Friday, December 5, 2008

The Gospel of Mark: The Authority of Jesus Christ

The Gospel of Mark and the Authority of Jesus Christ

As I read through the Gospel of Mark, I was struck by the beginning verses and how they seemed to form a "thesis" for the deity and authority of Jesus.

To quote a previous entry of mine:

Mark 1:2
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Malachi 3:1
"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me and the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.

Notice that in original quotation Malachi, God/YHWH uses the pronoun "Me," while in Mark when referring to Jesus it is "You." Why is that? Because Jesus is the second person of the Godhead and so when something is attributed to God/YHWH, it is appropriate to attribute it to Jesus.

[BTW, if you're wondering why it Mark says from the prophet Isaiah, its b/c Mark puts two verses together Malachi 3:1(v2) and than Isaiah 40:3(v3), and as the literary custom of the day, he attributes the entire quote to the higher ranking prophet.]

Now that we see that Jesus from the outset is equated with YHWH God, let's see how Mark develops His Authority in his Gospel:

Mark 1:1, 1:11, 9:6 - Authority as the Son of God (Not only does Mark, but God the Father explicitly calls Him "the Son" ~ Talk about a letter of recommendation!)

Mark 1:2-3 - Proclaimed as the predicted Lord and YHWH Himself

Mark 1:27 - Authority in Himself

Mark 1:29-34 - Authority over disease

Mark 1:34, 6:7 - Authority over demons (He even could give others the authority over demons)

Mark 2:5-7 - Authority to forgive sins

Mark 2:10, 14:62 - Authority as the Son of Man

Mark 2:28, 3:11-12 - Authority over the Sabbath

Mark 4:41 - Authority over the creation/natural world

Mark 5:41 - Authority over death

Mark 6:48 - Authority over the laws of nature

Mark 6:41 - Authority over matter and the power of creation ex nihilo (ie to create something out of nothing)

Mark 7:19 - Authority over the OT law (He declared all foods clean)

Mark 8:29 - Authority as the Messiah/Christ

Mark 9:2-3 - Authority of the Kingdom of God and power/The Transfiguration

Mark 13:26 - Authority to close the End of the Age

Mark 13:31 - Authority and eternity of His Words

Mark 14:22-24 - Authority of the New Covenant (to initiate it and that His blood is the New Covenant)

Mark 14:22-24 - Authority to institute new sacraments for God's people

Mark 15:39 - Authority of His Death

Mark 16:6 - Authority of His Resurrection

This is by means no means an exhaustive list of verses, but definitely gives a good bird's eye view of Christ's authority and really His equality with God/YHWH. As best put by the Pharisees in Mark 2:7 "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" They were right about, but failed to realize Jesus was God.

Praise be to our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Dangers of IHOP and the "IHOP Dilemma"

My Declaration Against the International House of Prayer (IHOP)

There is a big divide today in evangelical Christianity on the issue of spiritual gifts (see my post here). I feel the need to mention this first, because people often times mistake this question when talking about IHOP. Let me state it clearly, the issue is not whether or not there has been a continuation of the sign gifts since the early apostolic church.

The question is whether or not the leadership and teachers of IHOP are false prophets.

Yes, I've chosen my words carefully. I do not want to get into an argument about spiritual gifts. What I want to get into is rather - Are the prophecies from IHOP false or true? And what are the consequences of that. Repeat this is not an argument over the existence of prophecy b/c if the sign gift of prophecy is in existence today than we need to be ever more diligent against false prophecy not less so. Am I making a big fuss over nothing? No, I am not. I am seeing this place taking over people's lives. People have quit jobs, moved from around the country, and moved from around the world to get trained there. I know people who want to move to IHOP now, who want to move based on certain "prophecies" from them, heard testimony of churches being split b/c of them, parents who have basically lost their children (there is blog out there about a mom's woes... can't find it tell me if you do), and I was even asked to translate a "prophecy" tape! Not to mention, the hordes of young people that do not have the Biblical knowledge to make a discerning judgment about them go there and even come across the country to go their youth retreats.


I have seen several kinds of people associated with IHOP.

1) There are charismatic people who simply go to IHOP to pray and have no idea what IHOP really believes.

2) There are people not involved with IHOP and support them because they see passionate people who are dedicated to prayer and worship, but have absolutely no idea why they have a 24/7 prayer and music ministry (it's in connection with the bogus teachings of the "Tabernacle of David," "Harp and Bowel movement," and having to do with ushering Jesus' return - yeah i'm not joking you thought they were praying and worshiping b/c it was just a good idea, huh? - Read more go here)

3) There are also young Christians and/or Christians who do not have a strong knowledge of the Bible who have unfortunately fallen victim to them.

4) People who have left IHOP and no longer associate with them. Including Pastor Ernie Gruen, someone who is fully convinced that prophecy exists for today, has complied a 123 page manuscript of testimonies and personal experiences of the horrors of IHOP, including a death of a baby b/c of a prophesy during a home group meeting. This document can be found here. (I told you this is not about spiritual gifts, even charismatics are vehemently against IHOP)

5) Leaders: The leadership and teachers are to be held accountable as such as it says in James 3:1 "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."

As such, they are like the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2 with good deeds and service, but tolerating false prophets:

Revelation 2:18"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira [IHOP] write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: 19'I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel [the men Mike Bickle,Paul Cain, Allen Hood, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, John Paul Jackson, Francis Frangipane] who calls herself [themselves] a prophetess [prophets], and she teaches and leads [they teach and lead] My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21'I gave her [them] time to repent, and she [they] does [do] not want to repent of her [their] immorality. 22'Behold, I will throw her [them] on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her [them] into great tribulation, unless they repent of her [their] deeds.

God has put on my heart to be compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth, to forgive these people, but by no means let their sins go unnoticed (yes that's basically God's description of Himself in Exodus 34:6-7).

Rember the point of bring this up is to bring these people back to or perhaps for the first time to God. Not to merely tear them down, but to the Godly rebuke that will show them the error of their ways, repent of their sins, and become closer to God (cf. Galatians 6:1 Matt 18:15, 2
Cor 7:8-10)

A couple of other verses I'd like to keep in mind are :

2 Timothy 2:24
The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

As Paul told Timothy, we should be kind, gentle, patient, and rely on God to grant them repentance for it is not merely a problem of the intellect, but the devil is holding them captive!

So how bad is false prophecy?

Would we as a church let anyone be a leader, let alone start a church or seminary that committed adultery or murder on a weekly basis? Then why should we let anyone be a leader at a church who falsely prophesies on a weekly basis? False prophecy is one of the most heinous sins in the Bible and I'm sure the case can be made that it is worse than adultery and could give murder a run for its money. In fact it is one of the 16 things that deserved the death penalty in the OT (Dave Miller, Ph.D).

Here are some verses highlighting the heinousness of false prophecy:

Deut 13:1"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes true... 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD... 4"You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His
commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5"But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death,

Deut 18:20 'But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.'

Jeremiah 27:15 for I have not sent them," declares the LORD, "but they prophesy falsely in My name, in order that I may drive you out and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you."

Zechariah 13:2"It will come about in that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I will cut
off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. 3"And if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, 'You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the LORD'; and his father and mother who gave birth to
him will pierce him through when he prophesies.

And sure enough there was a reason why God gave these warnings to his OT people:

1 Kings 18:22Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are 450 men.

2 Chronicles 18:5Then the king of Israel assembled the [false] prophets, four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?" And they said,
"Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king." 6But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?"

Ezekiel 13:9 "So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord GOD.

Isaiah 9:15 The head is the elder and honorable man,And the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail

What kind of prophesies were these false prophets making?

Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

Jeremiah 23:25" I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!' 26"How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Zechariah 10:2For the teraphim [idols] speak iniquity,
And the diviners see lying visions
And tell false dreams;
They comfort in vain
Therefore the people wander like sheep,
They are afflicted, because there is no shepherd.
3"My anger is kindled against the shepherds,

Here is another very important point - What is the penalty for not listening to God's prophets?

Daniel 9: 6"Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land... 10nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11"Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him."

2 Chronicles 36:12;15-20 He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD.15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; 16but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy. 17Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. 18All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. 19Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. 20Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia

Zechariah 1:4"Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds "' But they did not listen or give heed to Me," declares the LORD. 5"Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6"But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers?

Zechariah 7:12"They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

Nehemiah 9:30 "However, You bore with them for many years,
And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets,
Yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

The New Testament has the same attitude about false prophecy as well:
Heinousness of false prophesy (and teaching)

Rev 2:2 [To the church of Ephesus] 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false...6Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Rev 2:14 [To the church of Pergamum] 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam [who was a false prophet], who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15'So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

Rev 2:20'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess...'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23'And I will kill her children with pestilence

Galatians 1:8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed [go to hell]! 9As we have
said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed [go to hell]!

Warnings about false prophets

Matthew 7:15 Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24:11"Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many...

Mark 13:21"And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is
there'; do not believe him; 22for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. 38If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

1 Thess 5:20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;

2 Thess 2:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by
a spirit
or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

What kind of false prophesies are they making

Colossians 2:18Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

2 Peter 2:1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the
Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Peter 3:15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother
Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you
, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that
you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastnes

The penalties for not listening to prophecies

Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities...20Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22"Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24"Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you."

Matthew 16: 18"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."

Luke 10:16"The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." [In regards to the seventy He sent out that did not include the 12 apostles]

Rev 22:18I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone [including IHOP] adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19and if anyone [including IHOP] takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
But they're good people...

Before we move on people love to point out their experiences and others point out that people at IHOP are "good people." I'm not going to disagree, but honestly if you compared them to many Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses I know, they are not as good as them. Seriously, I will give credit to the Mormons and JWs, b/c they are very good people. The point being "good people" does not mean you are not into "false prophecy." Remember, the church of Thyatira with good deeds but still tolerating false prophecy? All people sin and unfortunately IHOPers' sin is false prophecy. Besides, Paul makes it absolutely clear just b/c someone seems good it means nothing:

2 Corinthians 11:13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

Now these guys constantly go on about the miraculous things they see, but the Bible is full of warnings like these. Many, many of their testimoneies go like this "I believe in Jesus and I heard prophesies come true, demons being cast out, and so many other miraculous things!" However Jesus gives us this amazing warning that is so dead on:

Matthew 7:15 Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves... 22"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

It seriously strikes me as so amazing, how closely what IHOPers say and this match up. Consider this, Jesus is talking about somebody here right? I cannot think of anyone else that fits this description more perfectly than the leadership of IHOP. Often times we hear these verses in a sermon and they are (rightly so) apply to people who work for the Lord, but are not truly saved. However, the direct warning and application are about people who say they prophesy, cast out demons, and perform miracles - a direct correlation to IHOP. I pray that God would reveal to them the error of their ways and save the people hearing their destructive heresy.

Furthermore the Bible is super clear that miracles will and do happen at the hands of false prophets.

Here is a short list:

1) Exodus 7:11"Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. 12For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs." This also happens in Exodus 7:22, 8:7, and 8:18.

2) Prophecies from God, but through bad people: Balaam (?and his donkey?) (Numbers 22-25); Saul (1 Samuel 10:10-12), and Caiaphas (John 11:49-52).

3) The Fortune teller in Acts 16

4) Remember the Judas was an apostle and performed many miracles (cf. Matthew 10:1)

5) The Anti-Christ and his false prophet will be people with amazing powers!

2 Thess 2:8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

Rev 13:3
I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" ... 12He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

No matter your interpretation of these verses, it is clear that just because people do miraculous things - IT DOESN'T MEAN ITS FROM GOD!

6. Misc.

Matthew 24:24
"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25"Behold, I have told you in advance.

Acts 13:6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus

2 Chron 18:18 Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. 19The LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab king of Israel to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said this while another said that. 20"Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' And the LORD said to him, 'How?'

21"He said, 'I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.' 22"Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you." [We see her God sending a deceiving spirit why - B/C its a judgment of disaster!]
Here is a great quote from Dr. John MacArthur from his sermon "Are Experiences a Valid Source of Truth?"

There is the ploy they use, "Well, we would expect you to be against it since you haven't had the experience." That is Gnosticism. That is believing that you have been elevated to a higher level of comprehension which the uninitiated have no understanding. Rodman Williams, who has written a number of books and who was once the president of a local Charismatic school, and I quote said, "Any vital information concerning the Gifts of the Spirit, the Pneumatic Charismata, predisposes a participation in them. Without such a participation, whatever is said about the Gifts may only result in confusion and error." If you haven't had it, you have no right to talk about it. One pastor said to me, "You talk exactly like one who never had the experience. You are speaking out of ignorance." I wonder if they feel that way talking about Heaven, Hell, murder, adultery, homosexuality, and numerous other subjects. Do we have to have that experience too?

My experience and your experience is not the test or proof of Biblical truth, it is the reverse--Biblical truth must validate or invalidate any experience. Doctrinally, it is almost impossible to define the Charismatic movement. It almost resists theology. It resists categorization because it has such a wide and growing spectrum of viewpoints. If they don't rightly divide the Word of God they are not going to come to a proper Systematic Theology. If they determine what is true because of their own experiences then there is no limit to the theology; it will take whatever form experience takes. And so what you have is a very amorphous kind of volatile changing systems of beliefs that ebbs and flows and rises and falls and refuses to find any structure.
I just want to restate Deuteronomy 13 here b/c we can now really see what God was saying:

Deut 13:1"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes true...3the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD... 4"You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.

The IHOP Dilemma

All that background information was necessary in order to see the incredibly HUGE dilemma on our hands. When someone comes to you and they say that God gave them a clear audible and/or visual revelation (dream, vision, prophecy, etc.) you are now in what I will call the IHOP Dilemma.

We have seen the seriousness of false prophecy and of disobeying genuine ones. You are in an IHOP Dilemma b/c you are now forced to choose:

1) Whether or not this person is proclaiming falsehood in God's name and thus incurring the steep penalty of false prophesying and being a false prophet


2) If this person is actually speaking truth from God, we are bound to listen or face incurring the steep penalty of disobeying God's very own commands and His prophet

Unfortunately, this puts the rest of Christianity in a hard situation, b/c we now have to make the determination whether IHOPers are false prophets or true prophets and treat them as such. We cannot merely remain neutral either. How can we be neutral on God's revelation or on egregious sin within the church? Its like someone saying the pastor cheated on his wife or that he murdered someone and saying, "Hmm... let me think about that and get back to you later." No, you're now in a tough situation and you have to make a hard decision!
Unfortunately, many IHOPers have no idea what they are doing when they supposedly are "prophesying." As I said, they do not have a strong Biblical foundation, it is truly experience driven, and their experience drives their interpretation of the Bible.
The False Prophecy of IHOP

Now, that we have all this down, we must see the IHOP Dilemma that the leadership of IHOP has put us in by examining their "prophecies" and claims:

1. "Mike Bickle is really no different in this respect. On disc 7 of The Prophetic History, Bickle describes a visitation to the throne-room of God as he is told that God will be restoring the apostles to the church. Let me preface this by saying that before getting to this point in his message, Bickle described the experience as being on par with the Apostle Paul’s experience in the Third Heaven in 2 Cor. 12 as well as John’s visions.

They’ve been told by church leadership that it is up to them to “usher in” the Second Coming of Jesus. They’ve been encouraged to do away with discernment concerning mystical experiences. They’ve been told that they are “forerunners” of Christ in the same way that John the Baptist was. They’ve been told that the orthodox views of Christianity are weak and it’s up to them to restore the “true” message of the Gospel, using their new “powers from God” to start a revival that will win souls for the Kingdom."

2. They could hear from God, and speak forth God's words, prophesying of great events soon to transpire on planet earth. And they could have flipped a coin as to whether what God allegedly told them would actually come true. Often they didn't come true. Some of the main prophets and/or leaders in the movement included Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, John Paul Jackson, Francis Frangipane, and others...However, he was quoted as saying that the general level of prophetic revelation in the movement's "prophets" had an accuracy level of about 65 percent. Some prophets were as low as 10 percent accurate, he said, with some of the "most mature" prophets having a rating "approaching 85 percent to 95 percent. " (Steven F Cannon, "Old Wine in Old Wineskins: A Look at Kansas City Fellowship," The Quarterly Journal 10, no. 4 (October-December 1990): 8.)

Bob Jones claims that when he was nine years old living in Arkansas, an angel carrying a "great trumpet" came riding down from the sky on a white horse and stopped before him in the middle of a dirt road. He didn't know what to make of it until he was thirteen, when he was escorted to the very throne room of God in heaven.

You say that you saw the throne room?" Bickle asked him in the dialogue. ". . . what did it look like?"

"It looked like gold and it looked like light and it was a light not like the light you see here which is artificial," he responded, adding that the light, the glory of the Lord, frightened him. Well, a "guide," which he identified as "the angel of the Lord ' " protected him from danger by standing between him and the throne by filtering the rays from God as if the angel was "like red sunglasses."" He said he later understood that this was God's way of calling and commissioning him for their new important earth-changing work that could go out from America's Midwest. Many years later, in August 1975, Bob Jones claims he had a near-death experience that was caused by a severe, painful nosebleed. He was whisked into heaven. Jones said: "... all of a sudden, the pain was gone. And I was in a dark place and I looked around and I could see that I was in a cave and I looked down there and then my thoughts were, "Oh, Lord, did I get my robe clean? Did I have enough time?" And there was a man that walked beside me and he said, "You can look now, Bob, and see"and I looked down and my robe was like crystal light." 28

He then saw Jesus in the form of a light who would grab and kiss" men and women of different ages and then make them disappear by absorbing them into his body! "It was like two big ole doors right here in his heart and it'd be just that, and they was gone," Jones said. "They was in his heart He then saw people that Jesus didn't want who were on "an elevator and an escalator" to hell which was like "a cold storage place." Jesus then commissioned him to touch the leaders in a new last days church so that he could absorb "a billion souls unto myself in the last day," Jones said. 29
A short time later God "came and took me out of the body," and he descended into hell. It was "one of the most dreary, dreadful places I've ever been," Jones said. "It was like a place like a void, it had no top, bottom or nothing you could see-it was like black auto smoke and we went deeper and deeper into the depths." 30
(source Mike Bickle with Bob Jones, Visions and Revelations, transcript, series of five tapes from the fall of 1988: 28. Ibid., 14, 15. 29. Ibid., 15. 30. Ibid., 16)

Mike Bickle's Visions:

Later Bickle relates that during his trip to heaven Jesus commissioned him to be one of God's new generals to lead his end time army. Although Bickle claims he met with "the Lord" face-to-face, it was an out-of-body experience. It was 2:16 A.M. he said, and in a flash he was there, but it wasn't the cave where Jones earlier related he had been. Instead he was standing in a 20-by 30-foot room that "had clouds on the bottom, on the top and the walls". It was the courtroom of God. God was in the room, Bickle said, but rather than appearing as a being of light, he was a presence that Bickle wouldn't look at.

God rebuked him for not being patient enough in choosing leaders for his movement. Later the being ordered Bickle to ride in a golden chariot-one of about thirty-five-in a procession of leaders, apostles and prophets, who would be joining the movement that would someday be worldwide. Bickle said that during the trip God did not commission himas an apostle. But he said he understood the experience to mean that if he was faithful he would "have an opportunity in the grace of God to fill an apostolic calling."

But it was behind those doors where Jones's ministry ended. Two women came forward in 1991 and told Vineyard leaders that Jones had used his prophetic authority to touch and fondle them sexually. (Roy Rivenburg, "A Question of Faith," Los Angeles Times, 28 January 1992, sec. El, P. 8.) Jones admitted it and was removed from ministry. "In recent months, I have manipulated certain people for selfish reasons on the basis of my prophetic gifting," Jones said in a statement that he dictated and signed before the Metro Vineyard Fellowship senior leadership on November 4, 1991. "I have been guilty of sexual misconduct, and I deeply regret this. (I have not committed adultery.) "

3. More of Mike Bickle's "Prophecies"

Bickle claims that a "voice" spoke to him in September 1982, directing him to a ministry to touch the ends of the earth. ( Albert James Dager, Vengeance is Ours. Redmond, Wash.: Sword Publishers, 1990, pg. 127.) Bickle's account is as follows:

"The Lord simply said, 'I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation.'"
(Mike Bickle, Growing in the Prophetic. Lake Mary, Fla.: Creation House, 1996, pg. 30)

Bickle carries on the tradition of his former colleague, the late faith healer John Wimber. Wimber died of cancer in spite of all his "power evangelism" and purported powers.

Bickle, as noted above, endorses the false prophet Bob Jones.
(Hank Hanegraaff, Counterfeit Revival. Dallas: Word Publishers, 1997, pp. 145 150) He also claims to have "about 250 people" at his church in a prophetic network "who regularly receive dreams, visions and prophetic words from the Lord." (Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 182)

Bickle boasts connections with other prophets as well:

"At Metro Christian in Kansas City we are associated with several prophetic people of international stature. Some have lived in Kansas City, and others have been related by friendship. We also relate to about a dozen people who have full time traveling prophetic ministries and many people who regularly have prophetic dreams and visions."
(Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 139)

Even more frightening is Bickle's Appendix on "God's Manifest Presence."(Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 196. 227) In this section, Bickle presents a list of phenomena from contemporary experience such as:

"Shaking, jerking, loss of bodily strength, heavy breathing, eyes fluttering, lips trembling, oil on the body, changes in skin color, weeping, laughing, 'drunkenness,' staggering, travailing, dancing, falling, visions, hearing audibly into the spirit realm, inspired utterances (that is, prophecy), tongues, interpretation; angelic visitations and manifestations; jumping, violent rolling, screaming, wind, heat, electricity, coldness, nausea as discernment of evil, smelling or tasting good or evil presences, tingling, pain in the body as discernment of illnesses, feeling heavy weight or lightness, trances (altered physical state while seeing and hearing into the spirit world), inability to speak normally and disruption of the natural realm (for example, electrical circuits blown)."
(Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 209)

Much of the above can be found in a cultic Ashram or a mental institution, or could be caused by sickness, drugs, sleep loss, brain damage, altered states of consciousness or, worst of all, demons. Who ever imagined there would be a day when we would be discussing the horrible mess above as viable for church worship?

Bickle would have us believe that he has heard choirs of angels performing Handel's Messiah and claims:

"Many people who have had heavenly encounters and returned to tell about them have spoken of the marvelous music they heard in heaven. People who have had experiences of having their ears open to the spirit realm have testified of hearing the angelic choirs and music. In fact, I had an experience like this myself."
(Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 162)

(original source: )

There is so much much more - Just google it!

The Grossly Wrong Theology of IHOP

Now, I don't have a professional degree in theology, but I have studied it a lot and have seen and heard many ideas. For sure there are many controversies in the church, dispensationalism vs covenant theology, Calvinism vs Arminianism, and of course cessationists vs charimastics, and though I have my own opinions and disagree with the otherside on the issues, I have found my competitors arguments to be well founded.

Why do I bring this up? Because IHOP has some terribly horrendous theology. The only way I can surmise how they came up with these ideas is through false prophesy. In all earnestness, these specifics of IHOP, theologically speaking are terrible! The vast majority of Christian theologians look at this and say, "How did they ever come up with this stuff?"

I put the bad theology part after prophecy - why you ask? If there is a disagreement on predestination, the Calvinist and Arminian go to the Bible and show their views and at the end of the day, we both have our convictions on who is right, b/c of what we see in the Bible. However, on these controversial (to say the least) IHOP issues, if you have regular revelations from God Himself on an issue, you must be right! For how can you argue with God?

Here are the aberrant theologies that these "so-called" prophets hold on to (I got this from their website):

1. The Manifest Sons of God theology

2. The Latter Rain

3. Dominion Theology

4. Joel’s Army

5. The use of Prophecy

6. The Tabernacle of David

7. The Bridal Paradigm

8. The belief that the office of Apostle is still open (an almost unheard of teaching in evangelical Chrstianity)

9. View of the Song of Solomon*

10. Apostolic Pre-Millennialism/Post-tribulationalism*

11. Contemplative Prayer

[I recommend searching links at the bottom of this entry especially Sign of Jonah, Cross+Word: In Truth Ministries , and Discernment Ministries. Remember to use the search engines on the page]

Numbers "9" and "10" are have a little * next to them b/c there are legitimate controversies in regarding the interpretation of the Song of Solomon in regards to its spiritualization (though they have their own unique and odd view) and post-tribulationalism. However, I must reemphasize that if you have the gift of prophecy and God talks to you and tells you a prophecy in regard to one of these controversial issues, you have the right answer and NOT B/C OF THE BIBLE, rather b/c God actually spoke to you. Now this doesn't always happen directly (though I think it has), but take for example the "prophecy tape" was asked to transcribe. One of the "prophets" quoted Song of Solomon and used a spiritualized meaning of one of the verses. Obviously, this "prophet" had no idea what he or she was doing, unknowingly gave God's stamp of approval that indeed Song of Solomon is definitely a metaphor for the Church and Christ. Dangerous stuff! (By the way this same prophet initially did not know whether a verse came from 1 or 2 Corinthians...) As for the first 7 teachings, haven't heard of them? Well you and really everone else, they are very strange, unique, and very specific to the radical charismatic movement in general and are so odd that most systematic theology texts do not even talk about them.

The Denigration of the Bible and Sola Scriptura

One of the biggest issues of this movement is not only their inappropriate use and interpretations of the Bible, but their denial of one of the bedrock doctrines of the Reformation and evangelical Christianity: Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone. Sola scriptura is the notion that the Bible is whole revealed will of God and all that is necessary for faith (all teachings are contained within the Bible) and practice (the things we need to govern our church and everyday life). For an excellent explanation of this by Dr. Greg Bahnsen go here. Basically, God does not need to give us anymore revelation and this was first used in the Reformation against the Roman Catholic church that said we needed their traditions and clergy, but now it is directly under attack by IHOP. They might say they believe in it, but their actions outright deny it.

Let me explain, when Christians need to know anything about God's will pertaining anywhere from the atonement of Christ to buying a used car, b/c God has given his complete revelation in the Bible, we do not need to look at another place to know what God would say. So let's say I'm buying a used car, I see the Bible says to seek counsel, be wise, be humble, be good steward of my money, and that if my conscience is good that it would be a good idea to buy the car. The Holy Spirit can definitely illuminate and convict my conscious - BUT THAT IS A FAR CRY FROM HEARING GOD'S AUDIBLE VOICE AND SEEING JESUS.

When people from IHOP make decisions they do not use the Bible as the only revealed revelation from God b/c they supposedly still get direct revelations from Him, thereby denying a 100% reliance on the Bible. Now they might say all prophecy needs to be checked against the Bible, but the point is they cannot say the Bible is the whole revealed will of God. To make it more clear, just imagine yourself making a big decision, say on where to serve in the church:

1st Scenario: You pray, read the Bible, find out what spiritual gift you have, what kind of strengths you have, talk to your pastor, then with a clean conscience and conviction you go ahead and serve in whatever position.

2nd Scenario: You pray, read the Bible, find out what spiritual gift you have, what
kind of strengths you have, talk to your pastor, then God tells you in a dream, you hear His voice, or someone prophesies that you should do this or that position. Then you go ahead and serve based on whatever God's direct revelation said.

See how they are not directly and 100% dependent on the Bible?!?! They deny this very doctrine that defines the protestant and evangelical faith. Sadly this kind of story happens all the time...


We have seen that the issue with IHOP is not about whether tongues and prophecy exists for today, rather it is simply are the leaders of IHOP false prophets? If so, their whole ministry which was started by these prophecies is not of God than by necessity of the devil.

We have also seen that both the OT and the NT give multiple warnings about false prophets (which means they are out there) and the seriousness of the sin that false prophecy is. We should not tolerate this heinous sin. On the flip side, we have seen the multiple warnings that we must obey God's true prophets and prophecies or face severe consequences of disobeying God Himself.

Unfortunately that puts the rest of Christianity in the IHOP Dilemma and by seeing the types of dreams and teachings they propound, it is obvious that they are not receiving messages from our all powerful and thrice Holy God. Many, many Christians have responded and now IHOP and Mike Bickle are questioned as a cult group (see "Apologetics Index a Christian Anti-Cult Group" click here)

If you know anybody who is interested in IHOP or doesn't know what they are about please send them to this article, in order to warn them of the danger there! These guys are trying to take their false prophetic message and spread their sin and poison, not only in the US, but in Europe and Asia too. A tactic they try to ploy is, "You've never been there you gotta come and see for yourself." Do we need to go to a Mormon or JW church to know that they are wrong? NO! IHOPs beliefs have nothing to do with going there or not, they need to be defended intellectually and biblically.

Remember too that Satan cannot take away your salvation, but can render you totally ineffective for God's Kingdom. Remember Ted Haggard (who was friendly with IHOP nonetheless...) was president of a national evangelical association and head pastor of a church, but b/c of sin he is totally ineffective now, though saved. I have seen people with great productive lives and immense potential to be used by God, only to be snuffed out by IHOP by giving up their careers and receiving training there.

So remember that although the people there are good people, this does not mean they are not engaged in gross sin. In our hearts we care for them, but we must stay true to the Word of God and if you really do love them, bring them back to God with the Truth.

I leave you with this final verses:
James 5:19My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Jeremiah 5:31 "The prophets prophesy falsely,And the priests rule on their own authority;And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?"
For more information on the dangers of IHOP: (Be sure to go to search and put in "IHOP" and/or "Mike Bickle" on these pages search engine)

Apologetics Index an Anti-Cult Christian Group
The Gospel Masquerade *Former Staff Member! Highly Recommended*
Sign of Jonah - *Lots of Good Info*
Cross+Word: In Truth Ministries - *Lots of Good Info*
Pastor Ernie Gruen's 123 Page Documentation - Lots of Personal Testimonies
The Grey Coats
Discernment Research Group
Discernment Ministries
Ministry of John MacArthur - Scroll down to "Charismatic Chaos"
Critical Issues Commentary
Light House Trails Research Project
Apologetics Research Center

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Justification by Faith Alone

Fundamental Doctrine of the Faith: Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide)


What is a fundamental doctrine of the faith? It is a teaching or belief that is absolutely essentially to the identity of a religion or philosophy i.e. without adherence to that teaching or belief would automatically cause one not to be of that faith or religion.

Justification by faith alone is that doctrine which makes us uniquely protestants and evangelicals.

The doctrine by which the Church stands or falls – Martin Luther

For the doctrine of justification by faith [alone] is like Atlas. It bears a whole world on its shoulders, the entire evangelical knowledge of God the Savior – Dr. J.I. Packer

Galatians 2:16 “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”

Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”

1. What is justification?

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in His Sight. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology p. 723)

2. Faith is a gift from God, not something we gained through works

Romans 3:25 “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 4:4-5 “4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

3. Imputation of Righteousness

*Christ death takes away our sins (takes away our debt), but His righteousness merits favor before God (gives us credit)*

He imputes righteousness, not imparts!

“‘Imputation’ is different from ‘impartation.’ God does ‘impart’ to us gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, so that we have them and they are in us growing and they are ours. But all of that gracious impartation through the Spirit is built on an even more firm foundation, namely, imputation - the work of God outside of us: God's own righteousness, not imparted to us, but imputed to us.” – Dr. John Piper

2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”

Romans 3:22 “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction”

Romans 4:3 “For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."”

Isaiah 61:10 “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

The righteousness we have before God is not our own, but Christ’s !

Can we really amass enough good works to get into heaven? Can we even amass enough good works to get into Harvard?

“We are not justified because of the inherent goodness of our faith, as if our faith has merit before God. It never allows us to think that our faith in itself earns favor with God. Rather, Scripture says that we are justified ‘by means of’ our faith, understanding faith to be the instrument through which justification is given to us, but not at all an activity that earns us merit or favor with God. Rather we are justified solely because of the merits of Christ’s work” (Grudem, Systematic Theology p. 730).

“First, notice that at the end of verse 6 and at the end of verse 11 in Romans 4 you have a very different way of expressing ‘imputation’ or crediting. At the end of verse 6 it says, ‘God credits righteousness apart from works.’ And at the end of verse 11 it says, ‘. . . that righteousness might be credited to them.’ Notice: in both of these, faith is not the thing credited as righteousness, but righteousness is the thing credited to us. ‘God credits righteousness,’ not ‘God credits faith as righteousness.’ What this does is alert us to the good possibility that when Paul says, ‘Faith is credited as righteousness,’ he may well mean, ‘God credits righteousness to us through faith.’” - Dr. John Piper

4. Why Faith?

“When we come to Christ in faith we essentially say, ‘I give up! I will not depend on myself or my own good works any longer. I know that I can never make myself righteous before God. Therefore, Jesus, I trust you and depend on you completely to give me a righteous standing before God” (Grudem, Systematic Theology p. 730)

To say you “don’t believe in justification by faith alone” is not just to say “I must add my own works to go to heaven,” but “I don’t believe that Jesus Christ’s work on the cross is sufficient for my salvation.”

5. Justification in Roman Catholicism

This section is meant to further highlight why justification by faith alone is a unique and fundamental doctrine to the protestant and evangelical church.

Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (1974):

“According to the teaching of the Council of Trent, justification is ‘sanctifying and renewing of the inner man’… The instrumental cause… of the first justification is the Sacrament of Baptism… As far as the content of justifying faith is concerned the so-called fiducial faith [by faith alone] does not suffice.”

“Official Roman Catholic theology includes sanctification in the definition of justification, which it sees as a process rather than a single decisive event, and affirms that while faith contributes to our acceptance with God, our works of satisfaction and merit contribute too. Rome sees baptism, viewed as a channel of sanctifying grace, as the primary instrumental cause of justification, and the sacrament of penance, whereby congruous merit is achieved through works of satisfaction, as the supplementary restorative cause whenever the grace of God’s initial acceptance is lost through mortal sin. Congruous, as distinct from condign, merit means merit that it is fitting, though not absolutely necessary, for God to reward by a fresh flow of sanctifying grace. On the Roman Catholic view, therefore, believers save themselves with the help of the grace that flows from Christ through the church’s sacramental system, and in this life no sense of confidence in God’s grace can ordinarily be had. Such teaching is a far cry from that of Paul." – Dr. J.I. Packer

Council of Trent (1545-1563): "If anyone says that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to mean that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification . . . let him be anathema."

Evangelical Gospel (Justification by Faith Alone/Imputed Righteousness) vs the Roman Catholic Gospel (Justification by Faith and Works/Infused Righteousness)

This is the primary reason we are 2 different religions, it is because we have 2 different gospels! And as Paul says, whoever has the wrong one will be declared anathema.

*We do not believe it is something inherently good in us that saves, rather it is Christ alone.*

6. Conclusion

“One day as I was passing into the field . . . this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before [in front of] him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, "The same yesterday, today and, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.” From quoting John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, [Hertfordshire: Evangelical Press, 1978, orig. 1666], pp. 90-91.

What’s the big deal?

Galatians 1:8 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed [go to hell]!”

God receives all the glory and credit for our salvation! He elected us, sent His Son to die for us, and raised Him from the grave. What are we really going to add to His work?

To God be all the glory! (Soli Deo Gloria)

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Gospel of Luke and Prayer

As I was reading through Luke, I couldn't help, but notice Jesus' prayer life and the amazing things that happened after Luke mentions praying. A good verse to headline this entry would be:

Luke 5:16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Admittedly, my prayer life is not the best and I'm hoping this study will help you and me become more diligent in our prayer life. I believe this is a good compliment to my recent entry on Jesus and His high view of the Scripture.

1. Luke 1:8Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.

After Zacharias went into to do his priestly service (and no doubt praying) and the multitude outside pleading with God, Gabriel appears and announces the birth of John the Baptist.

2. Luke 2;36And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

This woman who had an incredible prayer life was given the privilege to see Christ.

3. Luke 3:21Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

This is something I did not notice before. After His baptism, while He was praying that the Spirit descended and the Father's voice came out.

4. Luke 6:12It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:

After spending a whole night in prayer, Jesus chose the 12 Apostles on which the foundation of the church is built (cf. Eph 2:20). I can't help, but assume that He did pray for them and I noticed that before making this big decision, the Bible notes that he prayed all night long. If Jesus does this for big decisions, how much more should we?

5. Luke 9:18And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?" 19They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again." 20And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."

The great confession that Jesus is the Christ came after prayer.

6. Luke 9:28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Wow, I never noticed this, but just like in His baptism, while Jesus was praying was he Transfigured! I also noticed that Jesus took the "Big 3" with Him to pray. Can you imagine being asked by Jesus to come pray with Him? That would be so awesome, yet I must admit I keep thinking "Could I keep up with Him? What if He goes on too long? What if I fall asleep?"

7. Luke 11:1 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples

After observing Jesus pray (which must have been quite a sight) they wanted to know how to pray. Jesus instructs them:

a) The Lord's Prayer
b) To be persistent
c) To ask, seek, and knock
d) God will definitely answer our prayers and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him

8. Luke 18:1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,

This instruction to pray at all times (cf. 1 Thess 5:17) is followed immediately by the parable of the unrighteous judge which ended by Jesus saying in Luke 18 "6Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

9. Jesus quoting Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 says in Luke 19:46 "It is written, ' AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,' but you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." He calls the temple a house of prayer - do you think prayer might be important?

10. Do not offer fake prayers for appearance sake b/c God knows as the Lord put in Luke 20:47 as He was warning the Pharisees, "for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation"

11. Luke 21:36"But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

The last verse of the Olivet discourse ends by Jesus telling the people to pray to escape the foreordained events that are about to follow. The way to be delivered from the terrible events that will happen is through prayer.

12. Luke 21:37Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet.

Another glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. During His last week, He went to pray on the Mount of Olives.

13. Luke 22:31"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Jesus protected Peter from Satan through prayer. Not quite sure what to make of all this, but we can see Jesus believed in the power of prayer.

14. Luke 22:40 "When He arrived at the place, He said to them, " Pray that you may not enter into temptation."
Luke 22:46 "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation."

Echoes of the Lord's prayer ("and lead us not into temptation")? Jesus emphasizing that through prayer the apostles could be rescued from temptation or should I say delivered from evil.

15. Luke 22:44 "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground."

This is Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane. You must find a copy of C.J. Mahaney's sermon from the first Resolved conference and listen to it. It is absolutely the best explanation of what was going on in this garden. Jesus knew better than anyone the Holiness and Justice of God and b/c of this He knew exactly the pain He was to endure on the Cross. In Matthew and Mark Jesus says His soul was "grieved to death" and C.J. Mahaney makes the point that given the situation, perhaps Jesus was grieved almost to the point of death. We can see that Jesus was praying so hard that His sweat was like blood! After this prayer we can see that the greatest event of all history happened, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: It is evident from Luke's Gospel the high priority Jesus placed on prayer. We can see that many important things happened during or right after Luke mentions Christ praying. We should always be praying at all times as Luke 18:1 states and to give heed to all the instruction and examples Jesus gave us regarding prayer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Gospel of Matthew : Jesus and the Scripture

There has been a lot of debate on how to study the Bible, especially in regards to its inerrancy, reliability, and how applicable it is for today. One of the best places to look would be to see how Jesus view, used, and taught the Scripture. Here is a listing of almost every Old Testament (OT) verse used in Matthew.

1. Matthew 1:22Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23"BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

This quotation is from Isaiah 9:6. As with the other prophecies, Matthew assumes the reader can fully understand and comprehend these prophetic texts (ie it has a specific meaning not "what does it means to you"). Furthermore, he ascribes, the authority of God on this text. You'd be hard pressed to say that "spoken by the Lord" does not mean inerrant.

2. Matthew 2:5They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'"

Quote from Micah 5:2. Hard to see anything, but that Matthew expects his reader to clearly see a literal fulfillment of this prophecy through Jesus.

3. More prophecies 2:15 (quoting Hosea 11:1), 2:17 (Jeremiah 31:15), 2:23 (see here, here, or here ), 4:15 (Isaiah 9:1). Already we see Matthew making a case for Jesus from the Scriptures. He is methodically using OT passages, using them as syllogisms, and appealing to the authority and perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture.

More fulfillments: 8:17 (Isaiah 53:4), 11:10 (Malachi 3:1), 12:18 (Isaiah 42:1-4), 13:14 (Isaiah 6:9-10), 13:35 (Psalm 78:2), Matthew 15:8-9 (Isaiah 29:13). Matthew 21:5 (Zechariah 9:9), 26:31 (Zechariah 13:7), 27:9-10 (Zechariah 11:13)

4. Even the Messiah's forerunner in the OT in Isaiah 40:3 and used for a witness for John the Baptist.

5. Very famous usage of Scripture via Jesus comes in Matthew 4 when He is tempted by Satan. Here he uses 3 verses from Deuteronomy: 8:3, 6:16, and 6:13. So much has been said about this, but in reference to our postmodern age (who doesn't even believe in Hell or Satan), Jesus didn't appeal to his inner strength only to fight off evil, but the authority and clarity of the Scripture. Even Satan tries to use Scripture against Jesus because the devil knows (albeit twisting them) the authority and the reverence Jesus has to it!

6. Matthew 5:17"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments,and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Is it important that Jesus did not want to go against what the Law and the Prophets/Bible revealed. The people in the crowd, perhaps they were awaiting the new covenant or wanting Jesus to overturn the Romans and establish a new theocracy with new laws. Now a days we sometimes think that the NT has replaced the OT, but no! Jesus came to fulfill it not to take it away and neither should we attempt to brush the OT aside. In fact Jesus' praise was so high he said no part of the Law would disappear. Even more, Christ said that one's greatness in the kingdom of heaven could depend how seriously you took it ie whether we annual some rules b/c our modern day culture will not accept it (ie homosexuality, divorce, sanctity of life, etc.) We need to ask do we have the same attitude that is in Jesus?

7. On the sermon on the mount Jesus goes over these verses: Exodus 20:13, 14, Deut 24:1, Numbers 30:2, Exodus 21:24, and Leviticus 19:18. We get to here Jesus explain these verses and correct the false teachings surrounding them.

Matthew 5:21 "You shall not commit murder"; 22"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Matthew 5:27 "You shall not commit adultery" 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:31 "Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce" 32but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 5:33 "You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord" 37"But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.

Matthew 5:38 "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" 39"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

Matthew 5:43 "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy" ("hate your enemy" is not in the Bible and is a scribal and/or Pharisaic insertion); 44"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Okay, so there really is no disagreement on v. 38 and 43 and rightfully so. Jesus surely focused on the preeminence of love. However, when was the last time you heard anybody, but true Bible believing folks, talk about hell and marriage like Jesus does in verses 21, 27, and 31? With Jesus "1 out of 2" ain't good enough.

8. Matthew 8:2-4
2And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 3Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

What was the first thing Jesus wanted him to do? To fulfill what was written in Leviticus 14:2-4: 2"This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper,4then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed.

9. Matthew 12:3-7; 40-42 - Rebuking the Pharisees with the Bible itself. He is taking their interpretation and putting it on their heads. It is evident that correct exegesis (interpreting the text), as opposed to eisegesis (your own interpretation of the text) was critical to Christ and that He believed in the historicity of the events of the OT.

10. Matthew 13 and the parable of the seeds and the sower. Remember here the seed =The Word! It can bear a hundredfold in fruit.

11. Matthew 15:4"For God said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.' 5"But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God," 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

The authority of Scripture (and its clarity) is set against the Pharisaic tradition. Once again, good doctrine overtakes bad doctrine.

12. Matthew 16:11 "How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Jesus hates false teaching!

13. Matthew 18:16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED."

Jesus uses Deuteronomy 19:15 for church discipline.

14. Matthew 19:3 "Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He [God] who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5and [God] said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

This is awesome. Jesus is quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 here. If you look at the bolded words, you can see Jesus, giving credit to God, not only for the creation of man, but saying Genesis 2:24! Now that's a high view of Scripture!

15. Matthew 21:15 "But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant 16and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU [God] HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF[God/Jesus]'?"

Its kind of slick of Jesus, but you see that Jesus is getting praise from the children and then He quotes a verse (Psalm 8:2) from the Bible saying that the God prepared children to give Himself/God praise and uses it of Himself!
16. Matthew 21:42 (from Psalm 118:22):

"Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures,

Love it. Jesus straight out asked, "Didn't you read this in the Bible?"

17. Matthew 22:15-46
This is an awesome section. It shows Jesus' masterful command of the Scripture. We are taught, and rightfully so, to love as Jesus did, but we should also strive to have his reverence of Scripture as well. It consists of 5 Bible questions (3 to Jesus; 2 from Jesus):

i) v.17 "Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?"

Jesus replies using logic. Reasoning and apologetics does have its place. I really hate it when Christians say faith and reason are separate things. No way! Jesus was a master logician and something that is worthy to be emulated.

ii) If a woman marries 7 brothers according to the Law (Deut 25:5), whose wife will she be in heaven? v. 29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God"

Look here, part of the problem here was their misunderstanding of Scripture! And this is particularly telling, b/c it applies to our day and age. Why do Christians have the same divorce rate as non-Christians? B/c they do not understand the Scriptures when it comes to marriage.

iii) v. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
38"This is the great and foremost commandment.
40"On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets

Just look at the mastery of Scripture here by quoting Deut 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. It's important to note that in the OT, it never explicitly says what the greatest command is. Just put yourselves in Jesus shoes, someone asks you an incredibly loaded question on which your reputation stakes, and you have to figure out from all the rules in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which is ithe greatest command?! Can we even name 10 laws from any of those books (besides the 10 commandments), let alone the greatest? But Jesus, not only knows, but He also knows the second greatest and than on top of that adds a little commentary "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

If you have ever tried to witness to someone about Christianity, you know how difficult it is to answer people's objections, but Jesus because of His mastery of Scripture just bulldozes the competition. iv) 41.. Jesus asked them a question:

42"What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son of David."

Pretty straightforward, but the next question is a little harder...

v) 43He [Jesus] said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,'saying,
45"If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?"

First thing, to notice is, just the incredible recall Jesus has and how He picks the perfect verses to stump his opponents. Usually, Christians only know a couple of key verses and if someone can get passed those, we go "ugh...ummm...hmm..."

Second thing is that Christ attributes Psalm 110:1 here to David and the Holy Spirit! It is the Bible is the work of God through His designated people.

The third point, is something Dr. S. Lewis Johnson pointed out in one of his lectures on systematic theology. See how I bolded the word "
Lord" in v.43? Jesus is creating a point from simply a word in the Bible. It isn't just theological minutia to exam the Bible carefully even down to its words! Jesus is wanting an explanation for a single word and our love and knowledge of Scripture should try to go just as far. We will never have Jesus' mastery of Scripture, but neither will we ever have the depth of His love. We constantly strive to be like Him and have no problem saying we should love, forgive, and be humble like Jesus, yet do we want to try and have His understanding and mastery of the Word? I like the way Matthew puts it in the last verse of this chapter, "46No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question."

18. Jesus quite frequently alluded to the OT to finish His sentences, much like the way we would use famous book or movie quotes (cf. Matthew 5:35, 7:23, 11:29, 13:43, 23:39, 24:31).

19. Matthew 24-25, the great Olivet discourse where our Lord talks about the future. Here he quotes several OT verses and that their fulfillment will be at the end of the age: 24:15 (Daniel 9:27), 24:29 (Isaiah 13:10), and 24:30 (Daniel 7:13). He says something amazing in 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." This is very similar to ch 5:18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Jesus is stating is making His words equal to Scripture and God's words.

Other future verses Jesus looked to be fulfilled in the future: 26:64 (Psalm 110:1, Daniel 7:13)

20. Matthew 26:53"Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54"How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"... 56"But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

In regards to His death, Jesus says He could stop it, but one of the reasons that it must take place is to fulfill the Scripture. If the Truth in Scripture can be limited to one's interpretation or that we cannot understand it due to a culture or language gap, I do not think Christ would have made such bold statements.

As we see from Matthew 5:18 and 24:35, Jesus knew the Scripture and His words would be timeless! Another thing to notice is that the current Jewish audience that Matthew is writing to is 400 - 2,000 years removed from the writings Jesus is quoting from, not to mention the fact that the OT was written in a different language (Hebrew) than the NT (Greek).

From the way Christ is using Scripture one cannot conclude that a) Time b) Culture or c) Language hindered anyone's understanding or was an acceptable excuse not to understand the Bible.

21. Matthew 27:46 "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

Such a misunderstood verse. In His darkest hour Jesus quotes the Bible (Psalm 22:1) to give Himself comfort. As a side note, I highly recommend to anyone, to read Psalm 22 when you get to this section of the Gospel and you will see Christ's utter dependence on God in times of trouble, His faith that God will deliver Him, and that He praises God even in this suffering.

In conclusion from Dr. Daniel Akin's "What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible"

When we survey our Lord’s teaching in the Gospels we discover that the judgments of these scholars is confirmed. Jesus consistently treated the historical narratives of the Old Testament as straightforward records of fact. He referred to Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah (Matt 24:37-39), Abraham (John 8:56), Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt 10:15, 11:23-24), Lot (Luke 17:28-32), Isaac and Jacob (Matt 8:11), the manna (John 6:31), the wilderness serpent (John 3:14), David (Matt 22:43), Solomon (Matt 6:29, 12:42), Elijah (Luke 4:25-26), Elisha (Luke 4:27), Jonah (Matt 12:39-41), and Moses (Matt 8:4), among others. Nowhere is there the slightest hint that he questioned the historicity or accuracy of the accounts...

As I grew in the faith, I came to understand that to be a Christian meant to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and that His Lordship should permeate every area of our lives. His Lordship included what I should think about all matters of theology, including the Bible. I told him that as I had studied Jesus’ view of the Bible, I came to the conclusion that I could do nothing other than hold to its complete truthfulness and reliability. To be anything other than that would be to set aside the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That professor simply responded by saying, “I have never thought of it like that before, but it does make a lot of sense.”

John 5:39—“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me.”
Luke 24:25-27—“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

Luke 24:44-45—“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.