Signs, Wonders, Bells and Whistles

November 21, 2017 at 8:28 AM 6 comments

Should we look for and expect signs and wonders today?

Looking back on my involvement in the Charismatic Movement, I realize now that I was guilty of idolatry, motivated by self-centeredness. Unfortunately, as it eventually became clear to me, I was not chasing God at all. I was chasing the experience of what I believed to be God. There is a huge difference. I reasoned God is supernatural and miraculous, therefore, to be in fellowship with Him must mean to experience Him with signs and wonders and ecstatic experiences that are without rational explanation. I was wrong.

What is it that so compels so many of us Christians to chase after some experience that we believe is of or from God? While growing close to God in fellowship is certainly a Scriptural one, it is literally impossible to discern whether or not any experience we might have is of God, Satan, or our own flesh. The way that people determine its validity is through the subjectivity of our feelings. There is no other way to ascertain the truth regarding any experience, when push comes to shove. Galatians 5:22-26 clearly outlines the fruit of the Spirit. Is that what people are “getting” and growing in?

Look at the life Jesus lived. There were those who loved Him and many more who hated Him. There is nothing that I can find in Scripture that speaks to an ecstatic experiential relationship that either the apostles or the average person enjoyed with Jesus. They related to Him as a human being because He was fully human.

However, unlike the heretical teachings of Bill Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding CA and NAR apostle, who teaches that Jesus completely emptied Himself of His deity and lived life only as a human being fully dependent on the Holy Spirit), Jesus was fully God in the flesh. While He “emptied” Himself of something, it was His own “self-will.” In other words, when He took on the form of humanity, He literally clothed Himself with that flesh, which hid His deity. However, He endeavored (and succeeded), in submitting Himself in every way to the Father’s will daily, moment-by-moment. This does not mean He stopped being God while He lived on earth. It means He deliberately chose to do whatever the Father wanted Him to do and only used His power as God to complete what God the Father wanted from Him when miracles were needed. This was in turn, the perfect model for us as human beings – the absolute submission to God. In doing so, Jesus perfectly fulfilled every requirement of the Law without sinning, which made Him the perfect Person to offer Himself for our sin (Revelation 5).

Paul makes this “emptying” clear in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 2, though it is often misunderstood by many, including Bill Johnson. Jesus did not empty Himself of His deity. He covered it with His humanity, yet His deity was very much still there, as evidence by the transfiguration account (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36). In that instance, Jesus briefly allowed those around Him to see His glory as God, which was always resident within Him.

But the normal day-to-day relationship Jesus had with those around Him and within His inner circle does not provide a picture of one ecstatic experience after another. Yet, we are told and taught by many today that miracles, signs, and wonders should be the norm for Christians even though it was not the norm for those who believed in and followed Jesus physically on this earth during His days of ministry, in spite of the many miracles He routinely completed. Even after the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the people in the Upper Room (Acts 1-2), the miracles extending from that pouring out ultimately created the Church (Christ’s Bride), by bringing 3,000 people into the Church that very day.

The only “ecstatic” experience witnessed as a direct result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto believers in prayer, was the presence of “tongues.” While this subject is still hotly debated today, the truth is in that particular case, the believers were actually speaking in a known tongue (though unknown to them at the time). We know this because of the way people responded. While some referred to them as being “drunk,” it wasn’t necessarily due to their actions or the way they walked. It was due to the fact that it seemed to some that they were simply babbling like a drunk person would do. Kenneth Hagin has stated that if people thought they were drunk, they must have been acting drunk (my paraphrase). That’s absolutely not true if we consider the context of those verses.

Other people visiting the area because of Pentecost, were from all over the known world. Some happened upon this group of 120 believers who had just received the Holy Spirit and many heard them praising God and glorifying Him in their own native tongue. That amazed them and why wouldn’t it?

When Peter preached, one of the first things he did was to discount the charge that they were drunk. He reminded them of the early hour in the morning (too early for drinking). He went on to fully explain to them the Gospel and reminded His listeners (most of whom were Jews and would have been familiar with the Scriptures and with Joel), that what had happened was like what Joel talked about that would occur at the end of this age (the one we’re living in as well).

Yes, throughout Acts, there were many miracles, signs, and wonders. But it is interesting how many people in NAR or other groups take things out of context to support their own errant beliefs or superstitions really, that God exists to give us a miracle. The greatest miracle is being born again and having your name written in the Book of Life! The other wonderful miracle is the Holy Spirit dwelling within us in as a seal of our redemption (Eph 2), in order to recreate the character of Jesus in each of us. What does He produce? Galatians 5:22-26.

In Acts 5, we read an account of all the miracles that occurred through apostles. Let’s take a look.

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:12-16 ESV)

Notice first it says that “many signs and wonders were regularly done.” There is no mention of unexplained ecstatic experiences of the kind that are prevalent in many Charismatic or NAR meetings. There is no mention of anyone being “slain in the Spirit,” or even speaking in tongues here. To say that things were included is to read into the Scriptures.

By the way, the text says that people believed that Peter’s shadow would heal them (a superstition tied to idol worship). Yet, Luke does not say that actually happened. Luke does tell us that everyone was eventually healed after they brought the sick to the apostles.

Notice that these signs and wonders were done by the “hands of the apostles.” God worked through the apostles to bring about healing to average people who were sick or possessed. God did this to authenticate their ministry, position, and authority in His Church.

Today’s so-called apostles believe they have the same authority. I cringe at the thought. I have yet to read of even one provable claim of actual healing. While it is one thing to act like you’re on fire, or in ecstasy and claim it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing we can turn to in Scripture that shows the Holy Spirit working like that. Unless the Scriptures specifically stated that the Holy Spirit caused someone to be slain in the Spirit or did something else that is routine in the NAR movement today, discerning whether something like that is from the Holy Spirit is left up to our subjective inquiry, if we do not reject it outright. There is absolutely no way we can determine the authenticity of such an experience since God’s Word says nothing on the subject. The fact that it is silent actually speaks volumes.

People will point to Paul’s meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus as an example of being “slain in the Spirit.” This is completely untrue. Paul was simply walking along and an exceedingly bright light hit him. He likely became disoriented, shocked, lost his balance, and fell over to the ground. By the way, I’ve heard people say Paul was riding a horse and fell off the horse. That is a classic example of reading into the Scriptures. Had Paul been on a horse and fell off, it is certain the text would have indicated that.

Paul eventually relates his conversion story to Jews in Jerusalem who sought his arrest (Acts 22:6-11), and again he simply says he “fell to the ground.” If you’re walking and you trip you might fall down to the ground. This may seem like a very small point, but it is often true that heresy starts with a very small point of error and grows from there.

But getting back to the signs and wonders, it seems clear enough that the miracles, signs, and wonders recorded in Scripture were always done for a purpose. That main purpose was to bring God glory through the stamp of approval He Himself placed on the men He had called as apostles (or in limited cases, those closest to them). People took notice.

Yet, numerous sects and cults have built themselves into something based on their teaching that signs, wonders, and miracles are not only available for today’s Christian, but should be the norm. It would appear that the so-called signs and wonders today are nothing but Satan’s attempts to imitate God, and Satan certainly has a growing audience.

The Church was born with miracles to call attention to the fact that it was God’s work, not man’s. The so-called signs and wonders that occur within the arena of the Signs and Wonders movement today are wholly inappropriate because signs and wonders accompanied the birth of the Church. Today’s “miracles” accompany an alleged “new” work of God, but nothing specific at all. What new work is God doing that He has not already revealed in Scripture? Today’s signs and wonders cannot be verified through Scripture without a lot of twisting and reinterpreting. Even then, it’s quite a stretch.

I previously wrote about the fact that at one point during my tenure in the Charismatic Movement, I began hearing a “voice” in my head that was not mine. I simply assumed it was God’s because I had been praying to Him. Yet, as I also stated, I could not prove one way or the other whose voice it was and because of that, it must be rejected. At the time, I was not aware of the test that should be applied as noted in 1 John 4. Had I had the knowledge and courage, I could have applied that test and learned whether it was the voice of God or not.

As I’ve also stated repeatedly, this test is never applied within Charismatic circles (including NAR), that I am aware of. With all the NAR videos I’ve watched, it has also never been utilized. It is such an easy test and it is Scriptural. Why isn’t it being used? Because either people feel confident that the signs and wonders are from God or they are too afraid to learn that they are not from God. If they learn the latter, they would be required to condemn the signs and wonders as being either of the flesh or the devil. They don’t want to do that because of the tremendously large “ministries” they would have to give up with all the perks they normally receive from those ministries. Remember, these people likely have no taxes taken out of their paychecks and anything associated with charitable organizations is also not normally taxed.

In closing, and by way of introduction into our next few articles, we’re going to simply highlight the basic history of the groups that began, then morphed into today’s New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).

According to Church Watch Central, here’s the brief outline:

  • The New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) in the 1940s.
  • The Voice of Healing Movement (VHM) in the 1950s.
  • The Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM) in the 1960s.
  • The Shepherding/Discipleship Movement (SDM) in the 1970s.
  • The Prophetic-Apostolic Movement (PAM) in the 1980s.
  • The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) in the 1990s.

What we’ll learn is that the people who started these movements were essentially mystics and their connection to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is clear. Yet, notice that for each new decade, the name of the movement changed to what it is now. There have also been many subgroups and minor movements within these larger movements.

What we’re going to discover is that it all centers around one thing: mysticism. Should Christians partake of it? Many today believe we should and even teach us how, but what, if anything, does God say in His Word about it?

If we are not to pursue mystical (ecstatic) experiences from God, then how on earth are we supposed to get to “know” Him? We’ll attempt to answer both questions. Stay tuned.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Emotional virtue, eternity, Life in America, Maitreya, new age movement. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Something Insidious This Way Grows… New Order of Latter Rain Begins in the 1940’s…

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rose  |  November 21, 2017 at 3:21 PM

    Hello… This was a very good article… but I need to ask a question. You cite 1st John 4 about testing the spirits… but what is the procedure for testing the spirits to see if they are from God? How does one do that?

    I’ve heard one statement audibly in my ear. It was very brief… and it was personal… Took me over a year to figure out what that meant. It was followed not long afterward by something I can only equate with some sort of a vision that remained in front of me for over a year. Now I think the two went together and were parts of the same message.

    The only other message I have heard is the name Issachar… repeating over and over in my mind while I was partially awake. I looked that name up cuz at the time I didn’t know what or who Issachar was. The other message occurred before I returned to the Lord.

    Reply
    • 2. modres  |  November 21, 2017 at 3:57 PM

      Hi Rose,

      The apostle John was actually referring to how to test the “spirits” when we come up against a PERSON who is teaching something questionable. John is saying we need to compare what they are teaching to what the Bible teaches.

      In a conference or meeting, it might not be appropriate to stand up at that time and ask the teacher about the deity of Jesus, etc., and most of them would probably tell you what you want to hear anyway, though quite nuanced. But we should certainly listen for what they teach; what they say about Jesus.

      Bill Johnson’s heretical teaching is an example regarding Jesus “emptying Himself” of His deity. Jesus did not do that. Because we know what Johnson teaches and that it doesn’t align with Scripture, we should IGNORE him at all costs.

      It seems to me that what you experienced probably was NOT of God for several reasons. First, it took a very long time to figure things out. Second, I cannot imagine the Lord floating a name by you with no meaning. Third, it is very doubtful that God is behind the Voice or visions you received because the only way apart from 1 John 4:1 to determine the source is at the subjective level, meaning you would have to decide based totally on how you FEEL about those incidents. God does not want us to do that.

      I also do not believe that God wants us to engage these spirits or voices we might hear in our heads when they occur. That is a form of spiritual warfare that is being heavily pushed today especially within the Charismatic Movement and NAR. James says we should simply RESIST the devil and he will flee (4:7) from us. We are not told to engage the devil or demons as some teach we should do.

      In the article we published highlighting Hope Wingo’s story about deception and her fleeing it, she noted that at one point, she simply began RESISTING the devil by ignoring the images and visions she had been seeing. She did not engage him, but RESISTED and IGNORED. I would suggest you do the same thing.

      It would be good to know – if you care to share – what your spiritual state was and what you might have been involved in at the time. Because you indicate these happened before you returned to the Lord, that is a great indicator that you were not in fellowship with Him so what were you doing that may have prompted these things to occur? Whether you say or not, you know, and you can then determine by that if it was motivated by your involvement in something forbidden by God. If it was, then you have your answer and you should dutifully reject it so that these occurrences will not happen again.

      If I ever hear a voice again, I will reject it and ignore it. I won’t even enter into any dialogue with it and I would strongly suggest that you do the same with voices and/or dreams you hear or experience.

      I do not believe that God speaks to us audibly or in our heads. I believe He directs our steps and as we study His Word, we will see Him working through us more because of it.

      For more information, you may wish to read this short article over at Got Questions? https://www.gotquestions.org/lectio-divina.html

      Reply
  • 3. MamaJo  |  November 21, 2017 at 12:06 PM

    If you go back further you could examine Azusa Street.

    Reply
    • 4. modres  |  November 21, 2017 at 12:50 PM

      Absolutely. The reason we started with the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) is because there is a direct connect with today’s New Apostolic Reformation. But you have a point and it’s probably important to include that group because some of those folks moved into what became NOLR. We’ll be sure to at least highlight them. Thanks!

      Reply
  • 5. Glenn E. Chatfield  |  November 21, 2017 at 10:33 AM

    Excellent examination of the false signs and wonders movement!

    Reply
    • 6. modres  |  November 21, 2017 at 11:04 AM

      Thank you, Glenn!

      Reply

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