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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Christian Op-Ed: From NJ_GOP

Word Of Knowledge (Revised)

Today I was surfing blog talk radio and in addition to the surprising number of shows about the paranormal, was a show about “The Word of Knowledge”.  In the synopsis it said that the person providing the Word of Knowledge heard God speak in an audible voice in 1977 and she would be providing the Word of Knowledge for people and activating other spiritual gifts (i.e. prophecy) as well. 

I tried to listen in, but as is not unusual for Blog talk radio there was some technical glitch preventing the sound.  In fact, it appeared that the show was not streaming at all and no one in the chat room could hear the show.  In response to the technical glitch, one person typed “IN JESUS NAME” another one typed “PLEAD THE BLOOD” whatever that means – (yes in all caps signifying yelling).   

I politely kept my typing little fingers quiet during this and eventually shut the thing down to go watch that TV show based on the paranormal, Medium – draw whatever parallels you like there, I’ll save my commentary on Medium for another day. 

Now that doesn’t sound very “Christian” of me I guess but give me a break already….the few minutes I spent with these “gifted” Christians reminded me WAY too much of the time I spent in a “Charismatic” church where people ordered God around on a daily basis demanding this and casting out that, and praying against the “spirit” of anger, lust, alcohol, the cable bill, and poopy diapers on a pre-schooler.   Oh and lets not forget the never-ending “binding” Satan -- (who the heck keeps letting that guy loose anyway?) 

But as silly as the chat room people seemed, I am again reminded that I need to be able and ready to give an account for what I believe and to be able to verbalize why I think these people are off base and know the scriptures to back it up.  Not that I want to do this in a confrontational way, as tempting as it is to show them their error (the only thing worse than the lingo these people use is their spiritual superiority complex.) 

So my first thought was to go to www.equip.org and read up, but I think I’ll give it a stab on my own: 

Acts 2:43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.   

1 Cor 12:4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 

7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 

27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire[e] the greater gifts.

      And now I will show you the most excellent way. 

Ok so here’s where everybody gets crazy.  I have never found a verse that has convinced me that these gifts stopped when the Bible was canonized (proper term?).  However, having spent many years within the Charismatic movement, having studied the re-emergence of “gifts” in the early 20th century in the U.S., and having sincerely tried to apply the Charismatic way of life, I have come to the conclusion that 90% of the teachings of the movement are erroneous, maybe even dangerous. 

Charismatics, Pentacostals, Full Gospelers, Faith Movement Folks all seem to share the same common flaw in my humble opinion.  Their attitudes often reflect a desire to be God – anybody ever heard of Adam and Eve?  Over and over the teachers in these areas stress the importance of one’s personal faith as the power behind getting your needs and desires fulfilled.  This seems to be central in many books, sermons, chatrooms, blogs, whatever.  If something isn’t going your way, then gosh darn it stamp your foot and demand that God obey your wishes!  These teachers often advise Christians to quote the Bible to God to coerce him into obedience.  Now they will say that this is based on David’s prayers where he remembers God’s word in his prayers….and yes, we should know God’s word well enough to be able to pray like David.  But the distinction is in the attitude. 

I have often said I would have made a great Jew or Catholic.  I would just love to be able to have someone hand me the rules and all I have to do is follow the checklist and I’m good to go.  No offense intended here, I know many in both faiths whose relationship with God is way beyond a checklist.  My point is that it is the attitude of our hearts that is the key to all matters of faith.  And keeping one’s motives and thoughts in check is a lot harder than keeping an outward list of requirements for me. 

Charismatics frequently have an attitude problem.  For one thing,  Charismatics will not accept that anything bad can happen to a Christian.  I often wonder if they have any idea the number of missionaries who have been martyred in this century alone?  Do they blame these missionaries for not “praying the hedge of protection” around themselves?  As if God’s hands are tied until WE pray this or that into existence!   I will never forget our A.G. pastor when I attended a very large church in the late 70s whose young daughter had cancer.  I don’t know what kind of cancer it was, but she had deformities in the shape of her head and face and it was clearly obvious to anyone that she was very very ill.  One Sunday morning, as the child lay on a pillow in the pew in front of me, I overheard the pastor’s wife say to someone “It’s a miracle she’s completely healed.”  This seemed like a completely stupid thing to say.  In fact, it was not “faith talk” or “positive confession” it was an outright lie --- or else that poor mom was in a state of complete denial.   At a time when this family should have been preparing themselves and the siblings for this little girl’s death, they instead thought it was somehow their responsibility to save their daughter’s life by having enough faith.  She died about a week later. 

In think the central flaw in the Charismatic thinking may be pride.  It is a mindset that God is sort of the O.S. working behind the scenes and nothing really happens until the user starts typing on the keyboard.  The user is in full control, having installed the O.S.  – and the O.S. is there to serve the user, not the other way around. 

The major reason I joined a Charismatic church way back in the 70s is because I absolutely loved their zeal and their clapping and their raising their hands to God.  They really seemed to know what JOY was, and that’s the way I felt in my heart but my church didn’t act very happy.  That was also around the same time that musicians like Larry Norman were entering the scene,  and eventually many of the non-Charismatic churches caught up with the Charismatics where music and worship were concerned.   

When I first started in the Charismatic church, I even had someone pray for me to receive the Holy Spirit and after that people in my Charismatic small group kept calling that prayer my “spiritual birthday”.   But that disturbed me since I had been a born again Christian for many years and I knew I was saved – no doubt whatsoever.  I never adhered to the belief, in all the years I spent in the A.G. churches, that the baptism of the H.S. was a separate, one-time event. 

My goal here is not to debate whether tongues are for today, or whether someone has this gift or that gift.  My point is that if you feel you have these gifts, then get your attitude in order before you even think you are better than anyone else or you think you have “more of God” (I love that one) than another Christian.  Check your attitude before you start ordering God around and don’t stop reading at the end of 1 Cor 12 because 1 Cor 13 is the rest of the message!   

In all you do, remember the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by the way really WAS AND IS better than everyone else but never ever acted in a condescending way even to the worst sinners. 

We all need to humble ourselves before our maker and creator, in humility use our gifts, not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing.  Remember that there are people who are praying for their next meal, not for a new car or a bigger house.   

One of the most profound things I ever learned, I learned from what I call a “full-blown-screaming” charismatic woman preacher whom I knew personally.  She said that when sharing the gospel with the lost, people always ask questions like, “is it Ok to pray to Mary”, or “is smoking a sin”, or “what about all the evil in the world”.  She said that she made it a point to always drive the conversation back to Jesus and avoid the tangents that lead away from introducing the person to Jesus Christ. 

If our gifts or our attitudes or our actions have not originated with the goal of making a lasting impact for the kingdom of God then it’s time to stop and think.  You may just be a clanging symbol. Forget what mere men may have told you about how great you are, or how much you deserve to be prosperous or the center of attention, or how you are entitled to certain things or how we should demand this or that from God.  (Try picturing yourself talking like that to God’s face.)   

John the Baptist said “He must increase, I must decrease”.   You don’t see people whose gift is picking up the trash or cleaning the church toilets with a blog show touting how God has given them the gift of toilet cleaning do you?  Yet the church toilet cleaner needs to check his or her attitude just as much as the “prophet” or “healer”. 

Study what God’s word says, don’t skip over the passages about suffering and poverty.  Study the lives of Christians who valued humility.  Examine yourself frequently and find an accountability partner.  Consciously avoid speaking “Christianese”.  And above all else, avoid the original sin, the one that got Satan kicked out of heaven and got Adam and Eve kicked out of paradise….the desire to be “God” or “Like God”.  The best reading material I have found on this topic is at www.equip.org.  I have trusted this website for many years now and have found them to be accurate and factual on almost every topic. I’m still researching some things I have read there, but they are right on the money as far as the faith movement and Charismatic theology. 

Thanks for listening. 


Christianese Dictionary


Word of Knowledge:  a person will (under the influence of what he or she says is the Holy Spirit) tell you something about yourself that you already know.  These words of knowledge are based on 1 Cor 12; and to date I have never actually seen one come true unless of course the “word” was sufficiently vague so that it is about as valuable as reading your horoscope. 

Prophesy (*in the 21st century): quite honestly I’m not sure this is much different than the Word of Knowledge, except that Pat Robertson prophesied a famine in America that was supposed to occur sometime back in the late 80s I think, and Benny Hinn prophesied that Jesus would stand with him in the flesh on the stage at his Kenya revival.  Silly me thought that when Jesus returned to earth he’d be coming on the clouds and something about a trumpet….. 

Hedge of Protection:  another of my favorites.  About the best way to describe this is to tell a true story.  A depressed woman who had been robbed/burglarized 3 times in one year came to church to seek answers.  When she asked “why” the church leader smiled with the most condescending grin and replied as if talking to a child…”now who’s fault was all that?”  The woman was puzzled and said she didn’t understand the question.  He went on to tell her that none of those things would have happened to her if she had prayed the hedge of protection around herself. 

Plead the Blood:  You’ll have to google this one  because I don’t have a clue.


The 3-second rule:  that’s when you drop the last cookie and you find an excuse to eat it.  – technically not Christianese but I thought we needed a break. 

The spirit of:  smoking, drinking, anger, poopy diapers, etc.:  this is a person’s way of blaming the devil for everything that goes wrong.  In order to quit smoking or get a loved one to quit, they will pray against the spirit of tobacco…I just made up the poopy diapers part, I know for a fact that Charismatics potty train their kids.

Spiritual Birthday – usually this means the day a person is born again.  However in my case they labeled the day I “got” the Holy Spirit my spiritual birthday.  In all seriousness, this is the most important day a person can ever experience. 

Point of faith:  this generally amounts to some snake oil televangelist selling you some asinine object for 100 times what it’s worth so that you will get that special prayer answered.  They will tell you that the object itself has no power, but it acts as a point of faith so that the Holy Spirit can answer your prayer (note the emphasis on the power of your faith here).  My absolute all time #1 favorite point of faith object was a photo of a life sized hand of Oral Roberts.  This thing was photo of the front and back of his hand, and it was attached to a little stick so you could put it anywhere that you needed healing.   To this day I wish I had that thing it would go for a bunch on Ebay I’ll bet. 

The anointing:  this one gets on my last nerve.  Sometimes people go church shopping looking for a church that has the “anointing”.  This usually means that they want to feel good when they leave.  Once this Charismatic was complaining that our pastor didn’t have the “anointing”.  (She came to our church because she felt God sent her to us to straighten us out – I’m not kidding).  When I asked her what the heck that actually means she got really angry with me….probably because she suddenly realized that there was very little in her thinking that was scriptural.  She never did answer my question.  She’s now moved on to another church.   My bible says that all believers are anointed.  1 John 2:20, 1 John 2:27. 

Binding Satan:  This practice implies that we physically “bind” Satan rendering him powerless over us after we say this.  It is usually said in a prayer but it is usually the person praying that causes the “binding” to happen.  So you may hear someone say “I bind you Satan in Jesus’ name” during prayer.  Now I’m not of the opinion that our conversations with God should also be conversations with Satan, so on its face I just think the practice is off base.  I’m sure there are many books on this topic.   

  Part 2 

Listening to the word of knowledge broadcast.  Ok so to be fair, I listened to the archive of the BTR word of knowledge show and what a surprise, he asks for money within the first 10 minutes.  So I went to another archive where it begins with a recorded song singing the praises of the “Stream Star” Steve Sterling.  

This could be a very interesting and enlightening exchange here if we we handle this in a loving way. I know of at least one of our Cyber Crew who is from a Charismatic Church, and I would love to have another viewpoint on this. I personally need to continue to grow in my knowledge in this area.