Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apostles: True or False? by George Davis and Michael Clark

True apostles are not called and made by men, they are birthed and transformed by God. Nothing reveals a counterfeit as effectively as the genuine article. It is an issue of the organic verses the synthetic, the real opposed to the knock-off. ...Who is doing the transforming, God or men? If it is God, the apostle is true, but if it is men, these apostles are Satan's ministers. From what we have seen so far, today's apostolic reformation more resembles Horatio Alger's self-made man than the birthing of true apostles. True apostles are God-birthed, not self-transformed. They are born from above, not made by the hands and wills of men.

In chapter two of the book of Revelation, Jesus is walking in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands, which represented the churches of Asia Minor. Among the few positive things that He said to them are the following words to the church at Ephesus, " tried those pretending to be apostles, and are not, and have found them liars" (Revelation 2:2). The trial of those who pretended to be apostles is listed among the positive actions of the Ephesian Church, which pleased the Lord. We are fully aware that we are living in a day when many of God's children fail to understand the difference between testing and judgment, discernment and criticism, and view all speech and writing of a negative nature as critical and destructive. This has led to a general no-speak climate enforced by those in control that resists reform and allows unchecked deception. We are commanded to prove (dokimazo - to test, examine, scrutinize) the genuineness of all things and hold fast to what is good. (See 1Thessalonians 5:21). It is in this spirit that we write the following article.

In certain circles today, a great emphasis is placed on the restoration of the "office of apostle." We believe this has led to an unwholesome preoccupation by power hungry men and women seeking to corral the saints of God in a sheepfold that does not belong to the Good Shepherd. As a result, you cannot kick over an ecclesiastical rock without finding an "apostle" under it. At first this seemed rather innocuous because those claiming this title were a scattered few, but lately this inordinate ambition has risen like a ziggurat on the plains of Shinar.

You can never underestimate the resolve of ambitious men. When people set their minds to a thing, and become one around a central ambition, "nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (Gen 11:6). This preoccupation with the restoration of apostles has resulted in a network of so-called apostles and a "presiding apostle" sitting over them in kingly regalia. Under the name of biblical apostleship, these men have created a new Romanism. They move in both secular and religious power, "mapping" an empire tantamount to global papalism, issuing their own versions of the papal bulls called memorandums. These men set themselves over the people of God by the frequent use of honorific titles and extravagant ministry names. Although they claim that their actions are biblical, there is little scriptural evidence to support them.

We do find one passage that aptly describes the driving force behind this new apostolic reformation. It is found in 2 Corinthians 11:13 where the apostle Paul wrote:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves (3345 metaschematizo--self-transformation) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed (self-transformed) into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Who is doing the transforming, God or men? If it is God, the apostle is true, but if it is men, these apostles are Satan's ministers. From what we have seen so far, today's apostolic reformation more resembles Horatio Alger's self-made man than the birthing of true apostles. True apostles are God-birthed, not self-transformed. They are born from above, not made by the hands and wills of men.

Not to long ago, I (Michael) went to one of these big name conferences where these self-made men and women presided. The worst sort of pride and lust for power permeated not only the elevated leaders, but went out from them and saturated the crowd that gathered to worship at their feet! The unspoken message from the stage for three days was, "If you give us power and honor, you will receive power and honor from us as well!" We are convinced that these self-transformed "apostles" who come as messengers of light are deceiving thousands. For the sake of God's children we can no longer keep silent!

True apostles are not called and made by men, they are birthed and transformed by God. Nothing reveals a counterfeit as effectively as the genuine article. It is an issue of the organic verses the synthetic, the real opposed to the knock-off. Let us first look at the calling of a genuine apostle, whose birth and preparation was unlike anything known by most of today's so-called apostles.

"One Born Out of Due Season"
We see in Paul an example of the birth of a genuine apostle. Paul spoke of this birth in 1 Corinthians 15:8-10.

"Then last of all He (the risen Lord Jesus) was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (NKJV)

Note here that Paul attributed who he was and what he did to the transforming grace of God. He was indeed God's workmanship born in travail and crisis. Paul spoke of his calling in Galatians chapter one. "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)" (Galatians 1:1). Paul's election was not of men. What does this mean? The Greek word for of here is apo [575], which should more correctly be translated from. Paul's calling did not come from man. Neither did it originate with or was it sustained by or through man. It was not the result of years of working his way up through a religious hierarchy, accumulating degrees and finally receiving the recognition due him. Paul's calling and ministry were heavenly in their conception, inception and fruition. From beginning to end, Paul was what he was by the grace of God. Paul was not a self-made man. Those days were over for him when he forsook his past as one of the religious vanguard of Jerusalem in favor of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Even the gospel that he preached was not formulated or pre-approved by man. It was not developed in a church conclave. In fact, it was not well received by many religious men and therefore brought him into constant conflict with those who did not known the true meaning of the precious gospel that he preached.

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after (kata -down from, through out, according to) man. For I neither received it of (para- with, from, by, near) man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)

The gospel that Paul preached did not come down (kata) through an approved religious agency. He didn't receive it through association with men. He was not near men when he received it. Paul went out of his way to deny all human involvement regarding his calling and ministry. If his calling and gospel were not purely divine and untainted by ecclesiastical persuasion and ambition, then his ministry could not be purely from heaven. Paul did not seek the approval of men. In fact he saw searching for man's approval as a disqualifying factor, clearly stating that if he sought the approval of men he could not be the servant of Christ. (See Galatians 1:10). He received his Gospel first hand by the revelation of Jesus Christ. How then did God birth and equip this "one born of due season"? How did God transform a Pharisee by the name of Saul into Paul?

From Saul to Paul
In Hebrew culture the changing of the name represented a change of character and station. Names were also prophetic, foretelling your destiny. We see this name changing by the hand of God throughout the scriptures. In the early chapters of Acts, we are introduced to Saul of Tarsus, an ambitious young Pharisee who guarded the cloaks of those who were stoning Stephen and consented to his death. The name Saul means desired. We know that King Saul of the Old Testament was desired and chosen by the people because he met the outward standard of greatness. This standard was not God's standard of leadership, but pagan through and through. Saul was the son of Kish, who descended from Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor.

This son of Kish was "an impressive young man; and there was not among the children of Israel a better (towb) person than he. From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people" (1Samuel 9:2).

In what way was Saul better? He was towb [02896] good, "pleasant, agreeable to the senses." He appealed to the soulish nature of fallen man. When Eve look upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she "saw that the tree [was] good (Heb. towb) for food." In physical stature Saul was taller than any one else in Israel and quite handsome. He was striking in personal appearance. From a purely human perspective Saul was the perfect male, gifted with great potential and charisma for leadership. Let's not forget that Israel had requested a king like those of all the nations (1 Samuel 8:5). This is exactly why Saul appealed to them. He fulfilled the lusts of their hearts perfectly.

Now back to Saul of Tarsus.

Saul of Tarsus had a "little-man complex" that may have motivated him to do spectacular things and do whatever was necessary to excel above his peers. From all appearances he was trying to live up to his namesake, King Saul. From what we know of his pre-conversion days, he was very ambitious. His persecution of the church was to further his career as a Pharisee. Saul of Tarsus was a man on the make, climbing, excelling. He worked hard to reach the top of the religious ladder, overcoming great obstacles along the way. The greatest obstacle of all was his weak outward stature and his speech, which some referred to as contemptible (see 2 Corinthians 10:7).

In chapter thirteen, verse nine of the book of Acts, something life-changing happened to Saul of Tarsus. By this time, even his name was changed from Saul to Paul. The name Paul or Paulus means small or little. Are you catching the drift here? Something happened to Saul that ended his striving to be head and shoulders above the rest. The old Saul-life had passed away and a new name had been assumed that matched his God given character and calling. A new nature and destiny had transformed the man who had struck fear in the hearts of believers, who now preached "the faith which once he destroyed" (Galatians 1: 23).

How had such a radical transformation occurred? What would cause an ambitious man to count his life-pursuit and his perfect religious credentials as dung? What would cause such a man to join the very ones he had persecuted? How was Saul transformed into Paul? The amazing story is recorded in Acts chapters nine through thirteen. Understanding this portion of scripture is key to understanding the birth of an apostle and also discerning the true from the false.

In chapter nine we find Saul in his quest for greatness, doing the very thing that would give his religious career the boost it needed. "Breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord," he went to the high priest, to request a letter of permission to go to Damascus and bring believers bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2).

A funny thing happened to Saul on his way to the top. He was knocked off his religious horse on his religious posterior by a blinding light. After being properly introduced to Jesus Christ as Lord, he was led blind to Damascus. Unbeknownst to Saul, God was speaking to a dear saint named Ananias, telling him that Saul was a chosen messenger. The Lord said to Ananias, "Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake" (Act 9:15-16).

Here is the rub. We all want to stand before nations and kings and preach the gospel to them, but no one wants to suffer. How many times have we heard the verse parroted, "A man's gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men" (Proverbs 18:16, NKJV)? Have you ever considered the condition God's gifted ones were in when they were brought before the kings of this earth? Some were flogged, starved, and even beheaded as they were presented to these great men of the world system. This could explain why there are so few true apostles today. For this call -- the call of an apostle--IS a call to suffering and that suffering is preparatory and necessary to the work. I (George) told my son, who has recently been going through a severe trial, "Pressure creates the diamond." His answer, though quite candid, is very relevant here. "Yes, but how long do I have to be a chunk of coal?"

I am sure there are many with this call on their lives who feel this very way. We also have called out, "How much longer, Lord?" But take heart and know that true apostles are born through such travail and suffering. The sufferings of this present hour are not to be compared with the greater weight of glory that lies just beyond the cross.

We see this clearly borne out as Saul's story continues. Ananias found Saul, embraced him as a brother, prayed for him and God healed his blindness. Because of his newfound zeal for Christ and his effective preaching in the local synagogue, the Jews set guards at the city gates to take and kill him. Thus his suffering began. The other disciples heard of this plot and lowered Saul down through the city wall in a basket and he escaped to Jerusalem. There, the disciples at first distrusted Saul and later found him too hot to handle. Yes, as soon as Saul hit the city gates he was stirring up trouble again. He preached boldly in the name of the Lord and disputed against the Grecian Jews, who also wanted to kill him.

When the brothers discovered the intentions of the religious Jews, they brought Saul down to Caesarea, and sent him off by ship to Tarsus (Act 9:30). And then "the assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up" (9:31). Perhaps it is not fair to say that the reason for the unrest in the Jerusalem Church was Saul's white-hot zeal, but Luke did think it necessary to record the calm after his departure. Saul's suffering continued as his zeal for preaching the gospel far outweighed any desire he had for a life of Christian enjoyment. His passion for the lost was greater than his desire for his own comfort and safety. Saul stirred the religious pot in Jerusalem. This would not be the last time he would do so. Things were just beginning to calm down after the trouble that Stephen stirred up when he challenged the high council of Jerusalem, and here came another radical. Saul cannot even find consolation in the community of believers. His zeal separated him from them as well.

God had separated him unto Christ from his mother's womb, separated him from the "Jews' religion" (Galatians 1:12-13), and now he was still being separated, but now unto Christ alone. When God sets you apart, He REALLY sets you apart! Jesus was insuring that man would have nothing to do with the birthing and transforming of this apostle, nor would men influence the gospel that he would preach. Where was Saul to go? He was initially sent away to his hometown, Tarsus, but it is clear from his own account of this time of preparation that this is not the whole story. Where did he go? In Acts, Paul completely disappears from the scene for a long period of time.

Here is his own account:

For you have heard of my way of living in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the assembly of God, and ravaged it. I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of my own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I didn't immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia.

The Wilderness
After Paul's conversion he did not confer with flesh and blood but instead went into Arabia. The area called Arabia or Arab extends into the Great Syrian Desert. Where is the first place that God led Saul, to prepare him for this great call on his life? The Spirit lead him into the wilderness. Where else would Jesus prepare a chosen vessel? The one common thread that we find in the lives of those God separates unto Himself to do His will is an extensive time of wilderness that kills everything of their old natures and places the kingdom of heaven in their hearts. The stripping process of the wilderness is what makes a true apostle impermeable to the things of men and devoted to the things of God. We don't know much about what happened during this period of Paul's life, but we do know that God had His way with him and made him ready for the work that was ahead in building HIS kingdom.

Before Paul returned to Damascus, Christ had been formed in Him. Today many want the power, the title and the authority that Paul had, but few are willing to be tested and proven in their own wilderness period. Few are willing to let God strip them down to nothing and then raise them up in the character of His own Son. Most think that they can use the strength of their natural man to do "the work of God." To this we emphatically say, "NOT!"

Isaiah prophesied of this dichotomy when he said,

Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled--This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10-11, NKJV).

Apostle Paul continues,

Then I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days. But of the other apostles I saw no one, except James, the Lord's brother. Now about the things which I write to you, behold, before God, I'm not lying. Then I came to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I was still unknown by face to the assemblies of Judea which were in Christ, but they only heard: "He who once persecuted us now preaches the faith that he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God in me. . .Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me." (Galatians 1:13-2:1).

It was more than seventeen years before Paul went up to Jerusalem to resolve the Antioch conflict. True apostles are not born overnight.

During this fourteen-year period (2:1), Barnabas, at the bidding of the assembly at Jerusalem, went to see if the reports of the vital Gentile church at Antioch were true. Obviously those apostles who sat in comfortable popularity in Jerusalem did not start that work, or they would have known about it. The Antioch Church that Barnabas witnessed was a great source of rejoicing to him, and we have no record of him reporting back to Jerusalem. Who was the first one that Barnabas thought of when he found this glorious Antioch Church that had mysteriously sprung up? He remembered Saul and his burden for the Gentiles, and without so much as a by your leave from the Jerusalem apostles, Barnabas straightway set out for Tarsus to find Saul.

When Barnabas found Saul he told him about this anomaly at Antioch. They returned together and stayed there at the Antioch Church, teaching the believers for the following year (see Acts 11:22-26).

The Final Stages of an Apostle's Birth
It was while Saul was there at Antioch that another great transformation occurred in his life and ministry. Let's read the account in its entirety to see the final stages of the birthing of an apostle.

And in Antioch some among the existing church were prophets and teachers. (such as Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, So, then, separate Barnabas and Saul to Me for the work to which I have called them. Then having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, THEY LET THEM GO (to set free, to let go, dismiss, to detain no longer). Then these indeed sent out by the Holy Spirit went down to Seleucia. And from there they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they announced the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they also had John as an assistant. And when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain conjurer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-jesus; who was with the proconsul of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man. He called for Barnabas and Saul and asked to hear the Word of God. But Elymas the conjurer (for so his name is, if translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul (who is also Paul), FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, set his eyes on him and said, O son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all craftiness, enemy of all righteousness, will you not stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is on you. And you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a while. And immediately a mist and a darkness fell on him, and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then, seeing the thing happening, the proconsul believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. And Paul and those around him sailed from Paphos and came to Perga of Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem. (Act 13:1-13 MKJV)

Note the transition here. It all began with a prayer meeting where prophets and teachers, including Barnabas and Saul, were ministering to the Lord and fasting. It is noteworthy that in the long list of those attending this meeting, Saul is mentioned last. The one who excelled beyond his peers in the Jews' religion was now last in the ekklesia of God. God had him right where he wanted him. Also, when Barnabas and Saul are mentioned together, Barnabas is mentioned first.

As they ministered to the Lord the Holy Spirit spoke a word of separation, "SEPARATE Barnabas and Saul to Me. . ." Consider for a moment the true nature of this separation. This was a call that severed all human attachments, a call to let them go, a call to be set aside BY and UNTO the Spirit of God alone. It was a call to be filled, led and empowered solely by God's Spirit. Something was about to change! Before this time Barnabas and Saul had not been fully SEPARATED by the Spirit unto the work. They had taught and preached the gospel in previous days but something was about to change! Saul had performed no miracles before this time that we know of. Again we see Saul being separated, first unto the Holy Spirit and then unto the work. Then after more fasting and prayer they laid hands on them and let them go.

Please hear us! These brothers were not sent out by the church; they were sent out by the Holy Spirit! They were led out. All that was required of the other brothers in that meeting was to LET THEM GO! That's exactly what they did. They prayed and laid hands on them and let them go. They did not send them forth. They simply set them free to be fully led by God's Spirit--to raise their sails and to be directed by HIS Wind (see John 3:8).

Only God knows all the hidden ties that His children put upon each other, if only the expectation that they should faithfully fill a pew every Sunday morning. God's call on other believers is really none of our affair. Before their Master they will stand or fall. To believe otherwise is to assume a lording-over posture rather than one of caring and obedience. No matter how much we love each other and desire to be together, we must hold all relationships loosely, understanding that the Holy Spirit still SEPARATES believers unto Himself. We are always called to be ministers to God before we are set forth to minister unto men. On judgment day we will answer to Him, not mere mortals. Do you remember Jesus' words to Peter, who was excessively curious about John's calling? "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me" (John 21:22).

Barnabas and Saul sailed to Paphos, where they met a conjurer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who hindered them in any way he could. Note Barnabas is still mentioned before Saul here. Finally, in verse nine, Saul (who is also Paul), FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, pronounced blindness upon this "son of the Devil," who afterwards had to be led about by the hand for a season. As a result the proconsul was astonished at the doctrine of the Lord and believed!

In verse 13 we read these pivotal words. "And Paul and those around him sailed from Paphos and came to Perga of Pamphylia." Hallelujah! Saul is dead! Paul is born!

Now it is "Paul and those around him." When King Saul was little in his own eyes, God could use him. So it was here. Saul of Tarsus had grown into his new name. Paul--Paulus--small or little. The wilderness had done its work. God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Here we see something said of Paul that was never said of him before. Paul, "FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT." There is no doubt that in the past he had been full of zeal, but now, having been fully separated unto the Spirit, he was FULL OF THE SPIRIT and power. As the prophet Zechariah prophesied, "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6, NKJV). The way up is down and the way down is up. As Paul's life indicates, the preparation to be an apostle first consists of an emptying and stripping of the old Saul-life (Philippians 3:4-8) and then a filling of the Spirit.

Now that we have witnessed the birthing of a true apostle, let's compare it to the apostolic network that is appearing center-stage, cheered on by many in Christendom today.

"New Apostolic Reformation"
One of the defining differences between Paul and many of the so-called apostles of today is that Paul decreased. By contrast, these men and women who flaunt their titles and positions are ever on the increase. Another big difference is that Paul preached Christ, while these are ever preaching their apostleship. Paul wrote, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5). In contrast, all the books by today's rising stars are written in defense of their supposed ministries. Their sole preoccupation is the resurgence of apostles in the church and the restoration of apostolic authority. To our knowledge, only those who view themselves as apostles have written such books. This is a clear conflict of interest since they preach themselves!

Paul warns us that the identifying mark of false apostles is masquerading. "For such men are deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13). If you are not a true apostle, it requires constant posing and posturing to convince others that you are. This may explain the need to make up new and extravagant ministry titles almost daily. They want us to think they are as important as they think they are.

They clearly state that victory in "spiritual warfare" is dependent upon them "going into an area and doing spiritual battle with territorial spirits." One of these so-called apostles wrote,

"These evil prince spirits will be defeated little by little, and they will be eventually dethroned by the warfare of the Church. In contrast, a man who is an apostle and submitted to Christ will now reign spiritually over that locality in place of the displaced evil prince spirit . . . As these evil prince angels are defeated one by one, Satan's control over the world is seriously weakened. Finally, in unified global spiritual warfare, the last apostles and the Church will confront Satan himself."

Talk about visions of grandeur! We thought that the angels of God were the ones who throw Satan into the lake of fire at God's appointed time. It was this kind of insanity that Jude warned against when he wrote:

In the same way these dreamers make the flesh unclean, having no respect for authorities, and say evil of rulers. Now when Michael, one of the chief angels, was fighting against the Evil One for the body of Moses, fearing to make use of violent words against him, he only said, May the Lord be your judge. But these men say evil about such things as they have no knowledge of; and the things of which they have natural knowledge, like beasts without reason, are the cause of their destruction. (Jude 1:8-10, BBE).

These presumptuous men also believe that the restoration of "the office of the apostle" is key to "releasing finances" for the church. In their own minds, these men see themselves as the answer to all the needs of the church. A few have even dared to place themselves at the top of the apostolic heap.

After the 9 -11 attacks one of these "apostles," who refers to himself as the "Presiding Apostle," gives us a glimpse into the megalomania of these poor self-deluded men and women.

"In our roles as apostolic leaders of the International Coalition of Apostles, both John Doe (not his real name) and I have written initial apostolic declarations. This is mine, and John Doe's will be attached to it in the same communication . . . I habitually read a chapter of the Bible before each day begins. On September 11, I read 2 Kings 18 before I had heard that we were in a national crisis.

Naturally my reading for September 12, after I knew about it, was 2 Kings 19. This is the story of Hezekiah. In 18 he went on a spiritual offensive and wiped out idolatry from Judah. The devil did not like this, so he sent Sennacherib of Assyria against him with a threat, which I liken to the destruction of the twin towers. As I prayed for my personal role in this crisis, I came to 2 Kings 19 recording Hezekiah's reaction. Hezekiah inquired of the Lord, then sent for the Lord's word through Isaiah the prophet. He was aware that "God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

Only when he had received the word of the Lord through Isaiah did Hezekiah go back before the Lord and make his kingly declaration. I saw that the Lord wanted me to postpone any declaration about the twin towers war until word had come in from the prophets. The word, at least a preliminary word, has now come in from the prophets (we have received over 1,000 emails), so I am ready to write this memorandum."

Does this man actually envision himself as a king, making a kingly declaration?

He continues,

"I imagine that numbers of other apostles, besides John Doe (not his real name) and me, will be doing the same thing. Who knows? Maybe some day we will be able to collate them in order to agree on what the Spirit is saying to the churches. . .the Strategic Prayer Network, the Observatory, Generals of Intercession, the International Coalition of Apostles, the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, the Jericho Center and other vital units."

Thank you, commander and chief! Did you notice how they gravitate to the titles that this world system employs--titles like Strategic, Network, Generals, Coalition, Center and units? One of these men spoke of an ever increasing ascendancy of titles as the emphasis changed from the ministry of pastors to teachers, from teachers to evangelists, from evangelists to prophets and from prophets to apostles over the last five decades. When I heard this, I (Michael) thought, what title will they clamor after next, the title of Jesus Christ the King? After reading the memorandum above, this does not seem to be so far out of reach. There is nothing so blinding as pride. In contrast, the words of Paul come to mind,

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:1-6, NKJV).
The one who builds the house gets the glory. We ask you, "What house are these men building and who is getting the glory?" The answer is all too obvious.

These self-appointed kingdom builders also charge exorbitant prices to get in to their meetings, often over $300 per seat. They make merchandise of the unsuspecting people of God. Other than the Bible, the Didache is among the oldest Christian documents. It was written about 150 AD. In it we find the following instructions.

Now about the envoys (apostles) and prophets, do just as according to the tenet of the good message. Now each envoy who comes to you, accept as you would the Lord. But he will not remain for one day. Now if there is need, also the next day. But if he remains for three, he is a false prophet.
Now when the envoy departs, he should take nothing except bread until he lodges. But if he should ask for money, he is a false prophet.

The Signs of an Apostle
The scriptures clearly state that there are signs that prove whether or not a person is "one sent." Paul's ministry was questioned by the Corinthian ekklesia. He wrote them and reminded them that "the signs of an apostle" had accompanied his ministry. The article "the" in "the signs of an apostle" implies that in the first century ekklesia, it was common knowledge that these signs would confirm the ministry of those who were truly sent. These signs were miracles, wonders, and works of power (dunamis).

Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. (2Corinthians 12:12)

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Romans15:19)

When Paul preached the gospel, it was fully preached "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." We ask all who think they are apostles today, Are you sure? Do the signs of an apostle bear witness of your ministry? Are you truly a "sent one"? This is clearly the only true test of an apostle. If these signs are absent, you are not an apostle. Sorry!

If you cannot say with all sincerity, "by the grace of God I am what I am," and if the words "I labored more abundantly . . . yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" do not describe your ministry, you had better rethink your calling. You had better seek God and ask Him to try your heart to see if your apostleship is man-made or God birthed--driven by ambition or grace. There is nothing to lose except your illusions. If you discover that you are not an apostle and that you were duped by your own heart-ambitions, you have not lost anything, but have gained the truth. God knows whether the driving force behind our so-called ministries comes from a desire to be first or love for Him and His people. "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

The time when God winked at this kind of foolishness is over. You can not run a con on God. If you persist in this game you will loose. Paul was warning of this when he wrote,

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, NKJV).

In our years in institutional Christianity, we have witnessed the christianization of every ambition known to man. Let's get honest with ourselves, dear saints, and allow God's two-edged sword to pierce and divide between our soulish ambitions and what is birthed of God's Spirit in our lives. The flesh cannot mysteriously be transubstantiated into something spiritual. No, what is born of the flesh IS now and always will be flesh and shall not glory in His presence. The heart is desperately wicked and always tries to put the best face on the flesh. Only God is able to discern and expose its thoughts and intentions. So as living sacrifices, let us put ourselves on the altar before our Great High Priest that our inward thoughts can be laid bare and known to us. Better to find out now than later!

We Leave You with this Simple Exhortation
God is setting us apart so that we are no longer our own. Our minds are no longer ours either. The God who makes all things new is working to form the mind of Christ in us.

Part of God's work in us is to bring us to see that in our flesh dwells no good thing. There is nothing redeemable there. Many people who call themselves "Christian" today are reinventing themselves to avoid the work of the personal cross of Christ, the Cross that requires death to their ambitions. When Peter said to Jesus, "Lord spare yourself..." Jesus' reply was to the point, "Get behind me Satan, for you do not desire the things of God, but rather the things of men." He was speaking to the antichrist spirit within Peter. It is a harsh reality that the temple where the antichrist sits is the very temple of God, those who profess to be Jesus' followers. It was true then and it is even truer today. John wrote:

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 John 2:18-19, NKJV).

"Went out from" - Greek - exerchomai - 2a) to go out of an assembly, i.e. forsake it, 2b) to come forth from physically, arise from, to be born of, 2c) to go forth from one's power, escape from it in safety, 2d) to come forth (from privacy) into the world, before the public (of those who by novelty of opinion attract attention).

The antichrist spirit rises up above others ("little children") in order to attract attention to itself.

Now consider Paul's warning to the Ephesians,

For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31, NKJV).

This constant tendency to come out from the humble brethren and raise yourself up, to draw attention to yourself and build a following is the most perverse and yet the most common form of the man of sin. The son of perdition "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). It is evident that the falling away was well underway by the time the last of the early apostles died, even though there was some effort to counter the rising tide of hierarchy. "You will not exalt yourself, nor will you give over-boldness to your soul. Your soul will not cling with the high people, but you will conduct yourself with the just and lowly ones" (Didache).

Most of what is parading around in much pomp and circumstance as the "apostolic and prophetic movement" these days is antichrist to the core. These men and women who rise up over the saints of God have been duped and are not modeling the lowliness of Jesus Christ in the slightest degree. As we read their writings we see many chapters about their ministries and their right to rule over the people of God, but very little about Jesus. Maybe it takes being outside the camp, bearing His reproach for a few years, before you finally get eyes that can see what is going on in Christendom. We are praying that something as truly new as heaven itself comes forth rather than a rehash of the old Roman system with Biblical titles to cover its shame

God bless you as you follow the Lamb wherever He leads!

Sunday, September 14, 2014


by Steve Hill (Steve Hill Ministries)


Sometimes the line between right and wrong in doctrine and practice does not run through the words or even the practice but through the hearts of those involved. People may blame leaders and leaders may blame people. However, foolishness is often driven from both sides! It was the people of Israel that demanded a king when that was not God's will for them. God wanted to be their king! Theocracy is not rule by one man. That is a dictatorship! Theocracy is rule by God. This is fulfilled in the New Covenant with the statement that “the head of every man is Christ”! That is the promise of Jesus, “I will build my church!

Sometimes the line between truth and error is visible by the emphasis. Truth is in Jesus. It is living and dynamic. Jesus is God of God and man of very man. Logically those two things cannot be true in the same individual at the same time but our universe is not rationally determined. It is relationally structured. Truth is a person! Jesus is both Son of God and Son of Man. We must hold both at the same time to remain true to who He is. If we let go of either truth we end up in the ditch on the other side of the road. To remain in the way to God we must hold both to be equally, absolutely, totally true at the same time! Our minds must worship. They cannot understand, ie, control this! If my mind could do so, it would be God. My mind must worship the mystery of the Son of God who is the Son of Man! All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3)!

Take the example of “spiritual fatherhood” or “ministry father”. There is truth in tension here! Let us see what happens if we emphasize one side over the other. If I mention Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha as well as Paul and Timothy, what do you think of? What would you teach? Most would teach the necessity of having a spiritual father or a spiritual mentor. And that would be half of the truth. However, neither Moses nor Elijah nor Paul had a spiritual father! Paul even uses that fact as part of the authentication of his message and apostleship! True! Read Galatians 1:15- 24! That is the other side of the truth.

Why would the necessity of a spiritual father be taught from these examples and not the other side? What would be the motivation of the heart? If I have a need to be in control and to have people submit to me, I would emphasize the need for a spiritual father. If I am a rebel and want to justify my independence I will teach that we do not need to submit to anyone other than God.

However, if I do not have an agenda, I will teach both sides. 'The head of every man is Christ', Paul declared to the Corinthians in I Corinthians 11:3. And yet in the same book (I Corinthians 4:14) Paul admonishes the Corinthians as his “beloved children”. Truth is living and always in tension! The “head of every man is Christ” and “submit yourselves to one another in the fear of God” are both true at the same time!

Our aim is to be direct. Some may say we are too direct. Being “nice” was never one of my goals in life and being past fifty years old, I am not about to adopt that as a new goal. “Nice” is not a fruit of the Spirit! And in being direct I have Paul as a mentor! In Galatians he asks those promoting circumcision to “go all the way and castrate themselves” (Galatians 5:12, The Message)!

He is powerfully sarcastic when speaking to the Corinthians about their relationships with false apostles! Read II Corinthians 11 in the Message or the Amplified versions!



I Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

The reformation was fought on that one! Do you need a “priest” between you and God to mediate God for you? Doctrinally most present day Christians would say a resounding “No!” to that question. Why then do they allow themselves to be involved in a practice of that teaching? Why do they think they need to be submitted to a leader to be spiritually protected? Where does that come from? This comes from the Roman teaching that salvation is only possible if you are a part of the Roman institution and submitted to a priest.

The acceptance of this dogma by charismatic Christians is driven from both sides. The people do not want to take full responsibility for their relationship with Jesus and trust only Him for their spiritual security so they put another man in that place. The leaders find this dogma very useful for keeping people in their place, ie, in their ministry. In psycho babble this is called a codependent relationship! If Jesus is your head what more spiritual protection do you need? Take your responsibility to be in Christ!

I John 2:24- 28, “But the anointing which you have received from him abides in you and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is not a lie and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

John 16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;”

In Christ, by the anointing, we are taught the truth. John says that this is the antidote to those who try to deceive. Yes, we have teachers but we have the Holy Spirit and the promise of Jesus that He will guide us into all truth.

Again codependent relationships are driven from both sides. One side needs to be needed and the other side does not want to take responsibility to hear God for themselves. Your protection from spiritual deception is in the Christ and His anointing. Jesus declared that His sheep hear His voice (John 10:4)! That is your responsibility and your freedom!

I Peter 2:4- 10 “a holy priesthood”, “a royal priesthood”, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”

Our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ and not through any other man! We are all “holy” and “royal” priests. There are no first or second class priests. Only one class!

Why would anyone diminish the doctrine of Christ to let anyone else on the planet take any of His function over your life?

Peter goes on through the rest of chapter two and then through to chapter five talking about how we are to relate to each other as royal priests. He talks about submission to civil authorities and to authorities in the work place, even if what they ask may be unjust. He talks about wives submitting to husbands and husbands to wives “so that their prayers would not be hindered”! His conclusion to this section is in verse 8 of chapter 3, “Finally, all of you be of one mind having compassion for one another, love as brothers..”
The rest of chapter 3 and 4 talk about submitting to circumstances where we may suffer due to the fact that we are a Christian. Chapter 5 talks of relationship to spiritual authority. The leaders are commanded to serve without being “lords over those entrusted” to them. The younger are exhorted to submit to the elders but all are commanded to “be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility.”

When someone asks, “Who are you submitted to?” it is often a loaded question! They have their “covering” and they think less of others who do not! My answer to such a person is, “I am submitted to you!” What an answer! What a reality! Thank you Robert Fitts for that insight! (From a book soon to be published, “Forty Trends...” ).

Hierarchical submission is not New Testament. There is one Master who is Jesus and we are all brothers. Hierarchical submission is an invention of the Roman/Pagan system. It came in when a pagan priesthood was imposed upon the people of God.

Religion is special people (priests), in a special place (temple), at a special time (religious times and days), doing special things (rituals) for the people which they are not allowed to do for themselves. This creates the power of the priesthood and saves the people from responsibility. That is the “bargain” of religion. You give me your freedom (and your money) and I will remove any sense of responsibility for your life or guilt for your sin. You will enjoy a life free of moral responsibility. Just belong to the institution. You will also go to hell since you do not know Jesus! But who said it was a good bargain!

This religious spirit is the same spirit which slaughtered multitudes who simply wanted to read the bible for themselves. How much of this spiritual elitism has crept into the charismatic church?

Psalm 27 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Who shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 140:7 “Oh God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.”

One should know that spiritual covering dogma is wrong simply because it is based in fear. This dogma says that your life is not spiritually protected, ie, that you are open for demonic influence and attack in your life if you are not submitted to someone over you in the religious pecking order.

The kingdom of God is energized by faith working through love. If I truly love people my responsibility as a leader is to press their face into Jesus. Or as Paul said in II Corinthians 11:2, “present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”. That is our job! Apostles and prophets are to be foundational. Foundations are hidden. They hold up the rest of the building and push it into the sky. They are not the covering!

The kingdom of darkness is energized by fear working through hatred. If I have a motivation to control people, I fundamentally despise them. People were made for God. People were made for freedom. My motivation for sowing fear to control and to put myself in a place as a “covering” is really a fundamental hatred of people. I view them as something to be used to benefit my ministry, to run my programs, to serve my vision and generally, to be kept in their place for my benefit.

Psalm 105:39, Isaiah 4:5: “For over all the glory will be there for a covering.”

This was the picture as God took the children of Israel out of Egypt. The cloud by day and the fire by night were their covering. His glory, His presence was their covering. This is the picture as God creates over “every dwelling place of Mount Zion” the cloud by day and the fire by night of the covering of His glory.

Who is your covering? The glorious, eternal, almighty God Himself! His presence in cloud and fire. His glory manifested over my life. This is my Father's world! I dwell in His presence!

If you look to a man to do what God has reserved for himself to do, you will experience increasing fear. You will become more and more dependent upon that man and that ministry. You will more and more deny the doctrine of Christ! You will move more and more into a cult.


Matthew 23:8- 12: “Do not call anyone on earth your father for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”

In Matthew 23 Jesus is speaking “Woe” after “Woe” over the religious leaders of His day. His instruction to His disciples is very simple- do not call yourselves “Rabbi”, “teacher” or “father” like they do for you have one Father, the Heavenly Father and you have one Teacher, the Christ. And besides, “You are all brethren.”

It does not get any simpler than that. However, we are so used to religious usage of these terms and we are so used to the denial of responsibility that we accept and use these terms for our selves and our brothers. Jesus commanded us not to do this!

What about “do not call anyone on earth your father” do you not understand?

II Corinthians 1:24 “Not that we have dominion over your faith but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.”

Was Paul over the Corinthians in the Lord? Yes, he made an appeal to them as a father. But he is very clear that if he took a place of dominion, of covering, he would no longer be helping them to stand. He would be precipitating their fall.


Matthew 8:5:13, “I also am a man under authority

The centurion recognized that Jesus was a man under authority, like himself, and therefore had authority. Correct observation. The centurion was under Caesar and Jesus was under God. However, when many preach this they make a wrong application. They preach, that if you want to have authority, you must submit to a hierarchical structure, submit to me! Well, true enough, if you want to have authority from them in their structure.

But Jesus was not in any structure. He had authority because of His submission to God and that is the proper application of the scripture. That is the application used in Acts 4:19- they refused to submit to the Jewish council and remained faithful in their submission to God. The authority of God comes from submission to God. It does not come from submission to any man.

Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Some teach that the “shadow of the Almighty” is delegated authority and make the claim that the protection promised in the Psalm has to do with submission to such delegated authority. However, Psalm 91 is one of the most powerful statements in all of the scripture of our protection because we are in God! Read it! Believe it! Enjoy it! Do not let anyone reduce the revelation of this Psalm!


There are no scriptures that speak about this. None. No where. Not in the Old Testament and not in the New Testament. Not there!

What are the New Testament prayers about in the face of spiritual attack? They are prayers for boldness! See Acts 4:24- 31 and Ephesians 6:18- 20!

What are the New Testament prayers about in general? They are about revelation of who we are in Christ! That is the issue!

See Ephesians 1:15- 23! Why would you look to any man for protection and covering if you had any revelation at all of where you are in Christ above all principalities and powers? What about Ephesians 3:14- 21? We do not need a man, we need revelation of the “power that works in us” that can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”! Check out Philippians 1:3- 11! The prayer is that our “love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment”. We need to know who we are and what we have in Christ! Same story in Colossians 1:9- 11 and in I Thessalonians 3:11- 13 and in Philemon 1:4- 6.

Prayer does not get answered and prayer is not effective by a multiplier of people praying. Do you get those emails requesting you to send on the mail so that they will get one million people praying so that when they get the million praying the child will be healed from the cancer? That is not biblical faith or prayer! James tells us that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” One righteous man is all that is required. One man in right relationship with God!

I am not more protected the more people that are praying for me. Where is that in the bible? The issue is whether or not I am in Christ and boldly obedient to Him no matter what my circumstances. The battle is a battle of faith- am I in Christ or do I believe my circumstances?


Yes, yes, yes, I know that many use the term “spiritual covering” and they do not mean any Roman/Pagan Dogma. They mean right relationship with the body of Christ, with close friends that they love and are open to hear correction from. Yes and yes, again.

We need relationships which allow us to “speak the truth to one another in love” or we will not mature as Paul says in Ephesians 4:15. Submission is an attitude of the heart not a place in an hierarchical structure. In almost every place in scripture where submission to different authority structures is instructed you will also find the sweeping instruction to “submit to one another”. The brotherhood reality of the royal priesthood is never absent. We desperately need that reality!

However, the power hungry and ambitious will submit to the hierarchy simply because that is the way to power. They will submit to those over them but will not receive from anyone “beneath” them. They are experts in “proper order” but lack the heart of humility. They will do the hierarchy thing but will not do the “one another” thing! They depend heavily upon Old Testament example and terminology such as “the Man of God” complex (that is another story!) but lack insight into the New Testament reality of  “all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28).

This gets even more foolish when one of these leaders “submits” themselves to another leader who lives thousands of kilometres away from them. And then uses that “submission” as part of his presentation to his people, “I am a submitted man. I am under authority.” Implication? “You must submit to me!”
Submission to someone across the world? What does that mean? Do they see how you live? And then no submission to the brothers close at hand because they are lower in the order! That is not a heart of humility. That is a heart of pride! “Pride of life” or pride of position and place, is number one in the satanic trinity. Number two is “lust of the eyes” or materialism and wealth. Number three is the “lust of the flesh”. John Wimber called these three “the glory, the gold and the girls”!

Command and control structures are focused upon position, place, hierarchies and call that “proper order”. When loyalty to the structure, institution or a man takes a higher place than loyalty to the truth we have entered into the ethics of the mafia. Loyalty has a higher value than truth. This is the basic characteristic of a cult. All cults are ultimately concerned with power, money and sex.

Graham Cook says, “I have seen many eunuchs in the house of the Lord and very few fruitful sons” (A Divine Confrontation, page 99). Yes, amen! Men who are faithful to the meetings and to the programs! Men who are submitted. But men who have no faith to do anything for God!

Some of the most faithful people have the least faith! I have seen men who are totally loyal to a certain “spiritual house” to the point of disloyalty to the house which Jesus is building. The dogma of spiritual covering is part of the spiritual technology used to create such deception and to create eunuchs.

Jesus taught that we are all brothers. Paul, Peter, John and James talked a lot about “one another” stuff. How do we do that? Have you ever made a list of all the “one another” scriptures? That is a study!

Better yet- how do we do that?

Related: Uncovering the "Covering Doctrine"

Sunday, September 7, 2014

False Ideas vs Signs of True Revival – John Boruff

O Lord, REVIVE Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. –Habakkuk 3:2

When you evaluate modern evangelical seeker-sensitive “wannabe” revivalists in the light of the Book of Acts, Jonathan Edwards (Jonathan Edwards on Revival), and Charles Finney (Lectures on Revivals of Religion), it becomes clear that there are some false ideas about revival, expressed in preaching, such as…






6. Preaching Miracles. – “God has a heart for the nations of the earth.  He has promised the nations to His Son as His inheritance, and the ends of the earth as His possession.  There is a new breed of revivalist emerging in the earth today to answer God’s cry for the nations of the earth to be healed.  This new breed thinks differently and believes God can use their lives to see cities taken and nations discipled. They believe their lives were meant to be salt, thrown into the waters of society, to reverse the curse of barrenness on the land.  God is not just raising up revivalists who will stand behind a pulpit, but revivalists who will go into the Seven Mind Molders of society so that the land can be healed.” [from Banning Liebscher's The New Breed of Revivalist] | “Igniting the Fires of Revival meetings are on the first Sunday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Christian Growth Center has entered a new season: A time of miracles, healings and financial blessings; a season of suddenlies! This will be an hour of power, so do not miss it.  Come expecting a move of God as we set the atmosphere that is conducive for miracles.” [from Christian Growth Center]

7. Preaching Love.

8. Preaching Community.

9. Preaching Numerical Church Growth.

10. Preaching Holy Spirit. – “We believe revivalists are like supernatural paramedics who carry the life giving breath of God everywhere they go, which is the Holy Spirit. It only takes one man aflame to ignite another and the breath of God daily to sustain the burn. Sustained revival will come from revivalists who sustain the burn within themselves by living from their intimate relationship with God.” [from]

11. Preaching Faith.

12. Preaching Tithing In a “Pure” Way. – “We, you and us together, are co-laborers together with the Lord. The anointing that is on this ministry comes into your life the moment that you partner with this ministry because you join together with us in helping spread revival across America and around the world. You share in the same equal reward that the ministry receives. Every soul that gets saved comes to your account. God notices every little thing that you do.” [from]

13. Preaching Father God, Not Christ the Judge.

14. Preaching Passion.

15. Preaching Involvement In Events. (Good Works).

16. Preaching Prayer and Fasting.

17. Preaching Worship.


Signs of True Revival – The Great Awakening
Jonathan Edwards’ An Account of the Revival of Religion in Northampton, 1740-1742

1. Awakening to Heaven and Hell in Personal Conversations Among Young People.

2. Awakening to New Testament Rules of Holiness.

3. Sermons Like Those by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.

4. Rebukes to Lukewarmness.

5. Emphasizing Man’s Responsibility Before God.

6. Preaching Against Church Hypocrisy.

7. People Fainting and Crying in the Spirit for Overwhelming Convictions of Eternity.

8. Hours and Hours of Spirit-Filled, Joyful Prayer and Worship, and Fellowship.

9. Open Air Gospel Preaching (like George Whitefield).

10. Young People Convicted of a Holy Life Involved in House Church Meetings.

11. The Moral Law Taking Hold Over Many Young People’s Lives.

12. Fasting, Prayer, and Feeling God’s Presence.

13. Young People Strictly Avoiding Sexual Immorality.


Signs of True Revival – The Second Great Awakening
Charles Finney’s Lectures on Revivals of Religion, Ch. 1: “What a Revival of Religion Is”

1. Preaching the Judgments of God to Excite Fear and Obedience to God’s Moral Law.

2. Preaching Immediate Repentance and Personal Responsibility.

3. Miracles Confirm the Preaching of the Lordship Salvation Gospel.

4. Conversion from Backsliding and towards Obedience to God.

5. Zealous Love for God.

6. Zealous Love for Man–Seeking to Save Sinners from Hell.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Anti-Biblical Minorities Take the “Change the World” Baton by Dr Michael Youssef

The Bible is full of individuals who accomplished mighty things through their commitment to a cause and through God’s power working in them. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, to say nothing of a handful of Galilean fishermen, turned their world “upside down.” Often their world was controlled by a great foe, like mighty Egypt or the Roman Empire.

Sadly, the most that many Western Christians can accomplish today is to join a big stadium filled with screaming young people listening to upbeat music. When the music stops, they go back to their pampered lifestyle and whine about what they’re not getting from life.

Of course, there are some exceptional young Christians who seek God and His will with all of their hearts. They genuinely want to make a difference in the world. But for the most part, Western Christians lack a total commitment and a definable strategy to turn the world upside down like our Christian forbears did.

In the meantime, however, anti-biblical forces have taken the “change the world” baton from Christians. But not only have they taken it, they are using it to beat Christians on the head, sending them scurrying in fear and intimidation.

For example, look at what a handful of LGBT college students have done in many Christian colleges. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, this small group has managed to radically change evangelical colleges across the country—colleges with a collective student body of more than 400,000. Through intimidation, they have managed to eviscerate the biblical principles upon which those schools were founded and funded.

Take the case of Gordon College in Massachusetts, which was founded by A.J. Gordon to train college students in understanding and underscoring the authority of God’s Word. Gordon College’s slogan has been: “Freedom within a framework of faith,” meaning that faith in Christ provides the power for freedom over sin.

But now a small student LGBT lobby has managed to convince other students and some faculty members that they need not seek freedom over the sin of homosexuality.

And like all homosexual lobbyists, they have a powerful ally in the White House. President Obama may not possess the power of God, regardless of what some may think, but he possesses power nonetheless.

Mr. Obama recently signed an executive order that forbids any federal contractor from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Gordon’s president, D. Michael Lindsay, hoping to protect the school’s religious freedom, joined other evangelical leaders in sending a letter to President Obama asking for an exemption to the order. But following the letter’s publication, voices from both outside and inside Gordon vehemently opposed the college president’s actions, branding the college and him as supporters of discrimination.

So now student LGBT lobbyists feel empowered. Although committed Christians in the past relied entirely on God’s power, today’s anti-biblical minority power is dependent on powerful people, such as President Obama.

As Christians, we need to reclaim our rightful supernatural strength by relying on the supernatural power of our Redeemer. Through Him we can bring the masses back to God and His ideals, including the ideal of sexuality belonging to a heterosexual marriage.

To do that, we must learn that God desires conduits who not only courageously buck the system and call sin sin, but who also completely depend on God to fight the public relations battle.
Many modern Christians don’t fear God. Instead they fear that their image will be tarnished by being labeled as haters and bigots. Make no mistake about it, the anti-biblical forces are banking on that aversion to being scandalized for the sake of Christ.

For biblical Christianity to survive in the West, there can be no avoiding a full commitment. We must lose the fear of bearing the marks of Christ.

Steve Forbes: How Destroying the Dollar Threatens the World by CBN News

dollar bill

Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, is one of the world's leading experts on finance. Forbes believes that money is one of the most misunderstood—and crucial—topics today.

Since the United States abandoned a gold-linked dollar more than four decades ago, the world's governments have become dangerously ignorant of the fundamental monetary principles that guided the most successful economies for centuries.

Forbes's new book, Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy—and What We Can Do About It, shows how today's wrong-headed monetary policies are setting the stage for a new global economic and social catastrophe that could rival the recent financial crisis and even the horrors of the 1930s.

Coauthored by Forbes and Elizabeth Ames, Money shows you why that doesn't need to happen—and how it can be prevented. The book explains why a return to sound money is essential for the United States and other nations to overcome today's problems.

Stable money, Forbes and Ames argue, is the only way to a true recovery and a stable and prosperous economy. In Money, the authors answer these vitally important questions:

What is the difference between money and value?
How does sound money contribute to a well-functioning society?
How have our money policy errors led to the current problems in global financial markets?
What can we do now to reestablish the strength of the dollar and other currencies?
Fluctuating "fiat" money, in which governments manipulate the value of the dollar and other currencies, has been responsible for the biggest economic failures of recent decades, including the 2008 financial crisis, from whose effects we continue to suffer.

In Money, the authors show how the Bernanke/Yellen Federal Reserve and its unstable-dollar policies are accelerating our course toward disaster.

The U.S. needs to return to the gold standard, Forbes and Ames argue, and they outline the several different forms a gold standard could take. They also share invaluable suggestions for how to preserve our wealth and where to invest our money now.

Forbes spoke more about what can be done to avoid a global economic catastrophe on The 700 Club Wednesday. Watch the video below.

Does God Exist to Make You Happy?


Every day in America celebrity TV preachers tell people that God exists to make them happy. What really makes God happy is when people are happy, so just do whatever makes you feel good. I can see why this would sound appealing. I mean, who wouldn't want a giant Santa Claus in the sky who has limitless resources and infinite power and whose sole purpose is to make you happy?

The problem with this kind of self-centered theology is that it is the exact opposite of the message Jesus preached. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

The movement that Jesus started called people to deny themselves, sacrifice their lives, follow Him, and serve others. Billy Graham once said, "We are all selfish, and the essence of sin is selfishness." The message of the cross is about the transformation from being proud and self-centered to being humble and Christ-centered. Philippians 2:3-4 couldn't be any clearer: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

However, in this feel-good gospel that is becoming increasingly popular in America, self-denial has been replaced with self-expression and sacrifice has been replaced with pleasure. The problem in the American church today is that we have traded substance for style, chosen comfort over the cross, and pursued a crowd more than the presence of God.

In his book Radical, David Platt hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "Radical obedience to Christ is not easy. ... It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And He is more than enough for us."

Revelation 4:10-11 clarifies that we were created to give God pleasure, not the other way around: "The twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one who lives forever and ever. And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, 'You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created.'"

God does not exist to make your happy or to meet your needs. Nothing could be further from the truth. We were created by God's pleasure and for God's pleasure. When we don't bring God pleasure, we cease to fulfill our purpose here on earth.

In Colossians 1:15-18, Paul is trying to help us understand that it's all about Jesus. He is the center and focus of creation. "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."

I love how Tullian Tchividjian puts it: "Jesus plus nothing equals everything." It pleased God the Father to give His Son the supremacy in everything. Jesus is the Creator, the Almighty God, the Everlasting One, the Beginning and the End, the King of Kings, and the Lord of all lords.

And what makes Jesus happy is not when His followers are self-centered, but when they walk in obedience to Him. Jesus said in John 14:21, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Obedience is God's love language. The ultimate proof of love is obedience. Now, of course God wants to bless His children. What kind of Father would he be if He didn't delight in blessing in His children? But we need to understand that God's blessings are a reward for obedience.

God's love is unconditional, but His blessings are conditional. I am the father of three beautiful children and I love all of them unconditionally—whether they are good or bad, obedient or disobedient, it doesn't change my love for them. But I only reward them when they obey.

An abundant, blessed life is the fruit of obedience, as seen in Deuteronomy 28:1-2,"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God."

So does God want you to be happy and blessed? Of course He does. Jesus wants you to find true happiness not in material possessions but in a personal relationship with Him and in pursuing His purpose for your life. As you build your life, marriage, family, career, finances, and ministry on obedience to God's Word, His blessings, joy, peace, and favor will chase you down and overtake you.

This is the paradox of life—the more you die to yourself, the more you will actually live (John 12:24-25). The more you sacrifice and give up for the kingdom, the more God will bless you. The more you take up your cross and follow Jesus, the more His favor will surround you like a shield. As your life revolves around Jesus, you will discover true and sustainable joy.

But as you experience this blessed life, don't forget that the purpose of your life is to glorify God and bring Him pleasure. Always remember that it's not about you; it's all about Jesus. Build your life on Jesus Christ, the Solid Rock. All other ground is sinking sand.

Brian Alarid is the founder and lead pastor of Passion Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

WATCH: Joel Osteen's Wife Under Fire for 'Worship for Yourself' Exhortation

Victoria Osteen

Joel Osteen remains one of the most controversial figures in Christendom. But his wife, Victoria, has been known to stir up drama in her own right.

The latest example has gone viral. Standing next to her husband and speaking to the masses at Lakewood Church in Houston, Victoria told thousands of Christians that church attendance, worship and obedience to God is not for Christ's sake—but for their own happiness.

"So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy," she said. "When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy. Amen?"

How to Respond When You've Been Cursed

J.Lee Grady

About 10 years ago, after I returned from a trip to Nigeria, I began itching all over my body. At first I assumed it was an allergic reaction to a food or detergent. But I had no rash, and my doctor was baffled. He told me there was no apparent cause for the itching.

My skin was crawling. Lotion gave me no relief. Was this a spiritual attack?

I'm not the kind of guy who sees a demon behind every bush. But during my trip, I had confronted a Nigerian occult healer, and this man did not like me. I started wondering if he had cursed me after I challenged his deception.

I called my friend Mosy Madugba, a respected Nigerian minister, and he confirmed that this witch doctor, who is popular in Nigeria, does in fact curse people he considers enemies. Mosy prayed for me and asked God to break the power of any witchcraft aimed in my direction. Within a day the itching totally stopped. It never returned.

Thankfully I don't experience this type of spiritual warfare often. But last year I had an even weirder experience—this time involving Christians who believe they have biblical grounds to curse people they don't like.

Believe it or not there are believers who routinely ask God to send tragedy, financial misfortune or sickness to people they are angry with. I even know of pastors who curse people who leave their churches. (NOTE: A true pastor cares for wayward sheep; he doesn't wish them harm.) In Nigeria, there are Christians who believe they have the right to pray for their enemies to die—and they have sponsored conferences on this topic!

Maybe you've never been the victim of a voodoo curse, but "charismatic witchcraft"—soulish prayer that is aimed to harm you—is more common than any of us wants to believe. Here are five simple ways you should respond whenever you are cursed:

1. Bless the person who cursed you. Several years ago someone posted a video online to discredit me. Some of my friends urged me to retaliate, but I knew my first response was to maintain a Christ-like attitude. I didn't even watch the video for several weeks until I had prayed blessings on the person who was denouncing me. Romans 12:19 says: "Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God." We must live by the law of love and resist all temptation to become bitter.

Our normal reaction is to get angry when we discover someone is gossiping about us, spreading lies or praying angry prayers. But Jesus told us to chill out and let Him handle it. He said in Luke 6:27-8: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

2. Put up your spiritual shield. If you are a believer in Christ, you are hidden with Him. The Name of Jesus is a strong tower, and you will find safety from all spiritual danger when you call on Him. No witchcraft, no slanderous accusation, no evil curse can harm you when God is shielding you. Get in a place of prayer, and ask God to defend you. When David was running from Saul, he prayed: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped" (Psalm 28:7).

3. Close the door to demonic influences. The only way the devil can gain a foothold in our lives is if we leave a door open for him. Close and lock all doors! Eph. 4:27 says: "Do not give the devil an opportunity." This means renouncing all known sin and making sure you have not allowed anything in your life (such as resentment or pride) or in your house (such as pornography or occultic objects or books) that could attract demonic activity.

4. Keep praising God. Witchcraft unleashes discouragement. After Elijah challenged Jezebel, she threatened to kill him—and the mighty prophet ended up depressed and suicidal (see 1 Kings 19:1-4). Witchcraft cannot harm you, but it can bring a darkness that sucks the joy out of you. The best weapon against a spirit of heaviness is praise.

The book of Psalms provides us with a playlist of David's joyful response to the threats of his enemies. If you are under spiritual attack, it is possible to sing and shout your way out. When we praise God, the enemy is wrapped in chains, and he must shut up!

5. Brush it off. Spiritual attacks should not be ignored. But we shouldn't fret over them, either. You have the Word of God. You have the Blood of Jesus. Your confession is powerful against the enemy. Martin Luther once wrote: "The devil has no real power over believers. He hates prayer, and flees from the cross and from the Word of God as from a flaming fire."

You do not have to fear the curses of your enemies or the misguided prayers of hateful traitors. When David looked around and heard a demonic chorus of critics telling him he had no hope in God, he said: "I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me" (see Psalm 3:1-2). You can sleep in peace knowing that God is fighting your battles.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at

Unless otherwise specified, the opinions expressed are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Charisma Media.

The Osteen Predicament: Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel

Joel and Victoria Osteen

The evangelical world, joined by no shortage of secular observers, has been abuzz about the latest soundbite of note from the Pastors Osteen—this time offered by Victoria Osteen as her husband Joel beamed in the background. It is a hard video to watch.

In her message, Victoria Osteen tells their massive congregation to realize that their devotion to God is not really about God, but about themselves. "I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we're not doing it for God—I mean, that's one way to look at it—we're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we are happy. ... That's the thing that gives Him the greatest joy."

She continued: "So, I want you to know this morning—Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. ... When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy. Amen?"

As you might predict, the congregation responded with a loud "Amen."

America deserves the Osteens. The consumer culture, the cult of the therapeutic, the marketing impulse and the sheer superficiality of American cultural Christianity probably made the Osteens inevitable. The Osteens are phenomenally successful because they are the exaggerated fulfillment of the self-help movement and the cult of celebrity rolled into one massive megachurch media empire. And, to cap it all off, they give Americans what Americans crave—reassurance delivered with a smile.

Judged in theological terms, the Osteen message is the latest and slickest version of Prosperity Theology. That American heresy has now spread throughout much of the world, but it began in the context of American Pentecostalism in the early 20th century. Prosperity theology, promising that God rewards faith with health and wealth, first appealed to those described as "the dispossessed"—the very poor.

Now, its updated version appeals to the aspirational class of the suburbs. Whereas the early devotees of prosperity theology prayed for a roof over their heads that did not leak, the devotees of prosperity theology in the Age of Osteen pray for ever bigger houses. The story of how the Osteens exercised faith for a big house comes early in Joel Osteen's best-seller, Your Best Life Now.

According to Osteen, God wants to pour out his "immeasurable favor" on his human creatures, and this requires a fundamental re-ordering of our thinking. "To experience this immeasurable favor," Osteen writes, "you must rid yourself of that small-minded thinking and start expecting God's blessings, start anticipating promotion and supernatural increase. You must conceive it in your heart before you can receive it. In other words, you must make increase in your own thinking, then God will bring those things to pass."

There is nothing really new in this message. Anyone familiar with the New Thought movement and later books such as Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich will see a persistent theme. The important issue is this: Prosperity theology is a false gospel. The problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth—and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.

But to talk of the promises of God to believers is actually to jump outside the Osteen audience. The Osteen message does not differentiate between believers and unbelievers—certainly not in terms of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In their sermons, writings and media appearances, the Osteens insist that God is well-disposed to all people and wills that all flourish, but there is virtually no mention of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No reference to sin as the fundamental issue. No explanation of atonement and resurrection as God's saving acts; no clarity of any sort on the need for faith in Christ and repentance of sin.

Instead, they focus on happiness and God's "immeasurable favor" to be poured out on all people, if they will only correct their thinking.

As a thought exercise, let's just limit the consideration to those people who have identified as Christians throughout the centuries. Does the Osteen message come close to their experience? Would it even make sense?

Just consider the fact that most Christians throughout the history of the church have been poor, and often desperately poor. They were not hoping to move into a suburban mini-mansion, they hoped to be able to feed their children one more day. That picture is still true for millions upon millions of Christians around the world today.

And that is just the start of it. What about all those who are even now suffering persecution for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? What about the loved ones of the martyrs in Mosul? What about the Christians forced out of their homes and threatened with genocide by the Islamic State terrorists? What about the children of Christians slain in Iraq and Syria just in recent weeks, or those martyred by Boko Haram in Africa? How does prosperity theology work for them? Can anyone look them in the eye and say that God's plan for believers in this life is to know "Your Best Life Now"?

In her recent work on prosperity theology, historian Kate Bowler traces the shift from what she calls the "hard prosperity" message of the early Pentecostals to the "soft prosperity" message of modern preachers like Joel Osteen. As Bowler explains, the new "softer" version of the prosperity message has "become the foremost Christian theology of modern living."

Well, maybe. Prosperity theology certainly sells books and draws crowds in the United States, but what does it possibly say to a grieving Christian wife and mother in Iraq? How can it possibly be squared with the actual message of the New Testament? How can any sinner be saved, without a clear presentation of sin, redemption, the cross, the empty tomb, and the call to faith and repentance? Prosperity theology fails every test, and fails every test miserably. It is a false gospel, and one that must be repudiated, not merely reformatted.

Victoria Osteen's comments fit naturally within the worldview and message she and her husband have carefully cultivated. The divine-human relationship is just turned upside down, and God's greatest desire is said to be our happiness. But what is happiness? It is a word that cannot bear much weight. As writers from C.S. Lewis to the apostle Paul have made clear, happiness is no substitute for joy. Happiness, in the smiling version assured in the Age of Osteen, doesn't last, cannot satisfy, and often is not even real.

Furthermore, God's pleasure in his human creatures centers in his desire and will that they come to faith in Jesus Christ and be saved. The great dividing line in humanity is not between the rich and the poor, the sick and the well, or even the happy and the unhappy. The great divide is between those who, in Christ, have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's glorious light.

Mere happiness cannot bear the weight of the gospel. The message of the real gospel is found in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." That is a message that can be preached with a straight face, a courageous spirit, and an urgent heart in Munich, in Miami or in Mosul.

If our message cannot be preached with credibility in Mosul, it should not be preached in Houston. That is the Osteen Predicament.

The Rev. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. You can write to him at or follow him on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Unless otherwise specified, the opinions expressed are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Charisma Media.

Pride Comes Before the Fall

Michael Youssef | Aug 18, 2014

Surely now President Obama must believe at least part of the Bible—specifically, I’m thinking about the part that says: “Pride comes before the fall.”

If there is a perfect modern-day application of this biblical injunction, we have been watching it unfold during the last six years.

Oh, how Mr. Obama used to brag that he could handle foreign policy better than his predecessors. He often explained how, because of his ethnic background and upbringing, he understood the Muslim people and identified with them. Through his empathy, he would cause them to love America and the West.

He even made his first foreign trip as president to two Muslim countries—Turkey and Egypt. There, he apologized for America and its previous foreign policies. He assured them that he was their friend and that they could trust him.

President Obama even surrounded himself with Islamists and Islamist-sympathizers as advisors in the White House. He boasted that his envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference had memorized the Quran.

But nearly all of his bragging has now collapsed like a bad soufflé. Islamists do not trust him. Muslim leaders do not respect him. And around the world, leaders have no confidence in his once fawned-over rhetoric.

The resulting tragedy is that the American people are the victims of his misguided self-confidence.

But the core problem with all secular-thinking leaders on both political sides is they create foreign policy that is divorced from the other-worldly realities of Islamists.

Secular, by definition, means “this age,” which is opposite of the invisible world where Islamist minds reside. Their religious gurus have convinced many that when they die in the act of killing “infidels,” they will live in paradise, with lots of alcohol and seventy virgins for their sexual pleasures.

To be very clear, not all Muslims embrace that viewpoint—for I have many Muslim friends who reject the notion.

But when you put secular thinking up against such other-worldly fantasies, you have a formula for global explosions with catastrophic results. That is something I have written about since the early 80s to a skeptical world across the political spectrum. Sadly, now the whole world is experiencing it firsthand.

Our foreign policy—regardless of whether it is Democrat or Republican in origin—must understand the other-worldly motivations inherent in Islamist thinking. They not only resent our secular approach to their demands, but they reject and outright ridicule them.

If politicians in the West truly want to protect their fellow citizens, they must fully understand the Islamist mind. Then those politicians will not be able to avoid facing the reality of the situation: it is either kill or be killed. That is the reality that Churchill faced when dealing with Hitler. And unfortunately, that is the harsh reality that we face today. Any other thinking is delusional, and ultimately, suicidal.

I’m sure some on social media will attack my Christian bona fides after expressing such a terrible choice. As a Christian—especially as a Christian—I find such a choice very disturbing. But as a Christian, I must also face the reality of the present world, and not advocate that our country lie to itself and run from its troubles.