What Are We to Think of the Prophets and Apostles that Exist Today? Part 1
There are those who say the Bible is their final authority, but in reality, do not see it as such. If they (or someone they trust), receive a word of knowledge or a word of prophecy, they do not bother to take the time to test the source, whether it’s from Satan or God (or their own imagination). Oftentimes, they will simply accept what is being stated.
The reason they do not bother to test the spirits is because they believe firmly that they are saved (and they may well be; I’m not trying to dispute that). They believe that salvation, coupled with what they also believe to be their “intimate” relationship with God, keeps them from being deceived. In other words, God will protect them from being deceived because they love God. They do not need to verify everything against His Word because they have the Spirit of Truth within them and it is His job to guide them into all truth (cf. John 16:13). These people tend to seek out ecstatic experiences. They want to have what many of the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament either witnessed or partook of in their lives.
I recall well my days in the Charismatic Movement. We were taught that being a Christian – of what was often termed a “full-gospel Christian” – was experiential. Too often, one teacher or another would emphasize that God is supernatural (yes, that’s true), and therefore wants us to experience the full nature of our union with Him (partially true). Unfortunately, we are not equipped to have that here in this life with our corrupted physical bodies. It’s why we have faith.
But let’s look at a few examples of what I’m talking about. In the image shown to the right, we read a description of how one individual recounts his “ascension” into what he calls the “third heaven.” Clicking on it will enlarge it in a separate window to make reading easier.
Notice that this individual claims to have been taken to the third heaven and there, he had a conversation with Jesus. Part of the conversation goes like this:
“I want you to keep coming upward…
“I’ve called you to preach the word of Grace. This will bring people into intimate relationship with Me and deliver them from religious bondages.”
Again, this is Jesus allegedly speaking. This is where this individual allegedly received his “mantle” of authority and his commissioning for his ministry. His commission involved preaching the “word of Grace” and doing so would “bring people into intimate relationship with” Jesus “and deliver them from religious bondages.” I’m assuming also that this experience led him to believe he had been called to the office of prophet and apostle (two labels he gives himself).
But let’s stop a minute. There is one reference in Scripture from the apostle Paul who talks about going to the third heaven. Let’s see what Paul has to say about it, from 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
Most conservative scholars believe Paul was referring to himself here and how he was carried away or caught up to the third heaven. He did not know if he was in the body or out of it, but he knew it to be true. Notice though he tells us that what he heard he could not repeat because no one is permitted to tell. Interesting.
That aside, let’s look at what Jesus allegedly told the person in the above image. He was told that he should preach the word of Grace. We can assume that this means the Gospel message, though there is no real explanation of it within the conversation itself. Preaching the word of grace would “bring people into intimate relationship with” Jesus. Okay, there is nothing new here at all. Why did this man have to be called to the third heaven to have this information revealed to him when in point of fact, it is built into the Great Commission of Matthew 28 and various places throughout the New Testament? In fact, all believers are to preach the Gospel message to all people, making disciples from every nation. Embracing salvation brings people into intimate relationship with Jesus. Paul’s letters are filled with these facts as are other epistles and Jesus’ own words in the gospels.
Notice also that preaching the “word of Grace” would not only bring people into an intimate relationship with Jesus, but would “deliver them from religious bondages,” whatever that means. This is left open for the reader to interpret, although the same man explains what might possibly be meant by “religious bondages” elsewhere, in writings and videos.
Ostensibly, from other things this person has stated, he is probably referring to “Pharisaical legalism” that he believes plagues America, and specifically, many Christians in America today. In fact, he would likely accuse me of being a religious pharisee because of my beliefs that the Canon of Scripture is closed, etc., and signs and wonders, words of knowledge, and prophecies are no longer needed. This was very normal within the Charismatic Movement when I was there, to condemn what was considered to be the “Pharisaical legalism” that kept people from receiving the “full” gospel. People within the Charismatic Movement then (and now) believe that the signs and wonders exhibited in Scripture (especially Acts) are also for today. People who think otherwise are “squelching” or “grieving” the Holy Spirit.
I want to look at one more section for this article from the image, where Jesus allegedly continues speaking and says the following:
I will use you to bring restoration to people’s lives, so I can heal them and renew their broken dreams. They will be set free.
At first glance, that statement may seem fine. In fact, it may seem wonderful to people who are unfulfilled, have broken dreams, and simply seem out of touch with God. But what does it really say? First, Jesus allegedly says He wants to “bring restoration to people’s lives.” Good. That’s excellent. We know that the Bible confirms this truth in too many places to ignore. Jesus wants to restore our fellowship with Him and this is only accomplished through salvation that He extends to us and we receive through faith. If that’s what that phrase means, then so far, so good. The fact that this guy had to be brought up to the third heaven to learn it is remarkable considering how clearly it is spelled out in the Bible. Can he not read?
Next, we learn that Jesus allegedly wants to “heal them and renew their broken dreams.” Whoops! What? The first part is okay, although we don’t really know how the word “heal” is being used here. Chalk that up to my “Pharisaism,” I suppose. God does want us healed because by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; see also 1 Peter 2:24), and of course we understand that to mean that God heals us spiritually (via salvation), so that we can actually enter into relationship with Him. He will also eventually heal us physically, but that will not come until after we die, when we receive new, incorruptible bodies with no hint of a sin nature.
But the real problem here is in the phrase “and renew their broken dreams.” Really? That’s what salvation is all about, renewing my broken dreams? So if my dream is to own a huge mansion in the hills with my own private lake, God wants to bring that to pass for me because His love for me is so strong? Just exactly what does “renewing their broken dreams” actually mean? Quite honestly, it will mean something different to each person because there is no reference to any Scripture to confirm the meaning.
But my desire to constantly go back to and rely on Scripture is likely seen as “Pharisaism” to the individual who claims to have gone to the third heaven. I’m depending too much on written words, words that were written 2,000 or more years ago and how could they possibly encapsulate all that God is for us now? They can’t but that doesn’t mean that those words (the Bible) should not satisfy us in the here and now, because of their depth and reality.
Notice also how the last phrase “They will be set free” is used like a catharsis. It has an air of spirituality to it and is certainly reminiscent of Scripture (John 8:32), but it really ties directly back to the immediate previous phrase about renewing broken dreams. The idea here is that I will be set free to pursue my dreams. Hearing and embracing God’s “word of Grace” will bring us into intimate relationship with God in Christ, so that He can heal us and set us free to chase after and enjoy our dreams.
Unfortunately, this in a nutshell is the message of the New Age Movement and what is interesting about the New Age Movement is how it is crept its way into the church with few noticing. It has done so through a variety of means and ways and largely because of the diminished authority of God’s Word. The Bible has become the background, but not really the final authority. Visions, dreams, and ecstatic experiences have replaced the Bible as the authority.
What would Paul say to this?
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10; emphasis added).
It seems to Paul, being “free” meant becoming like Christ in daily sufferings as he/we die to the flesh, imitating Jesus. Yet, in the conversation from the image above, Jesus wants to free us to pursue our “broken dreams,” whatever they happen to be. This is a foundational tenet to the Word of faith movement, the Charismatic Movement, and Pentecostalism.
Today’s Christian is often overwhelmed by a complete lack of knowledge regarding God’s Word. Because of it, too many are tossed to and fro, running here and there, seeking the next religious fad. At the same time, we are told that to relay too much on His Word is a form of Pharisaical legalism that keeps Christians from moving on with God with His alleged new revelations. We are told we need to be open to signs and wonders, to new movements of the Spirit, words of knowledge, and prophecies. Those who are not open to it are considered legalistic and in “religious bondage.”
In reality, Christians need to become imitators of Christ, doing as Paul did, desiring to know Christ and the power of the resurrection life. This can only be understood through the daily dying to self. In this way, we become like Him in His death and bring glory to God.
The Bible does not teach that God wants to free us to live our broken dreams. It teaches us to die to self daily so that we will become more like Jesus. I don’t need to go to the third heaven to understand that and quite frankly, I think this guy’s trip to the “third heaven” was a complete waste of time.
We’ll be back with more next time!
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, eternity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: mike thompson, pharisaical legalism, religious bondage, third heaven authority, word of faith.