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Who’s Right Peter or Your Emotions?

Friday, November 17, 2017 9:10
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Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-8 ESV)

We’ll get back to our look at New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), apostles and prophets soon and we also have another series upcoming as well. In this article, we are going to highlight the facts of the empowering that God has already given us and He has done so for specific purposes. In essence, what Peter states in the above text is a firm rebuke to the Charismatic Movement and all its branches as well as any form of mysticism making inroads into the visible Church.

When I was involved in the Charismatic Movement decades ago (and have since cut all ties with it because of what appears to be its blatant disregard for biblical authority), my reasons for doing so were supremely self-centered in nature. In fact, whether people will see this or not, pursuing “signs and wonders” in general is due to a focus on ourselves and what we want to experience. We use the excuse that we want to get “more” of God and experience Him in a closer, more tangible way, but in the end, we must look to Scripture to learn what His Word tells us about our relationship with God in Christ.

The other problem with my involvement with the Charismatic Movement was the fact that though the Bible was certainly important, it was more often seen as a jumping off place or starting point. We would use passages of Scripture to foist us into the realm of the Spirit in order to gain more access to God’s character. Ultimately, what we pursued were ecstatic experiences that have no translation, are not clearly understood, and in the end, offer no real growth.

The problem with attempting to experience God ecstatically is that the experiences themselves become the final arbiter of truth. Whatever is revealed or learned during those experiences – even if it tends to go against the clear teaching of Scripture – is understood to be “God’s voice” and direction for our lives. The person who starts down this path of chasing experiences to gain a greater understanding of God is ultimately going to become addicted to the experiences themselves and will continue to seek those experiences, fully believing that the experiences are from God, therefore, they are good, right, and noble.

But Peter’s words from his second letter negate this line of thinking in full. Notice verse 3, which states without equivocation, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Notice the tiny word “all” in the middle of that sentence. Peter is effectively telling us we need nothing else from God that will allow us to live life itself in a godly way, one that brings total glory to God.

What? Peter is saying that when a person becomes an authentic Christian, from that point onward, they possess what is needed to live godly lives. Yet, I lost count how many times I was taught in the Charismatic Movement to continue to seek God for more power to live a life that pleased Him. This included but was not limited to “emptying” myself so that He could fill me with Himself. The sure sign of this occurring was to see greater and greater signs and wonders in my life.

I recall vividly Graham Kerr (the Galloping Gourmet), as the invited guest at a Full Gospel Businessman’s Association meeting. He stood at the podium and actually taught us how to begin speaking in tongues. He said that God may simply give us one sound to start with and we should repeat that over and over again until He broadened our vocabulary with other sounds. We shouldn’t feel embarrassed by this as it may be halting and sound contrived in the beginning. Eventually, Kerr said, God would open the gates and “heavenly” language would pour forth.

I took his advice and it happened just as he said. Halting at first, then I could babble like the best of them. I’m convinced all I did was babble and so did everyone else. If you are involved in the Charismatic Movement reading this, you’ll no doubt take offense at my words. In fact, you will likely state that I was never “baptized” in the Holy Spirit nor did I actually speak in tongues. Feel free to believe what you would like to believe, but the truth is that my “tongues” sounded very much like other people’s “tongues” at the time.

There has been some excellent exegesis on those passages where Paul speaks of the gift of tongues in Scripture. I’m convinced now that his version of tongues is what occurred in Acts 2 on Pentecost. Disciples spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and actually spoke in languages they did not understand, but the unsaved people who heard them understood it. There is much that points to the fact that the tongues Paul spoke of was used to capture the attention of the unsaved and not to be used as some form of heavenly language that allegedly only God understands and it bypasses even the devil and his angels. Our prayers need no such protection from our enemy.

Be that as it may, Peter seems to indicate that in order to live a truly godly life, all each Christian needs to do is understand that they already possess what is needed by virtue of the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells each believer. But why isn’t this the norm for Christians?

Society has gotten so used to going by emotions and how they feel about something to determine truth, that most people feel powerless and hopeless unless they feel deep within the resident power required to do something. This has without doubt spilled over into the visible Church. It has overwhelmingly been taught by osmosis in many different areas of society. What is termed “Christian Mysticism” is really nothing more than New Age gobbledygook forcing people to focus on “inner” experiences that are said to be “of God.”

So instead of going to Peter’s words above and immediately beginning to appropriate that truth for our lives, Christians run from this teacher or that one, this musician or that one, this author or that one in attempts to learn what they can provide that will help us live the Christian life better with purpose and the accompanying feelings of ecstacy. We want to live the life, but we don’t know how. Naturally, because we have come to accept feelings and emotions as arbiters of truth, we think we need to find ways to line our emotions up so that they will support us and give us the foundation we need to live life according to the way God wants us to live.

But there’s even a greater, darker problem that has affected way too many Christians. It’s their understanding of love. Today’s definition of love is simply acceptance without judgment. You hear the phrase, “Don’t judge!” and maybe you’ve said it. The problem is that it is taken out of context to mean we should never speak a word that may appear to negate or question what someone else believes, teaches, or lives even if we base that “judgment” on Scripture.

While Christians are never to judge a person’s heart or motivation (since we have no capacity to see their heart or motivation; only God does), we are absolutely required to bring our critical judgment to bear on words, actions, and stated beliefs by ourselves or others. It is our responsibility!

In Acts 17, the Bereans judged (critiqued) Paul’s teachings. They did this by comparing what he taught to Scripture and discovered that what he taught was actually in line with Scripture. Therefore, they accepted his teaching.

Today though, if we dare to critique a favored teacher’s teachings, be prepared for the “fans” and “sycophants” to come out of the woodwork with full condemnation. There are people in Christendom today who follow another human being more than they are willing to follow Jesus. It’s ridiculous because no one (myself included), is 100% correct on all points.

In today’s world, we are being told that Christians need to set aside differences in theology and doctrine and just “love.” As we do, the world will allegedly see our “love” (contrived unity), and turn to Jesus. False apostle Randy Clark says we need to stop “wounding” Christ’s Church.

While that sounds all gooey and golly gee great, the truth is that it is not how it worked in Scripture! Here’s merely one example from Acts 13:6-11 (ESV).

6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.

Paul and Barnabas went to Cyprus, arriving at the large city of Salamis. A particular proconsul – Sergius Paulus – actually called for the two men because he wanted to know more about this God they preached about. So, Paul and Barnabas came to him and explained how Jesus had fulfilled the Scripture.

Notice that a guy named Elymas (whom Luke says was a magician and who likely was very important to the proconsul), withstood them. The text says he “opposed” them. Too many of today’s Christians would have ended up deferring to Elymas in order to show themselves to be loving. Is this what Paul did? No, according to today’s definition of love, Paul was very unloving.

Not only did Paul call him out, opposing Elymas as he had opposed them, but “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” he sensed that God would send a warning to Elymas that he could not deny. Paul said, “You son of the devil…” Not very loving, Paul. Clearly, Paul needed some sensitivity training here. Didn’t he know that he wasn’t show a united front in order to bring more people to Jesus? He was dealing with blatant error and he knew that if he didn’t do something, the proconsul might lose a chance to gain salvation!

Paul pronounced that he would be blind for a time. This was not the type of “decreeing” that people like C. Peter Wagner did or do. This was a true apostle of our Lord who had a higher degree of authority and to prove it, some of the things he did came with signs and wonders. But interestingly enough, if the words Paul and Barnabas spoke to the proconsul didn’t convince him the truth about Jesus, this act of judgment upon the magician did.

Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (v. 13)

We Christians need to understand fully what Satan is doing in the world. We do not need to seek for more of God. That will happen as we become more obedient to our Lord, when we simply start doing what is right according to His written Word.

But what about the struggles we go through to do what is right? Isn’t that me doing things in my own strength? Not according to Peter. Temptations will make us “feel” (there it is again), that we are powerless to resist, but Peter tells us we already have everything we need to live a life of godliness. Should we believe our feelings or the Bible?

Too many prefer to kowtow to their feelings, to put them in the lead. We are just starting to open up this subject and we’ll get into it with greater understanding in our next series related to something called, of all things, Christian Mysticism. The two words stand juxtaposed to one another and should not be used in the same title, but we are seeing it gaining greater influence over the visible Church.

Authentic Christians need to run from it and we’ll explain why very soon!

Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective


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