Archive for April, 2009

How can one tell the difference?

What is the difference between making a judgment against someone and discerning when a belief, teaching, etc is false and speaking out against it?

A common disclaimer I hear from people is “well, don’t speak against a person/ministry even if what they do/teach is wrong. God will take care of it. Just go on doing what you know is right.” I call this the head-in-sand response. This means: “If I ignore false teachings and false prophets, they will all just go away.” This is otherwise known as denial.

Did Paul say: “Hey, it’s ok. No congregation is perfect. Go on believing the false gospel that is leaking into your congregation. You’ll find heresy everywhere so no need to make a fuss over this.” Um, I think not. He was pretty direct in how he dealt with this issue…as you will see further below in the scripture references I have included at the bottom of this post.

But to answer my question above, I believe the difference between judging a person and dealing with a false teaching is this:

To judge a person is to attack their identity based upon their actions. To discern a false doctrine and call it out as such is to deal with the two separately. This allows one to bring loving correction, healing and restoration (Gal 6:1) to the person/ministry while eradicating the false teaching and exposing it for what it is. In other words, in dealing with a false teaching or doctrine, it’s important not to make harsh judgments of the PERSON who is in the deception. The person can come to repentance, be restored to truth and turn from that deception…but the deception is still just that, deception. It remains false. It cannot change. An erroneous teaching is just that and regardless of who buys into it, its validity as a doctrine is not based upon the one who believes it.

Take for an example a person with cancer. Is that person evil because they have a disease? Should they be hated and judged because they have cancer? Of course not. But will the cancer eventually destroy them if not removed? Yes. The properties of cancer are the same regardless of what person they have infected. Cancers are toxic, deadly and life-ending diseases that attack different systems within the body. They have measurable effects because they can be seen in the natural with medical equipment. False teachings and deceptions are internal cancers that are more elusive and more difficult to detect…thus requiring the discernment of the Spirit of God. The cancer is what must be removed in hopes of sparing the life of the person infected. The goal is to bring healing and freedom to the person by exposing the cancer that is eating them away inside…whether physically or spiritually.

As the verses below illustrate, there is judgment that comes upon those who buy into and teach false doctrines and lead others astray. But keep this in mind: the Father does not wish that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). So even his judgment is for the purpose of bringing them to freedom and wholeness. Spiritual chemotherapy can be painful.

So let’s take a closer look at how Scripture identifies false teachers and doctrines. Where is there documentation in the Word of those who spoke out against false teachers, doctrines, etc? Please don’t take my word for it. Go search it out.

What does God say about those who twist truth and teach and/or prophesy things that did not come from Him? What is HIS response? What did the apostles in the new covenant such as Paul, Timothy, etc say in response to false teachings that introduced a “new and higher gospel” than they had been preaching?

Here’s a starting point:

Zech 10:2–The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. (vs 3) “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the LORD Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle. (NIV)

Matthew 7 (Jesus’s warning)
15-“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
16-By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
17-Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18-A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
19-Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20-Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV)

Matt 24:10–At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, (v.11) and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (NIV)

2 Cor 11:4–For if someone comes to you and tells you about some other Messiah than the one we told you about, or if you receive a spirit different from the one you received, or accept some so-called “good news” different from the Good News you already accepted, you bear with him well enough! (CJB)

2 Cor 11:13–For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Messiah. 14. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Colossians 2:18–Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

1 Tim 6:3–If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4. he is conceited and understands nothing…(v 11) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 John 4:1–Dear friends, 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.

2 Peter 2–whole chapter

Feel free to continue researching this issue on your own. I pray that the eyes of your heart will continue to be enlightened to the truth of God’s Word and they He will lead your heart into freedom!

One of IHOP’s professed teachings on prayer is the introduction of “contemplative prayer”.

Below are quotes from Mike Bickle on contemplative prayer:

· “Every one in the Body Of Christ is called to live lives of contemplative prayer…”

· “Everybody is called to live in the contemplative lifestyle. Everyone! Everyone! Everyone! That’s one of the great strongholds we have to overcome (resistance to contemplative prayer).

· “…contemplative prayer, you gotta get over that hurdle! Barnes & Noble is prophesying it! Hurtle one we gotta understand it’s for everybody! Everybody is called to the fullness (contemplative prayer). We’re all going to go into this thing!” –audio message Contemplative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle

Many have asked me: So what is this contemplative prayer thing? What does that mean? Well, I have provided a brief definition below as well as links for you to do your own research into this dangerous new age teaching that has leaked its way into the body. This practice has become part of the “new” doctrine being presented by IHOP and other ministries. Contemplative prayer (also known by the term ‘centering prayer’) is simply a re-packaged heresy taught by the Roman Catholic church as far back as the 17th century. It was distilled into a prayer model and rose in popularity in the 1970’s. (Click here for web source)

One source explains it this way:

“Contemplative prayer, also known as “centering prayer,” is a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. According to Catholic priest Thomas Keating, this is how it is done: “Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

Although this might sound like an innocent exercise, this type of “prayer” has no scriptural support whatsoever. In fact, it is just the opposite of how prayer is defined in the Bible. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT). “At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy” (John 16:23-24, NLT). These verses, and others, clearly portray prayer as being comprehensible communication with God, not an esoteric, mystical meditation.” (Click here for source)

Anyone with an understanding of how the Bible teaches us to pray and a basic knowledge of the new age movement can clearly detect where this teaching is heretical at its core. So how has this been re-packaged and re-used in churches and congregations today? Simple. By inserting God’s name and the use of scripture to bring the believer into a “higher form of consciousness in prayer”. Um, hello. Red flags going off here for anyone else?

Some have argued that this is innocent and doesn’t really mean the same thing that new age teaches. Well I argue that with this analogy: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quack’s like a duck, it’s a duck!

So, re-cycling, re-packaging and re-naming a doctrine something more “listener friendly” doesn’t take it from its skewed meaning and make it suddenly okay. There is no scriptural foundation for this heretical teaching. If this were the highest form of prayer that humanity could enter into, wouldn’t it have been what Jesus taught when he walked the earth??

Time and time again, I’ve heard Mike and other leaders/teachers at IHOP take scripture out of context to support the new teaching they were introducing. One such twisting in relationship to contemplative prayer is Matthew 6:6 which says “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Well clearly, Jesus is talking about not praying to be seen but to remember that communication with the Father is about a one-on-one dialog. This verse however has been twisted at IHOP to refer to contemplative prayer by stating that this “inner room” you are to go into to pray is actually yourself. They say that this verse supports the teaching of contemplative prayer because you are to retreat into your own spirit to pray.

If the above wasn’t convincing enough, click HERE to read IHOP’s detailed explanation of the different methods of contemplative prayer that they teach. This is directly from IHOP’s website.

This is just one of many new-age/mystical practices that has found its way into the body by simply re-naming the components so as to deceive those hearing it. Uncover its roots and you’ll see it in it’s original packaging. It’s like doing a cosmetic touch-up on a house that has been condemned and boarded up. When the paint starts cracking and the wallpaper comes down, you begin to see what it was before. Let us not stray away from the simplicity of devotion to our Lord (2 Cor 11:3)

For further research, here are a few other sources. I do not necessarily endorse these particular sites or ministries so please read for yourself with discernment and an open ear to the voice of God. Some sites below are PRO-contemplative prayer and will teach it with a different spin. Others are anti-contemplative prayer. But I thought you might be interested in seeing it from both perspectives.

Sites:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/cp.htm

http://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-prayer.html

http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html

http://www.prayingchurch.org/contemplative.html