An Exhortation for All Followers of Jesus in Troubled Times

The following is from an Asia Harvest newsletter. A link for the full article is included at the end of the excerpt.

World events are only going to get progressively worse as the world spirals toward anarchy, before the great and glorious return of Jesus. He will come to bring judgment and to clean up the mess we have made: “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:12).

How can a Christian strengthen their heart and mind to survive the dark times ahead? Our answer is one that you have probably never heard from a Christian organization before: do NOT ‘read’ God’s Word! People read newspapers, novels and webpages, but the Bible instructs us not to merely “read” the Word but to “Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

It’s not enough just to have a few favorite Bible verses, or to pick and choose bits of Scripture that make us feel good. To be healthy, a person needs to enjoy the full banquet of God’s Word, and not just grab a few snacks here and there. Throughout the Scriptures, we find the people God used greatly were those who diligently studied His Word, for example: “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

To survive the end times, we must study whole books of the Bible, and invest time each day in getting to know the Lord through His Word and in prayer. It’s time to get serious, or our faith will not survive the storms ahead. God’s Word will give us discernment and wisdom, enabling us to navigate through this life

We not only need wisdom as we live in this world, but we also must discern truth from error in today’s Church. Each day, thousands of pulpits and the airwaves are spewing out a false gospel that has stripped the Christian message of key words like repentance and holiness, and crucial teachings of the Lord Jesus, such as: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)..

https://asiaharvest.org/an-exhortation-for-all-followers-of-jesus-in-troubled-times/

I’d also refer you to my article here: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/dont-study-the-bible/ which according the title may seem like a contradiction of the above, but just as context is vital in our understanding of scripture, context should be taken into account with this article. Read the whole article and not just the title.

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?

Where Have All the Demons Gone?

Where have all the demons gone?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering for some time.
Freeing people from unclean spirits was as much a part of Jesus’ ministry as bodily healing, and sometimes the cause of an illness or infirmity was due to the presence of an unclean spirit (demon).

He gave his twelve disciples authority to cast out demons, and then the same to the seventy He sent out later.

And as part of His final words to His followers Jesus said “these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:7).

Considering all of the above – why are things so different today? Why are the churches, and therefore the majority of believers, not seeing or expecting to carry out that aspect of ministry commissioned by Jesus?

Probably for a similar reason that most don’t expect to experience or witness healings. I’m sure it’s not because demons ceased to exist, or that they fled from the earth. Like healing, it’s become the norm to consider it’s a part of biblical reality that for some reason has changed; become outdated, no longer valid for today – now  irrelevant in ministry – no matter how much the actual need has remained the same.

Approximately 35 years ago I was involved in “deliverance ministry” for a short time, when the pastor of the church I attended called me and asked me to help after a counselling session had brought demonic influence to light in the counselling subject.

Over the next few weeks I was asked on several occasions to help cast out demons from people  he’d been counselling.

That church seemed to be the exception among those that I attended over the years. Afterwards I started to wonder whether that experience played a part on the “spiritual crisis” I went through during the following 15 years. Had I been invited into that kind of ministry without having a firm enough foundation of faith to remain unaffected myself?

While able to present a convincing spiritual façade, my life at the time was not exactly grounded in the Word of God to the extent that I (and others) thought. Instead I had a convincing security blanket woven out of proof texts learned from recorded sermons.

My recovery from that crisis has been ongoing for a long time – maybe twenty years – during which there have been a series of ups and downs and false turns. Maybe for the first time since I first became a believer, the past several months have been a period of learning, change and establishing a firm foundation through solid and consistent time in scripture and prayer.

During that time I’ve “met” others who are going through a similar process. Often finding themselves on that path through a personal crisis. I suspect it’s not a coincidence that it all started not long before the world itself was also plunged into crisis.

My own experience has made me think long and hard, firstly about the many years of my own compromise, complacency, and failure to live up to the most basic expectations of Christian ministry, and secondly about the wider church being guilty of the same failures.

What Jesus commanded His followers to do and what todays’ “followers” are  actually doing, for the most part have absolutely nothing in common. Take the time to read Jesus’ instructions and commands regarding the mission He gave us.  Then ask yourself why many of those commands have been considered no longer necessary.

Only yesterday I noticed something for the first time in Luke 7.

[John the Baptist’s followers] had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ”

And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Read that again, and if necessary again and again.
What actually happens? What was Jesus’ answer to John?

In case you don’t see it, as I had never seen it until yesterday, I’ll point it out.
In answer to their question, Jesus healed the sick, brought deliverance from evil spirits and gave sight to the blind. Then He told John’s followers to tell John WHAT THEY HAD SEEN and heard.
Jesus didn’t send them away with words alone, but with an experience of the power of God. He SHOWED them before He told them anything.

Where have all the demons gone?

Nowhere. In the west at least, they’ve been allowed to take a holiday, We’ve let ourselves become oblivious to their presence, while we’ve become disobedient to the task Jesus commissioned us to do.

In the New Testament, demons always made their presence known, they could not remain hidden when confronted by Jesus or His disciples, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. No one needed to “hunt” for them or seek them out, they manifested themselves when the authority of God was recognised.

For centuries now the church has abrogated that authority and replaced it with dead traditions and theologies that deny the relevance and need for the power of God today. Those unclean spirits are now rarely confronted by believers walking in the kind of authority that makes them reveal their presence.

I’ve written elsewhere about this current situation of isolation and lockdown being an opportunity for change, giving a chance to strengthen our relationship with God and to get back on track – to break free of complacent, comfortable church life and get in line with HIS intentions: preaching the gospel throughout the world with confirming signs of healing and deliverance.

What are we going to do with that opportunity?

INDIA: Pandemic Brings Unprecedented Growth

From Open Doors.

As India begins to ease restrictions on the world’s largest lockdown, millions of Christians remain side-lined as many local businesses and churches stay closed. Yet, the Indian church is rejoicing as more come to know Christ during the pandemic.

Open Doors local partner, Heena* says that Christians are continuing to struggle without stable income or fellowship with other believers. “People here do not even have money to buy food for their families. It’s really sad. It’s not just one story or four or five such stories, but the story of almost every family.

“Many people depend on small businesses or work as day laborers or small church services. All of them are affected and all of them don’t have food.”

Despite these hardships, God is using this pandemic to bring revival to His church in India. As Open Doors and local partners deliver emergency relief to the vulnerable and as churches broadcast their services online, the Indian church is seeing unprecedented growth.

“I believe the pandemic lockdown is being used by God to use His church in a new way,” one local pastor said.

See here for full source article.

To Whom Shall We Go? Article by Cheryl McGrath

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A very pertinent article by Cheryl McGrath on her Bread For the Bride site.

As I always advise – PLEASE clink on the link provided after the excerpt and read the full article.

Into every life there comes at least one crucial watershed moment. Moments where the soul is sifted and the true motivations of our hearts are revealed. Moments when events align around us that will require hard choices and ultimately determine our destiny. It is my belief the slowing down currently caused by the world-wide coronavirus emergency presents the Body of Christ, individually and corporately, with such a watershed.

But more on that later; first I want to focus on a similar watershed moment recorded in the gospels. (The passage is John 6 – feel free to check it out.)

Read full article here: To Whom Shall We Go?