For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's Word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. -- 2Corinthians 2: 17(ESV)
The picture said it all really. Split screen between two depictions of a little girl, maybe age five. The girl on the left looked pitiful, anxious, weepy, and nearly curled into a fetal position. The girl on the right however was dressed in a non-descript superhero costume with flowing cape and all. Chin up, bravely looking skyward, chest puffed out in a mix of defiance and strength. What was the purported difference between the two pictures? The Holy Spirit. I thought to myself this perfectly sums up the absolute disconnect found in modern day Charismania. The advert from Charisma Magazine is for a series of books called "Life in the Spirit." Let's examine the claims made:
"Learn how the Holy Spirit can transform your life from mundane and meaningless to significant and exciting with Life in the Spirit."
In the Book of Revelation Jesus Christ writes seven letters to seven churches in Asia to warn them about what they are doing wrong, and commend what they are doing right. For the church at Pergamum, He makes reference to a man who was martyred for the Gospel named Antipas. According to Christian scholarly tradition, Antipas was a doctor and his medical guild turned him over to Caesar claiming he was actively spreading sedition by preaching the Gospel. He was sentenced to death but not an ordinary death. No it was a significant and exciting death! He was placed inside a copper bull which was then placed under fire until red hot. Peter was crucified upside down. Other disciples were boiled alive in oil or beheaded. Move forward to these times and we still see Christians in the Middle East being crucified and beheaded for refusing to denounce Christ.
But not in American purpose-driven Christianity as taught by the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex. No beloved. Here everyone has some glorious purpose set aside by God Himself at the foundations of the earth! It will transform your life from being ordinary and mundane to being extraordinary and exciting! Wait a minute preacher! Are you saying we do not have this purpose? Yes beloved. You may want to sit down for this revelation. Jeremiah 29:11 was not written to you. It is not about you. It does not apply to you. It was written to the exiles in Babylon. God was promising them that they would be delivered. He was assuring them that He had not forgotten them. That they still had a hope and a future. It is not a promise that can be universally applied. Now, do you have a "purpose" in a general sense? Sure and God knows what it is because He sees all time. But sometimes our purpose is a little mundane. Maybe it is to be a loyal housewife. Perhaps it is to represent Christ in the boardroom, the local Wal-Mart, or wherever you work. I remember a story once about a question found on the entrance application for a major university. The question was simply are you a leader or a follower and why. One young man answered honestly about being a follower and when he received his acceptance letter it simply read that of all the thousands of applications they had received he was the only one who admitted to being a follower and if there were going to be so many leaders it would only be right to have someone there to follow them! The point being that life is not always significant as the world defines it. It is not always exciting and the Holy Spirit makes no such promises of transformation on this level. None. So does God have a purpose for your life? Sure, in the sense that He has already seen it. But it is not necessarily significant and exciting. It might be painful unto death. It might be boring unto sleep. But this is the same tripe that churches serve up each and every week to their sheep. Like this:
"What if you could trade your mundane, everyday life for an unimaginable adventure with God? What if you started a journey today that could change your life and destiny from the natural to the supernatural?"
Yes beloved. What if? What if your life can be permanently situated under the windows of heaven so that the blessings of God simply wash over and over you, while unicorns dance around and you drink from the river of God? What if? Enough! They are not selling God here. They are selling a false god. A god of intrigue and exhilaration that is clearly from the latest fast paced action movie. This is a carnal god not based on anything scriptural. Note the buzz words though because they are so prevalent within the false signs and lying wonders network of churches, the New Apostolic Reformation and so many mainstream purpose driven churches. Things are always an adventure with God! We are on some kind of a journey and usually there is a shift coming somewhere and a river or some other body of water we need to seek refreshing in. Seriously, we have all heard this nonsense before. It is always about some pre-ordained destiny thingy. Like a cheap late night infomercial; but wait, there's more! There is the supernatural beloved. That is what they sell more than anything. False signs and lying wonders is called such for a very real and dangerous reason:
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. -- Matthew 24: 24 (ESV)
On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' -- Matthew 7: 22-23 (ESV)
It does not matter if you can perform parlor tricks. The presence of something supernatural does not mean it is of God. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is if what you say lines up with the Word of God. Simon the Sorcerer was able to perform such tricks that the people all assumed he was from God but his heart was not right with God. Bill Johnson pretends that he has supernatural glory clouds, angel feathers, gold dust and gemstones randomly appear at his services but we know from his teachings that his heart is not right with God. That is actually the correct application of knowing them by their fruits. Often misused as a catch all for anyone's behavior, these verses are actually dealing with false teachers. If we focus on the show instead of the message then we can be fooled. This is why the Bill Johnson's of the world traffic in experiential Christianity that eschews the Bible and solid exposition of Scripture in favor of how we feel. Everything becomes about a relationship with the Spirit apart from the Word of God. There is no relationship with God apart from His Word! In case you think I am being hyperbolic, let's return to some of the claims in this advert:
"Gives you a deep understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, how he works in your life and how you can interact with Him on a daily basis."
"Helps you to enter the presence of Almighty God, Come boldly before the throne and spend time with the one who loves you eternally. Learn to hear His voice clearly."
"God has great plans for you. His gifts are irrevocable. No one else can do what He has called you to do on earth. His power is available to those who ask."
"Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God in a powerful way. Witness heaven move on your behalf."
Let us deal with the low hanging fruit first. If you want to interact with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis all you have to do is open up your Bible. Why? Because while the Bible does not promise any of this hyper-spiritual gobbledygook, it does say that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. It says He will testify about Jesus Christ. That is how we hear the voice of God clearly. What they are speaking about here is trying to tap into the spirit based upon how you feel. Transcendental meditation, eastern mysticism, centered prayer, soaking prayer -- it is all nonsense and unbiblical. Nowhere does God instruct us to empty our mind if we want to talk to Him. No one else can do what He has called you to do? Really? God is hamstrung by our participation? I seriously doubt that. When you combine this with the absurd "declare and decree" theology what they are really doing here is raising man to the same level as God. Witness heaven move on our behalf? Wow. How special we are. How great we are. This is not Christianity beloved. It is the deification of man. Because God has the power of creation in His words we think we do too. His power becomes our power. Man has been recreating God in his own image since the beginning. Be very careful if your church starts preaching this doctrine of demons. As if sensing the scriptural blowback, the salespeople warn that people in your church "may not like you stepping out in faith or challenging their practices." What utter nonsense. It has nothing to do with stepping out in faith and everything to do with stepping off a cliff. It is abandoning the Gospel and chasing false gods of adventure and excitement that promise you the power of God Himself but cannot even save your sin sick soul. They are powerless. Waterless clouds that promise refreshing and sustenance but have nothing we need or can even use. As they wrapped up their pitch, they provided a list of things that MIGHT happen from reading this devotional series:
You might learn just how much God is in love with you