Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DIVINE GIFTS


Question: "What is an apostle?"

Answer:
The word apostle means “one who is sent out.” In the New Testament, there are two primary usages of the word apostle. The first is in specifically referring to the twelve foundational apostles of Jesus Christ. The second is in generically referring to other individuals who are sent out to be messengers/ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

The twelve foundational apostles held a unique position. In referring to the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:14 states, “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve foundational apostles of the Lamb.” The twelve foundational apostles are also referred to in Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:14; 4:10; 6:7; 9:35; 14:10, 17, 23; Luke 6:13; 9:1; 22:14; John 6:71; Acts 6:2; and 1 Corinthians 15:5. It was these twelve foundational apostles who were the first messengers of the gospel after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was these twelve apostles who were the foundation of the church—with Jesus being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

This specific type of foundational apostle is not present in the church today. The qualifications of this type of apostle were: (1) to have been an witness of the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1), (2) to have been explicitly chosen by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:15), and (3) to have the ability to perform signs and wonders (Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12). The role of the twelve foundational apostles, laying the foundation of the church, would also argue for their uniqueness. Two thousand years later, we are not still working on the foundation.

Beyond the unique twelve foundational apostles of Jesus Christ, there were also apostles in a generic sense. Barnabas is referred to as an “apostle” in Acts 13:2 and 14:4. Andronicus and Junias are possibly identified as apostles in Romans 16:7. The same Greek word usually translated “apostle” is used to refer to Titus in 2 Corinthians 8:23 and Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25. So, there definitely seems to be room for the term apostle being used to refer to someone besides the twelve foundational apostles of Jesus Christ. Anyone who was “sent” could be called an apostle.

What exactly would be the role of an apostle outside that of the twelve  foundational apostles? That is not entirely clear. From the definition of the word, the closest thing today to an apostle, in the general sense, is a missionary. A missionary is a follower of Christ who is sent out with the specific mission of proclaiming the gospel. A missionary is an ambassador of Christ to people who have not heard the good news. However, to prevent confusion, it is likely best to not use the term apostle to refer to any position in the church today. The vast majority of occurrences of the word apostle or apostles in the New Testament refer to the twelve foundational apostles of Jesus Christ.

There are some today who are seeking to restore the position of foundational apostle. This is a dangerous movement (NAR). Frequently, those claiming the office of apostle seek authority equal to, or at least rivaling, the authority of the original twelve foundational apostles. There is absolutely no biblical evidence to support such an understanding of the role of apostle today. This would fit with the New Testament’s warning against false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).


In a sense, all followers of Jesus Christ are called to be apostles. We are all to be His ambassadors (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We are all to be “ones who are sent out” (Acts 1:8). We are all to be preachers of the good news (Romans 10:15).


"AND HE GAVE SOME, APOSTLES, AND SOME PROPHETS, AND SOME EVANGELIST, AND SOME PASTORS AND TEACHERS"...EPHESIANS 4:11.

Recommended Resource: Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Word of Faith Teachers - Origins - Errors of Their Teaching (Benny Hinn,...





Deception in the Church
THE WORD FAITH MOVEMENT EXPOSED!
 
Who are the Leaders of the Word-Faith Movement?
       A growing number of pastors, teachers, and evangelists within the Charismatic/Pentecostal circles of the Christian church are advancing what has come to be known as the "Word Faith" movement. Its major leaders include such prominent figures as Kenneth Hagin; Kenneth Copeland; Frederick K. C. Price; and David (Paul) Yongii Cho, who pastors one of the largest churches in the world in Seoul, Korea.  Other well-known Word Faith personalities include Gloria Copeland, Robert Tilton, John Avanzini, John Osteen, T. L. Osborne, Charles Capps, Marilyn Hickey, Jerry Savelle, Joyce Meyer, Morris Cerullo, Casey Treat, Dwight Thompson, and Oral and Richard Roberts.

In the USA Word Faith doctrines are commonly disseminated through radio broadcasts, tapes, books, and tracts, primarily through the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), which regularly airs the programs of more than a dozen of these teachers.  Paul and Jan Crouch, the directors of TBN, who are themselves deeply involved in the movement, have also featured Word Faith teachers as special guests on their "Praise the Lord" and "Praise-a-thon" (fund-raiser) programs. The Crouchs' worldwide platform has mainstreamed Word Faith theology to the lives of millions of Christians who would not otherwise have encountered Word Faith theology.  Christianity in the western world has been heavily influenced in many quarters by this movement to the point where many consider it the main thrust of the charismatic movement.  In Europe these doctrines are brought in through visiting USA speakers and their materials, and by influenced pastors and leaders - and also through the "GOD Christian Channel" which concentrates on many of these teachers via Satellite and Cable TV.  In South Wales the main adherents are pastored by Ray Bevan in King's Church, Newport, but the influence is also noticeable in the Elim and Assemblies of God Pentecostal movements.

What is the attitude of Word-Faith teachers?
The vibrant message delivered with great authority  through these media, and seemingly backed by Scripture and buttressed by claims of the miraculous, has led many astray.  These teachers often deliver cautions against those who would criticize the doctrines.

Such people are called "nay sayers" and negative influences.  If such people cannot be won over to Word-Faith teachings, the listener or reader is told, they should be avoided. An example of the kind of sneering and contradictory attack launched on anyone who questions their beliefs and doctrines can be heard from Ray Bevan's ministry (King's Church, tapes - 6th & 13th September '98). Often when a Word-Faith teacher or their teachings are criticized, there will be allegations of "sowing division in the body" or lack of belief in healing, or demons, or the miraculous.

A classic example of this can be seen in a quote from Word-Faith teacher Kenneth Hagin: "When the Lord was dealing with me concerning the prophet's ministry, He said that if a church doesn't accept my ministry then I should go my way, shake the dust off my feet against them so to speak; but He would remove their candlestick.  He would take away from them what power they had left. .... He said that judgment must begin in the house of God, and if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear.  If a church won't accept this ministry, then they wouldn't accept His Word and He can't help them" (The Ministry of a Prophet, p.19).We believe in divine healing, both instantaneous and gradual, the existence of demons and deliverance from them; and that the gifts of the Spirit are for the church today as they have been since its beginning.  Criticizing a body of teachings is not the same as judging one who accepts those teachings.  However, Christians are told to compare any teachings, and the gospel they bring, to the Word of God and to cast off any that contradict Scripture (Acts 17:11; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).

If a person reads into the sacred text something that does not belong there and is not consistent with sound exegesis and hermeneutics, then Christians have a right to challenge and expose error and point out to brethren who these mistaken teachers are (Acts 20:28-31 & 2 Timothy 2:16-18).  It does not mean that these teachers are not true brethren, although they may not be.  It does not mean that we should love them any less.  It simply means that an error has been found and exposed and should be dealt with in love for the truth, and compassion for those damaged by the deception.

Word-Faith Origins
The spiritual mentor of today's Word-Faith teachers is Essek W. Kenyon, a man who was greatly influenced by the metaphysical mind science cults such as Christian Science, Unity School of Christianity, and Church of Religious Science and who apparently received his theological training from the Emerson School of Oratory in Boston, Mass.  The founder of that institution, Charles Wesley Emerson, is on record as being a member of the Mother Church of Christian Science from 1903 to 1908.  As Christian Science is nothing more than Gnosticism in modern garb, it is fairly certain that Kenyon was further influenced by Gnostic ideas during this training. 
After leaving the school - it is not clear from records whether or not he graduated - Kenyon settled in Seattle, Wash., where he was pastor of the New Covenant Baptist Church and broadcast a radio program, "Church of the Air," until his death in 1948.  Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society published materials from his writings and broadcasts (read The Born-Again Jesus of the Word-Faith Teaching, p.25-26.) It is from these publications that most of the presumptions of the Word-Faith teachings are drawn but most adherents believe they originated from Kenneth E. "Dad" Hagin. However, the truth is that Hagin blatantly and unashamedly plagiarized his doctrines from Kenyon and his daughter, Ruth Kenyon Houseworth, stills seeks fair recognition of this fact (A Different Gospel, D.R. McConnell, pub.  Hendrickson, 1995, p.4-6)
 
You will be like God - says Satan!  (Genesis 3:5) ... And says Word-Faith teachers!
You will be like God — says Satan!  (Genesis 3:5)
The bedrock of Word-Faith doctrine is what Kenyon calls "new creation realities." For the rest of the Word-Faith assertions to work, man first must be exalted to a high position.  Word-Faith teaching puts man on the same level as Jesus Christ.  This is done by assembling Scripture passages to purportedly prove that once a man is in Christ, then the "new creature" spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is recreated as a new species of being.  Kenyon writes: "You see, man is a spirit being.  He is in the same class with God.  He was created in the image and likeness of God.  He had to be in order to become a partaker of the Divine Nature.  When he sinned he became a partaker of Satan's nature, selfishness. ... The part of man that is re-created in [sic] his spirit.  God imparts to our spirit His own nature, Eternal Life"(The Hidden Man, p.121).  

When that happens one is "a new species of being that never existed before" (Kenneth Copeland, Now We Are In Christ Jesus, p. 5).  Hagin says "the believer is as much an Incarnation as Jesus Christ" (Faith Food, p. 23).  Kenneth Copeland says "Jesus is no longer the only begotten son of God" (Now We Are In Christ Jesus, p. 24). "We are the Word made flesh, just as Jesus was."  (Gloria Copeland, quoted in Crenshaw, Man as God, 202).  So, in the Word-Faith teaching, Jesus loses his uniqueness.  The believer is elevated to the position of being a God-man the same way Jesus was a God-man.  They claim that the only difference is Jesus obtained his position by birth and the rest obtain it by a re-creation of the spirit.  Read  Isaiah 44:8: "Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any" (cf. Isaiah 43:10; John 1:18;  John 5:44; John 17:3; James 2:19; 1 Timothy 2:5; Colossians 1:14-17; Hebrews 1:2-3).
 
Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God." 

[Quote: Frederick K. C. Price]
 
What happened to the Blood Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ?
A further denial of the uniqueness of Jesus occurs in Word-Faith teachings on the atonement.  According to their interpretation of Scripture, much more happened during Christ's crucifixion and death than is orthodox or Scriptural. "Jesus went into hell to free mankind. … When His blood poured out it did not atone."  (Kenneth Copeland, quoted in McConnell, Different Gospel, 120). "When [Jesus] said 'it is finished,' on that cross, He was not speaking of the plan of redemption.  The plan of redemption had just begun.  There was still three days and three nights to go through. ... [in hell], He suffered punishment for three horrible days and nights . . . "He's [Jesus] separated from His God and in that moment He's a mortal man: capable of failure, capable of death"" (Kenneth Copeland, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, cassette tape).  "Jesus died as our substitute.  He who knew no sin was made to be sin.  He took upon Himself our sin nature.  And He died - He was separated and cut off from God.  He went down into the prison house of suffering in our place.  He was there three days and nights . . ."Not only was He physically resurrected - His body resurrected - but His spirit was made alive unto God again.  He had died spiritually.  He took upon Himself spiritual death - for us.  And He is the first one who was ever born again.  His new birth is our new birth" (Kenneth Hagin, Made Alive,April 1982, p. 3).  "He suffered in his own body, and more important, in His spirit.  Jesus experienced the same spiritual death that entered man in the Garden of Eden [i.e., He took on Satan's nature]. ... After Jesus was made sin, He had to be born again.

... Jesus was a born-again man" (Gloria Copeland, God's Will For You, p. 50). "Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God."  (Frederick K. C. Price, "If Christ Did Not Rise … What Then?" Ever Increasing Faith Messenger (June 1980): 7). "Jesus went into hell to free mankind. … When His blood poured out it did not atone."  (Kenneth Copeland, quoted in McConnell, Different Gospel, 120). Read Hebrews 12:2: "Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross [not torture in hell], despising the shame" (bracket added).  "In whom [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7, emphasis added).(cf. Psalm 139:7-8; John 5:26; 10:17-18; 19:30;  Colossians 1:19-20;  2:13-15; Revelation 1:5).

In summary, the Word-Faith plan of redemption says:  Man was created as the "same order of being as God."  A spirit temporarily housed in a body.  He was given dominion over the Earth.  When he committed "high treason" by following Satan instead of God, man then gave up the divine nature and took on the nature of Satan.  Satan then became the god of this world and man thereafter was born with the satanic nature.  "Suddenly, God was on the outside looking in" (Kenneth Copeland, Our Covenant With God, p. 8).

Jesus came so that man's spirit might be re-created (i.e., man might reclaim the divine nature).  On the cross, the plan of redemption merely began.  It was there that Jesus took on the nature of Satan, lost his divinity, became a mortal man, and went to hell.  There he suffered torture at the hand of Satan until God said "enough." Having kept the Law of God perfectly, the man Jesus was declared to be "illegally" in hell.  At that point, Jesus' spirit was re-created.  He again had the divine nature - Jesus was then born again!  The way was then clear for man to have his spirit re-created - to receive the divine nature and to become as much an incarnation as Jesus was!  Re-created men "now have the nature of God... the ability of God" (E.W. Kenyon, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, p. 82).  There are no verses in Scripture to support this blasphemous theology - read Exodus 8:10: "There is none like unto the Lord our God" (cf. Exodus 9:13-14; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; 2 Samuel 7:22; Isaiah 46:9; Jeremiah 10:6; Hosea 11:9)

Word of Faith Wrests Scripture!
This scenario is read into the Bible so that it may be extrapolated again in several ways.  The first is a fanciful system of Scripture interpretation that arbitrarily assigns new meanings to words and has no regard for the context of passages.  For example, Kenyon says: "Adam gained an education through his five senses.  His spirit was being made prisoner of his five senses.  The psalmist cried, 'Bring my soul out of prison" (Psalms 142:7).  The Hebrew word should have been translated 'spirit' instead of 'soul (The Hidden Man, p. 8).  However, a Hebrew lexicon will show that the word for "soul" (nephesh) and "spirit" (ruach) are two different words.  The psalmist in 142:7 uses the word "nephesh." It cannot be translated "spirit."  Word-Faith teachers also redefine terms in 2 Peter 1:4, a key verse in their doctrine.  They claim that the phrase, "you might become partakers of the divine nature," means that people actually take on God's nature.  This is blasphemy! "A man is re-created by receiving God's nature into his spirit, which makes him a New Creation and gives him a new self" (The Hidden Man, p. 8).  The Greek word translated "partakers" is koinonos, which, when used as a noun, means "partner." (See W.E. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 161.)  Peter was saying that Christians are made partners with the divine nature.  The Holy Spirit now bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Many other ploys are used to read Word-Faith doctrine into the Bible.  Space allows examination of only two of the most outrageous.  The first is that of interpreting certain verses to mean the opposite of what the writer intended.  Referring to the King James Version's John 14:14, where Jesus says, "if ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." Hagin says: "Here, the Greek word translated 'ask' means 'demand.'... You're not demanding anything of the Father. ... You're demanding of the devil" (Faith Food, Winter Edition, p. 58).  The Greek text of John 14:14 or a modern translation based on the Greek text has Jesus telling His disciples "If you ask ME anything in MY name, I will do it."  The second ploy is that of denying the validity of a passage that does not square with Word-Faith teaching.  Concerning the statement of Job 1:21, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away," Word-Faith teacher Charles Capps says, "Job did say it, but it is not a true statement.  It is a lie. ... Job sure was not under the anointing when he made that statement" (The Tongue - A Creative Force, pp. 8-9).

When this kind of fanciful 'cultic' Bible interpretation is used, the Scriptures can be made to say anything you want them to say.

 
Now you are "Divine" you can "Name It And Claim It!"
Clear Scripture passages are altered to fit the Word-Faith system to establish the believer as one who possesses the divine nature so that he can realize his "legal authority." With this realization comes the knowledge, power, and ability of God.  Kenyon says you can "walk as Jesus walked, without any consciousness of inferiority to God or Satan" (The Hidden Man, p. 24).  Once the position of being "the same order of being as God" has been established, then it becomes necessary to demonstrate that this "re-created spirit" has unlimited power to create his own reality through positive confession.  Capps in his publication, The Tongue - A Creative Force, explains:  "God's Word is spiritual law.  It functions just as sure as any natural law.  Words governed by spiritual law become spiritual forces working for you.  Idle words work against you. ... The natural world is to be controlled by man speaking God's words" (p. 8-9)  "You have to believe that those things that you say - everything that you say - will come to pass" (p. 24).  "Man was created in God's class. ... a spirit being, very capable of operating on the same level of faith as God. ...This is not theory.  It is fact.  It is spiritual law.  It works every time it is applied correctly.  To imitate God, you must talk like Him and act like Him" (p. 130-131).  "The Word of God conceived in the heart, formed by the tongue, and spoken out of the mouth is creative power. ...The spoken Word will work for you as you continually confess it" (p. 148).

The Scriptures used to support this position are selectively chosen from verses affirming that God will give believers what they ask (demand) from Him (Mark 11:23-24, John 16:23-24) to the exclusion of the verses that put these petitions in the perspective of God's sovereign will (Matthew 6:10; 1 John 5:14).  In Word-Faith teaching, man is given the position of a god on Earth.  At the same time they  denigrate the position of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth and declare that, although Jesus walked with God and that God was in Him, he never actually claimed to be God (Kenneth Copeland, "Take Time to Pray," Believer's Voice of Victory; February 1987: 9).  This nonsense is amply refuted by the scriptures, for instance John 1:1; 5:18-23; 8:24,58; 10:1-39; and 20:28 all clearly testify to Jesus' claim to equality with Almighty God.

In common with similar cultic heresies, such as that of the Mormons, man is now raised to a position never given to him in the Bible: "Well, now, you don't have a human, do you?  No, you are one.  You don't have a God in you.  You are one," Copeland declares (The Force of Love, cassette tape).  "I am a little God! Critics, be gone!"   (Paul Crouch, Praise the Lord, Trinity Broadcasting Network, July 7, 1986)  "We are a class of Gods!"  (Copeland, quoted in Hanegraaff, Crisis, 116). "As a believer, you have the same spiritual capacity that Jesus has. … Your spirit is just as big as God's because you are born of Him."  (Copeland, Realm, 16). They claim that once man has been given that position then, with his positive confession, he can create his own reality.  The implications of these presumptive teachings are horrifying.  The sovereignty of the infinite God is replaced with the sovereignty of finite man.  To teach that man can "demand" from God and have everything that he says pre-supposes that man knows what is best in every situation.  The only way that could be true is if man is all-knowing.  Man is not all-knowing and because of that cannot know what is best in every situation.  Only God is omniscient.  That's why we have to rely on His judgment as a loving Father to give us what is best even if it seems harsh at the time.  This is what it means to pray "Your [God's] will be done." This is true faith!

Despite all the fantastic convolutions that Word-Faith teachers go through to try to explain the nature of Paul's thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), it is a clear-cut situation where Paul prays and God answers in the negative!  Even though it seemed harsh at the time, it was the act of a loving Father and worked ultimately to Paul's benefit.  It is clear from Scripture that God will refuse some requests and this makes the whole idea of faith as a 'force', operating unalterably in accordance with a formula, unsustainable.  Further, once we have affirmed that requests must be evaluated in some way, then we have put it back in the hands of God to evaluate all requests.  No longer can faith be considered a tool to create realities in accordance with our will, but a trust that God will answer our requests in accordance with His will. (1 John 5:14).

 
If you believe Copeland et al, Paul must have lacked faith because he wasted his time making tents! (Acts 18:3)
Bring on the Rolls-Royces - give us the cash!
Financial prosperity to those in the Word Faith movement is more than just a blessing. It is an absolute right.  In Kenneth Copeland's words, "Jesus bore the curse of the law on our behalf. He beat Satan and took away his power. Consequently, there is no reason for you to live under the curse of the law, no reason for you to live in poverty of any kind." (Copeland, Laws, 51).  The Bible names countless individuals who, although they were righteous before God, were poor: Paul the apostle (Philippians 4:11-12) who, if you believe Copeland et al, must have lacked faith because he wasted his time making tents (Acts 18:3); his companions (1 Corinthians 4:9-13); the Old Testament faithful (Hebrews 11:37). Even the Lord Jesus lived in poverty (Matthew 8:20)!  These facts, however, are vehemently denied by Word Faith teachers, especially John Avanzini, who assures everyone that "Jesus was handling big money."  (Praise the Lord, Trinity Broadcasting Network, videotape, September 15, 1988). In fact, he claims, "Jesus had a nice house, a big house--big enough to have company stay the night with Him at the house."  (Believer's Voice of Victory, Trinity Broadcasting Network, videotape, January 20, 1991).  Frederick K. C. Price agrees: "The whole point is I'm trying to get you to see--to get you out of this malaise of thinking that Jesus and His disciples were poor and then relating that to you. … The Bible says that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. That's the reason why I drive a Rolls Royce" (Ever Increasing Faith, Trinity Broadcasting Network, videotape, December 9, 1990).  Is the average Word-Faith believer driving a Rolls?  No - but is it because he doesn't have enough faith? Or is it the high price he pays for the teaching materials and demands for tithes and offerings that keep the leader in luxury - and the duped followers in poverty?  Scripture nowhere indicates that Jesus was wealthy. Instead, it clearly portrays Him as being poor: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). We are made rich in spiritual rewards on earth now and in our certain future destiny in heaven.  Paul's words regarding honest labour and contentment with our present position (Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22-24) is mocked by these false teachers. Spiritual wealth or life comes to us sinners through the death of Christ. Christians are to be rich in spiritual things (James 2:5), including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Revelation 2:9 speaks of believers who, although poor by worldly standards, are still "rich" because of the spiritual wealth they possess.  Temporal riches are of much less value than spiritual riches. According to Paul, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Jesus himself said, "Lay up not for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

 
What happens to the victims - those who lose "Faith in Faith"?
In counseling those who have been caught up in the Word-Faith doctrines and then have been disillusioned, one finds many who have difficulty breaking free of these teachings.  A consistent pattern of behavior can be observed in these people.  First, as with all cultic teachings, no one has ever come up with this teaching through Bible study alone.  People generally find it through the influence of  Word-Faith churches and the literature, tapes and seminars which originally promulgated from the USA.  At this level, strong indoctrination takes place.  It is through the literature and seminars that people become "positive confessors." At this point, no negatives are allowed.  God wants you healthy, wealthy, and wise.  Sickness, poverty, and want are signs of spiritual weakness.  If something does not go right, lack of faith is at fault.  There are unfortunates, deceived by this heresy, who are still awaiting the replacement of an artificial leg or eye "when they have enough faith." Unfortunately the Word-Faith teachers never mention the casualties of their deception which are often picked up by orthodox Christian counselors.

At this stage, Word-Faith adherents often gain an attitude of superiority.  Word-Faith adherents consider any criticism of their doctrine to be an attack by those who are not "spiritually mature," and have not had this "higher revelation."  Then, some time later, after all the teaching, confessing and testifying, reality begins to rear its ugly head. Common human suffering teaches Word-Faith adherents that their system just does not work!  By embracing a faulty view of faith, thousands have exposed themselves to the power of Satan and the results are seen in the depression which results from inevitable failure to achieve the claimed results. Breakdown of relationships, loss of faith and personal tragedies at work and in the home result - with inevitable breakup of families through divorce and despair.  People have died or lost their children because they denied the reality of sickness and were persuaded not to take medical advice but to rely on this "faith in faith!"  Once faced with this, they either admit hat Word-Faith teachings are fallacious and throw themselves into the arms of a loving, sovereign God, or they begin to consciously deny reality.  Word-Faith victims who seek counselling often display three characteristics: confusion, guilt, and fear.  The confusion is usually the result of inner conflicts set up by contradictions between what is taught by Word-Faith teachers and what is in the Bible.  

 
But "Confessing It Means Possessing It"?
Word Faith celebrity Kenneth Copeland says, "What you are saying is exactly what you are getting now. If you are living in poverty and lack and want, change what you are saying. … The powerful force of the spiritual world that creates the circumstances around us is controlled by the words of the mouth."  (Copeland, Laws, 98). Kenneth E. Hagin, who served for many years as Copeland's mentor, echoes his protégé: "Your right confession will become a reality, and then you will get whatever you need from God."  (Kenneth E. Hagin, Right and Wrong Thinking for Christians (Tulsa: Kenneth Hagin Ministries, 1966), 30).  Positively confessing something is the very first step to getting what is wanted (i.e., healing, a luxury home, someone to marry, etc.). The "force of faith" coupled with a carefully conceived positive confession is really the only way to produce results because such methods release God's ability to bring about the things desired: "God's Word conceived in the heart, then formed with the tongue and spoken out of the mouth becomes a spiritual force releasing the ability of God."  (Capps, Dynamic, 33).  The stress placed on correct "speaking" often leads to some rather interesting instructions on how to "make" God work:  "What do you need? Start creating it. Start speaking about it. Start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold. Say, "You big, thick billfold full of money." Speak to your checkbook. Say, "You, checkbook, you. You've never been so prosperous since I owned you. You're just jammed full of money." Say to your body, "You're whole, body! Why, you just function so beautifully and so well. Why, body, you never have any problems. You're a strong, healthy body." Or speak to your leg, or speak to your foot, or speak to your neck, or speak to your back. … Speak to your wife, speak to your husband, speak to your circumstances; and speak faith to them to create in them and God will create what you are speaking.  (Marilyn Hickey, quoted in Hanegraaff, Crisis, 63).  This exhortation, as humorous as it sounds, masks a cruelty that comes through whenever someone in the Word Faith movement faces trials. Just as positive words have the power to create positive (good) results, negative words have the power to create negative (bad) results, according to the Word Faith followers. Consequently, those suffering have only themselves to blame, say the Word Faith teachers. As Frederick K. C. Price says, "If you keep talking death, that is what you are going to have. If you keep talking sickness and disease, that is what you are going to have, because you are going to create the reality of them with your own mouth. That is a divine law."  (Price, Realm, 29).  Deceived Christians are being mocked by Satan as they stumble around waiting for a missing limb or eye to be replaced - if and when they have enough faith and stop confessing negatively! 
 
Faith in Doctrines of Demons (1 Timothy 4:1-5) leads to Fear and Death!

Guilt is generally brought about by the tension generated when one was positively confessing but getting no results.  According to the Word-Faith position, no results equals lack of faith or open sin in one's life.  This can, and usually does, cause excessive introspection and a tremendous guilt feelings.  Sometimes the guilt is real and needs to be dealt with, but often there is no reason for the feelings.  Whatever the person was positively confessing was not in God's plan and He is not going to bring it about.

Fear comes from two areas.  First is the obsessive compulsion to be positive in every word.  Even using phrases such as "I'm just dying to do that" or "that joke just tickled me to death," release satanic powers, say the Word-Faith teachers (The Tongue - A Creative Force, p. 90-92).  People become afraid that they are going to slip up, utter a negative word, and give a place to Satan.  Secondly, fear is a corollary to the guilt mentioned above.  Fear and guilt usually work in a downward spiral.  One feels guilty because of supposed lack of faith, then afraid because the confession is not "working." Then there is more guilt, then more fear, and so on down into further despair.  This cycle can be extremely spiritually and physically debilitating.  All of these spiritual and psychological difficulties can be directly attributed to elevating man to the false position of being a god and saying that he has powers far greater than he really does.

Unfortunately, Word Faith proponents explain suffering through a convenient appeal to the sovereignty of man. There are no victims, nothing is out of control, and everything can change because those afflicted are calling the shots. As long as someone possesses enough knowledge about what God has promised, says the right words, and has enough faith, all will be taken care of--bills will get paid, family members will be healed, and money will fall like manna from heaven. One's own words control life because words "are the most powerful things in the universe today."  (Capps, Creative Power, 25). "HEALTH, SUCCESS, HAPPINESS and PROSPERITY are God's Will for YOU when you believe His Word enough to ACT ON IT."  (T. L. Osborne, quoted in Hanegraaff, Crisis, 361).  In the Word Faith movement, all suffering is caused by man, rather than God. As Frederick K. C. Price says, "You are suffering because you're stupid!"  (Price, quoted in Crenshaw, Man as God, 156). The only alternative they suggest is blasphemous: "If God is running everything, He does have things in a mess."  (Hagin, The Interceding Christian (Tulsa: Kenneth E. Hagin Ministries, 1978, 14).  The stupidity to which Price refers is expressed either through speaking negative confessions or through not realizing that positive confessions will bring about good things.

How should the church respond?

We have seen enough evidence to conclude that the Word-Faith message is a dangerous soul-destroying heresy that simply does not work.  It is a body of presumptuous teachings that lacks the authority of the Word of God.  It is a system of thinking that has been generated by a group of men drawing from each other's teachings with an amalgamation of Christian theology, mysticism and Gnosticism bound together by one of the most fanciful methods of Scripture interpretation ever devised.  All of this is buttressed by a mutual admiration society among the most popular of the Word-Faith teachers that admonishes critics to "touch not the Lord's anointed," often under dire threats of divine displeasure.

The Word-Faith movement has done more than its share of producing strife in the body of Christ.  Scores of well-meaning Christians are in bondage to this unscriptural philosophy.  The results of the Word-Faith teachings is to leave many people full of confusion, guilt and fear - the very things that the Word-Faith movement professes to eradicate.

The time is long due for Christians to take a serious look at the teachings of the Word-Faith movement.  Very little has been written or said about the defective Christology of Word-Faith believers which is utterly blasphemous!  We criticize such groups as the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Christadelphians, or the United Pentecostal Church because of their unscriptural views of the Godhead.  We expose the Mormon teachings declaring that men can become gods (the first Satanic lie! - Genesis 3:5) or the Witnesses heretical view that Jesus is "a god", and not Almighty God, and was pre-existent as Michael the archangel.  Can we do any less when the Word-Faith groups have introduced equally heretical teachings into the Body of Christ?
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Revelation and the Local Congregation

                     
           
by Bob DeWaay

There are no new revelations. That is what we were taught in Bible College and our professors were correct. Then we encountered passages such as 1Corinthians 14:26 which taught that members of the assembled church could have a revelation and it caused some of us to question what we were taught. In this paper the conclusion we come to will depend on how we answer the apparent contradiction between our teachers' claims and how we define the range of meaning of the term "revelation" (apokalupsis). Understanding this range of meaning will help us clear up much of the church's confusion about spiritual gifts and provide support for our Bible College instructors. We shall begin by examining the claims of two groups: those who believe there are new revelations (such as those involved in the modern day apostles and prophets movement) and those who claim that the "revelatory" gifts ceased when the canon of scripture was completed around 100 A.D.
The first group includes those of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and some other Charismatic and Pentecostal groups who argue that gifts of the Spirit exist today and are God's means of giving revelation to the church, both individually and corporately. In practice this leads to individuals receiving "words of knowledge, words of wisdom, and prophecies" that contain supernatural information which is beyond Scripture and is not available through ordinary means. Such practices are outside the bounds of Scripture.
The second group consists of those who argue that "revelatory" gifts have ceased with the completion of the canon of scripture in 100 A.D.
I will side with neither group but will defend this position: Spiritual gifts in the local congregation never were revelatory in the sense of giving inerrant, binding revelation to the church in the same manner as Scripture. This I will demonstrate. Therefore, there is no reason to claim that "they ceased on the grounds that they have no further purpose for the church."1
Walter Chantry who claims that the gifts were revelatory during the time of the writing of Scripture defends the cessationist2 argument saying, "Hence, stop-gap revelations were given to edify the church while the Holy Ghost brought all things of Christ to the remembrance of the Apostles [John 14:26]."3 This argument is common with many who claim that at least some gifts (what they call "revelatory" gifts) have ceased. I do not support that position either.
If there are no new revelations, and spiritual gifts never were revelatory, then both the cessationists and those who promote latter-day apostles are wrong. That was the position of my professors in a Pentecostal Bible College in the early 1970s when I was taught, in no uncertain terms, "There are no new revelations."

Revelations in the Church


In 1Corinthians 14 Paul uses the term "revelation" in the context of prophecy in a Christian meeting. The use of this term has led to confusion among many such as those in the latter day apostles and prophets movement who assume that this means revealing something new (from God) that could not be known by ordinary means. We will attempt to clear up this confusion by exploring the range of meaning with which Paul uses apokalupsis "revelation."
Paul wrote, "But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent" (1Corinthians 14:30). Why would Paul affirm that a member of the gathered flock may have a "revelation" in the context of teaching that all can prophesy (1Corinthians 14:31) if such prophesy were not "revelatory" in the same sense that Paul and other biblical apostles were given inerrant and binding revelation?
The answer is found in Ephesians, seeing how Paul uses revelation there in two different ways.
Consider this passage:

I do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1:16 – 18)

This is a prayer for the Ephesian Christians to better understand the implications of Messianic salvation provided through the gospel. But in the following section Paul uses the term differently:

if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; (Ephesians 3:2-5)

In this case Paul speaks of revelation (apokalupsis in noun and then verb form) as something that was uniquely given to him and the other apostles and prophets.
Therefore, "revelation" can mean that which would have been unknown had God not chosen to reveal it (as He did uniquely to and through His apostles and prophets), or it can mean that God opens the eyes of individual Christians to the glories of various implications of Messianic salvation for them and the church. The unique "revelation" is only given to God's chosen spokesmen; various implications of this once-for-all given revelation are available (and called "revelations") to all Christians.
Paul uses the term in the more general sense in 1Corinthians 14:30 (cited above) and in 1Corinthians 14:26 where apokalupsis is listed as something that may be given to a member of the gathered flock. This means there are no new revelations as my teachers told me, but there are "revelations" of the implications and applications of the apostolic revelation given to the church once for all and found in Scripture. These are available to all and can be judged objectively.

Words of Wisdom and Knowledge


If there are no new revelations, then what do we make of certain passages such as those that refer to "word of knowledge" or "word of wisdom"? Or the passages about prophecy such as are found in 1Corinthians 14? We shall see that Paul did not turn the matter of binding revelation over to the Corinthians to fill in what he had not taught them (as some have proposed). Any interpretation that says that he did fails to understand the context of Paul's Corinthian correspondences and thus his meaning. Paul's own authority was under attack at Corinth, and Paul defended it against those who valued sophia and gnosis (wisdom and knowledge), claiming that Paul lacked both in the hyper-spiritual sense that the false teachers claimed to have them. Paul defends his message of the cross as the true wisdom and power of God (1Corinthians 1:20-24).
Many modern teachers claim to have obtained "words of wisdom" and "words of knowledge," but the way they practice such "gifts" amounts to clairvoyance. But did Paul mean that God gave some Christians gifts that allowed them to do some version of mind reading? Did Paul expect Christians to know secret things not revealed in Scripture (in disobedience to Deuteronomy 29:29)? No. But many people believe Christians should and they cite examples from Acts where the apostles had supernatural insight. We do not deny that apostles were granted revelations. The issue, however, is whether or not the church today should expect new revelations. We say the church should not.
Let us examine a key proof text used by those who claim new revelations: "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit" (1Corinthians 12:8). The phrases "word of wisdom" and "word of knowledge" are in the genitive in the Greek. This gives a certain ambiguity and can mean "a word that consists of wisdom" or "a word that comes from wisdom." Since Paul does not elaborate about what he means, we must consult what he has said earlier about wisdom and knowledge (which elitists in Corinth claim to have in contrast to Paul who supposedly did not). Surely Paul did not now promote what he earlier (in the same epistle) corrected. In his excellent commentary, Gordon Fee observes:


The phrase means either "a message/utterance full of wisdom" or "an utterance characterized by wisdom." In either case its content is probably to be understood in light of Paul's own argument in 2:6–16. There the "message of wisdom," revealed by the Spirit, is not some special understanding of the "deeper things" or "mysteries" of God. Rather, it is the recognition that the message of Christ crucified is God's true wisdom, a recognition that comes only to those who have received the Spirit. For only the Spirit, Paul says, whom we have received, understands the mind of God and reveals what he accomplished in Christ (2:10–13). Thus in the present case the "utterance of wisdom" comes "through the Spirit," and in Corinth it is almost certainly to be found among those who give spiritual utterances that proclaim Christ crucified in this highly "wisdom"-conscious community. It is of some interest, therefore, that this particular "gift" does not appear again in any further list or discussion. 4

Any "word of wisdom" that has nothing to do with the cross and the finished work of Christ is not the "wisdom" that Paul asserts in the face of false, Corinthian sophia. The word "wisdom" is found 17 times in 1Corinthians chapters 1-3. Its content (in Paul's teaching) is the message of the cross which is understood (meaning embraced in its full significance) by those who have received the Spirit. So any "word of wisdom" that claims to be from the Spirit must be about God's work of grace in Christ through the cross or various implications thereof. The modern-day version that amounts to revelations that have nothing to do with Christ and His cross are no better than the false sophia of the "spiritual" teachers in Corinth who rejected Paul. Ironically, many use 1Corinthians to teach ideas and practices inimical to Paul's teaching in the epistle.
The phrase "word of knowledge" is to be understood in context as well. The gnosis that the spiritual elitists of Corinth relish "makes arrogant" (1Corinthians 8:1). What is known by the Spirit is centered on Christ and His cross, as preached by Paul:

we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (1Corinthians 2:12, 13)

What Paul spoke was the message of the cross, which is foolishness to the minds of those lost and in rebellion against God. The knowledge that is of value to the church is that which comes from God's revealed knowledge about Christ and the content of the gospel of Christ and is characterized by speaking forth profound implications of gospel truth for the lives of Christians. It is not "secret" knowledge that bedazzles the hearers and invokes personal admiration toward the speaker. Any definition of "word of knowledge" that promotes ideas similar to the "knowledge" claimed by the spiritual elite in Corinth that "makes arrogant" (1Corinthians 8:1—cited below) is antithetical to Paul's meaning in 1Corinthians 12 and elsewhere.
If what Paul means by words of wisdom and knowledge is taken in the greater context of what he says about sophia and gnosis in the rest of the extant Corinthian correspondences (1 & 2 Corinthians), then why should we claim that these words were revelatory and must have ceased? Is there some reason we do not need to have church members share with each other, by the Spirit, important, true implications of Christ crucified in their daily lives? Of course not. So those who argue that such gifts were revelatory and have ceased misunderstand Paul's meaning, as do those who today teach new revelations beyond Scripture. It is better to seek to understand Paul's meaning as revealed in binding and inerrant Scripture than to misunderstand it and promote error or misinterpret it to silence those who do. The truth will always benefit and never harm the church.

Prophecy


Prophecy is another gift that is claimed by many cessationists and non-cessationists as "revelatory." It is assumed by such persons that prophecy in the church as taught particularly in 1Corinthians 14 is of the same category of prophecy as found, for example, in the book of Isaiah. This certainly would raise the stakes. Those involved in the New Apostolic Reformation make such claims. To counter such ideas cessationists argue that the revelatory gifts have ceased. But what if Paul was speaking of something different than the binding, inerrant revelations of inspired Biblical prophets like Moses and Jesus? I claim that he was, and that as such, every member of the body of Christ may prophesy. But none of them can ever add anything to the body of revealed material found in Scripture, and their prophecies are binding only if they bring out valid implications and applications of Scripture.5
Paul explains his understanding of the purpose of prophecy as a gift of the Spirit exercised in the church: "But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation" (1Corinthians 14:3). The term for "edification" in the Greek has to do with "building up" and is used by Paul in 1Corinthians 8:1 which is important to us to understand Paul's meaning: "Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" (1Corinthians 8:1). The false gnosis of the Corinthians concerned special, secret knowledge that was beyond anything preached by Paul. Their knowledge "puffs up" but Paul's knowledge (truly inerrant revelation from Christ – Galatians 1:12) concerned God's love revealed through the gospel and manifested in the church—it "builds up."
The claim that prophecy in the church consists of special revelation beyond Scripture given to certain persons (the content of which becomes gnosis) is tantamount to teaching what Paul rebukes. It is to make Paul in 1Corinthians 14 opposed to what Paul wrote in the first 13 chapters of the epistle. To prophesy unto edification is to speak forth valid implications of the truth of the gospel revealed in scripture, not to give new revelations beyond scripture. Thus prophecy in the church is not "revelatory" in the sense of being "stop-gap" as Chantry and other cessationists claim nor revelation beyond scripture that is valid today as the NAR and others claim. It is "revelatory" in another sense (as in Ephesians 1:17) which we will discuss in more detail. Paul does use the term "revelation" as something given to the local body by individual members in this chapter (14:6, 26, 30).

Edification


Edification is linked to the gospel itself. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament explains how the concept is used in 1Corinthians 14:

The individual helps to edify the community by receiving for himself the exhortation of the Gospel and then passing it on to others. . . . The case is different [than with the tongue speaker] with the man who proclaims God's Word, the prophe_teuo_n (prophesying one). This man edifies the community. The term edification comprises two aspects, on the one side inner strengthening in might and knowledge, and on the other outer winning and convincing. It corresponds to the congregation's process of growth, but this is to be understood in terms of Christ, the Spirit and the act of faith.6

The content of "prophecy" in the church as explained in 1Corinthians 14 has to do with the gospel, not new revelations. What edifies the church is gospel truth applied to lives.
The term for edify in the Greek means "to build up." What is "built up" is the church and members in particular. No one in the church needs secret information that is not obtainable by any biblically legal means (Deuteronomy 29:29). People visit psychics looking for such knowledge. What we need is the truth of the gospel preached to us and the implications of God's work of redemption applied to our lives. We need moral and spiritual guidance that only the Bible provides:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:16, 17)

Paul's message of Christ's gospel was sufficient for them, and they were not lacking:


I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1Corinthians 1:4 – 7)

What was lacking was their confidence in the sufficiency of Christ and their contentment in the gospel. They longed for the sophia and gnosis peddled by the Greek philosophers. They longed for a false spirituality that went beyond the gospel Paul preached. They were dissatisfied with Paul and his message.
The gift of prophecy that brings edification was provided by God and commended by Paul to them to be practiced. True implications and applications of the faith once-for-all delivered (Jude 1:3) edify the church. New, secret information is toxic, not edifying. As we shall see, judging secret information is difficult, if not impossible. Prophecy is to be judged.

Exhortation


Paul also stated that prophecy in the church was for exhortation. The Greek word for "exhortation" found in 1Corinthians 14:3 is parakle_sis, which can mean "comfort, encouragement, or exhortation." There may be an overlap of meaning here, but prophecy is a gift of the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Comforter who encourages, comforts, and helps the church. Paul uses the cognate verb in 2Corinthians 5:20 for "entreating" people through the gospel to be reconciled to God.
Prophecy in the congregation is empowered by the Spirit who enables believers to speak forth from gospel truth to the needs of the congregation, individually and corporately. Keep in mind that the issue in Corinth revealed in 1 and 2 Corinthians was the sophia and gnosis valued by Paul's critics versus the gospel that Paul preached. Paul claimed that the message of the cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1Corinthians 1:18 – 24). I find it amazing how many people ignore the issue of the gospel of the crucified Messiah laid out by Paul earlier in the epistle and interpret prophecy in 1Corinthians 14 as if Paul were now contradicting himself and urging the congregation so enamored with their version of gnosis to find secret or previously unrevealed gnosis through personal prophecy. Paul, rather, teaches the congregation to lay aside uninterpreted tongues in favor of prophecy that is understood, applicable, linked to the truth of the gospel, and capable of being judged objectively. Such prophecy edifies the church and brings exhortation and comfort. Secret knowledge does no such thing.
Using the same Greek word for exhortation, Paul wrote to the Romans, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). Prophecy that brings forth valid implications and applications of Scripture brings encouragement and leads to perseverance. By understanding prophecy this way, we can follow Paul's admonition to "not go beyond what is written" (1 Corinthians 4:6). New revelations do not bring edification to the church, only confusion. And "God is not a God of confusion" (1Corinthians 14:33).

Comfort


The last description of the purpose of prophecy in the congregation is "comfort" (KJV) or "consolation" (NASB). The term translated "consolation" is very closely related to the term for exhortation, and there may be an overlap in meaning. What is important to understand is that gospel truth comforts Christians. It reminds us that our sins are forgiven. It reminds us of God's special love for His own and that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). According to Matthew 26:28, Jesus' blood is represented by the cup and was poured out for "the forgiveness of sins."
Secret knowledge or spiritual information that might invoke some type of hope of finding a good outcome, such as what people seek through astrology, psychics, or spiritists (and sadly modern-day prophets) is not what prophecy in the church is all about. Prophecy includes consolation. The greatest consolation that we have is that our sins are forgiven and we are part of God's family, to be with Him and the church triumphant forever. Both the Lord's Supper and baptism remind us of the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; Acts 2:38) and remind us of the finished work of Christ on the cross.
Prophecy in the church should do the same. When we announce, authoritatively, the terms for the forgiveness of sins we prophesy in a most powerful manner. What passes as prophecy in many churches and on TV is not what Paul taught in 1Corinthians 14. Prophecy comforts God's flock and warns and convicts unbelievers.

Prophecy in the Church and the Unbeliever


Paul anticipates an unbeliever who comes to a Christian fellowship. In a section that has often been misunderstood (1Corinthians 14:22 – 25) Paul claims that the Corinthian concept that speaking in tongues proved to other believers that one was "spiritual" (pneumatikos – a "spiritual one"; 1Corinthians 14:37) is false. Tongues are not a sign to other believers that one is more spiritual, but are ironically a sign to unbelievers in a very negative way! Tongues convince unbelievers that members of the church are "mad" (1Corinthians 14:23). Gordon Fee aptly explains the irony:

Because tongues are unintelligible, unbelievers receive no revelation from God; they cannot thereby be brought to faith. Thus by their response of seeing the work of the Spirit as madness, they are destined for divine judgment—just as in the OT passage Paul has quoted. This, of course, is not the divine intent for such people; hence Paul's urgency is that the Corinthians cease thinking like children, stop the public use of tongues, since it serves to drive the unbeliever away rather than to lead him or her to faith.7

Prophecy, unlike tongues, is in the native language of the gathered church. It therefore is intelligible to all, and when done Biblically serves to bring the implications of the gospel to bear on all, including a possible visiting unbeliever.
Paul says this:

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you (1Corinthians 14:24, 25).

I have heard a number of people cite examples of obtaining supernatural information about someone's secret sins that caused an outcome like this and use such examples to prove that God will reveal secret information to Christians that becomes the content of prophecy. This is not Paul's meaning here. Those who prophesy are not a special class of "prophets" but "all." Any member of the congregation might be the "prophesying one." The results of such prophesying are the conviction of sin and in the ideal case, conversion.
This shows that the work of the Spirit is through all believers. One of the works of the Spirit is conviction of sin: "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). When Peter preached the gospel on Pentecost, the result for some was that they were convicted of sin:

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:36 - 38)

Earlier, Peter cited Joel to the effect that when the Holy Spirit was poured out, everyone, (not just special prophets) would prophesy (Acts 2:17, 18). If prophecy as understood in such passages is not to inerrantly speak new revelations beyond scripture, but to speak forth valid implications and applications of scripture, particularly concerning the gospel, then Acts 2:17, 18 compared with 1Corinthians 14:24, 25 makes perfect sense. The results for the church preaching the gospel will be like the results of Peter preaching the gospel: sinners will be convicted and some will repent, confessing that a true work of God is happening.
In the previously cited 1Corinthians 14:25b, the apostle Paul mentioned the unbeliever who falling on his face, confesses that God is at work. Gordon Fee explains that this is an allusion to the OT and describes conversion:

The final result of such exposure before God is conversion, which is what Paul's language unmistakably intends. The language is thoroughly steeped in the OT. First, "he will thus fall on his face and worship God." This is biblical language for obeisance and worship. That Paul intends this to mean conversion is indicated by the final exclamation, which is a conscious reflection of Isa. 45:14 (cf. Zech. 8:23): God, speaking through the prophet, says that the Egyptians will come over to you, and "will worship" before you, and say, "Surely God is with you." Paul simply changes the singular "with you," referring to Israel, into a plural, "among you," referring to the gathered community. This final confession of the unbeliever is thus the "sign" that prophecy is for "believers"; it is sure evidence of God's favor resting on his people.8

This conviction and conversion is the ideal result of gospel preaching. The gospel is to be on the lips of all and proclaimed by all. God will use it to convert those who will believe. This is prophecy in its most important NT sense. I explained this in an article on the topic:

If I say to someone, "According to the Law of God, everyone is a sinner and stands condemned as a law-breaker. The penalty for all law-breakers is eternity in hell. Since you, like everyone else, have broken God's law, you stand condemned. God is perfectly just and cannot lie. God said that the soul that sins must die. But God is also loving and merciful. So God's own Son, Jesus Christ, came into human history through the virgin birth, lived a sinless life, and shed His blood on the cross to avert God's wrath against sin, and was bodily raised from the dead and appeared to many witnesses. If you repent of living for self, trusting self, and spurning God's Word and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you will be saved. But if you neglect God's offer of salvation through the finished work of Christ, you will face God's wrath in eternity and there will be no escape." – I have truly prophesied in a most powerful and true way. Those words are not inspired Scripture, but they are valid implications from Scripture. 9

Such prophecy is the domain of all believers, not just certain official "prophets." God will use it to convert the lost.

Prophecy is to be Judged


Paul makes it clear that all believers may prophesy (1Corinthians 14:24. 31), but this does not mean all at once or all at any given meeting. He gives further instruction: "And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment" (1Corinthians 14:29). It is very crucial to realize that Paul has not switched subjects and is still giving instruction to the church about prophecy at the public assembly. Therefore "prophets" here does not mean "official prophets holding office" but is functional terminology meaning "one who prophesies." The New Apostolic Reformation and others get this wrong as well and use the passage to prove that there are multiple official prophets, that their prophesies are fallible (because they must be judged), and that giving false predictive prophecy does not make such prophets false prophets as they would have been by OT standards. This false interpretation wrenches the passage out of context. Paul goes on to say: "For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted" (1Corinthians 14:31). Prophecy is for exhortation (as it says in verse 3) and may be done by all. It is not the domain of authorized prophets who speak secret information or predict the future.
What, then, is it to judge prophecy as shared in the church by individual believers? Many understand this wrongly and assume that the prophecy is subjective and judgment of it is subjective as well. Some claim that only official prophets give prophecy and that only other official prophets may judge it. So in this scenario, one prophet says, "Thus says the Lord, such and so is going to happen." Another prophet might say, "Yes I think that is from God." Or another prophet might say, "No I do not think that is from God." The result for the church is confusion and uncertainty. Has God really spoken? We do not know.10
But if prophecy is objective, bringing forth implications and applications of Biblical truth, then judgment of it is objective as well. We judge whether the meaning of Scripture is properly explained, and that any claimed implications and applications are validly derived from the text. For example, I have heard Psalm 101:3, KJV, used to prove that it was a sin for a Christian to have a TV because it constituted a wicked thing set before their eyes. That is not a valid application or implication of the passage for several reasons and therefore is a false "prophecy" (i.e., "thou shalt not own a TV") and should be judged as such if uttered in the church.
Any Christian gathering where Scripture is taught, discussed, interpreted, and applications made by the gathered community constitutes prophecy by all that can, and must, be judged. What God said is objective, and whether a valid implication of what He said has been spoken can be judged objectively as well. Discernment is objective. God does not turn His church over to the subjective realm to make judgments.

Conclusion


Pentecostals and Charismatics need not give up their belief that the gifts of the Spirit are for today. But if they have listened to the many false apostles and prophets in the world and they belong to movements that promote such false ones, they have a serious problem. Now they have embraced confusion and error and will be led away from the gospel of truth. They have denied sola scriptura and will never cease being unstable (2Peter 2:14). Gifts that are gospel-centric, Christ-centric, and objectively judged to be true (because they are biblical) edify the church. There is no need to embrace cessationism in regard to spiritual gifts. What has ceased is the existence of authoritative apostles and prophets who speak new revelations beyond Scripture. There are no new revelations!


April – June 2012 Issue Number 121


End Notes
  1. I wrote about this matter here: (Issue 47)
  2. A cessationist is someone who claims that at least some of the gifts of the Spirit ceased in 100 AD with the completion of the canon of Scripture.
  3. Walter J Chantry, Signs of the Apostles -- Observations on Pentecostalism Old and New, (Banner of Truth Trust: Carlise PA, 1973) 1993 edition, 39.
  4. Fee, Gordon D.: The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987 (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), S. 592.
  5. . I give a fuller explanation of this in a Critical Issues Commentary article, Issue 95
  6. Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (5:141-142). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  7. Fee, Gordon D. (1987). The First Epistle to the Corinthians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 682.
  8. Ibid. 687.
  9. Bob DeWaay, Critical Issues Commentary, Issue 95.
  10. I discuss the worthlessness of such "prophecy" in this article: Issue 67b


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Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation

 



PICTURED BELOW ARE THE MODERN MEMBERS OF THE LATTER RAIN MOVEMENT AKA THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION UNDER C. PETER WAGNER

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The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation
by Bob DeWaay


“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19, 20).

This article explores the idea of apostles in the church throughout church history. In it I will show that the restoration/Latter Rain idea that fuels the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is unbiblical and dangerous to the well-being of Christians who become part of it. First we will review how the early church understood apostles in church history. Then we will examine the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching about apostolic authority. From there we will examine the ideas of a 17th-century mystic given new life in the Latter Rain movement, and now the NAR.
At a 1996 Fuller Seminary conference hosted by C. Peter Wagner, a movement that Wagner previously labeled “post-denominational” became the New Apostolic Reformation.1 Besides Wagner himself is another person prominent in the movement—Bill Hamon—who is strongly endorsed by Wagner. Hamon is important, as we will see, because his ministry goes all the way back to the early 1950’s and began on the heels of the Latter Rain Movement.

How the Early Church Understood Apostles


In 97 AD, Clement of Rome wrote an epistle to the church at Corinth. The epistle provides solid evidence that the early church did not believe that the apostles had successors or that new apostles were needed in order to provide direction to the church. At issue was the fact that certain individuals in Corinth challenged the duly constituted elders’ authority; Clement wrote to correct them. Clement’s testimony is remarkable because he likely was the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3, whom Paul called a “fellow worker.” Clement mentions the apostles in this passage:

The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe.2

Although the Roman Catholic Church claims that Clement himself was an apostle of Christ in succession from Peter, Clement claimed no such title and neither did he acknowledge any apostles but the true apostles—the ones Christ appointed personally. What we will see from Clement is that the apostles appointed overseers and elders (the same group), and these were the authorities in the local church. The apostle Paul had given instructions on the qualifications and roles of elders (Acts 20:28 - 31; Titus 1:5-9; 1Timothy 3:1 - 7) and provided for their continuation (2Timothy 2:2). Clement goes on to discuss this:

Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them.3

Clement did not claim the apostolic authority to intervene, but rather pointed to elders who were appointed according to the standards of the Biblical apostles. It is noteworthy that he used the terms “episcopate” and “presbyters” interchangeably for the same people. Soon the church would develop “bishops” over cities (the “monepiscopate” or single bishop over a city), which was an innovation not endorsed by the Biblical apostles. However, Clement, who had been an associate of Paul, used episkopos (overseers or bishops – KJV) and presbuteros (elders) to describe the same group of people. This is precisely what Paul did in Acts 20:17, 28 when he called the elders together and described them as “overseers.”

By 97 AD, the authorities in the church were not apostles and prophets, but elders who had been appointed according to the standards lain down by the apostles. Those who claim that God always intended there to be authoritative apostles in the church who give binding revelation ignore the fact that the apostles themselves never anticipated that they would have successors and gave no instructions for the qualifications of any such successors. But they did provide qualifications for elders, and these would apply to future generations. Sadly, the fact that there are no qualifications for apostles (other than that they must have seen the risen Lord and have been appointed directly by Him – which qualifications the NAR apostles ignore or reject) has opened to the door the proliferation of apostles around the world, many of whom claim apostolic status even though they do not even have the necessary qualifications to be elders in a local church.

The Roman Catholic Church’s Apostles


As church history progressed, the understanding of church authority as seen in the days of Clement of Rome disappeared very quickly in favor of the monepiscopate and progressed from that unbiblical innovation to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. This idea eventually led to the Papacy. Later in church history, and in amazing irony, the Roman Catholic Church claimed that Clement was a successor of Peter and had apostolic status. This travesty dishonors the very teachings of Clement himself who taught no such thing.
Roman Catholic innovation removed the status of the Biblical apostles as the foundation of the church4 and replaced it with a succession of apostles who claimed the liberty to give new, binding revelation to the church. Here is how the Roman Catholic Church explains its own position:

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.5 (Catholic Encyclopedia)

It is ironic that C. Peter Wagner claims we need restored apostles when there have been claimants to the office of apostle going back over 1,000 years. Wagner acknowledges this:

[I]n certain segments of the Church the office of apostle has, indeed, been recognized throughout the past two millennia. The Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican or Episcopal Church and many denominations that have actually incorporated “apostolic” into their name would come to mind as examples. However, just as was true of prophetic movements, the emphases of these apostolic movements had not penetrated the mainstream of what I am calling life-giving evangelical churches that are now the cutting edge of the spread of Christianity. This only began to happen in the 1990’s.6

So, with regard to having apostles Wagner sees the Roman Catholic Church not as guilty of unbiblical innovation as Luther and the other Reformers claimed, but as a positive role model for evangelicals. His new “reformation” claims to have many thousands of apostles and prophets. At least Rome put some reigns on apostles in that they only have one at a time and he speaks “ex cathedra” only occasionally. The new apostles are continually speaking new revelations from God.

The Reformation Teaches “Scripture Alone”


The Reformation rightly rejected the authority of the Pope and church tradition and returned to “scripture alone.” This was a return to the true foundation of the church, the Biblical apostles and prophets who speak to us through the Scripture. This means that the decrees of men in church history are not binding on any believer unless those decrees are valid implications and applications of Scripture. This brings up an important point mentioned in the previous issue of CIC: God only binds us to what is inerrant and infallible.7 Words from men that contain mixture and error and lack the qualities of inspired Scripture cannot be binding on the lives of believers. This truth was at the crux of the Reformation. The words of the Popes do not have this quality nor do those of latter day apostles and prophets.

17th Century Mystic Jane Leade Prophesies of a Coming Elite Church


One of the problems that attended the Reformation was the presence of “enthusiasts” who claimed direct revelation from God. The Reformers universally condemned such persons and movements, but that did not deter them from gaining followers. One who arose a century after the Reformation and who continues to have followers was an English mystic named Jane Leade. Her writings are posted on the Internet by persons who have affiliations with latter day apostles and prophets. She held to a theory of church history that claimed that the seven churches in Revelation stood for seven successive stages of church history. There are some today who still teach this theory. The problem with it is that there is nothing in Revelation itself that indicates John expected his readers to understand it that way. This is a classic case of the reader determining the meaning of the Bible rather than the Spirit-inspired author.
Leade was particularly interested in the church at Philadelphia because Christ found no fault in it. She was involved in a movement called “The Philadelphian Society,” named after that church. In 1679, the Philadelphian Society and the Theosophists published a document containing a 60-point prophecy by Jane Leade (the document has her name as Lead).8 The document proposes ideas that resurfaced in 1948 in the Latter Rain movement, and, as we shall see, are still being promoted by a key Apostle-prophet of the New Apostolic Reformation.
The first several points of the prophecy are about sealed mysteries that would be revealed only to “worthy searchers.” She claimed that there was an Ark of the Testimony in heaven containing new revelations to be opened during the church age. She wrote under point 8, “The presence of this divine ark, will constitute the Philadelphian Church, and wherever that is, there must the ark of necessity be.” Thus the group was called the “Philadelphian Society” which published “Theosophical Transactions.”9 She goes on to prophesy of an elite church that would be beyond anything previously known. In fact this church would be a “virgin” that would give birth to the “son” mentioned in Revelation 12:5:

14. Of the stem of DAVID, a virgin church, which hath known nothing of man or of human constitution, is yet to be born. 15. And if it be yet to be born, then it will require some considerable time before it gets out of its minority, and arrives to the full and mature age. 16. The birth of this virgin church was visionally typified to St. JOHN by the great wonder in Heaven bringing forth her first born, that was caught up to the throne of GOD 17. FOR — As a virgin woman brought forth CHRIST after the flesh, so likewise a virgin woman is designed by God, to bring forth the FIRST BORN after the Spirit, who shall be filled with the Holy Ghost and with power. 18. The VIRGIN that is hereto designed, must be as of a pure spirit, so also of a CLARIFIED body, and all over impregnated with the Holy Ghost. 19. This church so brought forth and signed with the mark of the divine name, shall be adorned with MIRACULOUS GIFTS AND POWERS beyond whatever yet hath been. . . . 23. This Catholic and anointed church must be perfectly holy, as CHRIST himself is holy; so that it may worthily bear the name of the Lord our Holiness, and the Lord our Righteousness. 24. Until there be such a church made ready upon the earth, so holy, so catholic, and so anointed, that is without all spot or wrinkle, and that is adorned as a bride to meet her bridegroom, CHRIST will not personally descend to solemnize this marriage, and present the same to his Father.

This prophecy of a perfected church (later called the “many-membered man-child”10 ) that will be the incarnation of Christ on the earth while Christ remains in heaven sets the stage for the Latter Rain movement in the 20th Century that would make the same claims. Whether that movement got its ideas from Leade or came up with the same heresy independently I cannot say at this time. But the ideas are identical. The church must be perfected on earth before Christ can return, and this shall be accompanied with miracles and power greater that at any time in church history—including Pentecost.

The Latter Rain Movement: Five Fold Ministry Elitism


At the very beginning of the 20th century a man named David Wesley Myland used the term “Latter Rain” to describe the Pentecostal revival that was going on. He allegorized Joel 2:23 that spoke of God blessing the agricultural harvest in Israel to create a theory of church history. In Israel’s agricultural cycles, there were the spring rains (early rain) and the fall rains (the latter rain). Myland used this terminology and applied it to the Pentecost of Acts (early rain) and the one he claimed was again happening at Azusa Street and elsewhere (the latter rain). The key idea of these early Pentecostals was that the gift of tongues was being restored to the church and was going to issue forth into great power to evangelize the world. But the Pentecostal movement was fraught with aberrations that soon arose—such as the Oneness doctrine that denied the Trinity. The thinking of early “Latter Rain” Pentecostals was that God was restoring the apostolic power of the early church.
Those who wanted to maintain traditional evangelical theology yet include the idea of the gift of tongues as the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit joined together into groups such as the Assemblies of God. The Assemblies rejected the latter rain ideas and held to traditional premillennial eschatology that many evangelicals believed.
In the 1930s, a man by the name of William Branham began to preach and exhibit supernatural manifestations. George Hawtin and P. G. Hunt heard Branham speak in Vancouver and brought his ideas to North Battleford, Saskatchewan where the “Latter Rain” revival that became the New Order of the Later Rain (NOLR) actually began. A key book that was circulated at that time was Atomic Power with God Through Prayer and Fasting by Franklin Hall. A key idea that still persists is that God is continually desiring to do great and powerful miracles through the church but is unable to do so because the church has not become holy enough, desired it badly enough, has failed in numerous other ways, or lacks the faith that is necessary to precipitate these miracles. The Latter Rain has always been predicated on elitist ideas such as those of Jane Leade previously cited. They consider ordinary churches to be miserable failures that God cannot use.
In 1951, George Warnock wrote a book that became one of the most important statements of the ideas of the NOLR, The Feast of Tabernacles. The book is based on an allegorical interpretation of the feasts of Israel that has the Feast of Tabernacles standing for a glorious end-times church that would arise before Christ can return. The entire book can be read online, as it is posted by current advocates of Latter Rain theology. Warnock states a key premise that underlies the theology of the Latter Rain as well as that of the New Apostolic Reformation: “How thankful we are, therefore, that God is revealing the pattern of perfection. The Ascension gifts, the ministries in the Body of Christ—these are the means of perfecting the saints,—and as we have read, they are to remain in the Church till we all come unto unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man!” The “Ascension gifts” is a reference to the so-called “five fold ministry” of Ephesians 4:11. The idea is that the church will be perfected by the renewal of the ministries of apostles and prophets before Christ returns.
Warnock, like Myland, allegorized the rains in Israel to make them create a scheme of church history:

Joel’s prophecy, therefore, speaks of Pentecost--but it goes on to embrace the fullness of Pentecost, even the Feast of Tabernacles. God did give the former rain moderately--in the Pentecostal Age extending from the early Church until now. But here is something very unusual. Right here in the “first month” of the Agricultural Year . . . God has promised to do something most unusual; for He would give, not only the former rain which belongs to that month, but He would give the former rain and the latter rain combined!”11

This he interpreted to mean that the Latter Rain would be characterized by far greater power and glory than what was seen in the Book of Acts. Warnock thereby set the stage for the grandiose claims that are made by the apostles and prophets of our day. It is not inaccurate to say that there is no claim so grandiose that the latter day apostles will not make it. We shall demonstrate that when we examine the writings of one of their top leaders.
Warnock also claimed, like Jane Leade, that Jesus would remain in heaven until after the church achieved elite status never before seen in church history, including that of the Biblical days:

O the immensity of these words! And what is more, Christ is going to remain right where He is at God’s right hand until there shall arise a group of overcomers who shall conquer over all God’s enemies. . . . And yet the majority of Christians are looking for a rapture any moment, when Christ is supposed to catch away a miserable, defeated, disease-ridden Church.

Notice that ordinary Christians, in this elitist thinking, are “miserable, defeated, and disease ridden.” Supposedly we are not worthy of Christ returning for and catching us up to meet Him in the air. Echoes of Leade’s Philadelphian Society are evident here. Rather than looking for Christ’s return as the “blessed hope” of the church, elitists from Leade to Warnock, and as we shall see to the New Apostolic Reformation, are looking for the church to become the new “incarnation” of Christ, with Christ still “held in the heavens.” The hope of the church has thereby ironically become the church itself.
One of the most heretical teachings associated with the NOLR was called “the manifested sons of God” that claimed that certain elite Christians would obtain the promise of immortality (as promised in Romans 8:19) now rather than at the parousia. Warnock taught that all enemies, in which he included death, the “last enemy,” had to be conquered by the church before Christ could return: “God says Christ is going to stay right where He is until all His enemies are under His feet. And His enemies include the “last enemy,” which is Death. There must arise a group of overcomers who shall conquer and become absolutely victorious over all the opposing forces of the world, the flesh, and the Devil--before this dispensation draws to a close.” 12 The “overcomers” is another term used by the Latter Rain to describe elitist Christians who are to be distinguished from the rest of us. This is in spite of the fact that the following verse applies to all Christians: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith” (1John 5:4).
One of the ironies of the Latter Rain and New Apostolic Reformation movements (the latter is merely the current version of the former as I will demonstrate) is that they hold to a “restoration” scenario in which God is supposedly progressively restoring truths lost during church history and now are being restored starting with the Reformation. But ironically, NOLR and NAR teachers constantly contradict and reject important Reformation doctrines. They want to claim the Reformation as theirs and reject it at the same time. For example, the Reformation taught the priesthood of every believer, but George Warnock of the NOLR taught an elitist “Melchizedek” priesthood that only applies to some:

The Melchizedek priesthood is a priesthood of life, and of fadeless glory. It is a priesthood of eternal fellowship and communion with Christ, and not like the Aaronic priesthood which experienced the presence of God only on a certain occasion, once in the year. . . . In the fullness of this new priesthood we shall be completely glorified, like unto Christ. But even as Christ began His priesthood on earth by interceding for His brethren--so let us begin even now to possess this glorious heritage in the Spirit, the Kingdom of God within.

This only applies, according to Warnock, to the last day saints who have attained to this status and shall operate during the great tribulation and thus shorten it. Saints of previous generations have not had this status.
William Branham, mentioned earlier, became a key figure of the Latter Rain movement and is still revered by many. It was said that he accurately, in thousands of instances, gave detailed information about people of which he had no natural means of knowing. Interpreting this ability as “words of knowledge” (1Corin. 12), his followers were convinced that it was a sign that he was a great prophet of God. Branham claimed to have a personal angel who taught him and gave him revelations. He claimed that this angel told him that he was the Elijah who would come before the return of Christ. He also claimed to be the messenger of the Laodicean church. He is buried under a pyramid that makes that claim.13 Branham rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Branham demonstrated one thing conclusively: that restoration movements like the Latter Rain so lust for prophets who can do signs and wonders that they will accept nearly any heresy or outrageous claim as long as it is accompanied by signs and miracles.

From the Latter Rain to NAR


Ern Baxter was a personal assistant to William Branham for several years. When the Charismatic Renewal came on the scene not long after the death of Branham, Baxter became a key leader in that movement. He eventually joined with Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Derek Prince, and Don Basham to become the “Fort Lauderdale Five” who published New Wine magazine. They became famous for the controversial Shepherding movement. Taking the ideas that God was currently speaking to people through extra biblical revelations, and that certain persons were more advanced than others at “hearing from God,” they began an hierarchical movement in which shepherds would “hear from God” directions for those under them and on down the pyramid.
I was involved in that movement myself in the late 1970s. The key idea was that authority came from “hearing from God.” By definition, the leader of the group I was involved with (a man by the name of Jack Winter) “heard from God.” He came armed with a cache of miracle guidance stories that he repeated to convince people that when it came to hearing from God, he was unsurpassed. Under him were shepherds who heard from God for those under them. Everything we did was under the scrutiny of over shepherds. This included every decision from whom to marry even to mundane decisions like taking trips. Although our heroes on the national level were Baxter, Mumford, and company, we needed to go no higher than Jack Winter for our final divine approval. If there were any serious complaints about this arrangement, Winter would come into town and preach a sermon on “Korah’s Rebellion” with the application that Winter was “Moses” and anyone who disagreed with him was Korah. I personally heard that sermon more than once.
The shepherding movement in general, and our local version in particular, came apart at the seams by the early 1980s. The shepherding movement, like the Latter Rain movement before it, had been discredited. But those who believed the basic paradigm of a restored, apostolic church with more power than the church in Acts never gave up their beliefs. In their minds, it was only a matter of time before the elite end-time church would arise and defeat all of God’s enemies. They dismissed the failures of previous movements on the grounds that certain leaders got off base; but they themselves had kept the dream alive.

Latter Rain Beliefs Enter the NAR


Bill Hamon was born in 1934, and according to his book, Apostles, Prophets, and the Coming Moves of God, he entered the ministry as a teenager: “At the age of eighteen, I was birthed in the restoration teaching that there are still present-day apostles and prophets in the Church. I was ordained and started pastoring when I was 19”14 That means that he was in the restoration movement and began his ministry right after Warnock published The Feast of Tabernacles. His claims, as we will show, are almost identical to Warnock’s. He too allegorized Haggai 2:9 to prove that the church at the end of the age will be more glorious than that of Acts. 15,
Hamon became involved with C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation at its very inception:

The National Symposium on the Post-Denominational Church convened by Dr. C. Peter Wagner at Fuller Seminary, May 21-23, 1996, was a historical occasion in God’s annals of Church history. It was prophetically orchestrated by the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s progressive purpose of bringing His Church to its ultimate destiny. . . . The consensus of the panelists was that there are still apostles and prophets in the Church, and that there is an emerging Apostolic Movement that will revolutionize the 21st-century Church. The last-generation Church will have an Apostolic Reformation that will be as great as the first-generation Apostolic Movement.16

With Wagner’s endorsement, Hamon brought the teachings of the Latter Rain movement into the NAR. Wagner “highly recommends” Hamon’s book on Apostles and Prophets17 and wrote the foreword to it. But Hamon’s book reiterates nearly every claim of the discredited Latter Rain movement. For example, one of the more extreme teachings of the NOLR was the “manifested sons” teaching; but Hamon teaches the same thing citing a version of the Bible that translates it “revealing of the sons”:

The whole creation is waiting for the last generation Church. The earth and all of creation are waiting for the manifestation of God’s last-day apostles and prophets and fully restored Church. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19 NKJV). When the Church is fully restored, then the saints will receive their final redemption, the immortalization of the mortal bodies.18

Hamon claims that this has to happen before the return of Christ so the church can fulfill her role. Here is further evidence that he claims that immortal bodies will be received before the parousia (second coming of Christ): “The resurrection-translation of the saints that brings about the redemption of their mortal bodies into immortal, indestructible bodies will take place so that God can fulfill His greater purpose for and through His Church.”19

Latter Rain Heresy is Renamed and Reintroduced


The differences between the Latter Rain Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation mostly have to do with terminology, not doctrine. In the 1980s, a teaching circulated amongst those who attend conferences put on by those in the prophetic movement called “a new breed of man.” The basic idea is that ordinary Christians throughout church history had been colossal failures and that God was going to fall upon certain persons by His Holy Spirit and “impregnate” them so that they could “give birth” to something entirely new. The “new breed of man” would be exalted saints with holiness and power never known before. I remember debating people at the time who were following this teaching.
Earl Paulk was a noteworthy leader in the 1980s who was involved in these teachings. Though later discredited through a series of sex scandals that are even now back in the news20, Paulk articulated the elitist ideas of the movement:

“Firstfruits” means many others like Him [Jesus] will follow. Jesus was the firstfruit of God’s incarnation, a man living out God’s perfect will. Now He says, “I want to inject life by putting the seed of the Holy Spirit in the Church. My people will bring forth life as they become the ‘incarnate Word’ on planet Earth.” I am sure this definition bothers some theologians, but the Church is “the ongoing expression” of God.21

So the impregnated church will become “incarnate” like Christ. This idea is exactly the one taught by Jane Leade back in 1679 as cited earlier and then also articulated by Latter Rain teachers. Paulk reiterates the idea: “The great move of God to place the Holy Spirit within us makes us become the incarnation of God.”22
Bill Hamon includes the “new breed” idea in his teachings: “The new breed of Joshua Generation apostles will move in the miraculous and definitely manifest the signs of the apostle.”23 The “Joshua Generation” is another allegory popular in this movement. The crossing of the Jordan into the promised land by Israel is allegorized to mean the triumph of the church over all enemies so as to take the land, “every place your sole treads” they claim. The “new breed” means that they are not of the same order of humans as other Christians who have ever existed. Hamon further states: “Let it suffice to say here that the new breed of apostles will be motivated by the Spirit of Wisdom.”24 The spirit of wisdom in Isaiah 11:2 is that which is distinctive of Christ. The NAR claims that Christ is coming IN the church not FOR the church. Hamon claims that he himself is one of God’s “new breed” of last-days apostles.25
Earlier, William Branham had claimed to be the Elijah who would come (Matthew 17:11). But Branham died and all things were not restored. Now Hamon has modified this claim to cover what they call an “Elijah Company”: But there is still a future fulfillment when Elijah will come to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Coming. This time it would not be just one prophet but a great company of prophets that would not only prepare the way and make ready a people, but they would RESTORE ALL THINGS.”26 This “restoration” must happen, through the church, before Christ can return: “Jesus could not leave earth until He had fulfilled all Messianic prophecies and He cannot come back to earth until the Church fulfills all restoration scriptures.”27
While rejecting the pre-tribulation rapture, teachers like Hamon do not believe their glorified, end-times church will be martyred by Antichrist but rather defeat the entire Babylonian system of the tribulation themselves! Here is his claim:

God’s holy Church apostles and prophets have a co-laboring ministry of bringing about the mighty fall of Babylon the Great. Their authority will be beyond anything we have seen in our day. . . Like Moses and Elijah, God’s apostles and prophets will prevail over all their enemies unto the end.28

The Bible says that God will destroy Babylon; it does not say the church will (see Revelation 18).

The Joel’s Army Heresy Reintroduced


One of the discredited teachings of the NOLR was called “Joel’s Army.” The claim was that Joel 2:1-11 predicts that the end time church will be “Joel’s Army” that will execute God’s judgments on the earth. This is another false Latter Rain teaching that Bill Hamon still propagates. Here is his claim:

The saints are being trained now in the military bases of international training centers and their local church armories. The goal is to have them taught, equipped and field trained to be the officers that lead God’s army of prophetic evangelist saints during the coming Saints Movement. They will minister under the covering and leadership of fivefold apostolic and prophetic generals who trained them. These saints will function like God’s army prophetically described by Prophet Joel (Joel 2:1-11).29

There is nothing in Joel 2:1-11 that predicts that this army is made up of elite, end times Christians. Hamon’s allegorical method allows him to read most anything into the Scripture. He further discusses the church as an end time army:

God’s great end-time army is being prepared to execute God’s written Judgments with Christ’s victory and divine judgment decrees that have already been established in heaven. The time is set when they will be administered and executed on earth through God’s saintly army. All that is destined and needed will be activated during God’s restorational Army of the Lord Movement.30

All of this ignores the obvious fact that the judgments poured out during the Great Tribulation as described in Revelation are direct outpourings of God’s wrath on the earth, not through the actions of the church. The “movements” that Hamon describes are not found in the Bible; he is prophesying them by his own authority with no evidence that we should believe what he is saying.

The “Kingdom Now” Heresy Reintroduced


Another “movement” that Hamon predicts he calls “The Kingdom Establishing Movement.”31 Here he makes even more grandiose claims:

The movement will not cease until all knees bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus is the true Lord God over all the earth. That does not imply that everyone who makes that confession or acknowledgement is saved. However, there will be such worldwide demonstration of God’s power over the elements, people raised from the dead, miraculous control of natural catastrophes, miraculous prophetic words and endless supernatural manifestations, signs and wonders, until everyone will have to acknowledge that there is no god like Jesus Christ, the God of gods and Lord of lords.32

According to NOLR and NAR teachers, the kingdom of God is established by the church during history and before the parousia. Hamon writes, “Now let us begin to pray earnestly that the full dominion of His literal kingdom be established in all reality over all nations and people of the earth. . . They will pray and declare that it is time for God’s kingdom to be established over all the earth by the divine delegated authority and ministry of Christ’s Church.33

The Bible Prophesies End Times Delusion


Having seen the consistent claims spanning several centuries right up to the present that elite Christians shall arise and overcome death before the rapture, do greater miracles than those of the Biblical accounts, defeat all of God’s enemies while Christ remains “held in the heavens,” and become the virgin born, new breed of man, manifested sons, the very incarnation of God on earth, etc., let us consider what the Bible predicts about the end time. The Bible teaches none of these heretical doctrines uniformly based on allegorized Scripture, but rather teaches that massive deception through false signs and wonders would characterize the end of the age.
Jesus said: “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. . . . For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:11, 24). He did not tell us to look for a “new breed” of “anointed ones” (christs) but warned us to avoid their deceptions. Paul predicted perilous times of sin and evil at the end of the age where men will oppose the truth by doing false signs and wonders like Pharaoh’s magicians opposed Moses (2Timothy 3:1-8). Peter predicted that false teachers would arise and seek to seduce the church by exploiting us with “false words” (2Peter 2:1-3). John warned us that in the last hour there are false “anointed ones” (antichrists). Paul tells us where this is all headed: “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2Thessalonians 2:3).
Furthermore, the passages in Revelation that the elitist, NAR and NOLR apostles appropriate for themselves, do not teach the church triumphs over the world through her own efforts while Jesus is “held in the heavens.” Their interpretations are fanciful and not based on any sound hermeneutic. They allegorize the Bible because there is no way to find their ideas in the Bible if taken literally. We need to decide whether to believe what Jesus, Paul, John and Peter said in the inerrant Scripture or the prophecies of people who claim to be new apostles and prophets while simultaneously contradicting the teachings of the true apostles and prophets.

Conclusion


Church history has shown that whenever new claimants to the office of apostle have arisen, so have false teachings. The teachings of many such persons today, as we have seen, are shocking in the extremity of their error. Yet C. Peter Wagner claims that churches that he terms “apostolic” in this new sense are part of the fastest growing segment of the church in the world today.34 Perhaps he is right; but if he is, this is proof of massive end time apostasy and not the revival he claims it to be.
The only binding authority in the church is that of Scripture. God does not bind us to mixture, error, or the musings of men. The false apostles and prophets of the NOLR and NAR have no power over the true, blood-bought church of God. Prophets that are less than inerrant have nothing to sell but fear: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22). The grandiose claims that span from Leade, to Warnock, to Branham, to Paulk, and to Hamon have never come to pass, and they never will. There will be no virgin born, many-membered man-child, Elijah company, new breed of man, new incarnation of the Christ on earth or any other such blasphemy. The role these terms describe is that of antichrist. The true Christ will return bodily and catch his church up to meet Him in the air (1Thessalonians 4:17).

This topic was addressed in a radio series available here.

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