False Teachers… or Not

In recent weeks I’ve seen far too many “heresy hunter” videos, all pointing out why this person or that church is heretical. Most of them use edited morsels of a sermon or a testimony and overlay it with a leading, often mocking commentary, pointing out the “obvious” false teachings/practiced by the chosen target.

Very often the ACCUSATIONS being made could easily be proven false, if only viewers took the time to adequately investigate for themselves.

Sadly, the majority of the sites’ followers seem only too eager to side with the site owner without checking for themselves.

I’ve come to realize how closely these people fit the description of the hungry wolves in sheep’s clothing that Jesus warned about. A pack leader (site owner) provides prey to tear apart for the hungry pack of followers to devour.

One of the targets of a recent heresy hunter attack has been Torben Sondergaard. A video testimony of a woman delivered from a demon was featured and commented upon – finding fault with almost everything done. Here’s a selection:

  1. The woman was a new believer and according to the site owner “Christians can’t be ‘possessed’ because scripture doesn’t show believers being affected by demons.
  2. The woman testified that the experience was “awesome” – the site owner thought that was inappropriate. (I think being freed from demonic influence WOULD be awesome!)
  3. The demon didn’t come out immediately. (Obviously he overlooked Mark 5:1-13 and Mark 9:14-27)

And then the comments section was full of references to Sonderrgaard’s relationship to Bethel, to Toronto, and his membership of the “NAR – all of which are totally false.

In the video below Sondergaard addresses similar accusers who frequently condemn others of “heresy” when it’s usually their own theology that is not biblical.

Exposé: Tactics and Motivation

I think this is the third video I’ve posted from Rod Saunders’ Jew and Greek YouTube channel. Many of his presentations show up the underhanded tactics, selective editing and biased commentary being used by a variety of “discernment ministries”.

This video is a very good exposé of some of those tactics and the motivation behind them.

What are you Going to Believe?

Even if you can’t take the time to watch these videos, please scroll down and read my written observations.

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Is God drawing Muslims to Jesus through dreams?

What are you going to believe?

This? (A video of testimonies of Muslims receiving dreams or visions of Jesus, initiating a journey to faith in Him).

Or the claims of Todd Friel below?

Be a Berean and be sure to check the “proof” texts used by this celebrity cessationist to see whether his claims about scripture are valid. Do your own research and see whether his claims are true.

See below the video for my own observations of his claims

Todd Friels claim number 1:

Hebrews 1 tells us that dreams and visions are over.

Read Hebrews 1 and find where it says that. Read the whole of Hebrews and find where it says anything about dreams or visions. Those words never appear in that letter.

Friel’s only reference is this section of Hebrews: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word”

The implication he tries to make is that in these last days, God only speaks to us by His Son, no longer through prophets (despite obvious references to NT prophets in scripture) or through other “various ways” – only through His Son. Friel must stretch his assumption to include dreams and visions under that “various ways” category. But again, what about the post resurrection dreams and visions recorded in scripture, and what about Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost?

“In the last days, God says,
 I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
 your young men will see visions,
 your old men will dream dreams.

Was Peter preaching falsehood?

But then again, if in these last days God ONLY speak to us through His Son in a way that would exclude dreams and visions and anything else, wouldn’t also exclude scripture itself? NO! Because Friel’s claim is totally wrong, a desperate attempt to create scriptural justification for his preconceived rejection of the dreams and visions being reported.

Todd Friels claim number 2:

Faith for salvation comes by hearing the Word of God, not through dreams and visions.

Every testimony I’ve heard where a Muslim starts a journey to salvation with a dream or vision of Jesus, it’s NOT the dream that results in their salvation. They don’t go to bed as a Muslim, have a dream and then wake up Christian.

The dreams and visions set them on a path to meet up with a believer who can share the gospel with them. Or will lead them to a situation where they can obtain a Bible to read for themselves.

The situation is no different to the experience of Cornelius in Acts 10.

Todd Friels claim number 3:

Most of those testifying of the dreams reveal they had already heard the gospel.

I’ve never come across this situation in any of the testimonies I’ve read and heard about Muslims in Islamic nations. The only testimony fitting Friel’s claim that I’m aware of, would be one in the first video above. The example of American former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi, who had been in discussion with a Christian friend prior to a dream that confirmed the truth of the gospel to him.

Most Muslims have some awareness of Jesus, known to them as a Muslim prophet Isa. But the image of Jesus portrayed by Islam is flawed. The dreams and visions reveal Jesus as He really is, and not according to the Islamic misrepresentation of Him.

Todd Friels claim number 4:

If the reports of dreams and visions are true, it would be an insult to dead missionaries who lost their lives taking the gospel to dangerous lands.

I’m really not sure how to respond to such a presumptuous claim.

Except to point out that some of those who start their journey to Christ because of a dream or vision directing them to someone who can share the gospel with them, end their journey AS a dead missionary, martyred for proclaiming faith in the Son of God who they first came to know through a dream of Him.

Also, I’ve recently been reading biographies of some of those “insulted” dead missionaries, and I can only imagine them welcoming the newly arrived martyr missionaries into the presence of the LORD they all served unto death.

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For more on Todd Friel see here.

The full NIV text of Hebrews 1 (which according to Friel says that dreams and visions are no longer used by God).

Check for yourself to see if what Friel says is true (if you want to emulate the noble character of the Bereans)

More Todd White Repentance Commentary

The video below has the best assessment of the Todd White repentance issue that I’ve seen over the past few days.

All of the criticisms of White I’ve seen in the past on the “heresy hunter” sites have either been outright lies (such as he denies the divinity of Christ), have attacked his healing ministry (after all, those gifts died out with the apostles according to the critics) or have mocked his hairstyle and/or wardrobe.

That’s why those sites so quickly switched from “Todd White repents” – to reasons why his repentance isn’t legitimate.

The snide mocking tone of many of the critics ought to be recognised as the fruit by which we will know them. See the comparison given between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians.

Also, Jesus referred to people appearing like sheep but by their fruit are recognisable as ravenous wolves. The nature of wolves is to hunt in packs, hungrily tearing their prey apart.

The commentator below is no Todd White follower (and neither am I) but unlike the “discernment” ministry sites, he addresses Todd White’s perceived shortcomings (and strengths) with honesty and integrity.

I’d never heard of White until the beginning of the year after I’d done a Bible study on healing, the results of which have been shared over many posts on this blog.

After completing that personal study I looked around to find what others were saying and/or doing regarding healing. I came across Todd White videos showing him ministering within the community: healing, sharing the gospel, meeting people’s other needs, and leading people to the Lord, followed by baptising them.

I posted a video of him doing those things and was astounded by the persistent, negative, accusatory responses in the comments section below that video. For the first time in the life of this blog (after 50 comments in a few days) I chose to manually disable the comments. *

Todd White is obviously not perfect and even he is recognising that he’s fallen short in areas, but I’ve had no doubts of his sincerity and his love of the Lord and that the Lord has used him and will continue to do so.

The presenter of this video makes far more pertinent and gracious observations of White and his ministry than I’ve witnessed across the many “heresy hunter” sites I’ve seen.

Refreshingly, instead of snide accusations, he gives wise and helpful advice, and it was encouraging to me to hear him reference Apollos as someone who had preached a deficient gospel in Ephesus but was later patiently corrected by Aquila and Priscilla.

Apollos is an example I have referred to a few times in recent discussion about White and his ministry. Apollos was blessed to be patiently corrected instead of being labelled a heretic and berated on the Roman empire equivalent of YouTube.

[comments will be strictly moderated and ongoing, repetitively contentious comments will not be posted]

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* This site has been set to allow comments for a month after each article is posted, then it automatically closes the comment section.

Son of Man

Jesus is, was, and ever will be God, but for a time chose to follow a path where He would become a little lower than the angels.

He didn’t cling to the benefits of His status, but lowered Himself to our level to experience life as a man, with all of the same temptations, and He gained knowledge of man’s weaknesses and suffering through personal experience. The clear difference between Him and us was that he didn’t succumb to the temptation.

When He ministered it was in the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Father not His own authority and power. His ministry was performed as a Spirit filled man commissioned by God.

After His resurrection He said, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, go therefore and make disciples…” and ” you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me…”

As Jesus was sent by the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit, we (as His disciples and believers in Him ) have been sent by Him to be His witnesses empowered by the same Holy Spirit who empowered Him, to do the works that He did and also greater works.

Spirit filled believers are intended to carry on Jesus’ ministry also having a Divine commission as His ambassadors in a hostile world. Sadly that hostility often comes from other professing believers who would reject most of what is written above and claim it is “denying Jesus’ Divinity in the incarnation”.

They also tend to be people who deny the ongoing validity of Spiritual gifts and reject the continuation of the same works and greater that Jesus said those who believe would do. Basically they deny both the promises of Jesus and the teachings of Paul.

That kind of denial is not only detrimental to themselves, those beliefs have undermined the intended mission of the church, as well as condemning misinformed followers of Christ to lives of unnecessary sickness and premature death.

What I’ve Learned This Year (so far) part 1

Firstly I want to expand the time period covered by the title of this article by rewinding slightly to start at the beginning of December. Friday 6th December was my last day at work and I started chemotherapy the following Monday.

Very early in this time period I found that two words struck fear in the hearts of many people I know: Cancer and Jesus. Saying either was a guaranteed way of seeing someone enter a state of panic, trying to change the subject. Using both by telling them that I was trusting Jesus to heal me intensified their desire to avoid what I was saying.

Another thing learned was how the term “believer” is misapplied to many professing Christians. They don’t seem to have an understanding of what it means to believe or to have faith. At least according to biblical definitions that state belief/faith are required when we pray, to guarantee that we receive what we pray for.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1)

A surprising number don’t have any confidence that they will receive what they ask for in prayer, showing a disregard of Jesus’ promise.

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt 21)

I have been very grateful for the many people who promised to pray when I made the cancer diagnosis known. But I have to wonder what people were actually praying, considering that many Christians don’t understand that it IS God’s will to heal. Too often they compromise their prayer with the tag “if it be Your will” when praying regarding healing. Including that phrase may add an appearance of humility and submission to the prayer, but in reality it displays a lack of knowledge of God’s revealed will and undermines the effectiveness of their prayer.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5)

Motivated by that promise I made it my goal to see if scripture revealed God’s will regarding the health and healing of His people. I thought it could take a lot of time to find a definitive answer – if there was one. There would be a lot of scripture to work through.

In reality it took only a day or two to find a very clear answer. And that was even before I realised the blatantly obvious, that Jesus (who ONLY did the Father’s will) healed everyone who came to Him or was taken to Him. He also went out of His way to heal a few who didn’t seek Him out. NEVER was anyone turned away without healing when approached by someone in need.

This is NOT hidden in scripture. It is open and clear.

And that brings me to another thing I’ve learned (or been reminded of recently) and that is the widespread influence of cessationist theology; even among those who insist they believe in the ongoing validity of Spiritual gifts and the miraculous. Cessationist influence has caused even pentecostal believers to dilute their expectation of signs confirming the gospel. Spirit-filled “believers” are frequently allowing themselves to be influenced by cessationist, so-called, “discernment ministries“.

These people who are allegedly exposing heretical teachings and practices among charismatic groups are often targeting anything that doesn’t conform to their narrow, unbiblical view that Spiritual gifts and signs and wonders have been abandoned by God. No discernment is needed when a broad cessationist brush is applied to dis-empower the gospel and the church commissioned to preach it.

And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. (Mark 16)

in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God … I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Rom 15)

…my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (1 Cor 2)

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1)

While these cessationist “discernment” ministries are influencing many to be suspicious of countless preachers, churches and charismatic experiences (some deservedly 1) few ever consider that the “discernment” ministers have no less questionable beliefs than the worst of the people they are “exposing”.

What could be worse than a ministry based on denying the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit – even attributing His work to Satan (because according to their beliefs, God has withdrawn the Spirit’s gifts therefore any expression of supernatural gifts has to be Satanic).

But on a more positive note. While my studies and discoveries so far this year have challenged (even broken) some friendships, I thank God for new friends that He has brought into my life. Their encouragement, prayer and support has been a blessing.

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1 A shotgun blast may hit an appropriate target, but in doing so has much more likelihood of hitting innocent bystanders. That is the weakness and danger of lazy, broad-brush condemnations being used instead of genuine discernment, motivated by a love of the truth.

By Their Fruit You Will Know Them.

Onesimus, you’re a coward… you’re also a liar… crazy… moron ……foolish … You can’t even quote the bible properly let alone understand it. That makes you “common”. I’m done with casting pearl before swine. You’re stuck in your own world of hypocrisy. You’re as sounding brass. Loud and noisy and can’t edify anyone with truth. You’re a liar, a fraud and a coward before God and against someone that explained all things…

Just a few of the choice insults and accusations made against me in a single comment posted on YouTube by a man who claims to have been a bible teacher for decades. A cessationist who didn’t like the fact that I didn’t accept to his explanation of scripture in which he claimed to show that only the apostles were given authority to heal, and confirm the gospel they preached with other signs and therefore such things ceased with the last of the apostles.

A few days later another man on the same site also called me a moron as well as, “a little demon” and that I was accursed. I thought my own comment had agreed with what he had previously said, but clearly he didn’t see things that way.

Ironically he signed his abusive diatribe, identifying himself as a “prophet”.

We should make sure we are familiar with what Jesus said, not only to assess where others stand, but to be sure of our own position:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees

Jesus had a strained relationship with the religious leaders and authorities of His time. The following quote shows one of the reasons (see bold type) why He saw it necessary to warn His disciples about them.

… the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him

In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”. (Luke 11-12)

Is His warning equally valid today? If so who do we need to beware of? Who would be the present day Pharisees and Sadducees? What individuals or groups reflect the attitudes and behaviors of those bible-era opponents of Jesus and His gospel? What did the historical Pharisees and Sadducess do in their desire to oppose Jesus?

There is one example in the quote above “seeking to catch Him in something He might say“. They scrutinised everything (not with integrity like the later Bereans, who wanted to find whether Paul’s preaching was valid or not) but with the intention of finding fault with anything Jesus was saying. They just wanted ammunition with which they could accuse and condemn Him. Eventually, when they found none, they chose to take His words out of context and give them unintended meaning.

Another trait was their unwillingness to recognise and accept the miracles that Jesus did. Instead, again, they tried to find fault because Jesus didn’t do things according to their own traditions and teachings. They even attributed His works to the power of Satan. When everything else failed they resorted to outright lies.

Eventually they condemned Him because He told them the truth – truth they refused to accept.

I suggest that any present day equivalent of those religious leaders would demonstrate the same attitudes and same tactics as their historical counterparts and similarly deceive their undiscerningly devoted followers, steering them away from the the opportunity to enter and experience the fullness of the gospel and the ministry life that Jesus came to give those who genuinely follow Him.

“Woe to you … For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” (Luke 11)

Beware of those who deny the power of God and its continuation in the present day.

Beware of those whose major “ministry” is finding fault with what others are saying and doing.

Beware of believing accusations made against others without checking the truthfulness of those accusations.

Beware of those who CLAIM to honour the word of God, and yet see the need to dismiss or reinterpret those parts of it that don’t suit their particular theological agenda and traditions.

Jesus answered [the Sadducees] and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
(Matt 22)

Beware of that same kind of blindness.

Where Have All the Demons Gone? (2)

It’s stating the obvious when I say I’ve recently posted several videos of Torben Søndergaard’s ministry.

I’ve done that because  he is the only one I’ve seen so far, doing, encouraging, and teaching what Jesus actually commanded His disciples to do, with a gospel that includes a strong message of repentance and the need for baptism in both water and Holy Spirit.
In other words, a gospel in line with the very first message preached by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost. A gospel repeated throughout the book of Acts.

Not surprisingly Søndergaard has been the target of cessationist heresy hunters who love painting anyone who believes in the ongoing validity of healing and deliverance, as part of a gospel accompanied by confirming signs (as foretold and commanded by Jesus), with that condemnatory “NAR” broad brush.

Anyone who takes the time to TRUTHFULLY consider Søndergaard’s ministry and teaching will soon recognise the lying nature of those accusations.*
Is he always right? Probably not, but I find the important truths in his teaching and practice far outweigh any concern over any minor doctrinal quibbles and questions I may have. I see far more serious error being widely taught and accepted elsewhere that seems to get little opposition.

The following videos illustrate something of what I wrote about in my previous post regarding demons and deliverance.

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Footnote.
* Compare the “cut to the heart” response resulting from Peter’s speech in Acts 2 with the “cut to the heart” response later in Acts 7 to a similar message delivered by Stephen.

Acts 2:

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit… Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 7:

When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Which way should you or I respond when confronted by the kind of truths expounded by Peter and Stephen?