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By David Reagan
Every time a war breaks out in the Middle East, I receive a flurry of phone calls and email messages asking if it could be the War of Armageddon. This question is prompted by the fact that most people are familiar with only one end time war – the one that has been popularized in movies and novels as the “Battle of Armageddon.”
The concept comes from the book of Revelation where it says that armies will gather in the end times at a place “which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (Revelation 16:16). This term literally means the Mount of Megiddo and refers to the ancient fortress of Megiddo that controlled the Valley of Jezreel. In English the word was transliterated as Armageddon, and the term came to be applied to the Valley of Jezreel which lies in front of Har-Magedon, running diagonally across Israel from Haifa to the Jordan River.
Most people are surprised to discover that there is no reference in the book of Revelation, or any other place in the Bible to the “Valley of Armageddon,” nor is there any reference to the “Battle of Armageddon” – but more about that later. People are even more surprised to learn that Bible prophecy reveals nine wars in the end times and that Armageddon relates to only one of these.
The Next Prophetic War
Most prophetic scholars have long believed that the next great end time war will be the War of Gog & Magog that is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. This, for example is the stated position of Joel Rosenberg in his popular book, Epicenter. This war will start when Russia invades Israel with certain specified allies, all of whom are Muslim nations today.
But I seriously doubt that the conflict described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the next war of end time Bible prophecy. There are two reasons why I feel this way.
First, there is a condition for the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 that has not been met. Three times in Ezekiel 38 – in verses 8, 11, and 14 – it states that the war described in that chapter will not occur until the people of Israel are living “securely” in “unwalled villages.”
Israel is not living in security today. It is bombarded daily by missiles from Gaza, and it is constantly under the threat of missile attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon. There is also the ever present threat of terrorist attacks, a threat that has forced Israel to construct a 400 mile long wall down the center of the country. In short, it is laughable today to even think of the Jewish people of Israel as living “securely” in “unwalled villages.”
The second reason I doubt that the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the next end time war of Bible prophecy is because the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38:5-6 as the allies of Russia do not include a single Arab state with a border adjacent to Israel. The nations identified are Persia (Iran), Cush (most likely modern day Sudan), Put (Libya and possibly Algeria and Tunisia), and two regions that lie within modern day Turkey (Gomer and Bethtogarmah). There is no mention of the nations that share a common border with Israel – namely, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza.
Why are the nations located next to Israel not mentioned as allies of Russia? I believe the best explanation of this mystery is the one supplied by Bill Salus in his book, Isralestine. He proposes that the next end time prophetic war will be the one described in Psalm 83, a war between Israel and its neighbors. He believes this war will produce the conditions that are necessary for the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and I agree with that conclusion.
With that point clarified, let’s now take an overview of the end time prophetic wars in their likely chronological sequence, starting with the first in this series.
1) The War of Extermination – Psalm 83
The psalm states that the immediate neighbors of Israel will launch a war for the purpose of “wiping out Israel as a nation” (verse 4). The nations described as being a part of this nefarious effort are those with a common border with Israel today (verses 6-8). The rest of the psalm is a prayer for the victory of Israel (verses 9-18).
The outcome of the war is not stated, but we know from other scriptures that Israel will be victorious. For example, in Zechariah 12:6 we are told that in the end times Israel will be like “a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples…” Also, in Amos 9:15 we are told that once the Jews are re-established in their land, “they will not again be rooted out from their land.”
Bill Salus believes this war will result in an overwhelming victory for Israel, resulting in great territorial expansion and enhanced national resources. It will also produce the security spoken of in Ezekiel 38.
In the second installment of this “End Time Wars” series, we will look at the second war in the end times sequence – the First War of Gog & Magog.
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Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.
Understanding Six Worldviews that Rule the World*
By Dr. David Noebel
President, Summit Ministries
Back in the early 1990s, Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bauer sought to identify what they saw happening to Christian young people in the United States. Their conclusion was that “nothing short of a great Civil War of Values rages today throughout North America. Two sides with vastly differing and incompatible worldviews are locked in a bitter conflict that permeates every level of society.”[i] The war, as Dobson and Bauer put it, is a struggle “for the hearts and minds of people. It is a war over ideas.”[ii]
On one side is the Christian worldview, the foundation of Western civilization. On the other side are five worldviews: Islam, Secular Humanism, Marxism, Cosmic Humanism, and Postmodernism. While these worldviews don’t agree in every detail, they unanimously concur on one point-their opposition to biblical Christianity.
As in any war, there are casualties, and anti-Christian ideas are taking their toll. Recent surveys indicate that up to 59 percent of “born again” college students drop out of that category by their senior year.[iii] According to George Barna’s research, nine out of ten “born again” adults do not have a biblical worldview. To effectively engage this battle of ideas, Christians must have an understanding of the times and “know what [they] ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
What is a Worldview?
Everyone bases his or her decisions and actions on a worldview. We may not be able to articulate our worldview, and our worldview may be inconsistent, but we all have one. So the question is; what is a worldview?
A worldview is “an interpretive framework”[iv]-much like a pair of glasses-through which you view everything. It refers to any set of ideas, beliefs, or values that provide a framework or map to help you understand God, the world, and your relationship to God and the world. Specifically, a worldview contains a particular perspective regarding at least each of the following ten disciplines: theology, philosophy, ethics, biology, psychology, sociology, law, politics, economics, and history.[v]
This article summarizes the six worldviews that currently exert the most influence over the whole world. Other worldviews exist, but they wield much less influence. For example, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, or Shintoism may profoundly influence some Eastern countries, but hardly sway the entire world. The major ideas and belief systems controlling the world, and especially the West, are contained in the following six worldviews.
The Christian Worldview
Many people, including many Christians, do not realize that the Bible addresses all ten disciplines of a worldview. Christianity is the embodiment of Christ’s claim that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). When we say, “This is the Christian way,” we mean this is the way Christ would have us approach life and the world. It is no small matter to think and act as Christ instructs.
America has been described as a Christian nation. However, America-along with the rest of Western Civilization-has turned away from its intellectual, cultural and religious heritage. Almost thirty years ago, Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer noted America’s drift toward secularism as a failure of Christians “to see that all of this [cultural and social breakdown] has come about due to a shift in world view-that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole.”[vi]
The study of worldviews in general, and the Christian worldview in particular, is a wake-up call for everyone. A country seeking to promote human rights (including the right to be born), liberty, and the common good must adhere to the only worldview that can account for our existence and dignity. We contend that human dignity comes from the fact that human beings are created in the image of God, a uniquely biblical perspective. Abandoning this perspective has dire consequences, considering the rise in abortions, homosexual practices, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, and the move toward human cloning.
The Islamic Worldview
It is estimated there are 1.3 billion followers of Islam.[vii] In recent years, the Islamic worldview has been growing exponentially in numbers, power, and influence, and, therefore, is worthy of our study. As one article headlined, “The future belongs to Islam,”[viii] providing added incentive to understand its beliefs and goals.
Writing in The Sword of the Prophet, commentator and international political consultant, Serge Trifkovic, explains that “Islam is not a ‘mere’ religion; it is a complete way of life, an all-embracing social, political and legal system that breeds a worldview peculiar to itself.”[ix]
Christianity and Islam have some teachings in common, including belief in a personal God, creation of the material universe, angels, immortality of the soul, heaven, hell, and judgment of sin. Likewise, Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet (one of many), his virgin birth, physical ascension, second coming, miracles, and messiahship.[x]
The major differences between Christianity and Islam is Islam’s rejection of the biblical Trinitarian God and the death of Jesus for the sins of the world. Muslims likewise reject Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead and his claim to be the Son of God.
Another major difference between the founder of Christianity and the founder of Islam is that the Bible describes Jesus as living a sinless life while the traditions of Islam depict Muhammad having many flaws. “Muhammad’s practice and constant encouragement of bloodshed,” writes Trifkovic, “are unique in the history of religions. Murder, pillage, rape, and more murder are in the Koran and in the Traditions.”[xi] Furthermore, Muhammad’s life “seems to have impressed his followers with a profound belief in the value of bloodshed as opening the gates of Paradise.”[xii] Thus, the history of Islam from 622 A.D. to the present has been a history of violence, submission, and war toward infidels (non-Muslims).
For many Muslims, one of Mohammad’s most important legacies is to see the world as a conflict between the Land of Peace (Dar al-Islam) and the Land of War (Dar al-Harb). On the other hand, there are a number of Muslims, particularly those living in Western democracies, who do not believe the Koran’s violent passages regarding killing infidels and Islam’s violent history should be applied literally today.[xiii] Yet, in either case, Islam is a worldview with which Christians must contend.
The Secular Humanist Worldview
Secular Humanism refers primarily to the ideas and beliefs outlined in the Humanist Manifestoes of 1933, 1973, and 2000. Secular Humanism is the dominant worldview on the majority of colleges and universities throughout all Western nations. It has also made gains in many Christian colleges and universities, especially in the areas of biology, sociology, law, politics, and history.
Secular Humanists recognize the classroom as a powerful incubator for indoctrinating students into their worldview. Operating under the educational buzzword “liberalism,” a Secular Humanist agenda controls the curriculum in America’s public schools thanks to the National Education Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and a host of foundations, including the Ford Foundation.
Christians considering a college education must be well versed in the Secular Humanistic worldview or risk losing their own Christian perspective by default. In her book Walking Away From the Faith, Ruth Tucker, a professor at Calvin Seminary, makes it clear that Christian students are walking away from their faith because of Secular Humanist teaching.
The ideas of Humanism have gained prominent influence throughout modern society. B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Erich Fromm, all former “Humanists of the Year,” have powerfully affected the discipline of psychology. Scientists such as the late Carl Sagan, another “Humanist of the Year,” preached his Humanism on a widely heralded television and high school curriculum series. More recently, the outspoken atheist and Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins has gained much attention through a number of popular books on evolution and, of course, his 2006 best-seller, The God Delusion. Clearly, Humanists are willing to support their worldview-often more faithfully than Christians. For these and other reasons, we must give the Secular Humanist worldview close attention.
The Marxist Worldview
Marxism is a militantly atheistic, materialistic worldview. It has developed a perspective regarding each of the ten disciplines-usually in great detail. Based on the writings of Karl Marx in the late 1800s, Marxism has taken on some new looks in recent years-including debasing culture as a form of revolutionary activity.[xiv] The latest Communist Manifesto, titled Empire, was published in 2000 by Harvard University Press. Marx’s presence continues to be felt around the world.
Marxism predominates on many American university campuses. Recruited as college students in the 1950s and ’60s, many Marxist “radicals” earned PhDs and are now the tenured faculty on many campuses. “With a few notable exceptions,” says former Yale professor Roger Kimball, “our most prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities have installed the entire radical menu at the center of their humanities curriculum at both the undergraduate and the graduate level.”[xv] U. S. News and World Report published a lengthy article in 2003 entitled “Where Marxism Lives Today,” which states, “Marxism is so entrenched in courses ranging from literature to anthropology… that today’s students are virtually bathed in Marx’s ideas.”[xvi]
The “radical menu” Kimball referred to includes a large serving of economic determinism. According to Karl Marx, the key problem with capitalism is that it breeds exploitation. Therefore, capitalism must be replaced with a more humane economic system, one that abolishes free markets (private property and the free and peaceful exchange of goods and services) and replaces it with a government-controlled economy.
Marx’s economic ideas and political policy go hand in hand. A Marxist style communism controls a large number of nations around the world, and traveling under the name of “social democracy,” a Marxist inspired political philosophy has engulfed Western European nations. Further, many South American countries have also taken a Marxist turn in recent years, and many think that the current administration and congress of the United States is quickly taking America down the same socialist road.[xvii]
In addition, some Christian groups have attempted to combine their Christianity with Marx’s ideas of social equality. Because of the prevalence and subversive nature of Marxism, Christians must be aware of the goals of Marxist-thinking professors, politicians, and theologians.
The Cosmic Humanist Worldview
The Cosmic Humanist worldview consists of two interrelated spiritual movements. One is known as the New Age Movement (NAM), and the other is neo-paganism, which includes occult practices, Native American spiritism, and Wicca.
The New Age Movement mixes ancient Eastern religions (especially Hinduism and Zen Buddhism) with a touch of other religious traditions, adds a smattering of scientific jargon, and imports the newly baked concoction into mainstream America. “The New Age,” explains researcher Johanna Michaelsen, “is the ultimate eclectic religion of self: Whatever you decide is right for you is what’s right, as long as you don’t get narrow-minded and exclusive about it.”[xviii]
The assumption that truth resides within each individual, however, becomes the cornerstone for a worldview. Granting oneself the power to discern all truth is a facet of theology, and this theology has ramifications that many members of the New Age movement have already discovered. Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy (a book referred to as “The New Age watershed classic”), says the movement ushers in a “new mind-the ascendance of a startling worldview.”[xix]
This worldview is summed up by Jonathan Adolph: “In its broadest sense, New Age thinking can be characterized as a form of utopianism, the desire to create a better society, a ‘New Age’ in which humanity lives in harmony with itself, nature, and the cosmos.”[xx]
While New Age believers make no serious distinctions between religions, considering that all are ultimately the same, John P. Newport explains that “neopagans generally believe that they are practicing an ancient folk religion, whether as a survival or a revival. Thus, being focused on the pagan religions of the past, they are not particularly interested in a New Age of the future.”[xxi]
Through best-selling books and popular television shows and movies,[xxii] the Cosmic Humanist worldview is gaining converts in the West and around the world. Malachi Martin lists dozens of organizations that are either New Age or sympathetic to Cosmic Humanist views. Clearly, Cosmic Humanism, a transplant from the East, is a growing presence throughout the Western hemisphere.
the Postmodern Worldview
Forced to face the inhumanity, destruction, and horror brought about by the Third Reich and the Soviet Gulag during the first half of the 20th century, a substantial group of Enlightenment humanists and neo-Marxists abandoned their worldview to create one they believed more fitting with reality, resulting in the Postmodern turn. By the 1980’s, Postmodern professors were making significant inroads in humanities and social science departments around the world.
Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland notes that Postmodernism refers to a philosophical approach primarily in the area of epistemology, or what counts as knowledge or truth. Broadly speaking, Moreland says “Postmodernism represents a form of cultural relativism about such things as truth, reality, reason, values, linguistic meaning, the ‘self’ and other notions.”[xxiii]
Though Postmodernism comes in many forms, there are three unifying values: (1) a commitment to relativism; (2) an opposition to metanarratives, or totalizing explanations of reality that are true for all people of all cultures; and (3) the idea of culturally created realities. Each of these commitments are designed to deny that there is a worldview or belief system that can be considered absolute Truth.
Postmodernism’s most effective methodological tool, one used extensively in university modern language departments, is known as Deconstruction, which means (1) that words do not represent reality, and (2) that concepts expressed in sentences in any language are arbitrary.
Some Postmodernists go so far as to deconstruct humanity itself. Thus, along with the death of God, truth, and reason, humanity is also obliterated. Paul Kugler notes the ironic twist: “Today, it is the speaking subject who declared God dead one hundred years ago whose very existence is now being called into question.”[xxiv]
To complicate matters even further, we must acknowledge that there even exists a variety of Postmodernism called “Christian Postmodernism.”[xxv] Such is the essence of mainstream Postmodernism-a worldview that claims there are no worldviews. This “anti-worldview” worldview is one that certainly demands the attention of thoughtful Christians.
We cannot overstate the significance of these five anti-Christian worldviews. The basis for much of what is taught in the public classroom today comes from Secular, Marxist, Cosmic Humanist, and Postmodern thinking and takes on a variety of labels: liberalism, multiculturalism, political correctness, deconstructionism, or self-esteem education. Or, as is often the case, the labels are dropped and courses are taught from anti-Christian assumptions without students being told which worldview is being expressed. Neutrality in education is a myth.
The first chapter of the Book of Daniel explains how Daniel and his friends prepared themselves to survive and flourish amid the clash of worldviews of their day. We believe that Christian young people equipped with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the Christian worldview and its rivals can become “Daniels” who will not stand on the sidelines, but will participate in the great collision of worldviews in the twenty-first century.
Society will flourish in the light of truth only when the emphasis shifts back to a Christian perspective. This dramatic shift in emphasis can be brought about through the leadership of thousands of informed, confident Christian students who think deeply and broadly from a well-honed biblical worldview and emerge as leaders in education, business, science, and government.
Our desire to bring about this shift in emphasis is the fundamental reason Summit Ministries produces curricula and resources for Christian schools and homeschool families (primary, middle, and secondary), presents in-service worldview training for teachers across the U.S. and around the world, and provides worldview conferences for students and adults. Information is available at http://www.summit.org.
About the Author:
Dr. David A. Noebel is founder and president of Summit Ministries and edits and writes Summit’s monthly publication, The Journal. Dr. Noebel has been a college professor, college president, and candidate for the U.S. Congress. Dr. Noebel has a B.A. from Hope College in Holland, a M.A. from the University of Tulsa, and was a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin. He is an Author, Editor, Public Speaker, and Ordained Minister. Dr. Noebel is recognized as an expert on worldview analysis and the decline of morality and spirituality in Western Civilization. His most popular works include Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Worldviews, which sold over 500,000 copies, and Clergy in the Classroom: the Religion of Secular Humanism (co-authored with Kevin Bywater and J.F. Baldwin). He and his wife Alice live in Manitou Springs, CO and have two children and five grandchildren.
*This article is taken from the introductory chapter of David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times, 2nd Ed., (Summit Press: Manitou Springs, CO, 2006). Understanding the Times is a landmark text that provides a comprehensive comparison of the six worldviews discussed in this article and can be purchased at www.summit.org. Portions of the original text has been edited and re-written by Chuck Edwards for the purposes of this article.
[ii] Ibid., 19–20.
[iv] Norman L. Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), 11.
[v] Other areas could be included in a definition of worldview, such as the arts, yet these ten disciplines contain the primary areas, acting as a web of interacting ideas, which contribute to a total world and life view.
[vi] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1981), 17.
[viii] “The Future Belongs to Islam,” by Mark Steyn, October 20, 2006, accessed 5/4/2009, http://www.macleans.ca/culture/books/article.jsp?content=20061023_134898_134898.
[ix] Serge Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox, 2002), 55.
[x] Ibid., 369.
[xi] Op cit., p. 51.
[xii] Ibn Warraq1 (Ed.), The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, New York, 2000, p. 349, quoted in Trafkovic, p. 51.
[xiv] Paul Edward Gottfried, The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2005); David Horowitz, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2004); Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000); Rolf Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (Cambridge, NY: MIT, 1998); Raymond Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals (third printing; New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2003).
[xv] Roger Kimball, Tenured Radicals (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1990), xiii.
[xvi] U. S. News and World Report, Special Collection Edition, September 2, 2003, p. 86.
[xvii] See the online article, “The Socialization of America,” by David Noebel, accessed 5/4/2009, http://www.summit.org/blogs/pd/2009/03/the_socialization_of_america.php
[xviii] Johanna Michaelsen, Like Lambs to the Slaughter (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1989), 11.
[xix] Marilyn Ferguson, The Austrian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), 23.
[xx] Adolph, 11.
[xxi] John P. Newport, The New Age Movement and the Biblical Worldview: Conflict and Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1998) p. 214.
[xxii] Books by best-selling authors include The Celestine Prophecy and Conversations with God, while Cosmic Humanist themes are explicit in TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost, as well as through films such as Pocahontas, Mulan, and Star Wars (directed toward children), and Sixth Sense, Gladiator, Dances with Wolves, and Hidalgo, (for adult viewing), just to name a few in each category.
[xxiii] See J.P. Moreland’s website for his article “Postmodernism and the Christian Life.” Also, J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, The Philosophical Foundation of a Christian Worldview.
[xxiv] Walter Truett Anderson, The Future of the Self: Exploring the Post–Identity Society (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 1997), 32.
[xxv] See D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996); Myron B. Penner, ed., Christianity and the Postmodern Turn (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005); and D.A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005).
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Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
Here is a question for you: do you long to see the church? I mean do you long to be with the crowd of Christians, worshipping Jesus, living with the church, helping them in their problems, putting up with their carnality, helping them to grow up, laying down your life for them.
Listen the body of Christ is the church. If you don’t long to see the church, you don’t really love Jesus. You might have emotional feelings about Him, but love is expressing in how you treat someone.
Paul longed to see the Romans. In the midst of 2 Corinthians 11 when Paul is talking about some of the situations he went through in his life, he puts the burden of his love for the churches as being more difficult than being beaten with sticks or lashed with a whip!
How much do you long to be with the church?
And what was Paul’s motivation for being with other Christians? It was not to get.
I will say this, most Christians go to church to get. That is true. It is an absolute indictment on the church, its structure, its understanding of love, its understanding of the kingdom of God.
Most Christians leave church and they rate the service. They comment on what the worship was like (I won’t spend the time necessary to explain how you cannot rate worship!), they make their judgment on how anointed the preacher was, and they assess how good the offering was. They never came to give, they never came to offer.
Well, they came to offer some cash, to tip good and pay their protection money, and to sit on the seat. But that is not the offerings that God is looking for.
Paul longed to be with the church to offer (impart = Gk. metadidomi – to offer, cf. Luke 3.11) a spiritual gift to the church. Paul wanted to go to church to offer spiritual life to the church – to impart faith, to teach the Word, to inspire with His testimony, to give a message in tongues, to prophesy over people, to have a word of wisdom for someone, to help a sheep find their way.
Why do you go to church?
Are you imitating Paul the way he copied Jesus? (1 Cor. 11.1).
Are you longing to go to church to offer something?
Not for your glory, not so people write about you or praise you or thank you, not to establish your ministry – but to establish (Gk. sterizo – to make constant, to make strong or to make stable) the church.
Is your joy found in going to church?
Is your goal in going to church to strengthen the church and offer something?
Is your motive in giving and imparting spiritual wisdom and revelation and gifting, selfless and to make strong the church?
If so, you can say that you are copying Paul like he is copying Christ.
If not, you have some adjusting to do in the way you think about the church and about Christians!
Glory and freedom,
There have been several cases where Christian street preachers have encountered problems with the police.
A BBC report has highlighted some of the religious liberty issues facing Christian street preachers.
An extract from BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, broadcast on 23 August 2009. Visit the BBC’s website to listen to the entire programme.
The report, featured on Radio 4’s Sunday programme this weekend, included a recording of a recent incident where a street preacher was told by police officers that it is a criminal offence to identify homosexuality as a “sin”.
They said this to Andy Robertson, an evangelist with the Open-Air Mission (OAM), even though he had never mentioned homosexuality in his preaching.
Mark Jones, an employment lawyer who specialises in religious liberty issues, told the programme: “Giving offence of itself is not against the law.
“There is no protection that I may have from somebody simply walking up to me in the street and saying something that I might disagree with or I might be offended by.”
Mr Robertson is not alone in encountering problems while preaching in public.
Earlier this month it was reported that a street preacher had been arrested after reading out Bible passages in Maidstone, Kent.
Last summer a street preacher in Birmingham was arrested after he had mentioned homosexuality while preaching about sin and its consequences.
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge told the Radio 4 programme why more cases like this are taking place.
He said: “I think the reason for this increase has been there is a diversity and equality agenda that doesn’t seem to allow for Christians to express their faith in a way where other people may disagree with them.”
He said that sensitivity about issues such as minority faiths and sexual orientation has put police officers and local authorities “under huge pressure to be seen to be responding”.
He added that “sometimes you get over-zealous public officials who want to step in and say, ‘you can’t say that because someone might be offended’, and that over-zealousness is I think part of the problem”.
Another evangelist with the OAM was recorded for the programme as he preached in Hounslow, West London.
Tim Whitton told the reporter: “Our approach generally is just to speak but not shout, to be friendly”.
He said the aim was to make sure that “if anyone is ever offended, they’re offended by the message of the Bible, rather than by anything that we’re doing”
There is an article doing the rounds again about Kenneth Hagin. It unfortunately misrepresents this man and his teaching a remarkable amount.
I tidied up the article for you all and made it more accurate so that it would be a source of blessing to people and not confusion!
Blessings and love,
– Tongues-speaking charismatic Kenneth E. Hagin died September 19, 2003 at the age of 85. (Because his influence in charismatic circles will never die, and because his son and grandson carry on with Kenneth Hagin’s teachings, this report will remain posted.) He was well known as the father of the “Word-Faith”/”Positive Confession” movement. (See endnote for a detailed description of the Hagin ministry.) In his The Word of Faith magazine, Hagin taught the following Biblical truths: Receiving healing, just as receiving salvation, is simply a matter of appropriating what already belongs to us (6/90); healing is included in the gospel (8/92); God does not afflict people with sickness and disease (12/90); he (Hagin) went to heaven and talked with his sister (6/91); Jesus appeared to him in a vision in 1950 (8/91); he once went to hell in an out-of-body experience (9/91); he does not believe in sickness and disease (7/92); it is always God’s will to heal the sick (12/92); believers have a legal and redemptive right to divine healing (1/93). Hagin says: “Your confession of faith in God’s Word will bring healing or whatever it is you need from God into the present tense and make it a reality in your life!” (12/92). (Reported in the 2/1/93, Calvary Contender.)
– As the name “Word-Faith” does not imply but some people have clearly erroneously inferred, this movement does not teach that faith is a matter of what we say more that whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts. Obviously, Jesus Christ Himself said that our words matter and we can have what we say, but some people do not accept the simple words of Jesus! A favorite term in the Word-Faith movement is “positive confession.” It refers to the Biblical teaching that words have creative power. What you say, Jesus claims, determines everything that happens to you. Your “confessions,” that is, the things you say — especially the favors you demand of God — must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (John 14.14). Word-Faith believers view their positive confessions as a tool (some non-Christians would use the word incantation but they don’t really know the Word of God) by which they can conjure up anything they desire: “Believe it in your heart; say it with your mouth. That is the principle of faith. You can have what you say” (Mark 11.23-24).
– Word-Faith is the fastest-growing movement within the professing church, because it is clearly based in the Bible. It has not involved the Peale/Schuller-Positive/Possibility thinkers although some ignorant people might think they are Word of Faith because they do not pay attention, although their roots are not in New Thought, and the Hagin/Copeland Positive Confession and Word-Faith groups, which have their roots in the Biblical based teaching of E.W. Kenyon, William Branham, and the Manifest Sons of God/Latter Rain Movement. In Hagin’s book, Having Faith in Your Faith, he teaches from the Bible that anyone can develop universal “laws of faith” to get what he wants. Hagin teaches that for a pastor or anyone to drive a Chevrolet instead of a luxury car isn’t “being humble, that’s being ignorant” of God’s “law of prosperity” that works for “whoever you are,” saint or sinner. “Having faith in your faith” is exactly what Jesus taught: “Have faith in God.” – obviously you need to have faith that your faith will work and have confidence that you can have a relationship with God. Some people might think these ideas are dimmetrically opposed, but these are people who have NEVER read Hagin’s book! [Other Hagin books that clearly detail his “theology” are How to Write Your Own Ticket with God (Tulsa: Faith Library, 1979) and Godliness is Profitable (Tulsa: Faith Library, 1982).] Hagin claims Jesus told him, “If anybody, anywhere, will … put these [positive confession] principles into operation, he will always have whatever he wants from Me or God the Father”. (Mark 11.23-24, John 14.14, Matthew 20.20)
This was not a slip of the tongue or some new doctrine. This is at the heart of the Positive Confession (PC) movement today, also known as the “name-it-and-claim-it” gospel. The Positive Confession movement is not a charismatic form of Christian Science, although some ignorant people might say that it is. This can easily be substantiated by simply comparing the vast huge differences in their common beliefs. Positive Confession is not at all basically warmed-over New Thought dressed in evangelical/charismatic language, and you really would have to either be totally ignorant or utterly dishonest to say so. (Other well-known PC’ers besides Hagin’s most successful protégé, Kenneth Copeland, are Charles Capps, Frederick K.C. Price, Robert Tilton, and David Yonggi Cho. Many of them are graduates of Hagin’s RHEMA Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.)
– Hagin went a step further, from Biblical truth to even more Biblical truth, when he said, “The believer is as much an incarnation of God as Jesus Christ” (some people might call this a heresy who haven’t EVEN read the original source! They would have to cite this quote like: “Hagin, “The Incarnation,” The Word of Faith, 12/80, cited in Christianity in Crisis, p. 175,397″ because they have read a book gossipping about Hagin and not even read the original source, can you believe that people would do that!). He has also said, “If we ever wake up and realize who we are, we’ll start doing the work that we’re supposed to do. Because the church hasn’t realized yet that they are Christ. That’s who they are. They are Christ.” This is a wonderful Biblical truth. The Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. He is the eternal Son of God. Nowhere is the believer said to be an incarnation of Almighty God except in the verse of Romans 8 which says that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, that the Holy Spirit is inside us, and the other 87 times in the New Testament we are told that that God lives INSIDE US! The Lord Jesus Christ performed miracles to demonstrate that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah is one common error people have when they read the Bible. They might also say ridiculous things such as “No Christian can do the things that Christ did” which is a DIRECT CONTRADICTION to the teaching of Jesus Himself in John 14.12! Who are you going to believe, Jesus or some preacher who cannot read? Some people thing that “Not one Pentecostal preacher has ever been able to perform the miracles that Christ performed” but they are very much closed minded to the wonderful miracles that many, many, many Christians have seen. It is blasphemous confusion to claim that the believer is NOT an incarnation of God like Christ was – it is an insult to the Holy Spirit who lives in us to say that our flesh does not contain God!
– Hagin obviously did not believe God is sovereign in the traditional unbiblical way that many Calvinists believe. Jesus, according to Word-Faith theology based on the teachings of the Bible such as Romans 5.17 and Matthew 28.18-20, has no authority on earth, having delegated it all to the church. He developed this point in his book The Authority of the Believer (Tulsa: Faith Library, 1979). And though all Word-Faith advocates would affirm the personality of the Holy Spirit, it is a shame that many non-charismatics depersonalize Him by consistently speaking of Him as a power to be drawn upon and don’t listen to His Voice and have a relationship of communion and fellowship with Him. (John 10.28).
– When one stops believing that he is Christ, someone with the anointing of God like 1 John 2.20 teaches, with the power of Christ to create reality, the stories become ludicrous to such an unbeliever. Surely Hagin had the most unusual story of all. He said that when he was younger and still single, God led him to break off a relationship with a woman by revealing to him that she was morally unfit. Hagin claimed God miraculously transported him out of church one Sunday, right in the middle of the sermon. Worst of all, Hagin was the preacher delivering the sermon! Unfortunately some people have no experience of the power of God and cannot accept this experience at all!
– In How to Write Your Own Ticket with God, Hagin saw a vision of Jesus, and said to Him, “Dear Lord, I have two sermons I preach concerning the woman who touched Your clothes and was healed when You were on earth. I received both of these sermons by inspiration.” (Emphasis added.) Later, Hagin quoted what Jesus told him in reply: “You are correct. My Spirit, the Holy Spirit, has endeavored to get another sermon into your spirit, but you have failed to pick it up. While I am here, I will do as you ask. I will give you that sermon outline. Now get your pencil and paper and write it down.” (Emphasis added.) Hagin claimed to have received numerous visions, as well as eight personal visitations from Jesus (see below). Hagin wrote, “The Lord Himself taught me about prosperity. I never read about it in a book. I got it directly from heaven” (How God Taught Me About Prosperity, Tulsa: Faith Library, 1985). That claim, of course, is not a lie, though many people might accuse him of lying because of their ignorance of the Bible [Hagin also claimed that he knew that Paul wrote Hebrews because Jesus appeared to him (Hagin) and told him so!]
Hagin claimed that of the eight times Jesus appeared to him, seven times Jesus was barefoot; the other time Jesus was wearing Roman sandals, and came into Hagin’s room, sat down by his bedside, and talked with him for about 30 minutes. During that time, Jesus allegedly taught Hagin how to be led by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Hagin described Jesus as 5’11” tall and weighing about 180 pounds. This is of course possible (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16). Some people might think that if the resurrected, ascended, glorified Christ chose to visit Hagin for a midnight chat, He would not be wearing sandals, and Hagin would be toast, but they do not understand the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross.(3/4/96, Christian News, p. 12).
– Other examples of Hagin’s teachings (Source: “Hagin Drunk ‘In The Spirit’,” David Cloud, 10/4/98, FBIS report):
– Here is just a sample of some of the direct revelations and/or direct “anointings” Kenneth Hagin claimed to have received from the Lord. (All quotes from The Word of Faith magazine.):
– Hagin displayed his charismatic theology on a regular basis in his The Word of Faith magazine. The following excerpts are from Hagin’s “From the Archives” series. This is presented as further proof of the great teaching emanating from charismatic pulpits today:
In the10/01 magazine, in an article titled “Born Again,” Hagin recounted his three visits to hell as a 15 year-old boy in the year 1933. The article introduces the visits with: “Kenneth E. Hagin suffered poor health throughout childhood and at the age of fifteen became bedfast. That night, he died and went to the gates of hell three times”:
Hagin’s out-of-body experience ends up back home:
And quite a prayer it was—a real traffic-stopper:
Arguably, (especially to people who do not operate in the power of the Holy Spirit) Hagin’s account of his salvation experience is necessary to give credibility to the charismatic’s claim to prophethood. But to “seal the deal”, the ordined by God charismatic prophet needed a personalized visit from Jesus. And not just any visit would do—one on par with the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John WAS apparently required. Of course anyone can see that if Jesus visited two people there could be similarities in these visitations!. In Hagin’s November 2001 The Word of Faith magazine, in an article titled “A Sobering Vision,” he recounted a 1950 tent revival in Texas where Jesus appeared to him in a vision. Reading like a passage from the Book of Revelation, Hagin actually wrote new revelation. Obviously no-one except a few sensationialist cessationists who want to demonise Hagin would compare a prophetic word to Scripture:
Too bad Hagin didn’t reveal this to the FBI before the September 11th WTC attacks, although the FBI could have read the book and attended his meetings! He continued with his vision:
Now for the good stuff—Jesus validates the gifts of the Spirit for today. How convenient for charismatic theology, although obviously charismatics base their theology on Scripture not exeprience, as Hagin himself taught again and again and again!:
Finally, Hagin got his papers validated as a prophet of God:
In the December 2001 issue of The Word of Faith, Hagin went back to the time immediately following his “new birth” experience. He was still bedfast when “the glory of God” filled his room with a “bright light — brighter than the sun shining on snow.” Hagin then had another out-of-body experience, hearing Jesus speaking, “Go back! Go back! Go back to the earth! Your work’s not done!” Moreover, during the time the bright cloud of God filled Hagin’s room, Hagin’s 70 year-old grandmother repeatedly tried to enter the room through the open door, only to be repelled by the cloud, “bouncing off of it like it was a rubber ball.” Granny couldn’t get in the room until the cloud had lifted.
In the January 2002 magazine, in an article titled “Come Up to the Throne of God,” Hagin recounted his face-to-face meeting with Jesus. You would have to be trained by cessationist unbelieving Christians to imagine that there could be a unbiblical nature to this vision:
– Hagin promised health and wealth to Christians, and SAID: “All you have to do is visualize it, speak it into existence.” Hagin claimed that Jesus appeared to him in a vision in 1950 and gave him a special anointing to minister to the sick (4/96, The Word of Faith). After a 1952 vision, Hagin said: “[N]ow when I minister and lay hands on people, I can tell if there is an evil spirit present either through the word of knowledge or the discerning of spirits.” He relateED a time when “there stood Jesus right in front of me” (after a failed healing) and said Jesus pointed His finger at him, almost touching his nose. Jesus supposedly said, “I told you, ‘If you feel that fire jumping from hand to hand like heat waves, there is a demon or evil spirit in the body. Call him out in My Name and he will leave.'” (Reported in the 7/1/96, Calvary Contender.)
– Hagin explained his criteria for judging between true and false spiritual gifts:
There, as explicitly as it can be expressed, is a statement that defines exactly what is great with charismatic mysticism. Spiritual discernment is deemed unnecessary. According to some critics of Kenneth Hagin who do not understand the spirit, you can judge between what is true, fleshly, or demonic by a process that is really just a simplified system of biofeedback. Of course it is about spiritual discernment operating through us, not biofeedback. But people do make these claims when they do not have a clue about the Spirit!
– Despite some people who do not care for the Bible or history claiming that Word-Faith teachers owe their ancestry to groups like Christian Science, Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, Science of Mind, and New Thought — they actually are rooted in classical Pentecostalism. It reveals that at their very core, Word-Faith teachings are pure. Their undeniable derivation is Christian, not cultish. The truth is that the gospel proclaimed by the Word-Faith movement is the gospel of the New Testament. Word-Faith doctrine is a Biblical system, a safeguard against the blend of mysticism, dualism, and gnosticism that borrows generously from the teachings of the metaphysical cults. The criticism of the Word-Faith movement may be the most dangerous false system that has grown out of the Reformed movement so far. Because so many Calvinists are unsure of the doctrine of Scripture and cannot interpret Scripture without their religious framework, they have to criticise anyone who can operate in the power of God that Jesus operated in because their unbiblical tradition does not allow for it.
The Hagin Ministry Conglomerate
Kenneth E. Hagin began his ministry in Texas in 1934 at the age of 17. For twelve years he pastored, then traveled extensively in the evangelistic field. In 1963, the Kenneth E. Hagin Evangelistic Association was incorporated. In 1966, the offices of the ministry were moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kenneth Hagin, Sr., ministers with his son, Kenneth Hagin, Jr., and grandson, Craig Hagin. (Craig is his grandfather’s Crusade Director, Special Meetings coordinator, operations manager for the ministry, and the associate pastor of the RHEMA Bible Church, pastored by his father. In a February, 1998 ministry letter, he also claimed that the Holy Spirit led him to preach and teach healing.)
RHEMA Bible Training Center was founded in 1974. In 1978, the name of the ministry was changed to RHEMA Bible Church (a.k.a. Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc.). The Training Center is located on a more than 110-acre campus consisting of 23 buildings, including a 96-unit student housing complex, a 2,000-seat auditorium, and a Prayer and Healing Center (PHC). Since the 1974-75 charter class graduated 58 students, RHEMA has provided training to more than 23,000 graduates. RHEMA’s average annual enrollment is 1,800 with graduating classes of 750-800. (Internationally, there are RHEMA Training Centers in 13 countries.) RHEMA Correspondence Bible School has enrolled more than 60,000 students since its inception and offers an extensive curriculum for home Bible study.
“Faith Seminar of the Air,” begun in 1966, is RHEMA’s radio ministry, airing on more than 250 stations in a 15-minute daily slot, as well as being heard via short-wave radio in over 120 countries and on all continents of the world. In addition, “RHEMA Radio Church,” airs its 30-minute program via 93 radio broadcasts weekly in 30 states. All tolled, RHEMA’s radio broadcasts can be picked up by 2.8 billion potential listeners.
In late 1995, a videotape ministry was initiated. RHEMA Bible Church sends video teaching tapes to an average of 125 RHEMA missionaries each month. In 1996, “RHEMA Praise,” a half-hour television program outreach of RHEMA Bible Church, began airing in the Tulsa area. “RHEMA Praise” is also translated into Spanish and broadcasted into 54 nations covering all of South America and parts of Europe. In August 1999, “RHEMA Praise” began broadcasting into 40 additional countries in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Since its inception, broadcast locations have expanded to reach a combined potential audience of more than 30 million homes every week.
Kenneth Hagin and his son, Kenneth Hagin, Jr., have authored 147 charismatic-oriented books. More than 65 million copies of these books are currently in circulation around the world, translated into more than 25 foreign languages. RHEMA’s efforts support missionaries in 109 countries and The Word of Faith magazine is sent into more than 250,000 homes each month. More than 50,000 teaching tapes by the Hagins are distributed each month. More than eight million tapes have been distributed since the inception of the cassette tape ministry.
Kenneth Hagin, Jr., pastors the 8,000-member RHEMA Bible Church that meets on the campus of RHEMA Bible Training Center in a 4,500-seat auditorium. Father, son, and grandson all minister together and individually in crusades, seminars, and other special meetings. Each July, the Hagin’s conduct their indoor “Campmeeting” at Tulsa’s Convention Center. It has drawn people from all 50 states, Canada, and 68 other countries.
In the fall of 1979, Hagin, Sr., began the Healing School on the RHEMA campus (the Prayer and Healing Center). Morning and afternoon healing sessions are held daily, at which students are taught the techniques of healing the sick! Hagin boasted that “The highest percentage of healings is among those with incurable diseases, many of which include cases diagnosed as terminal.” [If student’s really learn how to heal, why are they not then sent into the hospitals of Tulsa and heal all the terminally ill there? The answer is obvious to anyone who has ever read the gospels! If you need the answer explained, email me!]
One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you.
Paul is praying for the Romans what he is praying for is the chance to see them. We all know Paul’s great hymns of praise (cf. Romans 11.34-36) and Paul’s theological prayers (cf. Ephesians 1.16-23) and they are beautiful. Paul was a deep man.
But just because someone is deep doesn’t mean that they are not a human! Paul is praying for the Romans – not for deep revelation, not for truth and life, for wisdom, for the will of God – no, Paul is praying that he can get a chance to see them and visit them.
It is perfectly acceptable to pray for things that you might think are mundane. Not every prayer has to be for a worldwide revival and power and glory sweeping the earth!
It is ok to ask for a parking space, to ask God that you would bump into an old friend that you miss, that someone in church would give you a lift home. That is great.
Notice as well that Paul did not know the will of God – here he prays that he would journey to them by the will of God (Paul was not asking for the will of God to be that his journey was prosperous, but that God would allow him to go!).
Paul prayed about things that he didn’t know what God wanted. That is fine. It is ok to say “if it by Thy will” when we pray.
Sometimes as faith people we get the revelation that when we are praying for something that the Bible clearly tells us is the will of God, then it is sin and doubt to pray “if it be Thy will”, and then we go overboard and never pray “if it be Thy will” again!
Listen if the will of God is clearly revealed in Scripture or by revelation, DO NOT pray “if it be Thy will”. The Bible says “By His stripes We Are Healed.” Never pray for healing “if it be Thy will” – what an insult to the stripes. Never pray for prosperity or joy “if it be Thy will” – pray the Word.
But some things we don’t know. Paul didn’t know at that stage if God wanted him to go to Rome or not. You might not know if someone is the right person to marry, or if a church is the right church to go to. At times like this there is nothing wrong with asking God “if it be Thy will, I want to go to Rome”, “if it be thy will, I will marry her/ him or not”, “if it be Thy Will, I will join this church”.
Or whatever. Don’t get silly about it, there is no need to pray for which breakfast cereal to eat. Grow up – remember God is our Father. If my children asked me to tell them what cereal to eat, I would be stunned. If I replied to such a ridiculous question it would be to say “Eat the one you fancy, it doesn’t matter”.
If at any point it did matter, I would let my children know. “Adam, the milkman hasn’t come, don’t have cereal because you will use all the milk, have some toast and a croissant.” He is my son – the lines of communication are open, so I don’t expect silly questions.
Some of ask God the most silly questions – I know someone who used to pray what socks to wear in the morning. Now if it bothers you, then He is touched with our infirmities. God is our Father and loves us – and that is fine. If you ask him “look, Father, which tie looks best with this shirt”, He will tell you if it matters to you. He knows what is important to you.
But in general, we should not be asking about trivial things – God expects you to just do them. Even in the street, people ask God should I talk to that person when the Bible says preach to every creature. If you are asking the question, you should be speaking to that person!
But for important things – which church should I go to, should I go here or there, where should I go on holiday – ask Him, and freely say “if it be Thy will”. By saying this you are letting God know that He is GOD! That if He says go to Rome, you will go to Rome. If He says don’t go, then you won’t.
Be that kind of person and you will very soon find out the will of God for your life. If you are prepared to do anything, you will quickly find the something you are called to do.
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
Let’s start with what Paul says first: he serves God with his spirit. This means that Paul is always serving God because he serves God from the inside.
He doesn’t need a crowd to listen to him to serve God, he can serve God chained up in prison. Sometimes we think that we have to do great things on earth to impress God – but God is impressed by our spirit, by us worshipping, praising and praying for people. Also – if you do mighty public works without your spirit being humble and pure before God you are wasting your time – you gain nothing (see 1 Cor. 13).
You can serve God right now – lift your hands to heaven and thank Him for making a wonderful day, pray for someone who has persecuted you and ask God to bless them and show them honour, then speak life over your family and your church. How easy it is to serve God!
Paul says that without ceasing he prayed for the Roman church. This word without ceasing is adialeiptōs in the Greek. This word is only used four times in the New Testament:
Romans 1.9 – without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers
1 Thess 1.2-3 – We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus
Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
1 Thess 2.13 – For this cause also we thank God without ceasing
1 Thess 5.17 – Pray without ceasing
Notice that this word is only used in the Bible in the context of our relationship with God. We should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17), and incase we dismiss this command as an ideal and not reality Paul says clearly in Romans 1.9 that he prayed without ceasing for the Roman church.
Now this does not mean that Paul prayed non-stop for the Roman Christians. It does not mean that whenever you found Paul he was lying prostrate praying in tongues for the Romans.
Firstly, Paul slept, he ate, he drank, he was a worker, he was a preacher. You cannot pray non-stop and nor can I. There is no Biblical command to pray non-stop.
The devil likes to get in to these sorts of commands and condemn us for not praying enough. He misquotes the Scripture to make you feel like rubbish.
Listen when God convicts us it is always three things:
If the Holy Spirit says “Every day before you leave the house pray in tongues for 20 minutes” that is probably God because it is redemptive (it is something positive), it is specific (you can easily tell if you have done it or not) and it is achievable.
The devil is the one that says “you must pray more” – he wouldn’t dare tell you when to pray or give you a method of prayer or a goal, he just wants you to feel like rubbish. You must be more loving is another one of his phrases.
You cannot pray non-stop so stop feeling guilty that you don’t.
Let me explain what without ceasing means: it means without an intermission. Have you ever been to the cinema (I know all you holy people have never been to the cinema!) when there is a long film with an intermission: it is a break where something else happens.
You should pray without a break where something else happens. It means without an interruption to your prayer. Look at Strong’s Concordance:
Adverb from adialeiptos; uninterruptedly
When you read without ceasing in your Bible, translate it in your mind to without interruptions.
When you pray, you should be operating in faith and love. What praying without interruptions means is that just because you are not in your prayer time, don’t drop the faith and the love.
Let me try and make it practical for you so you can grasp this. Imagine you are praying for one of your children. You know that prayer must be in faith and you know that faith comes from hearing the Word so you search the Scriptures for a Scripture for your child. Maybe your child is having difficulties or starting to rebel.
Imagine you find Isaiah 54.13, which says great shall be the peace of thy children. So you go to prayer:
Father, thank you for Bob. Thank you that your Word says that His peace shall be great. He is not controlled by fear but by peace. He shall not have a broken life, but a peaceful life. He is a man of peace, and brings peace with him. Amen.
Now to pray for Bob without ceasing doesn’t mean that you pray non-stop, no drinking, no thinking, no sleeping, no anything that stops you praying and never doing anything else. Imagine if Paul prayed for the Romans like that and if pray without ceasing meant that, then Paul would never have prayed for the Thessalonians because that would mean to cease praying for the Romans! This is clearly not what pray without ceasing means.
To pray for Bob without ceasing means that after you have finished praying, you don’t phone Sister Bucketmouth and say “Man, what am I going to do with Bob? I can’t get a handle on him, it’s getting worse.” If you say contrary to your prayer, you have interrupted your prayer. You have failed to pray without interruption.
You have interrupted your prayer of faith with doubt, fear, worry and unbelief. You are undoing your prayer!
Listen: Paul prayed (and gave thanks – read Romans 1.8 and 9 together) for the Romans without ceasing. When he finished praying for them and thanking God for them, he did not go:
“Well, those Romans, it is so tough being church in Rome, I don’t know how they have made it. I hope they keep making it, I better go there and sort them out… you no what kind of mess they will be in without me…”
No – he refused to interrupt his prayer. He didn’t pray for his bills to be met on Sunday and get up Monday and worry and fret – he never interrupted his prayer. He didn’t pray in faith for the church to be revived and then tell his friend what a bunch of unspiritual fools they were down at the church as soon as he said amen.
Paul didn’t quit being thankful and appreciative for the church when he finished praying. He didn’t take faith and love into the prayer closet and leave them in there.
No – God was and is His witness, he refused to interrupt his prayers.
My encouragement to you today is this:
Pray without interruption (1 Thessalonians 5.17, Ben Conway Translation)
Do not let anything interrupt your prayers. When you have offered up your prayer in faith and love, don’t go and speak something in doubt and hatred. Don’t interrupt your prayers.
God doen’t interrupt prayers, He answers them. But if in the process of that answer manifesting, you interrupt yourself, then you are the one stopping the answer from manifesting.
You don’t have to pray non-stop, you need to pray and keep the attitudes of faith and love non-stop.
I hope this clarifies for you and helps you realize that 1 Thess. 5.17 is a command you can obey, and should obey, I hope it stops the devil ever thumping you on the head with this Scripture!
But more than that, I hope it helps you pray the prayer of faith for yourself, for friends, for enemies and for entire churches and see your answers manifest because you refuse to interrupt yourself.
Glory and freedom,
Watch these – it will revolutionise your life!