Posts Tagged ‘church’

Why are people not casting out demons today like they did in biblical times?

 

Casting out demons was and still is considered a sign gift. The doctrine of spiritual gifts is derived through textual criticism of scripture in the original languages as it is interpreted within the context of the whole of scripture.

 

Spiritual gifts are identified as:

a. Pneumatidos – 1 Cor 12:11 “spiritual things” not natural talents.

b. Charisma – grace gift (1 Cor 12:4) received through grace given to all believers.

c. Special ability of service in the body of Christ (Mt 25:14-28), given to all believers (1 Cor 12:7, 11; 1 Pet 4:10), according to God’s will (1 Cor 12:18, 28; Eph 4:11; Rm 12:6), to be used within and for the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27; 14:12; 1 Pet 4:10).

 

There is a further distinction between spiritual gifts as sign gifts verses abiding gifts. A sign gift is a supernatural gift given by God to someone to confirm a message or a messenger. The abiding gifts are granted to believers upon salvation through the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up the church.

 

1) Sign Gifts

a) Tongues (1 Cor. 14:22; Mk 16:17).

b) Healing (Mk 16:17; Acts 4:16; 5:12; 16).

c) Exorcism or casting out demons (Mk 16:17; Mt 10:8; Acts 16:16-18).

d) Ability to raise the dead (Mt 10:8; Acts 8:36-42; 20:7- 12).

e) Prophet – Giving revelation & foretelling (future) 2 Pet 1:21.

2) Abiding Gifts

a. Apostle – 12 apostles with sign gifts or root sense of “one sent” (Acts 14:4)

b. Prophet – forthtelling (proclaims truth already given/known) (Heb. 2:1)

c. Evangelist – proclaim the gospel all should do the work (2 Tim 4:5) some have the special gift.

d. Pastor/Teacher – grammatically connected (2 Tim 4:2- 3; 4:12-13)

 

There are three different doctrinal views on whether the gifts are for today:  all the gifts exist today, none exist today or some exist today. I have studied all views and I have found the arguments for the cessation of gifts to be insufficient. So today I align myself with the belief that all of the gifts exist today. But this begs the question: Why is exorcism so rare today if this is true?  To that I answer with another question, “Who says it wasn’t rare during biblical times as well?” Not all gifts were manifested by all believers, not 2000 years ago and not now.

 

The point is also made that sign gifts were more prevalent during a time when the message of Christ was being affirmed by God through the apostles. That is not to say that God does not act through miraculous wonders and signs today to affirm the gospel message, but it is recognized that relatively few practice the sign gifts today. Are demons still being cast out in the name of Christ? Many Christians testify that they have witnessed this to be true. Some churches teach and practice deliverance from demonic activity today all over the world. It is possible that advancement in our understanding of physiological illnesses has reduced the frequency of believers to attribute biological or mental illnesses to demonic activity, but that does not negate the actuality of demonic activity today. On the other hand, not all illnesses can be attributed to spiritual influences, not 2000 years ago and not now.

 

That being said, however, sudden and complete healings routinely dumbfound physicians who cannot claim credit nor explain what seems miraculous. God still delivers today. He is still a God of healing and He is still a God of miracles. Our understanding of how He works is still in process, but He remains the same – yesterday, today and forever. Perhaps the deficient practice of sign gifts is a result of the church’s neglect in training believers. I encourage you to explore this issue for yourself rather than trusting every teaching or tradition without examination.

 

We know there is a moral law because:

1.                          absolutes are undeniable. Absolute moral truth is best known by our reactions not our actions.

2.                          we cant know injustice unless we know justice. You can’t know what is wrong unless you know what is right. The reason we know whether a map of Australia is accurate or true is because we have an absolute standard (the country of Australia) by which to measure.

3.                          real moral disagreements imply an objective moral standard. We can debate map A verses map B of Australia, because we have a real unchanging standard to compare them. Without a real unchanging standard of good the difference between Mother Theresa and Hitler is nothing more than a matter of opinion.

4.                          we would not make excuses for doing wrong if there was no moral law. What is the point?

5.                          we wouldn’t know the world was getting worse or better if there was no moral law. Secular humanist love to tell us that the world is so much worse because of religion. How do they know what worse is if they deny a standard of good?

6.                          there would be no human rights without the moral law. There would be no way to judge the Nazis, Saddam Hussein, or other war criminals without a standard beyond government or international law.

 

If God knows everything and He is going to do what he wants anyway, why pray?

Short answer: We pray because God says so. 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Long answer:

What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christianity? Some say that AIDS, abortion, war, poverty, sin, atheists, or liberal politicians are. Billy Graham said “No! The greatest hindrance to Christianity today is Christians do not know how to practice the presence of God.”

1) How do I know God hears me?

a. We are called a royal priesthood. 1 Pet 2:5, 9 (While it may appear that God honors our prayers because we simply bear the name “Christian”, it is less about who we are and more about the character of God – the source of love and grace – that He honors our prayers.)

b. As part of a royal priesthood prophesied in the Old Testament Ex 19:5-6 (conditional upon obedience) and fulfilled in Christ Rev. 1:5-6 (firstborn of the dead, sitting at the right had of the father in his resurrected body, interceding upon our behalf), I have access to the throne of grace. Heb 4:16 (looking back to vs 15, Christ fully identifies with us, God put on human clothing to offer himself a sacrifice for us, resurrected in the body and prays continually for us. Through the Holy Spirit he enacts His will by praying through us–His priesthood. We are invited to, among other things, participate in miracles and share in His work on Earth establishing His kingdom while sharing God’s grace and His message of redemption.)

c. Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessingin the heavenly realm. How does God see you? Replace the pronouns in Eph. 1:2-14 with I and me.

Are you living a life worthy of the name you bear?

2) Does intercessory prayer work?

a. Num 16:46-48 The incense from Aaron’s censor is a picture of the intercessory prayers of a righteous man. James 5:16 God sent judgment upon the rebellious Israelites. In obedience and according to God’s will, Aaron took his stand between those who had already shown symptoms of the plague and those who had not. He swung the censor creating a dividing line between the two groups standing in the gap and interceding for the suffering people.

b. Heb 7:24-25 Our participation in Christ’s high priestly ministry of intercession is literally our inheritance and a rare and precious privilege. If we do not practice God’s presence, who will?

If the Holy Spirit were removed to day, would you notice? How much of your life would be unaffected?

c. Example of intercessory prayer. Gen 18:17-33 (Abraham and Lot)

  1. Abraham identified himself with the sufferings and weaknesses of others. Read Jeremiah or Lamentations
  2. He plead the attributesof God for His creation. Ps.89
  3. He reminds God of his past mercies. Ps. 136

As we partake in communion with God all day, continually, we begin to identify with God’s character. We call this becoming Christ-like. We draw near to the source of our next breath and we share His heart. God’s desires become our desires, His will becomes our will. We can pray according to His will because He reveals His will to those who love Him. As a result, we see more prayers answered in accordance with our desires because we now pray His desires.

“This is that which unlocks the treasury of heaven. Many keys fit many locks, but the master key is the blood and the name of Him that died and rose again, and even lives in Heaven to save the uttermost.” Charles Spurgeon

3) How can my prayers be more effective?

a. How do we release power through prayer? Jam 5:13-16 We pray in affliction, praise in gladness, intercede for the suffering, restore the sick and grant remission of sins. Why is forgiveness necessary for efficasious prayer?

b. How can we experience the peace of God? Phil 4:4-7 Why is thanksgiving key?  What will it take for you to live a worry free life?

c. Sometimes God asks us to surrender parts of our life that we don’t want to give up.He might ask you to give up alcohol, an extra hour of sleep, your pride–things that might not be a sin to someone else. These things may not be a sin to someone else, but it may be creating  noise in your life by drowning out God’s voice.  His desire is for you is to have perfect communion with Him. He wants to see more of your prayers answered, too. What is the noise in your life?

What part of your life do you need to sacrifice upon the alter before God to eliminate any hindrances in your communion with Him?

So why pray? Look at the lead question at the beginning of the article again. The second premise implies an impersonal God.  This is the God of the agnostic or deist. A deist says, “we can’t deny God created, but after that He just stepped back and now watches everything like spectator viewing a great cosmic motion picture.” This view of God contrasts with the Christian God. God may be sitting on His throne in heaven now, but 2000 years ago He left the glory of heaven and put on humanity to suffer and die for you. You may veiw yourself as one insignificant detail on a great tapestry stretching across the heavens. But to God, that insignificant detail was worth suffering on a cross. Is this the activity of an impersonal being? Unique to the Christian faith, God desires a relationship, He desires communion and He has provided the way.

I close echoing this prayer found in Colossians 1:9-14 for you, dear friend.

 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever crawled through a wilderness, chained by the weight of the past?  Have you ever been thirsty for something more than this menial existence has provided?  Do the wounds from your journey throb with each tedious step that you take? 

 

 

Jeremiah 2:13 says,” My people have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” 

 

There is a spring of living water found in Jesus Christ.  In Him you will find all that you’ve ever longed for.  In Him the aching in your heart will be stilled, and you will know the fulfillment of your dreams.  Yet, how often do we turn to dig our own cisterns with the belief that they will quench our thirst, heal our scars, and fill our emptiness. 

Perhaps it’s the cistern of money, offering security and pleasure.  Or maybe you’ve dug a reservoir within yourself, meant to hold knowledge and independence.  Still, there is the constant lure to hewn for sufficiency in the strength of others.  These are all splintered promises and cracked dreams, holding only a façade of joy. 

Nevertheless, we toil without ceasing, trying to keep the walls from crashing in around us.  We lie awake at night, disappointed and broken; wondering what went wrong.  While we strive and struggle, the spring of hope continues its peaceful surge, waiting for us to come and drink. 

So, here before you stands a choice.  Which will you choose:  life or death, fulfillment or emptiness?  A shattered vessel will never fill the longing of your heart, but the sweet taste of the Savior’s love will quench your thirst forever.

 

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians records the gospel as it was preached by the early church. Some estimates have placed this creed to 6 A.D., the year that Christ is thought to have been crucified. This is the same gospel that Christians today profess belief in.

 

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

 

You may still have questions. Could all this be true? Does a theistic God exist? What about the Bible, it’s so old how can it be relevant or even true? I encourage you to post your questions here. What do you have to lose? You just might find what you’re looking for—answers to the meaning of life.

 

Continue praying for the salvation of the middle east and all of those suffering in bondage to lies. The dawn is breaking, there is hope.

Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

Top Hamas Leader’s Son Converts to Christianity
By Ethan Cole

The son of a top Hamas leader has converted to Christianity and prays someday his family will also accept Jesus Christ as their savior, an Israeli newspaper reported.

Masab Yousef, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, revealed for the first time in an exclusive interview with Haaretz newspaper that he has left Islam and is now a Christian. Prior to the interview’s publication last Thursday, Yousef’s family did not know of his faith conversion even though he is in regular contact with them.

“[T]his interview will open many people’s eyes, it will shake Islam from the roots, and I’m not exaggerating,” Yousef, who now resides in the United States, said. “What other case do you know where a son of a Hamas leader, who was raised on the tenets of extremist Islam, comes out against it?”

Yousef, who is now 30-years-old, was first exposed to Christianity eight years ago while in Jerusalem where out of curiosity he accepted an invitation to hear about Christianity. Afterwards, he became “enthusiastic” about what he heard and would secretly read the Bible every day. . . .

For his part, Yousef says he hopes to “open the eyes” of Muslims and “reveal the truth” to them about Islam and Christianity with the goal to “take them out of the darkness and the prison of Islam.” . . .

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080804/top-hamas-leader-s-son-converts-to-christianity.htm

 

John 3:16-21

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Believers who live by the truth of the light draw the lost out of darkness. Loving the unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable and granting mercy to the unmerciful. Grace is not the cost of salvation it is a privilege for those who have received it to share it. Today pray for those who are blinded by the darkness and that our light will shine so brightly and consistently that those in bondage will be drawn to it and find true freedom at the cross. 

 On a personal note, I especially want to lift up my evolutionist friends at Florida Citizens for Science. One need only read the comments made on their blog to recognize the fear and the hate perpetrated by such “citizen” groups existing for the sole purpose of stripping our freedoms and silencing the truth. I posted a dissenting opinion on their blog and it did not take long for them to beautifully illustrate my point. It is good to be a “lunatic” for Christ.

Job 21:14-15

 
14     Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
We have no desire to know your ways.
15     Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
What would we gain by praying to him?’