Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: Miracles have ceased

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an ongoing study examining the lies religious tradition has taught the Church. Ideas and concepts taught with such conviction it almost seems blasphemous to question. Views taught for so long they form strongholds in the minds of many. 

 We've addressed the ideas that God is the author of sickness and disease, the sender of disasters, and the one causing evil so that some good may come. The concept that God is for your brokenness and poverty. As of late, we've dealt with the traditional views surrounding the Holy Spirit.

 Today, it seems good to continue looking at the traditional lies surrounding the power of God.  Here's a little humor to illustrate the views of traditional religion concerning God's power. 

 For years and years now, the Church in the West has worked overtime to de-supernaturalize Christianity. They've worked tirelessly to teach Christians that Faith is powerless and ineffective to change events or circumstances. That the Spirit has ceased from leading His people through dreams, visions, the inward witness and the still small voice within our heart. That physical healing and wholeness are only found in a physician's hands and no such promise from God exists for healing and wholeness. That financial well being is only found in hard work and bank loans and never from the hand of God, through blessing. 

 The religious tradition-minded put forth much effort to convince the multitudes that there exists no promise for the life that now is. They push hard against any talk of miracles and signs and wonders performed in Christ's name. They sow seeds of doubt and questioning the authenticity of any miracle or healing or wonder reported in the lives of believers. They push for all to accept the concept that skepticism is the posture all believers should take at the news of miracles.

 The religious tradition-bound church has accepted that the only supernatural work of God is that of the one lost, apart from Christ, accepting Jesus' free gift of Grace and that one becomes a new creation in Christ. Apart from the new birth, there is no supernatural working of God. Their faith can only embrace this work. For anything else it is a whatever will be will be philosophy.

 The religious have accepted and given doubt, skepticism, and unbelief a high place of honor in their thinking and in their midst. Wherein the Apostles spent much time in Scripture urging the Church to rise to a place where we go from Faith to Faith, the religious seemingly have diminished to a level whereby they go from doubt to skepticism to unbelief. Most disturbingly they urge all to embrace unbelief as a healthy way to live. 

 God has not called the Church to a place where unbelief is crowned with honor. God calls unbelief evil. God doesn't want us to tolerate it in our lives or in our midst. God tells us He wants us to grow and go from Faith to Faith

 Has God's power ceased? Has the day of miracles passed away? 

11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?...16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. Acts 3:11-12, 16 NKJV

 Peter answers this question best. The lame man was healed. Peter though didn't attribute the healing miracle to his power or office of Apostle. He attributed this healing to Jesus' name and Faith. That is Faith in the heart and Faith in His name. So the real question isn't has God's power ceased but rather has Jesus' name lost its power? Has Faith in the heart and Faith in His name lost its power?

 Track with me. Peter didn't attribute miracles to Apostleship alone. So that means regardless if the "last Apostle" passes away God's power doesn't cease being. He did attribute the miracle to Jesus' name and Faith. Sadly Faith and the use of Jesus' name have waned and weakened amid the religious church. 

 Why has the name of Jesus seemingly lost its authority and power? Why has Faith become seemingly impotent? Because the Word of God is being traditionally interpreted to create the illusion that God's power is not available today. Tradition uses circular reasoning to prove their view. 

 "We know the Gifts have ceased."
" How do you know for certain?"
"We don't see them in our midst."
"Well, why do you think that is?"
"Well, because the Gifts have ceased."

 So what is the hope for the Church in the West? Know God doesn't give up on anyone or any ministry. Grace is for the "worst" of us. Look at this event in the life of Jesus

 The hope for the Church in the West and the cure for unbelief is the teaching of God's Word apart from religious tradition. There exist no passage in God's Word in this New Covenant that states or even alludes to the idea that miracles will cease or God's power will stop flowing. As I've said before if one would exclude all traditional views they've ever heard and just read God's Word through they see God is a Good God, that He wants the best for His people, and that His power is still working today, and is available to whosoever will ask.

 In summation, God is a Good Father. His power and might have never weakened or waned! He is the same God today as when He walked the sand filled shores of Galilee ministering life and wholeness. We can place our trust in Him completely. He is still working and moving for our good today.
Image by kalhh from Pixabay 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: Speaking in Tongues is of the devil.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in a study examining the lies religious tradition has taught us. Concepts taught so often and with such conviction that it almost seems blasphemous to dare question them. Ideas that have built up strongholds in our minds. 

 So far we've exposed the lies that say God is the author of sickness and disease. That God is the creator of disasters. That God is ordaining evil in your life to bring about good. That God is for your poverty and to live in insufficiency. 

 Today, it seems good to build upon the foundation we laid in our last post. Coupled with the religious lie that claims there is no such experience as the Baptism in the Spirit, it is the lie that says speaking with tongues today is of the devil. The idea that those who speak with tongues today are somehow deceived and under the influence of demons.

 This insidious lie has its roots in the lie that all the Gifts of the Spirit somehow ceased when the last Apostle died. We have exposed this lie in an entire study here. When you believe the lie that God took His Gifts back from the Church you will be open to religious traditional concepts born in the imagination of unbelieving religious men.

 The only source for absolute truth for the Church is God's Word. God revealed His plans and purposes for the Body of Christ in the Good Book. If we just read the Word in context, free from religious tradition we'd see more triumphant victory in the Church as a whole. 

 So using God's Word, we cannot find any place where speaking with tongues is attributed to anything but the Holy Ghost. 

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Acts 10:44-46 NKJV

 So the Spirit came upon these new believers. They spoke with tongues magnifying God. So a spiritual utterance that magnifies God is somehow today of the devil? This is the height of religious traditional arrogant unbelief. 

 I heard an encounter a great minister had with a religious tradition-bound believer. He was in a coffee shop and he saw the traditional guy reading a bible and he simply asked what he was studying and then the minister directed the conversation into telling him of the great things happening at his church. He spoke of an older woman who was healed of deafness. No response. He spoke of revival, in that many were saved and getting stirred for the things of God. 

 The fellow mentions that in the last times seducing spirits would arise. The minister went on to speak of how families were being restored and all those impacted were going out winning the lost. Again the fellow mentions seducing spirits in the last days. Finally, the minister bluntly asked him are you insinuating that people being healed, getting saved and reading the Word more and more, families being restored and made whole, and people being reached with the saving power of Christ is of the devil? The religious fellow affirmed firmly yes. This minister holding his peace just told the fellow plainly, your devil and his power of deception is greater than your Jesus and His power. 

 This is sad but so true in many quarters of the Body of Christ. Deception, the power of the enemy seems so great and the power of Jesus is impotent and weak. When tradition regulates the power of God only until the last Apostle died and the Bible was written, any power manifest in the Church must be of the enemy or charlatans seeking to fleece the flock of their finances. 

 With the badge of skepticism and the exalted place of "honor" unbelief has in most churches it is a wonder God can do anything in their midst. God in His love and great mercy still moves as the Church allows. So then is the supernatural prayer language, tongues, then somehow of the devil today? Of course not!

 As we've seen, speaking with Tongues magnifies God. In Acts 2 we see both heavenly Tongues and earthly Tongues manifest. The people testify they heard them proclaiming the wonderful works of God. The devil won't cause anyone to proclaim God's goodness. 

 Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 that tongues are a prayer language, that our spirit is praying. Our spirit man, not some demon. The enemy is not causing God's people to pray. Traditional religion has some of the most outlandish claims. For final proof let's revisit Jesus' words.

We see Jesus speak of receiving the Spirit in Luke 11. Note what He said. If you ask for bread, a good father wouldn't give you a stone. In other words, if you ask of God for something, you won't get a curse. So, asking for the Spirit and the accompanying prayer language you won't get a demon. We've addressed the great benefits of Tongues in previous studies, here and here.

 God is a Good God. He is a supernatural God. He is a God of power and might. His power hasn't waned or weakened. His power and Gifts haven't become impotent or ceased. His power is for the hungry, those who desire what He desires. To see a hurting and hopeless World find hope, healing, and wholeness in Christ, by and through His Spirit. 

 In summation, all of God's Gifts of power and ministry are still active and in effect today. No, God's Gifts today are not the work of demons in action. Relinquish fear and anxiety and receive all God has for you. Jesus promised when you ask God for His Spirit you will receive. No fear of demons and the work of the enemy. Staying with the Word in context, rightly dividing the New Covenant and Old, will shield any believer from any form of deception and error. God is the triumphant victor and we partake of this victory, greater is He that is in us than he that in this world. 

image by J F from Pixabay 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: There is no such experience as the Baptism In the Holy Ghost

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been an ongoing study looking at the lies the religious tradition of men have taught the Church. Ideas, concepts, and views that seem to be so right that it almost seems blasphemous to question them. Teachings that have been heard for so long they have formed and fashioned strongholds in the minds of many.

 We want to take the Scriptures and pull down these strongholds. So far we've exposed the insidious lies that God makes people sick or disease-ridden. That He is the creator of storms and disasters. That He is ordaining all things for our good, that He desires our poverty and to live in insufficiency and lack. 

 Today, I want to expose an age-old lie from traditional religious mindsets. This idea that there exists no such experience as the Baptism in the Spirit. If you've been with this blog for some time you may recall we've studied the Baptism in the Spirit in light of Grace. Today, we are going to go further and expose this lie that there is no "subsequent experience" after initial salvation. 

 In the Gospels, we see the first mention of the Baptism in the Spirit. Then in the book of Acts Jesus, Himself speaks of this Baptism in the Spirit. So this begs the question, what is the Baptism in the Spirit? Is it another name for the salvation experience? 

 No, it is not just another name expressing salvation. For how do we explain this passage?
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22 NKJV

 If the Holy Spirit was not given until Pentecost what happened here? Was Jesus merely saying, "hey when the Spirit comes be welcoming and hospitable to Him"? No, Jesus breathed on them. What does that remind you of? Genesis! When God made Adam He breathed upon him and life came. These disciples were born again at this moment. Jesus had died and rose again and therefore New Covenant salvation was made available to all who would receive. 

 So, with this understanding, what did Jesus tell the Apostles in Acts 1? Did He say wait in Jerusalem to be born again? Wait in Jerusalem until you be converted? Wait in Jerusalem until you get saved? No, He said to wait for the promised Holy Ghost, wait for the promise He had spoken of. 

 If the disciples and Apostles needed to wait for conversion, then we have another problem. How will any future generation know for certain they too were saved when they believed? There was no rushing mighty wind, no cloven tongues of fire. Nothing spectacular. No, this event was the first time the Spirit came and filled God's people to the overflow. 

There is no such subsequent experience as the Baptism in the Spirit? Then how do we explain these passages?
And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Acts 8:6,12 NKJV
 So we see here, the Gospel preached, Jesus and His great Grace is shared, the result? The masses are born again and baptized in water. So according to tradition, we get all there is at initial salvation, no subsequent experience, no filling with the Spirit. No Baptism in the Spirit, no need to receive the Spirit. Let's keep reading.
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17 NKJV 
 Wait, why did they need the Apostles to come to lay hands on them to receive the Spirit? I thought we got it all at initial salvation? I have seen explanations used to excuse away what was clear and obvious that these believers were saved already and had the Spirit within but the Apostles came to pray they receive the Spirit upon.

 Some religious leaders say because the Samarians had an unfriendly relationship historically with the Jews they needed the Apostles to come and lay hands to receive the Spirit. Wait, wasn't Philip a Jew? He already won the hearts of the people. He was one of the seven chosen in Acts 6. So this explanation falls short. Again, this opens up doubt that some today may not genuinely be born again, no Apostle laid hands on them, 

 Let's look at Paul. Surely he who wrote 2/3rds of the New Testament would know what salvation entails. 
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”                Acts 19:1-2 NKJV
 Paul, come on brother, don't you know you get it all at initial conversion? Why did Paul even ask this then? Didn't he know the truth of it all comes at once? 

 The obvious conclusion we must reach with these two passages is that there is, in fact, a subsequent experience called the Baptism in the Spirit. Still unconvinced? Let's look at Paul's conversion experience. Paul acknowledges the Lordship of Christ, lost people don't do that. Let's continue reading.
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17
 Why does Ananias need to lay hands on Paul for him to be filled with the Spirit? Again I thought we got it all at initial salvation?
When we lay aside bias, preconceived notions, traditions of men, and personal experience and just read the Scriptures we are opened to a whole realm of relationship with God that is so freeing and fulfilling. 

 If one was never exposed to traditional religion and just read the New Covenant, they'd come away believing God is good all the time. That healing is for all, and God isn't the author of evil. That the infilling of the Spirit is a valid experience for all, and the Gifts of the Spirit are for today. 

 I am certain some reading may be objecting on the basis of the New Covenant and the fact that we are complete in Christ when we are saved. I have addressed this concern in an entire study here

 What is this Baptism in the Spirit? The Baptism in the Spirit is when Jesus immerses the believer into the Spirit for the purpose of empowerment for works of service. These works are for the advancement of the kingdom. To further the Gospel message with power and demonstration. 

 Look at Peter, when Jesus was led away to be crucified, he denied Christ three times. He couldn't even name the name of Jesus to a little maid warming herself by the fire. The fear of Roman persecution and death was greater than his faith in Jesus. Yet, after Peter's conversion and being filled with the Spirit, he proclaimed Jesus in front of thousands and saw many believe. Bold, demonstrative Faith was his testimony.

 In summation, relinquish the lies of the traditions of men. Men make excuses for their lack of spiritual power and timidness in the eyes of this fallen world. They demote Faith and spiritual power and exalt unbelief and skepticism. If they can explain away the Baptism in the Spirit, and the Gifts of the Spirit, they can excuse away their powerless proclamation of Christ. Don't align with tradition, align with all God has for you and receive His present power in your life. 
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Lies Religious Tradition Taught us: Poverty is a blessing

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in a new series studying the lies religious tradition has taught us. Ideas and concepts heard so often they've become strongholds in our thinking. Points taught in such a way that if anyone dares question it appears they are countering God Himself and therefore promoting heresy. 

 We've exposed the lies taught that God is the author of sickness and pain. That God sends disasters and storms. That all events, even death, and tragedy are somehow designed for our good. Today, it seemed good to dethrone another lie. The concept that poverty and lack are somehow pious, and a blessing for the Believer in Christ. 

 Before I continue, I must qualify where I am going in this study. For those who've followed this blog for a time they know I have in the past come against the "prosperity gospel". In all those posts I endeavored to explain the Biblical objection to what is taught in some circles. The issue isn't God desiring to bless His children. The issue was the performance and condemnation this teaching created. The idea if you lived basically perfectly you would be rich and never have a problem again. 

 With any Gospel truth, there can exist excess that can formulate into error if left uncorrected. Under Grace, some think that any act of service, or giving, or discipleship is somehow legalism and counters Grace. That is not the truth. Under Grace, we don't serve or give or grow in our walk, in order to gain God's favor or love or blessing. No, because of Christ we already have His love and favor and blessing, and because of this we freely give and serve and grow in Him.

 So it is with prosperity and blessing and the abundant life in Christ. God never promised all believers would be millionaires. Understanding this, we can still believe and receive His abundant blessing in all areas of our life. 

 With clarity given let's address this religious lie. Where the prosperity excess is that all will be millionaires and never have a problem, the religious lie is that God hates financial abundance and favors lack and poverty and wishes His family to abide in squalor. That somehow for some mysterious reason God desires His own to be poor and poverty-stricken.

 What is of interest to note that the religious leaders and those under their influence with a voice that rail against the "prosperity" message are very well off people who live in affluence. One such leader, who rails against Charismatic Christianity and Joel Osteen, has a net worth of $14 million! I guess he means to say prosperity for me and not for thee!

 Religious tradition exalts itself over others and tries to regulate what is "right and wrong" for believers today, (not speaking of what is clearly written in Scripture that counters our new identity; sin, unforgiveness, bitterness, walking out of love), that is what is acceptable or not. The power of God, the Gifts of the Spirit today, healing, prosperity, praying in tongues, all these are "bad" and "unacceptable" for today.  

 Religious leaders and their disciples with a platform like to pronounce how wrong and heretical any message of prosperity is. That the idea that God wants the best for His kids in all circumstances is somehow false teaching. Yet, they sit in affluence, well dressed, well off and their own children clothed, fed, and in comfort. In their distorted religious minds, they think it's good and right and just that God wants His own children to live in lack and squalor. In essence, they are really saying they are a more loving, more caring, more compassionate and giving parent than God Almighty. 

  Religious tradition distorts the Goodness of God. 
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 2

 This is God's will concerning blessings and healing. This is God's highest and best for all His family. This passage doesn't say there won't be any weapons formed against you, but we know no weapon formed will prosper against you. It isn't saying all will be millionaires. It just says God desires above all things after you're born again and Spirit-filled that you'd be prosperous and healed. 

 With so much controversy surrounding this passage, and the objections religious tradition fashions to explain it away there is an insight to help better understand this verse. The Word speaks so much of our inward man. What does Paul say in Colossians

 We are complete in Him. Paul also shares the prayer of Epaphras;
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12 NKJV

  A better understanding of 3 John 2 is found in Colossians. God declares we are complete in Christ. The heart cry is that we stand perfect and complete in all God's will. 3 John 2 echos this sentiment. What John is saying and declaring over us is that God desires us to be complete outwardly just as we are already complete inwardly.

 To be complete outwardly is God's will and best for all of us. If poverty is God's best then why is Heaven, the abode of God Almighty lavishly laden with the splendor of gold and pearl and sapphires and emeralds? Why is God sitting on such a majestic throne? Why is Jesus given praise this way in Heaven?

12 saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12 NKJV

Poverty, lack, sickness, and disease are not outward completeness but outward brokenness. God wants us whole. God desires we be complete outwardly just as we are inward.

 In summation, God is a Good Father, we never see Jesus making people poor and poverty-stricken. He provided for Peter's tax bill supernaturally. All those who were defrauded by Zacchaeus the tax collector had their losses restored. Jesus fed the five thousand. Provision is God's best. Don't accept the lie that poverty is good and prosperity is bad. God meets the needs of His family. 
image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay