Catechism


What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?

    That he is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son, and that God grants him irrevocably to all who believe.

    John 14:16–17

    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

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    Catechism


    Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?

      No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ. To seek salvation through good works is a denial that Christ is the only Redeemer and Savior.

      Galatians 2:16

      Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

      Frenetic Friday


      The trouble with a target rich environment is where to start shooting.

      And that analogy leaves some thing to be desired but I am not sure what it is yet.

      So by now I am sure that all of you have heard of the fallout caused by the Ashley Madison hack.

      And I feel like I need to say a bit about it however, Jeff Durbin of Apologia Radio actually said it best:

      Before you run headlong into condemning repentant Christians exposed and crushed in the Ashley Madison hack, you should be careful to pause and humbly reflect about the fact that there is a Holy God Who knows every moment of your browser’s history; for as long as you’ve had it. He is also well aware of your thoughts over the last 48-hours. All of them.

      Grace. Restoration. Love. For all repentant.

      Christians are not supposed to eat their own. We can uphold God’s standards without destroying those to whom God has shown grace.

      And that says it all.

      And speaking of saying it all Pastor Doug Wilson posted the definite statement regarding Kim Davis the Rowan county clerk that has been jailed for not issuing a marriage license to a gay couple.

      In Which I Paint With Some Bright Yellows

      A consensus appears to be developing among otherwise reasonable people that Kim Davis, of Rowan County fame, either needs to start issuing marriage licenses or quit her job.

      For those just joining us, a county clerk in Kentucky is refusing to issue marriage licenses against her conscience and is also refusing to resign. Her name, which should be on a bronze plaque on the side of the courthouse, is Kim Davis. A federal judge has ordered her to appear in his courtroom Thursday to explain why Davis should not be held in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses.

      File this under sentiments which seem extreme at the time, but heroic when the danger is over, and you are reading them inscribed on the base of a polished marble memorial.

      But there is a difference between contempt of court and seeing that the courts have become contemptible.  <Read More Here>

      ht: Menn0knight

      Oh and here is the text of the law regarding marriage in Kentucky:
      Kentucky Constitution
      Section 233A
      Valid or recognized marriage — Legal status of unmarried individuals.

      Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
      Text as Ratified on: November 2, 2004.
      History: Creation proposed by 2004 Ky. Acts ch. 128, sec. 1.

      So who actually is upholding the law?

      Julie Roys has done us a service by posting a guide to the Center for Medical Progress videos.  If you or friends of yours haven’t seen these videos they need to do so.

      Here is the guide: What You Should Know: A Guide to the Videos Exposing Planned Parenthood

      Robot Over Lord Alert:

      Have you seen this:

      When I was a callow youth this was the robot of choice :

       

      There is obviously been a leap in technology.

      And that is it for Frenetic Friday.

      Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation



      Producers:Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams, and David Ellison
      Director: Christopher McQuarrie.
      Writer: Christopher McQuarrie.
      Cast:  Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, and Simon McBurney

      Plot:  Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to stop a crate of VX  nerve gas from leaving Minsk in order to do that he must get inside the plane whose back door he just happens to be hanging off.  But this is just the beginning as agent Hunt finds out when he checks in for his next IMF assignment.  There while playing his next assignment (on a tricked out vinyl record)  he learns about the Syndicate a group of rogue agents who have all been listed as killed in action or missing.  While listening to his instructions an agent of the Syndicate traps him and he awakes to find himself strapped to a pole, where he meets Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) a disavowed MI6 agent assigned to torture him, when she is interrupted by Janik “the Bone Doctor” Vinter who informs her that he has been assigned to get the information from Hunt.  Hunt knocks Janik unconscious and with the help of Faust escapes from the clutches of the Syndicate.

      But that isn’t all Hunts problems back in the Washington DC in a closed-door session CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is doing his best to shut down the IMF saying there tactics are haphazard and reckless only getting results by sheer dumb luck.  And while agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner) tries his best but the senate rules against the IMF and it is dissolved.  When Hunt is informed of this he tells Brandt not to call him any more as he is going to find the Syndicate on his own.  When CIA director Hunley learns of this he issues a warrant for Hunts arrest and tracks him over six months with Hunt always a step ahead of him slowly finding out more about the Syndicate.

      Hunt finally gets a break in Venice where he once again meets Ilsa Faust as she is about to kill the Austrian Chancellor, Hunt instead shoots the Chancellor in the arm and Ilsa shoots the assassin that was about to kill Hunt.  Hunt realizes that she is a double agent working for  MI6 and joins with her to find the one device that will bring down the Syndicate.

      Comment:  If you are in for an action movie with just the right touch of comedy go see this movie.  It is a roller coaster ride from start to finish.  Crusise, Renner, Pegg, Rhames all reprise the rolls that has made the previous Mission Impossibles so good. Alec Baldwin plays the slightly bewildered and mostly angry CIA director whose bad haircut is only exceeded by Simon McBurney the MI6 director.  In fact I think even when Cruise had the full beard and wild hair do it was still better looking than Alec Baldwin’s haircut.  But I have to give props to Sean Harris I don’t know if it was his normal speaking voice or not but if you ever wanted to hear what a strangled gasp sounded like Sean Harris voice in the role of the chief of the Syndicate that strangled voice made him particularly sinister sounding.

      Again lots of action, comedy, no excessive vulgar words, one scene where Ilsa Faust is taking off her shirt but her back is to the camera so nothing can be seen.  I give this movie four stars out of five.

      Theology Thursday: Random and Sporadic


      Greetings, Keachfan readers!

      I apologize for the seemingly sporadic and random appearance of this once-weekly feature, “Theology Thursday.” I have had to take a job as an over-the-road trucker, much to my dismay. The hours are random, finding Internet access is equally random, and the schedule is impossible to predict. I always have my bible handy, but I don’t carry the library of commentaries, concordance, interlinear Greek New Testament, etc. So writing decent articles about theology is unlikely while I’m out on the road. But I have had a period of profound spiritual growth under these “awful” circumstances in spite of fighting the Lord on this with bitter tears. Read about it here.

      This week, though, I want to make readers of this blog aware of a little-known but sorely needed and vitally important ministry to truckers – a group that is associated with the lowest rung on the social ladder. Today truckers are considered scuzballs; the lowest and dirtiest and least desirable people, just as the tax gatherers and harlots were in Jesus’ time. And just as the Lord reached out especially to the lowest of the low, who are humble if nothing else, so truckers are a ripe field for harvest!

      There are probably dozens of “trucker’s chaplain” ministries, and most are independent works, a few are done by local churches, and one seems to stand out from the rest because they have high standards for their chaplains, all of whom are trained and serve under supervision and there is an accountability that is not to be found in most of its sister ministries. It’s a non-denominational ministry exclusively dedicated to the trucking industry called Transport For Christ, and it has some unique aspects:

      They use actual chapels on wheels, not just conducting Sunday services in the “driver’s lounge” at some truck stops. This allows a full-time chaplain and a staff of volunteers and chaplains-in-training to serve the trucking community at all hours:

      That by itself is huge! What it means for a trucker is that this isn’t just some guy who calls himself a preacher showing up to interrupt truckers trying to watch a Sunday ball game so he can put on a little show and pass an offering plate. This might be someone who actually cares! The ministry is not at the mercy of the truck stop management to limit times and scope of services and other ministry. They can conduct services in a chapel made for the purpose, but beyond “church services,” the full-time staff offers the meat-and-potatoes stuff like bible-based counseling, prayer, and long-term discipleship.

      Full-time salaried chaplains who oversee volunteer assistants and chaplains-in-training. Many of these chaplains are former truckers themselves, and several are seminary-trained. They answer to a board that functions kinda sorta like a presbytery. They investigate complaints, maintain standards of doctrine and practice, and provide resources, training, and support to the chaplains and volunteers.

      Every chapel is identical, so each visit, no matter where it is located, feels like “home.” These mobile chapters are designed and built by ministry-minded craftsmen and include office space, sleeper-sofa, counseling space, and of course, a chapel:

      A trucker might find “chapel services” available from God-only-knows who, offering who-knows-what. I have been to one that was a wildly Charismatic celebration of clanging brass and tinkling cymbals where the so-called “worship” paid no homage to Christ, nor was His gospel proclaimed at all. I walked out. If I want to be entertained I’ll go to Disney World. It’s better than such pretense. I now look for the mobile chapel when choosing a stop on a weekend.

      And I think I’ll look a little deeper into this particular work, some day perhaps to play a role in it. After some further investigation of course, this one looks like something I could ask my church to get behind. My home town is getting a brand new chapel soon from this ministry (a chaplain is already in place) and the support of local churches is absolutely vital. It is also the role of the local churches in each trucker’s home town to do the hard ongoing work of discipling those who are won to Christ in these chapels and sent to local churches for follow-up.

      I would love to hear from readers of this blog who may already be familiar with this ministry.

      Until next time,
      Robin

      Theology Thursday: Resurrection and the Immortality of the Soul


      G. I. Williamson, in an issue of Biblical Horizons, described the hope of the Christian most succinctly:

      [S]everal times lately … I have been both surprised and dismayed because of what seems to me to be a wrong change of focus. I refer to sermons that I have heard at funeral services in churches in which the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is still recognized as essential to the authentic Christian faith. The amazing thing is that – no doubt quite unintentionally – the whole focus was shifted from the glorious hope of the victory of the Christian over the grave in the final state, to the less glorious reality that the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness and are with Christ.

      Williamson goes on to observe a great irony. Orthodox, Bible-believing Christians act very much like theological liberals when they de-emphasize the future bodily resurrection in favor of simply “going to heaven.” Even theological liberals have no problem with our being “with the Lord” at death. What they have a real problem with is the resurrection, a miracle that they find scandalous and “un-scientific.” Millard Erickson wrote in his Christian Theology: “The liberal who wished to maintain some sort of continuing life after death replaced the idea of the resurrection of the body with the immortality of the soul. Although the body may die and decompose, the soul, being immortal, lives on.”

      This is not the Biblical or orthodox view, though it is very popular. Therefore, at Christian funerals (and other times), we orthodox Christians should especially emphasize the resurrection, not simply the intermediate state, the time between death and the final resurrection. The resurrection of the body is not a doctrine to be subordinated to the disembodied immortality of the soul in the “intermediate state.” There is nothing of the hope of the Scriptures in this, though there is a great deal of pagan Greek philosophy in it. The ancient Greeks saw the body as a prison-house for the soul, which is emancipated at death. That’s why they craved death, by which the immortal soul was released to the world of the “Ideas,” its true, idyllic home.

      Man’s great hope is not for a disembodied spirit or soul to “soar away” to heaven. The Second Coming – not the Christian’s death – is termed the “blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13) precisely because then, after the intermediate state, the saints who have died will be fully restored humans again, resurrected as Christ is resurrected.

      Pagan Greek origins

      Socrates welcomed death, since indeed it sets us free from the body. Whoever fears death proves that he loves the world of the body, that he is thoroughly entangled in the world of the senses. To Socrates, death is the soul’s great friend. So he teaches; and so, in wonderful harmony with his teaching, he dies – this man who embodied the Greek world in its noblest form. Contrast this with Jesus’ view of death: In Gethsemane Christ knows that death stands before him, just as Socrates expected death on his last day. The synoptic evangelists furnish us, by and large, with a unanimous report. Jesus begins “to tremble and be distressed,” writes Mark. “My soul is troubled, even to death,” he tells his disciples. Jesus shares the natural fear of death. Jesus is afraid … He is afraid in the face of death itself. Death for Him is not something divine; it is something dreadful. Only one who takes death seriously – as the tragedy that it truly is – can comprehend the Easter exultation of the first century Christian community and understand that the whole thinking of the New Testament is governed by belief in the resurrection. Before the influence of Babylonian Zoroastrianism upon Hebrew thought, the Old Testament records no such concept as “an immortal soul.” To a Hebrew, a person ceased to be at death. But resurrection is illustrated even in the oldest (chronologically speaking in terms of when the literature was first written) known scripture:

      If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes. You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands (Job 14:14-15).

      The word “immortality” occurs in only 5 places in Scripture:

      In Romans 2:7 it is to be strived for.
      In 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 it is to be obtained, or “put on.”
      In 1 Timothy 6:16 it is something that only God possesses.
      In 2 Timothy 1:10 it is brought to light.

      Is the soul immortal? For the Christian, the scripture is clear that the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead dwells in us; Christians are described as born from Above, having the life of God within. I think it is fair to say that Christians, at least, are in some sense immortal. Immortality is a communicable attribute of God, which He grants to His chosen ones. But the hope of the Christian is not the “intermediate state” between physical death and physical “glorified” resurrection. Rather it is that awesome eschatological event in which we are resurrected in new incorruptible bodies like Christ’s own resurrected physical body. It is the new heavens and new earth which is the great and final victory, not simply “going to heaven when we die.”

      It’s also quite clear in scripture that unregenerate sinners are to be given immortality as well, to endure the terrors of God’s justice for ever. Do not imagine, you unrepentant sinners, that you will be annihilated at some point and escape the eternal and everlasting consequences of your treasonous rebellion against Thrice-holy God! The lake of fire, created for the devil and his angels, awaits you as well unless you exchange your imagined independence and right to determine your own destiny to the One who holds the fate of all of us in His hands and does as He pleases with all His created beings.

      This post is not to argue against the Confessional doctrine that man is an immortal soul living in a mortal body. My purpose is to restore to us the Confessional and Orthodox emphasis on the great final hope of the Christian: The resurrection of the body to inherit the new heaven and Earth! We must not settle for celebrating the lesser truth of the intermediate state as the liberals do, marginalizing the greatest victory of all – the final resurrection of our physical bodies to inherit a new creation!

      Theology Thursday: Who Is Israel?


      He is NOT A JEW who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is OUTWARD in the FLESH. Be he is a Jew who is one INWARDLY; and circumcision is that which is of the HEART, BY THE SPIRIT; not by the letter, and his praise is not from men, but from God (Romans 2:28-29, NASB).

      For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be HEIR OF THE WORLD was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith… it is by FAITH, in order that it may be in accordance with GRACE, so that the promise will be … to those who are of the FAITH of Abraham… (Rom 4:13, 16 NASB).

      …it is NOT THE CHILDREN OF THE FLESH who are children of God, but the children of the PROMISE who are regarded as descendants (Rom 9:8).

      Romans 9:25 quoting Hosea 2:23

      I will call those who were NOT MY PEOPLE, ‘My people,’ and she was not beloved, ‘Beloved.’

      For THERE IS NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for WHOEVER will call on the name of the LORD shall be saved (Rom 10:12-13).

      So then, THOSE WHO ARE OF FAITH are blessed with Abraham, the believer (Galatians 3:9).

      There IS NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK … for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to CHRIST, then YOU ARE ABRAHAM’S DESCENDANTS, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:28-29).

      …the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise IN CHRIST JESUS through the gospel (Eph 3:6).

      So who is Israel, theologically speaking? Israel is the people descended from Abraham’s faith, rather than just his genealogy. Israel is hugely multiplied by the adoption of believing Gentiles into the family of God.

      Is this so-called “replacement theology?” Not at all! This is simply the bible’s definition of the community, or “nation” if you will, now comprised of “those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9)” who have been purchased for God by Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. The political (earthly) theocracy that was ancient Israel no longer exists, though the physical descendants of Abraham certainly do, and as the Apostle Paul observed, “that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25);” but “they are beloved for the sake of the father; for the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (verses 28-29).”

      Dispensationalists wrongly divide the people of God by maintaining a distinction which Christ has wiped away.

      For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall (Eph 2:14).

      Replacement? No! Augmentation, multiplication, adoption, and ultimate redemption? Absolutely yes.

      SPECIAL NOTE TO KEACHFAN READERS: Theology Thursday posts are likely to be sporadic for the next couple of months, as I am traveling and may not be able to post regularly and faithfully every Thursday while I’m away from home.

      Theology Thursday: What to Look For in a Church


      Many of us, when we were first coming out of Charismatic superstition and confusion, had no idea what to look for in a new church. In my case, I only cared that was genuine, biblical, and not Charismatic or vulnerable to that form of control over people.

      I must qualify it when I say, “Always look for one that is true to the bible,” since all churches claim to be faithful to the bible and yet there are such huge differences between them. So here’s what I advise in addition to a church’s belief in the authority of scripture:

      DOCTRINE: Every church has some kind of creed. Even the motto “No book but the bible, no creed but Christ” is itself a CREED! A creed is simply an affirmation of belief in a particular set of doctrines (a doctrine is a teaching – some are true, some are false). Many of the supposedly “creedless” churches (and I maintain that there can be no such thing unless a church believes that nothing is really true) are independent works with no means of accountability to anyone. “I answer only to God for what I teach,” you’ll hear their overbearing, puffed-up pastors say when they are pressed to answer questions about their form of church government and discipline. That should be a major warning sign.

      About creeds: Every church has one, but the safest and most stable and faithful of churches have bound themselves to a written covenant and creed and placed themselves under authority to be accountable for their teachings and doings. That way, you can learn what a church believes by examining its written creed (often called a Confession or a Statement of Faith). Putting the creed in writing is vitally important! This way all the people know what their leaders believe. And when they stray from the creed, they can be corrected, and the people protected from error. Some creeds are very short and very simple, addressing only a few of the most fundamental tenets of a church’s teaching. The better ones (in my opinion) delve into every doctrine a church believes and even describe its worship and government.

      The best of the creeds in my opinion is the London Baptist Confession of Faith. Denominational churches here in the USA who have bound themselves to it’s sister Confession – the Westminster Confession – include The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterians (APC), and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). Oh, don’t let the fact that all these groups are Presbyterian groups bother you… the word Presbyterian refers only to a church’s form of government, not to it’s teachings. One group that supposedly claims the Westminster Confession but has modified it so severely that their version of it bears no resemblance at all to the original is the apostate PCUSA (Presbyterian Church in the USA). That denomination has abandoned all loyalty to the bible and to it’s former creed. Only a few of its member churches may be truly Christian at all, so I generally advise people to avoid the PCUSA. Among Baptist churches, it is harder to find one that subscribes to the great historic Baptist faith as it is described in the 1611 London Confession. But they can be found in several Baptist denominations including my own (Southern Baptist Convention). But Southern Baptist churches run the entire gambit from strict adherence to the great historic Confessions and creeds to wildly unbiblical social clubs with pony rides and hot dogs for kids of all ages, trying to compete with Disney World for entertainment value.

      God having ultimate authority and the bible, His word, having first and highest authority in everything should be the very utmost posit of any creed. Second in authority comes the written creed (a Confession or a Statement of Faith), which itself can be amended if any part of it conflicts with Scripture. Third in authority should be the oversight of leaders (plural – never a single individual) having equal authority (often called a Session, Board of Elders, Council of Elders, etc. More widely called presbytery, synod, council, or association).

      I would urge a study of the creeds (confessions, Statements of Faith, whatever they’re called in the different denominations) and selection of a church that has bound itself to a creed that you find most faithful to the scriptures. Studying the creeds and searching the scriptures changed my mind about a lot of the beliefs I once held very ardently.

      But what else should you look for in a church besides a creed that is faithful to the bible? I suggest a few more things to look for in a church beyond its Confession or creed:

      GOD CENTERED WORSHIP: In my old charismatic church, we all thought our worship was so spirit-filled and so intimate that it could never be surpassed by any “cold, dead, orthodox, man-made” substitute. This is the hardest adjustment for most of us to make when we finally decide to abandon Pentecostalism in search of a return to simplicity and purity. What made this a lot easier for me was learning what the bible really says about worship. What is true worship? What did Christ really mean when He said, “true worshippers worship Him in Spirit and in truth?” Finding out what the BIBLE says about worship (and it’s nothing like the warm-fuzzy, touchy-feely stuff we were taught in our old charismatic churches) has become one of the most compelling and radical changes in my life since we left Pentecostalism behind. Worship has now become my greatest passion!

      Worship “in Spirit” means NOT IN THE FLESH, for one thing. That rules out unbiblical man-centered stuff that pays no homage to Christ but celebrates our own experience. It rules out manipulative, contrived stuff that designed to appeal to human emotion rather than designed to appeal to the One being worshipped!

      Worship “in truth” means not only sincere worship, but worship that is ACCURATE – “in truth.” That rules out songs with unbiblical lyrics that portray God in an unbiblical way. It rules out songs celebrating false doctrines and it rules out the practice of anything that adds man-made appointments to the gospel.

      PLURALITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF LEADERSHIP: No “one-man-show” church should ever be considered by an earnest seeker of a biblical church. I made that mistake when we left the Pentecostal church and joined a church that was governed entirely by the pastor alone. His accountability was limited to a council of two other men (all pastors of churches in the tiny “micro-Presbyterian” denomination who were all relatives! Look for a church ruled by elders (whatever they may be called, by elders I mean mature spiritual men) under the authority of a denomination and bound to a biblical creed, not a church ruled by the pastor or by a tiny handful who dominate the church. Where there is no accountability, there is tyranny.

      DIVERSITY OF WORK: A church that just does one thing without an appropriate balance of other work should be avoided too. For example, a church that does nothing but evangelism is way out of balance. Evangelism is certainly important, but it is of no LESS importance than a church’s ministries in worship and in teaching and in charitable work. We all have three ministries (and so do all churches), not just one:

      Our ministry to God, our ministry to one another, and our ministry to the world. Our ministry to God comes FIRST, and that ministry is worship. Our ministry to one another is teaching, admonishment, nurture, and discipline. Our ministry to the world is evangelism, missions, and works of charity. A balance of all three is important. A good balance of these things is an indicator of a healthy church.

      CONTINUANCE: A good church is always raising up from among it’s own members new workers and new leaders who are being constantly equipped and trained to replace those lost through time, and to begin new works and new churches. A church that fails to raise members up into positions of service and ministry is failing its ministry to every one of its members. Such a failure too often betrays a jealous, ego-driven neglect by those in authority.

      These are the major things I look for in a church, but this is by no means a complete picture. Time spent examining each of these things in worship services and in conversations with the leaders is a good means of evaluating a church. For a really good in-depth look at what a true biblical church looks like, visit http://9marks.org.

      Theology Thursday: Religious Addiction


      Some readers of this blog might remember that I founded and moderated an e-mail loop for “recovering ex-Charismatics” who were in search of solid footing, both doctrinally and in their experience of Christian living. Most of us had no idea what to believe or where to find help, other than in God’s infallible and unchanging Word, the bible. But since we had no idea how to use that resource, nor how to interpret scripture, people joined ExCharisma to share their journey back to solid ground, stability, and hope. Now hosted at the-highway.com, ExCharisma continues that mission from the safety and accountability of a great Reformation resource.

      Just as in the days before the Protestant Reformation, the gospel of Christ has once again become obscured behind corruption, superstition, biblical illiteracy, and even religious addiction. And just as Reformation was desperately needed 500 years ago, so equally today. There has always been a remnant of “the faith once delivered” (Jude 3 – note that Jude didn’t write “discovered” or uncovered,” but DELIVERED. Literally handed down to us), but it took the Reformation to restore it to the visible Church at large. 500 years later, we need a new Reformation.

      From the archives of the old e-mail loop (and hopefully one day to find it’s way into a book), here are the testimonies of a few of the participants, talking about the addictive and superstitious bondage inherent to Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement:

      Religious Addiction In Our Own Words

      People who have been addicted to drugs describe their experience in terms that seem to compare quite strikingly with Pentecostalism. And the description of them is totally opposite of what a relationship with Jesus is really like:

      When a person is using drugs recreationally for the very first time, he only needs a small dose of the drug to get the “high” he seeks. But as he becomes addicted, it takes greater and greater dosages of the stuff to achieve the same high he got in the beginning with only a small dose. A drug addict must get more and more of the drug each time; and he finds at a certain point that he’s no longer taking the drug to make him feel good, but to keep from feeling bad! A biblical relationship with Christ is a completely different experience. Subscribers to this e-group describe their own experience below in exploring this concept of “religious addiction.”

      Robin:

      First please understand that I despise, detest, abhor, hate, and vehemently oppose any comparison of Christ with drugs in the form of the old Jesus-People theme, “Try Jesus, He’ll make you high, man!” But for purposes of contrasting religious addiction to real Christian discipleship, I must use this analogy. My first “dose” of Jesus – my initial encounter with Him when I was reborn and His Spirit came to dwell within my heart – was a big, huge “dose” of Him. The biggest, most radical “dose” of Jesus I ever had was the day He found me and changed my heart. Today, the tiniest little peek at His face is all it takes to make my heart sing with the same joy and abandon it did on the day I was converted. Just a few minutes in His word and I’m “high” on the wonder of His grace and glory. It takes only the tiniest “dose” of Him from His word, or from the Lord’s Supper, or a sermon, etc to send my soul into orbit, worshipping Him with the same abandon and delight I felt as a child, when I received that first huge, mega-“dose.” It’s the opposite of addiction because the slightest “dose” is as effective as the first “big dose,” and I don’t find myself running to Him to keep from feeling bad, but to thank Him for His goodness and mercy to a sinner like me.A whole new world had just opened up and I was on the threshold of this fantastic invisible realm to explore, with potential for greater and greater things. Praying in tongues became a “Merit Badge for Advanced Christianity” which I wore quite proudly, but only for a short time. Because pretty soon it took a lot more than just tongues-speaking to make me feel “in tune with God” and “in the center of His will.” Before long I was pursuing more and more “deeper-life” experiences, exploring and experimenting with “greater gifts” and secret, intuitive knowledge, and false “intimacy with God” – all apart from the simplest disciplines of the Christian faith (bible study, biblical prayer, stewardship, fellowship, and service). With a few years of my first “dose” of “Holy Ghost power,” I found that I was seeking more and more of Him in order to keep myself from feeling bad rather than for the benefit of others or even to please God. I had become addicted to religion. And when God delivered me from it I went through withdrawal pangs every bit as real and as painful as those experienced by chemical addicts when the drug is withdrawn.

      Look how big the “dosages” have become for those addicted to Pentecostalism for many years. It went from speaking in tongues to “singing in the Spirit,” and from there to “falling under the power,” and from there to “holy laughter,” and now the “doses” are huge! Examples of this run the gamut from “gold dust” and Divine Dentistry to Benny Hinn’s predictions of “greater things to come,” such as the dead being raised merely by sitting their bodies in front of a television and tuning it to TBN. Greater and greater “experiences,” bigger and bolder predictions, higher and higher emotion, more and more hype.

      But full hospitals and empty bank accounts (unless you’re a televangelist) persist in churches full of religious addicts who believe what they want to believe because it keeps them from feeling bad about their true situation, spiritually, morally, physically, medically, financially, etc. During my years as a Charismatic, I helped to spread a message which I knew deep down was not even effective in my own life. I assumed that something was wrong with me, not the message, so I continued to recruit and seduce others into religious addiction. I became a “drug dealer” of sorts, resorting even to trickery and manipulation without shame because it was “for the cause of Christ.”

      And like most addicts, it took a series of tragedies and losses to bring me to a point of honesty and acceptance of reality. And once freed from my religious addiction, I re-discovered the innocence and joy and purity and stability of an honest relationship with my Lord, strengthened by the simple disciplines of bible study, prayer, stewardship, fellowship, and service.

      Kathi:

      This is too true! I, too, can’t stand the comparisons of a relationship with Jesus to “high on Jesus” & I’ve never experienced a drug addiction. But I agree with what you’ve written. And I see two other parallels between addictions & religion: First, it totally appeals to the flesh, and second, it creates a “reality” that isn’t reality at all. My brother was a cocaine addict before coming to the Lord. My husband discipled him the first year while he lived in our home. He said he loved the way he felt on drugs because it covered how really bad he felt about himself and he didn’t have to deal with who he really was (new “reality”). And when he was high on drugs, his personality changed. He had an unnatural boldness and confidence, and he would act like he was someone important (appeal to the flesh.) Charismatic “religion” does exactly the same thing – appeals to the flesh by making us think we’ve got something really important, and it changes reality so we don’t have to deal with situations & with who we really are before a Holy God.

      Also, I’ve heard that its no fun to be around people using drugs unless you’re using them yourself. Otherwise, you just won’t fit in – especially since you’re back in the real “reality.” I’ve seen the same thing at church. I remember once, an elder in the church started praying really loudly – actually yelling and crying. (He learned this from watching Carter Conlon on a video.) Within 2 weeks, whole groups were praying that way – yelling and crying and wailing all over the church. Now in reality, it was very uncomfortable to walk into a church where groups of people were yelling. But people began to do it just so they could fit in, because, after all, if you didn’t pray that way, you obviously didn’t pray with any anointing. And who wanted to get caught looking like they didn’t have any anointing! So the whole “culture” of prayer changed in the church Suddenly what was actually ridiculous (is God hard of hearing?) became the normal way to pray in that church. And us “normal” people who just didn’t buy it – well, we didn’t fit in. Sigh…….such foolishness.

      Dave:

      This might explain why the PentaMatic movement is so popular among ex-addicts. I do not mean it out of contempt for those who have drug addictions, but I mean it as a condemnation of the American evangelical tactics used since the 1800’s (Iain Murray documents the frontier revivals under the Methodists with all sorts of ecstatic and emotional extremes). It has now evolved into a substitution for chemically induced emotional high, a new form of escapism. Combined with our sinful desire to ascend into God’s presence, we have a paganism disguised as the gospel.

      Revivalism and marketing have come together to “market” Jesus. Dr Michael Horton refers to it as the consumer orientation of the church. At my Pentecostal church, we used to love hearing a gospel tune, “when you’ve tried everything and everything’s failed, try Jesus”.

      At the same church a musician (trumpet player) talked about a better high through Christ, his ecstatic experiences through the Holy Ghost, referring to God as the “Most High.” Carmen, a famous performer on TBN and a Word Faith proponent, had a best-selling album with DC Talk, “Addicted to Jesus” (as well as another best-seller,” Who’s in the House, it’s JC”). Not one DJ or CCM Video host even questioned the absurd, blasphemous concepts of this “superstar”.

      Robin is right, the need for greater stimulation and ecstatic experiences continues. The (now defunct) discernment.org site details the parallels with occultic behavior, which often utilizes chemicals (ie, peyote).

      Often , court-mandated probation includes supervision of a religious halfway house and affiliated church for a fixed term. The legalism and the disillusionment of the “religious high” took its toll, with some going back to jail for leaving, and others living a secret life of deception and criminal activity.

      As we know, it is dangerous, deceptive and leads to abuse. God is gracious enough to deliver us, and we will continue to pray for those who are caught in this.

      Mary:

      Always looking for that next spiritual high, to be in the worship service of all worship services. Then to hit reality during the week that I was still the jerk I was before going to the last service. Some of that is changing now, I’m not quite a jerk as I was before. I am no longer waiting for that word of knowledge, word of wisdom or prophetic unction to speak. I am no longer watching for the way the Holy Spirit is going to manifest Himself to the congregation. I am no longer fighting powers, principalities, demons, evil spirits, rulers of darkness in order to make a way for people and God to be in each others presence. I am no longer wondering what is the prophetic theme for the service. Such as what color to wear, what color of ribbons to put on a tambourine, what color banners to bring along.

      My life has gotten a little simpler and more intense for the truth of the bible. I now dress out of respect for the Lord on Sundays. The tambourine is in the hands of another person who had a cute picture of a lamb painted on it. The banners are being waved by someone else. And the only thing I wonder about on Sundays is do I have enough notepad paper and ink in my pen.

      I remember prayer meetings where everyone was walking the floor, yelling at Satan, and yelling at God at the same time. Then coming together at the end to hold hands and thank God in a very humble manner. I never could figure out the purpose for the yelling and moaning and walking fast. So when I was asked to take over the prayer meeting by the Pastor I slowly brought the people back to a place of sitting and listening to one another’s prayers so there could be agreement and understanding. Because how were we able to thank God for His wonderful deeds if we could not hear what the petitions and supplications were. After 7 years of leading Saturday night prayer I closed the meeting for reasons I mentioned to the Pastor. The next time there was a corporate prayer meeting the instructions were given to pray whichever way you were “led” by the Spirit to pray. I finally figured that God and the devil must be deaf because people went back to yelling at them. And I sat in the midst of two lanes of traffic of people walking past me. I don’t know, I must not have been in tune with the Spirit that evening.

      I not only observed these things when I was there, but I participated in them with all my heart. I was a good leader and follower in all the Charismatic and Third Wave Movement. It goes along with being addicted to something and my addiction happened to be to the supernatural and being “a part of.” When I was going through a real dark time before leaving that church, I drew a picture of my heart how it seemed to be at that time to me. I came face to face with sin. As Kathi mentioned, a person using drugs or other forms of addiction uses them to alter reality. I had been able to use the teachings of Hagin, Copeland, Meyers, Joyner, Deere, etc. to alter the reality of life. There was a sense of control, power and even excitement I hadn’t had for a long time. But the more I practiced the techniques taught by these people and others, the deeper I got into confusion.

      It had gotten so bad I thought I was developing multiple personalities, or at least a form of the disorder. Because the teachings were not measuring up to the reality I was actually experiencing. I had prayed for people’s healing, laid hands on them, bound, rebuked and commanded the sickness to leave, and they all DIED. The windfall of prosperity was not a part of my life. Participated in a “deliverance” with the Pastor and saw no deliverance take place. “Calling those things that be not as though they were” wasn’t occurring either. I could not understand why the word of God was not working for me. I was supposed to be able to heal, deliver and set people free “in the name of Jesus” but it wasn’t happening. That was thing, then there was “the prophetic.” We all can prophesy, I was told. So I set out to develop this. Many around me said I was prophetic, yet I was not seeing the angels in the service, nor the gold dust on a persons hand, nor the glory cloud moving in front of the church; I was not dreaming dreams or having visions. I was being told I was a part of “the prophetic,” yet reality was telling me something different. My mind was getting split into two realms, trying hard with spiritual reasoning to stay connected and be a part of the move of God and two dealing with doubt, condemnation and rejection.

      God our heavenly Father in His great wisdom saw it necessary for me to go through all this. My mind has since settled down after leaving that church and being with other Christians who have stayed with the study of the written word of God. The Lord has taken me to a place of safety where I can mend and grow strong. Part of the mending has been to write as I have openly with out the fear of criticism. Thank you all for your support.

      How About You?

      The “Charismatic experience” hooked us in a way that was not liberating and empowering like it promised to be. Instead the pursuit of higher and higher “experiences in the Spirit” became an addiction for us, enslaving our emotions, turning us into great actors and poor liars, and all too often, just like chemical addicts, it takes real-life tragedies to make us even aware of what we have become. Reality was re-defined, normal God-given perception and reason were perverted to support our quest for “more, Lord… more!” This bondage can be broken, just as Jesus said, by the application of God’s word. “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” He said. And it is the never-changing word of God found in the never-changing Scriptures alone that can be the foundation upon which we build our lives (Eph 2:20), not the constantly-changing, ever-elusive and never-certain “winds” of Pentecostalism. Those of us who have fled to Jesus from the uncertainty and confusion and fear of our addiction to Pentecostalism urge you to come back with us to “the faith once delivered,” the sure, certain, confident quiet assurance one can find only in the Scriptures, enlightened by God’s Holy Spirit.

      Theology Thursday: Postponed


      Greetings,

      I must postpone Theology Thursday posts for two weeks, as I have final exams at school and a trip to Seattle (from Florida) and back next week.

      -Robin