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10 SIGNS OF PROPHETIC ABUSE AND OR MANIPULATION
By Joseph Mattera

Master Manipulator

I have been in the body of Christ now since the late 1970’s. I came into the prophetic movement in the early eighties and started moving out prophetically, even participating in prophetic presbytery while doing itinerant prophetic ministry. Furthermore, our local church has nurtured many outstanding prophetic leaders and voices as well as hosting numerous prophetic trainings and schools. My primary motivational gift and mode of ministry is prophetic, even when it seems like I am teaching. (I rarely use notes and teach and preach as prompted by the Holy Spirit when I am ministering.)

Furthermore, I have found the prophetic gift, including inspirational preaching, teaching and prophetic words to be the most edifying of all the gifts as St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14. However, with every true gift of God comes either a counterfeit and or an abuse. You can say that about all of the cluster of gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The prophetic gift can especially be very dangerous if left un-checked, since people think the words spoken are directly from God and will often obey them without question or the use of discernment. Based on all my years of operating in the prophetic, as well as mentoring, nurturing, overseeing and hosting many prophetic ministers, the following are ten signs of prophetic abuse and manipulation. Continue reading “10 Prophetic Abuses and Manipulation” »

Three Marks of a Spiritual Man
By Zac Poonen

“I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh.” (1 Cor. 3:1)

We read in First Corinthians 1:5,7 that the Corinthian Christians excelled in three areas – knowledge of the Scriptures, preaching and the gifts of the Spirit. Yet in spite of having all these, they were not spiritual. It is rare indeed to find believers who have the discernment to recognize that a gifted, eloquent preacher whose knowledge of the Bible is extensive and who in addition, has miraculous gifts of the Spirit as well, need not be a spiritual man at all. He could be thoroughly carnal.

Unfortunately, we live in a day when most believers think that a man is spiritual if he is a good “Master of Ceremonies” who can conduct meetings in a lively way, put people at ease with his many jokes and preach eloquently as well.

Preachers today are respected, unfortunately, for their gifts and not for the fruit of Christlikeness in their lives – in spite of the fact that Jesus clearly taught that false prophets would be identified by the lack of Divine fruit in their character (Mat. 7:15-20).

Jesus also said that in the day of judgment many would come before Him and say that they had prophesied and done miracles in His Name. But He would reply that He never knew them (Mat. 7:22,23). They called Jesus “Lord” and had supernatural powers. But there was sin in their lives. This shows us clearly that much “Christian” activity and even supernatural gifts do not make a man spiritual. In fact, they are not even an indication that a man is born again, for the Lord told these people that He NEVER knew them at any time!!

To understand what makes a man spiritual, we could first of all make a list of all the abilities that Satan possesses. That would show us clearly the things that are NOT the marks of true spirituality.

Consider activity, for example: Satan is a full-time worker who is active day and night (Rev. 12:9,10). He never takes a holiday. He is always seeking for people whom he can accuse – and he has many helpers too!! He also has plenty of Bible- knowledge, for he quoted the Scriptures even to Jesus. He has supernatural gifts, zeal, many co-workers, a great following and authority over many people. But he is not spiritual!!

What makes a man truly spiritual could be summed up in three statements: An upward look, an inward look and an outward look.

A spiritual man looks in these three directions constantly:

1. Upward – in worship and devotion to God and Christ.
2. Inward – in acknowledging and repenting of his unChristlikeness.
3. Outward – in seeking to help and bless other people.

A Spiritual Man Looks Upward

God has called us first of all to be His worshipers – to hunger and thirst after Him. A spiritual man worships God. His one desire is God. He does not desire anything or anyone other than God in earth or in heaven (Ps. 73:25). Money does not mean more to him than God. As the deer pants after the waterbrooks, so the spiritual man longs after God. He longs for God more than a thirsty man longs for water.

A spiritual man longs for fellowship with God more than he does for ease or comfort. He longs to hear God speak to him daily.

Those who worship money, ease and their own convenience, will always find something or the other to complain about. But the spiritual man never has any complaints, because he desires only God and he always has Him. He is never disappointed with the circumstances of his life, because he sees the mighty hand of God in all those circumstances and he humbles himself underneath that hand joyfully at all times. Because a spiritual man is in touch with God he does not need any laws or rules to regulate his life. He has found the tree of life (God Himself) and so he has no interest in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because he is taken up with simple and pure devotion to Christ, he is not sidetracked by secondary issues. Looking at Jesus, the spiritual man becomes increasingly like his Lord year by year.

A spiritual man humbles himself constantly. And so God exalts him constantly. He is exalted higher and higher – into a closer and closer relationship with God. Such a man having seen the realities of the heavenly life will always seek to do his good deeds hidden from man’s eyes.

A Spiritual Man Looks Inward

The upward look leads on to an inward look. As soon as Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, he immediately became aware of his own sinfulness (Isa. 6:1-5). It was the same with Job, Peter and John (Job 42:5,6; Lk. 5:8; Rev. 1:17). When we live in God’s presence, we become aware of many areas of unChristlikeness in our lives. The spiritual man is thus constantly getting light over the hidden sins in his life.

We are commanded to worship the Lord “in holy array (dress)” (Ps. 29:2) . Without the clothing of holiness, we are naked before the Lord. So the spiritual man “does his best” at all times to keep his conscience clear before God and before men (Acts 24:16). Just as the businessman does his best to make more money, and the research scientist does his best to make new discoveries, even so the spiritual man does his best to keep his conscience clear at all times.

A spiritual man judges himself constantly, because he discovers many things in his life that need to be cleansed away – things that other believers may not be disturbed by, in their own lives.

A spiritual man realizes that he has to die inwardly every day, to many things that hinder him from being effective for God. So his lifestyle becomes one of taking up the cross and “always bearing about in his body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10).

The spiritual man has no problem in humbling himself before anyone or in asking for forgiveness from anyone – whether that person be older than him or younger than him. He realizes that his prayers and his service will never be accepted by God, if he has hurt even one other person – whether wife, brother or neighbor – in any way. And so, as soon as he realizes that he has hurt someone, he “leaves his gift at the altar and goes and settles matters with that person first, and then returns to offer his gifts to God” (Mat. 5:23,24).

A Spiritual Man Looks Outward

The upward and inward look lead on to the outward look.

A spiritual man is one who realizes that God has blessed him only in order that he might be a blessing to others. Since God has forgiven him so much, he gladly and readily forgives all who have harmed him. Since God has been so good to him, he is good to others too. He has received freely from God and he gives freely to others.

A spiritual man is genuinely concerned for the welfare of others. He is filled with compassion for lost and suffering humanity and can never ignore a brother whom he sees in any need – like the Levite and the priest did, in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-37).

God is concerned for fallen man – to help him, to bless him, to lift him up and deliver him from Satan’s bondage. The spiritual man’s concern is the same. Like his Master, the spiritual man seeks to serve others and not to be served. Jesus went around doing good and delivering people who were bound by Satan (Acts 10:38). The spiritual man does the same.

A spiritual man does not seek to gain anything from others through his service for them – neither money nor honor. Like God, he only seeks to bless others through his life and his labors. He will NEVER expect any gifts from anyone – for he trusts in God alone for his every need. A little booklet that has come down to us from the second century titled “The Teaching of The Twelve Apostles” tells us that the early apostles taught all believers in their time to beware of any preacher who asked them for money, for such a person was a false prophet. If only we understood this, we would be saved from many false prophets today!!

A spiritual man looks upward, inward and outward. If he looked only upward, he would be unrealistic – “so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use.” If he looked only inward, he would be depressed and discouraged most of the time. If he looked only outward, his work would be shallow. But a spiritual man looks in all three directions constantly. May God help us to be balanced – and spiritual.###

This article was first published at: http://www.cfcindia.com/article/three-marks-of-a-spiritual-man.

Zac Poonen was formerly an Indian Naval Officer who has been serving the Lord in India for over 50 years as a Bible-teacher. He is an elder at Christian Fellowship Centre, Bangalore, India, and has responsibility for a number of churches in India and abroad. He has written more than 25 books and numerous articles in English, which have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages. More about him, his ministry, and CFC, are available at: http://www.cfcindia.com/zac-poonen.

EIGHT SIGNS OF HYPER-GRACE CHURCHES
By Joseph Mattera

The past several decades we have seen a dramatic decline in doctrinal and Biblical preaching. We have gone from theology to therapy in the pulpits. In the past decade we went from therapy to motivational speaking instead of preaching.

In addition to this, whole churches and movements have oriented themselves to a distorted understanding of the gospel by espousing a “hyper-grace” approach that trickles down to not only what they preach but who they allow to minister and teach. (I was told there is even a new television station devoted to this view of “grace.”) Continue reading “Signs of Hyper-Grace Churches” »

This article is part of 1 in the series Apostasy

Biblical Proof Christians CAN Fall Away (Part 1)
By Steven Lambert

Jesus specifically said that in the case of this second category of hearers He identified and characterized in the Parable of the Sower: “…when affliction and persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mk. 4:17). According to Jesus, the result when they met with adversity after having believed is that ─ “immediately they fall away.” According to the doctrine of a number of Christian denominations today, this just cannot be so. Nevertheless, according to Jesus and God’s Word, it is immutably so. Continue reading “Biblical Proof Christians CAN Fall Away” »

7 CONTRASTS BETWEEN TITULAR AND FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP
By Joseph Mattera

Through the years, I have observed various types of leadership styles as well as how people operate within the flow of leadership titles. In this article, I use the word titular, to refer to a person who tries to lead primarily on the merit of their title and or official position. When I use the term functional, I am referring to a person who earns the respect of their peers and subordinates through their effectiveness and relational capital. Continue reading “Functional Vs. Titular Church Leadership” »

LET US PRAY!
By Steven Lambert

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Early one morning many years ago now, I was driving toward a particular intersection on my way to the Post Office. On the right at that intersection was a particular church whose services I had attended a few times, and the pastor of which with whom I had enjoyed some fellowship. Until that moment, my only intention in my mind was going to the Post Office; nothing else. But, about a block from the intersection, the inner voice of the Spirit of the Lord said, “The light ahead will turn red, when it turns green, turn right, and then turn into the church!” It’s probably also a good thing that I had only a few seconds to either obey or keep driving.

I turned right and turned into the driveway of the church property. Then, I remember saying to the Lord, “Lord, what in the world is this all about; I was going to the Post Office?” He answered, “Get out!” To which I responded with the highly intelligent and spiritual reply that one is often inclined to speak at 7:20 in the morning, “Huh?” I thought, “Get out? Wow, that’s kinda harsh, Lord, what did I do wrong now?” He said, “Get out of the car, and go walk over there in the trees, on the corner.” There was a portion on the corner of the church property that had remained undeveloped because it actually was not the church property but, the pastor later told me, was a zoned “easement” of sorts that belonged to the owners of another piece of property—a long story.

Anyway, I got out of the car and began walking in amongst the stand of trees on the property. I remember when I was still driving thinking, “Wow, what a gorgeous day, so still and peaceful.” Then, all of a sudden as I stood in the trees, a strong gust of wind came out of nowhere and began whipping through the tops of the trees that was so strong that I thought I better get out from under all those trees, lest the wind break a branch and it fall on me. I crouched down a bit so I could looked across the street to see if the wind was blowing there, and it looked as calm and peaceful as a mid-day in July on a Florida beach. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck and gave me Goosebumps from head to toe.

Then, I heard the inner voice of the Spirit say, “Listen carefully, I have some things to tell you that I want you to tell the pastor when he comes in a few minutes.” I said, “The pastor is coming in a few minutes? Are you sure, it’s awfully early; he doesn’t usually come in that early? Besides, I don’t have an appointment, he may not want to talk to me.” “He’s on his way and I’ve prepared him to hear what I want to tell him through you; now listen,” the Lord said.

When I shut up and began listening, the Spirit began giving me a vision concerning this church, the future plans God had for it, its pastor, and how parts of the vision also pertained to the Church at-large that Jesus is building. For the sake of time and space, I will omit from this article the details, meaning, and significance of the vision that God showed me, part instantly, and part over the course of several months.

I was so caught up in this vision, I have no idea how long I was there and have no recollection of the hundreds of cars whizzing all around me traversing through that intersection. But, then, the Spirit said, “The pastor is here now and he is looking for you; tell him the part of what I just showed you that I will tell you to tell him about the church and him.”

But, hurriedly, I inquired of the Lord, “Does he already know all this?”

“Some of it; I’ve been trying to speak and show it to him for over two years now, but I’ve brought you here to confirm what he’s been able to receive and has not yet obeyed and remind him of it, as well as to tell him some parts that he’s been resistant to hearing and receiving because of certain mindsets.”

Then, I said, “But, Lord, he’ll think I’m nuts or some kind of weirdo mystic, if I come marching out of the woods and tell him everything I just saw!” The Lord replied, “I will lead you in what you are to say to him.”

So, somehow, I “came out of it,” and walked out of the trees and toward the church building, and sure enough, there was the pastor walking toward me and saying something that I was not yet able to get myself to understand through my normal human faculties. Saying to myself repeatedly, “He’s going to think I’m nuts! He’s going to think I’m nuts!” I walked toward him and just plastered the biggest grin on my face I could muster up, waved the biggest one-hand round-house wave I’ve ever waved in my life, and hollered, “Morning, Pastor!”

“How ya doing?” he asked, “Didn’t know I’d be seeing you here this morning.” Sounding to myself like Hank Hill on the TV program, King of the Hill, I muttered, “Uhhh, well…uhhh…neither did I…(ha ha)…but…well…just thought I’d drop by…uhhh…you know, and…uhhh…just say hello.” “Oh, okay, well, whatcha got on your mind?” he queried graciously (but probably thinking to himself “what the heck does this guy want, he’s going to mess up my schedule right off the bat this morning”). All the while I’m sending up a major HELP! kind of prayer to God inside, and asking, “What am I supposed to say now???”

Then, feeling sorry for me, I’m sure, the Lord said, “Ask him if the church’s plans have ever included a pre-school, after-care, day-care, and elementary school.” With that, he seemed to freeze, his face flushed, and he just stared at me for what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was only a second or two, then he responded with one of the most classic responses I’ve ever gotten in almost thirty years (at that time) of prophetic ministry, “Do you HAVE to be so PROPHETIC?!”

We both laughed nervously, and, thank God, he invited me in for a cup of coffee and we talked, and I shared with him some of what the Lord had shown me in the vision (mainly only the parts I thought he might be receptive to, honestly).

After I had taken up the man’s entire morning, probably just to get rid of me (I’m joking…I think), he asked, “Would you be willing to come tonight to the mid-week service and share some of what we’ve been talking about this morning with our congregation? They need to hear what you’ve been sharing with me. I’ve been trying to tell them some of these things, but I think it will help for them to hear it coming from someone other than me who knew nothing in the natural, as a confirmation.”

“Sure, I’d be happy to,” I said, before I could even think about what I was saying.

That night we had a powerful visitation from the Lord in that church that had no idea when they came to church what they were in for. The Presence of the Lord charged the atmosphere like electricity. People who had never been slain in the spirit in their life, and some who were staunchly opposed to such crazy fanaticism, “fell as dead men” when the Lord’s hand came upon them, from wary, wise adults to unassuming children and adolescence, some of whom had never seen or heard of anyone being slain in the spirit before. Words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, prophetic utterance, healing, and miracles flowed like Niagara Falls. Demons were cast out, captives were set free, healings and miracles were reported, and we had a glorious time in the Lord, as the Lord put His seal of authenticity and affirmation on the prophetic word I shared with the congregation concerning what the Lord had shown me in the vision.

All of that happened—from God sending me there to speak to the pastor to all that transpired in the service that night—as a result of a number of prayer seasons the Lord had called the church into prior to that day over a number of months, and which they had humbled themselves and obeyed! Prayer changes things! Prayer brings about change! Prayer prepares the hearts of God’s people for the manifestation and fulfillment of His purpose and plans!

No Substitute For Prayer

There is no substitute for prayer. One great preacher on the subject of prayer once wrote, “It is as if God can do nothing unless and until someone first asks Him.” Ask, seek, knock—this is the process the Lord has decreed that allows His intervention into the affairs of men (Mat. 7:7). He has established forever the principle of free will, and it governs everything upon the Earth. He will not violate it, no matter what; He simply cannot. But, when we ask, He will! “ALL things, WHATSOEVER things you ask IN PRAYER believing, you SHALL receive.” That’s as close to carte blanche as it gets, Folks! Our asking gives Him the “permission” or the “opportunity” to do it! But, He cannot do it until and unless we ask!

A very detrimental mindset that besets us all at times is the presumption that whatever God wants to do He CAN and therefore, we presume, WILL do! After all, He can do whatever He wants, He’s God!, right? Wrong! Bad theology! He can only do what WE want and ASK Him to do! “The HEAVENS are the heavens of the Lord; But the EARTH He has given to the SONS OF MEN!” (Psa. 115:16). Human governmental authority in the affairs of men on this planet is sacrosanct! Even His WORD believers must announce, apply, and assert, over the affairs of men, and everything that transpires on this planet that is not otherwise governed by a God-set and immutable law.

Most Powerful Weapon

Prayer is the most powerful weapon believers possess, yet the enemy makes it seem like the most difficult to wield, and even the most ineffectual. But, that is deception. God’s word says, “The effectual and fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!” Interpretation? Prayer works! Is it difficult? About as difficult as thinking the next thought that wistfully and effortlessly flutters through your mind. The only thing difficult about prayer is overriding one’s flesh that resists us doing it with all it’s got!

Though thousands of books have been written on the topic, the matter of prayer boils down to this: Prayer is two-way communication between people and God. Prayer is conversation with God. But, beyond that, God’s highest intent is that prayer would be communion or fellowship with God. Like the old gospel song says, “Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right!”

Anyone can pray. And, anyone can pray effectively, if he/she prays in faith believing. It is impossible to have faith for and believe for what is wrong and ungodly. Neither will you have true faith (for faith is a gift from God) and believe for those things that are not from, of, or inspired by God. That’s why it was not as big a deal as some critics of the Gospel make it out to be that God said, “ALL things, WHATSOEVER things you ask for in faith believing, you shall receive.” He could not have possibly meant for that to be taken literally, they allege. But, He meant exactly what He said, and said exactly what He meant. He always does!

Eighteenth Century English poet and hymnodist, William Cowper, wrote: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.” Jailed Paul and Silas praying and singing at midnight caused Hell and earth to shake to break open prison-cell door, setting the two abused prisoners free (Acts 16:25)!

Renowned revivalist and primary founder of Methodism, John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” “Prayer is where the action is.”

A.J. Gordon, founder of Gordon College and Cornwell Theological Seminary, speaking of the utter requirement of prayer, stated: “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.”

Synchronization with God and His Will

Martin Luther profoundly quipped, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” When you believe prayer is your fleshly (and futile) warring to try to overcome God’s reluctance in a matter, prayer becomes a laborious and loathsome thing you force yourself to do with reluctance, as opposed to understanding prayer is two-way communication in communion with God to determine what HIS will is in the matter, and then praying in accordance with His will. Those are the prayers that He always answers:

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15)

So many people take out of context God’s promise to “give you the desires of your heart,” passing over the condition that precedes that portion of the verse—“Delight yourself in the Lord!” God will give you the desires of your heart, but He will also take you through some processes that will dramatically and forever change YOUR desires to make them coincide with HIS desires. When our desires are synced up with His desires, we can, indeed, ask what we want, and it shall be granted us. Effective prayer essentially is asking, petitioning, requesting, for God to perform what He has already promised! We essentially speak forth His Word! His Word IS His WILL, and His Will is His Word. When we speak His Will it comes into being or comes to pass. That’s why both Joshua and David declared that not one word of all God’s good promises have ever failed (1 Kgs. 8:56; Josh. 21:45)! God’s Word is fail-safe. When we have determined God’s Word on a matter, we have determined His Will on the matter as well, and when we speak forth that Word declaring or announcing His Word or even merely repeating His Word back to Him in prayer—two-way conversation with Him—we are inviting His intervention and the application of His promises! That kind of prayer is a sure thing!

Emptying Yourself

Today, too many professing believers petition God to fill them up with everything He’s got before they’ve agonized in prayer to empty themselves out of all they’ve got!

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Plp. 2:5-7)

Before the Son of God was manifest in the form of a human, wonder of all wonders, He EMPTIED HIMSELF (one of the great mysteries of God) of His deity for the duration of His existence in the form of a “Man.” But, after being baptized in water by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and then Baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Word of God says,

“And Jesus being FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Lk. 4:1)

Everyone is full of something…usually themselves more than anything else! The burden of every believer must be to EMPTY him/herself and implore God to FILL him/her with the Holy Ghost so that he/she will be “FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST!”

Many people’s problem is they are too full of themselves to be full of the Holy Spirit! Regular sessions in the “prayer closet” until you “pray through” sincerely petitioning the Lord to show you some of the junk inside that you need to be emptied of will result in much purging over time.

Agonizers in Prayer

The genuinely anointed and appointed Man of God receives the fire-fraught messages that burn the ears of the nominally-believing and the hearts of the unrepentent out of hours spent agonizing prostrate at the altar long before he stands behind any form of pulpit. To paraphrase Leonard Ravenhill, the ecclesiastical realm today is filled with myriad of organizers but few agonizers!

Eventually and inevitably at some juncture in your personal Christian sojourney with God, you will experience and thenceforth experientially identify with the Son of God’s most intense period of agonizing in prayer, Gethsemane. The word literally means “oil-press,” referring to the final destiny and destination of olives judged worthy to make the grade for pressing out to produce what to this day is considered the finest and best oil known, Olive Oil.

Gethsemane was an olive-tree orchard populated also with various varieties of wild flowers that contemporary locals called a garden, located fittingly at the foot of the Mount of Olives, or Mt. Olivet, the very place where Jesus will return and literally stand at His physical return to Earth, to establish and commence His thousand-year Millennial Reign upon the Earth with the Saints! The Mount of Olives is the place from which the risen Lord ascended on a cloud of innumerable angels into Heaven in the actual eye-sight of the Apostles of the Lamb.

But, before the Messiah’s agonizing purchase of mankind’s salvation on Golgotha, before His triumphant resurrection from the dead, three days later, before His bedazzling and awesome Ascension into Heaven to sit down on His Throne of Rulership, preceeding all of that on the eve before His “Passion,” as some call it, there was Gethsemane, the place where our Lord and Savior literally agonized in prayer to such an extent that great drops of blood, a medical condition known clinically as, hematohidrosis, in which extreme anxiety causes the blood vessels to constrict to the point of rupture, passing blood into the sweat glands, resulting in sweat mixed with blood pressing through the skin.

Gethsemane is where the battle was won, where the choicest of all Olives met its glorious destiny, where the Son of God, knowing the trauma and ultimate tumult He was about to suffer as our Kinsmen Redeemer to purchase our redemption by paying the ransom for sin, thrice declared resolutely to His Father, “Nevertheless, not My Will, but thine be done.”

Gethsemane is the Place Where the Battle of Flesh vs. Spirit is Waged

Yet, during that indescribable all out war for the souls of men our Lord Jesus single-handedly waged in that garden, the three men He had hand-picked to accompany Him to this place of agony, slept through it all, unable to crucify their flesh long enough to intercede with the Lord, “even for one hour,” the Lord said, though He had come out of the garden a total of three times to each time find them fast asleep and too groggy to even respond to His sorrowful laments of utter bewilderment and disappointment. Sometimes it will be in the hours we are facing the most horrendous struggles of our lives, that we will find our own professed closest friends, loved ones, and colleagues fast asleep on the careless cushions of their own self-centeredness outside our Garden of Gethsemane, unable to defeat their flesh long enough to “bear (our) burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ [Love]

” (Gal. 6:2), as Scripture commands, in prayer with us. In our Gethsemane crisis in life, we will find it to be the most lonely and alone moments of solitude with the Lord.

Maybe this painful abandonment by others is by divine design, because being alone with the Lord, and with only the Lord at and on our side, is when we discover that the Lord at and on our side is enough, and more than enough, because He is El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough, who abundantly supplies our every need, even at the neediest, most agonizing precipices of our life! Gethsemane, the birthing room, the “valley of Baca”1, the place of sheer agony, is the place where we come to total reliance on the Lord, plus no one else, and we resign our present and future to His Will, and not our own. Gethsemane is the place where we truly come to know our God in the sweetest fellowship and communion of all!

If more of God’s people—”those who are called by (His) name”—fervently pursued a degree in “Knee-ology” fewer of any other kinds of degrees would be needed, and the Church would be more empowered and in every way more powerful on the Earth!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)

The world is FILLED with needs, but God never responds to needs; He responds to the petitions of believing saints! God is not an interloper and never intervenes uninvited and unsolicited in the affairs of men; He only responds and acts when believers ask Him in audacious and believing prayer!

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers,” said Sidlow Baxter.

The great preacher and seminary professor, Charles Spurgeon, said it all when he said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

Vocalization of God’s Will

So prayer is a vital key to implementing everything that God desires to do on this planet, whether in or out of the Church. Knowing God’s will is not enough to implement it. His will must also be vocalized! Effective prayer is the vocalization of God’s Word/Will. We ask; He moves! We ask; He moves! That’s the process! That is fervent and effectual prayer of righteous people! People who know their God!

Moreover, all that must be applied to the “new thing” that God is taking the Church into—the new paradigm, the new dimension of the Spirit. It is not enough for prophets to reveal the “secret counsel” of God. It is not enough for teachers to teach about it! It’s not enough for apostles to be sent with the apostolic dimension and measure of the Spirit to bring these things into existence. The people of God must also PRAY IT! PRAY IT INTO EXISTENCE! There is no substitute for prayer!

Pray What the Prophets Say

What the prophets are foretelling and forthtelling will not come about apart from the praying of the saints! What the Apostle Paul spoke from his heart as a spiritual father to Timothy, his protégée in the Lord, and is now canonized as part of Scripture, is God-breathed admonition to every believer, including every Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal believer:

“This COMMAND I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECIES previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight….” (1 Tim. 1:18).

Prophesied events do not just happen on their own, automatically, just because it has been prophesied. Prophecy, above all else, is a revelation of the will, the desires, of God. We must take what has been prophesied and steep it in intense and continuous prayer, if we are to see it come into being in the natural! The prophesying is only the first, and really the easiest, step in a two-step process. The next step is the nurturing, the watering, the de-weeding, the cultivating of the word—that comes through warfare in prayer. When God uses one of His surrogate spokesmen to SAY it, then the saints of God must PRAY it, for it to come to pass!

Summary

As in the case of the church mentioned at the beginning of this article that had been prepared by weeks of prayer for the manifestation and fulfillment of God’s purposes and plans that occurred in an impromptu meeting, fervent and sincere prayer moves God to action and produces a manifestation of the supernatural power of God in miraculous signs and wonders. Desperately needed answers to the petitions of God’s people come when God’s people simply pray and ASK!

Prayer is one of the most vital keys to the Church moving into the dimension of the Spirit that God is calling Her into! Unless we PRAY, we’re going to STAY where we’ve been! So, Saints of God, for this cause, LET US PRAY!

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12 )

The righteous have available to them more power—through genuine faith-based prayer—than all the evil-intentioned politicians and political demonstrators in the world combined! For this cause, LET US PRAY!
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1 The valley of Baca: “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.” (Ps. 84:5-7) “The Valley of Baca” is only mentioned this one time in the Bible. In Hebrew, Baca means bewailing, weeping, mourning, agonizing lamentation. Though it was an actual physical place located in Palestine, it is evoked by the Psalmist as a symbol for a once-in-a-lifetime “crisis-valley” that many people pass through sometime in their life relative to an agonizingly painful experience they have suffered, usually an unspeakably painful loss. But, thankfully, we can draw from the verse that we pass through this valley of weeping and mourning, and its sorrows may last for “the night,” however long that night of darkness might be, once we have passed through it, it will yield uncommon strengthening and blessing and renewal because we drew our strength from the Lord in whom was our strength, and not ourselves to make it through, and the conclusion of the matter is communion with the Lord Himself.###

Immediate download of Kindle Version of this article:

The following video provides a clear and understandable explanation of the order of eschatalogical (end-time) events that will take place in the near future beginning with the Rapture (Catching Up) of the Church. This outstanding teaching of what to many is a confusing subject matter, that is often made worse by convoluted expositions by some “eschatology gurus,” is by our friend, Leslie Hale, “The Irish Preacher,” who is a tremendously knowledgeable teacher and skillful communicator of the Word of God. We highly recommend that you visit the actual-size Tabernacle in the Wilderness replica and the Antique Bible Museum on the grounds of the Leslie Hale Ministries campus located in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

TEN CONTRASTS BETWEEN ENTERTAINERS AND LEADERS
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders.

1. Entertainers primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts is deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Matt. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often distained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adaptors” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are counter cultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God then garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and gives God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that come from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

This article is part 3 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

PART THREE

Black-belt karateka in "gi" (karategi) meditating in yoga "lotus" position

Black-belt karate devotee (karateka) wearing “gi” (karategi) meditating in yoga “lotus” “power” position.

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART TWO of this article.

There are many influences in our western society. Some are good – some are not so good. Some appear on the surface to be beneficial, but in fact, are the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, the acclaimed benefits of a thing or practice of something may, in fact, turn out to be harmful, if not downright dangerous. The irony is, it may not be obvious at the onset.

What matters most is what lies behind the secret mask of all martial arts and yoga—what is at the root! The two are undoubtedly intertwined and are often advertised together. The practice of these ancient practices, driven by a huge popularity factor, has made major inroads, especially of late, into western society. This infiltration has had an enormous impact on both the world we live as well as in an ever-expanding segment of the church realm, and consequently has become a force to be reckoned with due to its widespread acceptance as a supposedly innocuous sport or physical activity. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 3)” »

UN Security Council meeting room

By Michael Snyder

Because Barack Obama has cursed Israel at the United Nations, America is now under a curse.

Friday’s stunning betrayal of Israel at the U.N. Security Council is making headlines all over the planet, but the truth is that what Obama has just done is far more serious than most people would dare to imagine. Over the past several decades, whenever the U.S. government has taken a major step toward the division of the land of Israel, it has resulted in a major disaster hitting the United States. This keeps happening over and over again, and yet our leaders never seem to learn. And despite the fact that President-elect Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and prominent members of both parties in Congress strongly urged Obama to veto Security Council resolution 2334, he went ahead and let it pass anyway.

Because the United States has veto power on the U.N. Security Council, nothing can get passed without our support. And it has been the policy of the U.S. government for decades to veto all anti-Israel resolutions that come before the Security Council.

But this time around, it appears that the Obama administration was working very hard behind the scenes to get this resolution pushed through the Security Council before the end of Obama’s term. At least that is what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming:

“From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “This is, of course, in complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement, like any issue related to them in the Security Council, and, of course, the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps.”

I am sure that there will be a tremendous amount of debate about to what extent the U.S. was involved in creating and drafting this resolution, but there is one thing that is exceedingly clear.

The ultimate decision as to whether or not this resolution would be adopted was in the hands of one man. Barack Obama knew very well that he had this power, and in the end, he ultimately decided to betray Israel.

And now that our government has cursed Israel at the U.N., our entire nation will be cursed as a result.

In the Scriptures, we are repeatedly told that God will bless those that bless Israel and will curse those that curse Israel. When Barack Obama blocked a similar resolution that France wanted to submit for a vote in September 2015, it resulted in America being blessed, and we definitely have been blessed over the past 16 months.

But now that Barack Obama has reversed course and has betrayed Israel, we will most assuredly be cursed. In the days ahead, we will see how this plays out, and perhaps we can get some hints about what may happen by reviewing recent history.

There have literally been dozens of instances in recent decades when the U.S. has been hit by some sort of immediate disaster when it has made a move toward the dividing of the land of Israel. The following are 10 of the most prominent examples that stand out to me:

1. The last time the U.S. government refused to veto an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council was in 1979. On March 22, 1979, the Carter administration chose not to veto U.N. Resolution 446. Four days after that on March 26, the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington. As a result of that treaty, Israel gave up a tremendous amount of territory. Two days later, on March 28, the worst nuclear power plant disaster in U.S. history made headlines all over the globe. The following comes from Wikipedia:

The Three Mile Island accident was a partial nuclear meltdown that occurred on March 28, 1979, in reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States. It was the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.[2] The incident was rated a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale: Accident With Wider Consequences.[3][4]

2. On Oct. 30, 1991, President George H. W. Bush opened the Madrid Peace Conference, which brought Israelis and Palestinians together to negotiate for the very first time. In his opening speech, Bush told Israel that “territorial compromise is essential for peace.” At the exact same time, “the Perfect Storm” was brewing in the north Atlantic. This legendary storm traveled 1,000 miles the wrong direction and sent 35 foot waves slamming directly into President Bush’s home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

3. On Aug. 23, 1992, the Madrid Peace Conference moved to Washington, D.C., and the very next day, Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida, causing $30 billion in damage. It was the worst natural disaster up to that time in U.S. history.

4. On Jan. 16, 1994, President Clinton met with President Assad of Syria to discuss the possibility of Israel giving up the Golan Heights. Within 24 hours, the devastating Northridge earthquake hit southern California. It was the second worst natural disaster up to that time in U.S. history.

5. On Jan. 21, 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the White House but received a very cold reception. In fact, President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright actually refused to have lunch with him. That exact same day, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, sending the Clinton presidency into a tailspin from which it would never recover.

6. On Sept. 28, 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was working on finalizing a plan which would have had Israel give up approximately 13 percent of Judea and Samaria. On that precise day, Hurricane George slammed into the Gulf Coast with wind gusts of up to 175 miles an hour.

7. On May 3, 1999, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was supposed to hold a press conference to declare the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital. On that precise day, the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded in the U.S. ripped through Oklahoma and Kansas. At one point, one of the tornadoes actually had a recorded wind speed of 316 miles an hour.

8. On April 30, 2003, “the Road Map to Peace” that had been developed by the so-called “Quartet” was presented to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer. Over the next seven days, the U.S. was hit by a staggering 412 tornadoes. It was the largest tornado cluster ever recorded up to that time.

9. In 2005, President George W. Bush (the son of George H.W. Bush) convinced Israel that it was necessary to remove all of the Jewish settlers out of Gaza and turn it over entirely to the Palestinians. According to the New York Times, the very last of the settlers were evacuated on Aug. 23, 2005. On that precise day, a storm that would be given the name “Katrina” started forming over the Bahamas. The city of New Orleans still has not fully recovered from the damage that storm caused, and it ranked as the costliest natural disaster in all of U.S. history up to that time.

10. On May 19, 2011, Barack Obama told Israel that there must be a return to the pre-1967 borders. Three days later on May 22, a half-mile-wide EF-5 multiple-vortex tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri. According to Wikipedia, it was “the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.”

The U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed on Friday is the biggest betrayal of Israel in modern history. As I explained in my last article, I believe that America’s reprieve is now over, and all hell is about to break loose in this country.

When Barack Obama blocked the U.N. Security Council from dividing the land of Israel in September 2015, according to the Word of God, we should have been blessed as a nation as a result, and we were blessed.

But now Barack Obama has cursed Israel by stabbing them in the back at the United Nations, and according to the Word of God, we should be cursed as a nation as a result.

And as surely as I am writing this article, we will be cursed.###
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Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great NATION*, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. (Gen. 12:1-7; emphasis added)

[* Editor’s Note: God’s promise to Abraham was to make his descendants a NATION, not just a great people. The miraculous rebirth of the NATION of Israel in 1948 was God making good on that promise! He will never forsake Israel, or allow it to be obliterated, despite being the smallest nation on earth, located at the geographical center of the earth. Jesus will return to the very spot God made this promise to Abraham, and physically stand on the Mount of Olives, where He delivered several of His most important “sermons.”

Canaan: So called from Canaan the son of Ham, lies between the Mediterranean sea on the west, the wilderness of Paran, Idumea, and Egypt on the south, the mountains of Arabia on the east, and the mountains of Lebanon and Phoenicia on the north. Its length, from Dan to Beersheba, is about 200 miles, and its breadth, from the Mediterranean sea to its eastern borders, about 90.]

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants FOREVER. “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD. (Gen. 13:14-18; emphasis added)

The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To ISRAEL as an EVERLASTING covenant, Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan As the portion of your inheritance,” When they were only a few men in number, Very few, and strangers in it. And they wandered about from nation to nation, From one kingdom to another people. He permitted no man to oppress them, And He reproved kings for their sakes: “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.” (Psa. 105:9-15; emphasis added)

“You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess. (Deu. 19:14)

This article is part 2 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

PART TWO

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART ONE of this article.

The Spiritual Principle of Self-Decreasing

The complete incongruity of martial arts along with these other similar so-called “self-improvement” or “self-help” kinds of involvements I’ve enumerated, and the Christian Life described and defined in the Word of God can also be summarized by relating it to the contrast John-the-Baptist described in his statement to his disciples before his execution by beheading: “He must increase; but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30; italics added). “He must increase; but I must decrease.” While the essence of John’s statement was referring to the fact that now that the time for Jesus to be manifest as the Messiah had come and John had completed his God-assigned mission of identifying Him as same, the time had now come for him and his ministry to decrease or fade into oblivion so as to allow the Christ to take center-stage, so to speak, completely void of all distraction and deflection of attention. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 2)” »

This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts
Dojo student bowing to pay homage to the "gods" behind martial arts

Dojo student bowing to the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) behind martial arts.
“Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” (Ex. 23:24)

PART ONE

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

Over the course of the last three to four decades, martial arts have pervaded both the world and the church realm at an alarming rate. During that span, the enemy has been hard at work instituting his insidious plan to spiritually weaken and wreak spiritual destruction in the lives of individuals, as well as even whole segments of the church at large, by means of injection of the expansive package of deceptions comprising the martial arts.

Let us be clear, all forms of martial arts (and yoga), without exception, are rooted in false religions and the occult, and can in no way be sanitized or Christianized. Many individual believers and entire church-groups have been deceived into believing they can be. Such theories and beliefs are total deception from a practical standpoint, and from a theological standpoint would be labeled heresy! Yet, such false beliefs about these ancient religious practices and false claims of their being harmonious and congruous with Biblical Christianity have seemingly inundated the modern church like a tsunami! And at present there appears no indication of this “wave” of false doctrine receding at any time in the foreseeable future (cf., Eph. 4:14).

The bottom line is this: The spirit behind martial arts is antichrist! By that I mean it is contrary to everything we know about who Christ and Christianity is! How can we think that an antichrist spirit is in any way compatible or harmonious with the Spirit of Christ? They are not friends or friendly with each other! We cannot make them be friends or friendly with each other! I have seen people fall away from their faith in God who were once strong in the Lord because of this antichrist activity. The people of God—Christians, Christian churches—have been deceived in regard to the martial arts and just how diabolical they in fact are! It is time to acknowledge that deception and do something about it.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; emphasis added)

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11; emphasis added)

Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts” »

What These Preachers Are Spewing Could Kill You
By Bert Farias

There is an increasing measure of unbelief in today’s churches. Weak faith, little faith and no faith is at an all-time high. Strong faith, exceedingly great faith, and the kind of faith that causes Jesus to marvel (Matt. 8:10) is at an all-time low.

The first reason faith is now at an all-time low is because many believers don’t read or hear the pure Word of God. There’s a great mixture in our churches today. People put more faith in what the popular elevated teachers in the Christian culture say. They put more faith in man. They place their trust in logic, reasoning and the wisdom of men. Continue reading “Your Spiritual Diet Could Be Killing You!” »

AMERICA’S SPIRITUAL FOUNDING FATHER

By Eddie L. Hyatt

Teorge Whitefield

He became the most recognizable and talked about figure in Colonial America. From Georgia to Maine, thousands filled churches and gathered in open fields to hear him preach. Loved by the masses, he was detested by many of the clergy who refused him their pulpits. Undaunted, he preached in the open fields to massive crowds of all sects and denominations.

At a time when the population of Boston was estimated at twenty thousand, he preached to an estimated crowd of 25,000 on the Boston Common. Great revival seemed to erupt everywhere he went. Denominational walls were broken down and for the first time the scattered American colonists began to see themselves as a single people with one Divine destiny. Through his incessant labors and his love for America, George Whitefield (1713-1770) helped prepare the way for the formation of the United States of America. Continue reading “God’s Select Human Torch – America’s Spiritual Founding Father” »

T4G16 Leaders

T4G16 Annual Conference Speakers

[Editor’s Note: For five years or so, a maelstrom of controversy has been building in reformed protestant circles regarding the protodenomination formerly known as Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), headquartered for more than 30 years in Gaithersburg, Maryland, near Washington DC. The organization that once claimed more than 100 affiliate churches and hundreds of affiliated ministers in numerous nations, originally named People of Destiny International (PDI), was founded by C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak and two other lesser-knowns in the 1970s, spinning off the so-called Jesus Movement spawned in California in the late 1960s. Conflicts and strife within the PDI leadership has been recurrent for many years, finally peaking around the mid-1990s with the ouster and disfellowship of Larry Tomczak amid internal accusations of misconduct, mishandling of related matters, and irreconcilable doctrinal/philosophical differences. A continuous current of criticism and allegations of flagrant relational and leadership wrongdoing against Mahaney coursed on for decades before and after the Tomczak debacle, erupting like a volcano in 2011 with formal charges of misconduct and corruption by him being widely disseminated by one of those aforementioned lesser-known, also disfellowshipped, Mahaney associates turned blogger. Some aspects of those revelations received substantial accreditation by a civil lawsuit against SGM, Mahaney, and other named SGM leaders, alleging multiple incidences of sexual misconduct by SGM employees and associates, an organization-wide cover-up conspiracy, hush-money payments and perks, decades-long employment of confessed sex-offenders, and failure to report to authorities multiple known criminal acts of child molestation, as well as aiding and abetting of same, filed in October 2012. The original suit with its several amendments, was eventually dismissed due to expiration of statutes of limitations and jurisdictional technicalities, but it spawned a criminal investigation, subsequent arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration of a longtime SGM employee in the organization-owned schools who was also a close associate and personal friend of a number of top SGM leaders, including Mahaney. The tentacles of the continuing controversy and conflicts have already reached deep into the Southern Baptist Convention and Reformed Theology realms and has been reported by numerous national media outlets. Knowledgeable, credible sources, however, presage that the expansive imbroglio is far from over and the complete story is yet to be revealed. What we do know with certainty at this time is that ongoing investigations are being conducted, facts are being compiled, books and articles are being written, and more revelations and fallout are forthcoming. SLM will report further developments in this disheartening and troubling matter as they develop and warrant. The following news-release by the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) urging the leadership of the Together for the Gospel (T4G16) conference conveners to disinvite C.J. Mahaney—one of the original founders of the amalgamation—as a conference speaker, provides a good overview of the ongoing controversy. It is for that reason, and the strong view that all believers should be aware and informed about such matters that we publish it.] Continue reading “SNAP Urges T4G16 Leaders to Dis-Invite C.J. Mahaney” »

Recently I heard a great prophetic teacher (Thamo Naidoo from South Africa) mention in his message that there is a difference between apostles of churches and apostles of Christ. He said that while there were many apostles of churches, there were only very few true apostles of Christ on the earth today. That one statement exploded on the inside of me and gave me much illumination.  I had never heard anyone make this delineation before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. The following is what I have unpacked in the scriptures since Thamo made this statement.

Essentially, the word apostle means a person who is sent to represent another, whether a king, kingdom, or entity like a church. 1 Corinthians 12:28 teaches that God places first in the church apostles, since they are sent by God to represent Him in a city to pioneer a beachhead (a church or ekklesia as shown in Matthew 16:18-19) for city transformation.

Apostles are the “sent ones” who represent the essence of what the church vision or mission is all about. In John 17, Jesus constantly referred to the fact that He was sent by the Father to the world, which is one reason why Hebrews 3:1 refers to Jesus as our Apostle. Jesus was God’s Apostle sent into the world to redeem it. In Revelation 22:14 we see the term “the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” There will never be another apostle added to that list since there were only twelve. However, it seems evident (at least to me) that Paul was also an apostle of Christ, which means this general category was not limited to merely 12 in total. Paul qualified his apostleship not only by planting churches but also by seeing Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1), which means that apostles at this level must have experienced a dynamic encounter and intimate walk with the Lord.

In the New Testament there were dozens of people identified as apostles. It is my view that since Paul was an apostle of Christ his apostleship transcended the churches he founded. Although Paul did not found the church in Rome, he was respected enough by the general body of Christ that he was able to write the letter to the Romans with apostolic weight and authority as if he was the one who planted it. Hence, apostles of Christ garner a high level of respect beyond the borders of their own church networks, even though they would never attempt to supplant the authority of an apostolic leader who is the founder and/or leader of another network (unless there was heresy or a gross violation of biblical ethics).

Also, Paul warned that there were some who were masquerading as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13), which probably means that this term (apostle of Christ) was used to identify some significant apostles who were not one of the original twelve. Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 8:23 Paul identified some as “apostles of the churches” (not “apostles of Christ”) which I believe refers to the fact that these leaders only had limited recognized apostolic authority related to representing a particular constellation of churches. Since apostles of Christ directly represent the Lord Jesus, they have a burden and calling for the whole body of Christ and/or a large expression of the global body of Christ. Apostles of Christ are also trans-cultural, trans-generational, and are more loyal to the Kingdom of God than to a specific geopolitical affinity.

The following are ten characteristics of apostles of Christ:

1. Apostles of Christ Build the Kingdom.
Oftentimes, church apostles are just focused on their local church and/or their network or denomination. One of the reasons is because their assignment is limited to those works they personally oversee or have founded. They do not have the grace or leadership capacity to go beyond their particular church system, doctrine and/or culture. On the other hand, apostles of Christ have an ambassadorial call that transcends any one church, movement or denomination. Hence, even if they try to focus on one group or movement, God will constantly pull them into other church communities and/or nations to build apostolic foundations related to doctrine or Kingdom life.

2. Apostles of Christ Are Not Hierarchical.
Generally speaking, church apostles can be caught up in titles, measures of influence within their movement, and/or church politics. Apostles of Christ do not personally crave titles (they will use them when appropriate) and do not need institutional church structures to validate their ministry or calling.

3. Apostles of Christ Don’t Strive For Recognition.
Philippians 2 teaches us that Jesus made Himself of no reputation. Apostles of Christ are often hidden and do not seek public attention, since they are already rooted strongly in their identity as sons of God and have no innate need for public acclaim.

4. Apostles of Christ Are Not Driven by Money.
Apostles of Christ have so much faith in their assignment from God, they trust God will provide all their needs as long as they are in His will. They do not go to a place to minister only because the offerings are good but will go only where the Lord is leading. Paul said he did not peddle the word of God for money (2 Cor. 2:17) and the apostle Peter warns shepherds not to minister for dishonest gain (1 Peter 5:2). Although I believe those who labor in the word full-time are worthy of double honor and should make a living from the gospel (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:14), the bottom line for apostles of Christ is the will of God, not material gain.

5. Apostles of Christ Lay Down their Lives for the Gospel.
All of the original 12 Apostles (except John) as well as the apostle Paul were martyred for the gospel. As Jesus laid down His life for the sheep (John 10) those who represent Him are willing to die daily (Revelation 12:11; Acts 20:24; Galatians 2:19-20) whether it is to their own will or to literally lose their lives.

6. Apostles of Christ Have a Servant’s Heart.
Apostles of Christ are unassuming, do not have an entitlement mentality, have a servant’s heart, and do not lead with a top-down autocratic approach like the rulers of the Gentiles (Mark 10:42). They mimic Jesus’ words when He said that the greatest in the Kingdom is the one who serves (Mark 10:43-45).

7. Apostles of Christ Have Divine Influence and Calling Beyond their Network of Churches.
Although the apostle Paul strove not to preach where Christ was already named (Romans 15:20) his greatest epistle was to the church at Rome, where he endeavored to go in spite of the fact he was not their founding apostle. Paul had vast influence way beyond the primary sphere of activity he was focusing on (Read 2 Corinthians 10:10-14). His influence has even reached to us 2,000 years later through his inspired New Testament writings.

Since apostles of Christ represent the Lord Himself, by nature they have to be trans-national, trans-cultural, and multi-generational and have a desire for Kingdom advancement, not just the enlargement of their church networks.

8. Apostles of Christ Have an Intimate Walk with God.
Since apostles of Christ have to represent Jesus and not merely a church or denomination (of course all believers are called to represent Christ but apostolic callings have a greater measure of responsibility), they are obligated to know God intimately and walk in His presence and power.  All of the original 12 apostles walked with Jesus personally for more than three years before they were launched into their ministry, and Paul the apostle had a personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). All true apostles of Christ will have a driving passion to know God and to make Him known.

9. Apostles of Christ Endure Great Hardship.
Paul validated his apostleship by the immense hardships he endured, not just by signs and wonders and church planting (2 Corinthians 11:17-12:8). Paul said (1 Cor. 4:9) that apostles live like those condemned dying in the arena (or have the sentence of death upon themselves). This kind of apostolic leader must have the capacity for high-stress leadership combined with the kind of emotional maturity to deal with all kinds of difficulties that the average person could never endure.

10. Apostles of Christ Live in Simplicity.
Apostles of Christ do not need or desire to live a life of extreme luxury and opulence. Their spiritual and psychological needs have already been met through their deep and abiding relationship with Christ. They have been so satisfied with living with the person and presence of God that they count all things as dung compared to knowing Him (Philippians 3:8-14)! Their greatest desire in life is to fellowship with Him, meditate on the scriptures, and serve God’s people and Kingdom. Consequently they do not need to drive the most expensive cars, live in the largest houses or make a huge salary in order to be satisfied in this life. Consequently, they live in simplicity, are content with little and are not driven to pursue material possessions and pleasure.

After seeing these 10 traits, we can see how there are only very few apostles of Christ in this world. May the Lord raise more up in these days so the body of Christ can fully advance!

Heaven’s Prophetic Assignments
By John Eckhardt

God puts a prophet through a process of refinement. God purges the prophet and develops their character. The prophet has to respond to the dealings of God in his or her own life before they can effectively deal with the problems in the lives of others.

Sometimes as a prophet you will feel as if you are in a furnace. You may find yourself saying, “God, why are You dealing so strongly with me? Why don’t You deal with everyone else like this?” Don’t give up, prophet. Go through the process.

A prophet is a vessel. God purges His vessels. God will take the dross (impurities) out of your life. You have to become the raw material to be a prophetic vessel. Go through the process. Let the fire burn.

Prophet, don’t allow guilt, shame and condemnation to prevent you from accepting and walking in your calling. Many prophets struggle with feelings of inadequacy as a result of their past. Isaiah was purged and sent. Allow the Lord to purge you from sins of the past, walk clean before the Lord and fulfill your call.

Moses distinguished himself as a prophet by his faithfulness (Num. 12:7). Be faithful to the call and commission.

The Prophet’s Anointing

Prophets understand grace. They know God’s strength is by grace. They understand that they cannot do this in their own strength (1 Cor. 15:10). Prophets depend on the grace of God—His strength, favor, power and ability. They understand that without God, they can do nothing (John 5:30). Prophets will find themselves in situations in which they have to depend on grace.

God calls all kinds of people to be prophets. The Lord chose the foolish things to confound the things that are wise (1 Cor. 1:27-29). David was an obscure shepherd boy. Amos was not a prophet or a prophet’s son. God calls people who would not qualify by the standards of men. Prophets are not determined by men but by God. God’s choice is a challenge and rebuke against the pride of men.

There are things that you can learn directly from God. This is what happens to prophets. Prophets know things that are not taught by men. Jesus knew more than all the religious leaders of His day. They marveled at His knowledge (John 7:15). Jesus had not attended their schools.

The prophet’s words are anointed and carry power. When prophets speak, things happen. When prophets speak, things change. When prophets speak, God moves. Open your mouth, prophet, and speak. God will back you up. He will confirm the words of His servants (Is. 44:26).

God commands His prophets to prophesy. When they do, there is a noise, a shaking, a coming together. Dead things come to life. Dry bones live again. The prophets’ words bring life. They release breath.

When God is speaking, who can keep from prophesying? Some may want the prophets to be quiet, but they can’t help but prophesy (Amos 3:8). This release can happen in the form of weeping, speaking, writing, singing, dancing or praying.

You cannot make prophets do what you want them to do. They are not to be used for your benefit and desire, but they are created for God’s purposes. You are in trouble when you try to make them see and say what you want them to see and say. Prophets are independent spokesmen.

Prophets don’t preach what is popular. Neither do they preach to be popular. They often preach a truth that makes them unpopular. They are not owned by people and organizations; they are owned only by God. The prophet is devoted to God and truth, not institutions, organizations, religions, doctrines and creeds.

You Must Overcome Fear

The Lord will put you in situations where you must overcome fear. You will have to learn to overcome criticism, rejection, jealous people and the like. This is part of the making of a prophet. The Lord is building courage in you. You will have to make decisions some people won’t agree with. You will have to take a stand. You cannot please everyone. You may lose some relationships.

Prophets must overcome the fear of man. This can be a major battle for some. The fear of man brings a snare. You cannot fear man, the call, criticism, rejection, persecution or intimidation and be strong in the prophetic. Fear will short-circuit your prophetic flow. Everyone has to overcome some kind of fear. You are not alone. God will deliver you from all your fears and give you the courage you need (Jer. 1:8).

The prophet’s desire is to please God, not men. You cannot be a servant of Christ and please men (Gal. 1:10). Prophets don’t seek the approval of men. The prophet’s priority is to please God. Inordinate people-pleasing brings you into bondage by enslaving you to everyone whom you desire to please.

Jesus did not look for or receive honor from men (John 5:41). Jesus received honor from the Father. Prophets have always had to live without honor from men. God does not want you to depend on man’s honor. The Father’s honor is the most important thing to prophets (John 8:54).

Some of the early church leaders were excommunicated. Martin Luther, Jan Hus and other reformers were excommunicated. Are you willing to be rejected because of the truth?

How to Handle Opposition

Demons hate prophets. Witches and warlocks hate prophets. Jezebel hates prophets. Prophets are a threat to the works of darkness. They expose the works of the enemy. Prophets are on the enemy’s hit list. God protects His prophets, so don’t be afraid of the enemy. No weapon formed against you will prosper (Is. 54:17).

God sustains His prophets. They don’t have to depend on men and religious systems to survive. Prophets depend on God. They must be free to speak for the Lord. True prophets don’t eat at Jezebel’s table.

Elijah was fed by ravens (1 Kin. 17:3-5). God was his source and provider. Prophets depend on God for sustenance. Prophets need God’s sustenance because they are often rejected by men. Prophet, expect to receive miraculous provision from God.

God hates when His prophets are mistreated (Ps. 105:15). Prophets can be mistreated, persecuted, ignored, called crazy, rejected, overlooked, isolated, muzzled and passed over. Prophets are often persecuted by the systems they cry out against. This is nothing new. God vindicates His prophets, defends them and deals with the systems that mistreat them.

If you are a prophet, you will have to develop some toughness. Prophets have to learn how to “shake off the dust” (Matt. 10:14). Prophets want everyone to receive the truth and be blessed, but sometimes it just does not happen that way. You can’t make people do what the Lord says. Sometimes you have to leave and “shake off the dust.”

If you are rejected, don’t pick up demons of hurt and rejection. Don’t let those demons in your life. Remember the word of the Lord to Samuel: “It is not you they have rejected, but Me they have rejected from reigning over them” (1 Sam. 8:7).

It’s not about you; it’s about the Lord. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.

General Functions of a Prophet

Prophets pull down that which God did not build, root up that which God did not plant and destroy what God wants destroyed.

God uses prophets to send out ministries. Prophets enjoy releasing and seeing ministers released. Prophets love to see people activated and released into their God-given destinies. They love to see the plans and purposes of God come to pass in peoples’ lives.

Prophets don’t like being in ministries where no one is released. Prophets don’t like seeing the wrong people released.

It is the ministry of prophets to pray over and lay hands on those being separated unto special ministry (Acts 13:2). The prophets and teachers at Antioch heard the Spirit say to separate Paul and Barnabas. They separated them, laid hands on them and sent them out. Prophets help us release ministries.

Some prophets are also scribes (Matt. 23:34). They write down their dreams, visions, prophetic words and insights. They often love journaling. The scribal prophet is not limited to writing, but can release the word through audio, video, print and other media. They have a desire to record what God is saying.

Scribal prophets, go back and read the things you wrote down years ago, and you might be shocked at what the Lord has done to bring those words to pass. Some of you have journals that you have written over the years. God is faithful.

Scribes can also be persecuted. Religious systems of control hate scribes. This is because their writings challenge these systems. Truth and revelation can be imparted and released through writing. Writing has always been a powerful tool of reformation.

Some prophets are musicians and singers; others may express themselves through dance. Both Miriam and David expressed themselves in the dance (Ex. 15:20; 2 Sam. 6:14). Prophets are expressive, and the dance is one of the most powerful ways to express God’s power, victory, love and mercy.

The Unusual Life of a Prophet

Prophets can find themselves in the most unusual places and circumstances, and wonder, “How did I get here?” Prophet, God can place you there to release His wisdom and His word. Don’t be surprised where you find yourself ministering. God will open doors for you, send you and place you with people who you ordinarily would never meet. They need what you have.

Prophets can speak to people of power and those in positions of power. This is because power is so easily abused and misused. Nathan spoke to David. This is an example of speaking to power. Sometimes power does not want to hear what prophets say. Jesus spoke to power when He challenged the religious leaders of His day for their hypocrisy and abuse.

Yet beware. Lord Acton said, “Power tends (sic) to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” This famous quote addresses the fact that men have a difficult time handling power. Pride tends to corrupt men of power, and this is why we need prophets who will speak to and challenge power.

Moses is the exception. He was a man of great power, but he’s called the meekest man of the earth (Num. 12:3). He never needed a prophet to correct him.

Prophets are not normal, and their experiences are not normal. Prophets are different because they have visitations. Unusual salvations, deliverances, dreams, visions and divine encounters are the prophet’s portion. When a person encounters God, he or she cannot remain the same.

Moses encountered a burning bush, Isaiah saw the Lord in His glory, Ezekiel had visions of God, and Daniel had angelic visitations. Jeremiah encountered God at a young age, John was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb, and God appeared to Jacob in a dream.

Prophets are different because they encounter God in unusual ways. They have unusual testimonies. If you tell people some of your experiences, they might think you are crazy and spooky.

Prophets do most of their work in secret. Prophets don’t have to have platforms, although God may give them one. Prophets don’t have to be seen, although God may highlight them.

Prophets pray, weep, minister to the Lord and study in secret. What God shows them in secret, they speak to the world. Prophets love the solitary place. Prophets hate the hype and sensationalism they see on many platforms.

Prophets are often hidden from view. They do much of their work in the secret place.

The hidden ones are the “secret ones,” “the precious ones” and “the treasured ones” (Ps. 83:3).

Prophetstown

I drove from Illinois to Iowa some time ago and passed a town by the name of Prophetstown in Illinois. I have lived in Illinois all my life, and I have never heard of this town. I researched it, and this is what I found:

“Prophetstown is named for Wabokieshiek (White Cloud), a medicine man known as ‘the Prophet.’ (He was) also friend and adviser to Chief Black Hawk. Born in 1794, he presided over the village known as ‘prophet’s village’ on the Rock River. He was half Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) and half Sauk and had great influence over both tribes.”

I pray that the Lord would raise up “Prophetstowns” in every region across the globe. Let true prophets arise and come forth in every town and city. Let the cloud of glory be in these towns.###

John Eckhardt is overseer of Crusaders Ministries in Chicago. Gifted with a strong apostolic call, he has ministered throughout the United States and overseas. He is an international conference speaker, produces a weekly television program, Perfecting the Saints, and has written more than 20 books. Eckhardt resides in the Chicago area with his family.

Original article: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/53180-heaven-s-prophetic-assignments

The Seventh-Day Adventists — Christian or Cultic in Nature?
By David R. Reagan

The Seventh-Day Adventists are an anomaly. Evangelical Christians have never been comfortable with them, but they have been unable to decide whether the SDA is a legitimate expression of Christianity or whether it is a cult, like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The majority view among contemporary cult-watchers is that it is a cult. But the most authoritative cult expert in modern Christian history, Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), decided in 1965 that “it is perfectly possible to be a Seventh-Day Adventist and be a true follower of Jesus Christ, despite heterodox concepts.”1 This conclusion caused a storm of controversy because Dr. Martin had earlier labeled the SDA a cult in his book published in 1955 called The Rise of the Cults.2

Yet, shortly before he died, Dr. Martin expressed conflicted second thoughts in a television interview:

“I fear that if they continue to progress at this rate, then the classification of a cult can’t possibly miss being reapplied to Seventh-Day Adventists because once you have an interpreter of Scripture, a final court of appeal that tells you what Scripture means — as soon as you judge Scripture by that, as soon as you have someone who has made doctrinal errors in the past, even on the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the atonement and on other things, and that person is raised to that position of authority, you have polarization around that person.”3

If Christendom’s foremost cult expert could not make up his mind about the status of the SDA, you can certainly understand why others have experienced equal difficulty. So, what about it? Does the SDA deserve the designation of a cult?

A Brief History
Let’s begin our consideration of this question by taking a brief look at the origin of the Seventh-Day Adventists.

The SDA Church is rooted in the Millerite Movement that swept the United States in the 1840’s. William Miller (1782-1849) was a New England Baptist preacher who developed a unique interpretation of Daniel 8:14.4

In the King James Version that passage reads: “And he [a saint] said unto me, ‘Unto 2,300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’” This is a prophecy about the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. But Miller applied it to the end times by converting the days into years. Assuming the prophecy was given in 457 BC, he calculated that Jesus would return 2,300 years later, sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. Incredibly, he interpreted the “cleansing of the sanctuary” to refer to the purging of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Jesus!

When March 21, 1844 came and passed, Miller recalculated the date for October 22, 1844. When nothing happened on that day, Miller’s followers became totally disillusioned. The whole experience was dubbed “The Great Disappointment.” Miller died in disgrace four years later.

But a small hard-core group of Millerites called “the little flock” continued to insist that the date had been correct. One of the group’s members, a man named Hiram Edson, claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus standing at the altar in Heaven, and he concluded that Miller had been right about the time, but wrong about the place. In other words, Jesus’ return was not to earth but to the Heavenly sanctuary as described in Hebrews 8:1-2. This strange idea was promoted by a retired sea captain and Millerite convert named Joseph Bates.5 One of his pamphlets greatly impressed a teenage Millerite girl named Ellen G. Harmon (1827-1915).

The Life of Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White -- SDA "Prophet"Ellen Harmon was the daughter of a family in Portland, Maine. In 1840, at age 12, she accepted Jesus as her Savior. She was baptized and received into the membership of the Methodist Church. Shortly thereafter, her parents began to attend Millerite meetings and became avid followers, confidently expecting the Lord to return in 1844.

In December of 1844, one month after “The Great Disappointment,” this 17 year old girl experienced a vision in which she saw Adventist believers being ushered into Heaven. Her vision was accepted by the Adventist group in Portland as “light from God.”16

In 1846, at age 19, Ellen married a young Adventist preacher named James White. Shortly after their marriage, they were introduced to a tract by Joseph Bates, a Seventh-Day Baptist. It convinced them of the sacredness of the Sabbath, and they began to observe Saturday as the Sabbath. Six months later, in April 1847, Ellen had a vision in which she was shown the Heavenly sanctuary with a halo light around the fourth commandment, establishing it in her mind as the most important of the Ten Commandments.7

In 1850 James and Ellen began publishing a magazine called The Review & Herald. Its purpose was to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. Their publication was instrumental in helping the handful of remaining Millerites to coalesce into a distinctive group. In 1860 they adopted the name, Seventh-Day Adventist Church. They formally incorporated in 1863 with approximately 3,500 members located in 125 churches.8

Ellen White never held any official title as head of the church, but she was always acknowledged as its spiritual leader. She claimed to have the spirit of prophecy, and she claimed that her messages were directly from God.9 Here’s how she put it in her own words:

“I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision — the precious rays of light shining from the throne.”11

James White died in 1881, and in 1888 Ellen published her most famous book, The Great Controversy. Ellen White died in July 1915 at the age of 87. She and her husband are buried in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The Church Today
Today, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church claims to baptize 2,000 people a day. Church membership reached one million between 1955 and 1961, and it hit 5 million in 1986. At the turn of this century, the church claimed 10.7 million members worldwide. Approximately one million of those reside in the United States.12

Much of the phenomenal growth of the church in recent years has been due to the fact that the SDA has been on the cutting edge of media evangelism ever since 1929 when they launched a radio program called “Voice of Prophecy.” In 1956 they began broadcasting the first religious television program to air in color, called “It is Written.” The most effective media thrust began in 1965 as a radio program called “Amazing Facts.” In 1987 this program was converted into a television ministry, and in 1993 it was taken over by Doug Batchelor who has since become the most recognizable face among Adventists.13

Leading SDA SpeakerDoug Batchelor is a very gifted communicator who heads up a team of 12 evangelists who conduct media-spectacular prophecy conferences all across America. Doug’s television program, “Amazing Facts,” is broadcast on several national cable and satellite networks, including the Fox Family Channel, the Black Entertainment Network, the Inspirational Network, the National Network, super station KSBN (SafeTV), and the Three Angels Broadcasting Network. The estimated number of homes the program can now reach within the U.S. exceeds 100 million.14

The Three Angels Network, known as 3ABN, was founded in 1984. It provides a 24-hour satellite service that broadcasts the programs of all major Adventist ministries around the world. There is also a Three Angels Radio Network. Both of these networks are privately run as non-profits, and neither is an official arm of the SDA Church.15

Despite its phenomenal growth in recent years, the SDA has suffered some major internal disputes. One occurred in the 1970’s when Adventist pastors began to question some of the Church’s most cherished doctrines.16 The SDA hierarchy responded by becoming more entrenched in its unorthodox positions. This caused a number of pastors, and even entire congregations, to leave the SDA. Others were asked to leave.

An even greater shaking occurred in the 1980’s when one of the SDA’s leading theologians, Dr. Desmond Ford, prepared a 900 page doctrinal analysis in which he questioned the biblical validity of some of the Church’s most sacred dogmas. The SDA responded by removing Dr. Ford’s ministerial credentials.17 Two years later a book by Walter Rea was published which revealed that a great number of the writings of Ellen G. White were flagrantly plagiarized.18 This revelation undermined the faith of many who had accepted Ellen White as a prophet of God.

The reverberations continue to this day. In August 2005 Doug Batchelor sent out an email message in which he made an amazing admission:

“Literally thousands of Seventh-Day Adventists have fallen away from the church in recent years. According to the General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, in the past ten years alone, over 1.6 million people have requested that their SDA membership be dropped. The annual growth rate within the church has gone from approximately 6%, ten years ago, to a record low of 3.98%.”19

Distinctive Doctrines
There are two distinctive doctrines of the SDA.20 First and foremost is “The Investigative Judgment.”

This is the unbiblical concept that in 1844 Jesus entered “the second and last phase” of His atoning ministry — the work of investigative judgment. Instead of returning to earth on October 22, 1844, as William Miller predicted, Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven and began a review of the works of all believers who have ever lived to determine how faithful they were to the commandments of God. “Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner.”21

According to Ellen White, a person must believe this doctrine to be saved:

“All need a knowledge of the position [in the Holy of Holies] and work [investigative judgment] of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to fill.”22

Twisting Bible Prophecy
There is absolutely no valid biblical basis for this bizarre doctrine. As pointed out earlier, it is based upon a misinterpretation and misapplication of Daniel 8:14. The prophecy concerns the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC). It refers to a restoration of “the holy place” after it has been “trampled.” This occurred when Antiochus took Jerusalem in 167 BC and stopped the sacrifices in the Temple. This led to the Maccabean revolt which succeeded in reconquering Jerusalem. In 164 BC the Jews cleansed and rededicated the Temple. Hanukkah is the eight day festival celebrating this event.

Applying this prophecy to the Heavenly sanctuary is ridiculous. Since when has the Holy of Holies in Heaven ever been defiled or trampled down? Since when has it needed to be restored?

The prophecy also refers to a time period during which the “holy place” will remain desecrated. That time period is “2,300 evenings and mornings.” The King James version translates this to read “2,300 days.” William Miller converted these days into years. SDA teachers defend this conversion on the basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 where prophets were specifically told to interpret days in their prophecies as years. But those verses have no application to Daniel 8:14.

Perverting the Atonement
More significant is the fact that the whole concept of “investigative judgment” is unbiblical and contrary to the true Gospel as revealed in the New Testament. Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven immediately after His Ascension, and not in 1844 (Hebrews 1:3, 6:19-20, 8:1, 9:6-12, 24 and 12:2). His atoning work is not continuing in Heaven. It was finished on the Cross (John 19:30 and Romans 3:24-26). Jesus is currently serving as our High Priest before the Father’s throne (Hebrews 8:1-2).

Further, the Bible teaches that a believer’s sins are both forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12). Believers will never be subjected to a judgment of their works to determine their salvation (John 5:24 and Hebrews 9:28). There is no condemnation for the person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 8:1). The believer can be assured of salvation (1 John 5:13). As believers walk in faith, they experience a continual cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).

The concept of an “investigative judgment” is a blasphemy of the blood of Jesus because it asserts that His death on the Cross was insufficient to guarantee a believer’s salvation. Instead, Jesus must continue His atoning work by evaluating the works of each believer.

This whole concept is nothing but a thinly veiled form of works salvation. Think of it — the SDA member is taught that he can never be sure of his salvation until the judgment work of Jesus is completed and he is certified as one whose works validate his salvation. Here’s how Ellen White put it:

“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their character must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.”23

How could a true prophet of God speak such unbiblical words? The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Ellen White says salvation is by grace plus our own “diligent effort.” The Bible says Jesus will never cease being a believer’s mediator (Hebrews 7:25). Ellen White says that when believers stand before God to be judged, they will be “without a mediator.”

The bottom line regarding the pernicious doctrine of the “investigative judgment” is that it represents a desperate attempt to salvage an incorrect prophecy. William Miller was a sincere Baptist preacher who misinterpreted a biblical passage and inappropriately used it to set a date for the Lord’s return. When his prophecy failed, he took responsibility for his mistake and repented for all the grief and embarrassment he had caused. But his error led to the rise of a true false prophet who spiritualized Miller’s prophecy and then used that spiritualization to manufacture a doctrine that is alien to the Word of God.

Sabbatarianism
The other distinctive SDA doctrine is the one contained in the very name of the group — observance of the seventh day of the week (Saturday) as the Sabbath. Ellen White stated in her writings that observance of the Sabbath is the “greatest” of all the Ten Commandments:

“The pope has changed the day of rest from the seventh to the first day. He has thought to change the very commandment that was given to cause man to remember his Creator. He has thought to change the greatest commandment in the decalogue and thus make himself equal with God…”24

Did you notice that in this statement Ellen White directly contradicts Jesus? What did Jesus say when He was asked to identify the greatest commandment? He said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Ellen White believed so strongly in the necessity of Sabbath-keeping that she asserted that only Sabbath-keepers would be able to resist taking the Mark of the Beast in the end times.25 She truly believed and taught that Sabbath-keeping is a condition of salvation: “I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers.”25

The fact of the matter is that Sabbath-keeping was prescribed by God to the Jewish people. This law was never given to the Gentiles, nor was it given to the Church. The Law of Moses was nailed to the Cross (Colossians 2:14). The death of Jesus inaugurated a New Covenant — a covenant written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 9:15). In His teaching, Jesus emphasized nine of the Ten Commandments and expanded them in scope to apply to our thoughts as well as our actions (Matthew 5-7). He never commanded the Church to observe the Sabbath.

When the Church began to convert Gentiles, the issue arose as to how many of the laws of Judaism the Gentiles would be required to observe. For example, should Gentiles be required to submit to circumcision? The issue was so important that it prompted the convening of the first church council (Acts 15). At that council it was decided that Gentile converts should not be “troubled” with Jewish customs. They were simply told to “abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:20). If Sabbath-keeping was the most important of all commandments, why was it not mentioned?

There is ample evidence that the early Christians met on Sunday from the beginning in order to remember the Lord’s resurrection on that day. References to these meetings can be found in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.

Furthermore, Romans 14 makes it very clear that Sabbath-keeping is no longer a law. In that chapter, Paul states that we have the freedom in Christ to give spiritual significance to any day — or not to do so. What we do not have the freedom to do is to condemn those who give spiritual emphasis to other days (than the ones we choose). Also, Colossians 2:16-17 teaches that the Sabbath was a shadow of things to come. The reality it pointed to was Jesus. Jesus is our Sabbath. We find our rest through faith in Him.27

The Seventh-Day Adventists have every right to worship on Saturday if they so please. What they have no right to do (but what they have always done and continue to do) is condemn those who choose to worship on Sunday.

Characteristics of a Cult
With this survey of the SDA as a basis, let’s return to our original question — Is the Church a legitimate expression of Christianity, or is it a cult?

Let’s begin by defining a cult. You will find dictionary definitions to be so broad and bland as to include “a particular system of religious worship.”28 I prefer to give the term a more technical meaning. To me, a cult is a religious group that masquerades as being Christian. It employs Christian terms, quotes the Bible, and uses Christian symbols. But it is not a true expression of the Christian faith because it teaches a false Jesus or a false Gospel or both.29

1. The Identity of Jesus
First and foremost is the group’s concept of Jesus. Our salvation depends upon our relationship with Jesus — the true Jesus of Nazareth who revealed Himself to the world as God in the flesh (John 14:9-11). There is salvation in no other person (Acts 4:10-12). There is salvation in no other way except through Jesus (John 14:6).

Cults are notorious for presenting a false Jesus. Reverend Sun Myung Moon claims to be the Messiah himself. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim Jesus is the Archangel Michael. The Mormons view Jesus as one of many gods created by the super-god whom they believe is an exalted man.

We can be wrong about many things, but if we are right about Jesus, we can be saved. Likewise, we can be right about many things, but if we are wrong about Jesus, we can be lost. To be saved, we must put our faith in Jesus — the Jesus revealed in the Word of God (John 17:3).

The official creedal statement of the SDA concerning Jesus is very orthodox. He is affirmed as being part of the Trinity, and He is declared to be God in the flesh. His death, resurrection, ascension and second coming are all confirmed. His atoning sacrifice is endorsed. The only unbiblical information about Jesus in the SDA creed is a statement about His ministry in the Heavenly sanctuary — the so-called “investigative judgment.” But this does not affect the personal identity of Jesus.

So, on the surface, the SDA appears to pass the first and most important test. The disturbing problem is that the many Internet websites run by former SDA members all assert that behind the scenes the SDA teaches that Jesus is the Archangel Michael.30 This is the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but unlike the JWs, the SDA also teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh. Further, the SDA teaches that the title, Archangel, does not mean that Jesus was an angel. Rather, it means He was the “chief over the angels.”

This is all very confusing. The more I have studied it, the more convinced I have become that the SDA quietly talks about Jesus being the Archangel Michael because that was the teaching of Ellen G. White,31 but officially and publicly the Church has endorsed the orthodox view of Jesus. It would be refreshing if the SDA would simply drop all the double talk and unequivocally state that Jesus was God in the flesh.

There has been a similar doctrinal shift with regard to the Trinity. Many early Adventists were not Trinitarian. The official SDA hymnal published from 1941 until 1985 reflected ambivalence about the Trinity. For example, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which says, “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity,” was changed to read, “God overall who rules eternally.”32 Today, the creedal statement of the SDA affirms the orthodox view of the Trinity.

2. The Nature of the Gospel
The second characteristic of a cult is the proclamation of a false Gospel. Cults always end up teaching some form of works salvation. This usually leads to the production of a list of “dos and don’ts” which are then rigidly and legalistically enforced by the cult leaders. This is the area where the SDA begins to definitely fail the test.

As I have demonstrated, the SDA teaches a form of works salvation. Instead of asserting that we are saved by grace through faith, they claim we are saved by faith plus works that satisfy the “investigative judgment” plus Sabbath observance. That is not the Gospel of the New Testament, and Paul says that “even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).

3. The Type of Leadership
A third characteristic of a cult is that it is based upon a charismatic founder who considers himself to be either the true Messiah or the last prophet of God. Classic examples are Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, and Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Moonies.

The SDA certainly bears this characteristic since it was founded by a person who claimed to be a messenger of God. The SDA affirms this in its official creedal statement, section 17, entitled “The Gift of Prophecy:”

“One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”33

This is a serious matter since the writings of Ellen G. White are full of biblical errors, inaccurate prophecies, and downright silly commandments. Also, much of her writing is plagiarized.

Her biblical contradictions are extensive in nature. She asserted that the plan of salvation was an afterthought of God following the sin of Adam, whereas the Bible says it was preordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20). She claimed that pre-flood humans mated with animals and produced a sub-human species that was destroyed by the flood. There is no mention of this in the Bible. In fact, the Bible asserts that animals can reproduce only according to their kind (Genesis 1:24-25). Ellen White also wrote that the tower of Babel was built before the flood; that angels (rather than ravens) fed Elijah; that Paul learned the Gospel from men rather than Jesus; that the seal of God is the Sabbath instead of the Holy Spirit; and that we can know the date of the Lord’s return.34

Ellen White’s inaccurate prophecies are also well documented. She endorsed William Miller’s prophecy that Jesus would return in 1844. She proclaimed that salvation for all sinners ended in 1844 when Jesus supposedly entered the Heavenly sanctuary. This was called “the shut door” doctrine. It was conveniently abandoned in 1850. She prophesied that some who were alive in 1856 would live to see the Lord’s return. She predicted that England would enter the Civil War. She claimed she would be one of the 144,000 saints who would be living when Jesus returned. In 1850 she rebuked Bible scholars who were predicting an end time return of the Jews to Israel. She proclaimed that “Old Jerusalem will never be built up.”35

Ellen G. White pontificated about every aspect of life in her writings, and most of her non-biblical comments are an embarrassment today. She wrote that “drug medication… is a curse.” She stated that using medical doctors was a dishonor to God. She denounced the eating of eggs, milk, cream, and butter. In fact, she stated that eating eggs would make your prayer life useless! She spent most of her life advocating a vegetarian diet even though she ate meat herself. She forbid the drinking of tea and coffee and the eating of mustard, pepper, pickles and cinnamon. She put a ban on card playing, chess, and checkers, saying that such games “open the door for great evil.” Picnics and parties were condemned. Tennis, cricket, baseball, and bike riding were labeled “species of idolatry.”36

And these are only a few of her many commandments. Keep in mind this is a woman who claimed to speak for God and who had the audacity to proclaim, “There is one straight chain of truth without one heretical sentence in that which I have written.”37

4. The Source of Authority
The fourth characteristic of a cult is that there are always some extra-biblical writings that are considered to be equal to or superior to the Bible. The Mormons have their Book of Mormon and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own eccentric and highly inaccurate “translation” of the Bible. The Children of God look to the letters of their founder, Moses David (David Berg). The proclamations of Herbert W. Armstrong and Reverend Moon have been considered holy and infallible by their followers.

What is the status of Ellen G. White’s writings among members of the SDA? This is a difficult question to answer. The official creedal statement affirms the Bible as “the infallible revelation of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history.” The statement also says “the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.”38

But all these orthodox declarations about the Bible are qualified by the creedal statement that the writings of Ellen G. White “are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”39

It is confusing, to say the least. What makes it even more so are the many statements by SDA leaders and pastors that leave the clear impression that Ellen White’s writings are considered to be on a level with Scripture:40

“I believe… Mrs. White’s writings are the world’s only inspired Bible commentary.”
— E. E. Cleveland, one time Secretary of the General Conference.

“She did one of the greatest works that I have ever known since John the Revelator. She’s to me one of the greatest prophets that have ever lived. Why? Because she had the same gift that Daniel had…”
— Stanley Harris, SDA pastor.

“Ellen White reinterprets Daniel for our time. And because I fully believe and am convinced that God spoke to and through Ellen White, I accept her writings 100%… I accept her as an inspired writer.”
— Raymond F. Cottrell in a talk to the Association of Adventist Forums. Dr. Cottrell was the former editor of the Adventist Review and served as a collaborator on the Seventh Day Adventist Bible Commentary series.

In 1928 the SDA issued an official position paper on the writings of Ellen G. White. It said, “As Samuel was a prophet of Israel for his day, as Jeremiah was a prophet of Israel in the days of captivity, as John the Baptist came as a special messenger of the Lord to prepare the way for Christ’s coming, so we believe that Mrs. White was a prophet to the Church of Christ today.”41

In the October 1981 issue of the SDA Ministry Magazine, the following statement was made about the writings of Ellen White: “We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other.”41

In recent years, the status of Ellen White’s writings has been a source of constant internal debate and strife. This conflict motivated the current president of the SDA, Jan Paulsen, to make the following statement at the May 2002 General Conference:

“A further word needs to be said about our being ‘loyal to our heritage and to our identity.’ Some would have us believe that there have been significant shifts in recent times in regard to doctrines that historically have been at the heart of Seventh-Day Adventism.

The historic sanctuary message [‘investigative judgment’], based on Scripture and supported by the writings of Ellen White, continues to be held unequivocally. And the inspired authority on which these and other doctrines are based, namely the Bible, supported by the writings of Ellen White, continue to be the hermeneutical foundation on which we as a church place all matters of faith and conduct. Let no one think there has been a change of position in regard to this.”42

Notice carefully the wording, “the Bible, supported by the writings of Ellen White.” Does the Bible really need the affirmation of an external, human writer? I think this statement makes it clear that to this day the leadership of the SDA considers the writings of Ellen G. White to be on a par with the Scriptures, and that is clearly a cultic characteristic.

5. Attitude Toward Others
A fifth characteristic of cults is their exclusivistic and sectarian attitude. They always view themselves as God’s only true church and refuse to have anything to do with other Christian groups. They also tend to be secretive in nature — as evidenced by the secret temple rites of the Mormons.

Once again, the SDA fits the bill. In her early writings, Ellen G. White condemned Christendom as “Babylon” and asserted that the SDA was the “Remnant Church.” As recently as their 2000 worldwide General Conference meeting they passed a resolution affirming this belief. They continue to refer to other Christians as “apostate Protestants,” “Babylon,” “Sunday-keepers,” or “sheep that have not yet come into the fold.”43 A former Adventist has expressed it this way:

“Adventists are taught from childhood that they are God’s only true church on earth and that they are God’s remnant people. They are taught that they have the “truth” and all other Christians are wrong and are apostate.”44

SDA leaders have toned down their public statement of these sentiments in recent years because of their desire to gain acceptance as a legitimate expression of Christianity. Another motive has been the desire to gain access to Christian television and radio networks. Their strategy has worked, but the change in attitude is only cosmetic in nature.

Although the SDA operates much more openly than do the Mormons and JWs, they are still characterized by a commitment to secrecy when it comes to interacting with the public. This is manifested in the way they try to hide their identity when attempting to communicate with non-members.

None of their media ministries identify themselves as being affiliated with the SDA. When one of their prophecy seminars comes to town, the area’s mailboxes will be flooded with beautiful, eye-catching, full color brochures that never reveal any SDA connection. The seminars are always held at a neutral site like a hotel ballroom, and they literally sneak up on the audience with their SDA doctrines. Here is how a participant has described the experience:

“Their prophecy seminars take you through a very well developed prophetic scenario, amazingly illustrated and convincing. They give you lots of free stuff to keep you coming night after night. Then, on the last night, the real agenda appears — they reveal the secret, coded, ‘scriptural’ information: all those who reject Sabbath worship will receive the ‘Mark of the Beast.’”45

Their publications do not reveal their SDA origin or affiliation. Either the publisher is not identified or the publisher is a non-descript entity like “Pacific Press” or “Pilgrims’ Press.” Ellen White’s most famous book, The Great Controversy, is often distributed under the title, America in Prophecy. And her name on the title page is often printed as “E. G. White.” This is obviously done to hide her gender and to keep her from being easily recognized.

Since beginning my in-depth research on the SDA, I have gotten on several of their mailing lists. I recently received a mailing from their number one media outlet, Amazing Facts. The mailing encouraged me to distribute a video called “The Final Events of Bible Prophecy.” It gave detailed instructions about how to go door-to-door in an effort to convince all my neighbors to watch this propaganda piece.

Part E of the instructions was entitled, “Addressing Denominational Questions.” I was told that if I were asked, “What church are you with?” I was to reply: “I am representing Amazing Facts, a Christian ministry that provides Bible study resources for people of all different faiths. My goal is to encourage others to read the Bible and learn how to find God.”46 In short, do not reveal that you are in any way related to the SDA! This is deception, pure and simple.

6. The Type of Governance
The sixth and final characteristic of a cult relates to governance. The cults tend to be authoritarian, dictatorial, and sometimes even totalitarian. Someone at the top — either an individual or a collective group — calls all the shots. The classic example of this trait can be found among the Mormons and JWs.

The SDA does not appear to be as controlling as these groups, but there is little tolerance for divergent views or independent thought. The fate of Dr. Desmond Ford, mentioned earlier, is a good example of how rigid the SDA is with regard to doctrine.47

Christian or Cultic?
So, where does this leave us? Is the SDA a cult or not? I have proposed six tests. The SDA failed all but one of them — the one concerning the identity of Jesus. And there are serious questions about that one.

I am convinced that Walter Martin declassified the SDA as a cult in 1965 because he became convinced that they had an orthodox view of Jesus. To him, that was the acid test. I would agree that it is the most important one, but the group’s perverted concept of the Gospel must be ranked as almost equal in importance because of Paul’s warning in Galatians 1:8-9.

I therefore must conclude that the SDA should be considered a cult until they are willing to repudiate the “Investigative Judgment” doctrine and are willing to clearly state that the Bible, and not the writings of Ellen G. White, is their final authority in all matters.

After I concluded this essay, I decided to contact Dr. Ron Carlson, the man who is considered to be Christendom’s foremost expert on the cults today. I asked him for a statement about the SDA, and this is what he wrote in response:

“As you may know, Walter Martin was my mentor and dear friend for 20 years and spoke at my ordination. I was to have lunch with him the day he died in 1989.

Walter had a real influence on many of the SDA leaders in the 70’s and early 80’s seeking to move them to a Biblical position. Many were, and there was hope for the SDA Church.

What has happened in the last 20 years is that nearly 50% of the SDA pastors and leaders who were seeking to move it to an evangelical position have all been ‘kicked’ out or left the SDA. The people who are now in control have moved the organization back to following the teachings of Ellen G. White and denying some basic doctrines of Biblical Christianity. In fact, their official position is that if you do not worship on Saturday you are not a Christian and will not go to Heaven. Sunday worship is the mark of the beast. They are clearly today a false Cult.”48

Notes

  1. Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Bethany House, 1965), p. 517.
  2. Walter Martin, The Rise of the Cults (Zondervan, 1955).
  3. Walter Martin, Appearance on the John Ankerberg TV show in January 1985,
    www.macgregorministries.org/seventh_day_adventists/sda_facts.html, p. 10 (01/02/2006).
  4. For a detailed article about William Miller see William Miller: The Sincerely Deceived Prophet by David R. Reagan, (05/16/2006).
  5. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM), “The History of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church,” www.carm.org/sda/history.htm, p. 1 (02/04/ 2006).
  6. Arthur L. White, “Ellen G. White: A Brief Biography,”
    www.white estate.org/about/egwbio.asp, p. 2 (02/23/2006).
  7. Ibid.
  8. Melton, J. Gordon , Encyclopedia of American Religion, Volume 2, (McGrath Publishing Co., 1978) p. 681.
  9. Dr. Michael E. Todd, “Truth or Fable? Ellen G. White and the Seventh-Day Adventist Movement,” www.biblebelievers.com/SDA/ SDA1.html, p. 13 (02/ 23/2006).
  10. Maurice Barnett, “Ellen G. White and Inspiration” (Gospel Anchor Publishing Co., 1983) pp. 5-17.
  11. Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, (Review & Herald, 1980) p. 27.
  12. Wikipedia, “Seventh-Day Adventist Church,”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh-Day_Adventist, p. 7 (12/30/2005).
  13. Answers.com, “Seventh-Day Adventists,”
    www.answers.com/topic/seventh-day-adventist-church, pp. 3-4 (01/02/2006).
  14. Doug Batchelor, “The Story of Amazing Facts,” flyer produced by Amazing Facts, Inc., P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, CA 95678. Further information can be found at www.amazingfacts.org.
  15. Answers.com, p. 4.
  16. Geoffrey J. Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism (Baker Books, 1984).
  17. Good News Unlimited, “Des Ford,” www.goodnewsunlimited.org/bioford.cfm.
  18. Walter T. Rea, The White Lie (M & R Publishers, 1982). For a good summary of the evidence of plagiarism presented by this book, see the article by Walter Rea entitled “Ellen G. White: Prophet or Plagiarist?” www.bible.ca/7-WL-exhibits-Great-Contro.htm (02/26/2006).
  19. Email message dated August 17, 2005 from Amazing Facts Ministry.
  20. A detailed analysis of SDA doctrines can be found in the book, The Cultic Doctrine of the Seventh-Day Adventists (Life Assurance Ministries, 1996). This book was written by a former SDA pastor, Dale Ratzlaff.
  21. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Pacific Press, 1950), pp. 480-488.
  22. Ibid., pp. 488-489.
  23. Ibid., p. 425.
  24. Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Review & Herald, 1963), p. 65.
  25. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 605.
  26. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, pp. 32-33.
  27. For an excellent discussion of the Sabbath issue, see: CARM. “Does the Bible allow Christians to worship on Sunday?” www.carm.org/sda/sunday.htm (02/04/2006).
  28. The American College Dictionary (Random House, 1967).
  29. For more detailed information about cults, see The Deception of the Cults by Dr. David R. Reagan, (05/16/2006).
  30. See, for example, SDA Outreach, “Jesus is not Michael the Archangel,”
    www.sdaoutreach.org/Home/Articles/JesusisNotMichael/tabid/482/Default.aspx (05/13/2006).
  31. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Review & Herald, 1958), p. 761: “Jesus was revealed to them as the Angel of Jehovah, the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Michael the Archangel.”
  32. SDA Outreach, “Jesus is not Michael the Archangel.”
  33. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, “Fundamental Beliefs,”
    www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html (05/14/2006).
  34. Dr. Michael E. Todd, “Truth or Fable? Ellen G. White Contradicts the Bible,” www.biblebelievers.com/SDA/SDA1.html (02/23/2006).
  35. “Ellen G. White’s Failed Prophecy,” www.bible.ca/7-prophecy-blunders.htm, pp. 1-6 (02/23/2006).
  36. The Ellen White Research Project, “Thus Saith Ellen White: The Rules and Regulations of Ellen White,” www.ellenwhite.org/egw30.htm, pp. 1-15 (05/13/ 2006).
  37. Dr. Michael E. Todd, “Truth or Fable?” www.biblebelievers.com/SDA/SDA1.html, p. 2 (02/23/2006).
  38. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, “Fundamental Beliefs.” See #32 above.
  39. Ibid.
  40. The Interactive Bible, “Seventh-Day Adventists: They alone view Ellen G. White as an inspired prophet!” www.bible.ca/7-WhiteInspire.htm, pp. 5-9 (02/ 23/2006).
  41. Ibid.
  42. MacGregor Ministries, “Facts Seventh-Day Adventists Won’t Tell You,”
    www.macgregorministries.org/seventh-day-adventists/sda-facts.html, p. 2 (01/02/2006).
  43. Jan Paulsen, “Perspectives on Issues Facing the World Seventh-Day Adventist Church,” Adventist Review, May 2002.
  44. SDA Outreach, “Frequently Asked Questions about Seventh-Day Adventism,”
    www.sdaoutreach.org/Home/FAQ/tabid/61/Default.aspx, p. 3 (01/ 02/ 2006).
  45. Email message to the author from Tim Osterholm dated 01/16/2006.
  46. Amazing Facts, “Inside Report,” Jan/Feb 2006, p. 18.
  47. Good News Unlimited, “Des Ford,” see #17 above.
  48. Email message to the author from Ron Carlson in May 2006.###

Original Article: http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-seventh-day-adventists/

Dr. David R. Reagan is the founder of Lamb & Lion Ministries and serves as its Senior Evangelist. He holds several graduate and postgraduate degrees, has authored numerous books and widely published essays and papers, and is the host of the weekly television program, Christ in Prophecy, broadcast nationally and internationally on seven Christian networks, reaching hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

[Editor’s Note: SDA’s also espouse unscriptural strict dietary beliefs to include vegetarianism, as well as strange doctrines regarding blood and the preservation of the body postmortem based on their unorthodox doctrines concerning judgment, all of which have been problematic in the operations and management of the fairly extensive network of denomination-owned hospitals. These issues are particularly important now relative to longtime SDA member 2016 Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, whose primary base of operations during his lengthy career as neurosurgeon prior to his retirement was in the SDA’s hospital system.]

[Update—12-03-15: In a Washington Post interview, 2016 Presidential candidate Ben Carson states he does not believe in Hell and that it is a literal place. He also stated he does not believe in the concept of the “Rapture,” considered by most Christian theologians to be an orthodox Biblical doctrine, though several differing views regarding its timing exist. Read Charisma article.]

10 Differences Between Real Pastors and Hyped-Up Entertainers
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders:

1. Entertainers’ primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts are deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example, if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Mat. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often disdained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adopters” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are countercultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example, good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God than garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and give God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that comes from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

caution-controlling-leadership

For nearly forty years now, I have been doing all I possibly can to teach, preach, and warn believers about the prevalent problem of authoritarian abuse in the church-realm at large and in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal streams in particular. I’ve preached sermons, published audios of sermons, written scores and scores of articles, authored and published books, conducted teaching seminars, counseled hundreds of victims, and basically talked to everyone about this dastardly device of the devil who would listen (or pretend to) for five minutes about it over the span of four decades. I wish I could report (if for no one else’s edification than my own) that there is evidence that my efforts have had a powerful impact or made strong inroads into combating this insidious and spiritually decimating activity of the kingdom of darkness in the collective church as well as in individual believer’s lives. I really do. But, sadly, I cannot.

Oh, hundreds of the thousands who have obtained (can’t say “read,” because the publishing industry’s own research indicates that less than 20% of all books purchased are read by their purchasers and less than half of that number read entirely) the two books I authored on the subject so far in their various published formats (print, ebook [PDF], epub, Kindle, Nook) — Charismatic Captivation and Charismatic Control — have corresponded via some medium to tell me how the books helped to them, and some that it most literally “saved” them from the destructive effects of victimization of authoritarian abuse upon their life. How could that not be extremely encouraging and edifying? After all, that was the primary motivation for spending three and half years writing the book (I guess I’m a slow writer).

Certainly, I’m grateful and exceedingly humbled that God would chose to use me and my paltry efforts to actually help someone with regard to their spiritual life, psychological being, and relationship with the Lord. Though the negative “cost” upon my own life and ministry for my has been extreme, in some aspects excruciating, and at times, from an earthly perspective, seemingly excessive, yet such temporal and transient afflictions are superseded by the real assurance that beyond the fleeting vapor of this mortal segment of life rewards — substantial and significant rewards — await. It is for those “joys of the master” that we toil, enduring the hardships inuring from our labors of evangelism and fulfilling our ministry callings (2 Tim. 4:5). Continue reading “Identifying Hyper-authoritarian Doctrines and Practices” »