Saturday, July 14, 2018

Herescope

New Directions

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace,
and bring glad tidings of good things!”

(Romans 10:15b)

On September 15, 2005 the first Herescope post went up. Steve Muse, who at that time headed Eastern Regional Watch Ministries (ERWM), Sue Conway, my husband Lynn and I, sat around my computer screen in our office as Steve showed us how to set up a blog. Steve was convinced that blogging was a useful new technological way to communicate Gospel truth, and to especially warn about error in real-time. The four of us had just returned from a Discernment Ministries conference in Bowling Green, Ohio, where we had learned about the many new heresies coming into the church. We knew that the errors of our time were serious and growing, and the warnings needed to get out quickly.

Steve proceeded to set up the blog and then asked, “What name should we give this blog?” We thought about it for a few minutes, then the logical answer came to my mind – Herescope! Herescope had been the name of a monthly column in a magazine my husband and I published during the mid-1990s called The Christian Conscience. Lynn had coined the term in late 1994 – it literally means “scoping out a heresy.” In our magazine’s monthly Herescope column we had published many articles warning about occult teachings, Promise Keepers, the Toronto “laughing” phenomena, and treacherous New Age teachings. The blog would be a continuation of that magazine column!

As we discussed the premise of the blog and how it would operate, we quickly realized that this was an immense task that would require a group effort. That very day we dubbed ourselves the “Discernment Research Group,” an ad hoc group of committed believers who had already been working together for many years researching, writing, speaking and publishing information about biblical discernment.

When we set up the Herescope blog we immediately realized it could also serve as an active outreach arm for Discernment Ministries. Lynn and I had served on the board of directors of Discernment Ministries since 2000, and we had already been working very closely with Jewel (van der Merwe) Grewe with conferences and writings since 1995. From its inception the Herescope blog blessed Discernment Ministries with much activity. In its early years I was frequently a guest on radio shows, and as a result our outreach spanned the globe. Those were the heady days as online discernment ministries (a term sometimes used as a reproach against us) were able to get out messages to warn believers about the rapidly emerging deceptions and errors of unbiblical teachings. We warned about popular movements that rocked the evangelical world: Rick Warren’s global Purpose Driven agenda; the leaders and methods trained by Leadership Network who spawned the Emergents and Neo-Calvinists; C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation and its dominion; Chuck Missler and Tom Horn and their Nephilim space aliens; and the false “Christ” voice that was speaking to both New Agers and evangelicals. In much of our writings we delved into the history of these movements so that believers could more fully understand the issues.

We sought to be above the fray – to not engage in the “ambulance chasing” of every new bad thing the well-known evangelical leaders were doing, but rather to patiently and from Scripture point out the error and contrast it with the truth. We discovered that our research format was feeding factual information and biblical truth to church people, ministers, and missionaries on the field. We received e-mails from all over the world thanking us for explaining the details about why some new teaching was not biblical. Many of our posts were republished on other blogs and even in printed publications. It was a particular blessing to realize our writings were reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Larry DeBruyn passed away over the Christmas holidays, and because in recent years he had been such a major part of our ministry, we decided to step aside and take a break from our regular Herescope postings. It was time for all of us to pause, reassess, regroup, and pray for the Lord’s direction. During this time Discernment Ministries made the decision to return to its original calling and take a step away from the research. After much prayer, Lynn and I realized that we were also to go in a new direction, and so we submitted our resignations from the Discernment Ministries board of directors effective June 30th.

We will continue to publish our Herescope blog as we move in this new direction. This is all in God’s plan and in His hands. We feel profoundly blessed to have worked so closely with Discernment Ministries all of these years and it is with both sadness and joy that we move on to the next phase of our calling in the Lord. Our mission continues to be the publishing of biblical discernment and apologetics research, including testimonies and devotionals, and in the days to come we will publish a testimony on Herescope of the history of how God set up the “Discernment Research Group.”

There will be many changes coming in the future as the Lord directs us. One thing readers will be blessed to know – Lord willing, we will be publishing more of Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s works, including the books and articles he had committed to us to finish before his death. Herescope readers will be kept apprised of these developments.

We are thankful for all of our many friends, research partners, pastors and prayer partners who have together worked with us over these past thirteen years to publish the Herescope blog. There have been 947 Herescope posts put up since 2005. It is with exceeding gratefulness that we can give God all of the glory for His faithful Word which sustained us. These 13 years were not without stress, but they have been filled with joy. Some of us continually battled health issues. We also lost key members of our Discernment Research Group who passed on to glory – including Pastor Ken Silva and Pastor Larry DeBruyn. Several of our dear prayer warriors also moved on to heaven where they will receive their reward.

May the Lord bless you all. We covet your prayers. You can communicate with us directly at Conscience Press, PO Box 1863, Hiram, OH 44234 or at herescope@gmail.com 

Sarah H. Leslie, editor

“And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times,
and strength of salvation:
the fear of the LORD is his treasure.”

(Isaiah 33:6)

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Did Hell Disappear?

Creating A “Low-Intensity Faith”



The Wall Street Journal wrote last week that “Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, a friend and frequent interviewer of the pope, reported that the pontiff had denied the existence of hell.”

Sinners who die without achieving eternal salvation “are not punished,” the pope said, according to an article by Mr. Scalfari in the Itlaian newspaper La Repubblica. “There is no hell; there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”[1]  

Predictably the Vatican would later release a statement that partially denied the report, but also “stopped short of a specific denial.”[2] This clever dialectic maneuver is a perfect example of two steps forward, one step back. Now the issue of hell is on the table and up for debate, once again illustrating how the Pope Francis has “shaken up perceptions of Catholic doctrine.”[3]

The Pope is merely following in the steps of other theologians and leaders who have professed orthodoxy out of one side of their mouth while teaching new doctrine.[4] Their strategies appear to be the same. The Wall Street Journal's Vatican correspondent, Francis X. Rocca, describes it:

For more conservative critics, the pope's approach amounts to promotion of a “low-intensity Catholicism that can be easily welcomed by those far from the faith and even hostile to it,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy's L'Espresso magazine.[5]


An Editorial by Pastor Jim Jenkins

The nun turned her back on the class. (We were still not safe from scrutiny... we all knew she also had eyes in the back of her head.) Jimmy Cummings could make these strange voices and sounds and get us giggling… and then when the good sister turned around to find the culprit, Jimmy could instantly take on the countenance of a cherub and someone else would be blamed. His unique ability served him well. He is now Voice Actor Jim Cummings... the voice of Winnie the Pooh! 

I digress… Back to what the nun had written on the green blackboard. She took the pointer, a weapons grade staff with a rubber tip that looked like a ballistic missile, and pronounced the phrase she had written:

Ex Cathedra 

She then went on to explain that whenever the Pope was seated in the chair (also called the throne of St. Peter) whatever he said was infallible. He was not to be questioned for he was speaking in the place of God. The Latin phrase ex cathedra means “from or out of the chair” 

There was another Latin term we would learn:

Imprimatur 

Imprimatur was the term used to describe the authority of the Church when it came to anyone publishing anything that had to do with the teachings of the Church. It was an official endorsement or sanction... a seal of approval. Yet another Latin phrase would be the official Imprimatur:


Nihil Obstat 

It means “Nothing is in the way or is unacceptable or offensive.” 


Two days ago, I was listening to a national talk show. I actually got on the air and was able to engage the host on a topic that is important to me… how the media is intentionally trying to undermine our values and beliefs. After the conversation and just before the commercial break, the host teased the topic for the next segment:

“Stick around folks, did you hear the Pope said there is no Hell?”

The current Pope has made numerous remarks that seem to confute not only Catholic Dogma, but the Bible itself. He took a lot of heat when he opined about the whole issue of homosexuality. “Who am I to judge?” I mean no disrespect, but I said out loud when I heard it, “I know who you are… You are Vicar of Christ on earth, the unquestionable representative of God to over a billion people. You sit on a throne, and utter remarks that are deemed to be infallible. You and those who rule with you can excommunicate people, hence cut them off from the means of grace… ergo consigning them to the Hell you said is not what the Bible describes, and Jesus believed to be real. In the New Testament, Jesus mentioned the word Hell more than He did Heaven.”

The implications of all this are far reaching. What else in the Bible will be deemed to be inaccurate or false? Does the word infallible mean… sometimes or ‘sort of’? And what of all the tormented souls who died believing that they were damned to Hell? The Pope is reported to have said that the unrepentant ones don’t go to Hell. They just disappear. The Bible describes torment that never ends… a Dante’s inferno. 

There is an angst that is palpable in our world… Constitutions mean nothing. Vows mean even less than nothing and we, lemming-like, rush to fall into the abyss as the institutions of power in our country disassemble all that was based on God’s word. 

Listen to this noble school mission statement:  

“Christo et Ecclesia” 

For Christ and the Church! This is the founding mission statement of Harvard! Princeton had this lofty goal for its students, To know God in Jesus Christ… to live a godly sober life.”[6]

God said, “For I am the Lord. I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) The writer to the Hebrews said under the unction of The Holy Spirit, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God!” (Hewbrews 10:31) We have for a long time meekly submitted to the abandonment of the very notion there is such a thing as Truth. One writer quipped “God created man in his own image and likeness… and now man has returned the favor.” 

I remember preaching a message years ago in which I talked about the Bible’s use of the word authority. Now for Catholics, authority rests in a man who speaks ex cathedra… from the chair. For those who rule us politically their authority can be described as ex officio… out of the office they hold. But for the believer in Jesus, the authority that He grants us is based on our relationship with Him. The word translated authority in the Greek is exousia. It is a derivative of the verb “to be” It can be rendered ‘Out of who I AM’. 


Is there a Hell? Is it how the Bible describes it? I read in the Bible that there is a hell and that Jesus affirmed it and warned that some will go there. I have staked my life on its veracity.

I hold that the answer does not rest with a man, or an organization, or a tradition. The Bible says, “All Scripture is God breathed.” (1 Timothy 3:16) “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” said Jesus, “but My Words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33) That is proof enough for me.



The Truth:

For the truth about hell, see Pastor Larry DeBruyn's excellent article, “An Imaginary Cosmic Reality,”[7] where he refutes the denial of hell. Here is a brief excerpt:

Many, even Christians, reject the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles regarding the eternal punishment of the wicked. They point out that no biblical word expresses the concept of “eternity,” but only “a long period”or “remotest time” (Hebrew ‘olam) or “age” (Greek aion). They argue that because of these words’ multifaceted meanings there is no word in Scripture expressing a forever category of time. Therefore it is presumptuous for anyone to think hell will never end. But the Apostle John describes the state of being consigned to the Lake of Fire as one of being “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). The time frame expressed is in multiples of forever-s, one of ages of ages. These multiples of ages is the longest concept of time the Greek language, or perhaps any language, can express (Greek plurals, eis tous aionas ton aionon, Revelation 20:10). Combined with “day and night” (Greek, hemeras kai nyktos), “for ever and ever” nuances a timeless existence in which 24/7, for ages of ages, the unholy trinity—the beast, the false prophet, the devil—and others will be confined. Together, the clauses express the “the unbroken continuity of their torment” in perpetuity.

“And I say unto you my friends,
Be not afraid of them that kill the body,
and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear:
Fear Him, which after He hath killed
hath power to cast into hell;
yea,
 I say unto you, Fear Him.”
(Jesus, Luke 12:4-5)

“Jesus saith unto him,
I am 
the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto
 the Father, but by Me.”
(John 14:6)

Endnotes:
1. Francis X. Rocca,  “Shifting lines: Pope's Uncertainty Principle,” The Wall Street Journal, March 31-April 1, 2018, p. A9. 
2. Ibid
3. Ibid.
4. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn's “Love Loses,” a review of Rob Bell's book Love Wins: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/05/love-loses.html and his article An Imaginary Cosmic Reality reviewing Wm. Paul Young's book, Lies We Believe About God: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/06/an-imaginary-cosmic-reality.html
5. Rocca, Ibid.  
6. Everett Piper, The Wrong Side of the Door, p. 23. 
7. http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/06/an-imaginary-cosmic-reality.html 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Another Scripture

Part 4: Conclusion

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3


“Sanctify them through Thy truth:
Thy Word is truth.”
(Jesus, John 17:17)

The Pied Piper


A Report by Barbara Wilhelm

DENIAL OF SCRIPTURE IN JESUS CALLING 
Sarah Young denies the Words of Scripture. In fact, she nullifies the entire book of Hebrews and every other book in the New Testament. Notice the clarity - and finality - of Hebrews 1:1-2 and the confirmation provided by Jude 1:3:

Hebrews 1:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 


Jude 3 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 
One of the versions of Jesus Calling

In the last of these days God has spoken to us in the Person - not the "Presence" of His Son. He has spoken "once, for all time." Jesus in His Word has emphatically stated that He is completely finished speaking any more words for publication. How then can a "Presence" of "Jesus" contradict Jesus? These inner voices of the "Presence" are assumed by Sarah Young to be Jesus. Therefore, she encourages her readers to assume the same. She uses journaling or, more accurately, automatic writing to keep track of these voices. She encourages listening to these voices spoken by the "Presence" as a means of direct communication between the readers and the "Presence" themselves. Normally we have been told throughout our Christian walks that our Lord Jesus speaks through His Bible to us. Now we are being encouraged to listen to the mystical voice of a "Presence" whose words contradict the Bible. This will, ultimately, lead to great confusion for the readers… or worse.

The idea of following the voices of a "Presence" reminds me of the story of the Pied Piper which, as I just discovered, is based on an apparently true event. [See: https://theportalist.com/the-chilling-true-story-behind-the-pied-piper-of-hamelin] A Pied Piper is defined as someone who induces others to follow him/her by means of false promises. [Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pied-piper] I often have wondered where the children went after they were lured to follow this very colorful person who was so enticing to their eyes and ears. The children listened to an enchanting sound and it led them… to where? Isaiah 53:6 comes to mind: "All we like sheep have gone astray." 
Yet another Sarah Young book


WHY HAVE REVISIONS HAD TO BE MADE TO JESUS CALLING IF THIS IS TRULY JESUS SPEAKING? 
One of the most important characteristics of the Bible is that the Words are never to be added to or subtracted from (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19). This is because Jesus Himself is unchangeable. Considering that, the question has to be asked: why have revisions been made to Jesus Calling if this is truly "Jesus" speaking in Sarah Young's book? Yet this is precisely what has happened. The August 23 devotion in the 2004 version of her book speaks of Abraham and Isaac and accuses Abraham of "son worship." However, while the August 23 devotion in the 2011 edition begins the same as the 2004 edition, it changes mid-stream and talks - not about Abraham and Isaac - but about Jacob and Joseph. Has the true Jesus ever been known to edit His Own Words? Has He ever re-phrased one of the books of the Bible? The real Jesus has not, and according to His Own Word, could not revise His Words. The only assumption I think we can make is that the "Jesus" of Jesus Calling is not the real Jesus.

DISCERNMENT WRITER CHALLENGES AUTHENTICITY OF JESUS CALLING MESSAGES
Warren Smith examined the multiple versions of the Jesus Calling book that were published over the years. He has published booklets and articles that elaborate even further the problems discussed above: the authenticity and trustworthiness of the messages from the "Jesus" of Jesus Calling. Warren Smith is eminently qualified to write a detailed analysis of Jesus Calling. He is an ex-New Ager and an expert on the many false New Age "Jesus" and "God" entities whose channeled transmissions appear in popular books. The very title of one of his articles/booklets - "Changing Jesus Calling - Damage Control for a False Christ" - brings to my mind the cautionary verses below:
Warren Smith's booklet

2 Corinthians 11:2-4 New King James Version (NKJV) 
2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it! 
In his article, Warren Smith writes:

Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have been systematically deleting controversial material from Jesus Calling. Adding, subtracting, cutting, pasting and completely eliminating problematic words, sentences and even whole paragraphs, Young and her editors do not hesitate to put words in the mouth of their "Jesus," even as they take others away. But… these tactics are doing more to expose their problems than cover them up…. 

The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs published by Harvest House Christian publishers specifically describes God Calling as a channeled New Age book. In their lengthy chapter on channeling and spiritual dictation, authors/apologist [Christian] John Weldon and John Ankerberg explain that channeling is a form of New Age "mediumship" and according to the Bible it "is a practice forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)." Under the subheading titled "Impersonations of Christianity," the authors describe God Calling as a New Age book "replete with denials of biblical teaching" as it "subtly encourages psychic development and spiritistic inspiration under the guise of Christ's personal guidance... and often misinterprets Scripture." Yet Sarah Young wrote that it was God Calling that inspired her to receive her own messages from "Jesus." In her original introduction to Jesus Calling, Young praised God Calling as "a treasure to me"…. 

Yet another Sarah Young book
The Damage Control 
In recent editions of Jesus Calling - including the 10th anniversary edition--the preceding paragraph regarding God Calling - has been removed from the author's longstanding introduction. No explanation. No apology. Nothing. Suddenly and completely gone is any mention of God Calling - how it had inspired her to receive her own "messages" from "Jesus" and how it was a "treasure" to her. Her previous praise of God Calling had become problematic as it had drawn obvious New Age comparisons to her own book. It had also become apparent that her original endorsement of God Calling was helping to popularize this New Age book among believers! While Christian leaders have been strangely silent about Jesus Calling, it was the secular media that took Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson to task for changing and deleting the problematic material in their best-selling book. 

Ruth Graham, writing in The Daily Beast, a popular online American news reporting and opinion website formerly associated with Newsweek magazine, wrote an article to question the changes being made to Sarah Young's original introduction. Graham wrote: 

The latest edition of Jesus Calling includes some important changes. The paragraph about God Calling has been deleted, and references to received "messages" have been changed to the less mystically inflected "writings and devotions." In a passage in which Young recounts her early attempts to write down what God told her, the new version characterizes this as "focusing on Jesus and His Word, while asking Him to guide my thoughts." Thomas Nelson refers to the books as "Sarah's prayer journal," emphasizing that Young is not claiming to speak for Jesus. A skeptical reader, comparing the two introductions, would see an effort by a publisher to bring an increasingly controversial but lucrative best-seller into line with mainstream evangelical orthodoxy. 

In that same article, Ruth Graham also questioned the explanations offered by Thomas Nelson publicist Katie Powell: 

In an email responding to my questions, the book's publicist at Thomas Nelson, Katie Powell, wrote that the reference to God Calling was never meant as more than "a nod," and it was deleted because it had "created some confusion." "The book's theology has always been sound," she wrote. "The changes were made to make the introduction easier to understand especially since Jesus Calling is now being read by such a wide variety of people" Thomas Nelson did not call attention to the changes, Powell wrote, because the introduction's "content did not change" between editions. But it's hard to square that with the similarities between Young's book and Jesus Calling--right down to the title. 
Yet another Sarah Young book

Graham's skepticism was right on target. And contrary to the statement by the Thomas Nelson publicist, the content of the introduction has changed in recent editions. The unexplained changes have caused many former supporters of Jesus Calling to stop using the devotional. Christian online newspaper WorldNetDaily (WND) picked up on the controversy and published two articles, "Top Christian Bestseller Accused of Heresy," and "Is Hit Book 'Jesus Calling' Publishing New Age?" Charisma magazine followed up with a similar article that noted the growing controversy. It was titled "Critics Accuse 'Jesus Calling' of Mixing Truth With New Age Error."…

The Damage Control 
In recent editions of Jesus Calling, all ten references to the words "message" and "messages" have been deleted from her otherwise longstanding introduction. What were originally described as "messages" she "received" from "Jesus" are now being described as "writing" and "devotions" that she "gleaned" in her "quiet moments."… 

Since this unbiblical contradiction was brought to light in my book "Another Jesus" Calling, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have eliminated this obvious contradiction in their 10th anniversary edition. In other words, they had their "Jesus" correct himself. Compare the original January 28th and October 15th statements that have been in Jesus Calling for the last ten years, with the replacement statements now inserted in the new 10th anniversary edition. 

January 28th Original Statement
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. These were the last words I spoke before ascending into heaven. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen. [bold added] 


January 28th Replacement Statement
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. I spoke these words to My disciples after My resurrection. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen. [bold added] 


October 15th Original Statement
TRY TO STAY CONSCIOUS OF ME as you go step by step through this day. My presence with you is both a promise and a protection. My final statement just before I went to heaven was: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. [bold added] 


October 15th Replacement Statement
TRY TO STAY CONSCIOUS OF ME as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection. After My resurrection, I assured My followers: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. [bold added] 

Note: One of the 250 "messages" Sarah Young included in her yet-to-be-corrected Jesus Calling Devotional Bible (NKJV) is the original October 15th "message" from Jesus Calling--"My final statement just before I went to heaven was: Surely I am with you always." Given that this statement is clearly unbiblical, Young's justification for her messages to be included "alongside the biblical text" falls a little flat. She wrote: 

Since my writings are rooted in the infallible, unchanging Word of God, having them appear alongside the biblical text would seem to be a natural place for them. 

Yet another Sarah Young book

Jesus Corrects Himself? 
Sarah Young might argue that because Jesus never contradicts Himself, she must have heard it wrong. But if that were the case, she had to hear it wrong on two separate occasions because the unbiblical statement is in two different messages. With this in mind, an important question must be asked. Who was Sarah Young listening to when she "received" these two "messages?" Obviously the real Jesus does not contradict himself--much less correct Himself in regards to His own words and actions. 

And for those who might argue that there is no longer a problem because this contradiction and other problematic areas have been corrected, several more questions must be asked. What about the ten million readers who have trusted these unbiblical messages over the last ten years? Do you just pretend it never happened? Aren't they owed some kind of explanation as to how Sarah Young's "Jesus" could make mistakes of this magnitude? But perhaps most importantly, how can an author and publisher--or anyone for that matter-believe they have the right to put words in and out of the mouth of Jesus Christ like He is some kind of literary device--and most especially when it is for the purpose of damage control. [Extended excerpts used with permission of the author. Read the entire piece at: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16349

The Pied Piper

FROM MY HEART:
Before I close this report there is one more thing on my heart that I feel I must share. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. How many people who previously would have gone to their Bibles when they needed comfort now go to Jesus Calling? How many who started their days reading the Bible (2Timothy 3:16, the God-breathed Word) now go to these questionable words channeled through a woman? As a result, their relationships with the true Jesus have been stolen and destroyed. He is our Shelter, our Refuge, our very present help in time of need, our Comfort, our Life, our Daily Bread, our Soon and Coming King, our Savior. This is the Jesus of the Bible. Can this "Jesus" of Jesus Calling offer all that… or is he a thief who has stolen away our relationships with the true Son of God?

Life Application: 
1Thessalonians 5:21 commands us to prove all things. This entire series of lessons is an example of obedience to that command by a variety of those in His body who care for the safety of His people. If you or someone you know have read these books, would you go back to the very beginnings of these lessons and see this action as a "kindness" that has been done to the body of Christ and share it with them to keep them safe?

Psalm 141:5 Amplified Bible (AMP) 
"Let the righteous [thoughtfully] strike (correct) me--
it is a kindness [done to encourage my spiritual maturity].
It is [the choicest anointing] oil on the head;
Let my head not refuse
[to accept and acknowledge and learn from] it;"


Bibliography: 
Bulle, Florence God Wants You Rich and Other Enticing Doctrines, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bethany House Publishers, 1983. 
A.J. Russell ed. God Calling, by Two Listeners, Old Tappan, N.J., Fleming H. Revel., 1936.



The author of this 4-part series, Barbara Wilhelm, is a long-time discerner. She recently started her own blog, Holding His Word Higher: https://holdinghiswordhigher.com. Visit her site for her weekly posts.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Another Jesus

Part 3

Read Part 1
Read Part 2

"For many shall come in My name,
saying,
I am Christ;
and shall deceive many."

(Matthew 24:5)




A Report by Barbara Wilhelm


JESUS CALLING
SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR ANALYSIS
As always, the Word of God is to be the foundation of our discussion. In addition, it is often necessary to dig deeper into the essence of a Word in a verse to truly understand what the Lord is trying to convey. Before we can get a fuller grasp of the errors in Jesus Calling we need to first look at the command of "proving" and what it entails.
1 Thessalonians 5:21(KJV):
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 
Prove is a metallurgical term wherein a test is performed to assay the purity of a stone. Iron pyrite's metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue give it a superficial resemblance to gold. But it is not gold; it merely appears to be gold. This brings to mind the saying, "If it looks so good, how can it be deception?" Iron pyrite can look even better than gold because it shimmers and shines so brightly. But it is all superficial. That is the exact reason why we use the Bible to "prove" all things. The Bible does not appeal to our senses and emotions. The only standard of truth is the Word of God. Since the Bible cannot be added to or subtracted from, one of its characteristics is that any time someone proposes any kind of teaching, it must be substantiated by the already written Word of God. Jude 3 stresses the permanence and unchangeableness of God's Word: 
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people. 
As we continue with our study of both God Calling and Jesus Calling it will become apparent that both these books have extrabiblical meanings; they offer teachings not at all contained in the Word of God.

MY TESTIMONY WITH JESUS CALLING 
My husband John and I did not come to know the Lord until we were in our late thirties and our children Tracy and John were 12 and 10, respectively. For that reason we brought a lot of unclean "baggage" into our Christian walk in the forms of books, games, etc. One night I had a dream of a bathtub seemingly filled with an innocent liquid. It was, however, filled with a caustic solution of lye that would have horribly burned or scarred anyone who put even their "little pinky toe" in it. This seemed to be a personal message to me. I knew that the Lord spoke through dreams in the Bible as He did in the OT and NT (Genesis 15:1; 37:1-11; Luke 1: 5-23; Matthew 1:20; 2:13; Acts 10:1-6). Even though I was a relatively new Christian I was also aware that this dream had to be proved by Scripture before I could accept it as coming from the Lord. The Lord led me to read Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 and Acts 19: 18-20. The first group of verses gave my husband and I direction about what was dangerous. The second group of verses told us what to do before and as we prayed for discernment. We were convicted. It was surprising how large a garbage bag we filled with books, toys and even some costly art objects. We had even received a beautiful and costly signs-of-the-zodiac plate from a relative. Somehow, even though we were new believers, zodiacs and the One True God didn't seem compatible. We decided to go by that old motto: when in doubt, throw it out. If it offended our eyes, we thought it would offend the Lord's eyes. An old ouija board was the final item we stashed in the garbage bag. Here are the verses that convicted our hearts about removing the caustic "lye" from our lives: 
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (NIV):
10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; 


Acts 19:18-19 (NIV):
18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas 

After our family diligently prayed and discovered that we had a lot of physical housecleaning to do, we also went through a period of spiritual housecleaning. Psalm 51 was our guide. I remember an old song based on that song: "Cleanse our hearts oh God; make us ever true; cleanse our hearts oh God, let us be like You." About two years later when we taught a youth group, the Lord helped us realize that the word "lye" has an alternate spelling - "lie." From that point on we became even more diligent over allowing anyone we loved to come in contact with a lie in case they were horribly burned or scarred.

Another Sarah Young book

PRESENT DAY
In 2014 a series of events began that prompted my doing a great deal of reading. In the space of less than three weeks three different women of my age group at church discussed the book Jesus Calling in my presence. I had ignored the popularity of the book purposely because over 20 years ago I had been repeatedly presented with its predecessor and inspiration God Calling and had not wanted to read that either. Eventually, however, someone gave me God Calling as a gift and I realized the Lord wanted me to review it. I sat down and read it through in its entirety in 3-4 days. It was a book written by two anonymous "listeners" who were in fact being used as "channels" or "mediums" - an occult practice. The book was written in the first person so that the reader was to believe that God Himself was speaking. It did not stand up to any Biblical tests and especially failed the most important test: it did not use Scripture alone as an authority. And now twenty years later a woman named Sarah Young is using God Calling as an inspiration for Jesus Calling and it has become a 15 million copies best seller.

Again, I had no desire to read Jesus Calling. I came home and told my daughter about the latest encounter at church with the women of my age. She told me that quite a few women of her age had asked her to read it also; and then my granddaughter overheard us and relayed the same message. They asked me to read the book. A week after this discussion Warren Smith, a respected discernment minister, published a book titled Another Jesus Calling that shares his concerns about this devotional. Later I learned that Pastor Bob DeWaay had also written a lengthy article titled "Toxic Devotion: A Review of Sarah Young's-Jesus Calling." I found it interesting that he would call the book "toxic" recalling that "lye" is also considered toxic. Substantial excerpts from both of these men in their excellent reports will be included later in my analysis.
Yet another Sarah Young book


THE INTRODUCTION
In my reading I first noticed that even in the Introduction to Jesus Calling Sarah Young makes some troubling remarks: 
I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. (Jesus Calling, p. xii

I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God. (Jesus Calling, p. xii

I have written them [my writings] from Jesus' point of view; that is, the first person singular. ("I," "Me," "Mine,") always refers to Christ. "You" refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you. (Jesus Calling, p. xiii-xiv
Yet these comments seem to me to totally contradict these Scriptures: 
Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV):
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe. 


2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV):
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 


Deuteronomy 4:2 (NIV):
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. 


Revelation 22:18 (NIV):
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. Has not Jesus already said everything that He came to say? 
Has He not said in 2Timothy that what He has already given us is all we need and that only those words in the Bible are "God-breathed" and inspired by Him? If He Himself has said in His Word that no more is to be added to what He has said, then isn't the Jesus of Jesus Calling contradicting Himself? Isn't this "another Jesus" (2Corinthians 11:4) speaking?

Is not Sarah Young challenging the sufficiency of Scripture?

Sarah Young's Amazon page
HIS PRESENCE 
Another topic mentioned over 300 times is that of "His Presence." It implies the presence of the real Jesus Christ, but careful examination proves otherwise (1Thessalonians 5:21: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good"). The following points are from the website report of noted discernment author, Pastor Bob DeWaay, titled "Toxic Devotion: A Review of Sarah Young's-Jesus Calling." This excerpt from Pastor DeWaay's report begins with a quotation from Jesus Calling
"Let Me infuse My Presence into your thoughts. As your mind stops racing, your body relaxes and you regain awareness of Me…. There are actually more than four dimensions in this world where you live. In addition to the three dimensions of space and the one of time, there is the dimension of openness to My presence." (May 24) 

Here Young teaches Eastern ideas, claiming their spiritual source as Jesus. This is rather shocking, as is the entire book. The apostle John teaches the tangibility of Jesus who bodily ascended to heaven. John was an apostle who spoke authoritatively for God who had seen "Jesus Christ come in the flesh." Sarah Young has not. Here is what John said in his first epistle: 
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1John 1:1-3) 

Jesus Calling portrays a spirit Jesus (Young does not claim to have seen the bodily raised Christ, but rather experienced an encounter with a spirit Jesus through an experience she had with nature) and thus fails the test of spirits. This lack of tangibility that the apostle John describes is fatal to her claims. Anyone can claim to have had a subjective encounter with a metaphysical being and call it "awareness of Presence." Even [Eckhart] Tolle does that. Yet Young has sold far more than 5 million books. [See Pastor DeWaay's report: http://www.cicministry.org/commentary/issue125.htm; link added.] 


I found myself in full agreement with these statements. Christ sent the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. His presence with us is a promise we already believe and have experienced; it is not an altered state of consciousness. Sarah Young refers to this mystical "Presence" over 300 times in her book. Yet Scripture tells us: 
Acts 1:8-11 (NIV): 
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." 
Notice that Jesus went up in bodily form and will come back in the same way and not as a spirit presence as Sarah Young presents Him.

Warren Smith has written a book entitled Another Jesus Calling which is devoted to the details of God Calling and Jesus Calling. In his book Warren delves even deeper into the extensive topic of the "Presence" that is so often emphasized in Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. Warren Smith noticed, "In Jesus Calling 'Jesus' promotes the experience of his 'Presence'" above God's Word. [Source: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17704]

Warren Smith's book

On p. 233 Ms. Young incorrectly misquotes Scriptures by adding the words "My Presence": "My Word is a lamp to your feet; My Presence is a Light for your path." [Emphasis mine] Additional references may be found on pp. 3, 13, 135, 352, 314 of Jesus Calling.

Yet that is not Biblically correct as we see when we compare it to Psalm 119:105: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." See additional Bible verses: Psalm 119: 103-104; 138:2; Luke 11:35; 2Timothy 3: 16-17. Yet the word "Presence" seems to appear more than the Word "Jesus" in Sarah Young's writings. Interestingly, Jesus did promise that while his "Presence" would not be with His followers after He left them the Holy Spirit would be forever with them. Pastor Larry DeBruyn makes this clear distinction below in his beautifully titled article "The Present of 'His Presence'." Below are selected excerpts. I would encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

God's Presence - Jesus' Promise 
Jesus promised that He would not leave His disciples to be orphans in the world after He departed. He would not abandon them. He promised to send to them another Comforter to be as equally present with them as He had been; the marvelous difference being that while Jesus had been present with the disciples, the Spirit of God would be present in them! The time of the Spirit's indwelling presence however, would not come before Jesus' glorification - that is, until after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Then Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter or Paraclete, to be His proxy Presence. Through the Holy Spirit Who proceeded from Him and the Father (John16:26, "whom I will send unto you from the Father"), the Lord Jesus Christ would abundantly infuse His Presence into the lives of those who by faith belonged to Him, both individually and collectively. As Jesus stated and John interpreted: 
 
Pastor Larry's booklet

"In the last day, that great day of the feast [The Feast of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (John 7:37-39). 

That coming of His Presence Jesus did not compare to a well, a creek or a stream, but to "rivers of living water" (plural), the supply of which might be compared to the Mississippi River and all its tributaries. But unlike the Mississippi, His divine presence would not be polluted, but pure - it would be living water. 

Questions: Why are Christians seeking a divine presence that Jesus promised would abundantly flow in them? What is it that some Christians are seeking after that the Spirit of Christ does not already supply? Why do they need another voice, another visitation, or another vision? Why are some people unthankfully desirous of "something more" than what in God has already given to us? Why is it that some Christians, in the depth of their souls, are not seemingly at rest? (See Hebrews 4:9-10.) 

God's Presence - Pentecost…. 
This presence is real and abiding. Christ dwells in believers. This is "the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). In Christ, the Holy Spirit, who "is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance," has "sealed" [stamped] "us until the redemption of the purchased possession [our persons]" (Ephesians 1:13-14). Our eternal destiny involves His Presence until the completion of our redemption. As Jesus told His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). Although Jesus would no longer be physically present even with His faithful followers, the Spirit, whom He would send to take His place, would, and by faith we have that presence NOW! The Spirit of Christ is both with us and in us! (Romans 8:9b) Hebrews tells the people of the promise, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5) 

Question: Of this pledged-permanent presence, I would ask, "How can we meditate or contemplate ourselves into it?" The answer is, "We can't!" By faith God gives it (Galatians 3:2). For this reason, I never pray for the Lord to be "with" me. He already is!... 

His Proactive Presence…. 
The divine presence descends to us (John 3:13). Unlike Mystic Spirituality, we do not ascend to it. Jesus illustrated that the presence of the Spirit may be compared to a wind which blows upon a human soul (John 3:8), and we can no more control the presence of the Spirit than we can control the wind or the weather. As such, union with Christ cannot be activated or initiated by Mystic disciplines or rituals, but only cultivated. Union with Christ is reactive and interactive. God initiates, we respond. As to this important distinction, A.J. Gordon wrote that, 
The method of grace is precisely the reverse of the method of legalism. The latter is holiness in order to union with God; the former, union with God in order to holiness. 
We do not get at this union via the legalism of our own works or by engaging in rituals called "spiritual disciplines." This union with Christ comes to all believers for reason of Holy Spirit baptism whereby they are "union-Ed" with Christ and with one another (1Corinthians 12:13). In the aftermath of the Spirit's baptism, communion with the indwelling Spirit of Christ can be facilitated via our Bible reading (the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit do testify concerning Christ, John 5:39; 15:26), meditation on Scripture, prayer, witnessing, singing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" in our hearts and to each other, being thankful, submitting to one another, corporate worship, observing the Lord's Table, and so forth (Acts 13: 48-52; Ephesians 5: 18-21)…. 

Conclusion 
We began this writing by citing evangelical Christians who are in the mood of trying to experience the divine presence. Seemingly, they want to "feel" their way into it. Yet, the Bible teaches that the experience of God's Presence in our lives depends upon His initiating His work both for us and in us. We can no more experience God's Presence than we can resurrect ourselves from the dead or seat ourselves with Him in Heaven (Ephesians 2:1-10). This wonderful union can only be appropriated by objective faith, not by subjective feelings. [Source: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html

These thoughts of Pastor DeBruyn warrant our fullest attention not just because we respect his stature as a discernment writer but, more importantly, because they will keep us from spiritual peril.

To be continued. . . .