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Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. -- John 15: 4-10 (ESV)
Two days ago I wrote a devotional that I expected to ruffle some Charismatic feathers. When you point out that someone as revered as Joyce Meyer is actually a tool for Satan, criticism is bound to follow. The other reason though is when you challenge Pentecostal sacred cows. I had done a series awhile back called sacred cow tipping which looked at the unbiblical nature of things like "slain in the Spirit." I understand that it is difficult to admit that maybe we have fallen for false teaching but at the end of the day when confronted with the unwavering truth of Scripture I must sacrifice my beliefs based on experience and feelings -- both of which originate in my wickedly deceitful heart -- and rely on the infallibility of the final revealed will of God. The sacred cow I addressed this week was the heresy of relationship over religion. This has been a rallying cry for so many false teachers like Bill Johnson, IHOP, and other purveyors of the experiential Christianity we see corrupting the body of Christ today.
Beloved, I am not saying that you cannot consider yourself in relationship with Jesus Christ. That is fine. The question then is what is the nature of that relationship? The Bible says that we should not be ignorant of the schemes of the enemy and this one is very nuanced so let us reason together further. God has given us a slice of His insight and wisdom in the Bible. We all believe it is divinely inspired but it seems we do not understand the gravity of what we say there. That means we believe God himself wrote the entire Bible, word for word, through the pens of the various writers over millennia. I have seen people dismiss Paul for example because he clearly teaches women are not to hold positions of authority over men nor preach/teach to men. It is not Paul who said it. It is God. So when it comes to our spirituality beloved we can rely on one of two things - ourselves or the Bible. We know and believe the Bible is infallible. We believe it is always right. We believe it answers every single question we might have in this life. We believe that it transcends culture so that the same Bible in India means the same thing in America. We believe that it transcends time so the same Gospel that saved the seventh century farmer can save me today. Think about how powerful that is! On the other hand we could rely on what we feel or experience but remember that the Bible assures us that our hearts are wickedly deceitful above anything ever made. Now think about that for a second. God could have just said wicked but He said wickedly deceitful. Our hearts, which is where we process our experiences, will always lie to us beloved. I always use this terrific example provided by Kim-Walker Smith, worship leader of the heretical outfit known as Jesus Culture. She claims as testimony that Jesus visited her while awake and whisked her away to the throne room where she met the Father face to face. There He apparently ripped out a piece of His heart to mold a miniature Kim to set in a jewelry box to dance for Him. Ok, so we have the experience of Kim Walker Smith and believe her 100%. I believe this happened to her. The Bible however tells me that there is no way she could have seen the Father face to face and lived (Exodus 33:20). So which should I believe? Sorry Kim, I will believe God. This means that Kim was visited by demons masquerading as angels of light and she could not tell the difference. If she was more grounded in the Word of God however, she would have known.
So after the publication of the Joyce Meyer devotional I received two critical correspondences regarding it. We must remain teachable until the day we die so I take any criticism very seriously. The last thing I want is to be in error and I have corrected and even retracted devotionals after discovering an error pointed out by someone. One of these critiques however is a brilliant display of everything wrong with Charismania and devoid of any biblical grounding. The other appears to be a fair and legitimate question. Let us reason together beloved and see what the Bible says. I will deal with the fair question first. This was simply the assertion that the key verses today from John's Gospel "points out that Jesus desires a relationship with believers." Now as I stated before and in the original devotional, I am not against being in relationship with Jesus as long as that relationship is biblically based. He is my Lord and Savior so the nature of my relationship is one of subservience to Him. As Lord, we are to yield to His teaching and leading as provided for us in His word. As Savior, we are to never lose sight of the fact that blessings are what He has already done for us. The problem of course is that is not what Joyce Meyer was teaching nor is that what any of the anti-religion folks are espousing. The relationship heresy they engage in is in this intimate, personal relationship where they can abandon the confines of Scripture in pursuit of what their wickedly deceitful hearts want and then spiritualize it to pretend it to be the Holy Ghost. The only reason why Kim Walker Smith could not tell the difference between a demon and an angel is that she abandoned the safety of Scripture. That aside, do these verses from John's Gospel teach relationship theology? The answer must be no; at least not as being taught today when people are trying to denigrate a word God has established in religion for the sake of this sloppy agape, experiential relationship.
Instead, this is the relationship described in the key verses. We are to abide in Christ as He abides in us. Abide means to dwell. It means we no longer dwell in the filth of this world. We are set apart beloved; consecrated for His use. The nature of the relationship is one of complete dependency upon Him. We can do nothing without Him. We cannot bear our own fruit. He is the vine and we are the branches. We are fed through Him. Everything we need to grow and be fruitful comes from Him and Him alone. He who does not abide in Him will be subject to hell. That's right, hell. This either means people who fall away or people who were falsely converted based upon how you view once saved always saved. Either way the result is the same. Abide in Christ -- eternal life. Do not abide in Christ -- eternal suffering. Deeper inside this relationship we see that if we claim to abide in Him then His words must abide in us as well. Not our spiritual experiences. Not what our goose bumps and liver shivers tell us. Not through personal revelations. Through His words that can found in His Bible. Period. As displayed in the original devotional Meyer mangled multiple bible verses to try and prove her heresy was correct. The next level in this relationship from the key verses we see that love is directly connected to keeping the commandments of God. Now where are those found again? That's right -- the Bible. Sensing a theme yet? I do not care how sloppily you try and express your agape, if it is not scripturally correct then it is false by definition.
Is this the relationship being sold by Joyce Meyer in her article? Is this the relationship being sold by the Purpose Driven Industrial Complex every week? Is this what you hear from Bill Johnson, Brian Houston, TD Jakes, Carl Lentz, or from your local pastor? Not even close:
"Relationship with God is based on the truth about His love for us and tells us who we are in Christ. We learn how much God loves us and that it's because of what Jesus did for us on the cross--through the sacrifice He made--that we have what we need to be everything God created us to be." - Joyce Meyer
Now Meyer is not stupid. She uses the Christianese buzz words. She mentions the cross. But it is all sloppy agape. Where is the truth about staying in Christ lest you be tossed into the fire? Where is the admonishment to keep His commandments? The verses from John are about Jesus not me. This statement from Joyce Meyer is about me and what Jesus can do for me. So I have everything I need to be great; for Jesus of course -- wink wink. Consequently, I appreciate the reference to these verses. I love chewing on the word and these Scriptures remind me of my place in this relationship with my Lord and Savior. These verses do not however indicate that Jesus is looking for a deep, intimate relationship with me where we sit around braiding each other's hair while singing Friend of God. As for the second critique I received; I will simply reprint it, excuse the caps as this was how I received it: