Tag Archives: Christian Church

The Real Meaning Behind the Jewish Feasts

September 2015

There has been a lot of interest lately in the coming harvest feasts celebrated by the Jews and whether or not it has any implications for us as Christians and Americans. There have been many attempts to answer and decipher its meaning. America has seen tragedy during this time of year and some people have determined it was judgment from God. Because we as Christians have not come into a clear understanding of God’s ways, His movements have often eluded us.

It was during these seasons that I received salvation and pursued a deeper understanding of God and events that occurred during these seasons. The untimely death of a loved one got my attention as I wondered why. I became angry with a God I did not know. God did not have to vindicate Himself to me but He did because He is just that kind of God. He wants us to know that He is always righteous and good. With God’s help I was able understand death and work through the grief process. I began to observe a pattern in deaths around the end and beginning of a year. As a new Christian, the Jewish feasts were unfamiliar to me until much later so it was attributed to some phenomenal related to the end of the year. For years I observed these times of unusual blessings and loss and sought to understand. This mystery was opened up further and further as I grew in Christian knowledge and searched out the ways of God.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He established patterns in the earth and patterns for His interactions with mankind. God’s laws are universal but His ways are to be understood by His people. There are those that can break down the Jewish feasts in ways that I would not even attempt. My intent is only to understand what God wants from us and how we are to give it. Recently I wrote out a paper of my own research in this area entitled “The Offering God Wants When He Comes to Meet With Us.” Through this research I found my answer and maybe my summary will suffice others as well.

The History of the Feast Times

To understand God, we always have to go back to what He originally instructed us and see the progression of this truth through the scripture. Because God does not change. What He originally wanted, He still wants. It is our sin that has changed the equation. God originally came to meet with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on a regular basis (Gen 3:8). We saw in Genesis where the sons, Cain and Abel, prepared offerings for God (Gen 4:3). We are not told how these offerings began, just that they occurred. God was pleased with one offering and rejected the other. This story reveals that God expects to meet with His people at set times and that He wants us to offer up something of value to Him at His coming.

In the wilderness, we saw that Moses instructed the Children of Israel in the ways of God and how to please Him. The Israelites were told that several specific times during the year God would meet with them, how they would present their offerings, and that these would be times of a great celebration.

Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Deu16:16

The Israelites worked the land and were shepherds so their offerings to God were related to their labor during the year. God expected His people to recognize and bless Him at the end of their season of work where He had prospered them to have success. The combination of their work and God’s favor produced a crop or blessing of which God expected His credit, respect and reverence.

Man’s response to God’s expectation to be remembered at this time would show man’s appreciation and thankfulness for a good and gracious God. Cain, of course, did not show proper respect or appreciation and God was not pleased. What about us? Are we thankful? God has blessed America greatly. Are we showing thankfulness? God no longer expects animal sacrifice, but He does expect from His children thankfulness and reverence.

This coming season is about a tradition of God coming to meet with His children and bringing and receiving something of value in a time of thankfulness for all He has done for us. Will we have an acceptable offering? Certainly there will be praises and worship going up to God as we carry on church services but let us not forget other behavior.

America has recently thumbed its nose to God. The White House was lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate a practice that God hates. Our legislative branch is at war with each other. The Supreme Court has validated and made legal a homosexual life style that God specifically forbade. The nation has removed prayer and the Ten Commandments from public arenas, shunned the stranger, murdered millions of babies while the rich have decried the portion for the poor and many churches have rejected God’s truth and deceived believers. America that loves money and that has made money its god is now poised to elect a new president who appears to worship money. Shall God be pleased with what America has to offer Him when He comes to be celebrated in this season? I think not. America’s present state can be found in the book of Judges where the people were willing to say to anyone: “Come and be lord over us and take this mess under your hand.”

“Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you – Jdg 8:22-23.” (Read the rest of this chapter.)

“When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand…” Isa 3:6.

Perversion of the Season

Many false religious leaders have made a mockery of this time and required of God’s people a substantial money offering during these feasts. People looking for a blessing from God have been taken advantage of and some fallen into unbelief because of it. While God does expect us to give finances to the church that upholds His name and does His work, it is in the normal process of church obedience, not in a lottery to get future blessings. We must remember too, that there were some offering as mentioned by Isaiah that God did not want.

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” Isa 1:11-14  

These verses were followed up with the truth of what God really wanted: Isa 1:17 – “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” God is more concerned about our heart and right behavior (New Testament Commandments) than our offering up vain offerings in an attempt to appease Him. So, like with Cain, an offering from impure or insincere hearts will not be acceptable to God. Malachi 3 helps us to see also that God will not be pleased with our refusal to give godly pastors the portion that is rightly due for the work of the Lord. The New Commandments that Jesus gave us refer to a changed heart. A right heart leads us to do right with our money.

The Expectation of God’s Coming

This upcoming season is about God coming to see what we have prepared as an offering for Him. Will it be good works, a heart of love, fellowship with Him and our brethren, an appreciation and thanks for His truth and blessings or will it be our disrespect? God will come to some in blessings for their good done toward His name but He will appear as a judge to others for their disrespect of His Word and Person. How will we meet our God?

Jewish Traditions Applied to Christians

The Jewish feast of Rosh HaShanah is September 13-15, 2015. It is the Jewish New Year and marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self examination and repentance. Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. It is a time of judgment for mankind and reconciliation with God.

The next significant feast is Yom Kippur – Atonement celebrated on September 22-23, 2015. This feast begins at sunset of one day and ends at nightfall of the next. During Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and in the days leading up to them, the Jews begin to examine their lives and repent for any wrong doings committed the previous year. This repentance is called teshuvah. Yom Kippur is when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel. The Jews during this time would make amends with those they have wronged and make plans for improving their lives during the upcoming year. Many Americans follow this custom but observe it at our New Year’s Day which starts in January. Where our calendar has gone through worldly changes the Jewish calendar is more exact. Yom Kippur is the deadline for making things right and by its end, God’s “Book of Life” is said to be closed until the next year. It is a time of fasting, repenting and cleansing to renew our relationship with God.

Even though some Christians may have difficulty with these holidays because they represent Jewish traditions, we must realize that our Savior and Christian blessings come through the lineage of Jews and that we must understand both the past and the present to get a full understanding of our God. These practices that we saw exercised in the Garden of Eden were evidently established long before Abraham. Though we do not follow the laws of the Jews, we do obey the spirit of the law and some principles are timeless as are some commands God gave to the Jews, i.e. honoring God and putting Him first. We are admonished through the word:

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Pro 4:7

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” 1Jn 2:20

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Joh 8:32

God can move at any time in the life of a person but we are told specifically about His expectations at this time.  Whether for blessing or judging, we would do well to be ready for God’s presence in love and preparedness. Christians are not Jews but we serve the same God and we have been brought into a better relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ. Christ actually taught His disciples about divine visitations and how to be ready for them (Mt 24-44). This is a time when we should reach out to and pray for all souls. While God comes to bless and fellowship with the obedient, the ungodly will find His judgment of sin. There are yet deeper meanings to the season for the believer in fellowship with the Lord and they should diligently seek God for His purposes. We have a standing appointment with the Righteous God over the earth and it is always a good idea to take some time to examine our lives and prepare it to be a time of celebration.

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Correction of the Church

April 3, 2015

The world was established by God and He has always maintained sovereignty over it even after giving Adam and his descendants the authority to exercise dominion in the earth. The temptation and failure of the first family brought corruption to earth when they surrendered their dominion but God retained His Sovereignty. The serpent’s cunning deception gave him authority that shows up as war, corruption and confusion. God’s sovereignty continually brings defeat to earth’s corruption with a corrective force launched against mayhem that reestablishes order because the earth belongs to God.

Turning the World Around

God raised up Moses, the Law Giver, to lead the church in the wilderness and bring people back to God’s way. But today’s church is not that church. We are under a new covenant of grace through Jesus Christ and the harshness of the Law has been replaced by grace. Moses had a lot of problems trying to get the church in the wilderness to obey the Law and God has a lot of problems today trying to get His Son’s church to obey under grace. The tendency for people to do things in their own way has not changed. The church in the wilderness went astray time and time again; and despite New Testament grace and the Holy Spirit, churches are still going contrary to God’s word. Old Testament history reveals that man’s nature has not changed even if 21st century churchgoers believe they are smarter and would not make those simple mistakes. Though we are more modern, our sins are just as rebellious as the children of the Old Testament. The nature of man has not changed; nor has God changed His requirement for righteousness in the earth and holiness in man.

The wrath of God stands against all unrighteousness and demands that wickedness be overthrown in His earth (Rom 1:18). The Father sent Jesus Christ into the earth to save mankind and restore God’s order. Within the three years of his earthly ministry, Jesus brought correction (Mat 23), established order (Mat 10:5-39) and gave believers a new pattern for the worship of God (Joh 4:23). The old pattern of the Law was abolished as God showed us the more excellent way of grace through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:15; Rom 6:14). When Jesus ascended back to the Father, He left His church in the earth to exercise His authority using the Word of God, ministry of salvation and instruction in holiness with correction (2Ti 3:16).

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: (Eph 4:8 -13).

The Mystery of the Church

This new way of serving God is revealed in the church, Christ’s body in the earth. Christ sits in heaven as the Head; and His body, the church, is to carry out and do His will in the earth. When His body in the earth, also called the Bride of Christ or church, becomes mature then Christ will unite with His bride, taking the church to live eternally with Him in heaven. In the meantime, Jesus trained and left holy apostles to guide believers into this new pattern by way of instruction and demonstration of His power. But the best laid plans can go awry when men use their own minds. Apostle Peter walked with Jesus and taught the ways of Christ. Yet the Catholic Church, which names Apostle Peter as its founder, directs its prayers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, contrary to teaching by Peter and Christ. The multitude of followers does not prove the accuracy of the teaching. Therefore, Christ both warned and instructed believers to search the scriptures for accuracy (John 5:39). Apostle Peter taught “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2Pe 2:2). Apostle John counseled the church: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1Jn 4:1).

History – A Teacher

When we study church history, we see that the church has evolved and wrestled with the bible and its true meaning over the past two millenniums. The first apostles saw Jesus teach and demonstrate the power of God and they continued in that right path. The teachings of Christ have been preserved through oral and written scriptures, even during world upheavals, to help us maintain right doctrine. There have been those who established their own church doctrines and said “this is the way” where multitudes have followed in error. Certain aspects of the gospel such as spirituality, prayer, sexual abstinence, government, meditation, separation, or holiness have been plucked from the gospel to form new religions that could never stand on those weak foundations. Enlightenment sent from God through the ages brought forth clarity on the Word of God. Truth would prevail for a season until division would come and lead some in a different direction. Without the continuous enlightenment of the Holy Spirit on the Word of God and true discipline, man’s best effort are but flawed. Satan’s goal is to defy God’s Word and destroy the unity of believers. A submitted heart is required to stay true to God and He requires our total surrender to Him. But man wants to preserve some, if not all, control for himself. We all have a sin nature that demands its own way. Our flesh man fights against the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God wars against the flesh (Gal 5:17). The old man of sin must die before the yielded vessel comes forth. It is a lifelong battle where denial of the flesh’s desires and sufferings are necessary parts of the Christian life, a price many seekers are not willing to pay. Therefore, some that are professing Christ may not be truly His.

It’s pretty visible to all that the church is out of line again as men do church in their own way. Dissatisfaction and dispute are front page news. The church is so out of whack that there has to be a major correction. Even the natural world knows that when the stock market is out of line, it has to have correction. Market decline of 10% to 20% causes many people to suffer lost for a time but correction must occur before normalcy is restored. Jesus has revealed in the Word of God a set path the church is to follow. The way is narrow, the gate is straight and not many are going that way. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Mat 7:14). The straight and narrow does not leave much room for the input of man. The church and world are in a mess because of men trying to usurp God’s rule and take control for themselves. We serve an invisible God with all power but tyrants throughout time have arisen who wanted to possess God’s power for themselves and make others submit to them. God never fails to prove His ultimate control by overthrowing man’s manipulation. His divine intervention corrects and restores order and we are overdue for a correction.

The Book of Exodus reveals that Moses went up to Mt. Sinai where he talked with God, received a vision of the heavenly and was instructed to build a tabernacle on earth in that image. Moses was given specific details that had to be followed exactly as given. He obeyed the instructions and God came down to meet with the Israelites in the tabernacle. That should be the church’s goal today: an encounter with God every time we assemble. The tabernacle was a representation of Christ. Today, the believer is the tabernacle (Cor 5:1-6) where God dwells and the church building is a meeting place where the believer goes for instruction to learn how to have this type of communion with God.

The tabernacle that Moses built was just a temporary house for God that had to be put up and taken down as the Israelites moved from place to place. This was not a perfect example of God dwelling with man. Jesus came to earth to give us the perfect dwelling place for the continuous abiding presence of God in man through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8, Joh 14:17). Now the tabernacle of God is wherever the believer is ready to meet with Him.

Jesus told his disciples wherever they assembled together; He would be in the midst of them. The place that we call the church is just a building where believers meet for God’s instruction, comfort and power. Jesus laid out guidelines for our assembly while on earth and Spirit-filled church leaders were to continue unfolding the plan of God. The church is not the building but believers of Christ. Believers are members of Christ’s body on earth that Paul describes as being parts such as foot, hand, eye, ear, etc. (1Co 12:14). When brought together these parts work together as the body. It is imperative that the church remembers it is Christ who still reigns as Head to give instruction and guidance to His body (church) in the earth.

The New Tabernacle

God is no less specific about the latter tabernacle than He was about the first one that Moses was instructed to build. But many people have taken it upon themselves to remodel the tabernacle on earth to their own specifications, allowing and condoning what Christ forbade. Some religious leaders refer to the physical building as the church and give it more value than the people. The place for God’s dwelling has been so desecrated as to condone abominable practices that God condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Churches have yielded to egregious sin that few true believers dare speak up against. Church leaders with celebrity status and who maintain sole leadership control have challenged Christian boldness against perverted teaching. God still expects true believers of Jesus Christ to challenge erroneous teaching, correct sin in the church and reach the world.

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. Isa 35:8

Contrary to the broad way that many are traveling, God’s path is still through the strait gate and the narrow way. The Word of God exists to bring correction to the king’s house and to that of the pauper, from apostle to saint and for the entire world. When men divert from the Word of God, we get the confusion the church and world are in today. God is directing the church to alter its flawed course, but many still will not hear.

The Word of God clearly states that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets and that Jesus is the Chief Corner Stone (Eph 2:20).

Jesus told the disciples to wait on the Holy Spirit for empowerment to be witnesses and that the Spirit would lead and guide them into all truth (Act 1:4; Joh 16:13). The book of Acts gave a visible picture of the church as the early disciples and apostles interacted with each other. Just as it was important for Moses to follow specifically the blueprint for the first tabernacle, so it is required today that men follow the guidance of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to construct a tabernacle that God will live in. Men have changed the pattern, gotten bad results and yet wonder why it is not working. Bible scripture makes clear the ways of the first church; and though men mock the first saints and early church, God’s word has not changed. Here are some New Testament practices that today’s church should consider:

  • The church was established from the spiritual guidance of biblical apostles and prophets. These offices still exist today as written in Ephesians 4:11-13; Mt 10:41. Their purposes are retained in the church “Till we all come in the unity of the faith” (Eph 4:13).
  • Apostles are called and instructed by God (Luk 6:13, Act 10:20). They do submit to agreement with others as guided by the Holy Spirit (Act 13:2).
  • Prophets are needed today for the same reason they were needed in the Old Testament: to speak to a wayward church. Prophets receive their messages directly from God as described and defined in the Old Testament. New Testament prophets continue to receive their instructions from God with greater knowledge and empowerment through the abiding of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:11). They work in agreement with the apostles and are subject to the Holy Spirit as are all other true spiritual gifts. Paul listed the godly order for their operation in the church in 1Co 14. Old Testament prophets served God under extreme penalty of punishment or death for disobedience (1Ki 13:11-24; Jon 1:17). True prophets are still made in the fire under the Hand of God (Act 9:16). They deliver a word that often runs counter wise of the church and world’s behavior.
  • Apostles are not pastors; they establish or oversee churches that others pastor (Php 1:7, 17, Acts 14:14, 21-22, 2Co 11:28).
  • Pastors are called shepherds because they reside with and maintain watch over the sheep of the flock for their protection. They are local ministers that guide local believers. By definition they cannot be pastors over global churches (Joh 10:1-14, Acts 14:21-23). Bishops and apostles oversee multiple churches and their powers and responsibilities differ from that of pastors. Church often referred people residing in any given city, i.e. Church of the Laodiceans, Thessalonians, Ephesians, or of the Cretans.
  • The apostles ordained elders and bishops to overseer local churches (Act 14:23).
  • Apostles are trained and gifted by Christ to work miracles, do spiritual warfare, healing, deliverance, etc. They instruct, protect and correct the churches of Christ (I Cor 5:4-5; Mt 10:7-8, 2Co 10:4-11).
  • Prophets speak words given by God for the benefit of maturing, instructing and correcting the church (Act 11:27-28, Act 15:32).
  • There are major differences between the operation of prophet, evangelist, apostle, pastor or teacher. They are not synonymous offices but are positions held by various people (Act 15:6,32).
  • Men do not appoint prophets or apostles, even though they may lay hands on them as approval of what God has already done (Act 13:2-4). These offices are God ordained, empowered, instructed and corrected (Mt 10, 2Co 12:21, 1Co 4:3-4, Eph 4:11). They are servants of Christ to the church.
  • Every local church of Jesus Christ should have in its leadership the office of apostle and prophet as a foundation (Act 8:14, Eph 2:19-22). The apostle is the master builder who hears from God, receives the plan, directs and corrects the church as it makes steps to reach its goal of maturity (1Co 3:10). The prophet hears from God and runs ahead in the Spirit, alerting the church of danger with path changes and correction. Without these two guides, the church cannot reach its goal because God is constantly speaking to give His visionaries the right turns and it must be heard and communicated to the church. Lack of this insight is why we see churches lost in the wilderness, stumbling in disaster without clear direction from God.
  • Apostles cannot and should not try to fulfill every office God ordained for church leadership. Contrary to the common practice today, the apostle cannot also be prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist in the local church. Even though many are trying to do this, it is error. The manifestations of the Spirit are gifts given to and divided among all believers of the church. Consider the scripture: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Eph 4:11). When these gifts and offices are used correctly in the church, they will confirm and correct operations in the church. They are safeguards for the church intended to prevent religious monarchies that are so prevalent.

The Lord’s plan for ministry in His church is beautifully opened up in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; and it includes a share for every believer. All may have a part. Candid students of the New Testament are compelled to admit that the “one-man” ministry so generally prevailing among the churches today is not the divine order as therein revealed.(Concerning Spiritual Gifts by Donald Gee, Gospel Publishing House, l972, p25).

God is building a mature church that will look like His Son. Religious men and educational facilities are appointing and training men to build great churches that are not found in the Word of God. Christ seekers and the world are confused by these churches that are not God-approved or empowered. Church starters are not always at fault because true leadership may have never shown up to lead the body of believers in the right way as shown in Act 8:14; 10:29. Notice also that God set His approval on Jesus when he started out in ministry (Mat 3:17), during his ministry (Mat 17:5) and at its earthly end (Acts 1:9-11, Joh 12:28). Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers should demonstrate the power of Christ if they are indeed His ministers as Paul stated to Timothy: “… make full proof of thy ministry” (2Ti 4:5). Satan is a master deceiver and imitator but Christ gives His saints a discerning spirit that rejects the counterfeit.

Warfare Against the Saints

When we look at the troubles coming against the church, nation and world at this hour, we witness a lack of empowered Christian leaders coming forth to combat Satan’s strategies and defend the gospel (Php 1:17). The gospel is being defamed and major churches have simply observed these problems as worldly affairs for which they believe the church is not to interfere. Some, no doubt, have chosen not to disrupt the continuity of their church with these issues. However, the issues we face today (sexual misconduct, racial tensions, world hunger, orphans, poverty, sickness, public violence, dissolving marriages, and cultural clashes leading to war, etc) are all in the church domain. The early apostles clearly dealt all these matters (Acts 6, 15, 1Co 7, 2Co 9). The church response was silence when Hitler was rising up against Jewish believers. It was a Jewish problem until Hitler’s war made it a world problem. But what if the church had responded before Hitler became the monster that threatened the world’s safety? There will always be a major movement by Satan, with others waiting in the wing, to overthrow God’s kingdom. We have seen them rise and fall. Right now a major threat to Christianity is Muslim followers whose goal by doctrine is to take over the world by force to make it submit to their god, Allah. Christians must remember their history and that this is not the first time the Muslim religion has set out to take over Christendom. During the times of the Crusades, Muslims over ran many Christian territories.

It is the role of God’s apostles and prophets to see the storm arising and blow the trumpet for the church to rally in unity against Satan’s tactics. Church leaders should recognize the threat and prepare for spiritual warfare rather than expending their efforts for personal profit, mansions, cars and planes. Apostle Paul as a church father acknowledged that his job was to defend the gospel (Act 8:14). When godly leaders had died out or compromised, God used wee people like Esther, Gideon and Daniel to stand up against Christian threats and He is still calling for the saints to stand up to defend the gospel. An example of this kind of boldness ran recently in the news. A Christian woman in Germany (the home of Martin Luther, the Protestant founder) stood up against Muslim infiltration of her church and declared, “Jesus Christ alone is Lord of Germany…” Read the story here: http://www.charismanews.com/world/42705-german-woman-s-public-rebuke-of-islam-goes-viral. American Christians must also realize that the pattern of other nations that previously stood strong for Christianity (Germany, England, France, Italy), made concession of their faith, and who fell into Satan’s grip reveals the same pattern that America will follow if she does not come to the realization that the Christian faith is under attack once again by a perverted gospel and Muslim forces. We war not against flesh and blood but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12). Nevertheless, as in Hitler’s plot, we must realize the devil operating behind the curtain. History is our lesson. A weaken church cannot sustain these attacks but it must gather strength and stand up against them. We must stand boldly like Caleb and say: “…we are well able to overcome it.” God has given His church weapons to pull down the strongholds of Satan and defeat Satan’s attacks.

Church Error and Correction

Martin Luther called out the Catholic Church’s mockery with the articles of protest he nailed to the church door and Christians were strengthened by the correction of the church through the Protestant Movement. We have evolved into a stronger body because of that correction. The Azusa Street movement started by an African American named William J. Seymour brought strong emphasis on the power of the Spirit and unity among races but churches later fell back into prejudice and divided into church sects.

The fight for racial and gender equality. Seymour was a very strong proponent of integrated worship. While there was a time where the races were segregated, Seymour was able to temporarily fulfill his vision when black and white Pentecostals worshipped together during the Azusa Street Revival. Women also played key role in his organization. (What We All Owe William J. Seymour; B.B. Robinson, Ph.D.; The National Center for Public Policy Research; https://www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVRobinsonSeymour90206.html)

The Charismatic Movement brought new insight and emphasis on God’s spiritual gifts to the church at a time when the church did not want to receive them. The Charismatic Movement instilled renewed hope to the church but has since taken on an infectious spirit of Balaam. The Prosperity movement brought truth regarding the rights of the church to receive its inheritance of wealth but now seem more driven by money than the search for God. Kenneth Hagin, the founder of this movement, warned his own followers of this sin before he died, addressed it in His book (The Midas Touch) and yet it continues.

Charismatic Bible teacher Kenneth Hagin Sr. is considered the father of the so-called prosperity gospel. The folksy, self-trained “Dad Hagin” started a grass-roots movement in Oklahoma that produced a Bible college and a crop of famous preachers including Kenneth Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Jesse DuPlantis, Creflo Dollar and dozens of others—all of whom teach that Christians who give generously should expect financial rewards on this side of heaven.

Hagin taught that God was not glorified by poverty and that preachers do not have to be poor. But before he died in 2003 and left his Rhema Bible Training Center in the hands of his son, Kenneth Hagin Jr., he summoned many of his colleagues to Tulsa to rebuke them for distorting his message. He was not happy that some of his followers were manipulating the Bible to support what he viewed as greed and selfish indulgence.

Those who were close to Hagin Sr. say he was passionate about correcting these abuses before he died. In fact, he wrote a brutally honest book to address his concerns. The Midas Touch was published in 2000, a year after the infamous Tulsa meeting.

Many Word-Faith ministers ignored the book. But in light of the recent controversy over prosperity doctrines, it might be a good idea to dust it off and read it again.
Here are a few of the points Hagin made in The Midas Touch:

1. Financial prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessing. Hagin wrote: “If wealth alone were a sign of spirituality, then drug traffickers and crime bosses would be spiritual giants. Material wealth can be connected to the blessings of God or it can be totally disconnected from the blessings of God.”

2. People should never give in order to get. Hagin was critical of those who “try to make the offering plate some kind of heavenly vending machine.” He denounced those who link giving to getting, especially those who give cars to get new cars or who give suits to get new suits. He wrote: “There is no spiritual formula to sow a Ford and reap a Mercedes.”

3. It is not biblical to “name your seed” in an offering. Hagin was horrified by this practice, which was popularized in faith conferences during the 1980s. Faith preachers sometimes tell donors that when they give in an offering they should claim a specific benefit to get a blessing in return. Hagin rejected this idea and said that focusing on what you are going to receive “corrupts the very attitude of our giving nature. (Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning; J. Lee Grady; Charisma Magazine, https://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/Grady_Hagan_Prosperity.aspx).

One could say that because of visible corruption, these movements must have been in error. But God’s fresh breath upon the church is not wrong even when men err in carrying out God’s intentions. Christ stood in perfection among His followers; and yet many walked away, some distorted His message and one was a traitor. Satan will always try to divert God’s plan but holy men and women of God must stand strong preserving the truth while reproving error and the devil. We must each start with correcting ourselves through the Word of God and then proceed to help the lost and reclaim the truth. Daniel confessed his sin and the sin of his people and was used to save many. Without a God-fearing church and empowered saints the world would ultimately dissolve in corruption, if God permits. Religious leaders that use the Word of God for personal gain, set up their church monarchies and fight against Christ’s reign over the church are in error and should not be followed or supported by Christian believers. The office of apostle was set up by Christ as the highest office in the church under His disciplinary rule. But where church leaders deliberately practice error, we must demand truth or protest it with our feet. “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1Co 10:14). Here is additional wise counsel from the scriptures: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb 13:7). Matthew Henry Commentary clarification of the verse: “Consider the end of their conversation, how quickly, how comfortably, how joyfully, they finished their course!” God will stand with those that seek Him; but He will turn from idolatry. Christ will “…gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:31). We must choose to be part of that church. Satan will not prevail against God’s True Church. Christ has more than enough power to defeat every enemy and lie that comes against the church but He expects His children to stand by the truth.

Spiritual Gifts Are For the Church

Over the years while in my time of communion with the Lord, I would ask many questions for understanding of the Word of God and church practices. During the mid-80’s, I gained greater understanding about the spiritual gifts through reading books like those of Kenneth Hagin. I questioned the Holy Spirit about spiritual gifts being exercised in a solo manner outside the church. Churches were being established that operated as healing churches, prophecy churches, church of miracles, or prayer houses. There were churches of evangelism. The gift of teaching operated a church. Gifted musicians, singers and praise leaders were out for hire. The answer I got from the Spirit was that it was because the spiritual gifts were not being accepted in the church. They, therefore, went outside their church home to freely exercise their gifts. God’s grace allowed it to be so for a period of time because the gifts are without repentance. They were His children and had a right to live in the liberty of His spiritual flow. I continued my questions about the strange behavior of the church. It is amazing but if we commune with God and ask questions, He will freely answer. As I traveled to various cities, I sat among and under some of the modern “greats” of the faith; but the Holy Spirit also showed me flaws in doctrine, ministry and operation. I was being schooled for a season and it was not time to voice my opinion. The point is that many of these people operating spiritual gifts given by God as “stand alone gifts” were and still are operating in error outside the perfect will of God. Previously the immaturity and rejection of the church did not acknowledge or accept the spiritual gifts as being from God for the blessing of the church. People operating in spiritual gifts in the mainline churches were once thought to be “freaks”. No doubt some gifts operated in error but it was the church’s job to teach and correct error rather than kill anything that looked different. Peter had to learn this lesson (Act 10:14) as did Paul (Act 9:1-5) and the early church (Acts 15:1-15). The Word of God clearly defines spiritual gifts and they are intended to be operated together with and for the church to bring the body of Christ into full maturity. Unfortunately, some spiritual gifts now operating outside the church have actually become something of a freak show and the church needs to correct them.

The Christian church needs the spiritual gifts to survive. It is time that the church embraced the spiritual gifts and that the spiritual gifts come back into the church so that the whole body is strengthened. Repentance is needed by the church and also by those operating their gifts in God’s permissive will outside the church as spiritual evangelists and some as hirelings. The Holy Spirit and Christ’s church are last hope for the world. The church needs to be healed and made whole to save the world.

America is the land where religions and churches have had liberty to exercise their beliefs. Having had this opportunity, all have failed to accomplish God’s ultimate purpose of a perfected church. The Catholic Church emphases on a holy city and the practice of abstinence for priests have yielded gay priests and abuse of young boys. The Episcopal Church broke from the Catholic Church but its spiritual journey has not progressed to acceptance of all New Testament grace. It has gone on to the endorsement of gay leadership. The Methodist Church’s love of God an emphasis on a disciplined Christian life has not embraced the Spirit’s empowerment and expression for the individual believer. Spirit-empowered Pentecostal churches have enjoyed the Spirit’s overflow but failed to target their empowerment for the improvement of the church and world. Many of them have been plagued with issues of leadership morality and accountability. The Charismatic Movement has gone off the rails with exploited gifts and the apostolic church is huddled in the wilderness, growing ministry offshoots without power. There are many religions, denominations or churches that claim Christ but who deny His deity and power. They must first accept the truth about Christ and then diligently seek Him. Some religions that have taken portions of the truth and run into a ditch with it, whereas the whole truth about Jesus Christ brings life and wholeness. Apostle Paul taught: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Co 3:11). The church of the Lord Jesus Christ will stand, even in this dark hour and the Christian church in America must prevail to light the world around it. There have been dark hours in the church before and these are times when we need to regroup and come out even stronger. God has given us all the pieces of our amour but we just need to pull them together in the love of Christ, build up the Kingdom of God and defend the gospel. The Christian church reflecting the love of God can unite people across denominational, cultural, gender, age and racial lines. Where that is not happening, we must confess that the true love of God is not present.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 1Jn 5:3-5

God is looking for His victorious, overcoming church and Jesus is expecting His bride to come forth without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.  Churches with leaders that are puffed up and prideful and congregations that follow without question are not that church. That is the church who needs to cry out in repentance and return to God’s overcoming power for change. Perhaps the fire of this dark hour is intended to cleanse the church of its imperfections and bring forth the purity of Christ’s bride. We can be that church!