Radical Discipleship – Brent Rue

Kaip atgimti iš naujo?

Johnas Wesleyas dažnai buvo klausiamas, kodėl jis savo pamoksluose vis skelbė kartodamas šiuos žodžius: „ Jus turite atgimti iš naujo.“ Ar jūs atgimėte iš naujo? Be atgimimo iš naujo niekas neturi vilties išsigelbėt iš siaubingos pragaro ugnies ir džiaugtis dangaus karalystės puikumu, nes Viešpats Jėzus pats pasakė : „ Jūs turite atgimti iš naujo“ (Jono 3,7).

1.Kas nėra naujas atgimimas?

Visų pirma tai nėra religija.

Fariziejus Nikodemas buvo labai religingas. Jis šventė nustatytas šventes, mokėjo duokles, aukojo aukas, meldėsi: vienu žodžiu – stengėsi tiksliai laikytis įstatymo. Bet Jėzus Kristus jam pasakė: „Tu turi atgimti iš naujo (Jono 3,7)“. Įstatymo vykdymas, priklausymas bažnyčiai, būti pakrikštytam ir gyventi pagal religinę tikybą neišgelbės ir neišganys jūsų (Rom 3,20). Pragare bus daug tokių, kurie visa tai stengėsi daryti.

Tai nėra moralė.

Jus galite stengtis laikytis gyvenime auksinės taisyklės, apsimokėti savo sąskaitas, būti geru kaimynu, išvengti kalėjimo, gyventi švarų moralinį gyvenimą, bet visa tai jūsų neišgelbės. Niekur nerandam, kad Viešpats būtų pasakęs svyruojančiam Pilotui, arba dviveidžiui Judui, kad „Tu turi atgimti.“ O kodėl jis to nepadarė? Ogi tiktai todėl, kad mes nesakytum: „Aš žinau, kad vargšai kaip judas, ir žmonės kaip pilotas privalo atgimti iš naujo, bet juk aš nesu toks, kaip jie. Aš neišduočiau Kristaus pabučiavimu, prieš tai prisiekęs, kad Jis mano draugas. Aš neliepčiau Kristaus kankinti ir po to leisti kraujo ištroškusiai, šūkaujančiai miniai Jį nukryžiuoti. Vagys, melagiai, svetimoteriautojai, paleistuviai, girtuokliai, lošikai, žmogžudžiai, – visi tie turėtų atgimti iš naujo ; tik ne aš. Su manim viskas tvarkoje.“ Ar pagalvojote, kad Dievo Sūnus tuos žodžius kalbėjo žmogui, kuris stengėsi daryti visa kuo geriausiai, kad laimėtų dangaus karalystę? Be abejo, jis nebuvo nei sukčius, nei melagis, nei girtuoklis, bet geras vyras žmonai, geras kaimynas, aukštos moralės ir religingas. Ir jeigu jam buvo būtina atgimti iš naujo, tai ir jums reikia atgimti iš naujo. Jei Nikodemas negalėjo pasiekti dangaus be atgimimo iš naujo, kaip jūs galite tikėtis (Jono 3,3)?

Tai nėra reformacija

Jeigu jūs nutartumėte būti geru ir atsisakytumėte visų savo blogų įpročių, tai tas vis tiek nereikštų atgimimą iš naujo. Jums nereikia išviršinės dekoracijos, bet regeneracijos iš vidaus; ne paviršutiniško pasikeitimo, bet vidinės regeneracijos (Tito 3,5).

2. Kas yra naujas atgimimas?

Tai yra paslaptis, kurtu ir realybė, kurios negali paneigti. Tai yra Dievo darbas, per kurį žmogus, tikėjimu nuoširdžiai priima Viešpatį jėzų Kristų į savo širdį ir gyvenimą, įgyja naują prigimtį, tampa Dievo vaiku ir pradeda naujai gyventi. Tai yra antrasis gimimas, tai yra dvasinis gimimas (Rom 8,16). Fizinis gyvenimas prasideda su gimimu. Dvasinis gyvenimas taip pat prasideda su gimimu, bet neįsijungiant į bažnyčią ar pasidarant religingu. Jūs negalite į Dievo šeimą įsijungti, bet turite į ją užgimti (Jono 3,3). Kažkas yra pasakęs: krikščionio negalima padaryti. Tikrieji krikščionys yra nepadaromi, jie užgimsta. Fizinis gimimas yra naujos gyvybės atėjimas į šį pasaulį su jos tėvų prigimtimi. Kada jūs gimėte pirmą kartą, jūs pasidarėte nuodėmingos prigimties dalininku. Atgimdamas iš naujo, pasidarai dieviškosios prigimties dalininku(2 Petro 1,4). Dievas duoda tą naują prigimtį tuo pačiu momentu, kai jūs priimate jo Sūnų savo asmenišku Išganytoju tikėjimu. Jūs neatgimsite palaipsniui, tai įvyksta akimirksnyje, lyg staiga paleistas šautuvo šūvis.

3. Kodėl jūs turite atgimti iš naujo?

Todėl, kad Viešpats Jėzus Kristus taip sakė. Todėl, kad jūsų prigimtis yra nuodėminga. Prigimtis, kurią esame gavę iš pirmo žmogaus, iš Adomo, yra kritusi, pagadinta, nuodėminga. Dievas sako, kad žmogaus širdis virš visko yra labai apgaulinga. Su šita pagadinta prigimtimi jūs negalėtumėte džiaugtis danguje. Dangus yra šventa vieta. Kai atgimstate iš naujo, tuomet gaunate šventą prigimtį iš Dievo, kuri padaro jus laimingu ne tik čia, bet ir danguje, toje šventoje vietoje.

http://lkb.lt/lkb/dvasingumas/598-kaipatgimtiisnaujo

The Nomadic Peoples Network (NPN)

The Nomadic Peoples Network is a forum where those working to advance the Kingdom of God amongst the nomadic and semi-nomadic ethnic groups can share what they have learned and encourage one another in this specialized cross cultural ministry.

Why is there a need for a Nomadic Peoples Network?

Whilst great progress is being made in the spread of the Christian gospel through out the settled world, nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples are being left out and will probably be the last and least likely to hear it. This is through no fault of their own but mainly because of the reluctance of Kingdom workers to live in such inevitably isolated and usually uncongenial areas where they are found: typically semi-arid deserts or high altitude pastures.

If nomads are lost it is not by their choice, but by chance that they happen to live in climates and environments that are unattractive to contemporary workers from settled societies. The responsibility of carrying the Gospel to these unreached and unknown ones falls on the shoulders of those of us who have received the divine gift of grace, and who are charged with the responsibility of looking for the lost sheep about whom Jesus said “Them also I must bring into my fold!”

The Nomadic Peoples Network works with field practitioners, agencies and agency leaders, and nomadic people groups to see The Great Commission of Jesus Christ fulfilled amongst unreached nomadic groups world-wide!

http://nomadicpeoples.net/

We are born-again for making others born-again.

Thousands of people from Fallujah, Iraq, (the town under ISIS control that was recently reclaimed by Iraqi troops) have been living in a nearby refugee town called the City of Refuge.

Through the work of indigenous believers, many are coming to Jesus Christ in the City of Refuge. These new Christians want to go back to to their homes and share Christ for the first time in Fallujah. They have a mission, and they feel jubilant in the Lord. Most have been baptized which is a real step of faith in the Muslim world.

What started as a handful of local missionaries sharing Christ with their neighbors in the City of Refuge has turned into the new believers doing the same with their family and friends as well.

They have the idea that once you are born-again, you are born-again for making other people born-again.

How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage: A Warning Against the Warfare Worldview

In 1977 I was in a ministry that specialized in inner healing and deliverance. People came to us from all over the country seeking release from hearing voices, addictions, emotional trauma due to past hurts and abuses, and many other forms of spiritual bondage. At the time our ministry was considered “cutting edge” in the world of spiritual warfare. Ours was a Christian community where people could come and live with other Christians to find healing.

About that time a woman from another state came to stay at our ministry center for a few days to receive prayer and deliverance. She had grown up in a family that was deeply involved in the occult and had been named after a Greek goddess. When she called us she was trying to get out of her occult bondage and was being attacked by evil spirits who did not want to let her go. They manifested themselves through her taunting us and making hissing sounds. We soon found out that the demons that tormented her were powerful and had no intention of leaving. Two of us took on the responsibility of ministering to her. After we had led her in some prayers, confronted some of the demons, and demanded them to leave in Jesus’ name, she found some relief.

The most dramatic event in our ministry to her came after one of our Tuesday night meetings. After most people had left she stayed for more prayer. Before we even got to her, she was taken over by a violent evil spirit. Her countenance changed, her voice altered, her face contorted and her hands became like claws. She let out a loud scream and charged at me, intending to gouge my face with her fingernails. As she screamed and raced across the room, I and the other man who had been ministering to her stood our ground and said, “Stop! in the name of Jesus.” When she got two feet from us she hit what seemed like an invisible wall and fell to the floor whimpering. We prayed with her and asked God to set her free.

We had encountered many cases of demonic manifestations in our ministry, but this was the most dramatic. As I look back on this incident now, what is most significant is not what happened that night, but what happened the next day. The next day she felt much better and asked to talk to us before leaving for home. She told me, “Bob, Satan is very scared of you. You have much power and authority.” What that statement and the event that led to it meant to me then was very different from how I understand it now. The difference is due to the “warfare” worldview I held then and the “providential” worldview I hold now. The way we interpret events is determined by our worldview. In this article I will discuss exorcism from the perspective of each of these worldviews.

Exorcism in the Warfare Worldview

The warfare worldview holds that the battle between good and evil, God and Satan, is played out in human history, with an uncertain outcome. By uncertain I mean that God does not sovereignly determine the outcome.1 There are casualties in this battle. The battle to free individuals from spiritual bondage is carried on by people of faith who have learned the tools of battle and become mighty warriors for God. According to many who hold the warfare worldview, even the destiny of nations is in the hands of human spiritual warriors who will capture nations for the Kingdom of God. My fondest hope in 1977 was that I would become one of these mighty warriors who would plunder Satan’s kingdom on the field of battle.

So in that context I interpreted the woman’s statement to mean that I was succeeding. At age 27 I had become a mighty warrior who was equipped to go to battle against anything Satan could throw at me. I was so charged up by that incident that I spent the next couple of years dealing with dozens of hurting people, many who were in horrible spiritual bondage. Day and night I was casting out demons, confronting the powers of darkness and helping people escape from the clutches of demons. That woman went back home and I do not remember hearing from her again. Others who lived closer, I ministered to time and time again over a period of years.

According to many exorcists who embrace the warfare worldview, demons possess their victims because they have discovered a “right” to do so. For example, a person might be under an unknown curse that gives the demon a right to torment him or her. Famous exorcist Bob Larson explains how he sees this working: “Curses are exacting, legal arrangements of the spirit world. Just like human contracts contain fine print and carefully crafted language, satanic curses are often filled with minutia that require detailed voiding.”2 To get free requires the counselor to ferret out the exact wording and nature of the curse and then formulate a renunciation to break it.3 When I was a deliverance counselor holding the warfare worldview it was my job to find out what may have given the demons the right to enter and to close that entrance. I taught that if the demons found a legal “right” to stay they would, and that if they had no legal right, they would try to stay anyhow because they are nasty deceivers.

Those who hold to this view of the spiritual universe see the battle as being fought on all levels. On the level of the heavenlies, they enlist troops of “prophetic intercessors” to identify, bind and cast down rulers over cities and nations.4 Warriors are enlisted to take spiritual control over cities by conducting prayer walks around areas of the city. In the warfare worldview, the deliverance counselor is the foot soldier who does hand to hand combat on the spiritual battlefield. He or she fights the forces of darkness that have captured individual souls. In 1977 I was a deliverance counselor and had just found out through a powerful experience and the testimony of one who had been deeply in Satan’s camp that I was a powerful warrior whom Satan feared. My sails where set to spend the rest of my life as a career spiritual military man freeing captives. Exorcism was where the battle got personal and I was chosen to be there.

To continue to improve in my counseling ministry, I read the books of those who had more experience. This increased my understanding of how demons worked. Many of the people I counseled, however, continued to struggle with demons in spite of many exorcism sessions. This required fine tuning and the development of further strategies. Battles are never easily won. In a war there are always set backs. Some of the teachings I used were very Biblical: repentance, forgiveness, the study of God’s word, and getting one’s self in right relationship to the body of Christ. Also, my counseling involved helping people make wise choices in their lives.

During those years I visited people in the lock up wards of most of the mental hospitals in our area. I had ministered to so many troubled people that one time when I went to the largest lockup ward in our county, I knew three of the patients personally.

Secret Spiritual Laws

During those years of believing the warfare worldview, I noticed that the same people kept having the same problems. As part of my study to fine tune my approach I read a book written by a famous Christian that claimed to be given to him by divine revelation. In the book he said that there are spiritual laws that govern the spirit world. One of these has to do with “passivity.” Demons are able, according to him, to move in and take over when a person has a passive will.5 For a long time I incorporated this “truth” into my counseling, figuring that passivity was why these people kept falling back into demonic bondage. I worked out techniques for people to use to strengthen their passive wills so that the demons would no longer be able to influence them. I no longer believe that what I was doing is valid.

This type of teaching is still around. Bob Larson writes, “If the core of a person’s identity is strong willed, it seems harder for a demon to take over, no matter what that person does.”6 In this scheme of things, the human will is crucial: “I always tell those bound by demons to call upon that small portion of their will that is not dominated by the devil.”7

The problem I saw was this: “passive” people seemed to be not strong willed by nature — no process changed that. They continued to feel oppressed by demons and lamented their inability to overcome “passivity.” At the time I did not realize that by telling people their will had to be stronger, I was throwing gas on the fire. The warfare worldview had led me so far astray that I did not see the relevance of the simplest of Scriptures, “blessed is the man who trusts in God . . . cursed is the man who trusts in man” (Jeremiah 17: 5, 7). According to the theory I taught, the “spiritual law” of the universe is such that passive wills get demonized, even if one is a Christian. To keep free one must gain a strong will. A person could not trust God for freedom unless the person had a strong enough will; otherwise God’s hands were tied by the spiritual law He had created.8 Bob Larson writes, “The will of the victim is the spiritual battleground on which the war of exorcism is fought. The slightest reluctance can mean defeat.”9 So where is our hope — in our own will? Larson says of one of his clients, “Her initial unwillingness to admit what happened gave the demons legal grounds for remaining.”10

Evidently we need a spiritual “lawyer” to figure out the spiritual contracts of the universe by which the demons operate, and the laws that apply. In the warfare worldview the battle is between humans and wicked spirits. The humans are at a huge disadvantage because the spirits have been navigating the spirit world for thousands of years and only they know all the “rules.” The exorcist must query the demons to find out needed information and then beat them at their own rules. Bob Larson forces demons to tell him the truth under threat of being punished by angels and sent to the pit (I had never thought of that strategy when I was a deliverance counselor). Having done so, he makes the demons tell him what he needs to know to deliver the person. He gives this advice to those who would do exorcism: “Someone should be designated to keep a log of the information received while interrogating the demons. As the internal structure of the victim’s demonic system is revealed, list the spirits according to their ranking, cite their right and occasion of entry, and note their legal ground for remaining.”11 How do we know this in reliable? — “The demons will be forced to give you this information because they must submit to the name of Jesus and His authority.”12

When I believed the warfare worldview and did exorcisms, I believed that what I was doing was valid because the reality of demons manifesting themselves was so vivid and people were being set free in the name of Jesus. There were many who felt much better after the sessions. They came in miserable and left our ministry session with a sense of love and freedom. So I believed they were being helped. I do not doubt the sincerity of Bob Larson and others like him, nor do I doubt the reality of the stories. What I am questioning is whether the worldview that under girds their ministry is Biblical. Is it true that there is a whole unseen legal world that governs demons and other levels of Satan’s hierarchy that must be discovered and exploited to gain victory over Satan? Is it true that we need trained exorcists who have this knowledge in order to see captives freed? Later I will tell you how my ministry changed for good when I came to doubt the premises that provided the basis for what I was doing.

Secret Knowledge and Deliverance

Those who hold to the warfare worldview claim that knowledge about Satan, his emissaries, and their hierarchical structure is important in winning the battle. This is true on all levels, from battling principalities over nations to casting demons out of individuals. For example, when I was in this movement we were seeking to purchase property in one of the suburbs here in the Twin Cities. Because of difficulties with the purchase, we decided to hold an all night intercessory meeting. During the middle of the night, someone got a revelation that a principality called “Manitou” was ruling over the city, keeping us from buying the property. This principality supposedly ruled because Native Americans had practiced their religion there at one time. So we were instructed by our leaders that we needed to cast down the spirit of Manitou over the city so that we could claim it for God. The successful finishing of the purchase “proved” that our prayers had been effective which consequently reinforced the idea that we needed special revelations to cast down principalities over cites.

When one holds the warfare worldview such practices make all the sense in the world. Everything one wants to accomplish is tied up in the complex interaction of curses, demons, principalities, and the legalities that control the spirit world. There is no part of life that does not operate in this realm. Individual exorcism is the micro level of the battle, cities and nations the macro level. On every level it is necessary to gain knowledge if one wants to win battles. The necessary knowledge is usually the names of demons or principalities, the nature of the curse invoked, or the structure of the spiritual hierarchy in Satan’s kingdom. Bob Larson tells about performing an exorcism when one of the demons was away on another mission and had been missed during the procedure.13 He learned to “lock out” these demons. Larson writes: “If I had ended the procedure prematurely, I would never have known about this spirit, and he would have come back later.”14

One might ask what role God plays in the warfare worldview. The answer is that He commissions us to the battle, equips us for the battle, and gives us the tools we need. God gives the exorcist knowledge and power for battle. However, it is up to the exorcist to use his toolbox to cast out the demons. The exorcist must use the tools properly or the demons will stay. For example, Larson tells how he taught a pastor why demons kept coming back: “You probably never found the gatekeeper demon. It didn’t matter how many demons you cast out, they don’t have to go to the pit because the gatekeeper kept the door open for them to return.”15 The arrangement and locations of the spirits are determined by the knowledge and ability of the exorcist. Larson claims the right to assign demons to the pit if he does everything right.

What we must keep in mind is that the information needed to do effective spiritual warfare according to the warfare worldview is not revealed. What I mean is that it is neither found in God’s specific revelation (the Bible) nor in general revelation (what may legitimately be learned about the creation using our natural senses and rational mind). The knowledge that is required is secret knowledge. God has not revealed the names of demons over nations, cities, neighborhoods, or in demonized persons. The only source of such information is from some other type of revelation, either extra biblical divine revelation or revelation gained from demons themselves. Those who hold to the warfare worldview believe that it is their role to gain this knowledge and use it in the battle. Since the knowledge is “secret” it is of the realm of the occult. They have to somehow justify gaining forbidden knowledge in the name of helping the victims of evil spirits.

Spiritual “Geek Squad”

In our city there is a company called “The Geek Squad” which will come to your home or place of business and solve your computer problems. They are very good at what they do and fix most hardware or software problems promptly. The reason they can do so is that they understand the nature of computers and computer software. They have technical knowledge. How is this possible? It is possible because humans created computers. Detailed manuals are available or computers can be reverse engineered by experts. Having complete knowledge of a computer is possible because computers are human creations.

The problem with the warfare worldview is that it has created the perceived need for a “Geek Squad” for souls. Not only must the demons and curses that are affecting the person be understood in detail, but the human soul must be also. The complex relationship between all the spiritual factors affecting the person and the nature and inclination of his or her soul, must be discerned and diagnosed by a skilled spiritual “technician” (they call themselves counselors) who can do the proper “fix.” Computers are complex, but they are exponentially simpler than the human soul and the spiritual world it inhabits.

For example, consider Bob Larson’s description of his ministry to a person in bondage. The person in question had numerous “alters” (multiple personalities) as well as demonic bondage. This person with “dissociative identity disorder” had a demon called “Gatekeeper” who kept letting demons back in after they had been cast out.16 Larson describes the causes of such disorders and how he learned to speak to different identities within a person.17 He was dealing with a person who had alternate personalities called “Facilitator” and “Regulator.” Larson theorized that in this person demons could possess an “alter.” 18 Larson explains:

In the realm of multiple personalities, there are good alters and bad alters. Good alters are the part of the person’s consciousness that has acknowledged Christ as Savior. Bad, alters, for one reason or another, refuse to make that spiritual surrender.19
This complex situation leads to this task for the spiritual technician: “Our task is to sort through the maze to gain the assistance of the good alters. Then we can attempt to win the bad alters to God.”20 Larson proceeded to have the alternate personality within his client help him identify the “dark ones” and went through an incredibly complex task of sorting out the demons and “alters” within this person. He even leads “Facilitator” to Christ.21 Larson uncovers hidden memories, legal ground that the demons had, and the names of obscure demons.22 This is one prayer he used to help the victim find freedom: “I command that angels of God search out and torment the spirit of pain. I bind Pain to Regulator the demon, and command that both of them experience all the torment they’ve put on Randall. I increase that torment seven times greater.”23

The complexity of this process is mind-boggling. How can we be sure we are talking to demons, alters, or a real person? How does one know that a person can be saved but some of his alter egos still need to accept Christ? Do we really have authority to command angels to torment demons so that they will decide to leave? The problem, in my opinion, is that the complexity Larson is describing is actually under estimating the complexity of the bondage and neediness of the human soul. The reason there can be no ultimately successful “Geek Squad” for souls is found in the difference between computers and humans. Computers were created by man, souls are created by God. Only God truly knows the heart of man. Only God knows the details of the spirit world and its interaction with the human soul.

The Bible tells us why no human spiritual technician can solve the problems of the inner person: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10a). That only God knows the heart is a claim found throughout the Bible.24 Those holding to the warfare worldview see a pressing necessity to train a cadre of spiritual technicians who can free human souls from the complex psycho-spiritual situation that torments them. These technicians by whatever name they are given must rely on techniques and knowledge that are not revealed in the Bible. Furthermore, they must gain information about human souls, secret curses, hidden or forgotten memories, demons, names of demons, relationships between demons, relationships between alter identities within a soul, and relationships between demons and alter identities. All of this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. The “Geek Squad” for souls has no reverse engineering capabilities, no detailed record of the process by which a soul came to be, and no objective tools for examining the soul and the spirit world it inhabits.

Not only this, but the spirit entities that they interview to gain information share at least one attribute with their leader Satan — they are liars. This does not stop the priests of the warfare worldview from interrogating demons for secrets. For example, Bob Larson tells this story:

Step by step I cornered the adversary until he could no longer resist. Before his final doom was pronounced, the demon looked at me quizzically. “Who taught you the rules?” he asked curiously. “What do you mean by that?” I asked. “The spiritual rules that determine what we can and can’t do. Someone from our side must have taught you. I’ve never met anyone who knows the rules as well as you do.”25
It seems to me that if this warfare worldview is true and the claims of its technical “priesthood” are true, then we are all in very serious trouble with no clear way out. One must interview demons for years to figure out the “rules” since the information necessary to deal with them is neither revealed in Scripture nor accessible by any ordinary means.

In my case I was to run out of energy in trying to “tweak” the details of the warfare worldview to make it work. I would find out that what was necessary was a conversion to an entirely different view of the world God has created and governs. This conversion changed me from a spiritual technician to a gospel preacher. The rest of this article will describe how that happened.

Converting to the Providential Worldview

Two years after that encounter where I learned that Satan was afraid of me, I was wearing down from the longs days and nights of helping people in bondage. There were late night phone calls from troubled people and the burden of the shear number of ministry cases. Some individuals were in constant need of help. One very troubled person could sap the emotional and spiritual energy out of a counselor. I was dealing with up to 15 of them every week.

About that time one of these people was going off the deep end. She was running off late at night leaving her husband and children behind to go to bars and meet men. She had been through all of the various ministries we had to offer. Her husband would call me desperately needing help because she was destroying him and the children. One night after a 3:00 am call from this woman in which she blamed me for her problems because I was a bad counselor, I felt I could take no more. I cried out to God, praying something like this, “Dear Lord, I really want to help this lady and the others. I have prayed for her, ministered to her, helped her and her family in practical ways, and cast out demons, I have done everything I know how to do. I cannot take this anymore. If I do not get some better answers I cannot stay in the ministry.”

The answer to that prayer came in the form of a Scripture. It changed my life and ministry from that day on. I did not know it at the time, but what resulted from that situation was my conversion from the warfare worldview to what I am calling the providential worldview.26 The passage that the Lord brought to my mind is this one:

And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2Timothy 2:24-26).
The first thing that struck me about the passage is the description of the bondage the people are in: “having been held captive [by the devil] to do his will.” I reasoned that no one could be in more bondage than that. It definitely fit the description of the woman whose situation drove me to question everything I was doing.

The second thing that came to my mind about the passage was how applicable it was to my situation. Paul was telling Timothy how to deal with people in the church who had serious problems and were causing problems for Timothy. That was precisely what I was dealing with. Later, after I was able to look more objectively at the Scriptures without my mind being influenced by the warfare worldview, I realized that this is the key passage in the New Testament that tells about dealing with people in the church who are in bondage to Satan. Most of the passages I looked to for support of my ministry of exorcism were either from the Gospels which were before the church came to be as a result of the cross and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The others were in Acts where the apostles were confronting demonized people who were unsaved. Exorcism was never used in the New Testament as a therapy for born again Christians.

The third thing I learned from the passage was the means of escape. This was what led me away from the warfare worldview toward the providential worldview. People in bondage to Satan escape only when God grants repentance! This shocked me when I first read it. It says, “if perhaps God may grant them repentance.” The view I held before was that if things did not change either: a) I am a bad counselor or better get some better counseling techniques or b) the person is messing things up by not following my prescriptions and thus letting in seven worse demons. We went around and around trying to see which was the case. I finally came to see that if God grants repentance they will escape from the devil, and if He does not they will not. That was the key! Why He does in some cases but not others is part of God’s secret will (Deuteronomy 29:29) that I cannot know.

However since I did not know if God would grant repentance, it was always possible that He would in any given case. This gave me encouragement in the fourth thing I learned from this passage — how to counsel such individuals. Paul wrote, “Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.” We used to be up a 2:00 am with three elders holding down a screaming, writhing demonized person as we shouted, “Come out of him you foul spirit in the name of Jesus.” I thought later, “That is hardly teaching and correcting with gentleness.” Since now I realized that the means God uses to deliver people from their bondage to Satan is the gospel and all of its implications, I could patiently teach the truth, trusting that God will use it to change lives. God can deliver the most demonized sinner from the clutches of Satan through the power of the gospel (see Colossians 1:13 and Ephesians 2:1-5). What I had been doing wrong before was assuming that because the people I was counseling all said that they had met Christ, and yet they were still in bondage, that therefore the gospel does not deliver people from darkness unless special techniques and processes are added to it. Now I believed in the power of the gospel.

The great thing about gospel truth is that is can be delivered at other times besides 3:00 am when people are freaking out! I never again went running out to cast out a demon when someone was having a late night melt down. I began to correct the troubled woman by telling her she needed to repent, to trust God and by His grace obey Him. It is a sin to run off from your family to live in drunkenness. She ended up divorcing her husband and spending the next twenty years going from one bad situation to a worse one. But I knew it was not my fault. She either embraces the gospel or lives in bondage. There is no plan “B” that can fix the human soul. She still may repent and escape from the devil, but if she does it will be by God’s grace through the gospel, not through the spiritual Geek Squad.

How we Evaluate our Experiences

I now believe that God is in sovereign control of everything in the universe He created, even all wicked spiritual powers. Satan can only do what God allows him to do. The issues between freedom and bondage, blessing and cursing are clear and simple from this perspective. It all boils down to one’s relationship with God through the gospel or lack thereof. The Bible says, “blessed is the man who trusts in God . . . cursed is the man who trusts in man” (see Jeremiah 17:5-8). I now believe that calling for spiritual technicians to manipulate the soul and the spirits that influence it constitutes “trusting man,” no matter how much Christian lingo is attached to the process.

I believe that the things that happened to me when I was a deliverance counselor were very real. I believe that demons were definitely involved. In the case of the woman who was taken over by demons that wanted to claw my face, I now interpret the event differently. When I believed the warfare worldview I was energized and excited to learn that I had great authority and that Satan respected it. I believed that the incident proved how badly hurting people needed me to be there with my experience with deliverance and demons to help them find freedom. That is what led me to years of working day and night fighting the powers of darkness that were afflicting Christians.

Now I see the same incident in a totally different light. I believe that Satan put on that show for me to get me and the others involved to trust man rather than trust only in God through the gospel. As hard as it was for me to see at the time, Satan had a reason to make me think that what I was doing was “scaring” him. Doing so diminished my confidence in the gospel by getting me to think that not the gospel but deliverance ministers like me delivered people from the hostile powers.

Satan’s Protection Racket

The bondage and deliverance process is very much like a cruel, spiritual “protection racket.” The devil is working both ends of the game like one would in a protection racket where bullies threaten you and other bullies protect you from them for money. Satan does everything he can to get people into demonic bondage through overt occultism and other means. He then entices those who hold to the warfare worldview to think that their unbiblical teachings and practices are the key to freedom. Both ends of the game serve his purposes. The devil puts on a convincing show to make it all so very real.

He has one of his demons tell the Christian counselor “secrets” regarding how demons afflict their victims and then leave at the counselor’s command. The demons respond to threats of being tormented in the pit by angels for a very simple reason — the demons want to get Christians to think that Christian counselors and not God have power over angels and power to pass judgment before the time on the hostile powers.27 This serves Satan’s purpose in promoting “the lie” which tells us we can be like God. It makes us think we have power that only God has.

For example, when I was told that Satan was afraid of me, in as much as I believed that I embraced the lie and lost confidence in the truth of the gospel. The issue is whether we fear God and escape His judgment through the gospel, not whether Satan thinks we have great power and authority. The woman’s demon induced attack and her subsequent deliverance showed both ends of the protection racket. Through her, Satan attacked (the threat) and then withdrew at my command (the protection). The result was that I had more confidence in my spiritual power and was diverted from the gospel.

The warfare worldview drastically diminishes our hope through the gospel. It tells us that putting our hope and trust fully in God through Christ’s finished work on the cross does not deliver us from Satan and demons nor assure us that God will ultimately conform us to the image of Christ. Everything we are trying to do could be thwarted if we lack the special knowledge and techniques to fight the battle. Apparently the gospel does not really “work” for those who consult the spiritual “Geek Squad” unless many things are added to it. They teach that the gospel only potentially delivers us. After believing the gospel we now need professional curse breakers, exorcists, prophetic intercessors, inner healers, psycho-spiritual counselors, and others who constitute a new class of priestly technicians. These specialists mediate the “middle ground” between the soul and God. These are the “good” guys in the racket who keep the bad ones from beating us up.

The middle ground is the secret world of spirits that is hidden from our view. According to their view, our spiritual and material well being is determined by what goes on in this world, and they have the secrets to guide us to freedom and prosperity. Neil Anderson claims that many Christians are in spiritual bondage because they have a defective worldview with an “excluded middle.”28 Thus they see no reason for spiritual warfare because they have “Western,” rationalistic premises. What Anderson fails to realize or address in his book is that there are two different world views within Christianity that both accept the Biblical teachings about the reality of spirits and their influence on people. Anderson promotes the warfare worldview and simply calls it the “Christian” worldview.29 I say this because he never addresses the perspective of the providential world view and provides his readers with “steps to freedom” that go beyond the gospel and the means of grace provided in Scripture.30

I do not doubt the motives of the spiritual technicians. When I was one I sincerely wanted to help people. I was working day and night, without salary or benefits. I wanted to serve God fully and advance His kingdom. I sincerely believed I was doing so. However, my deception caused me to put people in more bondage rather than to deliver them. I was unwittingly a bondage maker.

For example, I taught that if a demon was cast out, and the person went back to whatever sin was deemed to have opened the door for the demon, then seven worse ones would enter (based on a misinterpretation of Matthew 12).31 This put those seeking deliverance into bondage. If the person came for deliverance from a spirit of lust (which commonly happened) and then later lusted after a woman, he then became exceedingly agitated and fearful because he knew he gave Satan a right to send demons to torment him. Then he would come back for more deliverance.

What this teaching does is make people think that their freedom is dependent on them living a nearly sinless life. Any mess up and the demons come back. To show how much this depends on man rather than God’s grace, consider what Bob Larson says: “I’ve known people whom I refused to help until they matured in the Lord to the point Satan didn’t want them any longer.”32 Evidently if you are not a good enough Christian you have to keep your demons. This worldview can only result in fear or pride. Fear if you believe that you cannot behave well enough to keep the demons from getting you, or pride if you think that you are such a powerful, sinless Christian that Satan fears you and cannot touch you. These outcomes (fear or pride) are the result of trusting man rather than God.

Conclusion

The key issue is the underlying worldview that one holds. The warfare worldview claims that history is played out as a battle between the forces of evil and believers. According to this view, God works through believers as much as they allow Him to. The more knowledge and power believers gain the better they can defeat the forces of darkness. If believers lack knowledge and techniques for spiritual warfare they will be victims and not victors. There are casualties in this battle and God does not assure the outcome.

The providential worldview believes in God’s sovereignty over all the forces of darkness. Spiritual forces of darkness cannot harm believers without first getting permission from God. What He allows them to do always is for our greater good. The key issue is not our knowledge about the forces of evil but our knowledge of God through the gospel. The battle is between the lie of Satan that man can be like God and the truth of the gospel.

Those who promote the warfare worldview mislead us by claiming that the options are only between a worldview that believes that there are demons, curses, and real Satanic activities and a “western” worldview that effectively denies that spiritual activity, good and bad, exists. This is a false dilemma. Do not be misled. The providential worldview also believes very much in the reality of demons, fallen angels, curses, principalities and powers as well as good angels and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The options are whether one believes in God’s sovereignty over all of these spiritual beings and realities or whether one believes God is allowing the battle to run its course on its own. Those who hold to the later view see God there to help if we figure out and use the right techniques but not sovereignly keeping us and carrying us to glory. Does God determine the outcome or is the outcome determined by humans and demons?

I believe that God uses the gospel to deliver people from the hostile powers and that the gospel effectively accomplishes all God intended to do from all eternity to save sinners. Those who believe are “saved to the utmost” (see Hebrews 7:25) and need not fear the hostile spiritual forces of the universe. The means of grace provided in the Bible are sufficient to cause us freedom and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

Those pushing the warfare worldview want us to think otherwise. They want us to believe that teachings, techniques, and spiritual processes that were not even conceived until the 20th century are necessary for us to be free from Satan’s bondage. This means we must believe that Christians throughout the centuries lived without freedom because the gospel they believed was insufficient. By convincing us of the insufficiency of the gospel they become bondage makers. I used to be one. I thank God He freed me from that condition through the truth of the Scriptures.

http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue78.htm

SALTED WITH FIRE

SALTED WITH FIRE

The children of the kingdom are those who have experienced the new birth.

John 3:3 Unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God.

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again through the word of God.

The children of the evil one are those who have not been born again by the Holy Spirit through faith in the word of God. This includes false Christians.

To themselves, and to those outside the church, false Christians appear indistinguishable from true Christians.

False Christians do not see the difference between themselves and true Christians, neither does the world. Only believers know the difference by the Holy Spirit.

False Christians can only manifest false Christianity.

True Christians are capable of displaying both true and false Christianity, though not at the same time.

It is possible to be a true Christian and yet not display true Christianity.

In the parable of the wheat and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) the Master forbade the servants to separate the weeds from the wheat. Instead the wheat (true Christians) should become so healthy and strong that the weeds become weak and sick and unable to carry out their purpose. It is not the weeds that choke out the wheat but the wheat that chokes out the weeds.

Jesus said that he would build his church on a rock, an unshakeable foundation. That rock is the revelation of his deity! Jesus is God the Creator.

Matthew 16:17 Jesus said, Blessed are you Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

The church was born on the day of Pentecost. It became the task of the apostles to instruct Christians in how to recognize the counterfeit, not only false Christians, but also the false Christian life that was in them, along with the new life, how to deny the one in the power of the Spirit, and how to give themselves by faith to Christ so that they might display the unique life of the resurrected and triumphant Lord.

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the church, its origin, nature, function and relationship to the Lord. The book of Ephesians is our guideline to the truth about the church.

Paul was in Rome when he wrote Ephesians, a prisoner of Caesar, awaiting trial. He was chained day and night and what did the apostle tell the Christians to do when he wrote?

Ephesians 4:1-3
I Therefore a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness (humility) (gentleness) and meekness, with patience, accepting one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.

IN THE BOND OF PEACE

What is the bond of peace?

Mark 9:49-50
Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.

Explanation:

EVERYONE WILL BE CLEANSED FROM SIN WITH SUFFERING / OPPOSITION / PRESSURE

HAVE DISCIPLINE / SUFFERING / THE WAY OF THE CROSS / HOLY SPIRIT / CHRIST
AND BE AT PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER.

EVERY BELIEVER WILL BE CLEANSED FROM SIN THROUGH SUFFERING

SUFFERING IS MEANT THE BACKLASH OF THE SINFUL WORLD THAT CANNOT TOLERATE THE HOLY SPIRIT

STEPHEN IS ONE OF THE BEST EXAMPLES AFTER CHRIST. THEY GRINDED THEIR TEETH AT HIM AND MURDERERD HIM BECAUSE HE WAS FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

THE MORE FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT YOU BECOME THE MORE YOU WILL FEEL THE OPPOSITION, PRESSURE, BACKLASH, HATE, DIFFERENT PERSECUTION AROUND YOU. THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT BY SUFFERING.

THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST TRUTHS OF SCRIPTURE. I HAVE ONLY EXPERIENCED THIS IN VERY SMALL AMOUNT BUT I WANT TO EXPERIENCE THIS IN FULLNESS AS PAUL HIMSELF SAID:

Colossians 1:24
I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body the church.

THIS GOES BACK TO EPHESIANS 4:1-3 AND THE BOND OF PEACE AND MARK 9:50 HAVING SUFFERING IN OUR BODY AND BEING AT PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE 1 PETER 4:1 SAYS:

1 Peter 4:1
Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also to be always ready for suffering in the body because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.

WHOEVER SUFFERS IN THE BODY IS FINISHED WITH SIN.

HEBREWS AND PHILIPPIANS CONTINUE THIS TRUTH OF PEACE, POWER AND SUFFERING.

Philippians 3:10
I want to know Christ – Yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death!

1 Timothy 4:8
Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come!

Hebrews 2:10
In bringing many children to glory, it was fitting (it was right, it was appropriate) for God, for whom and through whom, all things exist, to make Jesus, the source of their salvation, perfect (brought to completion) through suffering!

Hebrews 5:8-9
Although Jesus was a son, he learned obedience through suffering, and being made perfect (complete, brought to a finish) he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Philippians 1:27-29
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence (hear Christ speaking) I will know you stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved – even by God himself. FOR YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN NOT ONLY THE PRIVILEGE OF BELIEVING IN CHRIST, BUT ALSO THE PRIVILEGE OF SUFFERING FOR HIM.

Philippians 2:1-12
THEREFORE IF YOU HAVE ANY ENCOURAGEMENT FROM BEING UNITED WITH CHRIST, IF ANY COMFORT FROM HIS LOVE, IF ANY FELLOWSHIP WITH THE SPIRIT, ANY TENDERNESS AND COMPASSION, THEN MAKE MY JOY COMPLETE BY BEING OF ONE MIND, HAVING THE SAME LOVE, BEING UNITED IN SPIRIT AND PURPOSE. DO NOTHING FROM SELF-INTEREST (DON’T BE SELFISH) DON’T TRY TO IMPRESS OTHERS (EMPTY PRIDE, VAIN CONCEIT) RATHER BE HUMBLE, IN HUMILITY THINK OF OTHERS ABOVE YOURSELVES, NOT LOOKING TO YOUR OWN INTERESTS, BUT EACH OF YOU TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS. LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU! WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS, WHO BEING GOD, DID NOT CONSIDER EQUALITY WITH GOD SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO (CLING TO) INSTEAD BEING POURED OUT, HE EMPTIED HIMSELF, BY TAKING THE FORM OF A SLAVE AND BEING MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF HUMANS! HE HUMBLED HIMSELF AND BECAME OBEDIENT TO DEATH, EVEN DEATH ON A CROSS. THEREFORE GOD EXALTED HIM TO THE HIGHEST PLACE AND GAVE HIM THE NAME THAT IS ABOVE EVERY NAME THAT AT THE NAME OF JESUS EVERY KNEE WILL BOW OF THOSE WHO ARE IN HEAVE AND ON EARTH AND UNDER THE EARTH AND THAT EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER. THEREFORE, MY BELOVED, AS YOU HAVE ALWAYS OBEYED, SO NOW, NOT ONLY IN MY PRESENCE, BUT MUCH MORE IN MY ABSENCE, WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING (REVERENCE AND AWE) CONTINUE TO WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION.

Revelation 20:1

Revelation 20:1
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.

John Gill (1697 — 1771)

And I saw an angel come down from heaven,…. All Christ’s enemies, and Satan’s instruments being removed, the devil is left alone, and only stands in the way of Christ’s kingdom; and what will be done to him, and how he will be in the issue disposed of, this vision gives an account: by the “angel” John saw, is not to be understood Constantine the great; for though he is the man child that was taken up to God, and his throne, being advanced to the empire, yet he cannot, with that propriety, be said to come down from heaven; and though he vanquished the Heathen emperors, in which the dragon presided, and cast Paganism out of the empire, by which the devil ruled in it, yet the binding of Satan is another kind of work, and seems too great for him; and besides, did not take place in his time, as will be seen hereafter: nor is an apostle, or a minister of the Gospel intended; such are indeed called angels in this book, and may be said to come down from heaven, because they have their commission from thence; and particularly the apostles had the keys of the kingdom of heaven, but not the key of the bottomless pit; and a chain and system of Gospel truths, which they made good use of for the establishing of Christ’s kingdom, and weakening of Satan’s, but not such a chain as is here meant; and they had the power of binding and loosing, or of declaring things lawful or unlawful, but not of binding and loosing of Satan; nor was he bound in the apostolic age: nor is one of the ministering spirits, or a deputation of angels designed; for though Christ will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, and will make use of them, both to gather together his elect, and to cast the wicked into the lake of fire, yet not to bind Satan; but the Lord Jesus Christ himself is this angel, who is the angel of God’s presence, and of the covenant; and who is in this book called an angel, Revelation 7:2 to whom all the characters here well agree, and to whom the work of binding Satan most properly belongs; for who so fit to do it, or so capable of it, as the seed of the woman, that has bruised serpent’s head, or as the Son of God, who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, yea, to destroy him himself; and who dispossessed multitudes of devils from the bodies of men, and is the strong man armed that dislodges Satan from the souls of men, and is the same with Michael, who drove him from heaven, and cast him out from thence before, Revelation 12:7. And his coming down from heaven is not to be understood of his incarnation, or of his coming from thence by the assumption of human nature; for Satan was not bound by him then, as will be seen hereafter; but of his second coming, which will be from heaven, where he now is, and will be local, visible, and personal: of no other coming of his does this book speak, as seen by John, or as future; nor will the order of this vision, after the ruin of the beast and false prophet, admit of any other.

Philippians 4:5

Philippians 4:5a
Let your moderation be known unto all men

As to moderation in certain habits.

(a) The desire of knowledge; the cause and consequences of the first offence should teach us the need of putting a check upon it.

(b) So also the desire of power. Acquisitiveness is a natural propensity. If there were no such desire, what would become of the interests of society and civilization? But there is nothing that becomes more destructive when not held in by Christian principles.

2. As to moderation in certain feelings. The other phase of meaning in the word is gentleness. It includes the control of anger. Indignation against evil is virtuous, but resentment, even against an evil doer, is the opposite.

II. The manifestation. That our moderation may be known unto all men–

1. It must be decided. There must be no pressing towards the borders of excess, even though not touched. No hard driving at a bargain which would look like avarice. No such demands on servants as would look like oppression; no indulgence which would look like sensuality.

2. It must spring from principle. A man may be moderate in one thing, and not in another. An ascetic in eating and drinking, may be licentious. A man who has no ambition may be avaricious.

3. It must he habitually exercised. How many in their religious connections profess principles which are outraged in the home or in the shop.

III. The motive. “The Lord is at hand.” We tell men of the injuriousness of evil ways: as they make their bed they must lie upon it. But while forceful, it is an appeal to self-love in its lowest form, and habits formed upon it do not rise higher than mere prudence. Here is the Christian motive.

1. The judgment of the last day is approaching. This anticipation awakens an awful sense of responsibility.

2. But the Lord is an actual presence now. His judgment is passing on us at this moment; and we are now responsible. But is He not a Saviour as well as Judge? at hand to forgive the penitent and help the believer. (J. Stoughton, D. D.)

Philippians 4:4b
The Lord is at hand

As an illustration of that, let the gay young man think of Belshazzar’s feast. There is the gorgeous oriental palace, with its massive architecture, its huge columns, its gigantic figures, its pictured halls; and there are the thousand lords in their rich robes, and the king, in the pomp of an eastern despot, drinking wine before the thousand. And in the same hour there came forth the fingers of a man’s hand, and they wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace; the mysterious hand moves and writes–moves and writes–and there are letters, words burnt into the wall, as with a pen of flame. The king knows not what they mean till the prophet comes to tell; and then their import is found to be, that the miserable man who wears the crown is “weighed in the balances and found wanting,” and his kingdom is torn from him. So, though not visibly, yet really, there is over against the intemperate young man, the sensual young man, an omniscient Eye beholding his deeds, and an unerring Hand recording his doom, opposite him in the casino, and in other haunts of dissipation and vice. Here it is: conscience at times makes you tremble, and the minister of the gospel interprets the Divine revelation, and tells you of the wrath to come. “The Lord is at hand;” and as an illustration of that let every man of business read the parable of the rich fool, in the twelfth chapter of St. Luke, and the sixteenth verse. There you have epitomized the history of many a tradesman: the goods are laid up, not that the soul may take its ease, but that there may be a grand funeral, and much excitement at the reading of the will, and perhaps quarrelling over the property, and a gorgeous tomb in one of the suburban cemeteries, and a scattering of the huge gold heap by some profligate son; and the poor, careful soul who toiled and saved, and made others toil and save, who was at his books till midnight, and grudged the hours of sleep and rest to his poor shopman, where is he?–where is he? To think that men can go on as they do, digging, and delving, and scraping together money, money, money, while death is at the door, and the judgment is at hand, and hell is opening its mouth to swallow up the worldly! “The Lord is at hand.” Read as an illustration of that in another way–“And being in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and she brake the box, and poured it on His head. And Jesus said, She hath wrought a good work on Me; she hath done what she could.” And so, whatever you do from love to Jesus in the way of helping men, in the way of checking sin, in the way of saving souls, in the way of lightening misery, He is at hand to notice, to record, to approve, to bless. (J. Stoughton, D. D.)

Observation and Testimony on The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy

An observation and testimony from the comments section of an article entitled “The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy” by Dr. Kenneth Berding, Professor of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology, at Biola University, La Mirada, California, USA.

Article link:

http://magazine.biola.edu/article/14-spring/the-crisis-of-biblical-illiteracy/

Comment by Spencer:

Maybe the problem consists in assuming that people are Christians when they really aren’t.

Christians want to read the Bible.
Non-Christians don’t want to read the Bible.
People have stopped reading the Bible.
Therefore the people are probably not Christians.

Again, people are identified by their fruits. I think the solution is to preach the Gospel and expect the people to repent and get saved, and then, naturally, they will find time to read the Bible.

Testimony of Melinda:

I love this article because I can relate to it. I read the Bible a lot and recently when I go to sleep at night, I will find the Bible on audio on Youtube and play it as I fall asleep.

But if anyone had told me this would be my life just 6 years ago, I would probably have laughed.

I grew up in church and even taught classes, worked several years with the youth group, sang on the praise & worship team & even directed the dramas at my church & yet I look back at all that time & realize I was not in as personal relationship with Jesus.

It wasn’t until I decided to try & make sense of the “Holy War” gong on in the Middle East with Israel that I started reading my Bible. I ended up running across a few Muslims on Youtube in my quest to understand and they all seemed to want to prove to me that Christianity was not correct. They would challenge me with scriptures and other things and this caused me to start having to read the Bible in order to refute their claims and because of this, I fell in love with the Word.

And the more I read, the more I wanted to talk about it with my Christian friends and what I found is that most of them really didn’t want to talk about it. I thought this was odd since these people were suppose to be my fellow brothers and sister in Christ and they were not even interested in discussing Biblical things?

It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to find a new church where people DID want to discuss the Bible and put it into practice. I even had a lady from my church say to me “I’m just worried about you-that you might get mixed up in something weird”. I found that to be a statement that solidified why I needed to leave and she was one of the people that I had formerly looked up to. If discussing the Lord and the Bible often made me “weird” so be it.

Just last week, my oldest son who is now 18, just came in the living room and asked me if I’d do a spontaneous Bible study with him. He had no preference in what he wanted to read so we read Galatians for 2 hours and cross referenced ans discussed it. That is one of the most meaningful moments in my life-that my decision 6 years ago to really turn my life around and repent and start living my faith has had a huge impact on my kids.

What if I had never changed? What if I had never answered the call to read his word more? My boys could be completely different people. Instead, I am passing on a legacy by putting a priority on scripture.

It is concerning to me that most of my son’s friends from school who attend church, have no idea what the Bible says at all and only apply the things they want to apply and not the whole word. They even misquote scriptures and Biblical principle to justify their actions and words.

I am grateful that God called my name and I answered. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I was still bumbling along just doing church activities and volunteering without any desire to draw closer to Him. Pretty sad……

London Has A Muslim Mayor

Half of the Muslim people in Britain live in greater London. Melanie Phillips’ bestselling book “Londonistan” highlighted how London became a ‘soft-touch’, turning the capital into a hot-bed of Islamism. The situation may be deteriorating, as London aspires to be a global player in sharia financing; fanatics such as ‘Jihadi John’ leaving London to join the self-styled Islamic State; and stories have emerged of sharia vigilante patrols in some areas of London.

In April this year, Trevor Phillips – former head of the Equalities & Human Rights Commission – analysed a comprehensive survey of the attitudes of British Muslims, concluding that: ‘Integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest task we’ve ever faced’.

The MP for Tooting (and former Labour cabinet minister) Sadiq Khan has now been elected as the new Mayor of London, by a 44% landslide vote. Khan is a devout Muslim, which surely isn’t a problem in itself – or would we prefer a secularist or atheist?

The problem is that it is alleged that Khan refers to ‘moderate’ Muslims as ‘Uncle Toms’ (Charles Payne Fox) and that he has ‘well documented’ links with Islamic extremists such as Babar Ahmad (Teresa May MP) and Suliman Ghani (David Cameron MP) and the [now] banned group Al-Muhajirun (The Telegraph 7 May ‘16). If true, this would be a cause for concern.

However, Sadiq Khan, a human rights lawyer and former chairman of Liberty, presents as a well-integrated, fair-minded person. For example, he attracted death threats from some Muslims when he voted in favour of same-sex marriage. He has gone on record as saying: ‘I regret giving the impression I subscribed to their views and I’ve been quite clear I find their views abhorrent.’

Tim Dieppe presents the following evidence that suggests Sadiq Khan may be a metallic hand in a velvet glove:

Khan wrote a ‘how to’ guide on how to sue the police for damages of up to £10,000 by alleging racist behaviour or claiming wrongful arrest.

Khan wrote to the Guardian after the 7/7 attacks, blaming the government’s foreign policy.

Louis Farrakhan – refused entry to the UK by every Home Secretary since 1986 – was supported by Khan who, according to the BBC, described Judaism as: ‘a gutter religion’ and Christianity as an ‘oppressive faith’ that enslaved black people – calling Adolf Hitler ‘great’ (saying later that he meant ‘wickedly great’.

Also in 2004, Khan seemed to advocate the introduction of elements of sharia law in Britain when he said: ‘There are some…uncontroversial areas of Islamic law, which could easily be applied to the legal system… in the UK’; delivered on a platform with five extremists, at an event with segregated seats for men and women.

In 2007, Khan was said to have openly resisted the criminalising of forced-marriage saying that other remedies exist and calling it ‘ghetto legislation’ that would reinforce stereotypes of Muslims.

The bottom line of the controversy surrounding Khan’s appointment as London Mayor is based on fears that he may not promote Muslim integration; something that remains to be seen. Some actually expect Khan to support the ‘sensitivities’ of Muslim community leaders, rather than putting pressure on them to eradicate radicals. This would prolong politically correct policing as seen in Rotherham and Rochdale, where ‘rape gangs’ were allowed to run riot – the police being terrified of being called “racist” (Daniel Johnson).

The Mollenbeck district of Brussels (known today as a notorious hotbed of Islamic radicalism) looks set to be followed by Tower Hamlets tomorrow. With Khan in charge, will London continue to be nicknamed “Londonistan”?

It’s time to pray for the democratically elected Mayor of London – Sadiq Khan; and of course for the city of London!

Steve Bell (Interserve)

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