Rules of Engagement

I know that I have visited this topic previously and it may seem that there is little more to be said, however the larger issue is the fact that a particular body of anti-Christian heresy continues to pervert and beleaguer the church and one of the most profound results is the instability of the Christian home and family. I refer of course to the teaching that God has changed with the times and sin is no longer sin. But, more specifically, I refer to the casual even positive way in which divorce is now viewed among those who consider themselves believers. Why this matters has been covered partly in previous musings where I point to the Jesus midrash where he clearly links the relationship between the church and himself with the relationship of man and wife. But in the larger scope it has to do with the, pardon the expression, fundamental understanding that grace, while freely given to any who would ask, has rules and a heavy cost for those who are able to retain it. Grace once given by God can be and often is, discarded to the damnation of former believers who are careless of God’s repeated admonitions in scripture. To wit: One who is often reproved, yet remains stubborn, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Proverbs 29:1

This whole issue came up again recently centered around a young lady who, after living with her boyfriend outside of wedlock and leading him to Christ in that time, was found out and expelled from her congregation, weeks before her wedding. My initial opinion was that was rather late in the game to find her out and didn’t help the situation any, as she was in the process of rectifying her error. We must always be quick to forgive and restore the genuinely penitent. But her reaction to the whole thing was certainly less than contrite so I’ll leave it to her pastor to be the voice of wisdom in that situation. What I could not ignore, as a man of God and student of theology, was the outcry of support to her status updates on Facebook (R). One of the most egregious responses she got included the following remark:

Times are very different from biblical times and while living with someone before marriage may not be the best choice it is definitely not the sin it once was.

Imagine! “Times have changed, so the Bible is irrelevant and Jesus’ own words are no longer binding on the believer.” Can there be a more depraved and apostate voice? And this was only one of many rushing to encourage the young lady by comforting her in her sin, with the full belief that sin in the life of a Christian is nothing more than a livable mistake, and not one that will actually separate you from God.

Well, in answer to A.W., the young woman who expressed the startling doctrine above, I have to point out one simple truth. Jesus is the foundation of the Church and our hope of salvation. If he is fallible in any point then we are fools to follow him and there is not hope in him. If we are right to trust him and have saving faith we cannot and will not question his authority or infallibility. That means on any subject, including divorce and remarriage, which he spoke, he is the last word and there can be no changing it because times have changed. Jesus claimed to be God in flesh and one with the father. If his words are not timeless and law for all time, then he lied and we are not saved. If he was true and we are saved by grace through his ministry and blood sacrifice then we have no authority to do other than he commanded. There is no third option.

The church as a whole is in crisis today because those in the pew are taught they can accept the worlds values, disregard Jesus’ commands, and remain in right relationship with God or at worst backslide without danger of damnation. There is a church movement that has taught us that we can live like the world and God will simply look on sadly, and that the church cannot judge the behavior of those who claim to be Christian. The Corinthian church faced a similar issue. They felt they were being loving and gracious by allowing those who were living in sin to be comfortable in the congregation. Paul takes three chapters from 4-6 of 1Cor. to show them the error of this thinking. He reaches the high point by saying cast out the immoral brother (or sister). The point being let them straighten out their issues outside so they don’t corrupt the young in the church, or introduce tolerance of habitual error.

In Hebrews Paul speaks at length about mercy and compassion and God’s willingness to forgive sin. This is where the Calvinists and Protestants gather their ideas regarding once in grace always in grace and the perverted gospel that judging is itself a sin. What is generally overlooked is the fact that the whole essay on perseverance of the saved, is bookended by the statement, before and after, that habitual sin will damn even the believer. This is found in Hebrews 6:4-8 and in Hebrews 10:26,27 demonstrating that the author clearly sees nothing in salvation by faith that allows for carnality and rebellion. You can lose your salvation for rebellion. Paul’s warning to Corinth, found in chapters 4, 5 & 6 of I Corinthians, is that the loving thing to do is kick people out so they will realize there error and repent before it is too late, then they can be welcomed back with full fellowship and love.

The world has infected the church with a lot of demonic ideas that seem like love and compassion, but are really just sin and damnation. The place where Satan seems to have made the greatest inroads is in the area of Divorce and Remarriage.

Jesus’ commands and New Covenant law regarding marriage is simple, and laid out in MAT 5:31-32 (nrsv), MAL 2:16-16 (nrsv), MAR 10:2-12 (nrsv), & 1CO 7:10-17 (nrsv), among a host other passages. These passages resolve to eight simple rules regarding marriage that are binding under the New Covenant and if a person confesses Christ he or she is bound by them thereafter. <edit>Bear in mind that these are standards for those who have already accepted Christ.

1) If you are offended by your spouse you can no-longer (as was custom in the day) kill her and get another. 2) Moses allowed divorce to those who are hardhearted so they wouldn’t be forced to confront rule #1 3) Given that hard-hearted is one of the signs used by Jesus and the apostles to indicate an unrepentant person It is clear that divorce is in fact legal but sinful never-the-less. 4) If you marry it is for life, period. The only legitimate excuse for divorce the infidelity of your spouse AND you must have not done the same. 5) If a person commits adultery and is divorced by his or her spouse, the spouse is free to remarry. The adulterer must remain celibate for life. 6) If you just can’t live with one another and have to separate, and that leads to the sin of divorce, a separation for any cause other than adultery make you responsible for your spouse’s needs for sex, any mistakes made, and neither of you can remarry except by reconciling to the original spouse. 7) Any remarriage that violates these principles is not a marriage before God regardless of the church’s stance on the subject and the partners are engaged in habitual sin. 8) A believer may never initiate divorce from an unbeliever nor separate from a spouse except by mutual consent and for a finite period. However, if an unbeliever (one who has never confessed Christ or is forever lost) leaves a believer, then the marriage is annulled without prejudice toward any children of the marriage.

The church is in crisis and people are dying spiritually in the pews because of sin they have been tricked into accepting into their lives by a selfish and hard-hearted generation of believers and unsaved who have driven godless values into the congregation and allowed them to fester.

People please wake up before it is too late.

Fire Retardent

Recently I was confronted by a man who made an Apology, in the debate sense, for insuring that people in his congregation seek a shallower experience of God presence in his services. Clearly the man is in error to the point of rebellion, but it called to mind the fact that there is an increasing trend, in the wake of heretical extremism, to dampen down the strange fire and excess. This man’s error is to avoid strange and wild practices by insuring that the presence of God was given so little freedom to move on his people that no fire would occur.

For the uninitiated, Fire is a metaphor for the intense emotional and physiological responses that can occur when a believer encounters the incorporeal presence of the Holy Spirit, first hand. If you think back to that “warm fuzzy” you got the first time you had a crush on someone, and filter out the sexual response entirely, that is essentially what the prophet referred to as “having fire shut up” in his bones. This is normative for those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, as well as those who are receptive but fail to take the next step, and if there is a reliable initial evidence other than the fruit of the spirit I’d like to argue for this.

That said this man (I can’t in good conscience call him a pastor) is clearly not baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Ruakh Elohim, that filled the prophets of the Old Covenant and flowed out of the prophet of the New. No Godly man, filled with the Spirit and in right relationship with God, would ever seek to curb the activity of the Spirit. What this man said was, “here we have order and you can practice your gift at home alone.” Such an egregious challenge to the authority of God’s spirit is unconscionable. Yet, in the wake of counterfeit revivals such as Brownsville Texas, Orlando Florida, Toronto Canada and Broken Arrow Oklahoma–there is an increasing trend, even in the bastions of orthodox Christian faith, to suppress the will of God and the relationship with his people, to avoid the embarrassment of such sacrilege as Barking, Laughing on Command, and selling artifacts imbued with “prayer”.

I can empathize with this man’s stated motive, while not agreeing with the solution, one that clearly indicates his lack of faith and suggests that his motives may be far less sincere. But the insurance against such excesses is simple and effective. Every congregation must be led by a board of deacons and elders who are themselves so on fire as well as genuine, that they can discern in the Spirit when something is not Godly and genuine, and curtail it as it begins. Every church must be led by a Pastor or Rector who is Baptized in the Holy Ghost and clearly gifted not with teaching or administration, but with prophecy and discernment of spirits.

Churches were never meant to be so large that the members do not know one another intimately. Heresy and excess are born in the shadows produced by impersonal mega church congregations and small groups, where small misinterpretations of scripture by uncalled leaders grow unchecked into heretical dogmas. Ministry leaders have ceased to be Pastors with the intimacy of knowing each member and sharing each member’s struggles and knowing their rate of growth and learning, to being showmen and entertainers with crowds who follow them while starving for lack of real personal ministry. They’ve farmed this out to others and there is no connection between the pastor who will be held accountable and the members who suffer for lack of personal attention.

Another solution that has arisen is to have each prophet submit or deliver his prophecy to the pastor for evaluation, before delivering it cold and on queue, when the pastor has chosen to make room for it between the announcements and the last song. Imagine telling Jesus, “now tell us what are you going to say to those Sadducees? hmmm. Dogs is a bit strong, they may think you are calling them male prostitutes– How about deeply mistaken brothers. Doesn’t that sound like what God is really saying? Now about this word thieves–”

The key to insuring good order is to submit more fully and genuinely to God. God is not the author of confusion. He uses foolish things to stump the wise, but have a little faith! The Holy Spirit is a gentle spirit and gentleman. He’ll never create confusion, no matter how the congregation babbles while praying in tongues. The only insurance the church has against false prophets, on the order of A A Alan, Cyril of Alexandria, Joseph Smith and Elen G White, is the presence of the Holy Spirit. You have to ask yourself who really benefits from quenching the fire, and silencing the gifted members. Shouldn’t we all seek the baptism so that there will be more who are qualified to discern to the false and counterfeit fire, the false prophet, the deceiver?

From the voice of many counselors is wisdom. This is the defense against strange fire insuring that the whole congregation is baptized in the Spirit and sensing his presence, not relying on emotions and human reason to decide what feels right, insures that the strange and the anti-Christ will be evident. Seek the spirit and find a church where the pastor isn’t too important to have coffee with you, and is filled with the spirit with the evidence of prayer in tongues, gift of prophecy, and spiritual fruit such as humility.

Be a part of God’s solution!


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Trying new software for musings. Musings go back to a day before I had discovered the dreaded blog, and I never had the will to automate the process of updating. I edited each musing as a separate file and then cut and pasted the content of the formatted text into a web editor. This produced adequate results and I was satisfied. Recently I’ve been exposed to several blogs and have found the packaged blog software to be impressive, so I’m hanging up the ol html editor and moving up to a wysiwyg plugin on a SQL driven blog portal. I think I’m going to like it here. Lord willing and the rapture delays, I’ll be adding new musings this year. Lord bless you all.


Apocalypse Now

One of the most hotly debated topics of Christian faith is the interpretation of apocalyptic prophecies, in particular the Revelation of John. Ironically, those groups who are most inclined to denigrate the prophecy are quickest to refer to John as The Revelator. The confusion abounds and the ignorant revel in expounding wild or pagan interpretations or denying the authenticity and authority of the prophecy.

Whatever your personal views and perspectives on apocalypse, there are certain points that are undeniably clear: A peace maker called Anti-Messiah or Anti Christ, A unified totalitarian world government and commercial system, and the persecution of Bible believers Christian and Jew alike at the hands of the new world order.

Anti Christ and his mark are nearly inseparable and the source of the most confusion for readers and interpreters. What we know is that he will be a peacemaker, a diplomat and leader who forges alliances between disparate groups who have warred for generations. Rather than a figure of Godly authority and the establishment of a harmonious future, this peacemaker, by the venality of compromise, will spread ungodliness and a pure satanic Dominion.

Associated with this figure, is an even more cloudy foretelling, the Mark of the Beast and

it’s attendant context. People love to focus on the riddle, “Let him who considers himself wise consider … the number of his name is 600, three twenties and six.” Today you commonly see those who have voluntarily allied themselves with Satan, or those who foolishly consider the Bible and it’s faiths to be superstition, tattooing themselves with 666. Many municipalities have ordinances making it illegal to use 666 as an address, while others ignore it or even as in 666 West 57’th street, NY, NY allow a business to acquire it and use it for commercial purposes. That particular business made great sums of money from music that was dedicated as hymns and odes to Satan and his messengers. Again this was from a crass mercantilism that denied the reality of Satan while using his name and message to sell merchandise.

On the other side of the same coin you have “prophecy hounds” who capitalize on John’s revelation with books designed to titillate or frighten readers with the coming Dominion of Stan followed wrath of God and destruction of the world. Comic books and novels present a heterodox interpretation complete with second chances, thrilling escapes and easy martyrdom.

In this cloud of pagan confusion, atheistic folly and greed, the real message of the prophecy has been lost. Let me just admonish you, if you get “left behind” by all means avoid the mark, don’t confess the world religion, and try to face the torture with the dignity necessary to die in a state of grace. But don’t count on that being possible. If you are left behind, it’s because you weren’t in a right relationship with God and the Ruach Elohim, the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn in that time. You’ll be doing it under your own steam. Don’t count on being able to endure. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind. Live like it’s happening tomorrow and get your life right with God. Now!

That said I’d like to clear some of the confusion. When the various perspectives and interpretations are cleared aside and the distinctives of given denominations and faiths are factored out, we are left with three main elements regarding the Mark of the Beast. One it is the number of his name. Two it is the means by which commerce can occur on a global basis. Three accepting the Mark and the global economy that it opens up will insure that you cannot be rescued or allied with the Messiah –Anointed Rescuer of God– and you will spend eternity live, conscious and imprisoned in a prison constructed for the celestial beings known colloquially as Satan and his Angels. This is the “second death.”

Knowing these three essentials the specifics that are touted by various teachers are irrelevant. We know it’s the number of “his” name, so it is incumbent on us to thwart and oppose all efforts at any consolidated identification system which uses numbers rather than an individual’s name and person. The more fragmented and disorganized the ID systems in place the less like that we were warned of. Figuratively throw some shoes in the works, it is your Christian duty and for our Jewish cousins yours as well. When has a global conqueror, even a “benign” one using commerce and diplomacy, ever missed his chance at killing the Chosen of God? Lawsuits, protest, fasting and prayer – these are your duty soldier. Do them.

Secondly, the globalization of the economy is a thing of evil. Resist. Without a global economy, the antichrist cannot consolidate his power and authority. Armies will never conquer the globe, but currency and trade will. Protectionism; balkinization; diverse, independent economies are the absolute necessity — not only to enforce democratic ideals but to delay the advent of Antichrist. The longer he can be delayed the more souls can be reached and the longer before the totalitarian nightmare republic he will establish.

Lastly resist trends toward globalization, and the elimination of physical, and diverse currencies because without the unified (most likely electronic) currency of the global economy he cannot begin to consolidate power. Do not accept any system that links all your accounts to a single ID, do not accept any system that allows the use of electronic ID in place of your physical, original signature. Do not accept the elimination of physical currency or the use of biometrics and smart chips to make transactions.

Let the Holy Spirit lead you and do not give in to pressure to be apolitical. The word of God tells us that we wrestle, not against “flesh and blood” but against “nations and spirits”. Get up! Stand up and fight for your Christ! This is the religious duty you were sealed for when you were converted.

Heavenly Hydroponics

One of the most prevalent and toxic counterfeit doctrines to plague the Christian Church in the modern era, is the thaumaturgical impulse to use the promises and prophetic names of God to manipulate and coerce him. The inclination and practice are so thoroughly ingrained into God’s people that they are difficult to distinguish from the normative practice and dogmas of the core, apostolic Gospel. Those who recognize the practice will generally note it in the Word Faith movement’s attempts to use the promises of the Old Covenant to grow rich and self satisfied. That is of course a serious breach and one that needs to be addressed. If for no other reason than to point out the fact that if you claim the blessings you are bound by the commandments and liable for the curses. Claim the Abrahamic blessing of wealth and you incur the responsibility for obedience and sacrifice, and the curse of rejection, blindness and separation for failure.

However that is not the focus of this letter and though it is related, it tends to eclipse an equally serious breach. The New Covenant contains many promises for intimacy with God, blessings in life and most of all assurance of God’s competency to save your soul and protect it from the attack and thievery of Satan. These promises are affirmative and reliable just as certain as death. The error comes when people, lacking the baptism of the Holy Spirit and bound by the carnality of the new-born, milk-fed Christian begin to teach.

No matter how thick and defensive we may be, it is impossible to teach the scriptures for any length of time before one notes that a teacher is to be held to a higher standard than the members of the congregation. When the teacher is confronted with this reality he is forced to seek the means to meet that standard or make excuse for why he is exempted. Inevitably this leads to misusing the passages regarding the blessed assurance to give license to live a life of rebellion and disobedience.

This heresy, variously called Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints and Once in Grace Always in Grace ultimately takes the form of tacitly using the promises of security to coerce God into modifying his New Covenant to allow sin to go unrepentant in the life of the Believer, or to suggest that the capacity TO sin is sign that one was never genuinely saved. The one is thaumaturgically coercing God to change his mind, despite his clear assertion,

A Needful Correction

It’s ironic the subtlety and grace with which I’ve been admonished for some errors in my last musing. I say ironic, because in at least three cases those who have been so gentle are the same individuals who have spit bile and vitriol over God-given and textually sound musings in the past. The recent comments have been no less public but a good deal less ugly and the difference is noted and appreciated.

That said, let me confess to having poorly edited the prior musing and as a result an internal contradiction crep into the text. This was partly due to a problem with the spell checker and file converters in my word processor, and partly due to my inattention to detail. Because of this a block of text that should have been there wasn’t and a word or two was substituted (e.g. eventually typoed as venually? got corrected to venially) much to my chagrin.

The upshot was that the text could be read as if I were stating that only a believer who had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was capable of falling from grace, and that any backslidding or slippage after Baptism resulted in immediate fall from grace. This was not the intent of the text and not what God told me to write.

The text now reads as it should have, but all these months later, it is a bit more long winded in the reading. Pardon my slip.

In His Wings

It saddens me how often these musings are inspired by misinformation and ignorance in the pulpit or the tele-evangelists studio. Godly men in the role of teacher and preacher are held to a higher standard in both knowledge and practice of the word. Evangelism is properly the work of reaching the lost on a wholesale scale. When an evangelist uses his venue to teach or a pastor or teacher moves his sermons and lessons to the mass media, it is a frightening thing. He assumes great responsibility for the lives and spiritual welfare of mass humanity whom he has never met nor been inspired to teach.

Such a mass market approach is the proper purview of the prophet whom we are more comfortable calling preacher. Preaching is the activity of conveying God’s inspired word to believers who are strayed from the faith or entertaining heterodoxy, or who are backslidden and in rebellion. We are so much more comfortable with the term preacher because we in the west associate prophet with canonicity, and rightly recognize that false prophecy is a matter of life and death. By calling prophets, preachers, we seem to think we not only reduce the import and urgency of their appeal, we insulate the speaker from the liability toward God that he incurs when he compromises with the powers that be or presents a sermon based on bad scholarship or deceit.

Sadly this semantic manipulation does not dissuade God or eliminate the very serious responsibility the failed or false prophet has to the hearer and to God.

Recently I heard a recording of a man who has spent at least the last 30 years teaching and preaching to the people of North America. This man has a sweet disposition and has helped a large body of believers to fall in love with the scripture and to discover the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs as real people instead of shallow characters from obscure parables. I’m not sure how old the recording is but I believe it to be at least 15 years old (dating from his tenure as a pastor). In this lesson, he attempted to interpret the passage in James where the sibling of our Lord Jesus told us to “call upon on the elders of the church … and [their] prayer … shall heal the sick.”

It should be noted that this man is a fairly good student of the scripture, but he has embraced the heterodoxy neo-Irvingite theology that we in America call Evangelical. However he could properly be call a charismatic because, like his Irvingite fathers, he grudgingly accepts the gifts of the spirit including supernatural tongues and prophecy as occasionally present in today’s church. He would argue against their proper role as a normative component of spirit filled living.

That is an important observation, in that it skews his cosmology and his doctrine to the point that it is a primary cause of the eisegesiswhich he exercised in this lesson. His dogma informs his study and overrides doctrine therefore reinforcing his chosen dogma. This is the worst pitfall of the student theologian and should have been eliminated from this man’s habits long ago. He took a single word from the passage, the one translated anoint, and attempted to redefine it as medical treatment.

Basing his argument on extra-biblical sources he established the word’s common usage to refer to a specific medical treatment common in Hellenistic Greece, and extrapolated it to mean medical treatment in general. He then ignored the proper syntax of the passage and argued that it should have read approximately like, “and they shall administer medical treatment”. This is a surprising abuse of scripture given the source, a man who has a history of scrupulous adherence to context and canonical criticism. He compounded his error by smugly announcing, “now you’ve never heard a pastor say that before!” To be fair, this was after he had explained that he felt unfairly exploited if a person came for prayer when they haven’t first gone for medical treatment.

One is tempted to coin the term reverse reactionism, to refer to the activity of liberal theologians who, upon discovering that a preacher of prophet is making headway in bringing about revival and repentance, attack in order to defend the entrenched liberal theology. This preacher would be just such a reverse-reactionary, attempting to prevent God’s people from turning away from reliance on modern medicine and philosophies.

Before he was done he had recklessly announced that 1) he had no power, and 2) that he had members of his congregation who needed psychiatric drugs and he would not pray for healing of their minds, and 3) that you should have faith in your doctor. Every successive statement was more heterodox and rebellious than the last. I must admit I was offended and appalled. I can only hope he’ll repent and destroy the copies of this sermon.

His faithlessness was tantamount to an argument that the God who made the mind was not capable of healing it. He was also arguing that there is no power in the godly obedience, that the prayer of faith will not save the sick, and that God does not bring the spirit of a sound mind. Essentially he was replacing God with men in the most vomitous piece of carnality and humanism I have seen in a pulpit.

Let’s look at the passage. It is patently clear that the passage says, “and they [the elders of the church] shall anoint” the petitioner. Now it may be true that the term translated anoint is the Hellenistic equivalent of “slap some oil on ya,” but that doesn’t obviate the translation as anoint. What it does is highlight the crude, folksy patois used by the author of James. It’s common usage outside of the present context does not obviate the context, and the speaker is just wrong due to bad scholarship.

The present context is calling upon the Elders of the Church. If that Elder has no special power he isn’t a legitimate Elder. The office of Elder conveys the power to speak with authority on matters of faith and practice and this passage clearly indicates it conveys a deepened responsibility for the welfare of younger members. This is the result of longer service and the deepened relationship and trust in God’s character that comes from long, authentic service (as opposed to inauthentic service which is a waste of time and does produce a powerless and ineffectual leader).

Regardless of any other consideration, the abuse of scripture evidenced in this passage is not only troubling it discredits the entirety of the resulting sermon and indicates a need for repentance on the part of this teacher. As a personal aside I want to make the following appeal to the teacher mentioned above:

You are a man of God, and I have followed your ministry with appreciation for many years. But, you know more than most that the appeal of compromise is an unrelenting temptation for the compassionate teacher. A desire to see our student flourish and succeed can cause the best of us to falter in holding the line of Biblical theology and holiness. But if we do not hold our students accountable, just as they hold us accountable, God will hold us accountable for their blood. If you feel powerless, then I’d invite you to seek the gift of healing and the deeper infilling and communion of the Holy Spirit that accompanies Glossalalia (as opposed to the supernatural gift Xenoglossa).

God is gracious, please hear my appeal. And for the sake of those whom you lead, don’t dismiss this appeal with a smirk and a chuckle as you are wont to do. Please brother, show the godly remorse and repentance that you so appreciate in David. I know you have a heart that seeks to know God’s heart.

Your brother,


A Tussle for Orthodoxy

I have been anonymously contributing citations to support some passages in the Wikipedia article on Pentecost or as they insist on calling it Pentecostalism. Wiki has a standard that requires citations for many things that are simple fact. Ironically one of the critical comments that is often used by editors is {{fact}} which goes to show that wiki insists on opinion not fact. And I’ve often observed that if they could get away with it they’d try to force you to prove blue is blue.

All facetiousness aside, the problem is a serious one. More authority is given to an uninitiated even unsaved “scholar” than those who are eye witness to events and movements. I understand the interest in objectivity, but if primary sources are rejected out of hand, valuable data are never presented for analysis and a horribly skewed perspective is presented. This has been illustrated most clearly by a dialog that I’ve been having with another editor who self identifies as “a pentecostal believer”.

Several years ago when we came to this article it was a morass of cheap attacks and misinformation supported by the worst sort of yellow journalism coming from the BBC, CBC and NatGeo among others. The picture it painted with unsubstantiated claims was that all Pentecostals and Charismatics were essentially identical and practiced snake charming and drinking rat poison as sacraments. I spent a bit of time anonymously patching this, but I didn’t get to finish before other issues drew me away.

In the interim this editor came to the article and began a total rewrite and he has done a good job on the whole.

Our points of contention arose over his classification of movements. Now I grew up in the Assemblies of God and my family for generations have been clerics in first the Wesleyan Holiness movement and later the Assemblies of God. I not only have primary sources close at hand, I have the memories of what I was taught in Sunday School and the pulpit, as well as an Assemblies of God university.

Much to my surprise I found that the other editor, who I’ll call Bill just to make things simpler, had claimed that the Church of God in Christ (CGOC) and the Assemblies of God (AG) were part of disparate movements. The claim was that the CGOC was Wesleyan Holiness but that the AG were part of a movement called “Higher Life” (HL). Now I had never heard of this Higher Life movement. Odd that I was a member of a movement that I’d never heard of. Knowing, as I did that the AG was founded by white CGOC members who separated over the issue of racial segregation laws, I was surprised that those men had somehow magically become something else between receiving their ordination in the CGOC and the first General Council of the AG.

Looking into it further I found that the official Assemblies of God history agreed with me (of course facts don’t change because a new theory is put forward by a historian or sociologist) and I fixed the text. This lead to a revision war with Bill that ended with a compromise. We agreed that we’d say that the AG started as Wesleyan Holiness but drifted till it became Higher Life.

Since I’d agreed to this I realized I better go check on the movement. What I found was that the HL was a movement in Britain that differed from Holiness in the understanding of Sanctification. HL taught the same Wesleyan doctrine of a Second moment called Sanctification. The only difference I could find was that it arose from the Wesleyan Holiness movement, as a book and a movement begun by William Boardman in Britain and arising from the American expression of the Wesleyan Holiness movement.

Ironically the only source I could find about HL was on wikipedia and we must remember that the AG was founded in the US, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Many delegates were from as far away as Egypt, but it was an American birth. To claim that it was founded in the US from a movement founded in Britain, based on a movement in the US, but based on the Wesleyan Holiness Movement which originated in Britain. . . You can see how silly it gets. So my initial assertion stands, the AG was birthed in the heart of the Wesleyan Holiness movement.

Now why worry. The issue came up because Bill was struggling with the issues regarding Sanctification. Now I remember the old timers testifying how blessed they were because God’s grace made them, “Saved, Sanctified, and Filled with the Holy Ghost.” It was formulaic and we all knew this was the same as Wesley’s First, Second and Third “moments” of grace. And we knew that the first moment was sufficient to save. The second blessing or second moment was requisite to the third and the third was requisite to the infinite growth available to the believer.

Our view of sanctification like Wesley, follows the Pauline model of initial legislative act followed by pruning and improvement. Most agree Paul was pretty thoroughly removed from the opportunity of sin and was sound enough by his own standards to rebuke not only the bishops and elders under his direct tutelage (Turkey and Anatolia) but others of the twelve (e.g. Peter) on issues of both faith and baptism. Paul never the less felt compelled to confess fault and sin, where most of us would have seen perfection. This wasn’t depression, it was the fact that God takes us beyond simple sanctification into greater perfection as we allow him. “Be perfect as I am perfect,” is the command of our God.

On the other hand

However, like Wesley, Arminius and Paul before that, we Pentecostals have always taught and believed that it was possible to backslide and that the unregenerate, or those who backslide after receiving the Baptism, must surely be cut off. We see in Jesus own words that many who had the supernatural gifts of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit will be cut off and Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” How is this possible, except by eventuality of disfellowship.

There are a couple of fallacies in this argument. First is the idea that it is Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Wesley’s Fire Baptism, that is the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Heb 6:4-6 (kjv). The second is the ease with which damning disfellowship can occur. A close examination of the passage in Hebrews shows that it contains a Hebraic parallelism. In Hebrew poetry there is the concept of repeating yourself one or more ways in order to add nuance or imagery to the subject. What we have in this passage is:

who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come”. This is not a laundry list of criteria, but repeating the same concept four ways because of the abject horror the author feels that anyone could be so foolish. Enlightenment, the heavenly gift, the presence of the spirit, the power of the world to come – these are all references to the coming of the Paraclete and the salvation he brings. Rather than the gift of Pentecost received by the 120, this is the pentecostal gift of salvation received by the crowd who heard Peter’s sermon and believed.

In other words, falling from grace is not reserved for those fortunate enough to receive the fire baptism as a requisite to ministry. Instead, it is an opportunity available to any believer who is rebellious or careless enough to choose that path.

However, in verse 6 we see it is “If they shall fall away,” that this horror will befall them. If is a contingency, not a certainty. Salvation comes only once, “for it is impossible. . .to crucify Christ afresh”. But it is not easily lost even through disfellowship. In 1 Corinthians 5:5 (kjv) we are instructed to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved” in Jesus’ own good time.

Why disfellowship? God is omniscient and holy. This holiness is so profound that in biblical times, the officiant would wear bells as he entered the holy of hollies to bring the blood of sacrifice. If the bells stopped they knew the presence of God had killed the priest and he would be dragged from the holiest place by a rope tied to his ankle. To claim that those who face the judgment seat of God could manage to lie, even to save themselves, is a logical absurdity. Holy God cannot abide lying or any form of wickedness and more importantly it can’t abide in his presence. Thus the claims of these erstwhile miracle workers must be true, yet they are damned along with Satan and his angels.

How can such a one have been saved, yet lose salvation. We know that “nothing can snatch [us]” from God’s hand. We cannot be taken, but as beings of free moral agency and the image of our creator, we can choose to rebel. The loss of salvation due to unrepentant, habitual sin leads eventually to a state where God must remove his grace. We see this in the passage where the rebel is compared to a Dog returning to eat it’s own vomit, but we also see it in the parable of the sower.

Much time has been given to the seed that falls on good ground, as well as that which falls among the thorns or on the path. The commentaries bulge with explanations but any honest analysis shows us that Jesus meant the seed to be the word of God, and the soil to be the lives of men. That naturally makes the stalks that sprout, the new life of salvation. But notice tends to pass over the seed that falls on shallow soil. Like the good soil and the path, the shallow soil is unencumbered by poisonous weeds or thorns. Like the good soil the seed finds fertile ground to sprout and begin to grow. But the hard stoney heart of such soil causes the tender shout of salvation to die and dry up. In the end, even the seed is gone and what soil there was has been corrupted by the dead roots of the faded wheat.

This fall from grace, illustrated in the dead straw that can only be cleared by burning, is permanent and irremediable, as it would require that we “crucify Christ afresh.” This is an impossibility and as a result those souls that reach this unlikely state are never able to be renewed. One might believe this is harsh, but it is not. God grants those who are saved a supernatural power as a free gift associated with grace, “the power to become the sons of God.”

Associated with the sanctification is the power to resist temptation, to avoid occasion to sin and to repent of those sins. Repentance requires that one entirely stop engaging in the given sin, and that one make restitution to one’s victim(s), and finally that one dedicate one’s life to preventing such sins from being repeated by others. Again, God grants the power, he only demands willingness to obey.

But some sins are just too precious to us. For instance, a Christian believer might have been tempted so badly that he or she marries another believer who committed the sin of divorcing his or her spouse. So we have a case where a Believer has married a believer who has a believing former spouse. This is an abomination before God. Jesus said that the couple are living in open and unrepentant adultery. The only option for them is to divorce. Though God doesn’t view the legal agreement as a marriage in the first place and as such there’s nothing to divorce. The only option for this couple is to dissolve the fraudulent marriage and reconcile with the previously married partner, if the former spouse is willing and able, and on the former spouses’ terms.  If the former spouse is not amenable then enforced celibacy by the (now twice) divorced spouse is the only path. God in the person of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19 is the Judge.

This follows the pattern I mentioned because the couple have victimized the former spouse by committing adultery, which the Bible views as a form of robbery. Your body, regardless of your gender, is the chattel property of your spouse and you do NOT have the choice. You can come to an agreement to remain celibate for a time, or make accounting for the incapacity of one spouse, but you cannot refuse your spouse otherwise. It is rebellion and theft.

Now I know there are practicalities of mood and arousal etcetera, and I’m not suggesting you ignore those, only that you have to make a good faith effort to accommodate your spouse, every time. That’s love. Love does not promote it’s own mood, by refusing or forcing. But legalistically it is sin to refuse. And the fact of guilt will damage your soul just as the fact of adulterous guilt or murderous guilt will. So mature Christians will voluntarily accommodate their spouses’ need for sex out of Love. Period.

Some have suggested that you can never reach a point of losing your salvation. That it’s a “finished work” and therefore you can never escape God.

This is a doctrine of Demons. It is intended to allow the unrepentant to as Paul put it, “leaven the whole lump” meaning the whole church. It sounds loving, and kind. But the Devil used to be an Angel, he knows how to fake grace and love in a religious context. The Devil has been in the business of religion for an awfully long time. By encouraging the sinful to feel like they are okay just as long as they pray a little rote prayer of repentance, or confess to a priest, eventually, he encourages the unrepentant to get closer and closer to the edge every time they slip

The eventual outcome is a damned soul who looks good, and speaks well, and may have supernatural gifts of the Spirit, but who is a fraud.  As a fraud, he’ll have replaced the fruit of the spirit with the sorcerous tripe found in psychology text books and magazines.  He’ll label self sacrifice as codependency, Chrstian love as enabling, patience as ambivalence, etc.  But worst of all, he’ll replace faith with belief in a kind of magical emmination, instead of simple trust in the character and compassion of the divine spirit we serve.

Or, conversely, he may claim there is no answer to prayer and God does move miraculously.  HIs brand of Christianity denies the power of Godliness.

Why do they have gifts? Because, “the gifts and callings of the Lord are without repentance.” God never takes the gifts away, and even uses the gifted but lost to reach others who are lost and redeem the presence of the gift. It is possible to find a gifted Evangelist who heals the sick, preaches the gospel and leads many to Christ – who is himself lost because he blasphemed the spirit by calling another man of God a demoniac. Such a man becomes delusional. As the Bible puts it, “that they believe a lie.” And his conscience becomes seared to the point he never struggles to improve his walk or cares about his pet sin. Even Satan stops tempting him very hard because he’s “in the bag” like a game bird.

And he’ll start teaching sin and false grace. Grace that is not a precious commodity to be cherished and protected through obedience, but Grace that is a faded tattoo that can never truly be lost.

This counterfeit grace is a stain and it marks the fraud, the servant of antiChrist, like a beacon. Bear in mind this is not a burden placed on the lost and unregenerate. This is a responsibility given to those whom God has supernaturally gifted to be able.

How does this relate to Bill? Well Bill’s sources were a pair of authors I am personally acquainted with, although I haven’t had contact with one in 14 years and the other in 11 years. These men, like myself, grew up in the Assemblies of God and were educated in the same institutions I was. But, unlike myself never achieved that third moment of grace, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, prior to becoming influential authors. As such, they were on the outside looking in so to speak. Lacking the perspective to understand the experience they accepted a Charismatic Doctrine that substituted emotional response in place of supernatural experience and gifts.

I have debated this issue with the both of them, though they are likely to have forgotten me among the hundreds of authentic Pentecostals who tried to teach them. So, like the expert skydiver who has never jumped, they teach what they do not know. They are part of a movement that has attempted to eradicate the Pentecostal message from Pentecostal churches and replace it with a Charismatic (second wave) theology which is reformation Evangelical rather than orthodox Arminian (not to be confused with the Armenian Orthodox Church).

This insurgency is designed, like those we’ve faced in every generation going back to Paul, to divert the church from the simple gospel of Christ into pagan philosophies, psychological sorceries and compromised witness without the power of the Holy Spirit working visibly in the gifts of the prophets.

Remember “the gift of the prophet is subject to the PROPHET”! Gifts are given to individuals, as a reward for their obedience and faith, for the benefit of the church. Prophets, which we seem more comfortable calling preachers, have been the target of every great move to destroy or distort the church. Eliminate the prophets and you eliminate the gifts, as he has done every time in the past. When you eliminate the office of prophet, established in the scriptures, cited in the Didache, and made manifest in the Pentecostal movements through the ages. God removes his spirit and his blessing from the church and the land. God is not obliged to gift where we decide, because people have established protocol demanding God gift their elected leaders. God will move and gift where HE sees fit. As he always has done.

God bless you as you seek his face,