Do you notice coldness in Christian circles or the warmth of Christ’s love?
“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12)
How we choose to love is a tell-tale sign of whether or not we are a real Christian. I have noticed that many of the cults teach on love and promote love as they hide behind Christianity. One such cult is the Sozo cult.
Once someone crosses their path whom they do not like, they withdraw love. They choose hate instead. This makes them hypocritical like the ancient Pharisees.
As Christians, we must remember that we are to fulfill the “law of love”. In fact, loving God and others is the highest command.
I came across this in my Bible this morning:
“God is love. Since we are His children we must walk in love. In fact, John says that if we do not love, we do not know God. Love is more than just words; it is actions. Love is giving, not getting. Biblical love is unconditional in its nature. Christ’s love fulfilled those qualities and when that brand of love characterizes us, we will be free of self-condemnation and experience confidence before God.” (See source; Emphasis mine)
Are you a Christian? If so, do you fulfill Christ’s “law of love”?
I was also reading the book of Philemon the other day. This book contains a picture of the tender-hearted love that Christ wants us to possess.
The following passage is from Philemon:
“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” (Phil. 1:17-21)
Do you find that Christian love is hard to find these days?
I have known loving, genuine Christians and I have known professing Christians who are unloving. What about you?
Source: The Holy Bible, NKJV. (1982). Thomas Nelson, Inc. p. 1398
Hello! A few weeks ago, Dynamite Publishing uploaded some original media creations to YouTube. Check them out! There are several versions. Feel free to share them with your pastor or youth group.
The following are the non-animated versions. These are the ones without the video footage and without the emoji’s. These versions are still geared toward youth, but they might be more suitable for church presentations.
The next ones are the more animated versions. They contain a bit of video footage and emoji’s. These versions are geared toward youth.
Those ‘Divisive’ Bible-believing Christians: Why Being Divisive is not so Bad After All…Good and Evil Division
I once had a Calvary Chapel pastor tell me that “truth always unites people”. I then asked him why Jesus said the following:
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)
What about you? What does the Bible say about divisions?
Were you ever called “divisive” or a “troublemaker” for staying on the “narrow path”? For confronting lies and hypocrisies at church (or in the world)?
The Bible is clear that divisions happen when people of truth speak up against the error or status quo of the church (or world). Divisions also happen when people speak error. Notice the order of events in the following passages:
- Jesus opens his mouth and declares something truthful (with words).
- Some of the people agree.
- Some of the people disagree. Someone presents an error (with words).
- A division ensues. Some people love Jesus. Some people hate Jesus.
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.” (John 7:37-44)
What caused the division here?
Was it the truth, or was it a lie? We actually see the same exact pattern in the following passage, two chapters later:
“They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.'” (John 9:13-17)
The Pharisees divided people too.
I would not recommend being divisive in a false sense. For example, creating a division based on a lie or compromise is not right. In other words, creating a division based on a legalistic rule or man-made tradition is far from good. This is what the ancient Pharisees did. Many modern cults shun their critics as “divisive” when it is the cult that is being divisive in the evil sense. Still, the fact is that words – words of error and words of truth – have the potential to result in divisions.
Next time you get condemned for opening your mouth, consider the division. Is the division that ensues based on the truth spoken or error spoken? There is definitely a right and wrong way to divide. Make sure you are on the right path – the side of truth – when you reach the fork in the road.
A personal story.
I will give you an example from my own life. There was a time in my past when I noticed that a group of professing Christian authors I was working with (on a book) stole intellectual property on a large scale. They took the property from over forty other authors and creators without giving credit where credit was due. They changed the titles on each publication and claimed that they were the original publishers. I confronted the matter and corrected it with the truth and love. I did exactly what Jesus did in the above passages:
- I opened my mouth and declared something truthful (which exposed an error).
- Some of the people agreed.
- Some of the people disliked the truth presented.
- A division ensued. Some people still loved me. Some people hated me. This exposed error created more work for the group as they had to go and fix the errors in their book and their forum. The group quickly presented an error or twist on the truth (with words) in an email, and they falsely signed someone’s name to the email even after the person specifically asked not to be included in the matter. I was quickly fired from the book within twenty-four hours of telling them I would have mercy on their intellectual property mistake if they fixed it.
- Spiritual abuse, anger and hatred ensued from the people on the side of the error.
What kind of spiritual abuse? The female ministers copied me on some emails which contained some abusive words. They blocked me (without cause) from three “Christian” forums which excluded me from my friends, gossiped behind my back on the forums, and blocked me from their personal pages for no cause. They stonewalled my attempts to contact them on the phone to reason, make peace and reconcile, and outright refused for many days to give me a signature signing off on my legal copyright of the chapter I worked on for nine months. One person created a fake Facebook account and profile, and somehow managed to do some trolling and leave concerning comments on a graduate school forum I paid to belong to. I never got a signature signing off on my research and chapter. Stonewalling is a psychological tactic which goes against Christ’s law of love (intellectual property theft also goes against the law of love). I loved the writers in that group, but after I brought up the plagiarism concern, every one of them refused to speak with me again.
I knew that anger might ensue if I spoke up, but I wanted to obey God and do what He showed me. It felt cultic.
If you ponder these Scriptures, you will be able to see a similar pattern and dynamic in your own whistle-blowing situations. In this situation, who is the “divisive” party in the evil sense? Is it the one who confronted and exposed the theft? Or, is it the party that did the stealing? In this case, there is a division based on truth and a division based on error. One is righteous, and one is not. Or, we can view it from the angle that the truth did not divide at all. We can view the situation from the standpoint that it was the error itself – resistance to the truth – that did the dividing.
In God’s Kingdom, true and false are contemporaries. There are true and false apostles, true and false teachers, true and false teachings, true and false unity, true and false division, and so forth. We need to figure out which side we are on: the truth or the error. We must make sure that if there is a divide, we are on the side of the truth.
There was a blessing in this divide. Like a light shining on the darkness, I got to see who my true friends are. The fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh became manifest. After the closed door, I was presented with an even better, open door. It was a better path.
I want this post to encourage you to speak up for what is right without shame. You will be faced with situations – forks in the road – that will require you to make a choice between error and truth, between darkness and light, and between the world and God. I want you to be bold in declaring the truth and warning even if there comes a divide. This is the “narrow path”. Also, look for the blessing in the divide when it comes. God works in mysterious ways. The divide may be painful, but look for the blessing in disguise.
Friends, when a leader calls you ‘divisive’, please remember something. More often than not, this is a psychological control tactic to get you to remain silent. Why did people hate Paul? They hated him because of his truthful words. Paul asked, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
Some words that cause divisions are not so bad after all, eh?
“And indeed, there must be differences [divisions] among you to show which of you are approved.” (1 Cor. 11:19; Emphasis mine)
Listen below for a two-part interview on the Sozo Cult as Jan Markell interviews Joan and Dirk Miller. The Millers are parents of a girl who was brainwashed by the Sozo Cult at Bethel Church. Probably the most disturbing part of this interview is when the parents explain how Bethel Church threatened the girl that bad things would happen to her family if she does not go with the Bethel leaders. The cults use fear tactics to isolate their victims from their loved ones. Then, their loved ones become the “enemies” (see the “Warning Signs” list by Rick Ross on the right side of this website).
DP does not endorse all the views of Olive Tree Ministries nor all the views of Jan Markell/Understanding The Time Radio.
#churchtoo #spiritualabuse #bethelredding
“To do” or “not to do”?
Sally is a zealous Christian who volunteers at the homeless shelter every week. She visits the ill and writes books to help sexual abuse victims. Sally reads the Bible and believes that putting it into practice is key.
Sally’s friend from church, Jan, sees all the good deeds and active service that Sally does. Instead of encouraging Sally and cheering her on, Jan gives Sally a hard time and tells her, “Why are you doing so much? Take life easy, don’t worry about doing a thing”. Jan then accuses Sally of trying to win God’s approval by works. Jan calls Sally a “legalist” and a “pharisee” for believing in Bible doctrine and practicing it.
I will explain to you why this happens all the time in Christian circles. Many Christians are afraid of the word “do”. Many professing Christians believe that since God’s grace saves us, we are not to do anything else with our lives. It is a sort of “do-phobia”.
These non-zealous Christians often label the zealous ones. Sometimes, they cast false slurs on zealous Christians (like “legalist” or even worse, “pharisee”). Most of the time, these labels come from individuals who do not know the Greek meanings of these labels.
These zealous Christians are often met with statements like, “we are saved by grace, so don’t do anything else”. While God’s grace does indeed save us, this grace should not prompt us to laziness or a prolonged spiritual stupor but to loving service! In fact, “doing” has nothing to do with earning salvation, and “doing”, in this sense, is not the same as “salvation by works”.
“Doing” has a whole lot to do with what comes after true conversion. After we have decided to follow Christ, we love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). When we love God, loving obedience ensues. It’s that love, from the Holy Spirit, that propels us to “do”! Why does this matter? It matters because our society needs more individuals who love others with action. Our world needs Christians to put the Bible into practice. People like Jan confuse Christians like Sally who are trying to follow Christ.
Consider these seven Biblical, New Testament admonitions to “do”:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)
“He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.'” (Luke 10:37)
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25)
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30; The Parable of the Talents)”
Greek for “do”
This Greek word for “do” is often “peripateó” which means to walk, behave or conduct ourselves. It can also be from the Greek word “poieó” which means to make, manufacture, construct or cause. The Greek word for “disciple” is “mathétés” which means a learner of the doctrines of Scripture and a doer. A disciple is someone who does the necessary life application and follow-through.
Today, ponder this word “do”. In the power of the Spirit, go out and get it done! Not to earn your salvation, but because God, by His grace, saved you!
“Go” and “do”.
If God is so good and powerful, why does He allow evil and suffering? A helpful lecture by Dr. Gary DeWeese of Biola University…
“We require God to remove evil after evil until a paper cut is worst evil in world. How can there be a good God if He allows paper cuts?” (Dr. Gary DeWeese)
The lecture entitled Solving the Problem of Evil by Dr. Garrett DeWeese; Biola University Christian Apologetics Department is extremely helpful when addressing the valid question, “If God is so good, why does he permit evil and suffering in the world?” I listened to this lecture a while back while in the Christian Apologetics program, and it was outstanding.
Dr. DeWeese explains the fact that there are two different kinds of evil:
- Moral evil; caused by free choices of moral agents (e.g., Nazis used their free will to cause suffering in others)
- Natural evil (Phenomena of nature; Operation of non-moral causes)
Dr. DeWeese further explains:
“Now, most concerns when we talk about the problem of evil have to do with moral evil. But when we come back to Bambi, the fawn that was horribly burned by the forest fire caused by lightning, you have to ask, ‘Why did God make a world in which natural cause and effect can bring about such suffering. And I think something like this…would give us the very same kind of answer as the free will defense did against moral evil. Conclusion, of all of this, God is a good God. He did not need evil to exist in order for His goodness to be good! He did not need to create at all. God did not need you and me. Or creatures like us. But having freely made the decision to create, and having decided to gift the creation with freedom, thereby to receive greater glory from it, God also made possible suffering and evil. God did not make suffering and evil. He made it possible. Do the existence of suffering and evil in our world count against the existence of God? I think so. I think there are arguments. I don’t think atheists that talk about these arguments are irrational. But I think the positive arguments for God’s existence together with the defenses, the rebuttals, that we can offer for the arguments from evil, are such that we can have great confidence not only that God exists but that evil can be successfully dealt with philosophically, and with using the theological resources of our faith as our understanding of God grows, our certainty of that conclusion will grow as well.” (See source; Emphasis mine)
This is such a complex subject. If you have the time, please listen to the audio by Dr. DeWeese I provided in the link above. It is okay and good to ask questions like these. God is a God of truth, and He is not afraid of nor mad at our honest questions. What is not okay is to go through life – never digging and arriving at the answer – and dying with unanswered questions. What a tragedy that would be. So, if you are digging and asking questions, good for you.
Another kind of moral evil: Suffering for being a Christian and/or doing what is right
In addition to moral evil and natural evil, there is a sort of evil and suffering that comes about by doing what is good! This falls into the moral evil category. This is what the rest of this article will be about. Crucial to note is that this is temporary. For the Christian, there will not always be suffering:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Remember, even Jesus suffered:
“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Heb. 2:9)
God does not delight in evil. Human beings have free will. God did not make puppets. Rather, He made people with the ability and freedom to choose good or evil. If He made puppets, there would be no love because it would be forced love. Love must contain a free choice to be love. God chose to send His Son into the world because He loves you and me. He gave us freedom to choose Him or not, to choose right or to choose wrong. The puppets would have no choice or freedom in the matter.
There must be free will.
What does it mean to be blessed? People of the world want to be blessed. Christians want to be blessed. Everyone wants to be blessed, and nobody wants to “suffer”. We often wish people “blessings” and want them to “be blessed”. But, what does it mean to “be blessed”? Prosperity preachers (false prophets) will tell us that being blessed means health, wealth and happiness; a great job, popularity, and a lot of money. This is what most of the world thinks. The definition of blessed that Jesus gave was quite different. Jesus said that when we are experiencing such things as being “poor in spirit”, mournful, meek, desiring righteousness and being persecuted, insulted, and falsely accused…this is when Jesus says we are “blessed”. It is when we experience these issues that we are truly ‘blessed’…according to God. It is when we are “afflicted in every way”, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and delivered to death (whether spiritually or physically) that we are truly blessed (2 Corinthians 4:1).
This is God’s truth, yet how many Christians believe this? And how many pastors faithfully preach this?
Another example is that Jesus says it is more “blessed” to give than to receive. Yet, we often equate blessings not with giving or sacrificing something of value to us, but with receiving something from someone or from God.
Remember Acts 20:35, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Being falsely accused of evil, being persecuted and insulted because of Christ – yep, that’s blessed in God’s eyes. There are future rewards for those sufferings. Some of us are blessed and don’t even know it. Jesus says, “for great is your reward in heaven”. Life’s temporary happiness is worth nothing compared to eternity. The Apostle Paul called his troubles “light and momentary afflictions”, and he went through nothing that we would call “light afflictions”! He was beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
Jesus explains true blessings. God sees blessings differently than the way we see them, for His understanding is higher than ours. He even conveys in Scripture that suffering for being a Christian is a blessing. He goes so far as to say all true Christians will be persecuted: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus believes that if we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings (suffering for being a Christian; doing or saying Godly, Biblical, Christian things), then we are to “REJOICE”, that when His glory is revealed, we will have exceeding joy. We are to be happy when we are reproached. This is opposite of the worldly view.
Here is a passage from 1 Peter 4 about suffering: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator”.
Did you know that people hated Christ?
“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:13)
Christ made it clear that people of the world (and that includes worldly, Christian-in-name-only people) would hate His disciples. In fact, Matthew 10:25 makes it clear that if we truly are His disciples, then we could even be called worse things than Jesus: “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”.
Disciples will love others, but they will be hated in return.
Jesus calls this blessed.
He even goes so far as to say, “woe to you” (how horrible it will be) for some: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Wow. Being praised by the crowds, in God’s eyes, is not a blessing, but a woe? This, again, is a completely opposite view of what the world calls “blessed”.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. This was the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew, chapter 5. Jesus explains more of what it is like to be truly blessed:
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.
Are you blessed? Count your blessings! This will be comforting to some. I pray this is enlightening and comforting to Christians who suffer for Christ and an eye opener for those who refuse to. Be blessed.
The Loneliness of a Christian by A.W. Tozer
The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world.
His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorptions in the love of Christ; and because with his circle of friends there are few who share his inner experiences, he’s forced to walk alone.
The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord himself suffered in the same way.
The man (or woman) who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk.
For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided, and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for the friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none, he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.
Source: DeWeese, Gary. (n.d.). Solving the Problem of Evil. [Lecture and transcript]. Biola University Christian Apologetics Department. Accessed October 1, 2018.
This article was originally published September 8, 2011
Is Sozo healing safe and biblical? The real roots and history of Sozo: Randy Clark of Toronto Blessing, jungle and barnyard animal behaviors, Bethel Church, Argentina and more…
September 2019 Update: From now until October 1, 2019, I am actively seeking contributors to my book that exposes Sozo. If you have had a bad experience with Sozo, or have lost a loved one to Sozo, please email me ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org so that you can get your testimony into my book. I would love to share your testimony and will not reveal your identity. Thank you.
HISTORY OF SOZO
“In 1997, Randy Clark, a healing evangelist, held meetings at Bethel Church. At that time, Pastor Clark would send a team to train a congregation how to be prayer servants. A small portion of that training was a model of ‘deliverance’ from Argentina. This model became our first tool ‘The Four Doors’.”
The above is a direct quote that www.bethelsozo.com provides in their history section. Elsewhere in this section, it states that the “Lord introduced” these tools for this healing ministry. Interestingly, the Word of God (the Bible) does not support this at all.
Why didn’t the Lord introduce these tools a long time ago so that others could have been using these tools for the past twenty centuries or more? Why did “the Lord” wait so long to introduce these methods if this is what “sozoes” (saves, heals and delivers) a person and “makes them obtain a connection to the Father”? What did the early Christians of the previous centuries do to get “saved, healed and delivered”? Did they rely on these Sozo tools, or did they rely on the shed blood of Jesus? Why would the Lord wait 2000 years to introduce these tools to save, heal and deliver?
Here are the seven tools introduced by “the Lord”.
- Father Ladder
- Four Doors
- Presenting Jesus
- The Wall
- Trigger Mechanisms (Advanced Tool)
- Divine Editing (Advanced Tool)
- Shabar (that is, if the above tools fail to work)
According to this official source of Sozo, Randy Clark of the Toronto Blessing is part of the roots of this movement (as well as an Argentinian healing ministry). According to my research, it is public information that Sozoers collect a “suggested donation” sometimes as much as $150.00 (or more). Interestingly, the cross (the message of “Christ crucified”) is found nowhere on the official Bethel Sozo website. I spent a good amount of time going over every page, and no cross! Therefore, this is yet another good reason to believe that Sozo is a false gospel. Also, I contacted several official Sozoers and Sozo leaders and asked them how I could know I am saved. Most of them told me that Sozo [rather than Christ] is “the way to obtain a connection to the Father”! One of them told me that if I do Sozo, it’s like a “three in one deal” and that I would surely get connected to God via Sozo. Another Sozo leader told me that if I can hear an actual voice (i.e., of God), it is a sure sign of being saved. Most of them (all but one) could not explain to me the real Gospel message of Christ crucified, but instead told me to just do Sozo to get connected to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)
Who is Randy Clark and what is the Toronto Blessing?
Randy Clark is a friend of Bill Johnson according to Bill’s public “friend list” online. Many people say, “you can’t believe everything you see on the internet,” but direct quotes from official sources are true and undeniable. Also, the official sources do tell others that “the Lord” sends barnyard and jungle animal manifestations and even drunkenness and uncontrollable laughter (see the photo provided). These are the types of notions Randy Clark teaches, and it doesn’t seem like Bill Johnson has a problem with it! The following photo is from www.catchthefire.com:
The answer is Jesus, not Sozo. He alone can sozo (i.e., save, heal and deliver) a person. Furthermore, He has been doing it (free of a suggested donation) for centuries. Sozo is not the mediator between God and men.
“Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6)
Sozo suggests that you need to keep doing Sozo sessions in order to be set free, but what does the Bible say?
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11)
Answer: The Toronto Blessing refers to the supposed outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people attending the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship Church, which at the time was the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. On January 20, 1994, a Pentecostal pastor named Randy Clark spoke at the church and gave his testimony of how he would get drunk in the Spirit and laugh uncontrollably. In response to this testimony, the congregation erupted in pandemonium with people laughing, growling, dancing, shaking, barking like dogs, and even some even being stuck in positions of paralysis. These experiences were attributed to the Holy Spirit entering people’s bodies. The pastor of the church, John Arnott, referred to it as a big Holy Spirit party. The moniker “Toronto Blessing” was given, and the church was soon in the international spotlight. When this “blessing” is held to the light of Scripture, however, it can scarcely be called a blessing; abomination, maybe, but not blessing. Absolutely nowhere in Scripture can one find any precedent for what was happening at the Toronto Airport church, except, perhaps, the physical conditions demon-possessed people suffered. In fact, the Toronto Airport church became so embroiled in emotional outbursts and psychological displays that Pastor Arnott ceased preaching salvation, and instead preached about the party of the Holy Spirit. Experiences were being held in higher authority than Scripture. This was even too much for the already extremely charismatic Vineyard movement, which severed ties with the Toronto Airport church in 1995, prompting the name change to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. A believer’s focus needs to be Jesus Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), not on oneself, one’s experiences, or even the Holy Spirit. The Toronto Blessing focuses on the last, to the detriment of biblical faith. Believers can have fun, dance, sing, even shout to the Lord. However, when a worship service resembles the dream of a demented schizophrenic and attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit, only one word comes to mind: heresy.
This article was originally published on April 26, 2013 and has been updated.
#churchtoo #spiritualabuse #bethelredding
In this new article from the San Francisco Chronicle, a former 50-year resident of Redding, California and licensed clinical social worker explains why she made the choice to leave Redding. This says a lot:
“I recently chose to leave Redding after nearly 50 years in this community, where I raised my family and where many I love remain. I left almost entirely because of Bethel and the city’s passive complicity in the real factors that ail Redding. Did you wonder why Bethel gave $500,000 for law enforcement but not homeless shelters…did anyone ask what happens to the hundreds of people who come from all over the world to have their serious mental or medical illness “healed”? When they don’t believe “strongly enough” to be healed, they end up on the streets of Redding, sick, alone and far from home. Please do some research. Begin with the “seven mountain mandate,” which teaches that the church should take control of seven important aspects of society, and the New Apostolic Reformation (a growing movement in the U.S.). Review Bethel’s history in the nearby community of Weaverville (Trinity County). Look at the net worth of Bethel’s leader, Bill Johnson. Ask some questions. Find the answers.” (Roxanna Zalesny; Emphasis mine)
Also, in a previous article, it is noted that many of the town’s residents are not happy with the cult. That is, a cult which looks eerily similar to Scientology and disregards healthy separation of church and state. The article explains:
“Suffice it to say that church leadership rake in untold millions of tax-deducted dollars. Apparently, leader Bill Johnson’s wife, his two sons and their wives are all on the payroll. Bethel Church is the perfect example of why churches should be required to file the same annual reports as every other nonprofit organization. It won’t happen because Congress is scared to death of Christianity, Inc.”
“…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14)
When we anchor our faith on the Word of God, we won’t be “carried around by every wind of doctrine”. These various doctrines come to us by way of the false prophets. The false prophet’s agenda is to attack the truth of God’s Word. Since right doctrines lead to right living and false doctrines lead to bad living, having right teaching is paramount. Jesus explained how even a little error is very damaging (Galatians 5:9). Many friends I have had believe that Christians are to “eat the meat and spit out the bones” when it comes to listening to teaching. That is, to take what is good and discard what is bad or false, and to keep listening. Where do we see Christ teaching this?
The Bible also likens false prophets to wolves. They seek to destroy the flock with their false teaching. In fact, they have an inner drive to bring down God’s sheep, and often this drive is well disguised. The Bible says false prophets are crafty:
“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted…” (Jude 1:12)
So crafty are false prophets that they seek to get to the sheep by infiltrating our churches and homes (this can be through radio, TV, books, online sermons, etc.):
“For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:6,7)
One of the commands of Jesus is to beware the false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Please notice in the Scripture above the word, “creep”. How many people have you known who look and seem like Christians, but who turn out in the end to be teaching false doctrine and their own ideas over the truth of God’s Word? It was the ancient Pharisees who nullified God’s Word in order to follow their own ideas:
“…thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:13)
This is why Jesus had a problem with the Pharisees (an ancient Jewish sect). They were overly lax and liberal with the truth and commands of God and invented their own false teachings instead. They set themselves up as religious representatives to the people. The Bible says to beware the false teachers, but it is also the command of Christ to seek to reconcile with others whom we have offended or who are offended by us, to put out those fires in our lives, and “leave your gift at the alter”:
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23,24)
Reconciling with others is an act of worship. Being the one who actually seeks the reconciliation is spiritual maturity; however, does God even want us running after certain people He has removed from our lives? Based on my own personal experience, sometimes it is painfully clear who is a false prophet and sometimes it is not so clear. There is great danger in mistaking a wolf for a sheep, but there is also great danger in mistaking a sheep for a wolf. Jesus wants us to have peace with our brothers, and we must not call our brothers what they are not (see Matthew 5:22). Jesus said we can know them by their fruit and of course, whether or not they are teaching truth or lies. What happens when there is a false teacher in the family? Would God ever call a believer to reconcile with a false prophet? Why or why not? And, do false brothers or “tares” also fall into this category (i.e., the category of “beware”)? Paul said he was in danger of false brothers in 2 Corinthians 11:26. I have come across false teachers, and it is a mind trip when it happens. The shock of it feels a bit like being a “deer in the headlights” when the individual you thought was a dear friend or pastor turns out to be a massive semi truck about to run you over and devour you swiftly with lies and false accusations rooted in lies.
Another command of Christ is to let your light shine because God is good to all:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44,45)
Was Christ referring to the false teachers too when he said “enemies”? With all the multitude of exceedingly stern warnings in Scripture about false prophets and false teachers, not to mention, the one which commands us to “mark and avoid” such people (Romans 16:17), how do you personally reconcile all these verses together? For example, what if there is a false prophet in your family? How would God want you to treat them? What if they got sick or needed money? It seems as thought there is a vast disconnect between “loving enemies and letting your light shine” and “being weary of, marking and avoiding” such individuals. When light shines, it shines on all. Light is not exactly selective on who or what it shines on. I am not suggesting shining light on the false prophets nor casting pearls before swine, but I am raising some real questions.
One time, years ago, I was actually exceedingly nice to a false prophet. I bought them gifts for all their children and expressed my love to them in many acts of service. Of course, I didn’t actually know they were a false prophet at that point. It didn’t turn out for my benefit at all, but ended up being massively, spiritually damaging. The guy ended up severely verbally abusing dozens (if not hundreds, actually) of sincere “sheep”. Wolves don’t exactly care if you are nice to them – it does not phase them – I have noticed. They are still wolves by nature. I am not suggesting that you make the same mistake I did.
What has been your experience, and how do you weigh all these verses together in your quest to obey the commands of Christ? Do you think the false prophets go after the empathetic and merciful types of “sheep” more than others? How do you know when God wants you to “go and reconcile” and when God wants you to “run and shun”?
Just Another Day in Corinth: ‘Pastor’ David Devereaux Preaching on Homosexuals in Church and Clergy…False Teaching in the Church
Desert Spring United Methodist Church – Summerlin is not teaching according to sound doctrine, so please be careful. I say this with love and sadness. This is the same thing that happened at Corinth. Remember, the Bible warns us:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5; emphasis mine)
“For certain men have crept in among you unnoticed—ungodly ones who were designated long ago for condemnation. They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality, and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4; emphasis mine)
“…the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…” (1 Tim. 1:10; emphasis mine)
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17,18; emphasis mine)
The “pastor” of this Las Vegas church, “Reverend” David Devereaux, is not teaching the orthodox, Biblical teachings about what God has to say about homosexuality in church membership and clergy (church leadership). He gave the sermon soon after the members and clergy of the United Methodist Church at large (more than 12 million members worldwide) voted to retain what they call their “Traditional View” on the homosexuality/clergy issue. He explained how this view only won by 28 votes! According to my research, the view that lost would have allowed homosexuals in clergy.
An article at Christianity Today outlines what the “Traditional Plan” looks like:
The “Traditional Plan” maintains the current stance against gay marriage and ordination, proposes enhanced accountability, and offers a gracious exit to those who feel they cannot in good conscience remain part of the denomination. Those bodies who leave would be given an exemption from the trust clause and allowed to retain their property. (In an early ruling by the denomination’s judicial body several parts of the original plan were deemed unconstitutional, and it has since been altered and will be presented as the “Modified Traditional Plan.”)
Yesterday, in a Sunday church service at Desert Spring, “Reverend” David Devereaux went into detail about his disapproval of this decision (vote) by the United Methodist Church at large to exclude homosexuals from clergy. He stated that his church is “way ahead of the curve” on this matter (on gay marriage/membership/clergy). According to my notes which I took during the service, he even explained this decision as a blatant disregard for decency!
I got to thinking…isn’t disregarding God’s Word (the Bible) a blatant disregard for decency (in God’s eyes)?
There are massive problems with his teachings and disapproval of the “Traditional View”. While he conveyed to his audience that the Bible is rather silent on issues such as this, in actuality, the truth is that the Bible is exceedingly clear that homosexuality in church/clergy/marriage is a sin and unacceptable to God. God wants a pure church. It would not be wrongly judgmental or unloving to hold to this orthodox view. This is God’s view, after all. The pastor was conveying the message that the homosexuality/clergy issue is a non-essential (as he quoted the famous, “in essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in everything love”). It just so happens that God is very clear on the issue of homosexuality in clergy, thus it is an essential doctrine!
Yes, we as Christians are called to love. I love the homosexuals I know. I have a family member who is one! They are not a worse sinner than I was, certainly! Homosexuals do not have the corner on sexual sin. We are to show compassion to all. However, that does not change the fact that God wants a pure church. He does not want gay pastors, it’s just what the Bible says. This does not mean we hate, not at all. Love and truth go together. Disapproving of homosexuality in the pulpit does not put us into the category of “hateful”, as this pastor seems to indicate as he explains how we fail at love if we do this. Yes, we are to love and do good to the homosexuals we know. If they are unbelievers, we are not called to judge them, but to love them. If they are sick, or need help, we are to help them. But, as Christians, we are called to a certain standard. Christian pastors are also called to be faithful to their wives. We are to reflect our holy God the best we can and make moral choices because we are the “salt of the earth”.
Run, and run fast, from this church.
During the service, I also got a red flag in my spirit before the sermon even began, but I figured I would give them the benefit of the doubt. The leaders seemed nice, smiled a lot and shook hands; however, I have never seen such a blatant disregard for the Word of God, ever.
It was scary.
His public sermon dated March 3, 2019 was heterodox. This is a matter of public concern. Ironically, the opening Scripture in the service was the “salt of the earth” Scripture (Matthew 5:13). Being the “salt of the earth” means that as Christians, we are to stand out morally from a compromising, immoral culture! We are to be “salty”, like a preservative in a decaying society and a decaying church! We are not to blend in! How ironic and hypocritical it was to use this Scripture before a sermon that condones sexual immorality in church!
He went on to say how Christians should not exclude people, and that Jesus condemns those who exclude people. Then, he quotes 1 Corinthians 12 where it speaks of the body of Christ.
“We are going to continue to be in ministry with all people, with all people, giving witness to the greater church to a better path, a better way. When it comes to Desert Spring, this decision does not impact our ministry…our values…it does not impact my ministry and what I will be doing as your pastor. In a lot of ways, we are like way ahead of the curve on this, because a long time ago, we decided to agree to disagree on this matter…I mean, we have folks in our church that believe homosexuality is a sin, and we have folks in our church that believe it is not a sin, but we have decided loving one another is more important…regardless of whether it is a sin or not…we do better to stop pointing the finger in judgment at other people…at Desert Spring, we say all are welcome…and we mean all are welcome…we believe that people who are tall, short, blue eyes, dark skin…heterosexuals, LGBTQIA…are welcome in this place. We say this because it is a fundamental Biblical principle based on the life of Jesus Christ…He welcomed them all…when it comes to controversial issues, as Christians, we err on the side of love.”
Notice how this “pastor” creates a false dichotomy between loving others and accepting homosexuals into the church (as members/clergy). The Bible commands us to love, and to not judge those outside of the church. But, what about homosexuality inside the church? This pastor is suggesting that this issue is rather non-essential. But, what does the Bible have to say?
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…” (1 Cor. 6:9; emphasis mine)
“For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thess. 4:2-8; emphasis mine)
“But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.” (1 Cor. 5:13; NASB; emphasis mine)
“An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, having children who are believers and are not open to accusation of indiscretion or insubordination.” (Titus 1:6; BSB; emphasis mine)
If you are a Christian and attend this church, you need to leave in obedience to the Lord. Run, and run fast. Doing so would not be unloving because it’s obedience (see Romans 16:17-18 on avoiding false teachers who twist doctrines, teach false doctrine and/or deceive their sheeple). Read your Bible at home, or with a good home fellowship. It’s a better use of your time.
Devereaux, David. March 3, 2019. (Public, featured image and public sermon entitled “March 3rd 2019 – When Christians get it Right – Part 4 – Rev. David Devereaux”. Accessed March 4, 2019. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/321074062
Author has no ill-will toward any individuals and/or parties mentioned. All content is the truth spoken to the best of knowledge and/or can be verified by research. Content is a matter of public interest. The above is a “fair use” commentary on public information.