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The Way of Cain - Page 26

New teachings in the Christian Church- Where are They Leading Us?

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''Reaching the Lost'' with Signs & Wonders

''Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.'' Jn 4:48

But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him... Jn 12:37

Though Jesus rebuked those who sought after miraculous signs, this movement believes 'signs and wonders' are the preferred way to bring people 'to Christ'; they even have a name for it - ''Power Evangelism.''  (27)  The common vehicle for 'evangelization' is a miracle service with some kind of altar call at the conclusion.

This is not to say, of course, that God does not or cannot ever intervene in the natural order of things if that is His will, but what we are talking about here is a belief that miracles should be common, expected as God's standard way of meeting our needs, and the everyday norm of evangelization.

Jesus verified who He was by the signs and wonders He performed, which were incredible things only God could have done, and fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him. But, according to God's word, signs and wonders can no longer be looked to for verification of truth -

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Mt 24:24

Nevertheless, there has developed an obsession with the miraculous. Claims of miracles occurring at these services (or in distant countries where they cannot be verified) are multiplying and becoming more and more wildly unbelievable all the time. Those who do not accept second hand accounts of miracles giving no names or facts are derided as lacking ''faith,'' refusing to believe what does not fit ''their own tradition,'' or ''putting God in a box.'' ''Cessationist'' has become a dreadful thing to be labeled. It is amazing to see how many succumb to this peer pressure and check their minds at the mention of the word ''miracle.'' Yet so far there have not been any medically verified, true, supernatural, biblical miracles; it is pretty much the traditional faith healing story, with most claims concerning those ailments most susceptible to emotional influence, as in all the religions and systems of thought centered on producing healings.

The movement claims they are bringing huge numbers to Christ with this method, and, like many, I was excited when I first started hearing the incredible stories coming out about new evangelism efforts that were bringing unbelievable multitudes of people to Christ. When I looked into it more closely, however, I was perplexed and dismayed. I found Jesus was often being offered as an option for enhancing one's life, or an experience in Jesus' name being promoted, in the place of the gospel message.

Although Jesus' name is used, the truth about exactly who Jesus is and what He accomplished, and the fact of man's sinfulness and separation from God are often not explained at all. The need for and the fact of the cross of Christ is quietly disappearing from evangelization messages. In the place of salvation from sin, the movement seems mainly to offer the hope of physical healing or New Age style ''inner healing'' of emotional wounds.

The altar calls urge people to come forward for prayer or healing, or to take part in an experience being offered in Jesus' name (most often the 'laying on of hands' resulting in being 'slain in the spirit.') Those coming forward are being counted as having ''made a decision for Christ.'' But have they necessarily understood just who Jesus is, or accepted the gospel of Jesus?

According to the Bible, one must recognize he has sinned against God, agree with God's righteous judgment of his sin, his lost condition, his total inability to save himself or to earn any merit before God through his own efforts, and accept as a free gift Christ's atonement on his behalf.

Human pride has no problem with receiving healing but it has a big problem with admitting sinfulness, lack of merit before God, and the need for the cross.

The Apostle Paul called the cross a ''stumbling block'' (Gal 5:11). He knew if he omitted it, he would have had worldly acceptance, but he also knew such a gospel would have no power to save.

The Toronto church is now claiming that God is performing ''dental miracles'' during their services- fillings and crowns are supposedly miraculously appearing in peoples' mouths, and many are flocking excitedly to these services. Though I do not believe these 'miracles' are authentic, even if they were, in the perspective of eternity, what is worth more? A gold tooth for a few years here on earth, or eternity in heaven?

What would it cost Christ to give you a gold tooth? Nothing- all of the gold in creation belongs to Him. But what did it cost Him to buy your salvation? He gave His life, suffering the cruel cross, for that.

John MacArthur shared a conversation with the host of a talk show he was on -

[MacArthur] '...when a person becomes a Christian: You acknowledge that you cannot save yourself. You repent of your sins. You cast yourself on the mercy of God. And you believe in Jesus Christ as God's Son who came into the world and died to pay sin's penalty...'

'Surely you don't believe every person who becomes a Christian must believe all that, do you?'

I said, 'Well, yes- YES!'

'But I wasn't even aware that I was a sinner when I became a Christian,' she said. 'That thought never occurred to me...'

'Then how were you saved, and what were you saved from?'...

'I was into drugs, alcohol, and living with my boyfriend. I had been involved in metaphysics, Science of the Mind, for years. My life just wasn't working. Then one day I simply got Jesus' phone number... Suddenly I just knew He was there, and that He could help me sort out my life. So I gave Him a call.'
(John MacArthur, Reckless Faith)

Yes, it's true that Jesus can help us sort out our lives, but that in itself is not the gospel message that saves.

Jack Deere, a foremost leader in the movement, insists the gospel is not the message of 1Cor 15:1-3, but instead must incorporate healing and casting out demons.  (28) 

Pensacola Revival's Steve Hill's testimony does not include accepting the gospel message. He simply chanted the name ''Jesus'' over and over until he felt 'a sense of power' come over him.  (29) 

Prophet Kim Clement claims God has revealed to him that He does not want the church telling people they are sinners anymore; instead we are to tell them that there is ''something beautiful inside themselves'':

So, in other words, when they come into our presence, for the first time in their life they hear, they're saying ''there's something beautiful inside of me'' ... that's what way the church is going. That's the New Millennium church... Everyone that's born, God has placed something special inside. It's our responsibility as preachers of the New Millennium to bring out the treasure that's already there.  (30) 

''For I know that nothing good dwells in me...'' (The Apostle Paul, Ro 7:18)

Another thing I became aware of is that most taking part in the movement's events and 'revivals' are already Christians, or at least church-goers, who travel to these places leaving their seats back at their home churches temporarily empty, and it is many of the same people who return over and over to visit the 'Revival' churches regularly.

Those working in Revival church services state that people are counted as 'coming to Christ' each and every time they come forward at a meeting, regardless of whether they were already believers or have come forward before, and the numbers are added up and presented to the public to make it appear multitudes are becoming Christians (See 1Jn 2:21). In a full year of working at the Brownsville's altar, Vicky Conroy says, ''I never talked to someone who was making their first trip to the altar.''  (31) 

There are people being genuinely born again in the midst of all this, when the complete Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is preached, or if they have heard it elsewhere and happen to respond to God's call during one of these meetings. But this is far from the ideal way to begin the Christian life, with all of these misconceptions and false teachings and expectations, and many have been given a false confidence they are saved because they went forward at a meeting or someone 'laid hands' on them and prayed in Jesus' name.

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