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you' '' Matthew 17: 20.
2. The Gifts of Healing
This gift is one of the "signs and wonders" gifts which confirms for the world the reality of the Gospel, and is an extension of the ministry of Jesus when He was upon the earth. It is one of the ways that the Holy Spirit "bears witness" that Jesus is alive (see Acts 5:32) (see also Matthew 4:23-24; 11:4-5; John 9:6-7; Acts 3:6; 5:14-15; 8:5-8; 10:38).
Jesus promised of the believer:
''I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" John 14:12.
3. The Gift of Miraculous Power
The Bible is full of miracles, displaying God's power over all circumstances of life. The gift of miracles involves a special enduement of the creative power of the Holy Spirit over natural laws for a specific time and purpose, and can include everything from miraculous provision to the casting out of evil spirits (see Exodus 7:10; 10:21-22; 1 Kings 18:31-39; 2 Kings 2:13-14; 4:1-7; Matthew 8:23-27; 17:27; Mark 6:41-51;John 2:1-11;Acts 8:39-40; 19:11-12).
''And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well'' Mark 16:17-18.
In all these gifts, because it is "the same Spirit'' working them, there is considerable overlap and dependence on other gifts. There are special ministries that the Lord has endowed specifically with one gift or another, but it is the Holy Spirit's desire that every believer operate in some or all of His gifts when the need arises.