authority of the believer, biblical scholarship, calamity, christianity, church, death, divine healing, faith, false doctrine, God's promises, God's will, heresies, Jesus Christ, pope, prayer, religion, sickness, sovereignty of God, spiritual authority, theology
In the last 5 posts, I’ve been making the case that the God of the Bible does not go around killing people, inflicting them with diseases, or causing disasters nowadays.
This post, we’ll continue exploring the promises of God.
In my last post, we discussed how God has sovereignly limited His own sovereignty by telling us in His Word that there are certain things He will and won’t do in general as well as His responses to our behaviors and attitudes.
Let’s explore some of these promises, specifically ones concerning salvation, health/healing, divine protection, and financial provision.
Promises of Salvation
First, let’s discuss salvation and what that entails. There are numerous verses in the OT that collectively predict that salvation would come to God’s people, the Jews, as well as the Gentiles (the rest of mankind) through a Messiah/Christ that would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and suffer for the sins of the world. The NT also contains verses collectively stating in no-uncertain-terms that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but these two sum it all up quite nicely:
…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which by which we must be saved. — Acts 4:12
…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. — Romans 10:9-10
No mature believer contests the Truth and validity of such verses. Indeed, all of them would shout, “Amen!!” to a proclamation that it is impossible to have a vital faith in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ without accepting these verses as absolute Truth, quoting the verse, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV), among others.
Promises of Healing & Protection
However, when we start addressing such verses such as where it says,
…Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by Whose stripes you were healed. — 1 Peter 2:24
These same folks will not even remotely question the first part of the verse as being subject to God’s whims to save or not, but will immediate start waffling on the second half where it starts talking about healing, saying, “Well what if it’s not God’s will to heal me?” instead of taking Him at His clearly written Word that it is indeed His will to heal us.
In The Book of Psalms, it says:
No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. — Psalm 91:10-11
Calvinists who vociferously rise to defend the Truth of salvation in Jesus would say, “Well, God is sovereign and sometimes He lets evil come our way to teach us to be humble or to depend on Him.” or some other such pious-sounding drivel. Again, why would God promise His angelic protection against evil and sickness if He isn’t going to do it?
Elsewhere in Psalms, you will find:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. — Psalm 103:1-5
Again, many would agree that God always “forgives all our iniquities,” “redeems our lives from destruction,” and “crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies,” but when pressed on the issue of “heals all our diseases,” they start hemming and hawing over whether it is always God’s will to heal us.
Promises of Financial Provision
Many of those same folks would also erroneously say, “God doesn’t give me any money to keep me humble” despite the fact that dozens of times throughout the OT and NT God states that He will not only meet our needs, but actually prosper us financially. The following verse promises:
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need, be self-sufficient — possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation. — 2 Corinthians 9:8 (Amplified)
Some would explain this away as some sort of spiritual blessing only. But if you follow proper Bible exegetical principles, the context of this verse is a monetary offering, so applying this verse to finances is a perfectly — indeed the only — legitimate interpretation.
So Where’s the Line?
Am I the only one who sees the double-standard here? These are just a few such cases. I could cite far more!
So where can we safely draw the line between where God will sovereignly keep His Word and honor His promises, and those where He is permitted to take a notion and not honor them?
Why? Because that puts us squarely in the same seats as those liberal-denomination theologians who water down the Word and say that some or all of the Bible is simply mythology and legends, or there are paths to God other than Jesus, or that Jesus saved everyone and it doesn’t matter what we believe, or that Jesus was just another great teacher like Buddha or Mohammed, or that miracles never happened, etc., etc., using human reason to determine what part of God’s Word is true and what is not.
As finite, fallible, and mostly clueless human beings, we don’t have the freedom to make those distinctions. We have only 2 choices:
- Believe all of it, or;
- Believe none of it!
A Brief Historical Overview of Christianity
So why have these lies infiltrated the doctrinal positions of so many churches, ministers, and their congregations?
Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to somewhere around 300AD. Yes, Mr. Peabody!
At that time, the Roman Empire was still the big kid on the block, but rapidly deteriorating as a world power. Two separate plagues had decimated the population, leaving vast areas of territory uninhabited and undefended, ripe for invasion by neighboring barbarian tribes. Constantine was the emperor and had recently won a battle prior to which he had dreamt of a cross and heard words to the effect of “By this sign, you shall conquer.”
Prior to that time, Christians were a persecuted minority group within the empire. Despite that persecution, the Church had grown by leaps and bounds through the preaching of the Word and the signs that followed, miracles of healing and other supernatural works.
Constantine Fixes What Ain’t Broke
After his dream, Constantine had the bright idea of removing the stigma and persecution attendant to being a Christian. Years later, one of his successors, Emperor Theodosius, eventually made Christianity the state religion of the empire.
Constantine was not even close to being a believer and I believe his dream was not from God, but from the devil who had decided to change tactics. I believe Satan had determined persecution was spurring that bunch of pesky believers to explosive growth rather than towards extermination, so he would try going to the opposite extreme and destroy the Church through social acceptability, the encroachment of man’s religion, and internal corruption.
However, my opinion on the spiritual authorship of Constantine’s dream is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the end result was precisely what I described above: being a Christian became socially acceptable and politically desirable. Constantine imposed Greek-style (aka pagan) religious practices, leadership hierarchies, and meeting places upon the Church. As a result, rampant corruption immediately began to set in.
The Origins of Cessation Theology &
Other Related False Doctrines
Once being a Christian became a necessity to those on the path to political power within the empire, power-hungry pagans began confessing false allegiance to Christ and infiltrating the Church through simony, the purchasing of leadership positions within the church. Simony became rampant and pervaded Roman Catholicism until the Counter-Reformation 1300 years later. Such leaders were obviously unsaved — many could not even read the Scriptures! — and when they could not demonstrate the miracles the earlier Church considered normative, those leaders began to teach false doctrines to hide their “wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing”-ness.
Such demonic doctrines include concepts such as “divine healing ceased when the apostles died”, “God wants you to be poor”, “God causes personal and societal disasters for reasons we cannot fathom”, “the Jews should be punished because they killed Christ”, “speaking in tongues is of the devil”, “only priests can have access to the Scriptures”, and “you must confess your sins to a priest”, “sexual pleasure between a husband and wife is sin”, just to name a few.
Why? Because the Word says that signs and miracles are supposed to “follow those who believe” (Mark 16:17-18). These wolves could not perform miracles because they didn’t believe on Jesus to the point of salvation, they only gave lip-service to a weak, powerless Christ whom they served for outward show, while they in fact served their own selfish ambitions for personal wealth/power, and thus — the enemy.
As a result:
- They couldn’t heal the sick folk who were brought to them.
- They couldn’t speak in tongues because they were not only not baptized in the Holy Spirit, they weren’t even remotely born again.
- They wanted the people to remain ignorant, illiterate and poor to keep them in subjugation to both themselves and the political rulers they controlled through access to the “sacraments.”
- They instituted confessionals to control both the people and their rulers by knowing their secrets.
- They couldn’t explain things like the bubonic plague as attacks by the very person they served (the devil), so they blamed it on the Jews. They then justified that load of BS with the “blood libel”, taking Matthew 27:25 out of its context and blaming the innocent for the deeds of their own dark master.
- They kept the Bible out of the hands of the rank-and-file believer to prevent them from seeing the lies being foisted upon them by that corrupt leadership.
And that’s just a short list of the corruption and abuses perpetrated by these charlatans. A comprehensive list would go on for pages and pages.
The Middle Ages
Over the centuries, things got worse and worse. During the Middle Ages. a cult group who believed that Jesus’ mother was personally divine formed within the Catholic Church. Over time,they managed to infiltrate the church’s leadership and finally managed to land one of their members as pope. Thereafter, he declared that Mary was to be venerated and prayed to and, in effect, made superior to Christ.
The Renaissance Through Today
During the Renaissance, supposedly celibate popes were not only fathering illegitimate children, but putting them into positions of power within the church.
In the late 1500’s, they started selling salvation for money in the form of indulgences.
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, their so-called “theologians” had lost control over the Catholic Church and it had been run for several centuries by lawyers, of all things!
Fast forward to today where we have rampant sexual misconduct and pedophilia committed by priests, all of it covered up for decades by bishops, cardinals, and popes.
The Protestant Reformation
It was along about the late 1500s that several men of God came seemingly out of nowhere to declare that the Catholic Church had lost its way doctrinally and become totally corrupt. Men like Luther, Knox, Calvin, Huss, Tyndall, Wycliffe, and others “protested” the corruption they saw in Catholicism and tried to “reform” the existing institution. All were rejected (excommunicated) by the corrupt Catholic leadership, some being tortured and killed for their beliefs.
Thus the Protestant Reformation came about and that reformation is still in progress 500+ years later. The initial corrections came about in reviving the doctrines of:
- Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation by works was history for the Protestants.
- The Bible was again given preeminence as the sole authority over faith and practice, replacing the pope. Sola scriptura became the battle cry of all Protestants.
- The total efficacy of the Blood of Jesus for the removal of all sins, past, present, and future.
- No more confessionals, penance, indulgences, or purgatory.
- The priesthood of the believer. Believers no longer needed priests to talk to God for them, they could personally “come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
- The restoration of Mary to her proper place in history: the 100%-human virgin mother of Jesus and nothing more.
- The Bible was translated into the languages of the common folk (German, English, French, etc.) printed on then-new-fangled printing presses, and thus made available to the masses. This led to widespread Biblical and secular literacy and ultimately to the American Revolution.
During the initial stages of the Reformation, tens of thousands of people who protested the pervasive abuses and false doctrines of Roman Catholicism were dispossessed, burned alive as heretics, and put to the sword in open warfare.
The downside of the early Reformation is that it didn’t go far enough, so many of the old false doctrines from Catholicism (aka “The Rags of Romanism”) were transferred intact and never even questioned, much less refuted, cessation theology being the foremost of these.
In the early 1900s, another wave of reformation took place, the Azuza Street Revival in Los Angeles which ultimately spawned the Pentecostal denominations that we have to this day. Even with this new move of God, some of the old Catholic dogma remained, and unfortunately, some error re-entered, such as a de facto salvation by works (so-called “holiness”) and the religious subjugation of women by men (no makeup, long dresses, hair in buns, no jewelry, cannot minister, and other such folderol).
In the late 1940s, the healing revival spread throughout the world, exemplified by the ministries of Oral Roberts, John G. Lake, F. F. Bosworth, Kenneth E. Hagin, and others and divine healing was revealed and demonstrated to the Body of Christ, though many mainline denominations rejected it.
In the 1970s, the Charismatic renewal expanded the Pentecostal experience beyond the previous groups that had majored in it and pushed it out into other mainstream denominations. Suddenly Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Nazarenes, Episcopalians — even some Catholics — were speaking in tongues and seeing miracles of healing in their midst. Yet more hold-over dogma from Catholicism was replaced with Truth.
Then came the Word of Faith offshoot of the Charismatics in the 1980s through the present day. These folks determined that if the Word says something, God means it and that if we’re not experiencing something God has promised, the problem somehow or another lies with us, not Him. And even more miracles followed those who believed. And even more Catholic dogma bit the dust.
But there are still many ministers in many denominations who still to this day cling to the old Catholic errors and will defend those errors to the death. And that became the impetus for this series of blog posts by yours truly.
Now some of you has to have asked the question by now, “Well, what about Job?”
I’ll deal with that topic and #4 on my list next.
Thanks for listening!