Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Physics of Heaven Book Review

Front Cover of "The Physics of Heaven"
The book "The Physics of Heaven" By Judy Franklin and Ellyn Davis (with chapters written by many New Apostolic Reformation leaders) reads like a manifesto for a sort of New Age-Christian mixture. It acts like a syncretistic think-tank (Syncretism is mixing of occult and religious systems with Christianity). It's so bizarre that it's hard to know where to start. It honestly feels like the authors are just floating their craziest ideas of how they imagine Christianity should mingle with all sorts of New Age and Occult practices. Because it is a well known and well reviewed book, I would like to take a shot at reviewing and analyzing it. My questions arise virtually on page one. Are there vibrations in the supernatural that we need to tap into? No! Does God play games with people? No! does He hide himself in sound and light? No! Does God speak to people through “hints” of other things like sound? No! Does God speak through sound, light, energy, frequencies, vibrations, and quantum physics? No! Unfortunately this book espouses all of these ideas, and takes all of the scriptures it uses out of context and applies meanings to them that the original scriptural authors did not intend. If you want a smorgasbord of New Apostolic Reformation teaching and “seers” as they are called, then this is your book. Chapters in this book are written by Ellyn Davis, Judy Franklin, Bill Johnson (Apostolic leader of Bethel Church, Redding, CA), Jonathan Welton (founder of the Welton Academy Supernatural Bible School), Ray Hughs (author of Sound of Heaven Symphony of Earth), Dan McCollum (Co-founder of the Bethel School of the Prophets and Founder of the activate school of prophecy), Cal Pierce (director of Healing Room Ministries Spokane, WA), Larry Randolph (author of the books User Friendly Prophecy, Spirit Talk and The Coming Shift), David Van Koevering (Quantum Physicist & Inventor), and Beni Johnson (Wife of Bill Johnson and author of Experiencing the Heavenly Realm: Keys to Accessing Supernatural Experiences) The forward for “The Physics of Heaven” is written by Kris Vallatton (Prophet and senior leader at Bethel Church in Redding, CA). There is also a chapter by the late Bob Jones (who was a self admitted sexual abuser).

The authors say in the preface that this is not a theological book, but then go on to state their clear purpose to “share what we have discovered so you can go on your journey of discovery with God into the realms of sound, light, energy, vibrations, and quantum physics.” That is clearly a theological goal. Their poor eschatology is also on display in that they teach that the world will get better and better until the reign of Christ is inaugurated by our dominion of it. The Bible is clear that the end times will become worse as in the days of Noah, not better (according to Jesus). 

This book also teaches that “the veil between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm is thinner than ever (kindle location 190).” They describe how they believe that Jesus is about to release a sound from heaven that will allow us to exceed the works that Jesus did. Furthermore, this book teaches that “bringing heaven to earth is our mandate (kindle location 228).” It is often written “the Lord told me” or “I feel like the Lord has told me.” These types of statements detract greatly from the sufficiency of scripture, and make their personal revelations from God greater or at least tantamount to God's all-sufficient revealed word as found in the canon of scripture. 

One of the writers explains a vision they had in which they observed God the father at the beginning of time and witnesses him creating. In the vision they heard him say, “let there be light.” I don’t think it is necessary to explain how preposterous this vision is. The vision that is explained is that she saw God the Father before the universe was created! There is not one biblical vision even remotely close to this one...this is a whopper! 

There are furthermore incredible Dominionism and Kingdom Now theological perspectives clearly espoused. Dominionism is the aberrant theological view that God has relinquished dominion of this world to the devil, and we as his church should take back dominion from him. Is the Logos, the word that holds all things together, Christ himself, available that we could have his nature? Absolutely Not! But this book espouses this very idea. The Apostle Peter is described in this book as carrying the “Let there be light” Spirit of God within him. This book is a prime example that not just anyone should be allowed to exegete and explain scripture (James 3:1). “The Physics of Heaven” claims quite clearly that the New Age has “uncovered truths” that the church has somehow missed or lost and should seek to retrieve them. 

Another astounding quote from the book is “whenever you see a counterfeit, it means a real exists...a lie just proves the existence of a truth...I decided to examine the New Age thought and practice for anything “precious” that might be “extracted” from the worthless (kindle location 366).” She wrote this to justify her syncretism with New Age teaching and truths. The author here admits her own syncretism. Moreover this book is produced and endorsed by Bethel. Chapters were written by Bethel leaders and approved as a Bethel resource. Bethel cannot claim anymore that they are not dabbling in the New Age, since their leadership is promoting and engaging in it themselves. There are a large amount of passages that indicate that God is giving a new revelation which also detracts from the sufficiency of scripture. God’s revelation is closed. Nothing can be added to or taken away from divine revelation. 

Bob Jones describes in his chapter that God is preparing us for a “Second Pentecost” that will bring us into harmony with God, but Jesus has already brought us into harmony with God through his vicarious atoning death on the cross! He explains that God is also giving people the power of “blank checks” and “holy confiscation” for a great transfer of wealth. He says that we have not received the fullness of Pentecost. Jones ridiculously says that when God breathes on you it smell like apples. Really, I’m not joking that is in the book! He further espouses that there are positive vibrations in us and when we vibrate that we are opening a portal to heaven. Bob Jones further says that we are being prepared to receive the “priesthood of Melchizedek.” Sorry Bob, but that priesthood only belongs to one person, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5, 6:20, 7)! He explains further that these vibrations can change DNA to have a genetic structure in harmony with God. 

Back Cover of "The Physics of Heaven"
Bill Johnson’s chapter says that “no revival has even made it a priority to leave a spiritual inheritance to the next generation (kindle location 540).” However, he is only looking at so called charismatic revivals whereas all the real revivals of history have carried on a missions flame for generations. Furthermore Johnson teaches that there are “unclaimed mantles” when he says, there are anointings, mantles, revelations, and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left, because the generation that walked in them never passed them on (kindle location 545).” What Johnson is saying here is that there are secrets and mysteries that we have missed in our faith which sounds an awful lot like Gnosticism. Gnosticism was an early Christian heresy that was an overemphasis on secret knowledge in respect to faith. And furthermore, this is why we have the Bible, so that we do not miss anything. We have everything we need in the scriptures. They are sufficient and in them God has communicated everything necessary for faith and life, worship and service. Johnson later on in this chapter describes that Christians must “unlock” mysteries of God. This chapter describes a dangerous precedent that God would give us “extra-biblical revelations” and that we should be searching for them. Johnson also intimates that God would never “make people sick” I guess he ignores the passages of scripture where God does send pestilence, sickness, disease, death, and the like. I guess he must have a hard time with the book of 1st and 2nd Kings where God smote many of the wicked kings of Israel, or for that matter the whole Old Testament and many parts of the New Testament (e.g. Ananias and Sapphira Acts 5:1-11 Blindness to Saul Acts 9:1-9 Elymas the Magician Acts 13:9-12).

In other passages the authors connect healing power with the emission of “powerful pulsing magnetic fields” and that this in some way indicates that we must tune in to those frequencies. In that same section they talk about how shamans, psychics, faith healers, and Hawaiian kahunas, etc. during times when they heal people become one with the earth’s geoelectric micropulsations. These healing practitioners are Animistic in origin and clearly demonic. Those types of healers clearly use the power of the devil and we should avoid such practices not dabble in them. 

Jonathan Welton’s chapter again denotes the importance of proper exegesis, because he doesn't do any. He begins his chapter with a scripture from 1st John 2:27 in which he claims it teaches that we should not ignore counterfeit gods. According to Welton, we should not be afraid of counterfeits because “whenever there is real, there is sure to be a counterfeit (kindle location 662).” What he is missing is that this passage in 1st John is actually warning people about false teaching and anti-christs. The Apostle John is warning them to “abide in Christ” as Jesus himself exhorted and prayed for us in John 17. In other words do NOT seek after other gods or counterfeits, but abide or stay in Christ. This passage of scripture actually teaches against what he is proposing. This is not about looking at counterfeits so you can know how to recognize the real! Even his own analogy breaks down. How do bank tellers spot a counterfeit? By handling the real thing enough that when a counterfeit is handled they can spot it immediately. Further on in the chapter he says that “if there is a counterfeit, there is an authentic that we need to find and reclaim (kindle location 679).” This is so dangerous. Basically, he is saying go search in all religions for the truth because if there is falsehood then there must be truth somewhere hidden in there. He claims the “counterfeit miracles prove that there are real miracles available to the church (kindle location 679).”

Further on in that same chapter Welton says something so blasphemous I need to highlight it in this review. ““Are psychics and New Agee’s operating in real power?” The answer is yes, but they have climbed in as trespassers. They have not accessed the spirit realm through Jesus (kindle location 726).” The Bible thoroughly forbids New Age, Occult, Mystic, Animistic, and Sprit World engagement! And to say that we could access the spirit world through New Age practice and just do it in Jesus name is a serious deviation from Christian Orthodoxy and practice. To take it one step further Welton writes that, “New Age has Counterfeited, such as having a spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and more. These actually belong to the church, but they have been stolen and cleverly repackaged (kindle location 759).” This is so far out of bounds. Furthermore, it is impossible to claim that spirit guides, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyance, and clairaudience practices ever belonged at anytime to Christianity! This claim is completely afield. Not just afield, but Welton is not playing in the same stadium. I would dare say, we are not even playing the same game. This is undeniably an un-Christian message (Lev. 19:26; 31, Lev. 20:6, Deut. 18:10-13, 1 Chron. 10:13, Gal. 5:19-20, Acts 19:18-19, 1 Jn. 4:1).

Ellyn Davis in the next chapter asks, “could it be that God has given us other ways to sense the unseen and unheard (kindle location 886)?” My answer to her is if we needed it God would have told us. But rather He has not explained to us how to tap into the unseen and unheard in his word, but rather quite clearly forbidden such practices. She makes a case for crystals and essential oils usage when she describes that they have vibrations. Crystals have for a long time been associated with  the Occult and New Age practice. I would say the usage of crystals for such New Age purposes are off limits for those who claim Jesus as Lord! She further described how she believes that the Holy Spirit has given her pieces of the puzzle to the sounds of heaven. Again these are incredible fabrications that arrogantly seek to prop her up as some sort of “super-Christian.” But are these claims legitimate? Moreover is this subterfuge even a necessarily a Christian claim? Where is this in Christian tradition or the scriptures that we should seek the “sounds of heaven?” Nowhere. I feel the need here now to make a short list of things that should be considered off limits for Christians. Off limits Occult activities include fortunetelling, crystal ball gazing, numerology, or seeing psychics, tarot cards, Ouija boards, automatic writing, seances, mediums, spiritism, Astrology, horoscopes, I Ching, hypnotism, Transcendental Meditation, or Far Eastern Meditation, crystals, Witchcraft, Satanism, Voodoo, channeling, reincarnation, astral projection, ESP, New Age Movement, and any form of necromancy. 

Ray Hughes continues the atrocious handling of theology when he says that “we have been given the creative ability to release the sound of God (Kindle Location 955).” This is so off base it is hard to know even where he is getting this beside his own imagination. I can think of no biblical basis for this theological statement. And it is a theological statement because it makes a claim about God that He is a God who has given us the creative ability to release His sounds. Any statement about the nature or activity of God is a theological statement. So their claim that this is not a theological book is false. The whole book presumes to explain God’s nature and ways. Hughes further says, “with every revival, there has been a release of new music or new sound. Whether the music releases revival, or whether the revival releases the music varies from generation to generation. However, the sound changes as God’s people respond to what God is doing and saying (kindle location 982).” The preposterous claim that sound or music “releases” revival is especially appalling. Revival, or true historical biblical revival is a sovereign act and impetus of God, not of any music or sound that releases it. There is not one biblical precedence for this view. (See Blog There’s Gonna Be a Revival in This Land). The Christology of Hughs, and subsequently Bethel, is seen in his words, “we bring to life the full meaning of Emmanuel—Christ with us, Christ revealed in us (kindle location 1037).” Do we bring life to the full meaning of Immanuel Christ with us? No, Jesus is Immanuel “God with us.” We add nothing to his nature, or work. We are only witnesses to and recipients of his salvation, vicarious death, and victorious resurrection! We only take part by receiving Him in faith. This goes in the direction of the “little gods” or “little christs” theology. Which is taught in the New Apostolic Reformation. Christ is truly revealed in us, but we dot NOT bring to life the full meaning of Emmanuel! He himself is the eternal incarnate word of God, and we give no meaning to his incarnation. 

Dan McCollum talks about the “God Vibration” and makes his erroneous claim, “God’s voice and the sound of angels can also be heard and experienced by man. A whole new realm of encounter awaits those who possess three simple qualities: expectancy, intentionality, and intimacy (kindle location 1162).” Is there a secret realm that awaits man where we can hear the audible voice of God and sound of Angels? No, that is never promised to us as Christians. God never promises that we will hear his audible voice. If we want to hear God’s voice then we should read his word. If we want to hear it audibly then we should read it out loud. Likewise, God never promises Angel encounters as a result of our expectancy, intentionality, or intimacy. This is extra-Biblical teaching, and is perilous for us as Christians. He closes his chapter by saying, “Intimacy is the incubator of increased encounters from the supernatural realm (kindle location 1175).” This sounds wonderful that God would bless intimacy like this, but can he link that to any biblical precedence? This I am afraid could lead to a works salvation. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him (Colossians 2:6).” How have we received Jesus? By grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), that is how we must continue to walk in Him. This type of teaching is a slippery slope. One where we slide back into a works gospel like the Galatians had. They were again trying to “do” something to keep their salvation and to attain their own sanctification. Jesus through the Holy Spirit is the justifier and sanctifier of the brethren. This teaching is perilous because it could lead people into a gospel of works.

Cal Pierce in his chapter describes angelic encounters. He first describes an angelic encounter he had with the “energy angel” who prophesied to him about the current “energy crisis.” He described how the angel went back to his hotel room with him. The angel spoke about how if we continue to draw resources from the planet they will run out, but if we draw resources from “above" they will never pollute the planet and never run out. Pierce said that the angel told him about a “water car” and then disappeared. The angel soon returned with a scroll in his hand and on it were the blueprints for a car powered by water. The angel said he was an engineer and said he could show Pierce how it worked through the power of water and light. The angel then said that he had been “walking with” Pierce for thirty years.  Pierce told the angel that he was amazed by seeing an angel. The angel replied that he was amazed too, because he had been trying to get Pierce’s attention for thirty years. This is so outlandish it is hard for me to believe that I have to write a real serious and circumspect critique. It was hard not to laugh as I read these absurd claims. The reason that I feel like I need to write this critique is because “The Physics of Heaven” has received an enormous amount of praise on internet platforms where books are sold, and only very few negative reviews. Pierce goes on to described an encounter with a man who “God had taken to heaven and shown how to produce four dimensional objects with sound (kindle location 1224).” This man claimed that he had used sound to project a miniature house into existence. Pierce went on to elaborate on what the “energy angel” revealed to him, “He said that because God spoke His creative will, man can also speak words that create (kindle location 1231).” Is this true in any sense? No! Our words do not create! Only the sovereign creator God has the power to create anything “ex-nihilo” (out of nothing). This is an outworking of the “little gods” theology that describes that everything that God is, we are too, and have the same capabilities within us. Pierce further argues that angels obey the command of the word of the Lord and in the same way they obey and enact our word and bring them to fruition. He closes his chapter with the idea that, “Angels are around you to activate the revelation of the truth that you speak out into its creative form (kindle location 1245).” All in all, Pierce claims that he encountered the “energy angel” who gave him plans to build a water powered car, encountered a man who went to heaven and God showed him how to create little houses with sound, and as a result teaches that angels help “activate” our words when we speak the truths that we speak! Again this is so far off the mark that I believe that Pierce is not in the same ballpark. Moreover, I believe he is not even playing on the same team. As stated before these authors are not playing the same game as the Christian church of antiquity. 

Larry Randolph in his chapter says that the, “spiritual discoveries of the New Age movement could be likened to the time in the Old Testament when the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant from Israel. In both cases, then and now, that which belongs to the church fell into the hands of unbelievers. So, in order to posture ourselves for the next move of God, like King David, we must take back what is ours. Certain dynamics such as synesthesia, quantum physics, and “vibrations” are God-stuff, and we must not be afraid to seize what belongs to the Creator of all things (kindle location 1358).” This is apostasy! Here Randolph takes a historical narrative passage of Scripture, that is not meant to be prescriptive but rather descriptive of historical events, and makes them have spiritual meanings that they do not have. Randolph here does some pretty creative exegetical calisthenics. There is no way that the Philistines stealing the Ark of the covenant has a parallel to the New Age “stealing” practices from Christianity that we must steal back. This is absolute hermeneutical rubbish! 

This book continues in this vein until it mercifully comes to an end. This is just a small sampling of the preposterous and erroneous teaching found in this book. I highly discourage you from reading “The Physics of Heaven.” I wanted to bring your attention again to two points. This book is obviously false teaching of the most flagrant manner, and second it is inextricably linked to Bethel Church, Bill Johnson, and the New Apostolic Reformation. It has chapters written by all the senior leaders of Bethel, and approved by and sold in the Bethel internet store. People cannot say anymore that there is no false teaching at Bethel. This book is hard evidence that the teaching and beliefs of the main senior leadership at Bethel are aberrant. If you must read “The Physics of Heaven” please know that there is egregious biblical, theological, and even scientific errors on almost every single page. Keep your heresy radar on full alert as you read! Our hope is not found in any mysteries of sound, light, energy, vibrations, Quantum Physics, angelic experiences, or other New Age chicanery, but rather in Christ and Christ alone is our great and everlasting hope.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

DID JESUS DO HIS MIRACLES AS GOD?

I have been busy lately with the question of Christ's nature. I want to take a moment to deal with a very hot topic right now on the nature of Christ. This important theological question is usually expressed like this, "Did Jesus do His miracles as God?" The overwhelming answer to that question is YES! Jesus did EVERYTHING as God, because He is eternally God. That means He has done, did, and will do everything as God. During His time on earth; from the point of His incarnation, He did things as a man and as God concurrently. That is the meaning of his indivisible nature. He cannot not be God and He cannot not be man. He is both. Of course, He was limited in his manhood. For instance, He could not be everywhere at one time (Omnipresence) and seemed to be limited in his knowledge (Omniscience), which are both characteristics of God. So, He certainly limited himself because of His manhood. But those limits did not mean He had "laid aside His divinity," or was in some other form rather than God, but rather He remained God as the Chalcedon Fathers defined "Truly God and Truly Man...acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;"

This theological perspective is often called the "Kenosis Theory" (from the greek word in Phil. 2:7 "κενόω" which is pronounced ken-o’-o). This view was promoted by Word of Faith teachers such as Kenneth Copeland, and Kenneth Hagin. These Word of Faith, and now New Apostolic Reformation leaders posit that Jesus laid aside his divinity and did all his miracles as a man in complete reliance on His Father. A very strong argument against this view is the Immutability of God (i.e. that God does not change). According to this deeply Christian theology, God cannot change. Therefore, Jesus the son of God, cannot change. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)." He is eternally God, and thus cannot be anything other than God, not even for a moment (i.e. He cannot stop being God). So either Jesus did everything as God or He did nothing as God. In other words either Jesus was, is, and ever will be God, or He is nothing and only was a man for 33 years and nothing more. However we know that this cannot be, for we know that the Universal Church of Jesus Christ has always worshipped him as the eternal second person of the Godhead, and to say anything otherwise is to stand outside of Orthodox Christian Theology. 

Thankfully, the Australia Gospel Coalition Article, and a new movie from Transition Studios

called "American Gospel: Christ Alone" have brought our attention to, among other things, Bethel Church in Redding, CA and their Pastor and Apostle Bill Johnson. These recent resources have brought the Evangelical world to the awareness of Bethel and Bill Johnson. The Article from Gospel Coalition and this new movie featuring many well known and respected names in the evangelical movement, such as Nabeel QureshiTrevin WaxMark DeverMatt ChandlerJustin PetersRay ComfortKevin DeYoungJackie Hill-PerryJ.D. GreearSoutheastern Theological SeminaryJohn MaCarthurWestminster Seminary (California)Michael HortonBryan ChapellPaul WasherCosti Hinn (Benny Hinn’s Nephew)Anthony Wood (Author of Defining Deception), and Chris Rosebrough (Fighting for the Faith) are brilliant and so well done. They present the deep truths of the gospel and troubling theology found in these movements. As a result of all these pastors, theologians, and many Evangelical leaders bringing awareness to the precarious theological tendencies in the New Apostolic Reformation, much attention has been given to this movement, and especially the more recent event "Awakening Australia" at which Bill Johnson spoke and reiterated his tenuous "Kenosis Theology" that Kenneth Copeland most notoriously espoused. I am so glad that the Evangelical movement, in these new offerings, has finally awakened to this incredibly dangerous movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. The NAR was originally made famous by Apostle and leader of the movement C. Peter Wagner. 

In his talk at the Awakening Australia Event, Johnson reiterated his perilous view of Jesus that He did not do His miracles as God...CHECK OUT VIDEO BELOW AND NOTICE that Bill Johnson does NOT teach the same Christ of the Bible, The Early Church Fathers, or Orthodox Christianity. For more on Johnson's Christology check out my book "Divergent Theology" The text to Johnson's talk is added below...

Here are Bill Johnson remarks from the video below. He was speaking at "Awakening Australia" I will let his words speak for themselves. He seems to clearly be teaching that Jesus did NOT do His miracles as God. What do you think?

"I realize that Jesus is eternally God and I am not. But He obeyed the Father to illustrate for us what could be accomplished by any human being that was forgiven of sin and was empowered by the Holy Spirit. If Jesus did his miracles as God I am still impressed, but I am a spectator. But when I discover what Jesus said in John 5 and John 8; He said, “The Son of Man can do nothing of Himself.” Does this make sense to you? He actually emptied Himself so completely that he could no longer function and do the things that he was assigned to do. This is huge. If he did his miracles as God, I stand back and applaud, but the Old Testament demonstrated the miracles of God. In the New Testament we find out that miracles that take place when one yielded person (Jesus) surrenders to the heart of the Father and only does what He does, and says what He is saying. Jesus modeled a new lifestyle. One that I may spend my entire life mimicking, and never fully express, But I have no right to change my assignment. I don’t have the right to change what I was born to do. The fact that I try, and fail at prophesying, or praying for the sick, raising the dead, or whatever it might be gives me no right to change the assignment. He was very clear, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, cleanse lepers (scattered Applause)."


I know this is a Christmas Carol, but it has such a good application to Christology. Charles Wesley seemed to have a wonderfully deep and strong Christology. Hark the Herald Angels Sing can point us to the true Glory of the Newborn King.


Hark! the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled" Joyful, all ye nations rise Join the triumph of the skies With angelic hosts proclaim: "Christ is born in Bethlehem" Hark! the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King!"


Christ by highest Heav'n adored Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come Offspring of a Virgin's womb Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity Pleased as man with man to dwell Jesus, our Emmanuel Hark! the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the Heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings Ris'n with healing in His wings Mild He lays His glory by Born that man no more may die Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth Hark! the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King!"


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stairs of Torture



We have terrible steps in our house. They have sharp edges. They are too short for my size 13 foot, They are jagged, and they often hurt my feet. I have so many times walked down them and hurt my arches, toes, the balls of my foot or otherwise really bruised them. So much so that I finally got tired of it. So, I purchased soft cushy carpet step covers. They are brilliant! So soft and cushy they make my feet rejoice. I want to just stand on the steps now, and enjoy the comfort! After only a day of having these new carpet covers, I tried to go up the steps. As I took my first step I was remembering and preparing myself for the pain of walking up the old steps, as if there were no carpets there. I got myself ready and almost cringed as I began to walk up the stairs. My muscle memory got the best of my body, but as soon as my foot hit the stairs, I felt the new carpets! It was a feeling of relief, joy, and happiness that hit me. My body immediately relaxed. Suddenly, I felt like my feet were delivered from the incessant torture that they received every time I would walk up and down the steps for the past three years. I thought immediately of our new life in Christ. We sometimes come back to the same situations of life that we had experienced before Christ. Often in those moments I have thought, "oh no! here it comes again, the pain, the sin, the hurt, the torture of our everyday life apart from Christ!" And we even sometimes physically cringe and prepare ourselves for the onslaught of whatever condemnation is coming our way, like I did when I tried to go up the stairs. Romans 8:1 says, "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are free from the cringeworthy life that we knew before Christ, sort of like the cringing, and pain of my stairs. Are you preparing yourself around every corner for the condemnation of the world, like I was preparing myself for with our torturous stairs? You can be free from all condemnation through faith in Christ! If you have not decided for Christ, then don’t wait! Choose to be free of the cringeworthy condemnation of this world. Place your faith in Christ choose freedom! Christian, If you are in Christ, stop cringing like there is some condemnation coming, prepare for the blessings of life in Christ. Act like you are a son or daughter of God, and adopted into his family! You are not longer cursed, but eternally blessed in Christ!


Sometimes we Christians are preparing ourselves for a condemnation and a curse, and Jesus says, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?…Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more (John 8:10).” Jesus does not condemn us because he was found to be a curse for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…Galatians 3:13). He was condemned in our place so that he can in return say, “Neither do I condemn you.” Are you like me preparing for pain, torture, and condemnation. Or are you expecting blessing, freedom, and justification because that is your position in Christ! This was a freeing realization, an epiphany that I walk around as a Christian expecting condemnation even though I am free from all condemnation. Not only am I free from condemnation, but I am a recipient of his glorious eternal blessing, which is the exact opposite of condemnation. How can I walk around as if I am about to receive a foot beating like I got every time I walked up and down my stairs. I recently watched the new movie “Tortured for


Christ” the story of Richard Wurmbrand who spent many years in Communist prisons. His feet were so badly beaten that he could no longer walk regularly for the rest of his life. I remember vividly when he visited my Bible school and sat on the stage in his wheelchair because he could no longer walk on his own because his feet were so badly beaten all those years. He said that although the prison had taken his physical freedom away he had never felt more free. In his book “Tortured for Christ" he wrote, “I have found truly jubilant Christians only in the Bible, in the Underground Church and in prison.” He had found the freedom that Christ had won for him on the cross and had no longer let himself be bound by the constraints of this world, Oh, Lord let us taste of the same wine that these men of faith tasted. Let us walk up the stairs of freedom and blessing. Lord we will no longer walk up the step of torture and condemnation! For you have set us free, and, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed (John 8:36)."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Theology of Work Part 1

Theology of Work

I just started a class called the Theology of Work. As I was wrapping my head around the concept of Work and how God views work and how we view God according to work, I came up with a
Before and after the Garden (Michelangelo Sistine)
"flow of consciousness" note. I wrote this after a discussion with a good friend, and I thought these ideas were worth sharing. Adam and Eve in the Garden received the first command and it is the command of work to name the animals and to rule and have dominion of Creation. This is often called the "Creation Mandate." It was a freeing, life giving, partnership with God in the ruling, ordering, and reign of creation. However, after the fall our work was cursed “man will toil by the sweat of his brow” and the woman will "bring forth children in pain in childbirth."

God then sent them out of the garden, and from then on God cursed the ground with thistles and
thorns. Work was no longer a blessing but a curse, and men had to struggle and strive to earn which
"Expulsion from Eden" (Doré)
was the exact opposite of what they had from God previously in the garden. God gave them of every fruit of the trees in the Garden. We see this in the scripture “the wages of sin is death” we earn death through the work of our hand after the fall. So, after the fall, work was no longer a wonderful life giving command from God but rather a curse that brought toil, sweat, striving and difficulty. We see this in such scripture as “if a man does not work he cannot eat.” In this we see that laziness is tied to the curse. It is also tied to our need for sustenance. Our sustenance through food is tied to the curse. What are we now sustained by? Our  own toil and effort. We cannot ever really rest. We must keep working to live. We have rests in between, but the commonality between all humans is that we have to work for our sustenance.

Work certainly has hints of the blessing, but also, we sense and see the reality of the curse. We have to work for everything. In this, God sets up our readiness to receive the gospel. God in the gospel has made up for what we lack. He has made up for what we could not, and never will attain in all our striving. We always fall short in our striving which we find in our work. Certainly we achieve things in our work-a-day world. We finish projects, build beautiful structures, help patients, produce beautiful art, and design amazing technology, but our work always falls short. Our work is limited, flawed, never enough. Especially as it pertains to righteousness. We will never be able to do enough to even tip the scales in our direction. The standard for salvation, or to be able to stand before a holy God, would be sinless perfection. Moreover, we would have to be actively completely righteous as Christ was in His active obedience to the Father. But alas, we fall woefully short in our striving. The work of Christ, on the other hand, is plenty. Not just enough, but more than enough.

That is how the writer of Hebrews talks about entering the rest of God. In creation, even God, the creator, worked for six days and on the seventh day he rested. That is why he commanded the seventh day for rest. The writer of Hebrews describes “entering his rest” and that Jesus is our rest. Jesus also describes that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath.” This is fitting. He is not just Lord of the day, but he is also Lord of the rest found on that day. The Sabbath was created so that we could find rest from our constant doing. That complete and final rest was never to be fully found on that day. That day was created for rest so we will one day look to where our true rest comes from. We never find true rest in the 7th day of rest, because the next day we are all back at it again. And the cycle continues. The Sabbath was created for us to build a longing for the true Sabbath. And that true Sabbath is not a day, but rather a person, the creator of days, Jesus Christ himself is the true Sabbath. In Christ we see that he has accomplished our final rest, and "It is Finished” was his cry.

The gospel is the final rest for man. The good news is Christ's cross. When we look at Christ and his work on the cross, upon which he worked on our behalf, to please a God which we could not have pleased, we find rest from our toil. He has pleased a God we could not have pleased, and accomplished a work which we could not have accomplished even if we had had an eternity to do so. God said how pleased he was with his Son, when he said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We find our true and final rest in him, because God was finally pleased and propitiated with the work of Christ on the Cross. D.A. Carson wrote in his book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, "In pagan propitiation, a human being offers a propitiatory sacrifice to make a god propitious. In Christian propitiation, God the Father sets forth Jesus as the propitiation to make himself propitious; God is both the subject and the object of propitiation. God is the one who provides the sacrifice precisely as a way of turning aside his own wrath. God the Father is thus the propitiator and the propitiated, and God the Son is the propitiation." (see source at end of post).

He has provided an answer to the work that cursed us in the Fall, and by his grace we have and will enter our rest in him. On that day, we must work and toil no more. He will at long last be our final rest!




From D. A. Carson, 
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus

Quoted By R.C. Sproul in The Work of Christ
R.C. Sproul 
Kindle Position 1611

Monday, October 1, 2018

Why “Signs and Wonders” should NOT Make Me Happy

Why "Signs and Wonders" Should NOT Make ME Happy

There is a new move in Evangelicalism toward a “Signs and Wonders” orientation. The signs and wonders movement claims to be evangelical, Bible believing, and Christian. They place much hope and emphasis on experiences with signs and wonders. The embracing of the signs and wonders movement is most starkly seen in the widespread Evangelical acceptance of Bethel Church, and its leader Bill Johnson by much of the evangelical world. Although there is a large group of theologians and Evangelical leaders that are critical of the “signs and wonders” movement there is also a large group that have taken on the movement as a truly biblically orthodox movement. 

I would like to share with you why we should not seek signs and wonders, and why any sign or wonder should not make me happy. There are many leaders in this movement, including Bill Johnson[1]that teach that without some sign or wonder that a full proclamation of the gospel has not happened. This belief that the gospel can only be truly proclaimed with signs an wonders, or else it is insufficient as a true gospel proclamation could not be biblical, because of Jesus words that I will share and exegete at the end of this post. But first let me show you what is meant in this movement by signs and wonders.

In the “signs and wonders” movement there is a great pursuit of “miracles” or “signs and wonders” as they are called in the New Apostolic Reformation and the Third Wave Movement. There is a heavy emphasis on these miracles which include healings, speaking in tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, visions, dreams, being “Slain in the Spirit,” being “in the Spirit.” By which they mean an out of body experience where your spirit has traveled into the spirit realm. There is a pursuit of seemingly occult like practices including practices in the relatively new movements which practice things like “glory clouds” of God’s presence filled with “gold dust,” angel feathers falling, gems appearing, conjuring angel orbs, fire tunnels (in which they employ Kundalini methods), spirit travel, out-of-body experiences, and “healings.” They also practice portal travel (where people claim they can go through portals to other places physically, which is obviously a New Age / Occult practice), extra-biblical revelation. Often a prophet or Apostle will give a “New Revelation.” They try to practice raising the dead, also charismatic praying in tongues, soaking, new wine movement, drunken glory, visualization, laughter (Toronto Blessing), and animal sounds while filled with the Spirit. I do not condemn tongues if done orderly as the Bible explains in 1st Corinthians 14:26-40. 

The many practices that the NAR employs when “Slain in the Spirit” are never mentioned in the Bible. Some other NAR practices are contemplative or meditative, where they teach emptying the mind or repeating one word from the Bible, which is not a historical Christian meditative practice. Meditation for the Christian is filling our minds with Scripture. Some of these practices include chanting and soaking, which are taught in Bethel school’s SOZO ministry. The movement practices contemplative prayers, soaking prayers, labyrinths, the “silence,” centering prayers, breath prayers and what they call the “prophetic act of waking up angels.” 

One of the most beloved shows of NAR leaders and its adherents is the show “Its Supernatural” with Sid Roth which he deals with topics such as angel worship/visitation, portal travel, heaven tourism, eavesdropping on conversations between the Trinity, the Bible Code controversy, teleportation, “downloading the mysteries of money,” seeing the invisible spirit world, language/worship of heaven, dream interpretation, and blood moon prophecy. Most recently the translator of The Passion Translation Brian Simmons appeared on the show “Its Supernatural.” He said he had a vision of Jesus in the “Library of Heaven” in which Jesus said he would give him the 22nd book of John to translate, not now but later. Here is the full interview.

Simmons begins to describe his vision at the 17 minute mark. This emphasis on the supernatural and “signs and wonders” displays patterns in the NAR and Third Wave movement of ministry where they exhibit a boundaryless engagement with supernatural realms. 

To paraphrase the practices of the modern signs and wonders movement, they practice laughter, falling, shaking, prophecy (Psychic Clairvoyance), portal travel, extra-biblical revelation, raising the dead, tongues, soaking or centering prayer, new wine movement, drunken glory, visualization, laughter, animal sounds while “Spirit-filled,” conjuring angel orbs, fire tunnels, spirit travel or out-of-body experiences, angel worship, heaven tourism, teleportation, dream interpretation, and healings. NAR churches also claim that gold dust, oil, glory clouds, angel feathers, and gems have appeared on people.

First, let us be clear that these signs and wonders are not biblical at all. Moreover, they mirror some sort of occult practice, and not biblical signs and wonders that are seen in the New Testament. The list of things practiced in the signs and wonders movement are wholly unbiblical, terrifying, weird, and even a little creepy. Beyond all that they put the emphasis in the wrong place. Jesus is clear in Luke 10:17-20 we should rejoice in our salvation rather than that spirits are subject to us. We should be more grateful for our salvation than signs and wonders. We should rejoice that our names are written in Heaven. How do our names get written in Heaven? How are our names inscribed in the eternal book of life? What is salvation? I would like to describe what salvation actually is so that it becomes quite easy to rejoice in it.

  1. We were dead in our trespasses and sins you were made alive in Christ. That is the supreme Miracle (Ephesians 2).
  2. We were rebels against God (Romans 13:2; Romans 8:7 Romans 5).
  3. We were unable to help ourselves or receive God’s grace which is sometimes in theology referred to as “Effectual Calling” (Phil 2:13; John 6:44; 2 Timothy 2:25; 2 Peter 1:3; Matt 22:14; Ephesians 1:4-5).
  4. To be saved we must be and were born again. Which is being born from of the water and the Spirit a supernatural birth from above (John 3).
  5. We were made children of God and were not born of Human will, but born of God (John 1:12-13 Colossians 3:12-13).
  6. God’s kindness led us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
  7. He took the blinders off our eyes to be able to see and receive Christ (2 Cor. 3:12-16; John 12:40; Acts 26:18; Eph 1:18).
  8. God offered Jesus as the propitiation of our sins. Those same sins that we could have never received forgiveness for outside of Christ (Rom 3:25).
  9. He crushed the head of the serpent the devil by “destroying the works of the enemy” (1 John 3:8).
  10. He was cursed on our behalf “cursed is everything that is hung from a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
  11. God seated us with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6).
  12. He was raised for our salvation and culmination as one who will one day received a glorious body like unto his (1 Corinthians 15).
  13. He gave us freedom from the effects of the fall (Romans 8:2).
  14. God presented Christ as the atoning sacrifice for our sins so that we could have peace with God (Romans 3:25-26).
  15. We were adopted into God’s family before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:4).
  16. We have been raise with Christ (Colossians 3:1).

This is just a very short list of what God has done for us in Christ by saving us. As you can clearly see salvation that God has accomplished for us in Christ is way more supernatural than any other act. God has made dead men rise to live with Jesus, and called sinners to repentance. 

Jesus describes in Luke 10:17-20 What our posture towards signs and wonders should be. Miracles should not be nearly as important as salvation, and the supernatural nature of what happens when God quickens the hearts of men to salvation. 

“(17) The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" (18) And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (19) Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. (20) Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.””

Our joy should be in the Lord and his magnificent power to raise the hearts of men and women to respond to God. He has written our names in heaven, he has given us every blessing in the heavenliness, he has raised us up with Christ, and we are co-heirs with Christ. We should not be happy or have joy about Pseudo-miracles, or pretend miracles, or for that matter, even real miracles. As Christ said, we should rather rejoice in the Savior that the miracles point to. 

The word that Luke attributes to Christ’s words and we translate as “written” in heaven is Grapho (γράφω). This word means enrolled, written, inscribed, carved or to engrave something permanently. This word that Jesus uses describes also the eternality of our union with Him and how that salvation will be of an eternal nature, because our names will be forever engraved in the book of life in heaven. When you trusted Christ your name was engraved on the eternal granite of the throne room of heaven. 

The word that Jesus uses for rejoice is Chairo (χαίρω) It means to be cheerful, calmly happy, well-off, to be well, be glad, joyful, or rejoice. Where is the joy in our salvation? Are you glad and better off as a result of your being made a son or daughter of God? Many in this movement would rejoice that someone is “healed,” or that some strange miracle happened, and barely mention salvation found in Christ. The movement also stirs up a craving and desire for more of the same, but Jesus says here quite plainly do not rejoice that demons are subject to you, but that your names are “engraved" in heaven. Of course we should be glad of the authority that we have in Christ over the principalities and powers of the unseen world. By the way that authority is only given to us by God through salvation and His good grace, not through our own effort. I am not saying that we cannot be glad for our authority over principalities and powers, but that gladness should be dwarfed in comparison to the gladness we feel at our salvation. So let us rejoice and be glad that, in Christ, our names are eternally and irreversibly engraved on the granite halls of the throne room of heaven! We can be truly glad, happy, and rejoice that we get to call on His name and that He has saved our souls. We look to the heavens and our help comes from the Lord. He saves your soul, so rejoice!


[1]Johnson wrote in His book “When Heaven Invades Earth a Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles,” on page 126 “Without miracles there can never be a full revelation of Jesus.” and on page 127 he wrote, “Miracles provide the grace for repentance.” And further he says, “Here the apostle Paul demonstrates how the Gentiles were brought into obedience through the power of the Spirit of God, expressed in signs and wonders. This was what he considered as fully preaching the gospel. It wasn’t a complete message without a demonstration of the power of God. It’s how God says amen to His own declared word!”

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WHAT ROLE DOES EXPERIENCE PLAY IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?

I have had many conversations lately with friends, family, and other acquaintances that have been wonderful and wonderfully eye-opening to the affects of Relativism that are present in our culture, even in the Christian culture. Relativism is the doctrine that truth is not absolute, but rather relative to situations, culture or ones feelings. This is especially seen or understood on a deeper level in relation to a person’s experiences. I have heard this perspective so often lately that I would like to address the role that experience plays or should play in our Christian lives. I have had many conversations recently with people on Christian experience. For my purposes I will summarize the contents of people’s remarks for their anonymity. It is no secret that I have published a book that is theologically critical of a new movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. It is called "Divergent Theology." Many (but not all) of the conversations that I have had recently about experience were couched in this topic. 

The conversations usually go something like this. I call into question the theological foundations of the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement that I believe has left Theological Christian Orthodoxy. The person that I am talking with then defends the movement, leaders, Teachers, Prophets, or Apostles who have precarious or clearly theologically inaccurate teachings. I return numerous examples of these precarious and inaccurate teachings, “from the horses mouth” so to speak. The person usually tries for a while to say that the teacher did not mean what we all understand him to mean, or that I have not understood him properly, or that the Bible actually does teach what the teacher said. There are a few back and forth interactions where I try to show the person how Christian Orthodoxy does not agree. Using the Bible, the Christian Creeds, and even logic to connect the dots is usually not enough for the person to say wait a minute maybe this does fall outside Theological Christian Orthodoxy. The discussion usually breaks down to “Well, I have had a good experience with these teachers, leaders, or at these churches."

Here are a few examples of responses that I have received over the last few months. Again, these responses have been changed for anonymity of the people and places, but these are all the types of responses that I have received from people after “proving” that this movement’s theology, teaching, and practice are not Christian.

"My family, and I have been blessed by the ministry of ___________ . I can only share my experience as a believer."

"I just have a another point of view and understanding than you. My personal testimony is different than yours."

"In my eyes, this doesn't lead anywhere, where fruit can develop. It's not encouraging, but only produces anger and separation. I think the devil rejoices more about us using good and sound doctrine than Jesus does."

"I can't argue theologically, I’m not a theologian. I just count on my experience.”

“I only look into my heart and see what God is showing me there. My experiences are as valid as yours, so what can we do about this difference?”

“I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. ______________ Church does lots of good stuff too."

"I come to different conclusions. I understand their teaching differently than you do and I can tolerate some mistakes. For me those mistakes are very minor."

“It's not for me to judge. Even when ____________ Church gets it all wrong and all their motives and teaching are absolutely false.” 

"Even when they are a little off, what I see is acceptable and encourages my walk with God.”

"When you call a whole movement unchristian you are creating disunity, and disunity is the ultimate wrong.”

“Your questioning of ____________ is very Pharisaical and not how the kingdom of God operates"

These are just a few of the ways people respond when the theological foundations of the New Apostolic Reformation are brought into question. A telltale sign of a cult like atmosphere is an inappropriate loyalty to its leaders. I have definitely seen this in the last several months since the release of my book, which calls into question the biblical authenticity of the teaching of the leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation. I have heard in the last months an unquestioning loyalty to leaders in this movement. I have also seen in these conversations that dissent and discussion of a “negative” or questioning nature are highly discouraged. These are all signs of a cult-like behavior. Another sign of cult-like culture is and overemphasis on great religious experiences. 

One thing that comes up again and again with those affected by ___________ Church is “experience.” Experience is a key aspect of our faith, but it is not the key driver. Something is not confirmed as authentic or true because we had a great experience with it. The Bible is pretty clear that false prophets will be able to do miracles that create an environment where people will feel like they are experiencing God. But they will be experiencing a faux, or pseudo-christianity. Jesus clearly describes that these false or pseudo-teachers are not known by Jesus. Jesus even called them "wolves in sheeps clothing.” (Matthew 7:15-23) Let us think about that for a moment. What would wolves dressed up as sheep do. They would stealthily come in among a flock unbeknownst to the flock for the purpose of destroying, devouring, and ravaging the flock. What do wolves do in relation to sheep? They kill and eat them. Sheep are helpless to defend themselves against wolves. They rely on the shepherd, and His warnings, and guidance to keep such dangers away. Thus Jesus, The Good Shepherd, warns against such ravenous wolves. 

Matthew Henry commenting on this passage of scripture says, "take heed of those who pretend to revelation, And admit them not without sufficient proof, Lest that one absurdity being admitted, a thousand follow.” So the wolf that is admitted with one Theological absurdity will be admitted with a thousand more absurdities to follow. Matthew Henry also comments further about the Wolves, "We have need to be very cautious, because their pretenses are very fair and plausible, and such as will deceive us, if we be not upon our guard. They come in sheep's clothing, In the habits of prophets...They pretend to be sheep, and outwardly appear so innocent, harmless, meek, useful, And all that is good, as to be excelled by none; they feign themselves to be just men, and for the sake of their clothing are admitted among the sheep, which gives them an opportunity of doing them a mischief ere they are aware. They and their errors are gilded with the specious pretenses of sanctity and devotion. Satan (also) turns himself into an angel of light,"

Because of my book and my critique of the New Apostolic Reformation, I have in the past years or so, been labeled and even personally called unloving, legalistic, unwise, unspiritual, a negative person, unbiblical, and even Pharisaical. I was recently told that I am not operating in how the kingdom of God operates by calling out falsehood. I responded by asking the person about the Apostles correcting errors? What about the Church fathers? I asked if Paul was not operating in kingdom values when he rebuked, Peter to his face, or the Judaizers, or Philetus and Hymenaus? What about the condemnation of the heretics of history for example, Gnosticism, Arianism, Pelagianism, or any other early heresies? Were those Apostles, and Church Fathers not operating or acting with Kingdom values? I would posit that correct or Orthodox theology is one of the most integral parts of Kingdom operation. The Apostles, and the early church fathers work in correcting errors has been one of the most integral aspects of Kingdom work in Church History!

As a result of this almost two year process of uncovering the theological fallacies of the New Apostolic Reformation and subsequent pushback, I have witnessed what I might call a “Theology of Experience” which is actually the “fallacy of relativism.” The fallacy of relativism is, alone that people have been blessed by something isn’t proof, or even evidence of its authenticity. I know of hundreds of people who have been “destroyed” by this movement. Who’s experience counts? Those who have been blessed, or those who’s faith has been destroyed? The argument of authenticity because of blessing doesn’t even hold up to its own logic. If a movement’s authenticity were based on positive experiences, than everyone who walked through the doors must be blessed. There must be a blessing for everyone who comes into contact with this movement. But that’s not the case. 

We ought to be very careful to not make experience your ultimate authority. I will give an example, Mormons will give a free Book of Mormon to anyone who visits the Mormon temple. I wanted to get a copy, so I went to the Mormon temple in Oakland, CA. It is a beautiful structure in the Oakland hills. I had a great experience there. The people I interacted with there were lovely, kind, caring, compassionate, helpful, and very passionate for their truth. But they are not Christian. And their theology does not line up with Scripture! Scripture is a Christian’s authority not our experience. I am currently reading a book called “Why the Reformation Still Matters” which addresses the topic of experience.

“During the Reformation the main alternative to revelation was tradition. Today we perhaps suffer from a deficiency of tradition rather than a surfeit of it! What has replaced tradition as the rival to revelation is experience.”
(Kindle location 830)

The writers go on further to describe how experience is the new “god of the age,”

“We have seen a dramatic loss of authority in the modern world. Now preference and experience are everything. Ethical issues are decided on the basis of the personal stories that elicit most sympathy. Individual dilemmas are determined on the basis of a person’s feelings. Any sense that right and wrong may be rooted in metaphysics (the way things are) or in divine revelation has been replaced by subjectivity...So the Bible always trumps experience. That does not mean we must ignore experience. Experience will often give rise to questions we bring to Scripture. But Christ still reigns through his Word, read and preached. So we need to work hard to ensure that our lives and our life together are ruled not by tradition or experience, but by Christ through his Word.”
(Kindle location 835-840)

Some of the questions that arose for me out of these discussions with people were, what would it take to denounce something as false teaching? Or Wolf in Sheep’s clothing? The answers I received were nothing short of appalling for me. Because of the answers I got I have deepened my recent calling to theology and to make it one of my ministry’s main aspects. This is why we study and should know theology, because we love and want a relationship with the “Theos” that we study. Theology is all about knowing and explaining the eternal God in a correct manner, any other goals in theology are secondary to this.

In my many "experience" discussions lately the argument often then turns to relationships, and how relationships are not so cut and dry, not so black and white. I have also been accused of being too black and white in this two year journey. I would pushback a little on the view that when faith becomes relational there will be no more black and white. Of course there is still right and wrong black and white in relationships. I love my wife, and am in relationship with her. if I was unfaithful to her that would be a breech of our relationship and very clearly wrong. Relationships are definitely messy, but that doesn’t mean there is not black and white right or wrongs anymore in those relationships, and especially not in our relationship with the Lord. The relationship that we have with the Lord is that we repent and believe in him by faith, and he makes us children of God. Those are things that must take place. Those are black and white things. There are a few things that must happen for us to have a relationship with God. Jesus can’t just be your homeboy, it doesn’t work like that.

The Bible says , “as you have received Jesus as Lord, so walk in him” (Colossians 2:6) this means the same way we walk with God is the same way we received him, namely by faith. We received him by faith, and we walk with him also by faith (Hebrews 11). Even though we can have a deep and intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we don’t set the terms of that relationship, and neither does our experience, He does, and thankfully He has made a way to access Him through Jesus Christ. Our experience of God is not on our terms, we can and only are able to experience God on the terms he has set for us in His word through faith and reliance on Jesus Christ. 

In one of these conversations someone asked me, "What if I only had my Christian experience and did not have the Bible?" My response was, "we would not have a Christian experience without the Bible, so aren’t we glad God made sure that we do! Because if we did not have the scriptures then we could not know who Jesus is." Or at least we could not be sure who he is. And we would not have a pure and loving relationship with Jesus Christ unless we had the scripture. We could not know him. This was seen clearly in one of the battles that the Reformers fought during the Reformation namely “Sola Scriptura.” Which means that in the scriptures alone can we find a relationship and peace with God. 

The Apostles received special revelation during their time to record the scriptures, and we are not privileged to that type of revelation or experience of God speaking anymore. The closing of the canon of scripture is the final and authoritative revelation of God. This is also a very difficult angle for me that the New Apostolic Reformation takes, and it is a step too far. Everywhere you turn in this movement every other leader has some “new revelation.” Does God speak today? YES and he does it through the word of God and the leading of The Holy Spirit, not through new revelation from Apostles. People today want to hear God speak to them, sure! Read the Bible. And if you want God to speak audibly, then read it out loud. You could even have God speak to more than one person at a time when you read it corporately as 1 Timothy 4:13 says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture."

I have heard also in this last couple years a differentiation between Jesus the Word and God’s Word (The Bible). However, they are one and the same. When we want to know Jesus we should know his word and when we get to know his word we get to know Jesus. Jesus and His Word the Scriptures are inseparable . “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Furthermore, Jesus said not one iota or dot from the law (written word) will pass away until all is fulfilled in Him (Matthew 5:17-20). He is himself the Word of God, thus He is the fulfillment and actual manifestation of God. And the word is Him in written form. We don’t worship the Bible for sure, but the Word is Christ and Christ is the word, when you read it you read of and about Him. If you want to "Know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow to attain from the resurrection from the dead," (Philippians 3:10-11) then find Him in God's Word the Bible. The Bible is the one stalwart Christian "experience" throughout the ages. 

Wesleyan Quadrilateral
Another great tool that has helped me understand and balance my Christian experience in a helpful and healthy way is the Weslyian Quadrilateral. As seen in the graphic below the single foundation of our faith is the scripture in which, as said before, we know who Jesus is and how we can respond to him by faith. A stepping stone to the scripture is Christian tradition. We can look to the creeds and councils of antiquity for help on understanding the challenging theological concepts such as the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union of Christ. The liturgies of history also are faith strengthening as we delve into them to draw us to Christ. Hymns, songs and spiritual songs are also faith strengthening in our habits of worship. Tradition can be helpful if we do not make it more of a crutch than it was meant to be. Reason is something that we should not ignore, but also not put too much stock in as our own reason and logic can let us down. But it can be helpful especially in seeking to understand the deeper mysteries of faith. Finally, Wesley puts experience as the last and final building block of his quadrilateral. It is not the most important, but also not unimportant. We do however not build on it as a foundation, but rather allow it to supplement, and complement our faith. If something that we have heard, seen, experienced or otherwise witnessed in regards to faith, and how we are made right with God, stands in direct opposition to scripture, it is to be summarily rejected. We can also take the councils of the church fathers for instance if anything teaches subtly or outright against the trinity or Hypostatic Union of Christ, then we can reject it because we stand on the tradition and accepted teachings of Christendom. The error that is becoming tendential is to turn the Quadrilateral upside down and make our experience the foundation of our faith. I have witnessed in the current Christian landscape that people tend to let their experience confirm or validate the scripture. When in reality we should let the scripture be our foundation and validation of everything else. My experience is not authoritative. My experience doesn’t validate the scripture; the scripture validates my experience. I want to be faithful to embrace the ways that God has revealed in His word how He does work. In so doing, I embrace the certainty and the mystery of His ways.

Let us with fresh faith and vigilance commit ourselves with great zeal to the word of God, and let our Christian experience support the words written there not the other way around. 

I always like to add stuff, at the end of my blogs as a response in worship either music, art, or some other thing that encourages your walk with Christ. I was listening to this while I was writing this blog. Put it on blast and read along as these guys rap more about how Supreme Jesus is!