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A Christian Reflection on e-tolls

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A Christian reflection on E-tolls

by

Jose de Carvalho

 

I wanted to open by stating that as Christians I believe we must pay e-tolls, but that is not correct; what is correct is that it is our Christian duty to submit to the laws of the country as modelled by Christ our example; therefore we have to pay e-tolls.

I also find it interesting hence the primary reason for this post that the same Christians from the pew and pulpit alike that call for Christians to model their lives after Christ are calling Christians to civil disobedience. This is a quandary; did Jesus teach that his disciples should only obey the laws that are just and fair?

I don’t think this matter even requires exegeting scripture, the Bible could not be any clearer. Jesus (Mark 12:13-17), Paul (Romans 13:1-7) and Peter (1 Peter 2:13-17) all speak into this matter with one voice; unless secular authorities request that Christians are asked to contradict God’s law (Acts 5:29) we are bound by our sovereign Lord to obey. 

It is also our duty to appeal to government to obey the spirit to God’s laws. Therefore let our voice be heard as salt and light as Paul did, but we have to pay, what methodology used is entirely up to each person’s own conscious.

Use the pen not the sword; if you believe this government is oppressive to the poor and corrupt, thus not fulfilling as implied by Paul that ‘the one in authority … is God’s servant to do you good’ (Romans 13:1-7), then again you have the duty to overthrow the system and establish another in its place via the democratic order in place.

Paul wrote the instructions to obey the Government during of Nero’s reign (Aprox.A.D.54), albeit I must add, before the persecuting days of A.D. 64 – Justin Martyr, an early church leader (2nd c.) followed suit to Rome by writing these words to the Roman emperor Antonius Pius:  “Everywhere we [Christians], more readily than all men, endeavour to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught [by Jesus]….hence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment.”

 

An evaluation of the validity of Christoconformity in a contemporaneous healing ministry.

536px-Bloch-SermonOnTheMount[1]An evaluation of the validity of Christoconformity in a contemporaneous healing ministry

by

Jose de Carvalho

 

 

Before proceeding any further I just want to admit to my ignorance on the topic and assert my reliance on God’s wisdom for inspiration on this research endeavour. Appended are my preliminary thoughts:

Most healing ministries appeal to Jesus’ healing ministry in one way or another, however Continuationists do not offer sufficient clarity in their position as to whether Jesus is the pattern for the Church today or not. This does not necessarily mean cessationism, but it would help clarify the issue of healing miracles in the Church and preclude simply using Jesus and the apostles as models for the contemporaneous Church without further explanation, therefore the question should be on the validity of Christoconformity in a contemporaneous healing ministry.
The contention that Jesus was fully human and acting under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit, hence believers can be similarly anointed and therefore can also heal, must take into consideration his deity, messianic mission, the distinctiveness of Jesus as a perfect man without sin thus in a perfect relationship with Father.
Preliminary the claim that Jesus acted as a model healer to be emulated today presents significant doctrinal problems as the Jesus presented by the gospel authors ministered distinctively and uniquely. Therefore his followers by definition may function at best only in a limited capacity.
Any assumption that Jesus delegated authority to his followers to function as he did must take in consideration the distinctiveness of his ministry and trace the biblical accounts of the ministry of healing of a) Israel’s divine healer, b) the Messiah, c) apostles and then compare it to that of contemporaneous believers, notwithstanding the fact that even if the Lord’s authority is available to believers this may not equal the similar anointing to heal.
Empirically the historical ministry of healing in the Church in the main does not display the instantaneous, complete healing narrated in the gospels. Modern medical science or God-given providence through medical science cannot replicate the organic healings that Jesus did; therefore what we witness today does not reflect the ministry of Jesus in any form.
This is not denying the possibility of divine healing occurring today, but that it is more appropriate to accept the distinctness and uniqueness of the One gifted to heal and the pedagogical value of his healing ministry. It is however not a model to emulate with expected corresponding results and a standard for ministry today. The crux of the matter is that a Christocentric ministry model needs to guard against a hyper literal, simplistic and I dare say naïve interpretation of what Jesus said and done before promulgating it as praxis. This does not in anyway dismiss Christocentricity as a valuable hermeneutical lens what it is admitting is Christocentricity without Christocomformaty in healing praxis.
At this junction it must be noted that the writer is not advocating an approach judged on the basis of outcomes (Teleological) as believers have an ethical and biblical duty to minister to the sick. Those that appeal to the healing ministry of our Lord as a model for praxis despite the lack of positive, empirical evidence (Rule – Deontologists) should then reflect whether this action has biblical validation.
Jesus’s healing ministry uniquely expresses the ultimate redemptive divine will and desire of God. Although this pattern is what God wishes to display in salvation history, the full benefit of Christ’s atonement is not available now, therefore believers will experience both sides of the promise paradox of the ‘now’ but ‘not yet’ in this side of heaven – in different measures, by different individuals, at different times.

 

Does the Theology of the Old Testament Wisdom Books speak to and refute the “Prosperity Gospel?”

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Does the Theology of the Old Testament Wisdom Books speak to and refute the “Prosperity Gospel?”

By

Jose de Carvalho

 

The thesis of the argument in the article is that it does!

The writer distances himself from the counter-productive and divisive force that seeks to drive a wedge between charismatic and non-charismatic Christians. I am well aware of the raging debate among committed Christians over the spiritual gifts. This article is not about peripheral issues that should not divide us or the Charismatic movement; it’s about drawing the line when it comes to the ‘Word of Faith Movement’.

The predominant message of Job’s three friends (Job 2:11-13) is that suffering is a direct consequence of sin. The complementary assumption is that prosperity is the reward of right living. On the basis of these premises and in view of Job’s plight, Jobs friends could only agree that he must be a sinner and in need of repentance. This viewpoint led them to the certain conclusion (from their perspective) that Job must have been sinning in secret, since no one could identify any overt transgression. It also led them to charge Job and compounding his guilt despite Job asserting his innocence.

Although the Book of Job is not an all-encompassing exposition of human suffering, it has always caused readers to question the nature of suffering. Scripture offers some reasons, but it is difficult (often impossible) even with the benefit of complete biblical revelation to understand specific experiences of sorrow and tribulation. I believe we need to be mindful that creation provides an environment for the development of God’s children. Therefore: When is the suffering of believers God’s discipline for misbehaviour (Ps 39:11; Jer. 30:11; Heb. 12:5–11; Rev 3:19), when is it aimed at developing spiritual maturity (Rom 5:3–5; 2 Cor. 1:3–9; 2 Tim 2:3; 4:5–8; James 1:2–4) and when it is an opportunity to glorify God through sincere faith (1 Thess. 1:6–10; 2 Thess. 1:4–5; Heb. 11:37–12:1)?

Is it then write to say that suffering is all bad? Life without it would probably produce spoilt brats, not mature saints. Rabbi Abraham Heschel says simply, “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?” Suffering can work for the greater good of wisdom. It is not true that all things are good, but it is true that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” (Rom. 8:28).

Nevertheless from the text it is clear that the suffering in Job’s life originated with the devil, although permitted by God (Job 2:7); Satan is the opponent, the hater, the adversary, the enemy and the resister of what is good. The New Testament also confirms that some sickness comes from Satan (Luke 13:11-13). There is an important distinction to be made between God controlling evil versus God creating evil and His perfect will versus His permissible will.

This affirms a strong doctrine of God’s providential sovereignty which is akin to classical Arminianism confirming that although God has the right and the power to do whatever He wishes with any creature, God’s holiness, love and justice makes certain acts of God inconceivable, namely: the creation of evil and sin.

I arrived at this conclusion by conceptualizing God’s nature as revealed in the incarnation of Christ, our benevolent holy Lord who is without sin.

Simultaneously also affirming the sovereignty of God as an overarching principle of scripture; God has not decreed to allow or inflict suffering on His servants but it is affirmed in scripture as a way in which He deals with man throughout the history of redemption. (1 Cor. 10: 6-8; Acts 5:5-11; 1 Peter 4:17; Prov. 3:11-12).

It may appear schizophrenic if scripture did not affirm it. The conundrum for some believers is living with this tension – serving a benevolent God who disciplines His Children and allows suffering to befall them. The fact that God loves us does not mean he is willing to overlook our sin. We sometimes naively think that God should demonstrate His love by delivering us from the hardships of life. Actually, the opposite is the case — these trials prove His love (Heb. 12:5-6) whilst temptations prove our faith (Job 2:4-7, 9-10; 2 Cor. 2:11).

This tension exists because it is a thought lesson for believers especially when they come to the faith, having been promised health and wealth and that the plan of God for their lives only involves abundant blessing to now comprehend and accept any form of suffering. Kenneth Copeland says, “The religious idea that God chastises ‘His own with sickness and disease and poverty is the very thing that has caused the church to go 1500 years without the knowledge of the Holy Spirit”. Fortunately Charles Spurgeon well known as the prince of preachers nevertheless afflicted most of his life with pain, not a living a long robust life provided a more sophisticated perspective, “I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half as much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain”.

The evidence is convincing from King David’s life that Copeland and the ‘Word of Faith’ teachers are dead wrong. God does indeed chastise His own. David was a man after God’s own heart; therefore true to his nature he wrote “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71).

A responsible interpretation of God’s Word should embrace that “everyone who names the name of the Lord should depart from iniquity.” thus emphasizing the believer’s responsibility to strive to live a holy life (2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; 1 John 3:3; 2 Peter 3:12). Believers should also examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith, i.e. “Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5) or run the risk of discipline (Heb. 12:5; 1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16). We should consider the cost of discipleship (John 15:18-20; 1 Pet 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:12; 2 Tim 3:12) and accept our share of the hardship that faithfulness to the gospel entails; to test our faith and the strength that God gives us (2 Tim 1:8; 1 Peter 1:6-7; James 1:2-4) with the objective to form Christ in us (1 peter 5:10) which is the goal of salvation (Rom. 8:29) within the process of an Holy Spirit empowered sanctification process.

Therefore the serious Bible exegete cannot avoid the conclusion that the scriptures speak of three kinds of “trouble” for the believer: 1) discipline, judgment or rebuke from the Lord; 2) tests, trials, persecutions, suffering; and 3) temptations or attacks from Satan.

Many Christians wilfully ignore the above synopsis and blame the devil for all suffering or what I most object to, cruelly imply that those who are suffering have only themselves to blame as a result of sin and/or lack of faith. (By their own interpretation of James 5:14 faith healers encourage believers who are suffering to call for the elders (referring to themselves) and that their prayer of faith will heal the sick (God’s will to heal all); therefore, the question that begs asking is, why is it that they don’t blame themselves for all those that come to them and are not healed? (Which is most), what about the fact that faith healers suffer malady and die of sickness and many are sick while claiming divine healing? shall we then similarly conclude  that their personal faith is deficient? or that they are living in sin? (Just a thought) (See annex A).

I suggest that blaming all suffering on Satan and sin without duly considering the following is irresponsible.

  • Introspection and acknowledgment that sinners are enticed by their own evil desires
  •  A balanced biblical understanding that a follower of God is not immune from life’s problems; to coin the cliché “bad things happen to good people”
  • Recognising that evil is present in the natural fallen world
  • Mankind knowingly engages in sin “free will”
  • Suffering could be a consequence and not the result of sin
  • God’s discipline (this may be the exception, rather than the rule, but certainly applicable for gross wilful  disobedience to God’s commandments)
  • Failure to recognize suffering in context with God’s Sovereignty

Do we have to know all of God’s reasons? Whoever promised us all the answers? “Shall we accept good from God, and not accept trouble?” (Job 2:10), no one can stop God or challenge what He is doing (9:12).

We often cannot comprehend as human suffering often remains secret to human beings; we can only trust and find comfort in the knowledge that nothing happens to us that God is not aware of. Therefore the message of Job is comforting in that nothing happens to us that are not ultimately controlled by the knowledge, love, wisdom, and power of our God.

Nevertheless, “God has revealed a lot to us. He has lifted the curtain on the problem of evil with Christ at the cross. There, the greatest evil that ever happened, both the greatest spiritual evil and the greatest physical evil, both the greatest sin and the greatest suffering is revealed as His wise and loving plan to bring about the greatest good, the salvation of the world from sin and suffering eternally.”

Were Job’s friends correct in their assumptions? No!

Their response to Job’s suffering needs to be dealt with by understanding the prevailing traditional wisdom of the day, specifically with regards to suffering that it is the consequence of sin. Job’s wrestling with his suffering began to challenge the conventional wisdom of the time, specifically to the concept of retribution – namely if you are faithful you will be blessed and prosper.  If not, you will be punished; the wicked and the ungodly will suffer.  From the text it is apparent that the patriarch from Uz (Job), however, did not fit that pattern. He was a righteous man who suffered as if he were guilty of great wickedness. Neither he nor his friends could explain his condition, because their thought patterns did not allow for exceptions embedded in simple wisdom. Therefore, Job, due to his circumstances challenged this major theological view of the day – the oversimplification of the doctrine of retribution, because as he explained it to God, he was suffering unjustly. It would be remiss of me not to point out that it is not only Job’s friends that blame him for his condition. Despite the fact that today we have scriptural text to indicate otherwise Kenneth Copeland says, “When are we all going to wake up and learn that God didn’t allow the devil to get on Job. Job allowed the devil to get on Job…” Charles Capp says ‘Job activated Satan by his fear when he said “the thing which I greatly fear as come upon me” (Job 3:25), pointing to his negative confession, ignoring that it had already come upon him. Even more viciously from the same camp Benny Hinn called Job a “carnal bad boy” also asserting that Job’s mouth was the problem. Most disconcerting is that in the first two chapters of Job God called Job blameless, upright and good (Job 1:1, 8; 2.3), thus most appropriately commended by James in his epistle (5:11).

Certainly, the arguments of the three friends were flawed; assuming Job had sinned on the basis of his suffering is problematic. After all, if suffering always indicates sin, what might one say about Jesus’s suffering?

Jesus confirmed that the condition of the man born blind, for example, was not caused by his sin or that of his parents, but it happened so that God might be glorified in his healing (John 9:2–3).

Our wise and perfect God can and sometimes does use the sin already existing in our world to fulfil His purposes. This revelation caused Habakkuk to then ask how God could use a nation more wickeder than Judah to judge Judah (1:12-2:1). God’s response was the promise that He would later punish Babylon as well (2:2-20). Ultimately Habakkuk could only acknowledge the Lord’s perfect wisdom; the prophet ends with a song of praise in chapter 3.

A casual reading of the Book of Job offers two answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it; another that God is not held accountable to human perceptions of morality. However, the accuser (Satan) insinuates that Job’s allegiance is hypocritical (1:9). Should God would remove the protective hedge and blessings He has bestowed on Job (v.10), this ‘devout’ servant would curse God to His face. Therefore, the attack is on God through Job, and the only way the accuser can be proven false is through Job (Satan’s predictions do not come true as Job did not sin).

How will man react to God when God seems unconcerned about his problems?

In reflection the book of Job as a whole illustrates that a full understanding of God’s reasons for events is a not a prerequisite for remaining faithful amid terrible suffering. We need to realize that our blessings are not just dependent on the strength of our faith, but on His purposes and power.

Does Job’s theology challenge the limitations of the simplistic conventional wisdom intrinsic to the Old Testament Wisdom Books and refute a popular tradition of today?

How about Ecclesiastes?

Ecclesiastes another Wisdom book presents a realistic approach and a view of life that counter balances the unqualified optimism of traditional simplistic wisdom, which in real life may not produce the desired results. This therefore challenges the traditional simplistic wisdom as presented in the book of Proverbs, characterised by Job’s friends and the overoptimistic contemporary ‘Prosperity Gospel’.

According to Proverbs 13:4 “the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” but Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 questions whether this is always true! Proverbs 10:6 affirms that justice is dispensed both to the righteous and the wicked, but Ecclesiastes 8:14 observes that this is not always the case in life. Ecclesiastes however points out that while the righteous order of Proverbs does exist, it is not always evident to man as he views life from his finite perspective. Proverbs usually looks at the opposites in life without noting exceptions (the serious biblical exegete understands and will consider that different biblical genres have their own interpretive methodology). Thus, Ecclesiastes contradicts traditional, simplistic, wisdom portions of scripture and some say that it presents an allegedly pessimistic outlook on life. It is relevant to note that Solomon wrote Proverbs probably in the prime of his life and Ecclesiastes late in his life and I disagree that the writer presents a pessimistic or fatalistic outlook on life; it is just the product of a vacillating mind grappling with the complexities of life.

Perhaps we should consider the “Word of Faith Movement” or mostly common referred to as “Prosperity Gospel” that sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills.  This belief-system or practise certainly is not in full submission and trust of God’s will for our lives or accordance to His universal purposes that are unbeknown to His servants. “Word of Faith” “Prosperity Gospel”, and “Positive Confession” all refer to the heretical teaching akin to the “law of attraction”; namely that words and thoughts themselves have creative power. Word of Faith teachers claim that what you say determines what that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favours you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering, then God is expected to respond accordingly (as though man could demand anything of God! when a responsible interpretation of scripture indicates that only God has the right to make demands on His people) to some degree prohibiting God from working on His own according to His sovereign good will.  By implication this means that God is not Lord of all, because He will only work when we release Him to do so by the manipulative power of prayer, faith and confession. Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly depends on our confessions of faith rendering God to a type of a cosmic Santa Claus. I regard all of this to be a misinterpretation of the Word emanating from a secular and humanistic selfish ambition which is embedded in a syncretism of Mind Science, Christian Science and Eastern Philosophy rather than a responsible interpretation of the Word of God.

These teachings remains embedded on the old Jobian belief that suffering in the form of illness and poverty are a type of punishment for sin, a lack of faith or unfaithfulness – the entire book of Job and Ecclesiastes refutes this. This doctrine is based on a simplistic, and covetous selective interpretation of the Word which fails to consider the exceptions to the rule; for example, Proverbs 11:25, “The generous soul will be made rich” where empirical evidence in the body of Christ expressly and clearly indicates this not to be true, as there are many generous souls in the Church whom are not rich.

To this end it must also be noted that cherry-picking scripture out of context to support a particular doctrine is also not very helpful; scripture must interpret scripture. The same Jesus that said “if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14) also expressed the motive for praying in Matthew 6:10 “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” also John in his epistles contextualises by penning in 1John 5:14, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” It should come as no surprise at this point to allude to Benny Hinn’ irresponsible exhortations to his followers to “never, ever, go to the Lord and say ‘if it is thy will…’ as they are faith destroying words”; “an insult to God” (Fred Price).

There are no conflicts in scripture, only poor interpretations that require revaluation!

Our prayer life begins by acknowledging that apart from Christ we are helpless, thus acknowledging our dependency on God. We are also to submit our desires before our sovereign Saviour believing that He is able to provide “exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). Jesus modelled these patterns when He taught us to pray in Matthew 6. As well as when He agonized in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39) “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Jesus’s life is clearly in conflict with the ‘Word of Faith Theology’. Jesus Himself suffered and calls His disciples to take up the cross, forsake the world, and be prepared to suffer as He suffered (Matt. 16:24-28; John 15:18-20) and was tempted and suffered willingly for the Father’s will, yet without sin, not taking advantage of His power to eradicate suffering or to gain personal comfort (Matt. 4). This totally contradicts a doctrine that emphasizes the use of spiritual power for personal gain and rejects all forms of suffering, labelling it outside of God’s will for New Testament believers.

What about other New Testament saints?

Paul life is also in conflict with the ‘Word of Faith Theology’:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The constant pattern of Paul’s life was suffering. He certainly was not focused on self agrandisation and prosperity, not only modelling the Lord’s life but also teaching “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… “(Mat 6:19).

Paul’s life also affirms what the apostolic writers tell us, namely that God often uses suffering as the means by which He sanctifies His people (2 Cor. 1:3-10; 1 Peter 4:12). Paul’s Epistles further affirm that believers cannot avoid suffering at will, namely, Timothy (in 1 Tim. 5:23); Trophimus (in 2 Tim. 4:20) and Epaphroditus (in Phil. 2:25-30).

It also seemed fitting for Paul to pray “in the will of God” (Rom 1:10).

In the letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 11) believed by some to be author by Paul we read time and again of New Testament saints who experienced one hardship after another.

We have looked at the teachings of John and the life of Paul that offers, like Jesus, a pattern of self-denial.  Now how about the teaching in James, written by the brother of the Lord?

We have confirmation of all that the believer will face in this life; trials (James 1:2), the plight of the poor (v. 9), that they will always be among us (Deut. 15:11), temptations for proving our faith (v. 12), the enticement of our own desires (v 14), the call for holiness (vv. 21, 27), and impending judgement for transgressors (2:13). It also seemed fitting for James, like the apostles, to pray “if the Lord wills” (James 4:15).

Most importantly James touches on the covetous aspect of seeking after what one desires, pointing out that it is in conflict with the Torah’s tenth commandment reflected in James 4:2, concluding in verse 3; “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

I conclude from the sage’s reflection in the book of Ecclesiastes that also turned to the doctrine of simple retribution or traditional simplistic wisdom to balance the scales to compensate for life’s inadequacies; however he realizes that both the fool (ungodly) and the wise (godly) are experiencing an obscure life and destined to death.  The value he seeks therefore cannot be found in this life (2:12-16), as not even godly wisdom guarantees him justice.

In chapters 9:11-12 and 11:7-10 the entire mood of the book changes in the summary.  He begins to conclude that since he has failed to find any value or justice “under the sun” over and above enjoying life, value must then be found transcendent to this life, rooted in the justice of God (12: 9-14), a view point that I concur. The second summary states that although knowledge and wisdom yields value, it brings weariness and passes away (v 13).  In contrast, reverence and obedience to God will stand on the Day of Judgment (v 14), therefore ones priorities should not lie in the things of this life, but in God.

Appendix A

Faith teacher Hobart freeman may have blamed the death of his grandson on the lack of faith of his son-in-law, but the truth is that a routine medical procedure could have easily saved the boy’s life. Ironically, Freeman’s own disdain for science and medicine along with his flawed faith formulas led to his apparently premature death in 1984, Freeman died of pneumonia and heart failure.

After a 15-year-old girl died of a medically treatable malady, the parents were convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Freeman was charged with aiding and inducing reckless homicide in the case.

Fred Price may proudly proclaim, “We don’t allow sickness in our home” but the reality is that his wife was stricken with cancer and has humbly and profusely thanked the doctors for the painful radiation and chemotherapy she received from them.

Price’s absurdity reaches a climax when he states that medicine is a crutch for the immature believer, “when you have developed your faith to such an extent that you can stand on the promises of God, then you won’t need medicine. That’s the reason I don’t take medicine”

Veteran faith healer Oral Roberts suffered a heart attack just hours after supposedly being healed of chest pains by Paul Crouch on TBN’s live television show on October 6, 1992 just a few months after Crouch himself suffered from two days of heart pains flatters and stops.

A A Allen famed tent Evangelist and faith healer died of sclerosis of the liver in 1970, having secretly struggled with alcoholism for many years prior. Allen was actually expelled from the assemblies of God’s denomination when he jumped bail after being arrested for drunk driving.

Robert Tilton ‘faith’ guru message is simple: “God wants you to flourish financially and physically”, but you need faith. To prove your faith you need to make a vow faith, and all vows should be sent in care of brother Bob. Typical vows begin at $1000, but the sky is the limit. Brother Bob had two small strokes in his brain that brought numbness in his body. Here is rebuttal:

The pray requests forms had ink on them and all kinds of chemicals, as I laid on top of those prayer requests the chemicals actually got into my bloodstream and began to swell my capillaries, it got into my immune system.

Cathryn kuhlman died of heart problems in 1976. She had battled heart disease for nearly 20 years. It must be said that Cathryn at least at the common sense to admit that she doesn’t know why some people are healed and some are not.

Kenneth Hagin may brag that for years not add a headache, the flu or even “one sick” day in nearly 60 years, yet he suffered at least four cardiovascular crisis, including one full scale heart stoppage and another episode persisting for six weeks.

Does the teaching really work? If so then why are the proponents suffering just like anyone else? If believers are able to live in divine health, why do we all suffer and die from disease?

The reality of the matter is that those that are close to the proponents that claim they live in divine health can vouch for the fact that they are actually not. Purely for contextualization, it can be said that there are many non-believers that live in comparatively perfect health, if there is such a thing.

All faith healers do not seem troubled by the absurdity of claiming and continuing to proclaiming to be healed for instance from disease, yet continuing to suffer just as badly from the symptoms. Absurdity on three accounts:

  • the clear evidence of the presence of the virus
  • not recognising that ignoring symptoms of disease may be lethal
  • The symptoms that cause patients alarm are usually spectacular demonstrations of the body’s healing mechanisms at work – Divine demonstration of God’s sovereign healing power in progress.

Regardless of the many assurances from the “faith healers” that their teaching is in line with the Word of God and has origins in ‘new’ Holy Spirit revealed interpretations the fact of the matter is that the their teachings are indistinguishable from the metaphysical cults. For instance Hagin claimed by some as the father of the movement teachings in this regard are so strikingly similar to Phineas Quimby (new thought guru of the time) that by transcript analyses are basically the same, even more so than Christian Science/Religious Science cult leader Mary Baker. Whilst on Hagin has a father of the movement it would be remiss of me not to state that having read and heard many of his transcripts, it appears to me that he has borrowed his healing doctrine from T.L.Osborn.

In the same category is Benny Hinn’s outrageous interpretation from Ephesians 5:23 in his book “Rise & be Healed” he writes that Jesus Christ is the saviour of the body, therefore then your body ought to be made whole” (Paraphrased). The actual Bible text has nothing to do with the physical body rather the ‘body’ referred to in the text is clearly identifiable as the ‘Church’. In some cases misinterpretations of the Word to justify a bias position are difficult to reject by the unsuspecting and blind trust to God’s anointed, but in some cases the claims are so downright ridiculous that are easy to reject. Again it must be said that this misrepresentation of the Word again has roots in T.L.Osborn.

Actually Essek William Kenyon whose life was enormously impacted by such cults as Science of Mind, Unity School of Christianity, Christian Science and New Thought metaphysics is the true father of the modern day ‘Word of Faith Movement’. Many of the phrases popularised by today’s prosperity teachers, such as “what I confess, I possess.” Were originally is coined by Kenyon.

The interaction between Osborne and the metaphysical gurus is evident in his book “healing the sick” when he quotes Kenyon’s misinterpretation of Isaiah 53 “Jesus bore our infirmities, our disease, our sicknesses, and what He bore, we do not need to bear. What He took upon Himself, we do not need to suffer.”, this as a vindication that we can live this life in divine health and suffering free.

“Be strong in your work for I am with you”

“Be strong in your work for I am with you”

By

Jose de Carvalho

It has been sometime since I last posted to this blog, but I can assure that it has not been through neglect.

What motivated me to do so now was a study on the book of Haggai. The book of Haggai addresses problems common to all people of all times and gives inspired solutions to those problems. The first problem he encountered was disinterest (1:1-15), the second problem was discouragement (2:1-9) and the last problem Haggai had to face was dissatisfaction (2:10-23).

The summary of the prophetic message of Haggai is that we should embrace the task assigned to us by God. We should not allow
difficulties, enemies, or selfish pursuits to derail us from our divinely given responsibilities. The noble nature of our calling and the promised presence of God and His Holy Spirit should encourage us to fulfil our commission.

The objective of this post is to enumerate practical truths from the book:

  • God and His work must take first place in the life of His people. This is the only way through which God is honoured.
  • Putting personal or selfish interests ahead of God is self-defeating.
  • God showers His blessings on those who put His interests before their own.
  • The significance of a man’s work is not to be valued by comparing it with the work of others, but by the measure of how it conforms to God’s will and purpose.

If any of this is interesting or enriches you, stay connected and travel with me as we migrate in this pilgrimage of life finding  ‘what adds meaning to our lives’.

The ‘Nephilim’ Biblical Giants

The attached astonishing photos from an archaeological
discovery in Greece furnish the proof of the existence of the giants spoken of
in biblical times!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the site is an hoax it nevertheless serves as a good introduction to a discussion on biblical giants. The first biblical account  dates back to Genesis Chapter 6 verse 4.

There is controversy surrounding the origin of these giants or “Nephilim”. The origin of the controversy lies within Genesis 6:2, “Sons of  God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” (NKJV).  This verse gave rise to the interpretive view that “sons of God” is referring to angels. This is fraught with interpretive difficulties, but according to some it seems the most likely. It serves to reinforce the pre-flood evil in the world, for God abhors interbreeding of unlike species (v.5).

It is my opinion that although intermarriage between angels and human beings, though commonly mentioned in ancient mythologies, are surely excluded by the very nature of the created order.

There is nothing in the text of Genesis 6:2 that indicates that “sons of God” should be interpreted as angels – unlike Job 1:6 where it fits  within the context of the chapter.  The context of Genesis 6:2 fits more likely within the context of Deut. 14:1 where the “sons of God” is referring to the “children of the Lord God”. Genesis 6:1-4 is more likely to refer to “sons of God”, meaning followers of God, as found in Genesis 4:6 where “men began to call upon the name of the Lord”, marking the beginning of Seth’s line. The purpose of this narrative seems to trace the parallel development of the Godly line (“sons of God”) in contrast with Cain’s godless descendants, referred to as “daughters of men”, and the two lines intermarrying. My conclusion is therefore that the giants were not the offspring of intermarriage between angels and humans, but rather that Moses is referring to intermarriage between Godly sons and ungodly wives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The previleges of adoption

The privileges of adoption

By

Jose de carvalho

 

When we come to God for salvation through faith in Christ we are made spiritually alive, able to relate to God in prayer and worship and able to hear His Word and Voice with receptive hears. One of the major blessings of salvation is adoption; the act of God whereby He makes us members of His family, and His children related to one another in the body as family members. John mentions adoption at the beginning of his gospel, where he says “to all who received him, who believed in his name, He gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). The New Testament’s epistles repeatedly bear testimony to the fact that we are now God’s children (Romans 8:14-17). 

What are the privileges of adoption? 

One of the greatest privileges of our adoption is being able to relate to Him as a benevolent loving father. We are to realise that we “are no longer slaves but sons” (Gal. 4:7) therefore we are not to relate to God as a master, but as a child relates to a father. This relationship to God as father is the foundation of many blessings in a Christian’s life. The most intimate role and the role that conveys the highest privileges of fellowship with God for eternity is His role as our heavenly father. This relationship illustrates clearly that He loves and understand us. He has compassion and cares for us, takes care of our needs and gives us gifts. He especially gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to comfort us and empower us for ministry and Christian living. Gifts not only in this life, but also in the afterlife.  As sons and joint heirs with Christ, we have an inheritance in heaven. We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom.8:17) thus have the rights to “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). 

“…and forgive us our sins” (Matt 6:9-12), this daily prayer for forgiveness is not a prayer of justification.  Rather a prayer in which we express a wish to restore the open fellowship with our Father that has been disrupted by sin that displeases Him.  It is a prayer of restoration not to a judge, but to a loving father.

 The privilege of being “lead by the Spirit” is another benefit of adoption.” All whoare led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:14).The Holy Spirit put in every believer the desire to obey God and enable us to live according to His will. As God’s children we are to imitate our Father in conduct. Paul says “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph.5:1). 

Another privilege of adoption into God’s family, though not always recognized as a privilege, is the fact that God disciplines us as His children. “The Lord disciplines him whom He loves” (Heb. 12:5-6). God treats us as sons: “for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). 

It is in the context of a father that we must relate to God and to the Church as members of one family. This concept of the Church as God’s family should give us a new perspective on the work of the Church: it is family work!!! The various members of the family should never compete with each other or hinder one another’s efforts, but should encourage one another and be thankful for whatever good or whatever progress comes to any member of the family, for all are contributing to the good of the family and honour of God our Father.

If any of this is interesting or enriches you, stay connected and travel with me as we migrate in this pilgrimage of life finding ‘what adds meaning to our lives’.

Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NKJV Holy Bible copyright 1983 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 

 

What is my calling?

Baptism in the Holy Spirit as a means to Holiness

 

Sanctification

as
“the calling on our lives”
by
Jose de Carvalho
What is the calling on my life? Is a natural question for a believer, what does the Word has the final authority say? Read on to find out…

Paul indicates that throughout a Christian’s life….., “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).  My exhortation is that we should commit to the process of becoming more like Christ. (Phil. 3:13) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Phil. 3:14)  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. In the spiritual race that goal is Christ; that is ethical-spiritual perfection in Him. With all his heart the apostle desired to be completely raised above sin.

Believers are so preoccupied trying to find the calling on their lives?  They go on courses, programs, take questioners to find their ministry etc., totally ignoring what the primary call is for all believers: namely to became like Christ and to put on the “new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, conformed to the likeness of Christ” (Col 3:10).The author of Hebrews tells his readers in Heb. 12:14, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”. Do not let sin dominate your lives (Rom.6:14). James encourages his readers to “be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22) and Peter tells his readers 1Pet 1:15, “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”  All the apostles in their exhortations command people to sanctification; thus showing that sanctification is required in the Christian life in deed, thoughts, attitudes as well as words and it is the primary call of the Christian life, “predestined to be conformed to the image of His son”(Rom.8:29). God is at work in you, so cooperate!!!! It is the goal of salvation.

The tragedy is that in so many Christian circles the ‘passive’ role in sanctification, the idea of yielding to God and trusting Him to work in us is sometimes so strongly emphasised that it is the only thing people focus on as the path of sanctification. Sometimes the popular phrase ’let go and let God’ is given as a summary of how to live the Christian life. But this is a tragic distortion of the doctrine of sanctification, for it only speaks of one half of the part we must play, and, by itself, will leave Christians to become lazy and to neglect the ‘active’ role that Scripture commands them to play in their own sanctification. To this end Paul acknowledges that it is “by the Spirit” that we are able to live this life (Rom 8). But he also says we must do it. Paul did not command the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh; he commanded Christians to do it. Rom 6:12, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Rom 6:13, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

If any of this is interesting or enriches you, stay connected and travel with me as we migrate in this pilgrimage of life finding ‘what adds meaning to our lives’.

Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible copyright 1983 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 

 

 

Redefining the concept of the seven deadly sins

seven deadly sins
seven deadly sins

 

The New seven deadly Sins

By

Jose de Carvalho

 

 

Before the interesting part I am first compelled to offer some theological comments. 

This post does not imply an endorsement of the Roman Catholic teaching that sins can be put into two categories: ‘venial’ and ‘mortal’.

In Roman Catholic teaching, a ‘venial’ sin can be forgiven but a mortal sin causes spiritual death and cannot be forgiven; it excludes people from the kingdom of God. 

According to my interpertation of scripture all sins are ‘mortal’, even the smallest sin makes us legally guilty before God and worthy of eternal punishment. Yet even the most serious sins are forgiven when one comes to Christ for salvation, thus in this sense all sins are ‘venial’.

Redefining the concept of sin

 The Vatican’s’ Apostolic Penitentiary, which decides on matters of conscience and grants absolutions, decided that the seven deadly sins need to be updated to reflect changes in society. The original sins were:

Envy, pride, lust, gluttony, anger, greed and sloth, as laid down by Pope Gregory in the 16th century, were now revised for the 21st-century. The seven new sins that were identified are:

Genetic modification, experiments on human beings, pollution, acts that cause social injustice, taking drugs, causing poverty and obscene wealth. 

The church stated that the ‘new’ sins identified were the application of Catholic moral principles in a changing world and did not change the original sins as not sins.

 

 

 

Salvation

Salvation is Christ’s work

By

Jose de Carvalho

 

This is the last post in the series of comments on the Pope’s speech.  It deals with the insinuation of the association between the ‘church’ and salvation. There needs to be a clear warning that a mere association with a ‘church’ and outward conformity to the accepted Christian patterns of church practice does not guarantee salvation; particularly in societies and cultures where it is easy and expected for people to profess to be Christian.  There is a real possibility that some people are associated with the ‘church’ through infant baptism and are not genuine believers. The consequence is that these will be lured into complacency by assurances that they will still have justification and adoption into God’s family through their association with the ‘church’. 

A consistent pattern of disobedience to Christ’s Commandments, coupled with the lack of the evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), as well as the absence of a Christ-like character is a warning signal that a person is probably not a true Christian inwardly and that there has never been a genuine heart-faith decision for Christ.  Consequently there are thus no signs of any regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. The words of John the Baptist (1 John 2:4) come to mind.  He tells us “he who says I know Him but does not obey His Commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”. 

The objective of the post is to promote introspection. A long term pattern of increasing disobedience to Christ should be taken as evidence to doubt that one is really a Christian at all. Examine yourself!!!

 

The Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ Part 3

The Rapture part 3

by

Jose de Carvalho

The New Testament does not justify an idea of two separate returns of Christ (rapture) as no such view is explicitly thought in any passage, it is an inference drawn from differences in between passages that describe Christ return from different perspectives.

This post must be read subsequent to perusing my previous two posts on the ‘rapture’ http://whataddsmeaningtolife.co.za/?p=264 and http://whataddsmeaningtolife.co.za/?p=276

I Corinthians chapter 15

Some assert that these verses confirm a rapture concept of eschatology. However, this text is not a discussion on the end time events but the resurrection. Death was defeated at the empty tomb (v. 20) thus validation that believers are reassured of their own resurrection in Christ (v. 22). We must be careful of our theological agendas driving the interpretation of a context.

A secret event?

The rapture is quite clearly linked with the Lords return and not a secret event, the loud trumpet of God in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the trumpet at which our bodies are changed into immortality in Corinthians 15:51-52 all seem to be the same trumpet, the last trumpet before the end (Matt 24:31) “at the last trumpet” this was an Old Testament way of announcing the end-time events by means of the shophar. The second coming will be heard and visible to all.

Regarding the contention that at the rapture, believers “meet the Lord in the air “(1 Thessalonians 4:17), but at the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth as proof that the events are distinct I offer the following:

The Second Coming is referred to repeatedly in 1 Thessalonians (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11), notice that neither in this book nor 2 Thess. does Paul mention (see also 1 Cor. 15:25) an earthly reign but an eternal reign. Paul’s terminology implies the eternal kingdom begins when Jesus returns. This is exactly what he is asserts in all his epistles without any further elaboration. Paul does not even imply that Jesus returns completely to the earth (neither does the Lord), therefore the fact that believers “meet the Lord” in the air (1 Thess. 4:17) does not prove that the events Paul is referring to are distinct from the second coming.

Finally, from the commentary in all the posts in this series it is not difficult to see that all the passages refer to a single event, the second return of Christ. I am thus compelled not to go beyond Christ’s and the apostles teaching on the matter.