A Romantic Jesus

Does Scripture teach Jesus is our individual Husband and Lover?  We have seen enough posts about this idea from the girls on the World Race to know this is exactly what they are being taught by Adventures in Missions. 

What is this Bridal Paradigm being taught among NAR teachers? “According to bridal paradigm doctrine, the whole Bible is the story of God’s seeking a suitable mate for His Son. Jesus is pictured as a lovesick suitor who is passionately awaiting the time when He will be reunited with His beloved Bride. While the New Testament does use the metaphor of the Bride of Christ, the bridal paradigm takes the metaphor to an extreme, teaching that it is the primary picture of the Church and that each individual believer is the Bride…Teachers of the bridal paradigm place a heavy emphasis on their highly allegorized interpretation of the Song of Solomon. In their view, the book is more than a depiction of sensual love between a husband and wife; it is a metaphor of Jesus and the individual believer…”

How does this work for the men?? We haven’t yet seen a post where a male Racer claims Jesus as Husband and Lover.  For this we should be thankful. There is the potential for this of course.  Here is an article sharing our concerns about this romantic Jesus,

“Can you imagine zealous praying young men who relate to Jesus (ie. another MALE) as a “lover” whom they kiss and ‘swoon’ over? Can you imagine what happens when this becomes their basic approach to God? -And this is just the beginning of the gender- bending weirdness that is starting to become “normal” in this movement. (Some are in such deception that they even have experiences of “Jesus” kissing them on the mouth, etc. The movement itself warns against “sensual encounters” but their very teaching leads directly to this kind of thing. Deceiving spirits are always super-active in this kind of environment….It is a very serious thing to tamper with our understanding of ‘WHO GOD IS’ and how we relate to Him. In a lot of ways it is like preaching “another Jesus”. -It really is that bad. If you hear phrases today like ‘Lovesick for Jesus’, ‘Bridal Paradigm’, “Bridal intimacy”, “Inflamed heart”, ‘Romancing’, “Ravished”, ‘Fascinated’, etc, then you can be pretty sure that you are being exposed to this deceptive doctrine. I believe it is serious error, and I urge you to flee from it as far as you can, my friends.”

This horrendous, blasphemous teaching diminishes Christ as Holy God and exalts us.  This is not the biblical Jesus, but rather an idol of their own making.  

Considering most of the young women on the World Race are single, surely they are struggling to remain pure.  Living in close quarters in tents, houses, and buses while sharing bathrooms etc. likely makes it even more difficult.  This unbiblical “romantic Jesus” could certainly be what the powers of darkness would use to lure these young women into deception and even sin.

While we point out what these Racers have written, it is evidence of the faulty teaching they are getting starting at Training camp.  The Racers are then sharing these ideas through their blogs and also with those they meet to serve while on the Race. They bear responsibility for what they teach without testing it against Scripture. However, we lay the initial and heaviest blame with AIM leadership.

This Racer shares  how she changed her thinking after being under this teaching,

“For the last few months on the race it seems like all the girls on my squad have been talking and writing blogs about their marriage to Jesus which made me very uncomfortable… I listened… I read… I played along, but all along in my head I scrunched up my brow and walked away from their weird ideas.  God is my father… The idea that God could both be a husband and a father to me is very strange thus I shut that idea down… Until… God didn’t let me ignore this part of Him anymore.”

  The teaching she received changed her mind, “  That is why God not only is Leah’s Father but also her Lover… her Husband…My Father… My Lover… My Husband… “

This Racer’s post is a good example of how they consider Jesus as Lover, (If you believe our link from purity temptations and this romantic Jesus seem farfetched, other posts from this same Racer written a few months later tell us we are not far off.)

“The past few days, I have been completely blessed by my new Husband (still so weird to say that – but I am loving seeing this facet of God). He has just be romancing me with sweet little blessings. He has been answering the tiniest of my prayers, and truly showing me that He is listening – to ME.”

She does not share a Scripture for this idea at all in this post.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, not each individual.  This Scripture should be our starting point and could not be clearer.

 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of His body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Eph 5:25-32

The Racer continues, “Although I have felt God’s love for me, I have been struggling with my self image a lot this month… “

Clearly most young girls struggle with this.  The key, however, is not to turn inward and focus on our own esteem, but rather to keep our eyes fixed on HIM.  Scripture informs us that “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8. He loved us in spite of our sin and unworthiness because He IS love.  We worship and serve Him out of gratitude.  Our value is in HIM, not within us.

Continuing she says,

“All of that may have played into my date with Jesus the other night. As y’all know, I am beginning a multi-faceted relationship with my Creator in order to try and delve even deeper into Him. So, of course I am “dating” Him. I do so using an exercise I actually learned at training camp for the world race. In one of our many break out sessions, It was focused on having an intimate relationship with Jesus. I suggest everyone at least tries this exercise. I did it last month with a group of high school/college students in Zimbabwe and it was rather fun.Essentially you are just going on a date, in your imagination, with Jesus. Once you do this exercise a couple times it gets easier. Your mind has more fun with it, and it truly adds another layer to your relationship with Christ.”

This is unbiblical.  Scripture does not instruct us to do this.  This is not missionary work.

She goes on to describe having tea with Jesus…

“I feel like that date with Jesus is Him romancing me even more than He has been this month. Him trying to tell me that even if I don’t feel beautiful right now – He sees His creation and says it is Very Good. He created me exactly how He desired me to be. From the color of my hair, to the height of my stature – He planned it.

Out of all that He created, when He looks at YOU and I – He says it is very good. When He looked at Victoria Falls, He said it was good. When He looked at the sunset, or the ocean – it was only good. When He looked at all the stars in the sky, the sun, and the moon – it was good… But, when He looked at YOU and I – that is when He caught His breath and said this is VERY good. 

Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”

Who am I to doubt the wonders of His creation? Who am I to think that I am not beautiful just because I don’t have piles of man made gunk on my face?”

Truly, we understand the need for a girl to feel beautiful.  The enemy surely knows this weakness and he uses it to tempt us to despair.  We are absolutely made in the IMAGE of God.  The subtle missing information here is that because of Adam’s sin, we cannot be described as very good any longer. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Rom 5:12

Just a few chapters later in Genesis the ENTIRE “very good” creation was proven to be corrupt and God destroyed it in the flood, saving eight people found to be obedient. 

Gen 6:5-6 “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Gen 8:21 (see also Jer 17:9, Rom 3:12)

She continues, “…You were made to stand out, because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14 “I  praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

You are worthy. You are special. You are beautiful. You are strong.”

Here is the problem:  David was not giving himself a pep talk, he was PRAISING GOD, because HIS works are wonderful.  This is praise of our Creator and His character. It describes His omniscience (vs 1,2), His eternality (vs 5), His incomprehensibility (vs 6), His omnipresence (vs 7-9), His self-sufficiency (vs 10), His self-existence, His omnipotence, His sovereignty, His immutability, on and on.  It is a psalm written to create awe of God, not awe of ourselves.

“Whenever you get one inch above the ground

in your own esteem, you are that inch too high!” Spurgeon

We are only found worthy if we are covered by Christ’s robe of righteousness, otherwise we have nothing lovely about us.  If your sins are covered by His blood, focus on the object of your faith, Christ, and stop focusing on you.  Otherwise it is a never ending cycle of disappointment.

“…I went on another date with Jesus a couple days ago. I think He is still trying to romance me, which I am absolutely loving. Here is our date:
Jesus and I headed out for a picnic…He sat facing me. I asked Him “don’t you want to sit where you can see the falls?” He replied “no, I am looking at what I think is the most beautiful”. To that I blushed, then He said “I love it when you blush”. He pulled out mashed potatoes, chicken breast, and Frank’s Red Hot sauce for our meal. I smiled, as I thought – He knows me so well. I asked Him “how are you?” He replied “I am great, I am spending time with you”. I thanked Him for spending time with me and told Him that I appreciated it. I stated that I couldn’t imagine how busy He was. He told me that “I have all the time in the world, and I am not spending time with you just because you want to spend time with me. I am spending time with you because I want to spend time with you”. “

In these two dates, Jesus wanted me to feel loved. He wanted me to know how beautiful He knows I am, and He wanted me to realize that He loves spending time with me. It isn’t an obligation! 

This was all in her imagination and uniformed by God’s Word.  Each one of us has much too high a view of ourselves. She has not referenced that she learned this about God from Scripture, but from the false teaching at training camp.  There seems to be no recognition that God is to be feared with reverential trust.  It is all about ME. 

Isaiah responded properly to an ACTUAL vision of God. How does her imaginings compare?

Recognition of guilt. Is 6:5 “I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Receiving His Grace Is 6:7 “And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Response of Gratitude and Service 6:8-9 ““Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

God is love, (1 John 4:16) but if Jesus said in Matt 7:11, “If you then, who are evil…” and we learn in Mark 10:18 that no one is good but God. Then it must be loving for Jesus to say that as truth. While His character is love the Bible also says, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” Psalm 7:11

“The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … True Godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only explanation for you, is Jesus.” (Major Ian Thomas)

Again the connection to what IHOP teaches is easily made, here and here.

“I moved here to KC (Kansas City IHOP) 2 years ago to attend [the Prayer Center]… I have been so confused by the whole up-sweep of the “Bridal Paradigm” and ravished heart of Jesus and Song of Solomon. I cannot relate to Jesus as romantic lover, nor do I want to!! I am trying to have clean thoughts and a pure heart. I want a Godly husband to be that for me, to model Christ’s love and headship. All my friends tell me, “Jesus is your husband – let Him be your first love and your provider”. As if I should shun men and give up on the idea of marriage.”

“I too have been concerned about this for a while. In particular I have seen much written about intimacy without any reference to obeying the revealed will of God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” The intimacy emphasis is not just out of balance, it is dangerously soulish, promising emotional experiences and opening up the way to deceiving spirits if pursued too far.”

“There is a strange message behind this Bridal Paradigm. -It was shown at the CALL in Kansas City. I was there. I witnessed this. There was a call to all those young people who were in attendance at this KC gathering and a few older – to pledge a marriage covenant right then that night to be MARRIED to Christ.” (Gary Black from AIM is connected to this)

“There was a Marriage Canopy held up for a marriage procession as hundreds marched under it as to become covenantly married to Christ. They made it seem so righteous and holy – So – many threw away their discernment and followed the leaders – forgetting that the marriage actually takes place in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

There is no individual marriage for those who are redeemed in Christ here on earth.  The marriage supper takes place in heaven as the church of all the redeemed of history are presented to the Lamb who took away our sins.

Rev 19:1 tells us this scene is in heaven…vs 6-8 “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult
and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

There is no hint of romance or praise of us here, all the Glory goes to Christ and the Father that sent Him to save us.

The verses just before this marriage say, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

Praise our God, all you his servants,
you who fear him, small and great.”

The Ancient Lie of Eden Retold

“I have often loved darkness, observed lying vanities, forsaken thy given mercies,
trampled underfoot thy beloved Son, mocked thy Providences, flattered thee with my lips, broken thy covenant. 
It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed. Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair.  Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning and loathing myself, but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners. 
At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, and abhor it, look on Him whom I pierced as one slain for me.  May I never despise His death by fearing for the efficacy for my salvation.  And whatever cross I am required to bear, let me see Him carrying a heavier…Thus may my soul rest in Thee, O immortal and transcendent One, revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son, the Friend of Sinners.”
(Valley of Vision, pg 39)

This is a good, clear example of how the concept of our sin is downplayed and ignored by Seth Barnes, the visionary of Adventures in Missions.

“God had to call me out from the comfort of a world I could control before I could hear his call to walk in the mystery of sonship….I could have missed the plot and seen myself as a victim. But God was taking me through a process as old as mankind. It began with Adam being called out – out of the garden.”

 This would be laughable if it wasn’t so scary! Adam was not “called out” of the Garden to walk in the “mystery of sonship”. Seth is twisting Scripture. This lack of recognition of sin cannot equal saving faith. (John 1:8-10)
Adam was BANNED from the garden of Eden because of SIN and rebellion against the clear commandments of God. Adam was driven out, not called out!  Let’s look at Scripture since Seth did not share any to back up his interpretation.
“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Gen 3:22-24

 

In God’s great mercy, Adam did not physically die immediately (although he did ultimately), however he was banned from the Tree of Life.  This is God’s graciousness, preventing Adam from living physically in a corrupt body for all eternity.  Even before this  in Gen 3:15 Christ is promised to us as the One who would “bruise [Satan’s] head” defeating the curse incurred in the Garden. What a different story than Seth’s version.

“God’s love is a great comfort. But perhaps it’s not supposed to be as comforting as some would like to believe.  …God’s love is not a theological blanket that smothers everything else the Bible says about how He relates to us. That myopic, feel-good approach to God’s love often ignores its wider implications. Specifically, it overlooks the fact that God’s love carries an inherent condemnation.” “…there was a greater purpose behind God’s creative work. He did not create the world as the main attraction, but as the theater where His redemptive plan would take place and His love would be put on display. Even the corrupting blight of sin on God’s creation is integral to the display of His love:His redeeming love would forever remain hidden without sinners to redeem. source  source

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin.

“Nevertheless, I (Jesus) tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

The Holy Spirit can not be at work in a place where there is no mention of sin.

To downplay sin is to downplay the need for the Cross,

“for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“But God demonstrates His love for us in this:  While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

“Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” Acts 3:19

and is a lie as old as the Serpent himself,

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Gen 3:13

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 2 Cor 11:3

The rest of his post is just nonsense because he began with faulty theology. Seth continues,

“This tension begins with God the Father; it’s a gift that he gives to his children. God is an inside guy who lives in the wild places outside. Inside his kingdom is life everlasting. There’s a perpetual party going on just inside the gates.
 
He has extended us an invitation to join him inside. It’s a place of celebration and comfort (check out Matt. 22). We get to hang out with the poor in spirit there – those shunted to the side by a society that is moving too fast.”

Why is this so difficult to understand?   A good teacher of the Word of God makes it clear for everyone.  This is nonsensical.
Seth used one Scripture in this post.  Did he even use Matt 22 properly?
This passage is comforting to those who admit and acknowledge their sin and need for a Savior, but it is not good news for those who avoid repentance.  It is the parable of the wedding feast; a feast that will be for the redeemed.   The poor in spirit are those who are contrite over their sin and recognize their desperate need for a savior not those who are “shunted to the side by a society that is moving too fast.”

“And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. (The Jews) Again he sent other servants, (God’s patience and mercy) saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.  The king was angry, (the end of God’s patience to Jews who rejected His offer of salvation) and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (judgment, AD 70 on Jerusalem) Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.(free offer of the Gospel to all Gentiles) And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. (Christ’s robe of righteousness, Is 61:10) And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. (no excuse) Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (hell) For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Rev 22:17)

“How many are willing enough to receive gospel blessings, but they are still at emnity with God and have no delight in the only Begotten Son. Such will dare to use the forms of godliness, and yet their hearts are full of rebellion against the Lord.  The wedding garment represents anything which is indispensable to a Christian, but which the unrenewed heart is not willing to accept, anything which the Lord ordains to be a necessary attendant of salvation, against which selfishness rebels…Have I anyone here in such a condition of heart, that while he has been sinning by making a false profession, and knows it, yet he sullenly refuses to confess his fault?
Yield thee, man! Yield at once.  Fall at the King’s feet at once. Even if you are not a hypocrite, if you have any suspicion that you are, fall down and say, “My King, make me sincere; I submit myself to thy will, and am ready to put on the wedding badge; if there is any method by which I can honour thy Son…let me wear His colours and be known by all men to be truly a lover of the Great Prince.”

 How does Seth’s post compare?
Young Racers, this organization is not offering you anything to save your soul much less those you will go to serve.  The Gospel is the best news!  Lay down the burden Seth is placing on you and take the easy yoke of Christ in His precious, complete and finished payment for your sin.  

 

 

 

Part 2- Emotional Manipulation-Creating a Genuine Addiction?

The manipulation and potential for addiction begins at the World Race training camp.

This is where some parents will lose children to a different spirit.  It is here that those children will walk away from the faith in which they have been raised. 

In a blog titled, Ecstasy and the Holy Spirit, this Racer had a “worship” induced experience that she related to her own personal experience with the drug Ecstasy. She readily admits to having no Biblical basis for what she experienced, nor does it seem that AIM leadership offered her one. This fact completely disqualifies the experience as being from God as it is not tied to truths revealed in His inspired Word.  

Again, we reiterate that we are concerned with what this organization and leadership are teaching and with the manufactured experience they create apart from any truth.  We have genuine concern for this young girl.  She recalls in her post:

“So at training camp we had a “Holy Spirit night” I just went in thinking it was another worship session with a message like the rest. I loved worship at training camp, we would worship for hours & I truly connected to Jesus in a way I never had before. It was amazing. But still, I had never experienced anything like this before.”

“Holy Spirit night”??  This is the first evidence of a manufactured experience.  There is nowhere in scripture where we are instructed to order the Holy Spirit to come at a set time and place.  

“After a quick message about who the Holy Spirit is (He’s God by the way, His spirit). The speaker said, but let’s stop talking about him, why don’t we just experience him & let him show himself to us. Don’t be afraid, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman

Notice that the focus is NOT on Scripture but on experience.  Also note the odd extra-biblical terminology about the Holy Spirit being a “gentleman.”  We will comment further on that later.

“Then the speaker asked the whole room to sit down, close our eyes & pray. A leader would come around, touch our shoulder & say a prayer over us. We’re going to invite the Holy Spirit here tonight basically.

After a while of sitting there I gradually stood up & joined in the singing. I was so peaceful I could have stood there forever. I remember just having my eyes closed most of the time because being there in his presence was so incredibly good I didn’t even want to open my eyes to distraction.

There were times I would lift my hands up so high but then again, times where they were completely by my side basking in his presence. Soaking up every little moment.

And yes, I truly didn’t want it to end. And I wasn’t ready when it did.

After who knows how much time (maybe 2 hours?) the band wrapped up & our team of 45 odd were asked to move into another room for a meeting.

So we all spilled outside & started making our way to another room. I just remember being SO dazed I could hardly walk straight. I could hardly hold a conversation, I would just smile at people walking past & they would smile at me. The girl I was walking next too said “wow everyone is still so full of the spirit” and I knew exactly what she meant. How strange this feeling! How amazing & strange.”

The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers, thus, if this were a gathering of Christians, there would be no need to “invite” Him to be there.

There is NOT ONE testimony in Scripture of this being a normal response to worship.  This is a huge red flag.

“Then when we got into the room & sat down, again I could hardly concentrate on what was happening; I was still just sitting there feeling on cloud nine. I would have been completely happy just stroking the person next to me. But its ok, I didn’t!

It took a good hour or more after that session for me to start feeling normal. And by normal I mean, not incredibly high on His spirit.

The whole point of this story is to say, it was ecstasy. Complete ecstasy. I spent the next day or so quizzing as many people as I could about this feeling, some understood, some didn’t. Maybe some felt something different to me but still amazing?

Anyway, after having MANY drugs in past, I know what pure ecstasy feels like. Notttttthing compared to the feeling that night. But that is the closest feeling I can relate it to.”

Note the self-centered focus here.  As we have stated in other posts, the role of the Holy Spirit is to point us to the finished redemptive work of Christ on the cross.  Although all believers are indwelled with the Spirit, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a continual process of mortifying our sinful flesh as we submit to Him, abide in Him, and obey His word.  The result is our ongoing sanctification; growing in holiness and becoming more and more like Christ.  All of this results in God being glorified.  

This post mentions nothing about the redemptive work of Christ or the glory of God.  It is entirely centered on the FEELING that was obtained, a feeling likened to that of a mind-altering drug.  It is clear that the spirit who visited this Racer was not the true Holy Spirit.  

“So I have wondered heaps about this… My totally un-theologically-tested or justified thoughts are…

God made us. He made us to feel feelings. He made every part of our body. If He wants us to feel something, He can make that happen.”

Demons can easily do this otherwise we would not be warned to “test the Spirits” John 4:1.  We are also warned in 2 Cor 11:14, “…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 

“Yes man made ecstasy, to try & replicate a feeling that only God can give properly. That of course, will ultimately lead to self-destruction.

And I think God wanted to show me that. He is the creator of us, so powerful that just being in His presence can saturate you in ecstasy. If He wants too!

I don’t think this is a thing that will happen all the time. I might become an addict if so… But it certainly is a thing I’ll be striving for each time I head into worship now. Striving just to connect deeper & deeper with his presence. I can’t wait to share this with people all over the world, some who won’t even speak the same language as me. We will all understand Gods spirit. And I just thank Him for showing me this side of Him, how beautiful & surprizing.”

She has been told a lie.  She has been taught to experience something demonic.  Only the redeemed have God’s spirit.

JD Hall, pastor and writer on Pulpit and Pen, is also an addictions counselor, after reading this Racer’s blog advised,

“{this} sounds like addiction-transfer, which is very common for addicts and alcoholics. It’s when you give up one mind-altering addiction for another. This one may not be chemical in nature, but is still mind-expanding and probably helps (so it seems) with dopamine restriction in the brain. When, in fact, it’s demonic.”

In Part 1, we mentioned that there is potentially a genuine addictive element to these spiritual experiences.  The Racer admitted that she will seek this more and could “become an addict”. This knowledge begins to unravel why so many are drawn into this cult-like organization, why they cannot leave, and why so many seem to be unable to process what they have seen and experienced.  The leaders are creating an frightening avenue for Satanic deception. 

We continue to contend that if the pure Gospel were evident we would be having a different discussion about manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  However, there is no Gospel (see other posts on this) so we can be confident that the Holy Spirit is not at work here in man-made worship experiences that are void of any Truth. 

Here are a few sources related to the addictive possibilities of a manipulated religious experience, specifically “centering prayer”, which is synonymous with Seth’s Listening Prayer book that the Racers are required to read.

  • “the “Christian” mysticism taught in Spiritual Formation courses… is not Christian, and is in fact identical to classic occultic meditation practices taught in Hinduism, Buddhism, wicca, paganism, etc.  The technique is always the same: corraling one’s thoughts through the use of some device (mantra, breathing, etc.), entering into an altered state of consciousness, then “listening” to God.  This is not Christian.  This is what pagans do. And wiccans. And Buddhists. And Hindus.  

And just like with crack, a [Spiritual Formation/Listening Prayer] user will have to come back over and over again, trying to find that elusive high, trying to get another spiritual charge.  Christians “listen” to God through the study of scripture, not through using a mantra meditation to alter their state of consciousness so they can get a little spiritual “bump” from God.”

Thomas Merton said, “Isn’t it a pity that people are going into LSD to have spiritual experiences, when we have a tradition in the Church [contemplative(listening) prayer] which no one knows anything about?” (Thomas Merton, from a letter he wrote to fellow mystic Matthew Fox) The thing that Merton (like all mystics before him and since) didn’t understand is that mystical meditation is far more dangerous than drugs. Entering into an altered state of consciousness is playing with spiritual dynamite, and not in a good way. source

 

  • A study from Philadelphia’s Jefferson Myrna Brind Center’s shows,

“Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg has used brain imaging to study the brains of nuns in prayer and found that the images of brain activities, especially blood flow to certain areas, were very similar to those in psychedelic drug users. He also found that the changes in the brain caused by both prayers and psychedelics were permanent.”

In a book he wrote, Andrew shows, “Through his brain-scan studies on Brazilian psychic mediums, Sufi mystics, Buddhist meditators, Franciscan nuns, Pentecostals, and participants in secular spirituality rituals, Newberg has discovered the specific neurological mechanisms associated with the enlightenment experience—and how we might activate those circuits in our own brains.”

When Newberg scanned the brains of nuns and Buddhists undergoing mystical experiences, they reported feelings of timelessness, spacelessness, and self-transcendence. Newberg believes a cause of these feelings is the reduced activity he saw in their parietal lobes, the orientation area of the brain responsible for perceiving three-dimensional objects in space. A meditator may experience a sense of oneness with all living things or unity because the reduced activity blurs the perceived lines between the meditator and other objects.”

We are left to ask the question…Would the true Holy Spirit of God mimic false religions??

The Racers are taught “Listening Prayer” which is an unbiblical practice, have a steady diet of hyped up worship sessions, have left the security of their church and their families, and are then told to abandon everything.

“One major lesson World Racers learn is abandonment – of their possessions, their right to personal space, and even control of their schedules. Some Racers have this lesson forced on them by circumstances during the Race.”  

AIM creates an environment that can lead to mind altered states.  They then convince Racers that God is “speaking” and is leading them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.  This is cultic manipulation.

At Adventures in Missions, Seth Barnes has set himself up as Spiritual Father.  Those under him that teach, lead, and prophesy over the hundreds of young people in this demonic experience should be duly warned by the Savior Himself.

Jesus said, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt 18:6

True believers have the Holy Spirit residing in them.  Demons cannot inhabit a truly redeemed person. 

“What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” 2 Cor 6:15-16. 

At the time of our salvation we are delivered from and protected from the indwelling of Satan.

Col 1:13, “ He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

We can, however, be deceived. We must each examine our own faith to know if it is genuine, the books of James and 1 John were written for this purpose. 2 Cor 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Jonathan Edwards says, “Scripture describes conversion in terms which imply or signify a change of nature: being born again, becoming new creatures, rising from the dead, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, dying to sin and living to righteousness, putting off the old man and putting on the new, becoming partakers of the divine nature, and so on…In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither a dramatic experience nor a quiet one, neither a wonderful testimony nor a dull one, counts for anything. The only thing that counts is a new creation.” (The Experience That Counts! p. 99).

This article on the counterfeit Holy Spirit is very informative. 

“So – what is the true Holy Spirit and how does it function? All true Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. When this happens, the Holy Spirit comes to live and dwell inside each newly born-again Christian until their time on this earth is over. The Holy Spirit has many functions, among them bringing conviction over sin and illuminating Scripture.

False religions do not have this indwelling of the Holy Spirit taking place within their adherents. So what’s a Devil to do? Well, he’ll just do what he’s always done, and rather successfully at that: create some kind of counterfeit experience to mimic a real blessing given by God to true Christians… The first meditation I ever did at age 20 left me utterly convinced that I had experienced the presence of God. In hindsight, I believe that this encounter truly was supernatural. The Bible tells us that Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). So I ask you: would Satan be so bold as to actually pretend to be God? Of course he would. He’s no gentleman.”

Ironically, this is the terminology the Racer above used!  Satan’s lies would be to make us believe he is.

“It’s not like he would say to himself, “Well, that would be deceitful, I can’t do that!” More like this: “That’s deceitful – awesome!! I wonder how many times I could trick people into thinking they’re encountering God before somebody starts to catch on?” And Satan was more than happy to give me an “experience” if it would turn me away from the one true God.  Something else happened during my first meditation that I didn’t realize until years later. I came out of that FIRST meditation session with an altered worldview

Here is a testimony of a man who practiced this.

“Before I became a Christian I was involved in the occult.  One of the practices I would undergo when trying to contact the spiritual realm and/or trying to receive some mystical experience would be to empty my mind, remain motionless, and completely open myself up to receive whatever would come.  Essentially, I was seeking an altered state of consciousness and contact with the spiritual world.  This is one of the hallmarks of occult practices and it opens the person to demonic contact.

This centering, this emptying of the mind was a physical and mental process of stillness, waiting, non-thinking, and expecting to have a spiritual experience.  It worked.  Using these techniques I have seen lights move in darkness, a bright yellow cross materialize out of thin air, and I’ve heard voices calling me from the darkness.  I’m not exaggerating.  I was not on drugs, medicated, drinking, or sleep deprived.  I definitely contacted something in the spirit realm.  But, it wasn’t God.”

God wants us to pray to Him through his Son, Jesus Christ, as we meditate on God’s word.  We are not to empty our mind and “feel” whatever we may.  Obviously this can manufacture a false and potentially demonic emotion.

We are commanded to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, John 4:23, consisting of a proper heart attitude and consistent with the revealed Scripture, centered on Christ.

The true Holy Spirit would never affirm error, thus these “experiences” are not centered on truth.  We rarely see Christ magnified in any of the Racers blogs.  This is an obvious warning sign.

Final thoughts from this testimony.  We echo this plea in our efforts to save others from the deception at AIM.

“My hope is that the young people there who are much like I was will begin to question what they see and compare it with what the scripture actually says…not how Mike Bickle (or Seth Barnes) twists and teaches it…

and that they have the courage to identify it and reject it. Those who oppose IHOP (AIM) and speak out typically experience some kind of consequences or backlash.

People are a commodity there. They are traded. When wounded ones leave, IHOP (AIM) leadership doesn’t sweat over it…new and unsuspecting people (RACERS) who are ignorant of their dangerous devices but are hungry for emotionally-driven experiences and spiritual highs will come back in the same door the others left. It’s a revolving door of deception.”

Encouragement for those on the Race

 “…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:3-5

We are aware of Racers that have found themselves in the middle of the Race when their eyes are opened and they find themselves rightly concerned about Adventures in Missions. (a few testimonies are shared under this tag)   There are hundreds of young people on the race at any given time.  If you are currently on the World Race and are struggling with what you are learning, seeing, or hearing, we want to encourage you.  The Lord is not unaware of where you are.  He sees you. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:7-12

He has permitted that you be in this place.  How do we know that?  He is sovereign over all things.  The good He ordains and the bad He permits. He can use all for His purpose.

…for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:9-10

It may be that this is a trial given to mature your faith and knowledge of Him.  He can use it for growth in discernment as you test what you have experienced through the lens of Scripture. We pray that what we write will help in that regard. 

If you are feeling as though you need to come home.  Please reach out to your parents, pastors, and elders for counsel.  You are not without help to get home. Show them our site and others we have pointed to.   Tell them of your concerns.  Ask them to pray with you for wisdom and seek Godly counsel from them. We are willing to help however we can even if you just need someone to pray for you.  No details required … contendforourfaith@gmail.com

This step may be hard, but God is gracious.  As we have shared in previous posts, others have been in your position.  If you cannot come home for some reason, then test everything and share the true Gospel knowing that the Lord promises

“my word that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

 Ask the Lord to sustain you in the midst of potential pressure to conform and allow Him to use you for His Glory. May the words of Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, encourage and embolden you:

I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none;

but if doing what is right and believing what is true should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will regard it as a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be even more friendly and will reveal Himself to him more graciously than ever.

You who have taken up His cross, don’t you know what your Master said? “I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother . . . And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, He brings war. Where the light comes, the darkness must vanish.

Where truth is, the lie must flee; or if it remains, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trampled underfoot. If you follow Christ, you will have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you live in such a manner as to stand the test of the last judgment, you can depend upon it that the world will not speak well of you.

He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your uncompromising commitment, since it is a testimony against their iniquities.

You must do the right thing and not fear the consequences. You will need the courage of a lion to pursue a course that turns your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must take your stand. To risk reputation and affection for the truth’s sake is so demanding that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle that only the Spirit of God can work in you.

Do not turn your back like a coward, but play the man.

Follow boldly in your Master’s steps,

For He has made this rough journey before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest than false peace and everlasting torment.

Emotional Manipulation: AIM’s connection to IHOP

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” John 4:1-3a

In judging a true work of the Holy Spirit based on this verse, Jonathan Edwards who saw a great work of the (true) Spirit in New England in the 1700’s said, “A work [of the Spirit] is not to be judged by any effects on the bodies of men; such as tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, agonies of body or the failing of bodily strength….Scripture nowhere gives us any such rule…”

He goes on to say, “(if the esteem is raised) of Jesus who was born of the virgin, and was crucified…establishing and confirming in their minds the the truth of what the Gospel declares to us of His being the Son of God and the Saviour of men; it is a sure sign of the Spirit of God…”, and “the spirit that operates in such a manner as to cause in men a greater regard to the Holy Scriptures, and establishes them more in their truth and divinity is certainly the Spirit of God” (Jonathan Edwards on Revival)

Emotional Manipulation at AIM

As evidenced by this testimony we recently shared, young adults at Adventures in Missions are having spiritual experiences while in heightened emotional states often achieved through long worship sessions.   We are concerned that there is an element of emotional manipulation in order to achieve these experiences and further, that the experiences can have an addictive quality.  The lack of biblical theology and sound doctrine at AIM causes us to doubt that these experiences are of God.

The supposed “manifestations of the spirit” witnessed by former racers are powerful signs and might lead one to believe that God’s Spirit was moving in a mighty way.  However, scripture informs us that the Holy Spirit “bears witness of {Christ}” (John 15:26).  The Spirit ALWAYS points to our Savior.  Since there is a both a lack of, and misrepresentation of, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ at AIM we must conclude that these “manifestations” are not representative of the Spirit at all but rather of serious deception.

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” Jude 17-23

We are sure that these spiritual experiences are quite compelling and we wonder how many Racers have felt a “withdrawal” of sorts from them upon their return home?  How many are struggling to process what they have experienced and what they have been taught?  Our prayer is that the Lord Jesus would deliver His true children from this type of harmful teaching and practice, and they in turn would desire to help rescue others, “snatching them from the fire”. The Gospel and the written Word have the power to overcome the evil one and his deception.

What is IHOP and how is it connected to Adventures in Missions and the World Race?

IHOP stands for International House of Prayer.  Founded by Mike Bickle in 1999 with active “prayer” taking place 24/7.   A good review of IHOP is as follows:

 “The rapid expansion, the unusual practices, the fierce loyalty of many IHOP members, and the relative newness of the ministry have led many to question whether the International House of Prayer is a biblically solid ministry or a cult….So, while 24/7 prayer is commendable, if the prayers being uttered are not biblical, there is no true value in them…Many have been led astray by those claiming to be apostles and prophets with a “word from the Lord.” There have been many reports of spiritual abuse and prophetic manipulation within the International House of Prayer movement…With all of that said, clearly, IHOP should not be considered a biblically sound ministry/organization. The above concerns are only the “tip of the iceberg” in comparison to some of the things that have been reported by former IHOP members/participants.” 

The common thread of emotional manipulation is seen at both IHOP and AIM, thus their connection makes sense.  The following insights are noted on racer’s blogs:

From a Racer in Prague, “So we have been working with IHOP (international House of Prayer), there are a few located throughout the world and what it is, in a glimpse I say, is a place where God and heaven loves to invade…this room is where God tells us what to pray for and we speak it into existence.”

Note that we have no power to speak anything into existence.  This is reminiscent of the heretical Word of Faith belief that we are “little gods”.  We have questioned this before.

Another Racer, “We partnered with … IHOP Prague. We had the pleasure of attending their church twice, but our main focus for being there was to take part of IHOP. IHOP stands for International House of Prayer. The main one is located in Kansas City, MO, but there are many locations throughout the world. It is a place where God’s children come to stand in the gap on His behalf. Our focus, in those 10 days, was worship and intercession.”

This Racer shares, “At IHOPP (International House of Prayer: Prague), our team led two night watches. These were all night worship/prayer/intercession times…”

A Racer joins the IHOP intern program, “And with a heart-so-filled-with-joy-it-could-burst, I’m THRILLED to announce that I will be applying to the 3 Month IHOP Atlanta Internship in Georgia”

AIM leader, Gary Black, co-founder of The World Race and G42 Academy promotes IHOP. He also began The Call, with Lou Engle, a NAR false prophet, friend of Bill Johnson of Bethel church and leader at IHOP Pasadena.

Gary writes, We are now, of course, asking the Lord how we can partner together and establish what Lou and the Call are doing, what Mike Bickle and IHOP are doing, and what AIM is doing with the World Race. Imagine a bunch of radical Nazarites planting houses of prayer around the globe through the World Race–come on Church!”

Gary is a man that is in leadership at AIM and G42 currently.  He has hopeful plans to join these organizations together. This is happening already on the World Race.

A testimony is shared here from a young girl, part of IHOP’s intern program coming to realize what she was actually a part of, here is an excerpt.  (We have added links to our similar concerns about AIM.)

A cult? Strong word you might say…and you are correct. It is not a word I use lightly or carelessly to label anything. But much prayer, time and years of research and personal experience have brought me to the conclusion that I can say confidently that the root system–or foundation–that IHOP is built on follows the basic premises and signs of a cult religious group. When I first left IHOP, I went through a severe culture shock that is hard to put into words. When I began studying the signs of cult fallout and the things that cult members go through after leaving a cult, my eyes began to open to what I had been a part of and recently come out of…After 6 years of being out of IHOP I still hold to my position that it is a dangerous place for people’s hearts and I have seen much destruction of families, relationships and marriages of those who have been involved with this movement.

Mike’s primary target and focus is on the young people. His appeals from the pulpit and his well-polished speeches aim at capturing the hearts of America’s youth. Children and youth are not told or encouraged to respect or honor the parents G-d gave them. Instead, wedges are driven between families and a seed of pride, rebellion and elitism gets planted into the hearts of youth when they are told things like the following…

This is a very close paraphrase of what I’ve heard many, many times at One Thing, IHOP conferences and in teachings by leaders:

YOU are called to be on the cutting edge. Come here and join a community of other people who are like you, called to what you’re called to. We understand you. You’ve been mis-understood in the church. You’ve had your wings clipped, your gifts misunderstood. Here you can fulfill your forerunner calling that your family just hasn’t understood about you. You might feel like you don’t fit back home, you’re on the outside, no one understands the fire in you. Well we get it. You are the leaders that G-d is raising up in these end times and you will be kings and queens on the earth—reigning with Him. You were made for this place. IHOP is an incubator for people like you.”

Narcissistic speeches like this instill a sense of pride, arrogance and elitism in the hearts of youth who hear it and it feeds their need for validation and identity. They run to IHOP, leave their families, join internships…hoping that what they’ve heard is true. They go to IHOP looking for identity…instead of finding it in Jesus.

This sounds frighteningly similar to our concerns about AIM.

The emotional manipulation at IHOP is further evidenced by these testimonies, this is provided as examples of similar ministries using and abusing worship to create emotion that is then called the Holy Spirit “moving”. 

This testimony is enlightening and very sad,

“The more leadership responsibility I was given as an intern, the more I got peeks into the “inside”. I saw the outer fringes of the internal operations of how IHOP functioned. I was on an IHOP dance team and sang as a chorus leader on a few worship teams. To dance, I had to follow a specific model that IHOP required. To sing, I had to attend the briefing/de-briefing meetings before and after each worship set where I saw first-hand how carefully controlled that the seemingly “spontaneous” aspects of worship were carefully calculated and often planned ahead of time.”

An article showing some concerns says,

“The major draw of IHOP is experience.  People often come to me citing their experience and go back again and again to experience “God” and the “Spirit” – no different than an emotional high.”

Another tells us,

“The IHOP conferences and events are stage-managed to produce the maximum amount of visual, aural, psychological, sensual and spiritual stimuli—all of which can superficially appear to be revival. But is it biblical revival? …What is perceived as spiritual is in reality soulish, contributing to a euphoric state of altered consciousness from repetitious choruses that follow one upon the other. The mesmerizing effect of the music creates a frame of mind open to suggestion by the subsequent preaching of dominionist teachers who build on the fervor of the moment with messages of future power and glory.

The orchestrated commotion at youth events serves as fertile ground for inculcating a strange and different doctrine—a doctrine that has been taught by IHOP leaders for decades.

“…there is another practice of “presence” that is taking the evangelical world by storm. In the IHOP/NAR the passionate invocation of the “presence” (which they call the “Spirit”) isn’t just done via contemplative meditation. They believe that the “presence” is achieved via the elaborate staging of flashy lighting, noisy music and hypnotic manipulations in the context of what they call “worship.” The clear intent is to create an altered state of consciousness – a spiritual/emotive state in which the participant is susceptible to heretical suggestions, “feels” closer to God, and learns that he/she may even become a god. Thus their “passion” is believed to invoke the “presence” of God… This passion-filled worship involves more than simple singing of hymns or humble prayers and petitions. It incorporates various psychological and sociological techniques to affect the emotions. Key variables are stage-managed in order to create an “atmosphere” of heightened experiences, all said to be of God. Thereby this engineered “passion” claims that it can invoke the “presence” of God.   Source

The testimonies of young people on The World Race have similar elements.  Here are a few comments about worship from Racers, specifically “soaking” worship.  There is NO Biblical model to be found, this has more similarities to Hinduism and New Age practices. We do not need to manufacture experiences of God’s presence, if we are redeemed we always have His presence. (Psalm 139:7, 1 Cor 6:19, 2 Tim 1:14)

Racer “ A few nights ago, we were having a night of soaking worship with the YWAM team that we’re partnering with this month. Soaking worship is pretty much what it sounds like; you listen to worship music and just soak in God’s presence and just be still with Him. Now normally I tend to mentally check out when we do soaking worship…”

Racer, “I had heard some stories about soaking and expected a dozen or so people in a room listening to Hillsong for a couple of hours….This soaking service… is called “The Soaking.” It’s a time of worship and praise and “soaking” in the presence of our Lord and King. But, from my experience it was more like “The Drowning.” … It is such a dramatic experience that remembering it forever is typical and expected. Unlike physical drowning, when I have asked Jesus to drown me in His presence, I long to be back in that place from the second I step out of it. “

Racer, “The middle of the room was left open for those who worshiped through dancing, the sides of room for those to soak, pray, or write, and the front stage had paper and markers for those who felt led to art (prophetic art).”

We do not believe that it is coincidence that these young Racers speak nothing of the Gospel in their testimonies and that these experiences are happening in pagan countries surrounded by Eastern religions whose practices sound eerily similar to what is happening is these “worship” services.

There is also an addictive element to the manipulation.  Here is a bit of information to begin the discussion. “Instead of actually drawing a person closer to God, these occultic practices generate a “counterfeit Holy Spirit experience” which “feels” very real, very profound, and very spiritual.  Actually, when people engage in these practices, what they’re experiencing is spiritual…only, it is not from God.”

We will continue with Part 2. Here is a commentary on the wackiness of IHOP in more detail if anyone is interested, videos included toward the bottom related to what is discussed on the program.

 

Alternatives to the World Race

We want to offer some good news also, understanding that many of you have a heart for reaching the lost and are interested in finding a good organization that you can join to take the first step towards full-time mission work or are at a time in your life when short term missions is feasible. 

Missions involves us but it is NOT about us.

Look for an organization that has Christ as it’s focus, using the powerful written Word of God as it’s means of proclaiming the Good News. These can also be a resource in finding other organizations that are solidly Biblical. Also, remember, not everyone can “go” some are meant to be the “senders”. 

Wise Words  “The New Testament can simply be broken down into two imperatives: GO! or SEND! There are no additional options. Apathy is not permitted. It has been said that one either goes, or sends, or disobeys.

Are you a goer?
Are you a sender?

James Fraser, a missionary to the Lisu people in China, wrote to his prayer partners back home, “I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home.”

 Consider this from Heart Cry Missionary Society,

…We must acknowledge that much damage is being done to the work of God on the “foreign field” by some of the teachings which are exported by Western Christianity. The superficial evangelism and church growth strategies that have done a great deal of damage to the cause of Christ in the West are having a greater and greater influence upon Christ’s ministers in the Majority World. In some cases, the very columns of the Christian ministry – expository preaching, intercessory prayer, sacrificial service, and personal evangelism – have been given a back seat to seeker-friendly strategies and state-of-the-art media presentations.

It is Heart Cry’s goal to encourage indigenous pastors and missionaries to continue striving to know God and submit their lives and ministries to the dictates of His Word. To put it bluntly, our passion is to demonstrate to God’s men that God’s Word is all-sufficient for all things in life and ministry. It is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).”

 Here are a few others to consider researching.

“Frontline Missions works to advance the Gospel by forming vibrant, Word-centered, disciple-making churches, especially in those regions of the world that have the least Light. We are driven by the same desire as the apostle Paul, who said it was always his ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known (Romans 15:20). We pursue this goal by equipping Christians on the frontlines to reach their own people for Christ, by forming strategic partnerships with them, and by developing creative platforms in countries closed to traditional missions.”

“Over 2 billion people have no access to the Gospel, and most of them can’t be reached by those with “missionary” stamped in their visa. Frontline Missions International has developed a training and orientation program that will 1) help men and women begin to explore ways in which they can serve Christ in restricted-access countries and 2) serve local churches that are serious about addressing the Unfinished Task of taking the Gospel to people who have yet to hear.”

  • Word of Life Strong emphasis on Biblical study and has quite a few opportunities that meet many different stages of life, student to full time missionary. Long history of faithful proclamation of the Gospel.

“As we thank God for 75 years of seeing him transform people’s lives, it remains our humble prayer that we can somehow be used to reach this generation with the Gospel of Christ.”—Don Lough, Word of Life

“Word of Life desires to see every man, woman and child experience a relationship with Jesus, and our core purpose is to make an eternal impact on everyone’s lives we touch.”

Here is one example of an opportunity,

“The Launch program is designed to put you on the mission field, whatever your situation might be. We have identified key areas around the world that desperately need short term missionary help, and we want you to fill one of those needs. Lengths of service can range from 1 or 2 months to 2 years. You choose which opportunity and time frame is right for you. We’ll help you get there. Students, adults, families and retirees have preached, taught, built buildings, run programs, cooked, cleaned, and designed websites- all just a few examples of the hundreds of ways Launch has helped normal people use their skills for God’s glory on the mission field. So, are you interested in missions but not sure how your abilities can be used? Do you have some time that you would like to devote to missions work? Are you interested in (but still unsure about) full-time missions?”

“We are committed to boldly declaring and defending the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:16-17

“We are committed to proclaiming the Supremacy of Christ as King.” Colossians 1:15-20 & 28

“Short-term teams provide much-needed staff support and resources to assist SOS in carrying out its mission, from construction projects, community outreach and education, to assisting SOS with its National Training Conferences and pastoral care visits. They also provide encouragement and fellowship with SOS Uganda staff, while giving the mission team participants a much deeper understanding for the ministry of SOS and why we are so committed to this mission and the precious people of Uganda.”

“We believe the most spiritually productive harvest field anywhere is among the children. The Tomorrow Clubs invest in the lives of nearly 13,000 children through a network of about 450 weekly Bible clubs. More than 1,800 committed volunteers share the gospel of Jesus Christ and offer caring, long term discipleship to children in under served communities across Ukraine and Russia.”

“At the heart of the ministry are the relationships that develop as leaders engage with kids in weekly club meetings, teaching them by example what it means to follow Jesus. Kids memorize scripture and learn biblical principles as they work through the Tomorrow Clubs curriculum. Our leaders also teach valuable life skills in hobby classes such as cooking, woodworking, music, and English language.”

“Our long term desire is to see Scotland’s housing schemes transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ through the revitalisation and planting of gospel-preaching churches, ultimately led by a future generation of indigenous church leaders.

To that end we will initiate a church planting and revitalisation effort by recruiting training supporting and sending church planters, female outreach workers, ministry apprentices, and short-term interns to work part of church planting teams within Scotland’s housing schemes.

We believe that building healthy, gospel-preaching churches in Scotland’s poorest communities will bring true, sustainable, and long-term renewal to Scotland’s schemes.” There are many opportunities short and long term with them.

 

 

 

Heresy and a false Gospel-Seth’s connection to the G42 Academy

Racers are encouraged to come to the G42 school in Spain run by Seth Barnes’ “spiritual father” Andrew Shearman.  A potential candidate says,”G42 Leadership Academy in Mijas, Spain is affiliated with Adventures in Missions, and the trip I was on, the World Race, has become a feeder program of sorts to G42.” We have previously written about G42 here and here.

Seth says of G42,I love what this place stands for. Andrew injects the vision of a hope-filled God and a soon-coming kingdom into everyone who attends the school. The place is alive with possibilities..We’ll be teaching the students on discipling, leadership, church planting, and spiritual entrepreneurship this week… If you’ve ever wanted to discover more of what God is doing in the earth and how to join him, I recommend coming here and taking a few classes. It’s an awesome place.”

So what about this academy is worthy of such lofty praise?

The following excerpts taken from a young racer’s blog tell us a bit about the teaching at G42.  Note that there is no definition of the Gospel, nor use of any Scripture to support what is being taught.  The God that is spoken of is not the God portrayed in Scripture, therefore is an idol of their own making.

Our comments are intended to shine a light on the teaching of this organization not on the writer of the blog post, though what this young woman has been led to believe is indeed concerning.

“A little bit of what I have been learning at G42:

Here’s a bit of stark honesty for you: for the majority of my Christian life I did not believe the gospel was actually good news….Somehow, in my “adult” life, I had managed to encounter Jesus on multiple occasions and therefore could no longer deny His existence… I also felt as though what people told me about God and Jesus didn’t always match up to the love and peace I had experienced when I encountered Him

On numerous occasions, whether overtly or subtly- this was the message about God that was being conveyed.

I will use an analogy Andrew Shearman used in class that I think illustrates it pretty well. Imagine you are in love with someone and are about to get married and these are his/ her vows:

I love you, (your name). I know that you are my true love. I am happy and I am grateful that you came into my life, that where others have spent their entire lives looking for the one, I have found you. And now that I have found you, I shall never let you go. I promise you, that I shall hold you and cherish you and give you my heart, that I shall support you and care for you. Faithfully, I shall always stand steadfast at your side with your hand in mine, regardless of what life would bring to us. I take you now as my wife/husband, and I shall remain so for the rest of my life….but if you don’t love me back and do everything that I say, I will kill you.

This may seem a bit extreme, but is it not essentially the message being conveyed about God? God loves us so much and has forgiven us BUT, if we mess up and don’t do a good enough job being a “good” Christian, he will send us into the depths of hell.”

The “message” that has been conveyed to this young woman is NOT the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather, one of works righteousness. Scripture clearly states, 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is a gift from God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Eph 2: 8-9 

“…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:6-8

It is not our job to be a “good” Christian to avoid hell. We don’t need to worry about “messing up”, because as believers we have been ransomed by the blood of Christ. 

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” Eph 1:7. 

“…knowing that you were ransomed from the foolish ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” 1 Peter 1:18-19

The “gospel” that Andrew Shearman uses in his analogy is a false gospel.  The blogger then continues…

 “This was the good news I was supposed to be sharing?

I knew in my head that the gospel should be good news, but as many times as I tried, the head knowledge was not being translated into heart knowledge.

It is confusing.”

It certainly is confusing when you are dealing with a false gospel.  A message of works righteousness is most definitely NOT good news worthy of sharing. 

“After my time here, I can finally say that I do in my heart of hearts believe that the gospel is not only good news, but bigger and better than we were ever told.

But it’s kind of like this… I can tell you all about my friend Bree:

I can tell you how great she is, how trustworthy, brilliant and funny she is.

Or I can tell you that she sucks, that she is wrathful and angry and will do whatever she can to make your life miserable.

But the truth is that neither of these descriptions really matter to you until you actually spend time with her and learn it for yourself.

I believe that in a way it is the same with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. No matter what any one says about Him, ultimately it will come down to you and what you think of Him when you get to know Him.”

“So… I am not going to explain how I came to this realization, partly because it would be a novel and partly because I’m not sure it would help. What is much more beneficial is for you to invite the Holy Spirit to show you God’s character and reveal to you whether or not it is actually good news.”

This is heartbreaking because the true gospel is bigger and better than we can believe but the message the G42 academy is teaching is not the gospel.  It is a lie.

First, what WE think of God has no bearing on anything.  It matters how HE sees us.  Second, the way to know God’s character is through the study of His WORD, the inspired, inerrant, all sufficient Holy Scripture.  To invite the Holy Spirit to subjectively “teach” one God’s character is an open invitation to deception.  We must always be mindful that the enemy disguises himself as an angel of light. 

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim 4:3-4

The role of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin and point us to our need for Jesus as our Savior.  Christ says,

“And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me” John 16:8

The young woman goes on,

“And, if it is anything like my experience, He will show you that life is more exciting, adventurous, and joyful than you ever thought possible (truly). That life with Him is the exact opposite of boring. That who you are with Him is beautiful, powerful, and ok. And you will be brought back to life knowing you are so, so loved.

Extra-biblical revelation is not necessary to know we are so, so loved.  God has already revealed this to us in the sacrifice of His son. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Continuing, “So, if this is something that has been on your mind recently, here is my advice: God is bigger than you questioning if He is actually good. He can handle it, so tell Him exactly how you feel about it and know that He won’t love you any less.
Ask Him to reveal to you whether or not it is actually good news. I think you may just find it is bigger and better than you ever thought or believed.”

Again, we don’t need to ask God to reveal whether or not the gospel is good news.  He has made it abundantly clear in His word.  As illustrated in the below verses, the Bible clearly says that the JUST penalty for our sin and rebellion against Him is hell.  Because of His LOVE He has provided for our redemption.

“For the wages of sin is death, (Justice) but the free gift of God (Love) is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 3:23

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left…“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels …And these will go away into eternal punishment, (Justice) but the righteous into eternal life. (Love) ” Matt 25:31-46

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (Love) ; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.(Justice)” John 3:36

In order to understand the gospel as the truly good news that it is we must understand our sin and our just punishment.  God loved us so much that Christ came to satisfy God’s wrath. God’s character has many facets, much like a diamond.  Love is one facet but Justice, Mercy, Patience, Holiness and Wisdom are others.  We cannot define Him as loving without recognizing the other traits that are equally present. 

The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 4, asks,”But isn’t God merciful?

The answer is, “God is certainly merciful, but He is also just. His justice demands that sin, committed against His supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty-eternal punishment of body and soul.” (Ex 20:6; 34:6, 7; Ps 103:8, 9;Ex 20:5; 34:7; Deut 7:9-11; Ps 5:4-6; Heb 10:30, 31;Mt 25:45, 46)

Kevin DeYoung in his book, The Good News we Almost Forgot, explains this answer by saying,

“Divine love without divine wrath is meaningless.  When we minimize God’s justice, we do not exalt His mercy, we undermine it.  God’s mercy exhibits its full power and sweetness when we see it not merely as a general goodwill to all people, but as the means by which God’s people are rescued, in Christ, from their just wrath and punishment.”

The young world racer ends her blog post by writing, “Here is a teaching from a past intern…that I think gives a great illustration about the revelation I have had about our Father’s love:

From christinacooley.theworldrace.org

And here lies the problem…if this describes her “revelation” and also what is being taught at the G42 Academy, then it is clearly NOT from God.  We ARE guilty.  We have rebelled against Him and broken His law.  Until we acknowledge that we can not be saved.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;
who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind” Jer 17:9-10

There is no scripture to support “loving ourselves more” or “making ourselves proud”.  These are man-centered lies from the enemy.  God desires godly sorrow and confession of our sin so that He might extend to us the bounty of His marvelous grace. 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10

Seth Barnes happily recommends and partners with Andrew Shearman’s G42 Academy. They are not teaching truth, they are promoting lies.

For those unfamiliar, this has all the markings of the heresy called Pelagianism.

Pelagius taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam was when he was first made by God. He taught that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought. God’s grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals come to Him.

Pelagianism fails to understand man’s nature and weakness. We are by nature sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5). We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam:

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Furthermore, Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God;  All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

Therefore, we are unable to do God’s will (Rom. 6:16; 7:14). We were affected by the fall of Adam–contrary to what Pelagius taught. Pelagius has been condemned (as heresy) by many councils throughout church history.

What a satisfaction it will be in that day to have had a part in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have shared in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are those who entrust themselves to this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with Him doing their part in His name and by His strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter in which to lose is to lose and to be lost forever. On whose side are you? Spurgeon