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The Thing with Discerners

The following was written by David Backus
Copyright The Free Believers Network 2011

I can usually spot them. It’s my job as I contribute my portion of the work to the Body of Christ. They are sometimes outcasts. Sometimes they are quiet and introverted. Other times they are more outspoken and abrasive. Either way, they are misunderstood. Usually, if they don’t want to be removed from their local church group, they conform, grudgingly and brood quietly. Many aren’t aware of why.

Often they get accused of being unteachable or unsubmissive to authority and being headstrong. The problem is, many times even they don’t recognize why or what they have. Usually these people’s hearts get crushed early on in the institutional church system.

I am speaking, of course, of those with the spiritual gift of discernment. This specific gift doesn’t get a lot of limelight and exploitation like the more powerful gifts. It is usually a threat to most pastors and it is more difficult to manipulate and control.

This is one of the biggest population of people in churches that get their share of spiritual and religious abuse. Either they conform to the all-knowing constraints of their pastors, or they get swept under the carpet, or booted out. Their warnings about error taking hold in the church often go ignored and usually such people aren’t given a position of leadership or to even speak in the average church setting.

I like to call the gift of discernment the twin gift of prophecy. People who are prophets or who work closely with prophets possess this gift as well. It complements and tempers the prophetic gift nicely.

The discerner is the watchman in the late hours of the night. They constantly scan the horizon for possible danger. They watch closely and carefully with a highly critical mind, for anything that might damage or lead the church away from the truth of the things of God.

If I were to liken the discerner to a part of the body of Christ it would be the immune system. They are the body’s defense system against viral lies that would infiltrate His people.

Unfortunately, due to religious pride, financial corruption and desire for power and control, religious abuse, or even the more passive aggressive church communities have rejected this crucial part of the body, rendering it vulnerable to the lies of the enemy.

Usually discerners don’t get along well with the pastor who doesn’t understand the gift and insists on running the show. They also don’t get along well with the “be nice and don’t judge” mentality of the average church attender. Often, discerners get accused of being judgmental, overly critical, or even arrogant.

I would offer comfort here though, there is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to the discerner. It is most often overlooked and poorly understood. It is one of my favorites, the book of 1 John. I take deep comfort in this book and other passages in the Bible which reaffirm this gift in me.

To the pastor or the observant church member, I say this. Look for the ones who usually are considered and labeled rebels. They don’t fit in, they don’t play nice with the status quo. They sometimes have a chip on their shoulder, they usually complain about the way things are and can tend to be overly critical. Look for the loner who is in the group, but never at complete harmony with it. Also look for the one who drives you crazy with their being “unteachable” and “unsubmissive.” Chances are, they have the gift of discernment, even if it is undeveloped and not brought under the control of the Holy Spirit and His Love.

To the Discerner: If this blog describes you, make sure you are submerged in love for people. Use your gift based on love. My gift of discernment became the most effective when I learned that God is love, and I asked God for the gift of seeing the world, especially the Church through His eyes.

As with all spiritual gifts, it needs to spring out of God’s flame of love for others deep inside of you. Fall deeply in love with people before operating in this gift. When you love people, you will never go wrong. And things can go awry when love is withheld and selfish motives are the root.

by David Backus

Is Calvary Chapel a cult? What is wrong? How Calvary Chapel adds to the Bible…

Have you ever had a strange feeling in your gut about Calvary Chapel? If so, you will want to read this (it has been my most-viewed article).

You walk into the church on a Sunday morning. Everyone is worshipping God with hands raised. You greet smiling faces. The message is delivered from the Bible (word for word) in a powerful, authoritative manner by the senior pastor. Greetings are made. You drop some money in the “tithe” box. Great day at church, and you do this year after year after year. The pastor says his church only goes by “the Word”. Indeed, that’s how it appears on the outside. You sense there is something wrong at the church, but you just cannot pinpoint it and doubt yourself. After all, the Bible is taught word for word from the pulpit, and there are a lot of members.

This church movement that claims to “simply teach the Word, simply” also follows a set of teachings they say are simply “foundational”, written by a man named Chuck Smith. Oddly, these extra-Biblical doctrines are not brought up. Why? This set of “foundational” teachings that most Calvary Chapel churchgoers are kept in the dark about is (drum roll, please):

The Calvary Chapel Distinctives by Chuck Smith (PDF)

So, what is this “Distinctives” document, exactly? You thought that you were being taught by leaders whose allegiance, leadership models, practices and doctrines were solely based upon the Word of God and sound doctrine rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15)?

Not so fast.

Calvary Chapels appear to be a very solid, Biblical church. In fact, the messages are usually word-for-word out of the Bible; however, they do manage to insert their twists on scripture. Almost anyone would gather that from attending on Sundays. This is where it gets tricky. Discernment is needed. There is more behind the mask. There is a curtain, so don’t be fooled. Get a little closer, stay a little longer, dig a little deeper, and you will see something quite different at play. A friend of mine, a Calvary Chapel pastor’s son, once said that discovering the issues at Calvary Chapel is like peeling back the layers of an onion. Keep peeling, dig deeper, and don’t settle for the outside.

Have you ever had an odd feeling in your gut when attending a Calvary Chapel but you just didn’t know why? Listen to it. It could be God warning you.

Know your church and what goes on behind closed doors. Most importantly, know the Bible. You could protect yourself and your loved ones from physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse and/or practices and legalistic teachings contrary to orthodox Christianity. Church abuse is epidemic.

The root of abuse is error in teaching (and the human heart, of course). In section two of The Distinctives, Smith discusses the Moses/Aaron form of leadership. He also twists the meaning of a “hireling” to mean someone who is not accountable to a board of directors:

“Becoming a hireling is a real danger when the church is run by a Presbyterian kind of a government, and the Board is ruling over the church. The pastor is hired by the Board and can be fired by the Board in the same fashion. With that kind of rule the pastor becomes a hireling.”

Did you catch that subtle yet powerful twist? Smith here is putting the pastor above the board of directors (the “board” is a worldly, business term and is found nowhere in the Bible). In many states, at least in Nevada, the attorney general frowns upon a non-profit with a “one-man show”. The Nevada Attorney General’s A Guide to Non-Profits warns:

Beware of the one person show. That is, if one or two directors dominate the board and the organization’s activities, do not relax and assume everything is running smoothly. ‘Nonmanagement’ is the quickest route toward trouble. Also, do not allow staff to exercise undue control over the board. Be aware of, and informed about, every major action taken by the organization. The buck stops with you.” (Emphasis mine)

Is this not what is happening at Calvary Chapels worldwide? Why are Calvary Chapels permitted tax-exempt status when they leave a bloody trail of abuse stories in communities? Are they truly contributing to “the public good”? There was once an entire website dedicated to helping abuse survivors from Calvary Chapel. It was called www.calvarychapelabuse.com. The author wrote on it for several years before he retired from writing about this subject. Smith’s leadership model is a pyramid of pride as opposed to Christ’s humble, servant-based leadership model. If the pastor cannot be hired or fired by the board, doesn’t that make the pastor a church boss with no accountability whatsoever (as opposed to a “hireling”)? Jesus said a hireling is someone who does not care for the sheep, not someone who is accountable to a board or fellow Christians (John 10:13). In fact, every true pastor/shepherd will be accountable to others. A true, humble servant of God wants to be accountable to Godly people and will listen to correction (Proverbs 12:1; 2 Tim. 4:2). A pastor who cannot get fired is a pastor who can get away with anything in the name of God or being “the Lord’s anointed one”! Do you see any similarities with the Roman Catholic Church?

Smith was no dummy. This is a clever set up and ripe breeding ground for abuse and false teachings to go unchecked in the church. Smith simply (and unbelievably) puts the pastor at the top of the pyramid in his Moses/Aaron form of leadership, on a deserted, pastoral island unto himself separate from any possibility of being fired by the Board or having healthy accountability. We are in the New Testament era – not the era of Moses – it’s the new covenant. Smith twists these Old Testament passages, adding to the Word and creating new, unbiblical “traditions of men”, and churches do this to suit their own legalistic agendas. This is precisely what the lax and liberal Pharisees did. Jesus had a problem with that.

You see, these teachings are “foundational” to the Calvary Chapel church you attend. What are you being taught? Do a quick internet search about Calvary Chapels, and you will find trails of abuse stories and a lack of financial accountability as well.

Calvary Chapel can also be found on the Cult Education Institute.

Please don’t be deceived. Calvary Chapel is not a biblical church. Calvary Chapel has no love or tolerance for those who have questions. When it comes to the bereans, those who would use their intellects to think for themselves, the leaders often threaten with words such as, “touch not the Lord’s anointed”. Even worse, they will condemn with fear tactics and threats that God will “hurt” you if you dare ask them questions or expose church abuses. Where in the Bible does it say to threaten to hurt others? It doesn’t. The top two commands are to love.

“not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3; BSB)

Chuck Smith used this tactic on someone years ago. His public shaming on a man was actually two years (to the day) prior to Smith’s passing. He publicly chastised his critic in front of thousands at a Sunday service, a man who had questions and was speaking out against abuses in the church (particularly, child abuse). Here are the words of Chuck Smith:

“…and you know, I feel sorry for the guy because what I could do wouldn’t hurt much..but…what the Lord will do…um…you know…well…I’m glad I have the Lord on my side“.

How’s that for cultic?

Related:

The Moses Model by Spiritual Sounding Board

Cult Warning Signs by Cult Education Institute

Invalid Reasons for Staying in a Church you Know Teaches False Doctrine by Famine in the Land

The Misunderstood Gift of Discernment by Free Believers Network

Is Sozo a cult? What is Sozo? A look at the new Scientology, Bethel Church, Bill Johnson and the new age…

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 info@dynamitepublishing.com 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.  

A while back, I wrote about Sozo being more dangerous than Scientology.  In a nutshell, Sozo is more cleverly disguised than Scientology. TruNews provides an audio discussion at the link below.

Below, Rick Wiles of TruNews describes Sozo:

https://www.trunews.com/article/is-sozo-prayer-warmed-up-scientology

New Age churches such as Bethel in Redding California are teaching people to vibrate and get into harmony with God and the universe.  They are also anticipating audibly hearing a new sound from Heaven.  And a popular craze currently circulating in many Charismanic churches – especially Bethel – is something called Sozo Prayer.

We’re going to discuss the Sozo Prayer movement today and some other weird things happening in the New Age charismanic churches.

Without a doubt, the premier name in New Age churches is Bethel in Redding California.  Over 8,000 people attend religious services each week at Bethel.   The senior pastor is Rev. Bill Johnson. They emphasize the super-natural.

– TruNews with Rick Wiles

NEWS: CA mega-church has a fit over proposed conversion therapy legislation

http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/2018/03/ca-mega-church-has-fit-over-proposed.html

The following is an excerpt about Bethel Church from The Slowly Boiled Frog by David Cary Hart:

What the folks at Bethel don’t seem to get is that they are embracing a form of conversion therapy that is at odds with every mainstream medical and counseling peer organization. “Professionally-guided” conversion therapy is an oxymoron.

While I was at it, an exploration of Bethel Church was in order. The operation, run like a commercial enterprise, consumes a staggering amount of tax-deducted dollars. Receipts and expenditures are a secret known only to highly compensated church leadership.

Bethel Church’s website screams “cult” — very similar in tone to Scientology or the Unification Church (Moonies). It is a massive operation, structurally and financially. They claim to have missionaries around the globe. The church operates out of a $100 million campus in Redding, CA. They have a television network and world-class video conferencing facilities. Several church members are on the Redding city council. Last year, the church donated $500,000 to the city and shortly thereafter received approval for a new campus in spite of dozens of formally submitted citizen concerns… READ MORE.

Stay Away from Sozo Prayer! What is sozo? Is sozo a cult or cultic sect? Who is Bill Johnson?

What is sozo?  Is sozo safe?  Is sozo a cult?  Is Bethel Church safe?  Does God still heal and do miracles (I believe he does).  Let’s define sozo and take a deeper look below (click link)…

Stay Away from Sozo Prayer!

An article about the frequency of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in pastors…

http://www.aacc.net/2017/12/11/let-us-prey-the-frequency-of-narcissistic-personality-disorder-in-pastors/

The above helpful article was found on the American Association of Christian Counselors’ website.  Enjoy!

Glory Clouds by Wretched TV (Todd Friel): A Commentary

Sozoed from sozo? A closer look at the Greek definition and how Jude’s letter says to ‘sozo’…

Hello!  Please note that I have finally added a “follow” button to the right side of this page (that is, if you find these articles educational and would like to subscribe).

The inventors of sozo have named it this, claiming they know the Greek meaning.  Whenever an individual says they know the “Greek” origin of a word, they (can) sound like they know just what they are talking about!  Perhaps this makes them look more competent and that they have done their research.  Many manipulative teachers carry out this tactic these days (claim to know the Greek language and origin of words) in order to trick their followers into thinking that they are intelligent and trustworthy.

The irony in all this is that the word sozo from the Greek origin (Strong’s Concordance number 4982) literally does mean to “save, heal, preserve or rescue; to deliver out of danger and into safety” – but this is referring to saving from danger, and that includes the false, deceptive, dangerous practices like sozo and their teachers.  This is one of the dangers the Bible is warning about (see also 2 John 1:11, etc)!

Here is what Jude explains in his letter…

“And others save [sozo 4982] with fear, pulling them out of the fire…” (Jude 1:23)

What was the purpose of the letter Jude wrote?   He was trying to warn and hopefully sozo the people from the false teachers’ tactics (vs. 4).

He urged people to “contend for the faith” (vs. 3) and warns of these “certain men” (vs. 4).

They were men who were greedy for profit (vs. 11).  He even calls them “brute beasts” (irrational animals).  They “flattered people to gain advantage” (vs. 16).  I know that doesn’t sound very nice or “loving”, but he was looking out for the innocent people and their well being.  That was loving.

Jude then tells his hearers to “save (sozo) with fear, pulling them out of the fire”.

“We must watch over one another; faithfully…” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Jude 1:23) 

Why do you think Jude, the brother of James, saw so much danger with false teachers and their practices?  Was he overreacting?  Do you think it was brave of him to speak up despite it being “negative”?  Do you see the irony in the name sozo?  Do you think this was done on purpose to confuse people into thinking that they need sozo?  Do you think certain institutions can be very tricky and deceptive?

It is ironic that the sozo teachers promise people liberty and freedom, when truly people need to be set free from this practice.

“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Cor. 11:13-15

 
In His Love.

 

Is the practice of sozo linked to scientology and kabbalah?

Is there a link between sozo, Scientology and Kabbalah? What do you think?  Scientologists do “auditing” while sozo people do “editing”.  Are these similar practices?  Please check out the following video! 

“There are major parallels that go beyond incidental…it all comes from the same spirit…all this stuff is strongly connected.” 

Interview from M’Kayla

Check out this interview!  

“This is an interview I did nearly three years ago. Many people have said it was helpful, so I wanted to reblog it. Blessings, and peace in the name of Jesus as you continue to search for His truth!” (M’Kayla)

https://mkayla.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/looky-what-just-escaped-from-the-internet-2/

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