(Continued from previous page)
The damage to the church caused by the heresies of John Wimber and the 'Vineyard Movement'!
John Wimber's 'Power Evangelism' requires 'signs and wonders' for sinners to believe the gospel. Yet Romans 1:16 assures us that 'the gospel [itself] is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [it].' Paul declared, 'It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe' (1 Corinthians 1:21). But the argument is that the gospel has lost its power to convert modern man and needs help not only from 'signs and wonders,' but demons, which supposedly afflict a large number of those seeking to come to Christ, must be bound as well. John Dawson writes, 'We need to overcome the enemy [Satan] before we employ other methods of ministry. . .' One of the most tragic examples of how this teaching corrupts the gospel is exemplified in Jack Deere, for 12 years on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary before he took the position of leading theologian in Wimber's Vineyard movement. He was interviewed by Graham Banister in Sydney, Australia, at a Spiritual Warfare Conference taught by Wimber and his team to 5,500 church leaders who each paid $150 to attend. Banister asked Deere how he would define the gospel, and was told, 'I'm not sure.' Banister goes on to relate that he was 'somewhat' stunned, and said, 'I find that quite surprising - that you're not sure what the gospel is.' He replied, 'I used to be just like you...thinking the gospel was simply justification by faith.' I responded, 'Are you saying it's more than that?...What would you add to it?' 'Deliverance,' he said, '...things like demons and healing.' I said, 'You would add as an essential part of the gospel...the exorcising of demons and healing?' He nodded. I continued, '... like what John Wimber was saying last night...?' 'Yes,' he said. 'But you're not sure exactly what should be included?' I asked. 'No,' he said, 'not yet.' 'Would it be fair to say' l asked, 'that you're in a state of flux since you joined the Wimber thing?' He responded, 'We're always in a state of flux....' 'But on the gospel message?' I asked: '...you couldn't go back into that pavilion and tell those people the gospel?' He replied, 'No - not yet.' I responded, 'When do you think you could do it?' And he said, 'Maybe five years, maybe ten....' It is incredible to learn that one of the leading minds, if not the leading theological mind in the 'Signs and Wonders Movement', did not know what the gospel was! Yet the gospel is the key to new life and victory! Believing the gospel, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), sets us free from all that once bound us. We are to 'stand' (in Christ's victory) and to 'resist,' not attack, rebuke or bind Satan. We have no fear of him. Greater is He (the Lord) who is in us than he (Satan) who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Because we are 'crucified with Christ,' (and only because of that) Satan and his demons have no power over us. Christ has become our life. We need to stop struggling to live the Christian life, and trust Him to live His life through us in obedience to His Word! Christ neither 'rebuked' nor 'bound' Satan when tempted by him. He resisted him with the sword of the Spirit as clearly stated in Scripture, by saying: 'It is written.' We must do the same. The Word of God doesn't become effective in our lives by merely speaking it forth as a 'positive confession.' It must be understood, believed and obeyed in the power of the Spirit. It is the truth ('Thy Word is truth') that sets us free and keeps us free from the world, the flesh and the devil. And whom the Son sets free is 'free indeed' (John 8:36)!
John Wimber's 'signs and wonders' movement has long been a source of many of the heresies which have plagued the contemporary church. The encouragement towards experiential, emotional, even physical, 'encounters with God' is central to Vineyard ministry and has led to the error of putting the 'authority of experiences' above the 'authority of Scripture'. Many are slipping into experience-driven spirituality through their involvement in various forms of psychotherapy, failing to recognize that the psychologically influenced programmes in their own fellowships have a common experiential base. Furthermore, a great many of the therapies applied in church supported psychological counselling sessions are at least as experiential and often just as bizarre as the experiences occurring at Charismatic meetings.
The Bible - through the ministry of the Holy Spirit - is the believers' God-given resource for discernment, a Biblically mandated necessity for withstanding these end-time religious delusions. Without Biblical discernment, we're left only with fleshly reasoning, vain imaginations or subjective intuition (Proverbs 16:25):
'There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.'
The growing trend away from doctrinal absolutes, from conclusions based on Scriptural examples, and from any Biblical scrutiny or testing has created a vacuum rapidly being filled by experiential religion of the 'Word-Faith'/Vineyard movements. This translates into feelings becoming more and more the measure of what is of God and what is not. That trend can clearly be seen among those who express confidence that these 'experiences' are of God. When pressed for an explanation and for scriptural support, the responses sound more like wishful thinking. Rodney Howard-Browne reflects its experiential nature:
'You can't understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind. The only way you're going to understand what God is doing is with your heart.'
These sentiments are clearly un-Biblical, would be entirely at home in the Mormon cult, and were echoed by Episcopal rector Hugh Williams, who was changed by such experiences, endorsing them with this unwitting indictment: 'Words [including God's Word?] have become meaningless in our society. Signs and wonders are what must capture our attention'. Attention has certainly being captured - and at the expense of preaching the Word. Terry Virgo, a New Frontiers International director in England, wrote in a highly supportive Charisma article that the Lord gave Virgo's church the following prophecy: 'Prepare yourselves for disruption.' He added, 'Now, I'm a preacher who puts a very high value on Biblical exposition. But I have to admit that people are being changed more radically and completely through God's supernatural touch in these meetings than they ever have been through listening to me preach!' Both the prophecy and the implication of Virgo's statement run counter to the Scriptures: 'Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine' (2 Timothy 4:2). Sadly, Paul's Holy Spirit-given counsel is conspicuously absent in today's so-called Holy Spirit revival and Virgo clearly did not consider what Scripture informs us regarding prophecy:
1 Corinthians 14:31-33 (ASV) - For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not a God of confusion [Greek: ἀκαταστασία - akatastasía (pronounced - ak-at-as-tah-see'-ah) meaning: instability, disorder, commotion, confusion, tumult], but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints ...
And that certainly explains the problems with Virgo's preaching!
John Wimber expressed confidence that the 'experiences' that were taking place were from the Lord, but the basis for his confidence was highly questionable, since he admitted:
'There's nothing in Scripture to support these kinds of phenomena ... So I feel no obligation to try to explain it ... It's just people responding to God.'
This was an opinion expressed in an interview with Peter Jennings, when he was asked: 'Are you utterly, totally convinced that [the manifestations are] always the Holy Spirit?' Wimber replied, 'No. I'm largely convinced that it's the Holy Spirit, but I believe that it's a mixture of humanity and spirit.' What about the demonic - and who in the Vineyard is capable of discerning the difference? Jennings noted that 'at the Vineyard church we found that people were hungry for a faith they could feel.' Indeed, feelings reign supreme in this realm of 'signs and wonders.' People are attracted to the phenomenon because of emotional desires or feelings. They 'operate' in that realm guided by their feelings, and their argument that God is involved is based upon their feelings.
And that certainly explains the problems with Wimber's repeated contradictions!
The 'Word-Faith'/Vineyard movements are just part of the parcel of deception that seeks to destroy the only Biblical basis for unity - the truth. The Bible alone contains God's truth, which is revealed by the Holy Spirit to Christ's sheep (John 10:27; 1 Corinthians 2:11-16). God's Word is not only 'the truth'; it judges all that is false. Certainly experiences are not necessarily evil. They are, however, all subjective and must be scrutinized by means of the Word of Truth. Peter had a tremendous experience when he was in the presence of God on the Mount of Transfiguration, and it's worth noting that one of the experiential manifestations that took place is noticeably missing in the 'revivals' documented today: falling on one's face in fear of God.
Note, also, that the Scriptural 'falling in the Spirit' (aka - "Slain in the Spirit" or "Resting in the Spirit") is clearly on one's face and only backwards when God is making a judgement on those who oppose Him:
Numbers 22:31 (KJV) - Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
Ezekiel 3:23-24 (KJV) - Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face. Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house.
Ezekiel 43:2-3 (KJV) - And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.
Ezekiel 44:4 (KJV) - Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face.
Matthew 17:5-7 (KJV) - While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
John 18:4-6 (KJV) - Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward [Greek: ὀπίσω - opísō - meaning: aback, backward, behind], and fell to the ground.
Since other Scriptures do not specifically say in which direction people were falling, people believe they are on safe ground making the assumption that these other verses give the possibility of people falling backwards when the presence of God manifested in their presence. An 'argument from silence' is no argument at all and all the other 'arguments' used to try and support this practice are also based on experiential claims. Having counselled people who have suffered clear demonic attacks (e.g. oppression and depression) after attending 'Charismatic' meetings, we cannot find anything good to support claims for Wimber-like practices.
Peter makes it absolutely clear that, although he valued his personal experience, God's Word is utterly trustworthy - and totally necessary:
2 Peter 1:19-20 (KJV) - We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
Without that absolute basis for objective discernment, the experiential is a pathway to delusion (Psalms 119:104): 'Through thy precepts (Hebrew: commandment, statute) I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.' Biblical discernment of what is truly of God (Isaiah 8:20; Acts 17:11) is an absolute necessity for the believer in any age - and no less in these deceptive last days.
Since you have continued to bombard us with e-mails without addressing the refutation of your earlier claims we will, understandably, only comment on a few sections that are in any way relevant to the deception you labour under. First we enclose the mail you forwarded to us and comment [in blue] on the red-highlighted section where relevant:
From: Stephen Strader
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 6:32 PM
Subject: RE: TBN's Promise: Send Money and See Riches
From Pastor/Evangelist Stephen Strader
There is no question that the "religious" world has been filled with error. Every doctrine that has ever been presented in the Body of Christ has had to deal with error. Water Baptism, even communion, precious doctrines in the church - are filled with error. Entire denominations are formed around errors.
[TCE: referring to 'denominations' in this way is mis-leading; cults form from emphasis on errors, denominations from emphasis on some aspect of doctrine or Scripture that is not error, even if a little unbalanced at times]
What all of us has to do is search the scriptures. We must "know" the truth and the truth will set us free.
Jesus said, "ask and it shall be given"; "speak to this mountain"; "give and it shall be given"; "in my fathers house are many mansions"; "your father in heaven will give GOOD gifts to those who ask"
Malachi 3 says, "will a man rob God?" "prove me, and see if I won't open the windows of heaven and POUR you out a blessing"
[TCE: we have already discussed the importance of being in the 'will of God' and quoting these portions without explanation leads to erroneous Word-Faith type conclusions]
These statements could just as easily been included in this article with the "name it and claim it" group. You cannot "throw out the baby with the bath water"
[TCE: the Word-Faith "name it and claim it" would also have used it as Strader did here without explaining how being in the 'will of God' is utterly necessary! How do they miss reading how Jesus prayed: 'Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. ... Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. Trying to make out that good things might be lost by throwing out the Word-Faith false doctrines and we should therefore accept their error is utterly foolish deception!]
We all have to ask ourselves, "am I motivated by the material blessing?" or "am I motivated by God's word"
Why are you a Christian? Isn't it to "avoid hell?" "entrance into heaven?" "sins forgiven?" That sounds like a pretty good deal. In fact, that is the "ultimate deal".
[TCE: anyone thinking in this way should surely recognise that they have dangerous Word-Faith type motives]
Am I excusing these "TBN" ministers for their often "exaggerated" or "ambitious" claims? No. They will have to stand before God one day. But I have to stand before God in how I deal with them, respond to them, and what I do with my offerings.
[TCE: we have already explained clearly how warning those who preach false doctrine is utterly essential and deals with the issue of 'what to do with ... offerings']
Do you think its right to "call TBN" with phony pledges?
Do you think its right to judge someone's ministry as "totally" in error because of this one doctrine.
I eat at restaurants that serve alcohol. Does that make the restaurant bad? Does that make me bad?
I eat at Chinese restaurants that have a "god" sitting by the cash register; false gods hanging on the walls and printed on the place mats. What am I suppose [sic] to do?
I eat the meat and spit out the bones. I bless my food. I bless my offering. I bless my TV. I thank God that the gospel is being preached, even if it's through a man wearing a $2,000 suit.
I know most of the people described in this article personally. They have made huge sacrifices for the Kingdom of God. They have given their lives for the ministry. Yes, they have made many mistakes. So have I.
[TCE: We have already proven that it is not just one small doctrinal error, but massive heresy severely mis-representing the true Gospel; and all of Strader's examples are weasel-excuses and have been dealt with already. The "eat the meat, and spit out the bones" excuse is just an un-Scriptural way to exhort us to ignore clear error and not expose it. We are always to apply Biblical discernment when listening to speakers or reading books, to be Bereans:
Acts 17:10-12 (NASB) - 10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
And our attitude to listening to the Holy Spirit and prophecies should be as described in Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NASB) - 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
The clearest way to 'abstain from every form of evil' is to follow Biblical exhortation which warns that "a little leaven leaventh the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:9) and is clearly not allowing us to casually let even a little error into our lives - which should certainly answer Strader's questions! Clearly, many 'Christians' today do not take this following Scriptural exhortation seriously either:
Matthew 5:48 (ASV) - Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Philippians 3:12; Hebrews 13:21)
Another serious matter is the clear fact that we are exhorted to mark and avoid those who teach doctrine contrary to that which we have learned in Scripture:
Romans 16:17-18 (NASB) - 17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
1 Timothy 1:3-4 (NASB) - 3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
Those who claim it is possible for Christians to "eat the meat, and spit out the bones" must explain to us how they know that any "meat" that does not clearly have the approval of the Word of God (found only in the Bible!) can possibly be safe!? The examples given above show that the 'meat' presented is virtually always obviously poisonous - to those who know the Word of God!
Because very few Christians are zealous enough to read the Bible thoroughly (never mind from beginning to end yearly) they are prone to deception and are therefore unable to recognise errors in sermons, books, or online. The errors available online are obviously immense, but our Christian book-shops are also full of heretical works because they are stocked by equally ignorant (or heretical) Christians (see our page on Cardiff book-shops)!
As a result there are many Christians today whose Biblical ignorance leads to serious carnality and continued inability to distinguish clearly between truth and simple - never mind devious - error. All of this results in churches predominated by 'Christians' who believe they are all entitled to their own opinion so they are 'unequally yoked' and fellowship with unbelievers in defiance of Scripture (2 Corinthians 6:14). Thus many are in a false 'ecumenical' union with Papal Roman Catholics [which is the major 'Christian cult' with 'another Jesus' (2 Cor. 11v4) and 'another gospel' (Gal. 1v6-9)] and even believe that the 'god' worshipped by Muslims is the same as the God of the Bible because, in their sinful ignorance, they have created a God and a Gospel to suit their own opinions and worldly tastes!
Thank God for the Blood of Jesus.
[TCE: Claiming the 'Blood of Jesus' is often the deceivers way of excusing tolerance of error (see fuller explanation later) and will be no more effective than the claims Jesus said He would reject in Matthew 7:15-23]
I don't think God gets any glory when we live "lavishly" anymore than He gets glory when we "can't pay our bills". The Bible says, "charge them that are rich to be generous"… All of these people in this article are very generous. Some have helped my ministry.
I'm sitting in an airport now. I'm headed to Mali, Africa. This trip is costing me $15,000. I will be ministering to over 3,000 pastors and leaders from the entire country. I have to feed them. House them. Provide transportation. I will receive an offering from them. The largest offering so far has been less than $200 on trips like this.
Each of the people in this article do the same thing I do. They feed millions of people. They ship tons of literature. They spend millions on airtime. They live 90 days from disaster in their finances. Living by faith.
Would you like to trade places with them? Would you like to walk on water like them?
All I know is that I didn't have enough money to go on this trip. I sowed hundreds of dollars into other ministries. Now people are sowing into mine. I had "just enough" to pay the bill the day before I left. It worked for me.
[TCE: notice the colossal exaggerations! And then the admission that Strader has embraced their false 'sowing' doctrine without ever spotting that this part of the Word-Faith scam is nothing more than a pyramid-selling scheme which is financed by people who lay hands on their TVs (that he also admits to 'blessing'!) while parting with their hard earned cash, even if it is not so much a case of 'widows mites' (see Barna data below) so that the Crouch's, TBN - and even Strader - can get the plaudits, even if he is not sharing in the big houses, big cars, expensive suits - and the big money!]
This article was written by someone who is "anti-Pentecostal" - "anti-prosperity gospel"…
It's like asking a democrat why he doesn't like George Bush. You will never get the "whole truth" out of them. You will get some truth. Truth that has to be looked at. But I certainly would not vote for Kerry just because I didn't like something that George Bush did. I have to look at the big picture. The whole concept.
[TCE: anyone who truly believes in the Word of God (the Bible!) is going to be 'anti-prosperity' because it is a false Gospel; but they will not be 'anti-Pentecostal' unless un-Biblical doctrines and practices are embraced and Strader infers that those criticising Word-Faith are deliberately never going to tell the 'whole truth' - like a politician! His other comments are equally laughable for, if he really looked at the 'Truth' found clearly in the Bible, he would not have fallen for such blatant heresy! Reading the TBN article (below) also seems to reveal that it was a 'typical' secular article and not written from any kind of Christian viewpoint.]
Jesus disciples once asked Jesus to rebuke some people who were preaching "in his name" but not "part of their group." Jesus said, "Leave them alone."
[TCE: Quoting the Scripture accurately reveals Strader's deception:
Mark 9:38-40: And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My Name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our part (is for us).
Does this passage really support Strader's view?:
Firstly, the miracle ('in My name') points to Jesus in the way that past redemptive-historical signs reminded people of the One who is Saviour;
Contrary to the claim of Strader, the passages do not say that the man was 'preaching 'in his name';
The casting out of demons was done by God's power, His power was not limited to the Twelve, and this is equally true today;
Far from merely invoking the name of Jesus in a formula and without genuine faith (as did the seven sons of the Jewish priest Sceva, to whose formula the demon refused to respond, Acts 19:13-16), the man referred to here had actually been 'driving out demons' through Jesus' name;
The unknown exorcist was not one of Jesus' band of disciples, and we do not know exactly what he believed about Jesus, but Jesus addresses the main issue;
Jesus tells His disciples not to stop the man because he is not likely soon to speak badly of Jesus if he does a miracle in His name (cf. Numbers 11:26-29 - where Joshua tried to get Moses to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying in the camp of the Israelites although it is clearly stated that 'the Spirit rested upon them'!);
Casting out demons in Jesus' name at least demonstrated that the man was not against Jesus, that is, preaching 'another Jesus' (2 Corinthians 11:4), for 'whoever is not against us is for us' (Matthew 12:30); by contrast, the Word-Faith 'gospel' brings the Name of Christ into disrepute because even the world recognizes the scam (while genuine Biblical students recognise the heresy!) and thinks this is true Christianity - thus Word-Faith is 'against' the Lord Jesus Christ!
The fact that he was performing a miracle in Jesus' name does not over-ride Jesus' statement regarding those He will 'recognise' as His and allow into the kingdom (Matthew 7:15-23) for, contrary to the beliefs of the Word-Faith and Charismaniacs, performing miracles (in His Name) is not a guaranteed sign of genuine belief in the Lord Jesus Christ;
But when the critical moment for decision arrives, then the principle laid down in a different situation (Matthew 12:30: 'He who is not with me is against me') takes over;
There is no conflict between Mark 9 and Matthew 12 where the issue was whether Christ was the Son of God or demon-empowered; on such a fundamental question, anyone who is not with Him is working against Him and, here in Mark 9, the question was not the Person or work of Christ, but the matter of one's associates in the service of the Lord and tolerance and love prevails where major errors in the presentation of Christ do not occur;
Finally, note that, although 2 John 10-11 exhorts Christians to guard against fellowship which condones false teaching, Jesus is careful to ensure this instruction is not distorted so as to encourage spiritual cliques or elitism over minor matters.
Clearly, these Scriptures do not excuse the errors of the 'Word-Faith'/Vineyard movements and Strader is mistaken in his appeal to them when he concludes in his e-mail:
'I think that's good advice' - says Strader.
[TCE: Strader's advice is anything but 'good' for, as we have already detailed, he is ignoring the very precise instructions of Scripture!]
Regarding 'Pastor/Evangelist Stephen Strader' and his view of how to respond to error, we can go further and say:
Proverbs 17:27-28 makes it clear that there is a time to speak and a time to keep quiet:
27 He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28 Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is counted prudent.
Proverbs 26:4 also shows us clearly when to answer:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. 5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Re-iterating details we first put on the internet many years ago in response to attempts to mis-use Scripture:
There are many people who try to use Matthew 18:15-17 (and other Scriptures that they attempt to use in a similar way to that employed by Strader) to prevent the church from dealing with this kind of deception. It is always dangerous to take one portion of Scripture on its own!
Most people fail to realise that Matthew 18:15-17 clearly deals with private (not public) sin committed by one brother or sister in the Body against another. We read: 'Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee...' (KJV). All translations agree that the subject is sin or trespass, not false teaching. Although a few do not specifically state in verse 15 that this is a trespass by one Christian against another, the context makes this clear in all translations. Look for example at verse 21, where Peter, in response to the Words of the Lord, asks Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?' (KJV). Note, other translations render these words as: 'how often shall my brother sin against me' (RSV); 'how many times can my brother wrong me' (Phillips); 'how often shall my brother sin against me' (NASB), etc.
The entire context clearly has to do with a strictly personal problem between two Christians, where one has wronged the other, and is therefore to be kept private unless it cannot be resolved in that manner. In contrast, many other Scriptures make it very clear that sin which is known publicly is an offense to the entire Body and must be dealt with publicly: 'Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear' (1 Timothy 5:20, KJV). This is both for the benefit of the body of Christ and also to let the world know that the church does not tolerate sin (although, today, we know that it does!). False doctrine is not the subject of Matthew 18:15-17 but something else entirely, and does not come under the instructions Christ gives in that passage.
It is impossible for erroneous teaching that is presented publicly ever to be considered a private trespass of one person against another which must therefore be dealt with privately between the two.
There is a clear Scriptural example of a prophet writing to an offender to warn him of his appalling behaviour, in verse 12 of 2 Chronicles 21:
1 Then Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son became king in his place. 2 And he had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azaryahu, Michael, and Shephatiah. All these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. 3 And their father gave them many gifts of silver, gold and precious things, with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram because he was the first-born. 4 Now when Jehoram had taken over the kingdom of his father and made himself secure, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and some of the rulers of Israel also. 5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab's daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. 7 Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David because of the covenant which He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and his sons forever. 8 In his days Edom revolted against the rule of Judah, and set up a king over themselves. 9 Then Jehoram crossed over with his commanders and all his chariots with him. And it came about that he arose by night and struck down the Edomites who were surrounding him and the commanders of the chariots. 10 So Edom revolted against Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time against his rule, because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers. 11 Moreover, he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot and led Judah astray. 12 Then a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet saying, 'Thus says the LORD God of your father David, 'Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot as the house of Ahab played the harlot, and you have also killed your brothers, your own family, who were better than you, 14 behold, the LORD is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives, and all your possessions with a great calamity; 15 and you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day.'' 16 Then the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians; 17 and they came against Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions found in the king's house together with his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons. 18 So after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable sickness. 19 Now it came about in the course of time, at the end of two years, that his bowels came out because of his sickness and he died in great pain. And his people made no fire for him like the fire for his fathers. 20 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years; and he departed with no one's regret, and they buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
It is no coincidence that there is about twice as much Scripture in the New Testament dealing with doctrine as with right conduct. This is because it would be impossible to know what right conduct is unless it was clearly enunciated in our doctrine!
On the wider issue, there is always someone who asks questions in this way: 'wouldn't it be better to just critique the teachings and let the personalities remain anonymous?' Or at least, why not address criticism of doctrines (such as 'Word-Faith teaching' or 'Dominion Theology' or 'The Toronto/Pensacola Experience'), rather than to people such as Benny Hinn, Nicky Gumbel, Gerald Coates, Rick Joyner, Colin Dye, Marilyn Hickey, the Copelands, etc. This doctrine of addressing the errors of a preacher or writer as publically as they taught is not held to by many denominations today, and is usually handled in a hushed up manner through un-Scriptural 'bishops courts' or the equivalent, such as the Baptist method, or Elim's 'superintendent' system. What is the Biblical response?:
It is Biblical to name names. Paul did it both positively to commend ministries (Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus in 1 Corinthians 16; Epaphroditus in Philippians 2; Onesimus and Ephaphrus among others in Colossians 4; and so on) and negatively to warn against ministries (Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy 1:20; Alexander the coppersmith in 2 Timothy 4:14; cf. 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:17 & 3:1; Titus 1:10-16). The beloved apostle John is also unafraid to be specific: 'Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words' (3 John 9,10). Thus we see that much of the New Testament was written to publicly correct false teaching. Who would dare to accuse the Apostle John of lacking love?
It is consistent to name names negatively if we are happy about praising people positively. Nobody objects to biographies detailing the mighty works of men greatly used by God, such as Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Whitefield or Spurgeon. These biographies are written not that we might admire them, but rather that we might 'imitate [them] just as [they] also imitate Christ' (1 Corinthians 11:1). Is it not equally just that we should speak as clearly about men who are instrumental against God and who resist discipline by the body of Christ? When we write letters or speak out against such men it is not so that anyone might hate the perpetrators of error and heresy, but rather that believers might 'beware of [them], for [they] have greatly resisted our words [the words of Scripture]' (2 Timothy 4:15).
It is practical to name names. The sad facts are that people, as a rule, follow preachers rather than preaching. It is not so much that we hear that: `Brother Kendall is speaking on the law of Christ' that is said, as much as: `Dr. R.T. KENDALL is speaking on the law of Christ'. It should be no surprise that people fall into Antinomianism when they are clearly influenced by Kendall's books and the Doctor has clearly been shown to have an Antinomian outlook! Principally, people go to hear men like Kendall because he is a big name and not so much because they are interested in the topics or passages of Scripture that are advertised. If people will follow personalities, then we have no choice but to attack these `personas', because they have become, to a greater or lesser degree, idols in the minds of their followers. This is why we hear people say things along the lines of: `If Dr R.T. Kendall, or Ken Copeland says it, then it must be of God'? Or the Yes-men who are in the heretics faction even go so far as to try and frighten you away from a Scriptural appraisal of a man's work with the ludicrous and un-Scriptural: `touch not the Lord's anointed' if you dare to level critique at their man!
It is historical to name names. Throughout church history, believers have not shrunk from clearly naming the men and women against whom they were objecting, as well as detailing the teachings that they spoke out against. Look at the titles of works by early church fathers, such as Contra Celsus or Contra Pelagius. Luther wrote Bondage of the Will as a direct criticism of Erasmus' Freedom of the Will, and was vociferous in his criticisms of that individual. Of course, those were the days before flabby, mealy-mouthed, spineless Milquetoasts came to power! In the apostolic, and post-apostolic era, men who daily lived in fear of death were still speaking out bravely in defence of the 'faith which was once for all delivered to the saints' (Jude 3:3). Where once men spoke out in the power of the Spirit, now the pre-eminent dictum is 'be nice and inoffensive and as vague as possible at all costs'. 'Not hurting people's feelings' has become more important than 'speaking the truth in love' (Ephesians 4:15). It is incumbent upon us to speak the truth in love, to protect our brothers and sisters who are in slavery to men who lie to them, cheat them of their money and take the minds captive to carnal philosophies and experiences. We will not keep quiet while these men practice their foul trade on the body of Christ.
The Apostle Paul withstood the Apostle Peter to his face publicly for his false interpretation of the law that caused him to disassociate himself from fellowship with Gentile believers (Galatians 2:11-14)! Note: the apostle Paul does not mention love once in these passages. In Galatians 2, verses 11 and 14, it clearly states how Paul opposed Cephas (Peter):
Paul's approach to discernment and correction was faultless. Peter and Barnabas weren't the only ones he admonished. To them we can add Hymenaeus, Philetus, Demas, Phygellus, Homogenes and Alexander (cf. 1 and 2 Timothy). The beloved John makes the readers of his third Epistle aware of the problems caused by Diotrephes. This follows the pattern of the Old Testament where we should note that all of the prophets, from Moses and Joshua onwards, were addressing error and named those who were erring - whether it was personal sin, such as David with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12), or Micaiah prophesying defeat for wicked king Ahab (1 Kings 22) - or, as shown earlier, a letter from Elijah the prophet to wicked king Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21) in which God judged him:
It ought to be clear to all that such warnings and public correction were what God desired. And we are to do likewise - with one important qualification. How we do something in obedience to the Lord is just as important as what we do. Paul made that clear to Timothy:
We no longer strike deceivers with a literal spear or sword, as Phinehas did (Numbers 25:7-8):
Those who question us about 'lack of love' revealed in our critiques will not find Paul (who wrote the 'hymn to love' - 1 Corinthians 13) talking about love in his letters when he deals with doctrinal sin as careful study of Galatians 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 5-6 shows. True love disciplines: 2 Timothy 1:7 'For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline'. Hebrews 12:5 ' ... and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM'; Hebrews 12:7 'It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?' Hebrews 12:8-11 'But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? …… All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness'. Revelation 3:19 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.'
Believers in many countries of the world have been persecuted to this day; by your 'Word-Faith' reasoning they are being punished by God for their past sins as you claim Paul was!
How many of the apostles suffered and died for their faith? All of them?! So, by your reasoning, they were all guilty of past sins like Paul and were being allowed to suffer for them by God as David did?
The promise of Christ and the evidence of Scripture is that true believers will suffer persecution (Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17; Acts 8:1; 11:19; 13:50; Romans 8:35; 1 Thessalonians 3:7; Hebrews 10:33; Revelation 2:10).
In 1 Kings 15:20 the Chronicler reports that when God sent his prophet Hanani to rebuke king Asa for having forsaken God to trust in man in the war, Asa both threw that seer into prison and dealt harshly with any who dissented with state policy. This commenced a long and chequered history of the persecution of God's prophets (2 Chronicles 16:7-10; cf. 2 Kings 17:13-14). True prophets did not suffer hardship because of their sins, but because they spoke God's 'Word-Faith'fully (an exception, who disobeyed God, was killed by a lion: 1 Kings 13).
What did John the Baptist do to deserve to suffer in prison and die, the last of the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 11:9, 13) who through persecution became models for Jesus' disciples (Matthew 5:11-12)?
In Matthew 24:9ff. Jesus explains that it is during the "birth pains" that Jesus' disciples will be persecuted and killed. "You" quite clearly extends beyond the immediate disciples and includes all the followers Jesus will have. Persecution would break out early (cf. Acts 4:1-30; 7:59-8:3; 12:15; Revelation 2:10, 12) and keep on during the "birth pains," against a background of hatred by the whole world (cf. Acts 28:22). Thlipsis ("persecution," "tribulation," "distress") occurs four times in Matthew, three in chapter 24 (13:21; 24:9, 21, 29), and relates significantly to the chapter's structure (see on vv21, 29). Jesus establishes thlipsis as characteristic of this age (cf. 10:16-39) - a time when many will "turn away" (skandalisthesontas) from the faith and hate each other (v10). Despite persecution - and often because of it (Acts 8:1, 4) - the Good News is "preached" (Greek: kerychthesetai, cf. Matthew 4:17) "as a testimony to all nations."
John 17:6: Now that the supreme test of their faith was impending, Jesus prayed that they might be preserved against the persecution that could separate them from Him and from one another.
Stephen was described as being "full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3), "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (6:5), and "full of God's grace and power" (6:8). The word "grace" (charis) was previously used by Luke to characterize both Jesus (Luke 4:22) and the early church (Acts 4:33) and connotes "spiritual charm" or "winsomeness." "Power" (dynamis) has already appeared in Acts in conjunction with "wonders and signs" (2:22) and "grace" (4:33) and connotes divine power expressed in mighty works. So, like Jesus and the apostles (cf. 2:22, 43; 5:12), Stephen is portrayed as having done "great wonders and miraculous signs among the people" - yet he died a violent death. Ironically, Stephen's accusation, against the nation that had killed the prophets God sent, was that nothing had been learned from the past, since an even more horrendous crime had been committed in the present - the betrayal and murder of "the Righteous One" - by those who were so smug about Israel's past failures.
We could add many other examples, but what had all these believers done that they should 'reap whatever [they] sowed].' The Scriptures you quote (Galatians 6:7-8, Jude 1:5, Revelations 2:23) certainly do not apply to these people of faith.
You pointlessly repeat your earlier 'prosperity' argument (word for word in places!) that we have already refuted, thus making it clear that you are paying no attention to our words. Indeed, the very speed with which you replied - and the utter paucity and inaccuracy of your arguments - proves that you are not even reading carefully!
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