Thursday, 29 May 2014

DEBUNKING HYPER-SPIRITUAL VIEWS ON HEALTH AND DISEASE

Re-examining five well-meaning presuppositions on health and disease:

  • God grants us health so we need not take personal responsibility for it.


  • God heals solely through supernatural means.


  • Seeking medical treatment signifies a lack of faith.


  • Medical treatment should be rejected as it represents man’s ingenuity––trust in man rather than God.


  • Patients do not experience supernatural healing because they lack faith.


Let’s consider each premise in turn.


                                                                          
God grants us health so we need not take personal responsibility for it.

A blog reader commented: “Without faith it is impossible to please God. If you’re not walking by faith, you are going to be fearful and unbelieving. Health and divine healing are a result of walking by faith.

Some people think that health and faith comes in one neat package. But the fact that pastors and missionaries do fall sick—just like anyone—debunks this premise.

While it is true that we cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying (Luke 12:25), we still have to take personal responsibility for our bodies as it is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).  http://bit.ly/1lO5Mwp




God heals solely through supernatural means.

Having faith does not necessarily mean we have to shun medical treatment. Isaiah ordered a poultice to be applied to King Hezekiah’s boil (Isaiah 38:21). The apostle Paul told Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). 

If “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22), then the latter has a definite place in the life of believers. Certain plants (herbs) have healing properties (Ezekiel 47:12). A notable example is foxglove (digitalis) which has long been used to improve the pumping ability of a weak heart.

Seeking medical treatment signifies a lack of faith.

Jesus certainly does not discount the role of doctors in treating diseases. Otherwise He would not have said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31).

The apostle Luke was a doctor who followed Jesus in His healing ministry. Jesus seems to imply that doctors and practitioners of supernatural healing should happily coexist. Why can’t both camps work together and learn to respect each other?

How can we be deemed as lacking in faith––considered as “second-class” believers––when we seek medical treatment? Scripture expressly says that medicine, herbs and physicians all have a role to play in healing.

Medical treatment should be rejected as it represents man’s ingenuity––trust in man rather than God.

The view that any product of man’s creativity is evil is indeed seriously flawed. Having created the world, God gave man the injunction to multiply, subdue and rule the earth (Genesis 1:28). This ‘cultural mandate’ drives all of man’s productive endeavours––from scientific to economic; from sustainable development to environmental conservation. Our creative potential bears the marks of our Creator, who created each snowflake distinct from the rest.

Countless lives have been saved since the advent of antibiotics and vaccination. It’s baffling why some hyper-spiritual ‘faith healers’ wholeheartedly embrace the benefits of modern inventions but reject modern medicine. Logically, they should stop travelling in cars and airplanes, and stop enjoying the benefits of mobile technology.

Some ‘faith healers’ view modern medicine as evil as the serpent has long been a symbol of the medical fraternity. Clearly they have forgotten the account when God told Moses to make a bronze serpent. Those bitten by snakes would not die if they looked at the serpent set on a pole (Numbers 21:8-9).

                                                                      
Patients do not experience supernatural healing because they lack faith.

Have faith and then healing will inevitably ensue? Not necessarily so. There are certainly more factors to be considered than just harping on the fact that God heals in every instance where there is faith.

The other factors to be considered include: God’s sovereignty, the fall of man (sin) and consequent disease and degeneration, inevitable death that confronts each of us.

 I am not for a moment doubting that God can heal. Or that the prayer of faith can heal:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).

But when reality confronts us in the real world––that some are still not healed despite being prayed for––what are we to do? There are so many cases of non-healing which does not gel with theology that says “God will heal always”. For example, have you seen a Down’s syndrome child being healed completely back to normal?

If God heals always when people get prayed for sicknesses, then we will not have to die and will hypothetically live forever. Then how are we going to expire? We have to die, in most cases, of some illness (eg. heart attack, stroke, or cancer) if we don’t die of accidents. Are there any modern-day Enochs you know of who get translated to heaven without dying?

Those who seek miraculous healing do so because they trust God, however little or great their faith may be (Mark 9:24). They also respect the ‘faith healer’ for his or her successful track record. Why load them with the additional burden of false guilt––especially when they’re already in emotional turmoil over serious or terminal illnesses?

However, in cases where sin hinders healing, the foregoing does not apply. The sick must confess their sins and repent as a prerequisite for healing to occur.


RELATED POSTS

LONGEVITY: REWARD FOR FAITHFULNESS?

WHEN GOD DOES NOT HEAL
God does not answer all our whys this side of eternity when we’re confronted with non-healing––even when all the prerequisites have been fulfilled for spiritual healing.

DON'T TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT

HEALING VERSUS SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

MEDICINE AND SUPERNATURAL HEALING: MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE?

WHEN SICKNESS STRIKES
A biblical view of sickness and healing
http://bit.ly/1ozc0UA

Monday, 26 May 2014

LET’S MOVE IT!

Sedentary living is the bane of civilisation. We drive to work and plonk ourselves in front of the desk for hours on end. Then we head home, driving again.

When we reach home, some among us might resume our desk jockey existence, catching up on unfinished work. Or we may transform into couch potatoes in front of the TV.


                                                                   
Unless we incorporate more physical activity into our lives, we may become victims of 
noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, which are the leading cause of mortality in the world. http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/en/

So let’s make it a point to MOVE MORE.

This video clip from the movie, Madagascar 2, is highly entertaining and instructive:



Some of us may be walking time bombs if we’re not careful. We might just drop dead suddenly, what with a stressful lifestyle, round-the-clock eating and lack of exercise. But we console ourselves, thinking it only happens to others but not us.

How will we leave this earth? Morbid come to think of it but let’s face it. We should not run away from reality.

The commonest way of exiting is not when we get cancer or meet with an accident. By far the most likely terminal event will be a heart attack or stroke, which is related to clogging of our arteries supplying the heart or brain.

The major risk factors for heart disease/ stroke are:

1. Family history.
2. Hypertension.
3. Diabetes.
4. High cholesterol.
5. Smoking.

Other risk factors include stress, lack of exercise (sedentary life) and obesity. When the obesity is concentrated in the abdomen (pot belly), it is even worse as it is associated with “metabolic syndrome”.

Pot belly (also called paunch, “spare tyre”) is not just something cosmetic. It is a sign of poor health; many risk factors for heart disease are associated with it.

We’d better beware when the only exercise we get is clicking the mouse or remote control.

We can do ourselves a whole lot of good by taking more walks, being wise and selective with our diet, learning how to manage stress (techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises), going for our annual medical check-ups and regularly taking our medications if we have been instructed by our doctor. Be regularly updated on health issues by reading widely.

Those above 40’s should consult a doctor before embarking on a vigourous exercise programme.

Remember it’s about keeping our coronary arteries unclogged:

Disclaimer: The above is not intended to replace professional medical consultation.

TAKING CARE OF THE TEMPLE

A blog reader commented: “Without faith it is impossible to please God. If you’re not walking by faith, you are going to be fearful and unbelieving. Divine health and divine healing are a result of walking by faith. No matter how much you concern yourself with food and diet, without faith it is futile.”

My reply: “Trusting God for our health doesn’t mean we have no role to play in maintaining the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). While we need not be finicky health freaks, we still need to practise a healthy lifestyle that looks into areas such as diet, exercise, work-life balance and stress management. Thinking all will be well since God takes care of our health is being foolhardy. Even pastors and missionaries have heart attack and stroke. Having great faith alone is not enough. We still have to take personal responsibility for our health.”

Clearly, faith is not to be equated with foolhardiness: http://bit.ly/1fEQLjp

If our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we be responsible for caring and maintaining it (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

Apart from God’s sovereignty, the number of years we have in life to glorify God depends on how well we fulfill our jobs as a “temple caretakers”. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

WHEN DOES TOLERANCE BECOME COMPROMISE?

Tolerance is often regarded as a positive trait. Sometimes we think that maturity means we must always be tolerant—even to the extent of condoning false teaching.

But that is not the stance adopted by apostles Paul, Peter and John. They made sure they took a strong stand against destructive heresies (2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1).

                                                                    
Love alone without truth is compromise. http://bit.ly/1f0RuXH

"The early Christians condemned false doctrine in a way that sounds almost unchristian today." - Vance Havner

We must be careful, however, not to be overly dogmatic on relatively minor issues such as the method of baptismwhether it is by sprinkling or immersion.  **

Truth is not just about morality—integrity in thought, word and action. The oft neglected aspect of truth is doctrine, to which we must hold fast.

                                                                   
“Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22).

Contending against false doctrine (heresies) will stop believers from slipping down the path of destruction and damnation (2 Peter 2:1).

Fighting the good fight of faith is not just about keeping our personal faith and finishing the race. http://bit.ly/1deSgkU

It is also about contending for the faith, keeping believers safe from enticing words of man’s wisdom that delude many and send them to destruction. http://bit.ly/1g2CpED

                                                                    
Preaching the truth, the Word of God, irrespective of the season, is of paramount importance. The flock needs to be fed the solid Word, especially when there is false teaching (heresy) that is so enticing; it tickles and soothes “itching ears”. People are naturally drawn away from truth to distorted versions of truth (lies) because the latter give them the “feel good” feeling.  There is a great need not only to teach and encourage (positive) but also to correct and rebuke (negative).


                                                                         
The success of any minister lies not only in his ability to impact lives when he is around. He must be able to pass the baton to chosen ones so that lives continue to be impacted when he is no longer around. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Before he left the elders of the church at Ephesus to go to Jerusalem, Paul shared with them a poignant farewell message:

“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.  I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.” http://bit.ly/1fX66ru

“And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”
(Acts 20: 28-30, 32).

It is imperative for leaders to confront false teaching during these perilous end times. If they can identify with Paul the seriousness of the task they have been entrusted withto feed the flock with solid teaching from the whole Word of God (Acts 20:27) as well as to correct and rebuke heresy (2 Timothy 4:2)then people will not be so easily led astray from the faith. 

So when does tolerance become compromise?

When we fail to teach sound doctrine and stand up for truth.


"I do not believe in the weak tolerance that we hear preached so often now, the idea that Jesus must tolerate everyone and that the Christian must tolerate every kind of doctrine. When we become so tolerant that we lead people into mental fog and spiritual darkness we are not acting like Christians, we are acting like cowards!" -- A. W. Tozer : Faith Beyond Reason

FALSE DOCTRINES IDENTIFIED

1. DID JESUS SET ASIDE HIS DIVINITY?
A prominent leader, Bill Johnson, teaches that Jesus operated only as a man and not God during His earthly ministry. But did Jesus set aside His divinity while He was on earth?

2. WILL TRUE GRACE PLEASE STAND UP?

False grace exposed.

RELATED POSTS
EIGHT WAYS TO FIGHT FALSE TEACHING
UNITY versus TRUTH

CULTIVATING A SHEPHERD’S HEART

FINISHING WELL

PARTING WORDS
What was the main thrust of Paul’s farewell message to the church at Ephesus and his last words to young Timothy?
http://bit.ly/KU9clI


  **    FOOTNOTES:
SCHISMS: DISAGREEING ON MINOR TRUTHS
"People who were agreed about the centralities of the faith dividing and separating from one another over matters that were not essential to salvation, not absolutely vital. This is always one of the dangers afflicting us as evangelicals. We can be so rigid, so over-strict, and so narrow that we become guilty of schism."

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

DANGER OF OBSESSION WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS

Excessive preoccupation with signs and wonders has its dangers.

I have nothing against the miraculous, coming from a Pentecostal and Baptist background of more than 40 years.

But when teachers like Bill Johnson exalt signs and wonders to the extent that doctrine, scholarship and the use of one’s sound mind are all downplayed, extra-biblical mysticism and New Age practices are normative and even the deity of Christ is denied, red flags go up.

                                                                    

Are we so mesmerised by the miraculous and sensational that we are willing to depart from sound doctrine and whatever we hold dear in our faith?


                                                                   
A charismatic leader can become an object of hero worship that he can be seen to do little or no wrong. An inordinate emphasis on power, miracles and the realm of the supernatural keeps everyone too excited to question whether all these happenings are above board, scripturally speaking.

Personal charisma and miraculous signs keep many enthralled and excited even if truth is compromised. 

So when one is so obsessed with seeking supernatural powerthat one throws doctrine and good sense out of the windowbizarre, spooky and wacky things can happen.

The following links are self-explanatory.

SUCKING THE ANOINTING



                                                                                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrHPTs8cLls


RELATED POSTS

DID JESUS SET ASIDE HIS DIVINITY?
A prominent leader, Bill Johnson, teaches that Jesus operated only as a manand not Godduring His earthly ministry. Did Jesus set aside His divinity when He came down to earth? Here are nine reasons why Jesus was not a mere man while He was on earth.

WHAT TRULY MATTERS IN THE END
What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?

RUNNING AFTER SIGNS
Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?

TESTING THE SUPERNATURAL
Are the supernatural manifestations in church today invariably of divine origin?


BOOK REVIEW OF BILL JOHNSON’S “WHEN HEAVEN INVADES EARTH”.

KINGDOM INVASION OR INVASION OF ERROR?
http://bit.ly/1jr9XSU

Sunday, 18 May 2014

DID JESUS SET ASIDE HIS DIVINITY?

A prominent leader, Bill Johnson, teaches that Jesus performed miracles as a man filled with the Holy Spirit during his earthly ministry. Johnson has a huge following all over the world and is at the forefront of the prophetic movement—with an emphasis on signs and wonders.                       

But did Jesus set aside His divinity when He came down to earth?

If Christ is not divine, how could He forgive sins in the course of His ministry on earth? A man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit can perform miracles. But can a mere man forgive sins? 

Here are nine reasons why Jesus was not a mere man when He came down to earth.

                                                                      

1. His conception was supernatural. He was not the product of the fusion of a sperm and ovum. It was the Holy Spirit who caused Jesus to be formed within Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35).

2. God the Father endorsed Jesus as His beloved Son when He was baptised in the river Jordan (Luke 3:21-22).

3. Jesus commended Peter for the latter’s confession that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16-17).

4. God the Father again endorsed Jesus as His beloved Son by when the latter was transfigured (Matthew 17:5).

5. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John chapter 17, Jesus asked God the Father to glorify Him with the glory they both shared before the world was made (John 17:5). Jesus also prayed that believers will be one, just as He and the Father are one (John 17:11). Can a man share God’s glory before the world was created? Can a man be equal in standing with God the Father?

6. Now this is the clincher. You hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
(Mark 14: 60-62).

7. Jesus predicted His forthcoming resurrection from the dead—that it would vindicate the special claim He made for Himself (Matthew 12:38-40). Can a mere man predict his own death and resurrection and then bring it to pass?

8. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, can He change? If God is immutable, can the Son of God, Jesus, put off and then put on His divinity again?

9. Lastly, which I believe is the most important reason: POWER TO FORGIVE SINS.

Jesus has the power to forgive sins. A man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit can perform miracles. But can a mere man forgive sins?

Before healing the paralytic who was brought to Him on a stretcher from the roof, Jesus demonstrated His authority and ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:1-11).

Jesus forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8: 10-11).

If Jesus was merely a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit—as some illustrious leader would have us believe when He walked on this earth—then we would still be dead in our sins.

How can he save us when he himself is a sinner? Even if he is filled with the Holy Spirit and absolutely righteous, he will not have the power to forgive our sins.

The conclusion is this: Jesus humbly gave up His rights and privileges, not His divinity when He came down to earth.


The denial and diminution of the deity of Christ and the glorification of man are salient features in the teaching of Bill Johnson. http://bit.ly/1LmY6SJ

This is the danger. In our mad scramble to see and experience signs and wonders, we are willing to “go off the map”.

Are we willing to exalt supernatural experiences over and above sound doctrine? 



RELATED POSTS

WHY CHRISTOLOGY IS IMPORTANT
A person’s theology about Christ’s identity and work (Christology) is one of the ways by which we evaluate whether a believer’s faith is genuine or not. It also helps us determine whether a teacher is of God or not. 

WHAT TRULY MATTERS IN THE END
What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?

RUNNING AFTER SIGNS
Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?

EIGHT WAYS TO FIGHT FALSE TEACHING
How to develop discernment and escape the clutches of destructive heresies

INVASION OF ERROR
The danger of a false Christology

WORD OR SPIRIT?
Should the believer emphasise the Word or Holy Spirit more?

WHAT OPEN-MINDEDNESS MEANS
Being open-minded means having a non-judgmental attitude as we process the teaching material—being willing to listen or study the facts of the matter without any pre-conceived ideas or prejudices. Certainly, it is implied we are NOT intimidated by any teacher, no matter how well-known, illustrious or respectable he or she may be. We cannot say to ourselves or others, “Coming from this great man of God, it must be right.” That is highly dangerous. That is NOT being open-minded.
http://bit.ly/Nlc8cT


  *   Quotes from Bill Johnson's books:


Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us.
…Jesus did everything in His earthly ministry as a man who had set aside all His divine privileges and power in order to model the Christian life for us.
..Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God.
The above 3 quotes are taken from: