Friday, May 29, 2015

"Sound of Heaven, Symphony of Earth"

Part 8: The Physics of Heaven
A Serial Book Review & Theological Interaction

Read Part 1: "The Physics of Heaven"
Read Part 2: "The Power of the Zero-Point Field"
Read Sidebar: "Jesus' Lesser Works"
Read Part 3: "Extracting the Precious From the Worthless"
Read Part 4: "Vibrating in Harmony With God"
Read Part 5: BILL JOHNSON: Squandering Our Spiritual Inheritance
Read Part 6: Unsagacious Seers

Read Part 7: Bad Vibes
Advertisement retrieved Oct. 2011 from
for 4 CDs "Quantum Physics, Music and the Prophetic"
by David Van Koevering, Ray Hughes, Bob Jones, and JoAnn McFatter."

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Review of Chapter 6 (authored by Ray Hughes):
“Sound of Heaven, Symphony of Earth”

We live in the “Information Age,” an age of increasing revelation, prophetic insight and sensitivity to the spirit realm.... We live in a time when science fiction can become science fact overnight.... I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me some pieces of the puzzle to heaven’s sound, so the information I share with you about sound and light and vibration will be based upon scientific fact, confessed speculation, and spiritual revelation.
—Ray Hughes
(Emphasis added, TPOH, 65-66)

1965 was the year when the film The Sound of Music was released. The movie’s theme song written by Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960), composed by Richard Rogers (1902-1979), and sung by actress Julie Andrews (1935-    ), has for five decades remained a musical icon. “The hills are alive, / With the sound of music / With songs they have sung / For a thousand years,” go the song’s opening lyrics.[2] But according to Quantum Charismatics, not only are the hills alive with the sound of music, but also everything else God has infused with heaven’s “sound of many waters” (Revelation 14:2). This music, Quantum Charismatics believe, will bring revival to the church as it endows God’s “manifest sons” to interpret life even as mobilizes miraculous powers within them.

Illustration: Sight and Sound, Movie and Music
Ray Hughes illustrates how sound brings understanding to life, especially in the church. As in a motion picture, music provides meaning and creates feelings for what is seen. He refers to a movie portraying a nattily dressed woman walking hurriedly down a sidewalk on a crowded city street. Various types of accompanying music might offer different interpretations of the woman’s situation. Is the accompanying music depressing? If so, viewers could be impressed that the woman is in some kind of trouble. Is the music upbeat? Viewers would conclude she’s not in danger, but only taking a daily exercise walk. Is music romantic? Viewers might interpret that she is hustling to meet her boyfriend at Starbucks. Hughes’ point is that sound “can create a story from dry facts. It [sound] causes our emotions to go beyond facts to feelings.”[3](TPOH, 69) In Hughes’ view, sound gives meaning to sight.

“Quantum Charismatics”
So music or sound becomes a key for interpreting the experience of life in the church. Music, says the author, impacts prayer, faith and activity in the church.(TPOH, 69) Sound can enhance if not determine spirituality. Reverbs can create revival. To this point, Hughes informs readers that, “With every revival, there has been a release of new music or sound.”(TPOH, 69) He then goes so far as to suggest that, “Whether the music releases the revival, or whether the revival releases the music varies from generation to generation.”(TPOH, 69) Hughes compares the issue to be like asking the old question of what comes first, the chicken (the revival) or the egg (the music). The right music creates the atmosphere of worship and facilitates a working of signs and wonders. This theory of sound or music—primordially infused by God into nature’s elements—drives, as Hughes states, the Quantum Charismatic view of spiritual life. We turn to summarize and look at the theory the author espouses.
Ray Hughes' quantum music advertised on TheElijahList, 6/19/07

The Author’s Theory:[4]

God is light/sound (“Although light and sound are located on different frequencies, they are the same thing.”(TPOH, 66) When God said, “Let there be light,” He “released” and infused His sound-music into three of the four elements which ancients believed comprised the universe—water, wind and fire. The three elements began to Quantumly vibrate with heaven’s music, “the sound of many waters.” But nature’s fourth element, earth, was lifeless until... God took earth/dirt, made Adam and animated him with sound/soul. The first sound Adam ever heard was God breathing His music into him. Because humans have sound/soul—unlike wind, fire and water which possess sound only—they possess a will. So with their will/soul, humans can choose to align themselves with the music of heaven to connect with the “creative ability [power] to release the sound of God” (e.g. to perform miraculous signs and wonders). The coming of the second Pentecost will “light-up” and amp-up Charismatics with “creative ability” to do greater miracles than they’re doing today.

Music: Invoking the “Presence”
According to the author’s theory, the sound of music indicates, even dictates, God’s presence in the church, a presence that will be manifested in the “experience” of worship and the doing of “wonders.” “Anyway you look at it,” writes Hughes, “God unveils new songs and new sounds in relationship to the new revelation of His presence in His people.”(TPOH, 70) Music becomes the force stimulating revival among God’s people. New revelations inspire the invention of new sounds to be accompanied by a writing of new songs. Worship leaders calculate that the novel music will gin up fleshly emotions within the bodies and souls of excited worshippers which they believe indicate God’s presence among them.[5] Other indicators of “The Presence” include inspired prophets uttering novel revelations and empowered apostles working greater and greater signs and wonders. All of this writes the author, is based upon science (sci-fi which has become science fact), speculation and new revelation.(TPOH, 66)
Hughes' conference advertised on TheElijahList, 1/4/08, with the stated purpose:
"We plan to go into uncharted territory.
We will embark on a journey to explore the mystery of color, light and sound.
This road has been traversed by scientists and mystics alike.
This conference will blend science, creation and theology,
and is designed to release divine creative destiny."

From these “sources” Hughes testifies, “I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me some of the pieces of the puzzle to heaven’s sound.” (TPOH, 65) We now turn to evaluate the bases out of which the author constructs his mythical view of spiritual reality by a synthesizing of science (sci-fi and sci-fact), speculation and revelation, the first being...

First Source: Fascination (Sci-fi and Sci-fact)
Science derives from the Latin word scientia which means “knowing.” By “knowing” it can be meant that through use of the five senses which contribute to one’s consciousness (i.e., mental faculties of perception, comprehension, understanding and believing), persons may come to a personal awareness, conviction or conclusion about their environment, about what is either real or unreal, immanent or transcendent or physical or metaphysical in their conscious existence. According to Hughes, what is unreal today (imaginings called science fiction) can become real tomorrow (inventions utilizing science fact). The author premises that “we live in a time where science fiction can become science fact overnight.”(TPOH, 65) True. Within certain boundaries, this can happen. At one time for example, humans dreamed of flying like birds. They even imagined going to the moon. Those imaginings, along with many others, have become facts. But when humans imagine that they might become gods, little gods, or “manifest sons of god”—when they can’t—then their belief is an idolatrous fiction. (See Isaiah 44:8.) Admittedly Sci-Fi is a fantasy which may inspire scientific discovery, but it is fiction nonetheless, —“An imaginative creation or pretense... A lie.”[6]

The Bible warns Christians that fascination with “the elementary principles of the world” (e.g. the ancient elements of earth, wind, fire, water, and perhaps the realm of the spirits or the Aether) will draw them away from Christ in whom “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:8-9).[7] As he invests the elements, as well as the spirit realm, with “the sound of music,” this is exactly the error Hughes embraces as he promotes his quasi-Christian theory of quantum origins. About entertaining such error Paul tells his young co-worker,

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust,
avoiding profane and vain babblings,
and oppositions of science falsely so called:
Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.

Emphasis added, 1 Timothy 6:20-21, KJV

Second Source: Speculation
The Bible indicts the idolatrous nature of speculation(s). Scripture prohibits a speculative approach to understanding God and spirituality. Yet despite the biblical censure of it, Ray Hughes admits the information he will share about “the puzzle to heaven’s sound... will be based on... confessed speculation....”(TPOH, 65-66). In other words, the puzzle he claims to put together about the way inter-dimensional sound (heaven to earth, and earth to heaven) determines true spirituality is speculative. Speculation can mean, “To meditate on a given subject” or “to engage in buying or selling of a commodity with an element of risk.”[8] The former sense of the meaning of speculation—to meditate on a given subject—appears to be the sense in which the author employs the word, though his speculations could prove to be quite “risky” as regards the Christian faith, for imagination spawns idolatry.
Ray Hughes featured at the Quantum Leap-2 conference along with Chuck Missler,
David van Koevering and JoAnn McFatter.
Read Jackie Alnor's 6/19/07 report titled Quantum Alchemy

Creation Speculation
For example, Hughes speculates about the origin of sound in man and the decisional significance of it. “Imagine the first sound Adam ever heard was God breathing the wind or the breath of His Spirit,” he writes.(TPOH, 67) However, I am not aware that Adam possessed consciousness (something Hughes imagines he did) before “the Lord God... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Hughes then goes on to assert that God gave Adam and other human beings free will to either accept or reject “His sound breathing in us.”(TPOH, 67) Did a pre-existent Adam really have the consciousness to hear God breathing His music into him and possess the freedom of will to either reject or accept it? This myth teaches that the creature possesses the independence and authority to thwart the will of the Creator. Yet despite the irony of his ontological confusion, Hughes states: “God desires to release a sound that our personal issues cannot resist.”(TPOH, 75) Of this view of God it can only be said the He “desires” but does not “determine.” (See Job 14:1-6; Daniel 9:24-27.)

Some Warnings
In describing the devolution into paganism, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that “though [pagans once] knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Emphasis added, Romans 1:21-22). The word “speculations” (Greek, dialogismos) is variously translated as “imaginations” (KJV), “thoughts” (NKJV), “thinking” (NRSV) and “reasonings” (ASV). What’s evident in this verse’s teaching is that speculating about God does not lead a person to God, but away from Him. The place to begin one’s search for God is not from inferences based upon sci-fi or sci-fact, but in God’s revelation, to be sure His revelation of himself in nature, but also necessarily confirmed by Scripture and Jesus Christ.

The Apostle also wrote of a key mindset in which spiritual warfare is to be conducted. In waging that war, the Apostle writes that, We are destroying speculations (Greek, logismos) and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge [science] of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (Emphasis added, 2 Corinthians 10:5). Furthermore, Paul told Timothy while he ministered at Ephesus to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 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” (1 Timothy 1:4). Then again the elder exhorts the younger, “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23). The point is clear. Speculation disconnects imaginers from the genuine Christian faith (Jude 3). Yet to validate his epistemological gimmicks for promoting his view of spirituality sourced in sound, the author informs readers that he has received revelations that confirm his speculations!
Ray Hughes' conference advertised on TheElijahList, 1/15/13, that states,
"It is our goal to help each other grow and
release the sound of Heaven in each of our own communities."

Third Source: Revelation
To support the myth connecting sound with spirituality, the author also depends upon personal revelation in addition to the Bible. Listed below are some statements he made indicating his dependence upon this source (emphases added):
  • We live in the “Information Age,” an age of increasing revelation, prophetic insight and sensitivity to the spirit realm....(TPOH, 65)
  • I believe that the Holy Spirit has given to me some of the pieces of the puzzle to heaven’s sound....(TPOH, 65)
  • The revelation that comes to the seer has everything to do with the sound of the scene being viewed. . . . The sound being heard has everything to do with how the seers will interpret what goes on.(TPOH, 69)
  • God unveils new songs and new sounds in relationship to the new revelation of His presence to His people.(TPOH, 70)
To buttress his revelation, the author window dresses his speculations with Scripture references. For example, as he conjectures about how “sound” relates to the Christian’s union with Christ—“Christ in you, the hope of glory”—he theorizes; first, that the word “‘glory’ means ‘lightified’... the hope of being ‘lit,’ or the hope of being ‘sounded’”; second, that the indwelling Christ is awaiting the moment when our sound will gloriously coalesce with His; and finally, that as His instruments, we will be played in a unified and deafening crescendo of praise to God. (See Colossians 1:27.) In short, we will be as New Age Religion puts it, “illuminated.” So as is true of most false teaching, truth and error are mixed (i.e., the word “glory” might be described as “lightified,” but not for the purpose Hughes proposes).

“I heard it from the Lord of Hosts”
Yet as he theorizes about “the pieces of the puzzle to heaven’s sound,” which he claims the Holy Spirit gave him to share, Hughes abruptly inserts a quotation: “Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts.”(Quote marks his, TPOH, 74) Seemingly, the quotation marks indicate the statement to have been a revelation from God. So Hughes authenticates his spin on the meaning of Paul’s words regarding the indwelling Christ by stating that “it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts.” As a prophet, Hughes becomes his own authoritative reference, and readers are therefore to believe what he says comes from God. All of this sounds fantastic and as such, who of us would dare question the scenario of praise and worship Hughes creates? There’s but one problem: that’s not what Paul meant when he told the Colossians that Christ “in” them was their “hope of glory.”
Thunder School conference advertised on TheElijahList, 7/27/09.
Speakers included Lou Engle, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, Dr. Michael Brown, and Ray Hughes.
An endorsement by James Ryle stated in part:
"The Sons of Thunder is a prophetic promise from Heaven about a day
when an army of worshiping warriors would be released...."
Read: "James Ryle's Vineyard Theology."

Fourth Source: Spiritism?
The author says we live in an “Information Age,” a time not only of “increasing revelation [and] prophetic insight,” but also increasing “sensitivity to the spirit realm.”(TPOH, 65) This realm of active spirits consists of both angels and demons, or principalities and powers as the Apostle Paul wrote (Ephesians 6:12). That this age, given the occult alternative existing throughout all human history, is more sensitive to the “spirit realm” is the author’s parochial and culturally conditioned opinion. Spirit worship inundated ancient civilizations. The Gospels portray Jesus constantly exorcising demons which were active among the Jews (Matthew 12:43-45; etc.). The spirituality of the Medieval Age was thoroughly wedded to a magical worldview of witches and warlocks. Try telling Voodoo worshipers in Haiti, animists in primitive cultures, or devotees of other religions that they are becoming increasingly sensitive to the spirit realm.[9] They have always been sensitive to that realm! Ever hear of the Exorcist movies dating from the 1970s? Books recording experiences with angels are numerous, as are publications dealing with demons and territorial spirits. Since the fall of Adam, the diabolical has always been present among the world’s peoples. In relation to these ever present phenomena, the author’s use of the term “white noise” (WN) must be questioned.(TPOH, 71)

WN is a variegated and complicated category of sound. Within the sound spectrum, it refers to “Acoustical or electrical noise in which the intensity is the same at all frequencies within a given band.”[10] In popular parlance, WN can refer to random talk without meaningful or decipherable content. It’s called “white” because it lacks the distinctions of color, and noise because of the difficulty in deciphering it.

In physics the subject of white noise can also become speculative. Theoretical questions arise about WN. From whence or from “whom” does it originate? Or, what might it communicate? Nobody seems to know. It just appears to be “there.” Though mathematicians attempt to calculate and understand it, in the end WN is non-rational and that being the case, people find “connection” with it at the emotional level (i.e., personal experience), whether the hearer senses the sound of it to be earthly or ethereal, weird or wonderful. Because of the non-rational character of it and the feelings it produces, white noise is mystical. As Hughes states, “Sound... causes our emotions to go beyond the facts to feelings.”(TPOH, 69) Furthermore, the human ear can hear only a fraction of the music in the sound spectrum, even less so for us who suffer from hearing loss!(TPOH, 71-72)

TheElijahList ad, 5/11/14, that declares,
"We have stepped into a NEW day and with this NEW day is coming not only a NEW Sound,"
a "Sound" that "prepared the way of the Lord and in many ways prophesied into what Heaven was releasing into the earth....
so that when we hear His sound we begin to give that Sound
our voice bringing an uncompromising agreement and alignment between Heaven & Earth
as we look ever toward the horizon of this New Day Dawning...."

As such, not only are certain sounds music ultimately mystical, but can also become addictively manipulative, something worship leaders of mega-churches are aware of.[11] They capitalize on the emotional “wants/needs” of the audience. The common experience of music creates a counterfeit unity and feelings of revival among worshippers as they revel around the same sound.

But there’s a darker aspect associated with the sound of white noise. Speculation about indistinct sounds that are just there introduces people to the possibility of another realm of reality, to not only what’s going on “down here” (Remember Hughes’ movie illustration?), but also to what’s going on “out there,” what Hughes calls, “increasing . . . sensitivity to the spirit realm.”(TPOH, 65)

The term WN “refers to electronic voice phenomena (EVP), where voices, which some believe to be from the ‘other side’, can be heard on audio recordings.”[12] In 2005 Hollywood produced the move White Noise. The plot is summarized as follows:

Successful architect Jonathan Rivers’ peaceful existence is shattered by the unexplained disappearance and death of his wife, Anna. Jonathan is eventually contacted by a man, who claims to be receiving messages from Anna through EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). At first skeptical, Jonathan then becomes convinced of the messages’ validity, and is soon obsessed with trying to contact her on his own. His further explorations into EVP and the accompanying supernatural messages unwittingly open a door to another world, allowing something uninvited into his life.[13]

Though sound may be spiritual, but it can also be diabolical. The devil and demons can pervert the sound of music to their own praise thereby duping God’s people into thinking that what they believe is the spiritual and agape worship of God is in reality a sensual and erotic worship that not only pleases their flesh, but also adulates evil spirits and Satan! (Remember: Such misplaced worship even a good angel forbade John to do—Revelation 19:10.) The “star of the morning” (interesting that the name Lucifer means “light bearing”; he was “lightified”) was thrown out of Heaven along with the “pomp and music of [his] harps” (Isaiah 14:11; Compare 2 Corinthians 11:14.). Interesting that the manifest son of the morning’s music did not signal revival in heaven, but rebellion! So much for “white”—or should it be said?—“dark noise.”
Another Thunder School event similarly advertised 6/29/2010 on TheElijahList.
On 8/2/10 the ad text included the statement:
"God is calling us to bring His worship, His sounds and His colors to the streets!"

Explaining the Glory
The many words translated “glory” in the Bible possess a complex of interrelated meanings the most common of which associated with great authority (e.g. being a political or social “heavy weight”—Hebrew kabodh meaning “weight”) or brilliant light (i.e., Greek doxa meaning “brightness”). In his second letter, Peter uses the word glory to describe what happened to Jesus at His Transfiguration (Compare 2 Peter 1:16-18 and Matthew 17:1-8). Matthew describes the event as follows:
And He was transfigured before them;
and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

Emphasis added, Matthew 17:2.

Then Peter employs the word glory and hearing the authoritative voice of God to describe the sight:

For when He received honor and glory (doxa) from God the Father,
such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory
“This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”
—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from
heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

Emphasis added, 2 Peter 1:17-18.

From comparing these two passages, it can be seen that “glory” takes on a meaning of brilliant light. When Jesus comes again He will do so “with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Thus, the hope of believers is that when Jesus comes they will experience transfiguration to appear like Him. The Christ in us will suddenly be revealed through us. Then the world will know we belong to Christ, and we to Him. This is the hope of glory. The Holy Spirit’s wondrous residence within is a down payment assuring us that when Christ does come we will before a watching world be evidentially transformed to be like Him. After being brought before the Council to defend himself against the charge of blasphemy (Acts 6:8-12), and as he began his defense, Luke informs readers that as members of the Sanhedrin looked intently at him, they saw Stephen’s face transformed “like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). later in the same letter when he wrote, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). W.H. Griffith-Thomas (1861-1924) explained: “The presence of Christ in the heart is both pledge and fortaste of the glory which will be ours at His coming.”[14]

Myth and Consequences
Sound here, sound there, everywhere a sound, sound! The myth Ray Hughes creates about sound (i.e., “the pieces of the puzzle to heaven’s sound” which the Holy Spirit revealed to him) presents a panentheistic concept of God, that divine sound permeates the whole of nature therefore “sacredizing” everything. This becomes evident in the speculations he makes and the revelations he has been given (or so he claims). We follow two strains of his argument indicating this.

As Above, So Below
Contra Jesus, Hughes unites the world above (God’s reality) and the world below (our reality) with sound being the common and permeating denominator of the whole. This is indicated by his statement that, “Everything that God has ever brought forth has come from His creative voice—the same voice which impregnates the earth with light, sound, music, glory, the elements of God.”(TPOH, 66) Based upon this premise he therefore postulates that, “We are continually in the presence of ultrasonic [waves of sound “above” our threshold of hearing] and subsonic [waves of sound “beneath” our threshold of hearing] sound waves.”(TPOH, 68) He argues that just because we can’t see or hear the sound (kind of like sensing God’s omnipresence) does not mean it’s not there. This view of reality—as above, so below—is called Hermeticism.

Hermeticism is a monistic belief that the universe’s reality is one, and that this singular reality shares a common thread of divinity. In his book Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, Glenn Alexander Magee explains that Hermeticism understands that,

everything in the cosmos is internally related, bound up with everything else.... Divine powers understood variously as “energy” or “light” pervade the whole. This principle is most clearly expressed in the so-called Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which begins with the famous lines “As above, so below.” This maxim became the central tenet of Western occultism....[15]

In other words, as Hughes and other Quantum Charismatics propose, the same sound-light-power(s) permeates the whole of everything which exists with the result that they do not believe there’s a division between heaven above and earth below. All reality, the entire of whatever is, is a gargantuan seamless “One.” God has infused His power and His presence into everything which exists. Whatever is down here is also equally up there. As above, so below...
TheElijahList ad, 8/17/11, tying music to the Tabernacle of David heresy
(see links at the bottom of this article).
This ad credits Ray Hughes for discovering the harpist's
"spirit changing level of higher bandwidth and God consciousness."

Quantum Charismatics are not the only ones promoting Hermetic-Gnostic philosophy in the pan-evangelical church. In The Message, we note Eugene Peterson[16] employs the phrase where the Lord’s Prayer reads, “Our Father in heaven, / Reveal who you are. / Set the world right; / Do what’s best—as above, so below.”[17] (See Matthew 6:10.) To this point, it can be noted that “paraphraser” Peterson makes Ephesians 4:6 read:

You have... one God and Father of all, who... is present in all. Everything you are and think is permeated with Oneness.[18]

Of course, one need only read Jesus’ plain words to realize that the idea of “one-ness” contradicts the “two-ness” which He declared reality to be. Jesus told the Jews:

You are from below, I am from above;
you are of this world, I am not of this world.

I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins;
for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.”

(Emphasis added, John 8:23-24)

With His words, Jesus declared that He and the Jews “emerge from two entirely antithetical realms,”[19] and that, “An abyss separates them from Him.”[20] Eternal heaven and temporal earth are two separate realities. This worldview contrasts to Liberal-Emergent and Quantum-Charismatic spiritualities which hold that the entire of reality—time and eternity, heaven and hell, light and darkness—is one. According to Jesus the sum of reality is not one. To believe so obliterates the distinctiveness of the Christian faith—that the eternal God is holy and separate from His temporal creation, that good and evil are opposite moral categories (There is sin.), that heaven and hell separately exist, and that Jesus came from a reality eternally separate from earth.

Cosmic Creatures: “Inner Light”
That God’s sound-light (Hughes views sound and light as identical) permeates everything, it’s necessary for light to have been in, with and around man from time immemorial. Twice Hughes proposes this to have been the case.
  • With our hope of glory—Christ dwelling in us—we produce a sound that’s been with us from the beginning of time.(Emphasis added, TPOH, 74)
  • Christ is your hope of producing the sound that has resided in you since the beginning of time.(Emphasis added, TPOH, 74)
Of course, this estimate raises all kinds of issues and begs all kinds of questions regarding the biblical faith and worldview. Was there really a fall when light was lost? Being dead in trespasses and sins, do unregenerate-unsaved people walk in darkness? Or has God’s sound-light (a divinity) been and continue to be in them from the beginning of time? Did the world really reside in darkness when Jesus entered it? After all, the Apostle John wrote of Jesus: “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [overcome] it” (John 1:4-5). Assuming that from the beginning humans have been and are indwelt by the sound-light of God, do they really possess a capacity to love darkness? If they are constituted of light, why would they have to come to the Light? After all, they already think they’re light. Yet Jesus warned Jews, “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness” (Luke 11:35, KJV).[21] Given that light and darkness are incompatible antagonists caused John to give the following assessment of Jesus’ mission:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world,
and men loved the darkness rather than the Light,
for their deeds were evil.
For everyone who does evil hates the Light,
and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

(John 3:19-20)

The myth created by Hughes’ imagination, speculation and revelation wrecks havoc upon Scripture’s otherwise plain meaning and the good theology which derives there from even as his scenario introduces relativity into the nature of God and begs questions about the literalness of the biblical account of creation, man’s fall into sin and God’s plan of redemption.
Ray Hughes at a "Worship Encounter Conference"
advertised on TheElijahList, 9/9/11.
Christian believers ought to be aware of and appreciate deeply the truth of their union with the Lord Jesus Christ; that positionally, they are in Christ (Romans 16:3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13), and that experientially, the Spirit of Christ lives in them (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:10-11). [22]  Appropriated and experienced by faith, this union—exhibited by the fruit and filling of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25; Ephesians 5:18-6:9)—remains an unrevealed mystery. For the time being, our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). But when Jesus comes again, that will change. Our lives will no longer be hidden with Christ, but exhibited with Him. When “Christ, who is our life, is revealed,” then we too will be “revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4; See Philippians 3:20-21). When that revealing will take place, God will offer empirical proof of every believer’s identity in Christ to the world, and it will not be a matter of sound, but sight! At that moment every Christian from Pentecost will glow with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ when they are raptured-resurrected by Him (Matthew 13:43; Compare Daniel 12:3.).

The myth Ray Hughes creates via the imaginations he conceives, the speculations he engages and revelations he receives, diminishes the New Testament’s expectation regarding the Second Coming of Christ. Instead of looking for the Son, Hughes encourages readers to listen for “the sound.” Yet regarding the report he heard of the conversion of the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul marveled “the word of the Lord [had] sounded forth from [them]” (Emphasis added, 1 Thessalonians 1:8) as they had “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). But as “the word of the Lord sounded forth from them” the Thessalonians were waiting for the coming of God’s “Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). These early believers were not waiting to hear the sound announcing a second Pentecost, but the sight of the coming of the Son accompanied with “a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). With all the Charismatic emphasis upon the myth of a coming second Pentecost and the revival created by the new music, what becomes lost is the plain teaching about Jesus’ Second Coming (not a second Pentecost).

The Charismatic expectation to be “lightified” (as stimulated by the sound of music) by the indwelling Christ has replaced the expectation of His coming physical presence from above. As a result, the hope of Jesus’ return and believers being glorified with Him becomes unnecessary. Until He comes again, we need to “watch out that the light in you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35).
The 5th Thunder School advertised on TheElijahList, 4/18/12.
This ad links to Lou Engle's "prophecy",
which is a re-hash of an old Latter Rain cult prophecy about music
that would be more powerful than the Beatles and fill stadiums with New Breed youth.
Read:  "The Significance of Youth-Filled Stadiums"

[1] Ray Hughes, Chapter 7: “Sound of Heaven, Symphony of Earth,” The Physics of Heaven: Exploring God’s Mysteries of Sound, Light, Energy, Vibrations and Quantum Physics, by Judy Franklin & Ellyn Davis (Crossville, TN: Double Portion Publishing, 2012): 65-75.
[2] Julie Andrews, “The Hills are Alive” from “The Sound of Music,” (
[3] About this Hughes is correct and that’s why for many, music has become the interpreter of the faith. If it makes me feel good I will believe it! The problem with this anthropocentric approach to both truth and spirituality is that the Bible is not a music machine. The Bible is the Logos, not the Eros, of God, and the Holy Spirit the accompaniment! (See 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.)
[4] To support the scenario he creates, the texts Ray Hughes uses are: 1 John 1:5, “God is light”; Genesis 1:3, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light”; and Revelation 14:2, “And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder....”
[5] See Larry DeBruyn, “Getting ‘High’ on God: Inner Opiates and the Genius of the Megachurch ‘Experience’,” Guarding His Flock Ministries, September 6, 2012 (
[6] Webster’s II: New College Dictionary (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995): 416.
[7] Larry DeBruyn, “The Supreme Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ: Christ before Cosmos,” Guarding His Flock Ministries, August 13, 2013 (
[8] Webster’s II: 1060.
[9] During the Northern Chinese Famine of 1876-1879 when it is estimated that 9-13 million people died, “crowds flocked to the temples to entreat the Higher Powers. Theatricals were staged, to propitiate hard-hearted gods, whose images were carried out into the open street and respectfully enthroned where the best view could be obtained of the stage. Processions were daily made to wayside altars and city shrines, led by Taoist devil-worshippers, frantic with excitement, or mediums under the influence of spirit-possession.” See Mrs. Howard Taylor, Pastor Hsi: Confucian Scholar and Christian (London, GB: China Inland Mission, First Published 1900): 21-22. Testimonies of experiences of sights like this, historical and contemporary, can be multiplied.
[10] Webster’s II: 1260.
[11] DeBruyn, “Getting ‘High’ on God.”
[12] “White Noise (film),” Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (
[13] “WHITE NOISE (2005),” Rotten Tomatoes: Movie Info (
[14] W.H. Griffith Thomas, Studies in Colossians and Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1973): 66. Likewise, Harris writes that, “the indwelling of the exalted Christ in individual believers is their assurance of coming glory.” See Murray J. Harris, Colossians & Philemon: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991): 72.
[15] Glenn Alexander Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001): 13.
[16] See Larry DeBruyn, “‘Deliteralizing’ the Bible, from Plato to Peterson: Scripture amidst the Shadows,” Guarding His Flock Ministries, March 1, 2012 (
[17] Emphasis added, Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002): 1337.
[18] Emphasis mine, Eugene H. Peterson, The Message / / Remix (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2003): Ephesians 004:4-6, 2127.
[19] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991): 342.
[20] Frederick Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Volume II (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1881): 98. Of the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees, Westcott wrote: “He and they belonged essentially to two different regions; the spring of their life, the sphere of their thoughts, were separated from the spring and sphere of His by an infinite chasm.” See B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950) 130.
[21] See Warren Smith, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2005).
[22] Larry DeBruyn, “On Theosis, or Divinization: What does it mean to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’?” Guarding His Flock Ministries, January 11, 2012 (

See the earlier series on Herescope related to this Second Pentecost teaching by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and International House of Prayer (IHOP): “The Passion of the Presence & the Purpose of the Passion,”
Part 1: The PASSION of the PRESENCE & the Purpose of the Passion 
Part 2: “Presence” Eschatology
Part 3: Bridal Eschatology
Part 4: The Perfectly Obedient Bride
Part 5: The 2nd Coming of the “Presence”
Part 6: The Battled Bride
See also Larry DeBruyn's article: The Present of “His Presence”
and Dr. Orrel Steinkamp's article: A Second Pentecost? and "THE RESTORATION OF DAVIDIC WARFARE/WORSHIP"

For more background, see: "The Significance of Youth-Filled Stadiums" and read: "James Ryle's Vineyard Theology." 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Just Being Comfortable

Is there a problem with it?

By Pastor Anton Bosch*

Most people feel that being comfortable is the least they can expect in life. Others want to be rich and enjoy the excesses of wealth. But Christians understand that the love of money and greed are not good things, and therefore they feel that being comfortable and settled is not an unreasonable or unscriptural expectation. (This discussion obviously excludes those who have believed the lie of the prosperity preachers that greed is good).

So surely there cannot be a problem with being comfortable? I know many who are comfortable, and have not sold out to heresy or sin, and continue to fulfill some kind of ministry. Comfort has to be the least we can expect from life – right? Wrong! Being comfortable is one of the biggest snares of the Devil, and it brings with it the judgment of God!

Amos said: “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria, Notable persons in the chief nation, To whom the house of Israel comes!” (Amos 6:1). “Being at ease” is another way of saying “being comfortable.” God actually pronounced a woe on those who were comfortable in Zion.

They were comfortable because they were in Zion. (Zion refers specifically to Jerusalem but generally to Israel.) Zion was where the temple was, the land of promise and the place that God had chosen to declare His name. Others in Israel trusted in Gerizim (Mount Samaria) instead of Jerusalem, but with the same result. Being in the physical place chosen by God brings real comfort, thus many Christians are comfortable because they go to church, are part of a fellowship, or feel they are physically where God wants them to be. So what’s wrong with that?

They were comfortable because they were Israelites, or to quote the text “the chief nation.” There is comfort and security in knowing they were part of the very nation that God had chosen above all the others. Today the church is God’s chosen people (1Peter 2:9) and this has brought comfort and security to many believers. Surely there is no problem with that?

They were also comfortable because they were the leaders of the chosen nation (“Notable persons… to whom the house of Israel comes”). Being a spiritual leader surely cannot be a bad thing. It can only be good, especially when those leaders stand for truth, holiness and the glory of God’s name? Right?

Yet in spite of these people being in Zion (or the church), being part of the Lord’s people, and being leaders and ministers to God’s people, the Lord pronounces a woe against them. Not only does He say “woe,” but He promises to lead them into captivity (Amos 6:7). More than this, He will kill them (Amos 6:9) and He will scatter Israel and Judah (Amos 6:11). In addition, the ensuing chapters of Amos list curse upon curse that the Lord will bring upon His people. Why? Because they were comfortable and at ease!

This is not just a rare exception, or a principle only found in the Old Testament. It appears all over the Old Testament (Judges 18:7; Isaiah 32:9-11; Jeremiah 48:11 etc.). And it is repeated in the New Testament. It was the sin that cost the successful farmer his life (Luke 12:18), made the judge unjust (Luke 18), and made the friend insensitive to his neighbor (Luke 11:7).

The book of Revelation uses another word for being at ease, comfortable and complacent – lukewarm. The church at Laodicea had become very comfortable – the Lord says they were “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16). Being human, lukewarm is exactly what we like. We don’t like the weather, our food, or our beds and baths to be too hot or too cold – they need to be lukewarm. But the consequence for Laodicea was the same as it was for Israel – The Lord would spit (vomit) them out of His mouth.

Remember, this judgment was not on the Gentiles or unbelievers, but on Israel and its leaders, and on a church and its leaders (Revelation 3:14). So what makes you and your church different? Is there any reason why the God who condemned Israel and the church of Laodicea for being at ease should not do the same to you and your church? I don’t see any difference between them and us. Oh, but we are one of the few churches that hold to the truth, surely that qualifies us for preservation? That is exactly what Israel claimed, but let me ask you this question: are you, and is your church, better than the first church in Jerusalem after Pentecost?

Surely not. Surely they were better than any of our modern churches on every level. Yet the Lord destroyed that church within a few years after it was founded and empowered by the Holy Spirit in the upper room. You probably don’t believe me, so here is what the Bible says: “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). In other words, in the same way as God allowed the Assyrians to empty Israel of Israelites, and later the Babylonians to empty Judah of Jews, so the Lord allowed persecution at the hands of the Jews to empty Jerusalem of Christians. This is clearly a principle that applies to every church. The only difference is this: these days instead of removing the church – as he did in Jerusalem and with many of the churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 2&3) – He now removes Himself from the churches.

What was the problem with the church at Jerusalem? They had sound doctrine, the greatest leaders of all, they loved the Lord and His Word, they had power and miracles, lived holy lives, loved their fellow believers and were financially generous. In every respect they were a model assembly, one that each of us would aspire to join. But they had one problem – they were comfortable. It was just so nice to be in this wonderful church where the doctrine was sound, the leadership was godly, and everything seemed almost perfect. The problem was that they had a commission to preach the Gospel to the rest of the world. But their comfort and ease had blinded them to their responsibility and calling.

And that’s where the problem lies. Many good Christians, good leaders and good churches have become comfortable, at ease and complacent. They enjoy their routine and the predictability of their meetings, jobs, homes and families, and this makes them ineffectual in the Kingdom. God is not against us being comfortable. After all, we will be in perfect comfort in His presence one day. But what happens when we are comfortable? This is the problem: we fall into a daze and lose our zeal.

Of the few remaining pastors, churches and believers – who have not sold out to open error, sin, materialism or some other “wile” of the Devil – there are many now dozing off into the warm fuzziness of comfort. Those who were once on fire for God, and would go to the ends of the earth for the Kingdom, now act like they are lukewarm, merely going through the motions of serving the Lord.

Comfortable is a dangerous place to be, as evidenced by Israel, the Church at Jerusalem and the church at Laodicea. It displeases the Lord, prevents us from doing what we should be doing and lulls us to sleep. It is time to wake up (Ephesians 5:14) and to rekindle the fire (2Timothy 1:6). Jesus is coming and His reward is with Him. Will he find us occupying until He comes? Or will we be like the disciples who fell asleep when they should have been watching and praying (Matthew 26:40-41)?

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
(Romans 13:11-12) 

*The short devotional above is an excerpt from Anton Bosch’s just-released new book Building Blocks of Encouragement – A Devotional. The book is a selection of 60 of his most popular articles written over the past 11 years. As the title suggests, the articles are encouraging and edifying. Each chapter is free standing and is designed to be easily read in one sitting. In addition to being encouraging, the articles are doctrinally orthodox and the book is therefore a safe gift for friends and family that will bless strengthen and encourage. To order the book, contact the Discernment Ministries Book Center (903) 567-6423. The book is also available as a printed book as well as a Kindle book from

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Modern-Day Divination

In the Church

And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter,
seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them,
saying, 'Thus saith the Lord GOD,'
when the LORD hath not spoken.”
(Ezekiel 22:28)

Divination was expressly forbidden in the Old Testament. It was included on a list of serious occult practices that were to be avoided:   

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch…. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”
(Deuteronomy 18:10, 14) 

Despite the prohibition the Israelites practiced this occult art, especially in the context of other idolatries, and it is one of the sins that caused God’s judgment to fall upon their land: 

“And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.”
(2 Kings 17:17) 

The prophet Jeremiah warned about “prophets [who] prophesy lies in My name… a false vision and divination” (Jer. 14:14). Jeremiah warned that idolatry was deceitful, wicked, vanity and folly. He said the people were guilty of walking “after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim” (Jer. 9:14). Baalam’s sin? Divination (Numb. 22:7, Josh. 13:22, etc.). Ezekiel spoke of the prevalence of “lying divination” (13:6,7) and “false divination” (21:23; see also 22:28).

In the New Testament the apostles encountered “a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination” who “brought her masters much gain by soothsaying,” indicating that divination can be a very profitable enterprise (Acts 16:16). The ancient Romans practiced a form of augury, examining flights of birds and the entrails of sacrificed animals, in order to ascertain their future fate. They also tracked omens, strange births, unusual natural phenomena, shooting stars in the sky, etc. Plutarch’s Lives, a historical account of many ancient Greek and Roman warriors, described how many battles were waged based on generals divining the “signs.” (See an example of this in Ezekiel 21:21.)

The ancient Greeks relied upon their oracles, most notably the Oracle at Delphi, which delivered obscure predictions about future events. These murky “prophecies” were believed to be inspired by the gods. Hence there is a strong correlation between divination and the gods of idolatry (and astrology). Any failure of a prophecy to come to pass was blamed on misinterpretation of the hearer, not the priestess who delivered the oracle.

Occult encyclopedias say divination is any method of finding out what will happen in the future. These methods can include Tarot, Runes, I Ching, fortune-telling, horoscopes (astrology), palmistry, reading tea leaves, etc. In our modern-day world many of these old forms of divination still exist, and some have been revived as the New Age Movement has risen in influence.

There has also been a notable increase in various forms of “divination” coming into the church. Much of what passes today for “prophecy” is, in fact, divination. So how can one tell the difference?

Divination is reliance upon reading “signs” in order to ascertain the future. But God’s Word has already told us everything we need to know about the future. Christians are in danger of putting too much stock in trying to read the “signs.” In fact, in the New Testament there are stern warnings about looking for “signs.” Jesus told the Pharisees and Sadducees that “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 16:4)

Ironically, a true sign of the endtimes is an increase in believing false “signs and wonders” and following “false prophets.” This will become such a severe deception that it could “seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22). 2Thessalonians 2:9 warns of the coming Antichrist, “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

It is true that there will be signs in the heavens – drastic and dreadful signs at the very end of this age – that will be unmistakable in their indication of God’s imminent judgment. According to Scripture, the entire earth will be engulfed in a fiery chaos. Peter wrote:  

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
(2Peter 2:10)

If you knew for certain that tomorrow the sun would turn to darkness and the moon to blood, wouldn’t you want to spend your remaining hours pleading with and warning your family and friends to accept Jesus as their Savior? Yet there is no certain day or date given in Scripture: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13; see also Rev. 3:10). Therefore, we are to live as though every day were our last. And not waste time trying to read (divine) the “signs” when we already know that “the hour is coming” (John 5:25). Jesus repeatedly told us, “Behold, I come quickly” (Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20).

Here is one way to sort out the truth. False prophets base their false prophecies on reading (divining) spiritual-sounding “signs.” If their teaching makes you fearful and scared, it indicates the error of divination. Note that producing fear can be quite a lucrative business. But Jeremiah warned the Israelites that the idolatrous practice of reading “signs” in the skies can provoke fear, and not to fall victim to it: “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them” (Jer. 10:2).

What should be feared? Jeremiah wrote:  

“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but My people know not the judgment of the LORD.
(Jer. 8:7)

Peter, after describing the terrible day of the Lord in 2Peter 3:11, calmly assures believers to have no fear but rather hope. We who “look for such things” should be even more diligent in making sure that we are living holy and godly lives:

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
(2Peter 3:12-14) 

This article has been adapted from the published version in the most recent March/April/May edition of the Discernment Newsletter. For further reading see the following previous posts:
False Profits & False Prophets
Prophecy Mongering
That Wicked Be Revealed
Unsagacious Seers 

Friday, May 15, 2015

The “Selfie” Gospel is No Gospel

The "New Model" Gospel

An Editorial by Dr. Orrel Steinkamp

For over 50 years at least, a new message to call the unconverted to Christ has been inching its way virtually undetected into a dominant place among evangelicals. 

25 years ago, Christianity Today (the official neo-evangelical organ) published an article by Robert Brow, a Canadian evangelical, calledEvangelical Megashift: Why You May Not Have Heard About Wrath, Sin and Hell Lately.” Brow claimed nearly 25 years ago that there was a “new model” emerging in evangelicalism. Brow's “new model” sounded then, as it does now, as tired ole mainline Protestant liberalism. Turns out Brow's article was a precursor to Clark Pinnock's new open theism and the evangelical emergent movement. 

But evangelicals who have not yet espoused open theism and emergent teachings, without noticing it, have apparently accepted Brow's “new model” teaching about the reason for the death of Christ. The “old model” teaching of the cross is still in many doctrinal statements but a “new model” teaching of the cross has affected our hearts and so also our message. This hybrid/mutation has now found a secure position in evangelical gospel preaching. The appeal to the unconverted has gradually changed. It is now quite normal to suggest that Jesus died to rescue us from a life that “sucks,” and promises heaven to boot. What was completed at the cross when the Savior cried “It is finished” has now become a rescue from an unpleasant life we don't like anymore. 

This “new model” preaching of the cross to the unsaved has actually been around for a long time. I remember at least 15 years ago listening to a sermon by Franklin Graham. He was preaching a graphic sermon on hell. I was shocked when he made his call to the unconverted and, right at the point of the appeal, he slipped, without warning or hesitation, into a come to Jesus call appealing to a whole range of felt needs. What started out as a hell-fire and brimstone sermon turned into a therapeutic appeal. 

How did this become an acceptable gospel appeal to the unconverted? Since when did Jesus die to give us a new start and escape the vicissitudes of life in a commercial society? Well! Surely there was a convergence of causes, but probably the arrival of the church growth theory of missionary evangelism brought it front and center. It began with Donald McGavern's teaching of church growth. He appealed to human psychological needs in missionary evangelistic ministry. Later, Fuller Seminary began teaching Church Growth theory to missionaries on furlough. Finally someone said that this was not only good for missionary evangelism but it should be used as well in the good ole USA. Before we knew it, missiologist C. Peter Wagner and his student John Wimber were convincing everyone that the way to make the church grow was to appeal to the temporal needs of the unconverted, whether in New Guinea or New York. Before Wimber became famous as a signs and wonders evangelist, he traveled the USA teaching Church Growth principles to American pastors. 

This felt needs gospel paved the way for the seeker sensitive approach to evangelism. It gave birth to Robert Schuller's self esteem gospel. Schuller called for a new self-esteem reformation. I heard him make this call in Minneapolis. Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, trained directly by Schuller, demonstrated that you could grow huge churches if you appealed to the perceived needs of the people. Suddenly every church wanted to go mega or at least mini-mega. Well do I remember when our District Superintendent sent out the Church Growth book Unchurched Harry to every pastor. We were asked to go to classes on church growth. It wasn’t long till the marketeers were teaching us “the customer is king, etc. Eventually Schuller died in disgrace, and Hybels converted his mega church to the latest rage of Catholic contemplative prayer. Presenting the cross as the solution to a life thatsucks was here to stay, or till an authentic revival clears the deck. 

For the last 15 years, I have given special attention to the “new model” call to the unconverted in evangelical preaching. Oh! Sometimes there seems to be a throw away sentence, usually one quick sentence reference to Jesus dying for our sins, etc. But when the real pitch comes it is normally an emotional therapeutic appeal. You can have your best life now, aren't you tired of your unsuccessful life, Jesus wants a relationship with you, and you can escape your failures and your unsuccessful life. Jesus died for this, because He loves you so much, and He wants to give you an abundant life, and He has wonderful plan for your life. He wants to give you a new start in the kingdom of God, etc., etc. Now, if you preach this gospel you may indeed increase church attendance. But there is a price. The message must be adapted to the consumer. You are suggesting that Jesus can give what you desire the most and could not attain on your own. I have also heard these emotional appeals: “Make your impossible dream possible,” “One little yes can change everything,” “Your hopeless life can be filled with hope,” “The rut in your life can turn into a super highway,” etc., etc. Imagination is the only hindrance here. 

J. I. Packer has put it all on the line: 
“During the past century without realizing it, we have bartered the Gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is a decidedly different thing.... It is undeniable that is how we preach, perhaps this is what we really believe.... This set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical Gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach this way.” 

The Gospel has indeed been changed to essentially Jesus died to rescue us from whatever is our personal pit. How was this mega shift accomplished? Slowly and surely. Some truths are ignored and just left out. Some truths are given a slightly different meaning. Over time, and when repeated by popular preachers and authors, truths are ignored or redefined. They are ultimately replaced by error.

Schuller, the unchallenged father of the church growth movement in the USA, in his seminal book Self Esteem the New Revolution, asserts man needs to have his negative self image corrected by the non- judgmental love of God. Schuller lived and died his new revolution. Unfortunately he died in disgrace and bankruptcy. His Crystal Cathedral now is owned by the Roman Catholic church. But his reformation lives on among his mega church disciples. Nevertheless, his very disciples are promoted in our evangelical churches. I have personally, again and again, heard these seeker sensitive disciples and their books promoted in our churches. 

But it is no small thing to change the meaning of Jesus' death on the cross. Its a big deal to ignore in the actual Gospel appeal to the unsaved, the biblical teaching of Jesus substitutional death for sin, and that Jesus died because of man's sinful depravity. 

A Deliverer has come, but not to get us out of a negative rut and give us a new start. Rather, Jesus died for our sin. But sinners do not like the word sin and unconsciously we know that. So mostly we don't talk about the sin and the cross very much. 

Recently I heard sermon. The crowd was told, “You can receive Jesus today. So if you need a second chance this morning... if you have been losing hope, His name is Jesus, receive Him today.” But it was our sin that was transferred to Jesus, and on the cross He stood in for us and bore the penalty and punishment of our sin. Our just God provided a sinless sacrifice for our sins. 

Funny thing, however: when challenged our uninformed “new model” preachers will agree. But when it comes to making an appeal they seem to forget it totally. If challenged they may even fight for a penal substitution view of the atonement. But its just that when appealing for souls so many just can't preach about sin and God's remedy at the cross. Unconsciously, I guess they must think conversions come easier that way and so church growth is more likely. 

Brow's “new model” for pan-evangelicalism seems firmly rooted in place. That a significant change will come without true biblical revival is highly unlikely. This revival will have to come from the shepherds, for the sheep usually follow the shepherds. 

Recently, a compassionate evangelical pastor called people to receive Jesus as Savior. He used the metaphor of exchange. Because of the love God expressed at the cross, just give God your deficient, unfulfilled life, and He will give you a new life and a new start. But, getting a new start is not specifically the exchange the cross accomplished. The biblical exchange at the cross effected something quite different. We repent of our sin and rebellion, and our sin is credited to Jesus on the cross, and we receive in return an annulment of sin and a righteous standing in God's sight. Because Jesus, God's Son, lived a perfect life and died in our place we can receive a righteous standing before God. 2Cor. 5:21 expresses it this way: “For He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might (receive) become the righteousness of God.” 

By God's grace, through repentance and faith, our status as sinners is thus changed. Jesus stood in our place and received the punishment of death for us. Jesus then returns to us forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life. This exchange delivers sinners from the just condemnation of God. We later will grow in grace and live a new life in Christ. In Colossians 2:14, 15 the apostle Paul states clearly that it was our sins that were metaphorically nailed to the cross. In ancient times when a debt was paid in full it was announced to the public by driving a nail through a copy of the indebtedness in the town square. It was at the cross that our sins were paid for and annulled, making a new life possible. The cross was about a holy God effecting a just transaction. Sin was punished for us by a loving and just God. Now God can justly acquit us of our sin. Indeed! we must get the cross right in order to get the Gospel right! 

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 
(Colossians 2:14,15)

See related post: Selfie Scriptura

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

God Wants to Prosper You

The Truth vs. the false prosperity gospel

By Pastor Anton Bosch*

One of the consequences of King Hezekiah’s diligence and obedience was that the Lord prospered him:

“Hezekiah had very great riches and honor. And he made himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of desirable items; storehouses for the harvest of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of livestock, and folds for flocks. Moreover he provided cities for himself, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance; for God had given him very much property”
(2Chronicles 32:27-29). 

This is a pattern one can trace right through the Old Testament. Whenever God’s people were obedient and faithful to the Lord, He blessed them with possessions, abundant rain, military victory and prosperity. When they were disobedient and unfaithful, they would experience drought and famine. Consistently the good kings of Israel and Judah were prosperous, while the bad kings plunged the nation into poverty and captivity.

Today many Christians feel that they can claim the same principle of prosperity and blessing. And they are right. God wants to bless and prosper us. He wants us to have His very best and to have abundance. Those believers who are faithful to the Lord and obedient to His Word are blessed with an abundance of riches, prosperity, victory and blessing. While those who walk in disobedience suffer poverty, defeat and the Lord’s discipline.

But, there is one big difference between the physical, literal descendants of Abraham (Old Testament Israel) and the spiritual descendants of Abraham (the Church). They were physical descendants and we are spiritual descendants (Romans 2:28-29; 4:16-17). The one is tangible, while the other is not. One can be seen and the other not. To the physical descendants of Abraham, God gave physical promises of blessing, but also of judgment and cursing. To us, who are spiritual sons, the promises are no longer physical but spiritual. Thus, physical promises and blessings are to physical descendants, and spiritual promises and blessings are to spiritual descendants.

It is right to speak about blessings and prosperity for Christians, but these are spiritual blessings, victories, harvests and fertility. Yes, the Lord wants us to be rich – not rich with money but rich with spiritual wealth. He wants us to be prosperous and to extend our borders – not of lands but of knowledge of His Word. It is God’s will for us to have many children – spiritual sons that have been born of the Spirit. (I have always been amazed that those who preach a physical prosperity never speak about the fact that part of the promises of the Old Testament including having many children!) Yes, He wants us to be victorious, not over the heathen nations, but in spiritual battles with the enemy of our souls and in our circumstances. The Lord certainly wants us to reap abundant harvests – not of wheat and barley, but of souls. There is an abundant inheritance for us – not in this world, but in that which is to come.

Sometimes we feel guilty to speak of these wonderful spiritual blessings because the money preachers have so perverted the Word. In fact, we have not only ignored but become suspicious of many of the Scriptures that speak of God’s blessings. In the process we have turned our backs on a very wonderful part of the Bible: that the Lord does want to bless us, and that His intentions toward us are only good: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). We must not overreact to the heresy of our age by ignoring some of the very important teachings of the New Testament. To do so robs us of our inheritance.

One of the most significant messages Jesus preached is called “the Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew chapters 5 through 7). In his opening thoughts He used the word “blessed” nine times. The same word appears at least 55 times in the New Testament. Blessed means happy, blessed by God, and in a state of wellbeing which is to be desired. In these verses Jesus clearly teaches that He wants us to be blessed, but not in a worldly sense (Read Matthew 5:3-12 for yourself).

The Lord wants us to have more than just enough. He wants us to have abundance and to treasure up the extra. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

It is not God’s will that Christians be spiritual paupers who barely have enough spiritual food for themselves. No. He wants us to have superabundance so that we will be able to share with others, and so that we will be able to break down our barns to build bigger ones to contain all of His blessings in our lives. Sadly, however, we spend so much time trying to amass earthly treasure that we never seem to bother to find the true riches.

Also, if we set about searching for God’s blessings without seeking Him we will come away disappointed. For example, all the bad Kings of Israel chased after money, power and influence, and, in the process, forsook the Lord. Needless to say, they all came short. The few good ones who sought the Lord and His will first received God’s blessings. Hezekiah set out on the first day of his reign to seek the Lord and His honor. As a result the Lord blessed him and gave him everything else as a bonus.

I often come across Christians who consume many Christian things like books, DVD’s, preachers and churches. They are chasing after spiritual blessing, and that seems good. Yet they are spiritually bankrupt. Why? Because they want the gifts, but not the Giver. They want the blessings, and not the One who blesses. Moreover, they want the blessings on their terms, on their time, and not the Lord’s.

So, don’t chase after the blessings – chase after the Lord. Don’t long for more blessings, but hunger for more of Him. It is my desire and prayer for you that you will live a life of abundance. I pray that “all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:2), and that “The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. (That) You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And (That) the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath” (Deuteronomy 28:12-13). I pray that as the Lord’s people we will truly know Him, and know His abundance in our lives.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God”
(1Corinthians 2:12) 

*What you have just read is an excerpt from Anton Bosch’s soon to be released book Building Blocks of Encouragement – A Devotional. The book is a selection of 60 of his most popular articles written over the past 11 years. As the title suggests, the articles are encouraging and edifying. Each chapter is free standing and is designed to be easily read in one sitting. In addition to being encouraging, the articles are doctrinally orthodox and the book is therefore a safe gift for friends and family that will bless strengthen and encourage. To pre-order the book, contact the Discernment Ministries Book Center (903) 567-6423.