St Paul had ever been to the third heaven. (The third heaven refers to the place where God dwells.) He wrote in the third person in 2 Cor 12:2-4,“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that NO ONE IS PERMITTED TO TELL.” While he was there in heaven, he saw and heard things which he could not describe and was forbidden to relate. Scripture made it clear in 2 Cor 12:4 that NO ONE IS PERMITTED TO TELL of such experience.
Only 6 persons in Scripture had visions of heaven but not near death experiences – Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micaiah, Paul, John and Stephen. And possibly three wrote about the glory of God and their own fear in the presence of God. And all those who were brought back to life by our Lord Jesus or Paul did not have their post mortem experience mentioned in Scripture.
Alex Malarkey was six years old when a car crash put him in a coma for two months, during which time he said he went to heaven and visited angels. The resulting memoir, co-authored with his father, was a best-seller. But five years after its publication in 2015, Alex says he made the whole thing up, NPR reports. “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” he wrote in an open letter to Christian books retailers. “I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention.” The story was believable because it was related by a 6 year old boy whom hardly anyone would suspect he could have the guile to invent such a story to get attention. If a young boy could do that, surely there would be many charlatans today doing so for money and fame whose heaven visitation stories could not be verified by anyone, except himself or herself.
Is buying insurance biblical ? In other words, if we buy insurance, do we lack trust in the Lord ? Since it is not specifically mentioned in the Scripture, then let it be treated as a matter of conscience. Let each pray and decide.
Scripture does advise not to guarantee loan for anyone for fear of unforeseen default consequence affecting oneself and family.
Proverbs 22:26-27 NLT
Don’t agree to guarantee another person”s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.
So it is analogous and reasonable to take steps to mitigate unforeseen circumstances such as buying insurance for, in my opinion, insurance is like a collective pooling of resources in a community to help any individual in the community facing unforeseen emergency that require financial aid.
Whenever the Lord warns of impending disaster in Scripture, He expects the faithful to act to prepare. The story of Joseph in mitigating the famine faced by his family is one good example.
We are also told to be prudent.
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
In my opinion, one ought to buy insurance such as hospitalisation insurance, fire insurance, travel insurance and dependent income insurance.
The NAR apostles and
prophets claim great authority in the church because of one doctrinal teaching
that our Lord Jesus gave five offices for governing and directing the church :
apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The NAR apostles and prophets claimed that
they were entrusted to reclaim back these two offices to make the church
complete and also operate in supernatural power. Kris Vallaton claimed the
restoration of these offices would result in increased angelic activity
manifested by miracles rarely witnessed in the history of the planet. They would have the authority to make “prayer
declaration” that the angels must carry out. They lure and bait their followers
with the promise of blessings. All along the church teaches the written Word of
God and nurture their flocks, but now these NAR apostles and prophets have the
new revelations their followers need to develop miraculous powers, bring God’s
kingdom, and fulfill His will on earth.
From Matt 23:8-10,
Jesus our Lord mentioned so clearly we are all brothers and call no one rabbi,
father or instructor for we have only one Lord Jesus. Yet the NAR apostles and prophets claim great
authority over the church and they can wreck havoc in the lives of many who
submit to them.
I took the liberty to summarize a chapter of the well researched book, Counterfeit Kingdom, by Holly Pivec and Douglas Geivett on the spiritual abuse of the NAR leaders using very questionable tactics.
They are told that
through their submission, they can then experience physical and emotional
healing, learn to work miracles and protect themselves from demons who hinder
the fulfillment of their destinies. Without submission to their authority,
angels will not help them.
Here are some tactics or ruses to secure their submission :
1. Twisted Scriptures.
They need to use Scripture to bolster their teaching of supreme authority, but Scripture does not support this teaching as stated cearly in Matt 23:8-10 and Scripture has to be twisted or quoted out of context. 2 Pet 3:16. I explained in detail the five fold ministry as mentioned in Eph 2:20-21 and Eph 4:11 which does not contradict Matt 23:8-10.
2. Euphemisms Or Playing With Words.
Instead of calling for submission to their authority, they use the word “alignment” to suggest submission. Kris Vallaton shared,”If we don’t understand how to recognize and align ourselves under true spiritual authority, we may build bigger armies, develop better strategies and buy more powerful weapons, but we will still lose.
b. Spiritual Covering.
With spiritual covering from the apostles and prophets, all the bad things like demonic attacks will be blocked.
c. Covenant Relationships.
That is another teaching to solicit submission to another wiser believer.
d. Culture Of Honour.
A must read book for students in the Bethel School of
Supernatural Ministry, Culture of Honour : Sustaining a Supernatural
Environment, teaches that believers must show proper honour to the apostles and
prophets as a condition to receive miraculous gifting and supernatural
empowerment from them.
We can notice that these NAR leaders do not state candidly their controversial teachings but rather they rely on insinuation, implication and innuendo. But the followers fully comprehend that if they want to be blessed, they have to show honour and submit to these NAR leaders.
a. “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.”
This catchphrase actually absolves the NAR leaders of any wrong teaching or immoral lifestyle. If the follower is part of a “revival” and it comes to light that such an apostle or prophet has a secret immoral lifestyle like Todd Bentley, he or she should still believe God was working through that “unclean” person and that they led a genuine “move of God”.
b. “You should trust God’s ability to protect you from being deceived more than you trust Satan’s ability to deceive you.”
This catchphrase is to dispel the followers’ fears of being deceived by them. This teaching clearly contradicts so many warnings in Scripture about guarding against false teachings.
c. “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”
This catchphrase is to excuse all kinds of bizarre works of the prophets. If the followers refuse to listen to these prophets, that is a sign of an evil and hard heart.
d. “God is bigger than His book.”
Another catchphrase is “Don’t put God in a box.” Such catchphrases are used to defend bizarre experiences reported by these NAR leaders not found in Scripture.
4. Book Ban.
The NAR leaders strongly warn their followers not to read books that are critical of NAR teachings.
5. Name Calling.
Critics are given labels like “mean-spirited, heresy hunters, judgmental, Jezebel, Pharisee, legalist, unanointed”.
When all other tactics fail to silence criticism, these NAR leaders resort to threats. The famous catchphrase is the repetition of the warning, “Touch not the anointed”. That implies critics may be judged by our Lord for criticizing them.
While in prison in 1943, Dr Dietrich Bonhoeffer meditated on the question why the German people – in spite of their education, culture, and intellectual achievements – had fallen so far from reason and morality. he concluded the people had been afflicted with collective stupidity. He was not flippant when he used this term stupidity to describe actually a sociological problem rather than a psychological one, and a human defect rather than a intellectual one. The atrocities during World War 2 had shown him that perfectly intelligent people could be rendered stupid under the pressure of political power and propaganda. That is, they could be rendered incapable of critical reasoning.
He continued to expound that stupidity is even more dangerous than wickedness. Evil can be protested against, exposed and prevented by force. But against stupidity, there is no defense. Facts that contradict one’s prejudice simply don’t need to be believed, and when they are inescapable, they can simply be brushed aside as meaningless or isolated cases. The advice is not to convince the stupid with reason, it is pointless and dangerous. It is a fact that stupid people are stubborn and when one is dealing with them personally, it seems that catchphrases and slogans have taken possession of them like under a spell. That is blindness which Scripture often mentioned.
We can also see this blindness and stupidity in the religious sphere. Despite the clear error of false teaching such as false Christology and the shamanistic practices of the NAR movement, yet we see millions following them without any critical reasoning.
A few brothers and sisters in the Philippines were keen to know more about the coming hard times and have invited me to share about my book message, The Coming Economic Flood, in person a year ago. I was finally able to travel there this month with the lifting of most vaccine-related restrictions. They have decided to organise a seminar instead of an informal fellowship meeting. All thanks to the Lord for the wonderful fellowship and discussion.
I have written a comprehensive gospel message of the kingdom of God and the redemptive work of our Lord God from Genesis to Revelation. I included the major doctrines of the Holy Trinity, Personhood of Jesus Christ and the history of the Israelite nation in the narrative as well. The similarity of the Chinese culture, language, philosophy and religion is also included.
I have invited some 8 persons to listen to this 1 hour presentation to gauge the response followed by questions and answers before proceeding to dinner. I hope to share the gospel in this novel Alpha-course-like way and introduce it to churches in the region, God willing. All glory and honour to our Lord Jesus.
What was at the heart
of all the teachings of our Lord Jesus ?
The answer was clear in Luke 4:43 – the Kingdom of God.
(Luke 4:43 NIV. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the
other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Mark 1:14-15 NKJV. Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to
Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom
of God [g]is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”)
Most of our Lord’s parables
focused on the Kingdom of God. And even
after His resurrection and before His ascension to heaven, He spent some 40
days with the disciples preparing the disciples for their mission ahead by
teaching them on the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
(Acts 1:3. NASB. To these He also
presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs,
appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking
of things regarding the kingdom of God.)
We read in Acts of what Paul
did primarily in his missionary journeys when he went around preaching and
testifying about the kingdom of God.
(Acts 14:22. And after they
had preached the gospel to that city and had made a good number of
disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch,strengthening the souls of the
disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “It is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom
Acts 19:8. And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three
months, having discussions and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
Acts 20:25. “And now behold, I know that
all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer
see my face…”
Acts 28:23. When they had set a day for Paul, people came to
him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by
solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them
concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from
morning until evening.
Acts 28:30-31. Now Paul stayed two full years in his own rented lodging and
welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and
teaching things about the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.)
It is with much sadness that
I realize many churches do not preach centrally about the kingdom of God
anymore but focus mainly on paradoxes of doctrines and differences in practices
on one extreme; and false teaching of life without tribulation as abundant life
in Christ on the other extreme. The
devil has been very successful in corrupting the plain truth of the kingdom of
God over the centuries.
What constitutes a kingdom
? A kingdom must have at least these 4
elements – a King, territory, laws and subjects.
The King of the Kingdom of
God is our Lord Jesus Christ. In Eph
1:10, we read that it is God’s plan in the fullness of the times to bring all
things together under the kingship of Christ.
The territory is still the same planet earth. It will be renewed again. Heaven will descend
on this new earth at the end of age.
God’s laws will be the basis
of the reign of this Kingdom and will be adhered perfectly in this Kingdom for
all subjects will be perfect as He is perfect when Christ returns. (Isaiah
2:2-4). False teachers have preached
about the abolition of God’s laws. They have completely ignored the clear
teaching in the Bible that God’s laws are good and perfect. We were created in the original image of God
and His laws were the blueprint of our godly character. But the fall of man caused us to lose most of
this image. The subjects of this new Kingdom of God will be those who place
their trust in the Lord Jesus and desire everything in this Kingdom. It is
inconceivable of those, who do not desire the laws in this kingdom, still
wishing to enter this kingdom.
In the Millennium, the saints will reign on the physical earth
with Christ our Lord.
(Rev 5:9-10. And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to break its seals; for You were slaughtered, and You purchased people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people, and nation.You have made them into a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.”)
The Jews at the time of Christ on earth were expecting a real kingdom of God ruled by the Messiah to be imminent. Because Jesus was near to Jerusalem, they asked Him whether the kingdom of God would come immediately. In Luke 19:11-27, we read that Jesus answered them with the parable of the ten minas. In verse 12, He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then to return…” The government of this kingdom of God will be on His shoulder and there is no end to the increase of His government and peace. Isaiah 9:6-7. During the Millennium, He will rule and judge righteously and there will be no conflict. Isaiah 11.
Let not the false apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation corrupt the saints with the idea that the Kingdom in its full form will appear before Christ even return. it is just a fallacy to establish their apparent authority over the church by insisting that the Kingdom is now happening and they are placed in charge. Luke 19:12 clearly debunks that.
(The early church leaders also taught of the coming physical kingdom of God. For further research, one can read up their writings on this subject.)
Our current mission is to go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey every commandment of Christ now so that they can fully appreciate and desire the Christ-like life in the Kingdom of Christ our King and Lord. Matt 28:19-20.
In Matt 6:33, we read that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all things will be added to us, yet in Heb 11:35-40, we read that many heroes of faith did not receive what was promised though they were all commended for their faith. As the Scripture is definitely inerrant, the promise of all things will be realised in the coming Millennium Kingdom. The Old Testament saints were all waiting for the coming perfection together with all the New Testament saints. (Heb 11:40). CS Lewis put it this way : aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in, but if you aim at earth, you get neither.
In summary, the Good News is that the kingdom of God is at hand and we no longer need to be under the bondage of the kingdom of darkness. In a nutshell, it is accepting and putting Jesus as King and Lord in repentance and enter and live in His kingdom. His kingdom is here and yet not here. It is here in one sense that Jesus is reigning as King in the hearts of the truly repentant, and will be fully here when Jesus returns as King when He reigns physically from Jerusalem.
I took the liberty to summarize and
paraphrase one chapter of the book, Counterfeit Kingdom authored by Holly Pivec
and R Douglas Geivett, which detailed the new age teachings of the NAR
movement. I did so in the hope that the
summary could give a quick understanding of the danger of such teachings.
Biblical teachings about miraculous gifts
and the NAR new age teachings are worlds apart.
The Christian gifts are given to serve and build up the church. However,
God forbid occultic practices that seek to obtain supernatural power and
secret knowledge such as fortune telling and communicating with the dead using
various methods of divination. Deut 18:
9-12. They are forbidden because they
are usually associated with the activity of demons. Deut 32:17; Ps 106:34-43; Acts 16:16-18; 1
Cor 10: 19-21; 9:20-21. The stranger thing
is that these NAR prophets acknowledged that all such practices were stolen
from the Christians. Jonathan Welton in one of the chapters of the book, The
Physics Of Heaven, said that spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras, power
objects, etc, were actually stolen and cleverly repackaged by the New Agers. As
such, many NAR prophets believe they have to reclaim these practices to advance
the Kingdom of God. The Christian gifts
are given by the Holy Spirit and nowhere does the Bible teaches that they can
Levitation And Teleportation
A generation growing up with Harry Porter would surely be drawn to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). It is no surprise that these BSSM students attempt to practice levitating coins and guitar picks and walking through walls. Bethel leaders merely laughed them off when questioned by the media.
Psychic Fairs And “Spirit Readings”
After the BSSM students are activated with a prophetic gift, they are sent out to the Bethel community to “prophesy “ to strangers. Usually they will go undercover to set up booths in psychic fairs to offer dream interpretation and spirit readings. They will claim that they are involved in a creative way to reach the New Agers with the gospel. And that is strange because in blending in, they won’t say anything religious and refer to God as Spirit of Creation. By not sharing about Jesus, wonder what is the gospel they are sharing ?
At these fairs, the BSSM students used a Christianized version of the tarot cards, the “Destiny Cards” designed by a Christian organization named Christalignment. The card images of angels, animals and nature scenes have symbolic meanings and functions much like tarot in the hands of prophetic readers. Through Christalignment readings, clients can receive answers to questions like “Have I chosen the right career ?” or “Will I have any more children ?”. The following description of one deck of Destiny Cards appeared on an early version of Christalignment”s website : “Psalm readings are similar to Tarot in that cards are counted out according to your birth date…Only three cards are used and these will represent your past, present and future.” This controversy erupted in 2017 when it came to light that many BSSM students had joined Christalignment teams over the years and Bethel Church prophets Kris Vallaton and Theresa Dedmon published statements online defending Ken and Jenny Hodge, the founders of Christalignment and their Destiny Cards.
Mind reading or telepathy is taught by Seth
Dahl (a BSSM graduate) and co-author with Bill Johnson of the children’s book,
God Is Really Good. In one Facebook
video in 2017, Dahl told parents that the practice is helpful with children who
are very young or sick or have trouble verbalizing their needs. He said he used
it successfully with his son who was one and a half year old then. His son could not sleep and they communicated
spiritually with each other and his son psychically told him to stay near his
crib and rub his back, and his son fell asleep within minutes. How absurd !
It is just plain common sense.
Seeing Dead People
Ben Armstrong, the Bethel Church’s Prophetic Ministry Director, shared in a video about stories of Christians who have seen and talked to dead people. The deceased people they encountered were Christian “revivalists” including faith healers such as Maria Woodworth-Erter and Kathryn Kuhlman. Such practice known as necromancy is strictly forbidden by Scripture. Deut 18:9-12; Gal 5:19-20; Acts 19:19.