Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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In this blog, I provide training and instruction on Who the Holy Spirit is, why we need Him, and how to receive Him, as well as His holy fire.  You will learn about the new wine, the biblical basis for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the role of the triune Godhead in drawing people to Himself, and the supernatural power available for all disciples.  I also discuss the importance of correctly discerning the things of the spirit and testing the spirits.

As the Scripture says:

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luk 11:9-13)

The Person of the Holy Spirit Baptized with the Spirit Holy Fire Baptism
Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference? Supernatural Power for All Disciples Discerning the Things of the Spirit
The New Wine Testing the Spirits of False Prophets The Holy Trinity
The Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to God The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit Speaks
The Spirit without Limit  The Laying on of Hands International Impact of Pentecost
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit False Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit The River of God
The Witness of the Spirit Judging Revelations, Visions, and Prophecies

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Please read Opportunities to Serve the Body of Christ.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Judging Revelations, Visions, and Prophecies

In my previous article, I explained the biblical method for Testing the Spirits of False Prophets. It's important to ensure that any prophecy, vision, dream, or revelation you hear from anyone is genuine. In order to do so, there are specific things to look for and test, including the fruit of the messenger, as well as the conformity of their message with Scripture. Now I would like to build on that further by emphasizing the universal need for this practice.

To begin, in this article, I will use the word "message" to refer to prophecies, visions, dreams, and revelations in general. This will allow me to use a single word for the sake of conciseness, rather than having to repeat this entire series of words. I will also use the word "messenger" to refer to those who deliver such messages.

There is ample evidence of it in Scripture that God still speaks to us in supernatural ways like He did in Bible days. We know that there are both true and false messages today. The key is to discern properly, so that we may know which ones are true and which are false.

Our Lord warned us to beware of false prophets, and He did so with good reason. He said, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Mat 7:15). We would do well to heed His warning.

Pass Judgment
Likewise, the apostle Paul taught us to judge prophecies. He said, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment." (1Co 14:29). This refers to how we conduct ourselves in corporate gatherings, but it also teaches us the need to judge prophetic messages of all kinds at all times. No matter who gives a message, they must accept the fact that it must be judged, and there are no exceptions. It doesn't matter if the person is our pastor, favorite preacher, best friend, proven prophet, relative, or famous minister. We must not show favoritism when judging.

Weirdness or oddity of a message is not enough alone to disqualify it, as I explained in my article, Discerning the Things of the Spirit. All the factors I mentioned in my article about testing the spirits must be examined.

Targets
Once a person has received a gift of prophecy, or a genuine revelation from the Lord, and others judge it to be valid, the first thing that happens is that they establish a reputation. That reputation may cause others to elevate them. While we are not supposed to do this, the fact is, it happens.

When people know of a person who has been to heaven or hell, or who has received a visitation from an angel, or had a face-to-face encounter with the Lord, or a vision from the Lord, the tendency is to esteem that person more highly than others who have not had such supernatural experiences. The tendency is also to accept any future messages that person may deliver, either as from the Lord or their own opinion. Once they have established credibility with their audience, then people tend to believe nearly anything they say and follow them. I know for a fact that this happens, and it is more common than you may realize.

The devil knows this, too. He knows that people will easily follow a person, and trust a person, once they have received a supernatural message, whether it was genuine or false. Therefore, the devil targets those who have received genuine messages from the Lord.  He knows that if he can deceive that person, he can use them to deceive all the people who are following them. The opportunity for the devil is too great for him to pass up. Through one person, he can bring down many others.

Another reason the devil targets those who have received a genuine message from the Lord is to discredit their message. If he can deceive that messenger with a false message, and the person delivers the message, then when people judge it to be false, they will also tend to assume that the previous message was also false, even if it was genuinely from the Lord. Likewise, if the devil can corrupt that messenger's life, so that the person falls into sin, then this also discredits the person's previous, genuine message. Therefore, these people become big targets of the enemy.

No "Blanket Approvals"
That is why such messengers must remain vigilant and be very careful themselves to avoid being corrupted. They must also always test the spirits, so they can be sure that any future message they receive is truly from the Lord, and not from the enemy. Likewise, their followers must also be careful to do so. There are no "blanket approvals" allowed. In other words, just because someone has received a message previously that has been proven to be genuine, that does not give them a free pass on all future messages they deliver. We still need to judge all their messages in the same way we judged the first one.

Even if someone has been proven to be correct on many messages they have delivered, and they have done this over the course of time, and no message of theirs has ever been found to be false, that does not mean that we can let our guard down. Each individual message must be judged separately, based on its own merits. If it is found to be false, it must not be accepted, no matter how excellent the messenger's "track record" of accuracy has been in the past.

That may be difficult for the messenger to accept, which is why they must always walk very humbly before God. It may also be difficult for their followers to accept. That is why it is possible that if a message is proven to be false, by use of the methods we are taught in Scripture, and the messenger has pride in his or her heart, that messenger may still insist that the message is genuine. If that happens, and they are not willing to accept that their message is not genuine, then others who trust them can easily be led away to follow them in their error.

Conversely, if the messenger is humble, and accepts that a given message of theirs is not valid, and they repent before the Lord for delivering it, then they can still be used by God in the future. So just because a person has once been wrong in a message they have delivered, it does not mean that we need to reject all future messages from him. But we should be all the more careful with that person afterward.

In my opinion, once a person has been proven to be a false messenger by their fruit, then unless they repent for the bad fruit in their lives, you should not listen to any further messages they give. You can assume they are corrupted and that all their messages are tainted as well.

One Error Does Not Make All Messages False
At the risk of being redundant, I want to be very clear about something. In the same way that one genuine message does not automatically mean that all other messages from that messenger are genuine, likewise, one message that is found to be incorrect does not necessarily mean that all other messages from that person are false. Just because a messenger has given a message that is questionable or unbiblical, this does not invalidate any previous message that has already been judged as genuine. Put differently, once we have properly judged a message and found it to be true, then even if that messenger later delivers a separate message that we determine is not true, that does not mean we should discard the previous, genuine message.

Nobody is Above Correction
We must all be accountable, correctable, and teachable. There are no exceptions! The apostle Paul said, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!"  (Gal. 1:8). Even Paul, who had received all of what he preached through divine revelation according to Gal. 1:11-12, said not to listen to him if what he said did not agree with the gospel he had preached.  Even Paul, one of the greatest apostles who ever lived, realized that he could be in error.

The Bereans realized this, too. Even though they received what Paul said that had been given to him by divine revelation, they still "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."  That was in no way held against them. In fact, they are commended in Scripture for doing so. It says: "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)  They did not believe it simply because Paul was an apostle, known for receiving divine revelations from God. This seems to be a mark of noble character, versus those who blindly accept divine revelations, without testing them against Scripture.

And even when an apostle, such as Peter, was found to be in error, he was not shown favoritism. Paul wrote, "When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned." (Gal. 2:11). No one is above correction in action and belief, even if they have had a great revelation and they are a well-known follower of Jesus, or a leader in the Church. 

Since we are all human and subject to mistakes, nobody is infallible, nor does any one disciple possess all knowledge. "For we know in part and we prophesy in part" (1 Cor. 13:9). Even if Jesus actually appears to someone and shows them things, these things that are revealed must be filtered through an earthen vessel, which still only sees and interprets things in part. Therefore, based on these Scriptures alone, we should not blindly accept everything a person testifies to, proclaims, and practices just because they have had a divine revelation.

The Lord does not give to any one person a revelation of all truth. Rather He reveals these truths to various members of His Body by the Holy Spirit, according to His will. Just because one person receives a divine revelation about certain truths, and has partial knowledge, it does not mean that if they did not receive a revelation that was given to someone else about certain other truths that the other person's revelation is false.  Therefore, we cannot compare one person's message to another person's message, in order to judge whether it is genuine. And we cannot rely on any single messenger to determine for us whether all other messages are genuine or false. We rely on the Word of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Judge by Scripture Not Your Theology
Finally, I want to caution you not to judge messages according to your theology, or your Church's theology, but according to Scripture. There is a difference. If your theology or doctrine is not perfectly Scriptural in some area, then it can lead to a wrong assessment of someone's message, if you use your theology to judge their message.

For example, some people believe in "once saved always saved." According to this unbiblical theology, once a person is saved, they can never drift away or perish in hell. They are guaranteed to make it to heaven. If such a person hears a message about corrupted Christians, who have perished in hell, they may incorrectly reject it, since it does not agree with their theology. But if they go to the Word of God and search the Scriptures to see if these things are true, they would find that it is indeed accurate. For more on this example, please see my articles Drifting Away and Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian.

So you must lay aside your own doctrines and beliefs, and prayerfully use the Scripture alone to judge messages, as the Holy Spirit guides you. For more on this, please see Scripture Alone and By the Spirit of God Alone.

Putting it All Together
This means our task is a difficult one that requires great carefulness. The enemy doesn't take a vacation from trying to deceive mankind. We must be vigilant and diligent. As Peter said, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1Pe 5:8)

Therefore, in closing, I would like to leave you with these words from the apostle Paul: "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good." (1Th 5:19-21)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. I want to express my sincere gratitude to my wife, Jennifer, whose positive feedback on this article was the basis for the section, titled "Nobody of Above Correction."

Author's note Also see Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, Discerning the Things of the Spirit, Exposing Heresy, Accountable Correctable and Teachable, A Warning to the Nay Sayers, Scripture Alone, The Rise of Antichrists, By the Spirit of God Alone, and Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference?  And I invite you to visit Eternal Destinations, where you will find many testimonies of people claiming to have a revelation from God, a vision, or a dream.  You can find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Witness of the Spirit

I’d like to explain something called the witness of the Spirit. It’s very important that every disciple have this witness, so I want you to be clear what it is and how to have it.

The apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” (Rom 8:16, MKJV)

The Spirit of God actually testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God. But let’s not forget what the Scripture says in the next verse:

“And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.” (Rom 8:17, MKJV)

If the Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God, then you should expect to suffer with Christ. The Word says, “IF” we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.

Thank the Lord for the witness of the Holy Spirit! This is the blessed assurance that Fanny Crosby wrote about in her famous hymn by that title, describing it as “echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” It’s when you know that Jesus is yours and you are His. You know that you’ve been born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. Therefore you are praising your Savior all the day long, perfectly submitted to Him and perfectly delighted to be so.  All is at rest between you and your Savior, and you’re happy and blessed. You are filled with His goodness and caught up in His love.  You spend your time watching and waiting for His return, looking above for that glorious day when He will come with power and great glory with all His holy angels with Him.

When some people are asked if they know where they would go if they would die today, they say they hope they would go to heaven. But when asked why they think so, they often say it’s because they are a good person who helps people. We cannot get to heaven by our own good works. (Eph 2:8-9).  Of course, we must do good works once we are saved, because we were created for this purpose. However, it’s by grace we are saved through faith, not by works. Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Only then can we do the good works we were created to do. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:10).  But we don’t trust in our own good works to save us. We trust only in His blood, only in His cross, only in His mercy to save us.

Nevertheless, there are many ways you can know you are saved. I believe these are all part of the witness of the Spirit. John wrote about some of them:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1Jn 3:14)

“But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;” (1Jn 3:17-21)

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1Jn 2:3)

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1Jn 3:24)

“But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:” (1Jn 2:5)

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1Jn 4:13)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.” (1Jn 5:2)

Putting it All Together
To summarize what John said, we can know we are children of God that abide in Christ and are in the truth if we love the brethren in deed and truth. That’s how we know we have passed out of death into life. We know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. We know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. We know that we will be glorified with Christ, if we suffer with Him. We know we abide in Him, because He has given us of His Spirit. That’s how you can have the blessed assurance, the witness of the Spirit. That’s how the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Holy Trinity, and The Spirit without Limit. I also recommend Faith Works!, Practicing Your Righteousness, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Law of Christ, and Law of Love in the New Testament. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Friday, June 6, 2014

The River of God

There is a river, known as the River of Life and the River of God.  According to King David the Psalmist, "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High." (Psa 46:4). It's a supernatural river, because its streams make the City of God glad.  It has supernatural qualities unlike any other river.  I'd like to explore that river with you in God's Word today.

God has always had a river
In the beginning, Paradise was on earth, which was a garden in Eden, as we read in Genesis.

"The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates." (Gen 2:8-14)

This passage teaches us that a river flowed out of Eden to water the Garden of Eden (Paradise).  So all the way back the beginning , God has always had a river.

The Lord is the River Source
It's important to note that The Lord is the River Source.  That's what He told the woman at the well.

"There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?' (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink," you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.' She said to Him, 'Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?' Jesus answered and said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'" (Joh 4:7-14)

Only Jesus can give you living water, because He is the Well Spring.  That is the same living water that flows through the River of Life in heaven.  Whoever drinks this water shall never thirst again.  The water that Jesus gives will become in you a well of water springing up to eternal life.  I know from first hand experience that there is no other drink that will quench your thirst or satisfy your soul like the living water.

Although this passage in John's gospel may seem like a new revelation, the Lord had identified Himself centuries beforehand as the Fountain of Living Water to His people Israel.

"For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water." (Jer 2:13)

"A glorious throne on high from the beginning Is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD." (Jer 17:12-13)

God's people today have done much the same as the Israelites did back then. Many have forsaken the Fountain of Living Water, even the Lord, because they do not trust in Him. Instead, they trust in themselves, so they hew for themselves cisterns.  The problem is that their cisterns are broken and leaking, so they cannot hold water.

We never thirst when we depend on Him.  If you trust in the Lord, He will always provide you with water, as He did for the Israelites in the wilderness. One of those instances was at Kadesh:

Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, "If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! "Why then have you brought the LORD'S assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? "Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink." Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to them; and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink." So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, "Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them.  (Num 20:1-13)

Another instance where God provided the Israelites with water in the wilderness was at a place called Beer:

From there they continued to Beer, that is the well where the LORD said to Moses, "Assemble the people, that I may give them water." Then Israel sang this song: "Spring up, O well! Sing to it! "The well, which the leaders sank, Which the nobles of the people dug, With the scepter and with their staffs." And from the wilderness they continued to Mattanah, (Num 21:16-18)

In these instances, the Lord was the source or spring of these waters.  Likewise, the Lord revealed to Ezekiel a river that flowed from the Temple, which is still future.  I believe it will be fulfilled in the future Millenial reign of Christ.  And from the very presence of God this river will flow.

Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side. When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then he said to me, "These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. "It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. "And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. "But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. "By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."  (Eze 47:1-12)

The Millennial Temple will face east, and the River will flow eastward from the south side of temple.  What makes the temple so special is that the Lord Himself, the God of Israel will enter that place and His glory will dwell there.  The Prince will enter through the East gate, which is why Ezekiel was not allowed to use east gate, as only the prince was allowed to do so.  Therefore, the very presence of the Lord will be in the temple, and from His presence will flow this river.

We are led gradually deeper into the river
Ezekiel was led gradually deeper into the river. At a distance of 1000 cubits (1500 ft) from the temple, it was ankle deep.  At 2000 cubits (3000 ft) from the temple, it was knee deep.  At 3000 cubits (4500 ft) from the temple, it was waist deep.  At 4000 cubits (6000 ft) from the temple, it was deep enough to swim in.

Just as God led Ezekiel into the River gradually, so are we led gradually deeper into the river.  Most people want to stay close to the temple where their feet touch the bottom and they are not too far from home base.  Comfort zone.  They are still mostly in control.

The Lord gives each of us an invitation to wade out a measure further away into His River.  It may seem scary venturing off into the unknown where we’ve never been before.  Deeper waters.  But if we say, “Yes, Lord,” we will not be disappointed. We find ourselves in a place we never thought we could go.  We look back and realize the Lord took us there and it’s wonderful. But each time after we obey the Lord to go further and then make the adjustment to the new place in God, we realize we can trust Him.

When we get to the place where we are waist deep, we realize we are much less in control than ever before and the current is swift. But we are still safe.  Then the Lord beckons us deeper in Him, and we wonder if the water will overwhelm us if we go to the place He calls us to.  But if we will trust Him, we will find ourselves in a place in Him where we are out of control.  We cannot touch the bottom.  We can’t control the way things go anymore. We can’t maneuver around like we want to, and it’s unfamiliar to live like this. At this point, many people fight the current.

Professionally trained rescuers say that when people fall into the river, the mistake they make is thinking that the current will pull them under.  They say that people try to swim against the current out of fear and ignorance.  No one, not even a trained rescuer, is any match for that current.  This is how people drown. But they say the best thing is to let yourself flow with the current and even swim downstream, diagonally across the river to the other side.  If the current pulls you under, just be patient and you will pop back up to the surface again.

All we can do when we are in this place in God is to flow with the Lord.  Just rest in Him and trust Him.  Don’t fight against Him.  Go with the flow of His River.  Let it carry you deeper.  Swim in it.  Allow Him to have complete control.  You may be a mile away from the temple, and it is very unfamiliar to you.  There are many unknowns, but you are still in God’s River.  It’s exhilarating and refreshing.  You find He is still with you and you are still safe.

Wherever the River of God goes, it brings life
This river is a literal one!  And wherever the River of God goes, it brings life. As we read earlier, it makes glad the city of God (Ps 46:4). It has many amazing qualities like this.  All kinds of living creatures are found wherever the water flows.  Salt water becomes fresh. The desert springs up like a garden filled with greenery. Many trees line both banks of the river. Fruit is on the trees for food. The leaves never wither and they bring healing. Compare this river that Ezekiel saw in a vision to the River of Life in heaven.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. "He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."  (Rev 21:1-8)

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. (Rev 22:1-6)

I have read accounts of those who have experienced heaven, and they say that you can swim in this river, and you can even breath under the water.  It is the Spirit of God.  When you come out of the water, your clothing is not even wet. It’s the same one that Ezekiel saw flowing here on earth during the future Millennium. It's crystal pure.  It flows from the throne of God in heaven, spirals through the Holy City, and then down to earth in the invisible form of the Holy Spirit.

Abiding in Christ and drinking from this river are keys to a victorious, fruit-bearing life.  Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China, discovered this great spiritual secret.  In the biography, called Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, he quoted a poet named Tersteegen, who once wrote:

He told me of a River bright
That flows from Him to me;
That I might be for His delight
A fair and fruitful tree.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Rev 22:17)

Isn't that a wonderful invitation?  If God were to charge for this water of life, nobody would be able to afford even one glass of it.  All the money in the world could not buy you even a mouthful of it.  And yet God is so generous, He invites everyone to come and take the water of life without cost.  But this is only for those who believe in Jesus.  Anyone that does not believe in the Lord Jesus and follow Him, all the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

It’s the River of His delights.  As King David said:

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. (Psa 36:5-9)

When you come to know Jesus, you can drink your fill of the abundance of God's house. He gives you to drink of the River of His delights.  He alone is the Fountain of Life.

Jesus also spoke of spiritual streams of living water.  He did so at the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot.  There was a ceremony at this feast, in which the priests poured out a golden pitcher of water from the top of some steps that flowed down the steps.  And it was at this feast that Jesus wanted everyone to know He was the fulfillment of that symbolic ritual.

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Joh 7:37-39)

According to John J. Parsons of Hebrew for Christians:

"During the seven days of Sukkot a sacrificial pouring out of water (called a 'water libation') was performed at the Temple (Sukkah 51a-b). In a ceremony called nisuch ha-mayim, the High Priest would lead a procession to the pool of Shiloach (Siloam) where he would fill a golden pitcher with water and then return to the courtyard of the Temple. When the High priest would pour out the water, the great crowd of people would wave their lulavot and sing out:"
  
אָנָּא יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא
אָנָּא יְהוָה הַצְלִיחָה נָּא
בָּרוּךְ הַבָּא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה
בֵּרַכְנוּכֶם מִבֵּית יְהוָה

an·na  Adonai  ho·shi·ah  na,
an·na  Adonai  hatz·li·chah  na
ba·rukh  hab·bah  be·shem  Adonai
be·rakh·nu·khem  mi·beit  Adonai

"Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, let us thrive!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD."
(Psalm 118:25-26)

My friend, everyone who believes in Jesus will have rivers of living water flowing from his innermost being.  Glory to God!  That's the Spirit of God, which Jesus was speaking about.  At the time He said this, the Spirit was not yet given.  For it was not until the Day of Pentecost that the Spirit was poured out (Ac 2:4).  If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Jesus Christ and drink.

Putting it All Together
God has always had a river and He always will.  The Lord Himself is the Source of that River.

The Bible begins and ends in Paradise where the River of God flows. Sin interrupted the flow of that River to man in the pages between Gen 2 and Rev 21. Likewise, sin interrupts the flow of the River of God in our lives. When we forsake the Lord, we choose for ourselves cracked cisterns that hold no water.

Dick Eastman wrote a book called Love on It’s Knees.  He says that we will learn the lessons God wants to teach us either on our knees in prayer or through intense pain and suffering. I want to learn of the Lord on my knees in prayer.  How about you?

The Lord beckons each of us deeper in Him. Will you choose to stick close to home base where you can get your feet wet, but still be in control? Or will you wade out deeper in God to the place where he is leading you? Will you let Him have more control? Will you flow with His Spirit? You won’t be disappointed. Pretty soon you will find yourself deeper than you ever thought you could go.

He won’t just throw you into the deep end of the river.  He will take you there gradually over time. Each time you obey and flow with Him you’ll be freer in Him. Then when you get to the part that’s deep enough to swim in, you will participate with Him in seeing the Life of God brought to people and places wherever you go, because wherever the river flows is where you go, and wherever the River of God goes, it brings life.

I have a friend name Bill, who is a pastor.  One day he was preaching, and he realized he had slurred speech.  Within a couple weeks, he was undergoing brain surgery to remove a brain tumor.  He said later that his wife’s prayer life became much deeper through this experience.  That was one of those times of intense suffering, when love is on its knees, like Dick Eastman was referring to.

If the Lord is calling you deeper in Him, will you obey Him and wade out deeper? I invite you to do that today.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Living Waters" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: Please see Opportunities to Serve the Body of Christ.  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog, such as Baptized with the Spirit and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, March 21, 2014

False Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

In my previous article, I explained the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is the only unforgivable sin.  Now I would like to talk about how satan and his demons tempt many people to believe they have committed this sin, when in fact they have not. He has been doing this for centuries.

Some of these people have come to me, seeking counsel in the past, because they thought for sure they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  This happened to at least three people I know, who had backslidden away from Christ, and then repented.  When they returned to the Lord, the enemy was so angry that he had lost them that he tried to get them to give up on serving Jesus.  The demons would whisper to them some horrible, blasphemous things to deceive them into thinking that these were their own thoughts, and then the demons would heap condemnation on them for having such thoughts cross their mind.

I would like to share some testimonies of those who have been targeted by such attacks, and who won the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rachel Mushala
First of all, sister Rachael Mushala, whom I have written about it in my article, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, has also had this experience. She states:

"After my siblings and I repented of our backsliding and recommitted our lives to God, we went through a demonic attack. Only my youngest sister Lois was spared, but Zipporah, Ezra and I were all attacked. Demons would whisper blasphemous things we did not want to hear.  Sometimes they would also bring blasphemous images to our mind."

"This continued to happen, no matter how we tried blocking them.  It was a personal struggle, and we only knew we were all having the same attack when one of us decided to share about it with the others.  For me personally, it got so bad that it came to the point I thought I had blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, even when I knew it wasn’t me saying those things.  I felt guilty and depressed."

"I only overcame the temptations when I understood that the aim of the attack was to make me feel like I was the one who had said those things, so that I would give up. Once I understood that Jesus knows the truth, it helped.  I started rebuking the thoughts as soon as they came."

"Demons would tell me to just kill myself because I had already blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, and they would tell me that there was no forgiveness. This was happening during the period of fasting and prayer that we had in December 2011, when the first messages from the Lord were given to us."

"It was only on the 5th day of fasting and prayer, when I got baptized with the Holy Spirit and Jesus spoke to us, that I found peace.  The Lord told us, 'satan has been lying to you that you have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit so that you would give up.  You have not blasphemed.' That was when I knew that Jesus understood all that was happening."

Zipporah Mushala
As Rachael mentioned, her sister Zipporah, whom I have written about previously in Zipporah Mushala Testimony of Hell and Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, was also attacked in this same way.  Zipporah states:

"I would like to share what happened to my sister Racheal, my younger brother and I, when we first gave our lives back to God.  Demons started whispering blasphemous thoughts about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit -- things we would rather never have thought about, because of their sexual nature.  Sometimes instead of just thoughts, images would flash before my eyes.  In my case, it was because of disobedience. I was afraid of praying alone because I feared demons would attack me."

"The Lord had told me not to be afraid, and reassured me that He would be there with me, but I still was too scared to pray alone. Therefore, demons oppressed me mentally like that for about three months until the day I finally obeyed." 

"I know first hand what it is like to come under such a demonic attack. One who is tempted in this way might just want to die, because the after demons whisper such things to you, they convince you that the thoughts are your own, and that you have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit."

"I'd just like to give you a description of what it feels like, trying hard not to have those thoughts. Its feels like running downhill at top speed, knowing there are crocodiles down there, afraid of reaching it, yet never reaching, and unable to stop running.  It’s a constant fear that is new every morning.  I remember I liked going to bed early and waking up late just so not to have them."

John Bunyan
One of the most fruitful English preachers and writers of the seventeenth century was John Bunyan, who is best remembered for his allegorical book, The Pilgrim's Progress, which he wrote during one of his imprisonments. Although he authored sixty titles, that book is considered one of the most significant works in English religious literature. It has been translated into over two hundred languages. In fact, it has never been out of print.

There is a chapter about him in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, documenting some of his persecutions for the sake of Christ. In that book it states that "He was at one time quite assured that he had sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost." Yet we know that he overcame that fear and went on to serve the Lord effectively for the rest of his life.

Are You Being Attacked Like This?
It could be that you have been attacked like this in the past.  I know I have personally been. Or perhaps you are presently being tempted this way.  If you are being tempted with such thoughts now, it is my hope and prayer that this blog has helped you.  I believe it will be a great relief to a troubled heart.  Let me encourage you with two verse of Scripture:

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Rom 8:1-2)

"Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- (Mar 3:28-29)

Please read Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in order to understand what this sin actually is.  And also remember that if you feel convicted for sin, that itself is a work of the Holy Spirit in you.  Jesus said, "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged." (Joh 16:8-11, NASB).

So if you can still experience conviction for sin and godly sorrow, then the Holy Spirit is still at work in you to bring you to repentance.  If you are convicted of sin you have committed, then repent and ask forgiveness.  If God had finally determined not to forgive you, because you had committed the unpardonable sin, then why would the Holy Spirit still be working to convict you and bring you to repentance?

There is also a difference between a temptation and a sin.  It is one thing for an unwanted thought to cross your mind, which can be a temptation placed there by a demon.  However, you must reject that temptation the moment it comes, and you must not agree with it or entertain it.  The best way to rid yourself of it is through prayer, fasting, and the Word of God.  Spend plenty of time each day in prayer, pray without ceasing, and spend plenty of time reading the Word of God.  Ask the Father for (and receive) the baptism with the Holy Spirit, as well as the Holy Fire Baptism.  As soon as you wake up in the morning, get on your knees in prayer and put on the full armor of God (Eph 6:10-18).  Then plead the blood of Jesus upon yourself and your dwelling place.  I also encourage you to pray a Covenant Prayer that I have found to be very helpful  Close every door that was open in your life to the enemy.  Renounce every form of sin that you have been involved in.  Spend time each day making your own personal proclamations of faith, and continue to trust in the keeping power of God .

The moment an unwanted thought comes, you should redirect your thoughts to the Lord, and there are a number of ways to do so. You can say aloud, "It is written...," and quote the Word to the devil, as Jesus did against satan in His wilderness temptation.  Take the sword of the Spirit and cut the demon's head off. You can shout, "Holy fire!" This is very effective, as the demons hate the holy fire.  You can plead the blood of Jesus.  You can say, "Get behind me, satan, in Jesus' name!" or "The Lord rebuke you, satan!"  or "I bind you, blaspheming spirit, in Jesus' name, and I command you to depart from me!" Learn about the power of The Name of Jesus and how to use it.  You can praise the Lord by saying, "Glory to God!" Or you could begin to sing a worship song to the Lord. The main thing is to fight those demons in the Lord's strength, and in His mighty power

The problem is once you begin to entertain a thought and actively participate with it, and provide it with a place to dwell within you, you are going in the wrong direction.  To the extent that you give in to it and accept it, then you are entering into sin.  The Lord knows the thoughts of your heart, and He knows the truth. So if you have given into it in the realm of your thoughts, you must repent and confess it to the Lord, asking Him for forgiveness through His shed blood on the cross.  Then receive His forgiveness!

And you certainly must avoid acting upon these thoughts in sinful word or deed.  I also encourage you to confess your sins to one another.  If you are a brother, then confess to a trusted brother, who will pray for you. If you are a sister, confess to another sister.  Ask for prayer, and the Lord will help you to overcome.  Cry out to God to rid you of these unwanted thoughts.  But even if you have committed sin in your thoughts, do not automatically assume you have committed the unforgivable sin, if the thoughts you had were blasphemous.  Rather, go to the Word and learn what the actual Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is, and then avoid committing it.

It could also be that you know someone who is being tempted like this, and you found this article in your search to help them.  If so, please share this article with them.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note Also see Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Discerning the Things of the Spirit, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Zipporah Mushala Testimony of Hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, and Eternal Destinations.  You can access the Main Directory for this blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.