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Category Archives: Apostasy

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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” »

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)” »

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!” »

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” »

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.

pope-francis-usa-visit

SEVEN REASONS WHY I AM NOT A ROMAN CATHOLIC
By Joseph Mattera

With the election of Pope Francis and his imminent visit to the United States, there is a resurgent interest in the Roman Catholic Church. It is without dispute that the Roman Catholic Church is a major force in the earth with 1.5 billion adherents, its roots in the first century church, it has historically been an amazing bulwark against the secular humanistic tide of liberal social values, and has a vast array of effective institutions such as universities, hospitals, charitable organizations and adoption agencies to name a few.

It also goes without saying that the divisions in the church since the first millennia have weakened the influence of Christianity in the nations. (I wish there was never a split between the Roman and Eastern Church, and then between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Church.) Also, Vatican II made many good and necessary changes that made the Roman Catholic Church more relevant and biblical.

Furthermore, I have worked closely with many Roman Catholic leaders who were just as committed to scripture as I am, and I also know many who have a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, why am I not a Roman Catholic practitioner? (Keep in mind that I was raised a Roman Catholic.)

The following are seven reasons why I am not a Roman Catholic:

1. They have institutional unity without oneness with the Father and Son (John 17:20-23).

No doubt the Roman Catholic Church has a strong understanding of the church (ecclesiology) that outshines most Protestants and Evangelicals. However, their claim to be the one true Catholic (universal) church is undermined by their distinct “Roman” name. As soon as you say “Roman” you demonstrate that it is only one aspect of God’s church and not representative of the whole Body.

Also, just because they have organizational unity and historical continuity does not mean they function in the “oneness” demanded by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23. This biblical oneness first and foremost is spiritual and organic because it is supposed to mimic the ontological oneness of Jesus and the Father. Many make the mistake of equating political, programmatic, hierarchical and institutional unity for biblical oneness. You can have this kind of unity without spirituality. The oneness Jesus described implied a spiritual, mystical unity that transcends titles and structures, resulting in spiritual power that causes the world to believe in Jesus.

Although the Protestant Reformation resulted in thousands of denominations, those congregations and individuals that preach the gospel and uphold the Word of God have a commonality that unifies them irrespective of institutional structures.

2. They believe in papal authority over the church universal.

As much as I like the present pope as person, he has no biblical grounds to be the titular head of the church universal. Just a cursory reading of the book of Acts 11-15 shows that the Apostle Peter deferred to James (half-brother of the Lord Jesus) as the apostolic leader of the church. Since the Pope claims apostolic succession from Peter, this biblical narrative undermines the Petrine view of papal authority.

Also, reading church history shows that in the first five centuries of the church, there was never universal acclaim that the bishop of Rome was the bishop over all other bishops. The bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople as well as those from several other cities, all vied for positions of power and did not initially cede their final authority to Rome. Furthermore, one of the primary reasons the Eastern Church separated from Rome approximately 1000 years ago was because they refused to recognize ultimate papal authority.

Consequently, there is no substantive biblical or historical proof that the bishop of Rome was set up by the Apostle Peter (or by God) as the bishop of all other bishops.

3. They practice Mary worship.

While I believe that Mary was the most blessed of all people because she had the privilege of giving birth (as a virgin) to the lord Jesus Christ, to say that she is the greatest human ever born (besides Christ) is unbiblical, because Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest human ever born. (Matthew 11:11, since Mary was also born of a woman, John was greater than her.)

The fact that many in the Roman Catholic Church worship Mary is seen in the following popular Roman Catholic song devoted to Mary;

“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears? Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”

While there are various views regarding Mary, the fact that the Roman Catholic Church prays to her to intervene on our behalf in such prayers as the “Hail Mary” and “Rosary”, violates what Jesus taught us in John 14-16 when He taught the church to ask the Father in the Name of Jesus. Furthermore, 2 Timothy 2:5 says that there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. So to ask Mary or any of the saints to go to the Father on our behalf is against the clear teaching of scripture.

There are supposedly five major dogmas regarding Mariology (the study of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church).

The first one, in the Council of Ephesus is biblical, but the next four dogmas are as unbiblical as you can get! Basically saying that she ascended body and soul into heaven without sin, that she was co-redemptrix with Jesus, that she was born without original sin and that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. (Matthew 13:55-56 mentions the names of the other children Mary had with Joseph and Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph knew her not (did not have intercourse) until after the birth of Christ, implying that she did not remain a virgin.)

Romans 6:23 also teaches that all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Mary notwithstanding!

Check out the following five dogmas related to Mary.

“Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh. Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Mary, at her conception, was preserved immaculate from Original Sin. ‘Perpetual virginity of Mary’, means that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth.”

Although there are only four Marian dogmas, popular support for a “fifth Marian dogma” which establishes Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix appeared in the 20th century both from lay groups and the clergy. According to L’Osservatore Romano, in 1996 the Holy See formed a commission to seek the opinion of scholars regarding the possibility and the opportuneness of establishing a fifth Marian dogma on Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. A lay movement called Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici is promoting the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix and provides petitions that can be signed by Roman Catholics at large and sent to the Pope in support of a formal dogmatic definition.

4. They practice celibacy in the priesthood.

The first command God gave Adam and Eve was to bear fruit and multiply (Genesis 1:28), which means as a married couple they were to have children. 1 Timothy 4:3 says that those who forbid marriage are teaching a doctrine of demons! To force men and women who want to serve God to take vows of poverty and remain celibate opened up a door for many sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. It is not good that man should be alone and marriage is a sacred sacrament instituted personally by God. I totally disagree with the Roman Catholic Church in this area and cannot support such a doctrine. (Of course, it is cheaper for the Roman Catholic Church to support single men and women then those who get married and have children. So this doctrine may also be driven by economics more than theology.)

5. They equate church traditions and canon law as equal to the writings of the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that since the church gave scripture, the church has a right to change it. Hence, they place church traditions, which arose out of their various councils and canon law, on equal ground and/or above the Bible. This is why they can and will continue to hold to unbiblical doctrines such as praying for the departed saints, asking the saints in heaven to intercede for them, purgatory, and infant baptism (paedo baptism) to name a few. (Not even Vatican II corrected the error regarding tradition and scripture.)

6. They have allowed a culture of secularism in their seminaries.

By and large, the Roman Catholic Church places natural law as either above or equal to the Bible in regards to epistemology (the process of discovering truth). Consequently, when a person attends a Roman Catholic Church seminary to study for the priesthood, they will probably learn that classical philosophy; anthropology, sociology, psychology, and all the sciences, serve as the primary grid for determining truth while the Bible is used as an ancillary epistemological tool at best.

Furthermore, when they determine that science and the Bible clash, the biblical narrative is regarded as myth and parabolic. It’s no wonder that many priests, nuns and bishops have a liberal higher critical view of the Bible which eventually leads to dumbing down the Bible to fit cultural norms.

7. They violate the spirit of the teachings of Christ as found in Matthew 23.

Generally as we read this amazing discourse of Christ, He compares man-made religion with the true faith. Man-made religion focuses on hierarchical structures, titles, pomp, institutional power, religious attire, and man-made traditions more than inward holiness and relational faith. The Roman Catholic Church generally seems to fit into this framework. Many in these structures have a form of godliness but deny the power (2 Timothy 3: 5).

This is not to say that just because someone has a high church service and wears clerical garb that they are not manifesting true Christianity. However, from my perspective, the Roman Catholic Church is a massive institutional structure that too often emphasizes the ritual over knowing the manifest person and presence of Christ. (Of course, you can also place some Orthodox and Protestant groups in this Matthew 23 category as well.)

All creation yearns for the true manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), and our world will not be transformed with mere religion and ritual.

In closing, in spite of all of the above, I still hope and pray for a greater working relationship between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, especially as concerning biblical ethics in culture and freedom of religion (First Amendment issues). As persecution becomes more intense, we will all be forced to work closer together. We probably have more in common than that which divides us. My prayer is also that all expressions of Christianity including Protestant Evangelicalism become more biblical and Christ-like so the world will believe that Jesus was sent by the Father.

[Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-why-i-am-not-a-roman-catholic/]

[The following article is an excerpt from Breaking Generational Curses & Pulling Down Strongholds, by Vito Rallo. Demonstrating the known need by believers and no doubt non-believers and agnostics as well for understanding on how to be liberated from generational curses and familial demonic strongholds, is the fact that this book is listed on Creation House’s website as the number three best seller of all time in their nearly four decades of book publishing. The fact that the original version was finished and copyrighted in 1999, predating the current homosexuality-crazed atmosphere by more than a decade and a half, demonstrates undeniably that this book contains a prophetic message. Yet, it is a testament to the humility of this poignant and powerful work’s adept writing team, Vito Rallo and his wife Pat, that when I had the joy and delightful experience earlier this year of sharing a delectable breakfast at one of my favorite purveyors of same, located in my stomping grounds of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, not once did they mention anything about the rarefied enduring success of this book in terms of its sales history and global distribution. As the title indicates, this magnum opus on the subject matter, addresses head-on the pervasive and pragmatic problem of generational curses and the class of demonic strongholds that are so frequently passed down through family lineages. Anyone who has worked in the ministry of deliverance such as I have for nearly forty years, knows well that generational curses and inherited satanic bondage is a very real and very common problem among those who have become believers in Christ. Deliverance ministers will also tell you that the most common and detrimental issue they have to deal with in helping believers find liberty from these unwanted devilish chains keeping them bound in soulish rebellion and acts of sin is the deceptive expectation held by so many believers that when they surrendered to Christ and were Born Again every form of demonic bondage and its causes should have been immediately broken and every remnant of it removed from their life, and they are completely befuddled and despondent when after some time of attempting to live the Christian life that that idealistic but Biblically unsupported expectation did not happen as they had believed. The curse of sexual sins, as this excerpted chapter of the book is entitled, may be the most prevalent and destructive of all inherited sins. We can see that in the accounts of family histories recorded in the Bible, throughout human history, and the knowledgeable and discerning can see its ubiquitous manifestations in present human existence. The curse of sexual sin and its resultant demonic strongholds is the chief unseen cause behind the current societal conflagration consuming American life and culture over the satanic proliferation of homosexuality in all its forms and offshoots being summarized under the banner of LGBTQ. Some of the most powerful, defiling, and personally decimating demons of the devil’s domain are those that are the primary source of the profane and perverse lust and blasphemy against God of homosexuality in all its forms — i.e., any and all forms of same-sex sexual acts. Nothing in Satan’s arsenal is more dehumanizing and diminishing to humans than homosexuality. It demotes those it influences from the glorious estate of having been made in the image of God and being a reflector of His Light (i.e., divine Essence) to being a refractor of same and being a reflection of the archangel formerly named, Lucifer, who’s name meant Light-Reflecter or -Bearer. Admittedly, this article is a bit long, but I thought it important to keep it in tact so as not to hinder the conveyance of its vital message. At the top right is an icon for converting the article to a PDF that readers can then download, save, view/print, if that makes the reading of it easier or more convenient. —Editor]

The Curse of Sexual Sins
By Vito Rallo

God comes down harder on sexual sins than any other kind of sin. The Bible deals extensively with sexual sins. Continue reading “The Curse of Sexual Sins” »

Open Letter to Tony Campolo
By Michael L. Brown, PhD

Dear Tony,
Dr. Tony CampoloIn the spirit of your public statement released yesterday, urging churches to welcome same-sex couples, I’m writing this open letter to you, appealing to you to reconsider your decision before you bring further reproach to the gospel and hurt those you want to help.

Like you, I’m a professor as well as a gospel preacher, and I have always appreciated your willingness to tackle controversial issues, not caring who you will offend, willing to rock the boat and unsettle Christians from their cozy and safe belief systems if you felt it was in the interest of truth and justice.

This time, however, you have offended the Lord, rejecting the clear testimony of His Word and – as could be expected, given your stance – not citing a single scripture in support of your new position.

I know that your wife Peggy has long been an out and proud advocate of same-sex “marriage” and that, for a number of years, you have believed that it is impossible for a person to change his or her sexual orientation. You have even explored the possibility of non-sexual, church-blessed, romantic same-sex relationships. Now, you have taken the inevitable next step in giving your full backing to practicing homosexual couples, calling on the church to support and embrace them.

May I ask, Tony, what it was that stopped you from embracing this position years ago? Was it not the clear and unambiguous testimony of the Bible?

Surely your emotions wanted you to embrace same-sex couples.

Surely your compassion wanted you to put your arms around a gay college student and tell him that following Jesus did not preclude him from having an intimate relationship with another man.

Yet you were held back by the teaching of Scripture, knowing that God’s Word emphatically states that God created men for women and women for men, that marriage, in its divinely intended form, was the lifelong union of a man and a woman, and that homosexual practice was strictly forbidden in all circumstances.

When did any of that change? When did the Bible suddenly become unclear on the subject? As a gay atheist wrote last month in the aftermath of Ireland’s vote to redefine marriage, “the conservative Catholic’s only proper response to news such as that from Dublin . . . is that 62 per cent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin.”

What a terrible shame it is that a gay atheist has clearer moral boundaries and better biblical instincts than you, dear sir.

I believe you when you say you’ve heard all the biblical arguments on the subject and I don’t doubt that, “It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”

And I recognize that it may be too late for any of us to reach you at this juncture in your life (are you really 80 already?). Still, I join my voice with others, in the spirit of James 5:19-20, and urge you to recognize that you are committing a grave sin against the Lord, against His church, and against your LGBT friends by espousing this new position. In fact, you are now complicit in the potential deception and destruction of both believers and unbelievers alike.

You say it was your reflection on the meaning of marriage that ultimately brought about your change of heart, but can you really pick up your Bible and tell the world that there is a single verse that supports the “marriage” of two men or two women? Are you really willing to preside at a wedding ceremony and say, “I now pronounce you husband and husband” (or, wife and wife)? And in your heart of hearts, do you honestly believe that God designed a man to be with a man (or vice versa) and that when a gay couple comes together in the act of sodomy, that their intimacy now sanctifies that forbidden practice?

Tony, when same-sex couples read the Word, what do they do with verses like, “Wives, submit to your husbands” and “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:24-25)? Which one is the husband and which the wife? What do you (and they) do with the fact that there is not one single positive reference to homosexuality in the Bible and, no matter how “inclusive” churches might be, gay couples must live with that reality (not to mention the reality that every reference to homosexual practice is condemned in the strongest of terms)?

You wrote, “When we sing the old invitation hymn, ‘Just As I Am’, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too.”

But it is true for them, just like the rest of us: We come to Jesus in our brokenness and sin, and He transforms us by His grace, just like He transformed (rather than affirmed) the tax collectors and prostitutes of His day.

As for the possibility of change, I personally know former homosexuals who experienced true change in their sexual orientation (either by the power of the gospel, counseling, or both), while I know others who experienced no change in their orientation but who are committed, nonetheless, to follow the Lord, living blessed and joyful celibate lives, declaring to the world that Jesus is enough.

I absolutely join you in calling on the church to have a heart of compassion for those who identify as LGBT, and I join you in urging us to reach out to the marginalized and disenfranchised. May we all emulate our Savior in this regard.

But under no circumstances can I join you in your apostasy from God’s Word in terms of the meaning of marriage and the standards of sexual morality, and I pray that our Lord would have mercy on you (and Peggy) and grant you repentance.

With your typical candor, you stated that, “I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about” the position you are now espousing.

You are wrong, dear sir, and unless you were absolutely 100% sure of the scriptural truth of your position, you would have done far more good to keep silent than to speak. That would have been the least we could have asked for a leader of your stature.

As it is, however, you have a taught an important (and cautionary) lesson to many others: If you play too close to the edge, eventually you will fall in.

Should you wish to dialogue with me in private or in a public setting, my door remains wide open.###

Source: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50039-an-open-letter-to-tony-campolo

[Editor’s note: Our beliefs and response to this clear case of apostasy by a prominent Evangelical/Baptist professor and author is and would be (if we were to write such an open letter) much stronger than Dr. Brown’s, and his response falls far short of our sentiments. Our assumption, though we wouldn’t purport to speak for him, is that Dr. Brown’s assumption in the writing of this letter of appeal that Dr. Campolo’s apostasy is not yet so “seared in (his) conscience” that he is incapable of reconsidering his position and recent statements. Perhaps this somewhat muted approach is the result of Dr. Brown seasoning the matter with Godly grace and mercy, which would be laudable, but our sense is that even if Dr. Campolo chooses to walk back his comments, it will only be due to the hue and cry his statement engendered, and not due to a genuine change of heart. In other words, we think, Campolo’s views are indeed seared in his conscience already and have been for quite some time. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.]

IS “GRAVE SUCKING” ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF “CHARISMANIA”?
By Joseph Mattera

grave-sucking

There is something gaining more attention in some circles of the charismatic world called “grave sucking”.

Evidently, this refers to the practice of a believer going to the grave of a departed saint they revere (for example, Charles Finney or Kathryn Kuhlman) and lay on top of it and/or kneel in front of it so they can receive an impartation of the anointing (or mantle) of the departed saint.

This is nothing new. I heard several decades ago that Benny Hinn supposedly visited the gravesite of evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman to get her healing anointing. I also heard recently that a respected prophetic teacher I know visited the grave of Charles Finney (19th century revivalist) and had a tremendous experience with God as He renewed his vision and call to revive America. (Not sure this one exactly fits in the same category or that this leader would consider his experience “grave sucking”.) [We’re pretty sure by that leader’s explanation that it does NOT fit in the same category and that he does not consider his experience “grave sucking.” —Editor]

Also, regarding the possible connection between a manifestation of God at the grave of a departed saint, there is a story in 2 Kings 13:20-22 in which a person came back to life after he was inadvertently thrown into the grave of Elisha the prophet and happened to touch his bones!

While I am sure there are many well-intentioned and even some effective ministers who practice “grave sucking,” I have serious concerns regarding it. [We do not share this view that any ministers who practice it are well-intentioned or that they are “effective ministers,” except for the kingdom of darkness. One of the “effective ministers” the author is no doubt referring to is the New Age Neo-Charismatic leader of Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Bill Johnson, whose endorsement and encouragement of the practice was recently addressed in SLM. —Editor]

Before I list these concerns I want to say up front that I appreciate the fact that there is now more and more respect for church history. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-2 teaches us that the present day church is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses; this refers to the saints who have passed on to glory before us. This means that the church of the past is connected to the present and future church and that the First Testament saints are part of the New Testament church!

To be fair, I think any time we come face to face with a significant historical artifact, it can have a profound effect on us because the reality of the biblical or historical story becomes more real. This is why we visit museums; this is why many people are greatly affected when they visit one of the death camps of the Nazi Jewish Holocaust and why many Christians go to Israel and are blessed. It is an amazing experience to see firsthand the land of the Bible and to physically see the places where the saints of old walked with God.

I am sure that if I visited the grave of one of my heroes like Finney, Calvin or Luther, I would be greatly blessed. Not because their anointing is still in the grave but because the physical marker (their graves) may aid me in believing and remembering their lives and legacies, which could open me up by faith to go to another level with God. If that is all these so called “grave suckers” are doing then I am fine with it.

However, this is not the impression I am getting from what I have heard.

The following are seven concerns I have about grave sucking:

1. It distracts from the true power source of our anointing.

The Word of God is clear that the true source of our anointing is from God (Acts 1:8). James 4:4 teaches that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1 and 119, and 2 Timothy 3:15-16 teach that meditation on the word day and night is the key to our biblical success. Many charismatics want shortcuts to the anointing and desire results from an instant microwave experience or a one-time event. Instead of wasting their time traveling to “grave suck”, they should discipline themselves to seek God, pour over His word and dig down deep in His presence.

2. We get equipped for the work of the ministry by the present-day fivefold ministry gifts.

Ephesians 4:7-12 teach us that the grace we need to minister comes from the ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Reading the context of the Bible clearly shows that the equipping and grace/impartation we need comes from those we are sitting under and trained by, not those who have already died. Hence, the spirit that was on Moses came upon 70 elders (Numbers 12) and then upon Joshua (Numbers 27) to help equip them to lead, but that experience was handed down personally to those who walked with Moses. We do not read about others in later generations getting Moses’ spirit; the same when Elijah passed his mantle onto Elisha.

Regarding John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17-19): that was referring to God divinely placing an assignment upon John from birth, it did not come from John finding Elijah’s grave and sucking out the anointing! Furthermore, John was carrying on the next phase of a ministry Elijah started and was perhaps the last in a line of prophets from the school of the prophets Elijah led at one time (which was started by the prophet Samuel).

Hence, the anointing, spiritual DNA and legacy of a person can be extended generationally via a divine assignment and/or training and impartation, but not through “grave sucking”.

3. The only spirit of a departed person that is promised is the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His followers after He left the earth (John 14-16) which He said would empower us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Consequently, the spirits of the departed saints are not sent down from heaven nor are they dispensed from the place where their bodies were buried.

4. It can make an experiential doctrine out of a mysterious unique biblical story.

As mentioned, 2 Kings 13 gives us a story of a person who came back to life after touching the bones of Elisha. Some have no doubt that the power of God was still in his grave and/or that the miracle-working anointing of Elisha was still residually present on his bones. We have to remember that this is a strange, unique, mysterious story and that it is dangerous to formulate a doctrine and/or practice based on one obscure passage. This is how cults have started. We need to compare scripture with scripture and if there is an isolated obscure passage we encounter, then we should refrain from conjecture and not make a doctrine out of it until we can establish a clear biblical pattern. Also, it must be noted that the person in this passage was raised from the dead. The Bible does not indicate that he received Elisha’s anointing, mantle or became a prophet.

Furthermore, that may have been just one sovereign act of God to remind the Jews of their heritage and the unique prophetic calling Elijah handed down to Elisha.

5. The spirit, power and anointing of these saints is no longer in the ground.

The Bible teaches that when believers are absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This implies that our spirit leaves our body when we physically die. Hence, it is no longer on the earth and thus no longer in the grave.

6. It can lead to saint worship and necromancy.

One thing I greatly respect in the Christian Eastern Orthodox tradition is their love of the (spiritual) fathers and patriarchs. Unfortunately, some have taken their reverence too far and worship and pray to images of departed saints. There is a fine line between venerating the saints of old and worshipping them, especially to those who may be biblically ignorant among them. Also, many in this tradition have put the writings of the apostolic fathers (those leaders of the church who came after the first-century apostles) on the same level of scripture, something I disagree with for many reasons too numerous to cite here.

In the Roman Catholic tradition we actually see the official practice of Mary worship and saint worship. Furthermore, it is common for a Roman Catholic to pray to one of the canonized departed saints. Whenever we go to a departed saint for something instead of directly to Jesus we violate scriptures like 2 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6, since we only have one designated mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ. Grave sucking comes perilously close to saint worship and, if not corrected, could also lead to communing (speaking) with departed saints. After all, if we can receive an anointing from the grave of a departed saint, who is to say we cannot receive advice and/or life altering visions from that same saint?

Finally, this could eventually lead to necromancy, which is witchcraft and has to do with conjuring up the spirits of the dead. Scripture teaches this is wrong even if you are trying to contact a departed saint (1 Samuel 28).

7. This could further divide the body of Christ.

Grave sucking seems like lunacy, not just to nonbelievers but probably to most Bible-believing Christians. Why? Because there is no specific biblical pattern that demonstrates it and/or commands or encourages it. Consequently, it further perpetuates the belief many hold in the evangelical camp that charismatics emphasize subjective experience more than the authority of scripture. Possibly the worst thing about grave sucking is that it could further divide the body of Christ at a time when we need true believers to unite more than ever before.###

[We agree that “grave sucking” is lunacy and another item on the long and growing list of demonically-inspired practices of Charismania and Charismaniacs. We also, however, believe that the time has come to name and call out the so-called leaders who espouse and promote such clearly demonic, New Age practices, such as the apparent chief leaders of same at this time, Bill and Beni Johnson, who we believe to be very, very spiritually dangerous people, in that they are leading multiplied thousands around the world into Biblically-condemned New Age religious practices and anti-Christ “doctrines of demons.” —Editor]

SECOND WARNING – BILL JOHNSON AND BETHEL CHURCH
By Andrew Strom

Bill & Beni JohnsonA couple of years ago we sent out a Warning itemizing a number of facts about Bill Johnson‘s ministry and Bethel Church in Redding. Numerous witnesses and videos from Bethel show that this church is spreading an “anointing” very similar to Todd Bentley – i.e. spiritual “drunkenness,” jerking, hysterical laughter, “angel orbs,” “fire tunnels,” spirit travel, mystical “portals,” etc. Plus constant talk in their ministry school of bizarre angel encounters and trips to the “third heaven.” All of it has an extremely “New Age” feel. And it is still going on today. (But even worse, as we shall see).

Bill Johnson strongly defended Todd Bentley – even after his divorce and remarriage. No wonder, for the “anointing” that both men carry seems almost identical (though their “style” is very different). These facts are beyond dispute and have been confirmed by many witnesses.

But whenever I say such things about Bill Johnson, people rush to defend him, saying what a “great guy” he is, and what a great ministry he has. And yes, he is a very charming man who does say good things. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be so dangerous. Deception always wraps itself in the best “sheep’s wool” it can find. Otherwise it would have no chance of deceiving the sheep! Why do you think the Bible warns of “SEDUCING” spirits in the Last Days – and “LYING” signs and wonders? If the deception was not so “seductive” then nobody would fall for it. And this stuff is very seductive indeed.

Things Get Worse

Several years ago the Bethel crowd put out a book which we only found out about recently. It was co-authored by Bill Johnson’s administrative assistant Judy Franklin with a foreword by Bethel pastor Kris Vallotton. Bill Johnson wrote two of the chapters and his wife Beni wrote another. In other words, it has Bethel’s stamp all over it. (It is still sold on the Bethel website).

So what is this book about? Here is what the blurb says: “Exploring the mysteries of God in sound, light, vibrations, frequencies, energy, and quantum physics.” Does that sound “New Age” to you? Yes! and it gets even worse. Please remember that this book has Bill Johnson’s name on it, and Bethel’s strong endorsement and participation.

When you open the book you find chapter headings like this: “Vibrating in Harmony with God,” “Good Vibrations,” “Quantum Mysticism,” and “The God Vibration.” And some of the sub-headings are even more astounding: “Dolphins and Healing Energy,” “The Power of Color,” “Human Body Frequencies,” etc. You might ask, What kind of “Christian” book is this? And the answer is that it is Bethel and Bill Johnson’s kind of Christian book. It literally has Bill’s name on it.

This is a peek into the real Bethel behind the scenes. When you look at this publication, suddenly you understand why we see all these weird videos and testimonies from Bethel of strange “New Age” terminology and bizarre spiritual practices. Now we know why. We have the evidence in black and white.

We have shown the contents of this book to leaders and people that have been fans and supporters of Bill Johnson. They have verified the source of it. And just reading this content has turned most of them from being a supporter of Bethel into an opponent in a matter of a few hours. It really is that bad. So openly “New Age” you could hardly believe it.  With all this talk of “vibrations” in the book, perhaps we can now better understand why Bill Johnson’s wife Beni wrote in her blog: “I was talking with Ray Hughes the other day and was telling him about using a 528 HZ tuning fork as a prophetic act. Someone told me that this tuning fork is called the tuning fork of LOVE… the sound of this fork brings healing.” (Please note that crystals and tuning forks are used in NEW AGE therapy, not Christianity. And by the way, Beni Johnson for years has been co-pastor of Bethel alongside her husband Bill).

This might also help explain why Beni Johnson recently released a photo of herself “soaking” (lying down) on the grave of a dead Christian leader, and why Bethel students also put out photos of themselves “grave sucking” (as it is called), trying to “soak up” the anointing from the graves of dead preachers. I am not exaggerating. They actually do this.

I hope you can see how dangerous and unbiblical it all is. Somebody needs to confront Bill Johnson about it (yeah, uh, don’t hold your breath waiting on that to happen –editor). That is why I am including a whole new section of these disturbing facts in the 2015 edition of my book, “Kundalini Warning.” And it is also why I am writing this article. When Nadab and Abihu offered “strange fire” before the Lord in the Old Testament, they were consumed by God and died. (Lev. 10:1-2). “Strange fire” is still deadly today. The body of Christ needs to be warned.

As one of the graduates of the Bethel ministry school (BSSM) wrote to me:

“There would be all kinds of distracting behavior (random shouting, laughing, etc.) during school sessions and church services. When any guest speaker came to school, students would flock to the front to get as close to the speaker as possible. We were taught that any anointing we wanted could be received by simply “claiming it” for ourselves…. The drunken behavior and questionable teachings from some, if not all, of these speakers was shocking at times…. I would always hear people talking about their encounters with angels and how they visited heaven. One young woman I knew said she could see angels everywhere, she talked to them all the time, and she would help her friends to do the same.”

In summary, this is a very dangerous movement and the warning needs to be sounded as far and wide as possible.###

Read Strom’s articles on SLM: Kundalini Warning, the first Warning regarding Bill Johnson and Bethel Church, and Warning to the Super Apostles.
_____________________

Andrew Strom is a prophetic minister who has written several books and hundreds of articles exposing the error of Neo-Charismatics, in particular. He resides in New Zealand. His popular website is at: http://www.revivalschool.com.

_____________________

BUY THE BOOK, KUNDALINI WARNING! [Available in print and Kindle versions]

KUNDALINI WARNING – Shocking Update
by Andrew Strom

Five years ago we put out a book and a video series called “Kundalini Warning.” It shocked a lot of people at the time.

For a long while I felt there was no particular need to update it in any way. But recently we came across some new information that completely stunned everybody we showed it to.

It comes from some of the very biggest Charismatic ministries — in their own words — bringing utterly blatant New Age practices into the church. Not in a “hidden” way. But totally open and unashamed about it. Most people who have seen it are just as gob-smacked as I was.

You will hardly believe it. It is that bad.

I have added a whole new section to my book and we will start releasing all this information very soon. But in the meantime, all three episodes of the video series, “Kundalini Warning,” are available on YouTube. The links to them are below. Each video is a little less than 10-minutes long.

Please watch them again and pass them around, my friends, in preparation for this new information. It will help a lot.

[Note: We have embedded the 3-Part continuous-play series from YouTube just below;  The Facebook links are below the YouTube embed.]

Here are the links to the individual videos.

‘SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY’ – Part ONE-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBpw2oQrvMM

‘SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY’ – Part TWO-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCcGaTRwG_4

‘SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY’ – Part THREE-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWeUNoR30_0

Special blessings to all,
Andrew Strom

Strom’s website: http://www.revivalschool.com/

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BUY THE BOOK, KUNDALINI WARNING! [Available in print and Kindle versions]

TEN JUDGMENTS OF JESUS AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS OF THE CHURCH
By Joseph Mattera

Every church and/or organization has a corporate culture with norms, rules and expectations that pressure participants to conform. Some cultures are good and some bad. That being said, there are particular attributes that characterize false religions or become the norm during religious decline in a true faith such as Christianity. For example, “Every religious system in the world is centered upon a temple (or a sacred place) and has rites and ceremonies, has hierarchies and titles distinguishing men from one another, and has holy days and holy celebrations” (quoted from a teaching I heard from Pastor Tommy Moya several weeks ago).

The Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Micah and Amos decried religious ritual that was without true righteousness, humility and love for neighbor (Isaiah 1:10-17; 58; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8). The line of prophets arose starting in the eighth century B.C. primarily because Israel had a tendency to focus more on adhering to the temple ritual worship of the Levitical system than the ethical lifestyle required by the Law of Moses as found in the Ten Commandments. For this, the prophets pronounced judgment upon the nation, and God dispersed the people and, on two occasions, destroyed their temple.

We have the same issue in today’s church, irrespective of the denomination or expression of the Body of Christ. (Many Pentecostal, charismatic and Evangelical churches have these same issues.) Not only that, but all leaders (including me) have to constantly grapple with some or all of the following issues internally to make sure we are never sucked into this false system. Continue reading “Ten Marks of False Religious Systems” »

Homosexuality and the Great Falling Away
By Bill Muehlenberg

Is this the time of a great falling away as warned about so long ago? Christians will know what I am referring to here. The word apostasy has to do with falling away, and the New Testament often warns us about this. And it also speaks about some hard core rebellion and apostasy occurring before the Lord comes again.

A key passage here is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4. This speaks about those who are falsely claiming that Christ has already returned. Paul says no, he has not, and goes on to say that a great falling away must first occur. Verse 3 says this: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

The term ‘rebellion’ used by the NIV, the ESV, the RSV etc., can also be translated ‘apostasy’ (NASB, HCSB, eg) or ‘falling away’ (ASV, KJV, eg). Here Paul ties it in with the return of the Lord. Of course Paul elsewhere speaks of such times, as in 1 Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” Continue reading “Homosexuality and the Great Apostasy” »

Some Honest Questions for Joseph Prince

By Dr. Michael Brown

Josheph Prince

Xenonamandar Jegahusiee Singh, aka, Joseph Prince, is the son of an Indian Sikh priest and a Buddhist Chinese mother, who admittedly dabbled in the occult as a young man. His TV program that airs on TBN and other networks is watched by millions globally (Joseph Prince YouTube)

On a regular basis, I hear reports about believers who have been transformed through the ministry of Joseph Prince, and I thank God for every one of those good reports.

Without a doubt, his message of grace is liberating many from legalism, performance-based religion and a spiritual inferiority complex, and for all of this, I am grateful.

In 1992, God spoke to me to do a fresh study of grace, and the results of that study were eye-opening, to the point that one of the chapters in my 1997 book Go and Sin No More is called “It’s All Grace” while another is called “The Letter Kills.” Continue reading “Dr. Michael Brown Poses Some Questions to Joseph Prince” »

Opinion

Joshua Harris ~ senior pastor of  Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg MD

Joshua Harris, currently senior pastor of Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg MD, will leave his position to attend seminary June 2015 (published on church’s website)

Joshua Harris, the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, this past Sunday announced his plans for stepping down in order to attend seminary. Harris is the son-in-law of the controversy-ensconced founder of the church and the network of churches of which CLC was the mother church for 27 years, C.J. Mahaney. Ten years ago in 2004, Mahaney appointed the then 30-year-old Harris to the top leadership position, seven years into their relationship that began with Harris moving into Mahaney’s basement, being employed as a church intern, accompanying Mahaney as his assistant in his travels as a conference speaker, and culminating with him marrying Mahaney’s daughter. Continue reading “Joshua Harris Abandons CLC Sinking Ship” »

How Long Will We Be Satisfied With Happy, Shallow Revivals?

By Bert Farias

Charismatic-worship

Many of our so called modern revivals are happy but shallow. This is of deep concern to me for I am not seeing the old anointings any more. My heart grieves especially for the young people who have never witnessed the real power of God.

Honestly, some things I see today are appalling. That old teaching that we are free from the Law has raised its ugly head again. Certainly, we are free from the Law written on stone, but we are not free from the Law that is written in our hearts. Continue reading “How Long Will Shallow, Spiritless Revivals Suffice?” »