The Lord Told Me -audible words from God?

The Lord Told Me

2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:18-19

by Cameron Buettel

The church has fallen into a dangerous pattern when it comes to divine direction. Too many believers today are trying to hear directly from God—whether through an audible voice or a stirring of their souls. Worse still are the people who legitimize everything from heresy to fundraising schemes to simple personal decisions by asserting the leading of the Lord.

I’ve seen numerous young men—particularly those in churches that allow and encourage modern prophecy and revelation—deploy divine decree as a last ditch attempt to win over girls who have declined their romantic advances. Tragically, many women have caved to the claim that “God told me to marry you” and been snared in loveless marriages. One of my friends, cornered by such a proposal, had the presence of mind to respond by saying, “God wouldn’t be so cruel.”

The assertion, “The Lord told me” is regularly employed as a sanctified shield for all sorts of claims. Spend a few minutes watching TBN or another charismatic network for all the proof you need. And to undiscerning eyes and ears, it’s generally an effective way to insulate a spurious message from the scrutiny of critics and dissenters. After all, who wants to take sides against the Lord and His messengers?

But believers cannot allow that unsubstantiated claim to disconnect our discernment, or give a free pass to everyone with the temerity to claim they speak for God. Instead, we need to measure every message against the truth of God’s Word.

Joyce Meyer’s books are littered with stories of the casual conversations she has with God. Moreover, she has sought to validate her entire ministry based on the direct channel of communication she supposedly enjoys with the Creator of the universe. One academic researcher, with strong feminist leanings, made the following observation:

In “Grace, Grace, and More Grace,” another one of Meyer’s later recorded sermons, she states nineteen times that her message is divinely inspired. More importantly, in this sermon she justifies her ministry and preaching in general by claiming God called her. For example, here Meyer stresses that even though she struggled when she began her ministry, divine authority was on her side: “Do you know how many years I frustrated myself tryin’ to make this ministry come to pass, and it was certainly God’s will. He said it. It was God’s call; God had anointed me.” Therefore, the message that she gives her audience is that she cannot refuse the “call” and remain silent. By reminding her audiences that each sermon and message is “anointed,” she reaffirms her authority and establishes that she is subject to a higher authority than the doctrinal leaders who might insist she remain silent. [1] Tracy Hasley Frederick, Feminizing the Pulpit: Feminine Style and the Religious Rhetoric of Joyce Meyer (Doctoral Dissertation Submitted to Regent University: 2009) 100.

John MacArthur has observed the “God told me” phenomenon from the vantage point of five decades expounding what God has already said in Scripture:

“God told me . . .” has become the anthem of the Charismatic Movement. Strange private prophecies are proclaimed by all kinds of people who evidently believe God speaks to them. Surely the most infamous is Oral Roberts’ preposterous death-threat prophecy. In 1987 Roberts told his nationwide audience that God had threatened to “call him home” if he couldn’t raise eight million dollars by his creditors’ deadline. Whether and how that threat might have been carried out, the world will never know; Roberts received a last-minute reprieve in the form of a large check from a Florida dog-track owner. [2]

Even Charismatic author and pastor, R. T. Kendall concedes the prevalence of the problem in his theological circles:

What must be avoided in any case is people saying “Thus saith the Lord” or “The Lord told me.” Speaking like this is not only highly presumptuous but is taking the name of the Lord in vain. . . . It is using God’s name—the worst possible kind of name dropping—to elevate your own credibility. You are not thinking of the Lord’s credibility but your own when you bring in His name. [3] R. T. Kendall, Holy Fire: A Balanced Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit’s Work in Our Lives (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014) 150.

Ironically, Kendall’s book is endorsed by some of the worst and most visible prophetic frauds—John Arnott, Mike Bickle, John Hagee, and Bill Johnson, to name a few. Such is the delusion (or deceitfulness) of these men that they can read the above quote and think it applies to some other charlatan. Even Kendall, while renouncing “Thus saith the Lord,” is more than willing to speak out the other side of his mouth:

The late Oral Roberts was the most famous of these [people with the supernatural gift of healing]. I was privileged to meet him at his home in California three times. On one of those occasions he told me of a moment when the Lord spoke powerfully to him in his hallway a few days before. [4] Holy Fire, 148.

It should not be lost on us that extra-biblical revelation is necessary to support any agenda not revealed in the Bible. Dreams, liver shivers, and voices from heaven may impress the naïve and appeal to lazy students of Scripture but, as Peter said, “we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Peter had actually heard God’s voice from heaven (Matthew 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17–18) but still counted Scripture as a “more sure” revelation. And John MacArthur couldn’t agree more:

The truth is, there is no fresher or more intimate revelation than Scripture. God does not need to give private revelation to help us in our walk with Him. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate,equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, emphasis added). Scripture is sufficient. It offers all we need for every good work.

Christians on both sides of the charismatic fence must realize a vital truth: God’s revelation is complete for now. The canon of Scripture is closed. As the apostle John penned the final words of the last book of the New Testament, he recorded this warning: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18–19). [5]

It’s worth pointing out that this problem isn’t exclusive to charismatic believers. The rise of mysticism in the church has encouraged Christians of all stripes to pursue direct, personal experiences with the Lord through contemplative prayer and other mystical practices. Others simply give too much credence to the spiritual receptivity of their guts. In either extreme—or anywhere in between—the message is clear: God’s Word is not enough.

That cannot be the testimony of the church. We must exalt and extol the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, upholding it as God’s complete and inerrant revelation to His people. And we need to guard ourselves and others from the influence of those who pretend to speak for God.

The next time you hear someone say, “The Lord told me,” kindly ask them to provide the chapter and verse as well.


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The Christian’s Weapon for Battle

The Christian’s Weapon for Battle Charles Spurgeon

“It is written.” — Matthew 4:4

“I commend to every Christian here the constant use of the Infallible Word because IT WAS OUR CHAMPION’S CHOSEN WEAPON when He was assailed by Satan in the wilderness. He had a great choice of weapons with which to fight with Satan, but He took none but this Sword of the Spirit—”It is written.” Our Lord might have overcome Satan by angelic force. He had only to pray to His Father and He would presently have sent Him 12 legions of angels, against whose mighty rush the arch-fiend could not have stood for a single moment!

If our Lord had but exercised His Godhead, a single word would have sent the tempter back to his infernal den. But instead of angelic power or Divine, He used, ‘It is written,’ thus teaching His Church that she is never to call in the aid of force, or use carnal weapons, but must trust, alone, in the Omnipotence which dwells in the sure Word of Testimony! This is our battle-ax and weapon of war! The patronages or the constraints of civil power are not for us! And neither dare we use either bribes or threats to make men Christians—a spiritual kingdom must be set up and supported by spiritual means only. . .

Earnestly do I commend the Word of God to you who have lately enlisted beneath the banner of my Lord! As David said of Goliath’s sword, ‘there is none like it.’ Even so say I of the Holy Scriptures!….This weapon is good at all points—good for defense and for attack—to guard our whole manhood or to strike through the joints and marrow of the foe. Like the seraph’s sword at Eden’s gate, it turns every way. You cannot be in a condition which the Word of God has not provided for! It has as many faces and eyes as Providence itself. You will find it unfailing in all periods of your life, in all circumstances, in all companies, in all trials and under all difficulties. Were it fallible it would be useless in emergencies, but its unerring Truth renders it precious beyond all price to the soldiers of the Cross. I commend to you, then, the hiding of God’s Word in your heart, the pondering of it in your minds!

‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.’ Be rooted and grounded and established in its teaching, and saturated with its spirit. To me it is an intense joy to search diligently in my Father’s Book of Grace. It grows upon me daily. It was written by Inspiration in old times, but I have found, while feeding upon it, that not only was it Inspired when written, but it is still so! It is not a mere historic document—it is a letter fresh from the pen of God to me. It is not a sermon once delivered and ended—it still speaks! It is not a flower dried and put by in the hortus siccus, with its beauty clouded and its perfume evaporated—it is a fresh blooming flower in God’s garden, as fragrant and as fair as when He planted it!”

– Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
taken from: Infallibility—Where To Find It and How To Use It, Sermon No. 1208, December 20, 1874.

What’s Inside John Piper’s Geodes?

What’s Inside John Piper’s Geodes?


geodeHere’s a true story: A man I once knew traveled during his youth to Colorado with a friend who was a knowledgeable mineralogist. They stopped at a field to take in the view, and as they walked the mineralogist stooped to pick up a roundish, mud-colored rock. With great excitement he took it back to his pickup, found a tool, and broke it open to reveal purplish crystals. He had found and recognized an amethyst geode. Now upon looking about, this man realized that the field was full of roundish, mud-colored rocks, and – knowing something of the price of these gemstones – he immediately went into town, found a land office, and bought the field. He then spent a few days gathering geodes, which he shipped out in a rented truck. He relisted the property before leaving town. Eventually it sold, but he had already turned a tidy profit by harvesting and selling amethyst from the rocks.

In addition to providing a real-life illustration of the Parable of the Buried Treasure, he demonstrated one important trait of the field geologist. It’s true that a field geologist needs to be able to walk through fields, to gather rocks, to break them up with hammers, and such like. However, what makes him effective is his ability to tell the difference between a rare or valuable rock and a common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill rock. He can discern one thing from another; that’s what geological training is all about. He has a form of discernment.

Now, let’s imagine that I were to attempt to reproduce this same feat! After all, I took two geology classes once upon a time. Problem is, I don’t remember much detail, and I’ve never worked in the field. The likelihood is that if I bought a field in Colorado, all I would get out of it is an overpriced rock pile. I have proven in my low-level classes that I can tromp around a field and swing a rock hammer, but I lack geological discernment: the “gemstones” I found might excite me, but no one with better discernment would pay me their weight in mud.

Piper’s Discernment

So last week, in the middle of the latest John Piper kerfuffle, I tweeted (not for the first time) that the man has no discernment at all. This brought about the usual reaction, mainly from people who didn’t bother to look up “discernment.” I was not, in fact, saying that John Piper has no talent, no grace, no ability, and has never done anything worthwhile in his life. In point of fact, I’ll admit that he’s pretty good at swinging the homiletical hammer, but I stand by the claim that he has no discernment.

The latest upheaval is over Piper’s silly article about Christians owning guns, a topic he first addressed some years ago. Now I’ll say this up front, of all the works of Piper which might raise outrage in the church, anti-second-amendment rhetoric is the very least. That said, the problem with both these articles is that Piper wants to funnel every discussion of gun-ownership and self-defense through the filter of evangelistic encounter. That’s nice and gospel-centered (TGC is kicking themselves for not publishing this first!) but fails to recognize the rather obvious facts that not every Christian is a missionary, not every circumstance is evangelistic, not every moral priority is gospel oriented, and not all violence is murder. Do you see how many categories get blurred when Piper speaks? That’s a discernment problem: he can’t tell one thing from another.


What’s to regret?

But this is hardly the biggest problem with Piper and discernment. I believe the last time I tweeted about his entire lack of discernment was after his tone-deaf insistence that his “friendship” with Mark Driscoll is something he doesn’t regret, in spite of the fact that Piper’s endorsement is largely responsible for catapulting the abusive, plagiarizing, money-grubbing mega-pastor into national prominence. And Driscoll is hardly the whole of the problem.

Over the years, Piper’s Desiring God conferences have promoted the preaching of such men as Sinclair Ferguson, James Boice, Iain Murray, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and David Wells. No doubt in their messages they delivered plenty of spiritual amethyst, and likely some rubies and emeralds as well. Sadly, there was also plenty of gravel on which the Desiring God attendees could break their teeth.  The same conferences also featured the likes of John Armstrong, Mark Driscoll, Crawford Loritts, Doug Wilson, Tope Koleoso, and – of course – the twin godfathers of the neo-evangelical calvinism lite that has swept the American religious scene: D.A. Carson and Tim Keller.

What’s sad is that Piper apparently doesn’t see any disconnect here. It’s as though he doesn’t see the difference between those two lists, which would mean that he is the spiritual equivalent of a geologist who can’t discern gemstones from beach sand.

And lest anyone say that I am cherry-picking the worst possible names for my list, be it known that I left the worst name off – not because it doesn’t belong, but because there is yet a further category of discernment which must be addressed: Piper’s greatest influences. We needn’t speculate here, he has repeatedly affirmed that two teachers have had the greatest influence on him.

The first of these is of course Jonathan Edwards. Opinions vary on Jonathan Edwards, but this much may be said: he is one of the most influential Christians in American history. His formulations, for good or for ill, have been foundational in the history of American Evangelicalism. Even my secular professors in university acknowledged Edwards as the first and perhaps greatest American intellectual. Theologians can and do debate whether his output consists of diamonds, amethyst, or simply good, serviceable quartzite, but the fact is that he is a substantial and important Christian teacher.

Piper’s other great influence, Dan Fuller, is merely a teacher – neither important nor, forgive me for stating the obvious, Christian. Fuller explicitly denies justification by faith alone, has opposed the principle of biblical inerrancy, and has – at the end of the day – become a rank antinomian, arguing against obedience to the law and insisting that Christians seek justification by living according to nebulous bits of advice which he argues are from the Spirit. Fuller is the theological equivalent of a quack – a dangerous man whose influence should be smothered. The output of his life’s work has been the doctrinal equivalent of a great pile of post-industrial slag, of which he spewed quite a bit at the 1994 Desiring God pastors’ conference.


“I’m not laughing. Do I look like I’m laughing?”

Yet Piper cannot see this. He blithely asserts that he is a follower of Edwards and Fuller, apparently unaware that this is the equivalent of claiming to be a political follower of Edmund Burke and Karl Marx, or of insisting that your preferred musical style is that of Cole Porter and Justin Bieber.

A pastor who cannot discern Edwards from Fuller is frankly little different from a mineralogist who can’t discern amethyst geodes from ordinary limestone. He has no – and yes I said no – discernment at all.

Lessons from Piper

Now I can well imagine that many will say that I should not be writing any of this because John Piper is so much more gifted and influential than I am. I fully admit it. Piper is more influential than I ever aspire to be. He is doubtless more gifted. He is certainly nicer. He may be smarter. So why is it that basic discernment so regularly eludes him? I would suggest two reasons, and then one further lesson we may draw from all of this.

First, Piper lacks discernment because he is a charismatic. Let’s face it, charismatic pastors aren’t discerning – not any of them. I realize that Piper doesn’t fit many people’s definition of charismatic, but he fits mine: he’s unable to discern what is and what is not the Word of God. It’s really that simple. Pastors are called upon to handle the oracles of God, we ought at least to know what they are and what they are not. If you can read Wayne Grudem’s nonsensical approach to modern-day prophecy (an approach Piper endorses), and not see that it is pure rubbish, then frankly you aren’t qualified to handle the Word of God in the pastoral office. If personal musings and leanings might be from the Holy Spirit, then the living and active Word is what, exactly? The root of all spiritual discernment is to know the distinction between the words of God and those of men. That is why charismaticism is the root of all spiritual folly. Once you know that Piper is a continuationist (which is fancy language for a theological charismatic) you ought to expect him to show no discernment at all.

Second, Piper lacks discernment because he is unmoored from historical Christianity. My Twitter friend David Pittman responded to my assertion this way:

“Internal theological gyroscope” is exactly right. The history of Piper’s follies is a great advertisement for the Reformed confessions. The man who chooses to operate without a historical confession is choosing a path of myriad embarrassing errors. The most talented men in the church still need the moorings of confessional Christianity, and for that assertion Piper is Exhibit A.

And finally, we really need to revise our way of evaluating who are the great teachers of our day. It will always be true that the church at large identifies certain men of every generation who are worthy standard-bearers of the Christian cause, men worth hearing and promoting. We can easily draw up a list of qualifications which we might follow as we identify such leaders:

  1. A comprehensive knowledge of Scripture, guided by sound hermeneutical principles and a sense for proper application.
  2. Thorough grounding in historical theology and a commitment to walking in old, proven paths.
  3. A right sense of the spiritual perils of the age, and a commitment to applying scriptural remedies to each.
  4. Clarity of thought and expression, but without any taste for ingenuity or novelty.
  5. A life characterized by holiness and humility.

Instead, we work with this list:

  1. Pastor of a really big church, or leader of some other really big ministry.

wolfBy all accounts Piper is well described by #5 on my proposed list. I’m not saying that he isn’t a godly man. But he utterly lacks in #s 1-4, which is another way of saying that he demonstrates no discernment at all. So let’s be honest with ourselves: we picked him as one of the great leaders of the church in our day based on the lone item on the second list, which is how we pick everyone – worthy or not. He pastored a big church and headlines a big conference.

We need to do better. We need to at least find evangelical leaders who can tell the difference between a valuable geode and a worthless rock, or between a valued undershepherd and a dangerous wolf.




On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

Thursday, January 7, 2016

On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

Ravi Zacharias is an Indian born,  Canadian-American Christian whose ministry is apologetics. Zacharias speaks at large gatherings, conferences, and events on the topics of Christianity and defending the faith. He also has a radio program, “Let My People Think.” He is well known for being intelligent, philosophical, and an excellent speaker in his command of the English language.

Even though there are some towering men of the faith, we must continue to do our duty and test all things against scripture. No one is immune from potential apostasy, error, or sin. Let us examine Mr Zacharias.

Ravi Zacharias talks to pastor Joe Coffey at Christ
Community Chapel about answering objections to Christianity.
Source TMDrew, CC

The link below brings you to an essay written in 2008. Since that time Ravi has descended further into questionable associations. At one point he praised Catholic Mystic Henry Nouwen, in addition to compromising on Mormon theology as you will read in the link below of that and other compromises

Ravi’s slide downward

Though Ravi later retracted his endorsement of Nouwen and Merton here

But let’s take a look at his activity and statements over time, and compare to scripture.

2009: Ravi signed the ecumenical document called the Manhattan Declaration which calls for Catholics and Protestants to partner on moral issues (source). This is a violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14 and Ephesians 5:11.

2012: Ravi appears on Joyce Meyer Today, and says to Meyer, “God has used you” and calls her a ‘great bible teacher’ (youtube clip). This is a violation of one of the qualifications of elders, that they protect the sheep and remain in sound doctrine according to the biblical qualifications of teaching elders as per 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. His endorsement of Meyer was also a violation of the advice on Proverbs which says leaders use their wisdom to guide and lead. (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).

Ravi Zacharias calls false teacher Joyce Meyer a great teacher?

2014: Ravi waffles on age of earth, Ken Ham has response. This denies the clear and straightforward text of Genesis and is a setting aside of Romans 15:4.

2015: Credible allegations were made that Ravi has allegedly inflated/exaggerated/misrepresented his scholarly credentials. Proverbs 19:9 says he who breathes out lies will perish. When the allegations surfaced, certain information was immediately removed from the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) website. The allegations claimed,

-He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
-He refers to himself as Dr Zacharias yet has no earned doctoral degree, they are all conferred.
-He claims to have lectured at the world’s most prestigious universities.
-He claims to be a scholar yet has published nothing in scholarly journals and does not have peer reviewed research.

Next, sadly, from the RZIM FAQ page,
Ravi Zacharias Ministry holds no official theological position on:

Creation: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the age of the earth. The focus of RZIM is apologetics and evangelism, and thus we do not address particular questions about creation…”

Calvinism v. Arminianism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism, and we have staff members holding to a variety of views in both of these doctrinal traditions.” (PS you’ll notice errors in their explanation of Calvinism on the linked page)

Eschatology: “Dr. Zacharias has not spoken on matters relating to the end times, nor does RZIM endorse any official view on matters of eschatology.”

Catholicism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of the Catholic tradition; RZIM focuses its ministry on evangelism and apologetics and strives to stay true to that vision. Some of Ravi Zacharias’s favorite authors are Catholic (namely G.K. Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge), yet he recognizes that there are significant doctrinal differences between Protestants and Catholics.” [doctrinal differences?!?!]

Erm, kind of hard to engage in solid apologetics without an official position on 3/4 of the bible’s doctrines.

2016: In April 2015, Ravi Zacharias was part of a conference which was set to scrutinize The New Apostolic Reformation, during the Worldview Apologetics Conference held at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. The co-authors of two books outing the NAR (R. Douglas Gievett, professor of philosophy in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, and Holly Pivec, journalist) wrote the following at their blog:

My co-author, Doug Geivett, will speak alongside other high-profile evangelicals–including Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, and Calvin Beisner–who will present on other important topics. Doug will give two presentations on the NAR, titled “The New Apostolic Reformation: What You Need to Know” and “God’s Super-Apostles: Where They Fall Short.” 

And yet in January 2016 Ravi will partner with Domininist/NAR teachers at a conference called Synergize, the very movement a previous conference which Ravi attended that had sessions exposing these people as false teachers.

Finally, the smooth talk. If you listen to enough of Zacharias you notice he uses mostly rhetorical contrivances, philosophy, and looong anecdotes but not a whole lot of Bible. He is an ecumenical philosopher, not a solid apologist. The reason he uses fine sounding arguments and rhetorical tricks is that he is the kind of man Paul is describing being the opposite of himself, in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5,

and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, (like Ravi) but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, (Ravi again) but on the power of God. (as Paul does).

Now, I mentioned before that immediately after salvation and before I got into a church I listened to Joel Osteen every week and I loved it. I used to take notes on Osteen’s speech from a rhetorician’s point of view, noting the tone, cadence, speed, and specific language used to hold the audience in his hand. He is a wonderful speaker. I stopped thinking it was so wonderful when I finally got a clue and opened my bible and compared what Osteen was teaching to the Word. Then the scales fell off.

I also personally attended a Ravi Zacharias speech in Athens GA soon after I was converted and I loved that too. Why? Same reason I initially liked Osteen. I have a particular affinity for men who can speak eloquently. I have always loved language, rhetoric, persuasion, metaphor…both my undergraduate and graduate degree are in literacy. When a smooth talking man comes along who uses language so well, it bamboozles me and I get starry eyed for the language, not the ideas behind the language. I was a Romans 16:18 gal.

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:4)

What does everyone say when they mention Ravi Zacharias? “The Spirit is powerfully using Ravi!” No, but they do say, “Ravi’s so smart!” What would people say if they had heard Paul preach, who is just as smart as Ravi if not smarter? “Paul’s so smart!” or would they say, “Paul preaches in the power of the Spirit of God!” They would say the latter, and they did (1 Corinthians 2:4).

THINK about it.



Spiritual meditation, as it is commonly practiced around the world, is done for the purpose of achieving an experience of the presence of God. This “presence” feeling, often described as a sense of oneness with the Divine, can create a powerful psychological and physical sense of peace. This much-desired spiritual experience thus serves to validate one’s faith — if one “feels” God’s presence then that means one is on the right path to a higher form of spirituality. Thus meditation becomes a discipline, a device, even an art, whereby man believes he can do things to achieve inner peace and a unity with God.   Here is an example:

Spiritual awakening comes when the mind rises…. At this stage men has a spiritual vision of the Divine light and is struck with wonder at its beauty and glory. His mind then no longer runs after worldly pleasures…. When the mind rises [higher]… man becomes free from nescience and ignorance. He then talks only on subjects relating to God and grows impatient if any worldly topic is discussed. He avoids hearing about worldly subjects… When the mind rises [higher]… man becomes merged in divine consciousness…. Seeing the beatific vision of God he becomes mad with joy and longs to come closer to him and be united with him…. One may compare God to the light in a lantern. You seem to feel its warmth, yet though you wish to do so, you cannot touch it, on account of the glass intervening…. When one rises [higher]… one realizes his oneness with God.[1]

Here is an example of spiritual meditation from Sarah Young’s 2004 bestseller Jesus Calling. In these quotes below it is Sarah herself who is speaking about her experience with practicing meditation to invoke a feeling of “the Presence of God.”

“I first experienced the Presence of God in a setting of exquisite beauty.… I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’”Jesus Calling introduction, pages VI & VII, 2004 unrevised edition.

“When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God’s presence in this powerful way.”Jesus Calling introduction, pages X & XI, 2004 unrevised edition.

Compare the experience described by Sarah Young with the quotation above it.  Can you see the similarities? The quotation above it came from page 75 of a book titled KUNDALINI: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (Destiny Books, 1986), a horrific and seductive manual on how to achieve an experience of a presence, which turns out to be serpent power.

In these examples can be seen evidence of the emerging common denominator between evangelical mysticism and other world religions, which is meditation. There is very little difference between the meditation taught by eastern religions and the practices currentlyin vogue in evangelical circles. Both teach that by practicing meditation and doing things to increase the experience of “the presence” that one can attain higher levels of spirituality.

What is the difference? How can you tell? In his book RUN! It’s Jesus Calling! Why You Should Throw Away Your Copy of Jesus Calling author Steven Hudgik explains. He has given us permission to reproduce his chapter 13 in its entirety, titled “HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF JESUS?” Pastor Hudgik begins the chapter with the two quotations from Sarah Young, and then continues. . .
What is the overall theme of the Jesus Calling book? Its full title is, “Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace In His Presence.” Based on the title I assume there is a focus on experiencing the presence of Jesus (God). And that is what we see when we read this book. Just in the introduction Jesus Calling speaks about the presence of God 19 times.

When we read the Jesus Calling devotions we find the same focus on being in the presence of Jesus. I randomly picked a date, which turned out to be October 13th, and I counted the number of times being in the presence of Jesus is mentioned in the next ten devotions. It was 18 times. In addition, phrases that imply the presence of Jesus, such as “aware of my companionship,” are commonly used.

Experiencing the presence of Jesus is a huge part of this book. So let’s find out what Jesus Calling means when it talks about being in the presence of Jesus. We’ll also look at the true Biblical meaning of being in the presence of Jesus.

According to Jesus Calling, what does it mean to be in the presence of Jesus? 

In Jesus Calling the presence of Jesus seems to be a feeling you experience. In the 2004 introduction to Jesus Calling Sarah Young describes being in the presence of Jesus as feeling like there is a warm mist around her. In another part of the same introduction she says it is like having a bright light around her.

In addition, according to Jesus Calling there are numerous benefits that result from being in the presence of Jesus. For example, the presence of Jesus:

  • helps you receive the peace of Jesus (October 13th)
  • is a promise and a protection (October 15th)
  • is a powerful protection and your best protection (October 15th)
  • is the source of help (help flows from it) (October 16th)
  • comforts you (October 16th)
  • allows you to be a channel through whom others are comforted (October 16th)
  • outshines any fantasy you can imagine (October 17th)
  • enables you to face each day with confidence (October 18th)
My general impression is that, according to Jesus Calling, the presence of Jesus helps you relax, have peace, and to get through the day’s troubles.

What do we need to do to experience the presence of Jesus? 

Jesus Calling says that we are constantly in the presence of Jesus (Jan 28), and it seems to indicate that we can experience awareness of the presence of Jesus to greater and lesser degrees. How do we do this? The following are some of the instructions I found that seem to be related to becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. These are from the 10th Anniversary Edition:

  • Your weakness is the door to Jesus’ presence (Jan 8)
  • Ask Jesus to show you the path forward moment by moment (Jan 9)
  • Make Jesus’ presence the focal point of your thoughts (Jan 28)
  • Whisper the name of Jesus (April 8) • Thanksgiving and praise open the door to his presence (May 29)
  • Attune yourself to Jesus’ voice (September 26)
Jesus Calling gives many other ways to experience the presence of Jesus, but none of them are in accordance with scripture. So once again we have a complete disconnect with scripture.

Let me see if I can summarize the impressions I’m getting as I try to understand how to experience the presence of Jesus and its benefits according to Jesus Calling:

Jesus is a soft, fluffy, comfortable Jesus who is your best friend. He is always there to share the burden of your troubles, wipe away your tears, give you peace, and keep you feeling warm and comfortable inside. To experience the presence of Jesus you need to do things such as remember him, whisper his name, trust him, and turn to him when you are in need.

BUT… the problem is that this is not scriptural concerning coming into and being in the presence of Jesus, and this is not the Jesus of the Bible. This Jesus is not the Jesus who loves you, who truly cares about you, and who died for you.

What does scripture teach? 

The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles at God’s word, who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it. – J.I. Packer (

What does it mean Biblically to be in the presence of God, and how do you Biblically come into the presence of God?

For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit” – Isaiah 57:15

Consider this: Jesus is God and God is omnipresent. This means God is present everywhere at all times. That means everyone is always in the presence of God. It is impossible for us to move out of the presence of God.

But, this is not the type of presence we are referring to when we talk about Biblically being in the presence of Jesus. What it means is to be saved and thus be in a relationship with God. It is not a feeling or experience, as described in Jesus Calling. It is the reality of being seated with Christ in heaven the moment you are saved (Ephesians 2:6) It is the reality of having Christ dwell within you the moment you are saved (John 14:23 and 15:4).

It is true that at times we will feel distant from God. All Christians have experienced this. For example, after losing his wife to cancer C.S. Lewis wrote:

Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, Chapter One, 1961

Peter explains what is happening:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) 

But, let’s start at the beginning. How do we come into the presence of Jesus in the first place? What keeps us from the presence of God?

Fact #1 – Sin separates us from God. 

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. – Isaiah 59:2

Sin separates us from God. You are a sinner, and that means you are separated from God. His face is hidden from you. What can you do to change that? Nothing. Doing the things the Jesus in Jesus Calling commands you to do will not bring you any closer to Jesus. Sin is a barrier that cannot be breached by human effort.

We are born as sinners and that means we are natural enemies of God. But, the same verse that reveals we are enemies of God, also gives the solution:

For if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life. – Romans 5:10 

Fact #2 – We WERE enemies of God. But, we have been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus. 

To be reconciled to God means we are no longer God’s enemies, instead we are in a relationship with God. This happens through faith, which is a gift of God.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.– Ephesians 2:8-9 

Through the faith given to you by God, you trust in the work of Jesus on the cross—His paying the penalty for your breaking God’s laws—and you are saved from that penalty. Now, when God looks at you, instead of your sin He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And that is why you, as a believer in the cross of Jesus Christ, are in a relationship with God.

If you have repented and are trusting that Christ has paid your penalty for sin… trusting that He paid your penalty for breaking God’s laws… then you are free from the penalty for sin! Free from sin and united with Christ. AND Jesus is actually living in you now! Not only are you in the presence of Jesus, you have been united with Jesus Christ your Lord.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. – Galatians 2:20 

Jesus Calling constantly talks about being in the presence of Jesus, but never mentions sin, nor the cross, nor the gospel. Jesus Calling even tries to turn you away from being concerned about sin (Sept 7). BUT… without the cross we all are eternally separated from God. It is only through the cross that we enter the presence of God. Okay… I’m hearing some of you saying something again: “Jesus Calling was written for Christians. Everyone who is reading it is already saved and is in a relationship with Jesus.” 

Setting aside the question of whether or not everyone reading Jesus Calling is actually saved or not, this brings us to fact number three:

Fact #3 – All believers will experience the trial of feeling separated from God. 

1 Peter 1:3-7
You are a believer, but you don’t feel very close to God. What’s wrong? John MacArthur explains: 

A key passage in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:3-7) will help you appreciate that times of distress are common and are for the good of God’s children. Amid the rich details of God’s glorious grace, resides an affirmation that those who rejoice in their salvation will also experience distress due to various trials. 

Take solace in knowing that sorrowful times–even periods of feeling God has withdrawn His presence–are an integral part of your spiritual experience. God hasn’t utterly abandoned you, though you feel He has. Other believers have successfully traveled the dark path you walk and completed their journey. – John McArthur, Why does God seem so distant when I need Him most? (

When we are going through a time when we feel distant from God we can be encouraged that it is part of God’s working to build our faith and growing us to know Him better. An article in the C.S. Lewis Reflections noted that:

Because C.S. Lewis did not give up, in time he was able to say, “I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted.” He came to see that God’s silence during his grief was not a sign of indifference, cruelty, or abandonment. Rather, God had been at work for good in his life in ways he could not sense or imagine—bringing him into a deeper experience of the Lord than he had ever known before. – Reflections, C.S. Lewis Institute, July 2008 

Based on 1 Peter 1:3-7 we can know that our time of darkness will be temporary, and that it has a purpose. It is a test of your faith that will strengthen your faith.

This sounds nothing at all like what Jesus Calling says. In Jesus Calling it is up to us to do something so we feel closer to Jesus. But, the reality is that God is in control. He does it all.

If I feel distant from Jesus, what should I do? 

Be in prayer. Spend time talking with God. David’s prayer in Psalm 13 is a good example.

Be in God’s Word. Read your Bible every day and be in obedience to what you are reading. That is called seeking His righteousness. And remember, God is always present with you even when He feels far away (1 Peter 2:9). God is never far from a believer.

Examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are you turning to sin for comfort instead of God? Or are you pure in heart (see Chapter 23)? The fact that sin separates you from God is foundational. You can’t talk about being close to God without talking about sin, repentance, and confessing your sin to God. But, Jesus Calling says nothing about sin, repentance, redemption, nor confession of sin. It seems that Jesus Calling is about making you feel good, instead of being about the truth and leading you to a right relationship with God… which is the only way to have a close relationship with God.

And finally remember God is in control. These four points are not magic, meaning that if you do them you’ll automatically feel closer to God. This is not the God of Jesus Calling. This is the true God, creator of you and the entire universe. God will draw nearer to you, when He determines the time is right.

Pastor Hudgik’s book can be purchased on Amazon. Here is the direct link: Read a previous excerpt “Knock, Knock…”:
Below are articles that we published previously about the Presence:
“The PASSION of the PRESENCE – & the Purpose of the Passion Part 1,” Herescope, January 25, 2014;
Presence” Eschatology – Part 2, Herescope, February 25, 2014;
Bridal Eschatology Part 3, Herescope, March 08, 2014;
The Perfectly Obedient Bride Part 4, Herescope, March 26, 2014;
The 2nd Coming of the “Presence” Part 5, Herescope, April 12, 2014;
The Battled Bride: Part 6, Herescope, April 22, 2014; .

Pastor Larry DeBruyn published an article on Herescope on December 31, 2013, titled The Present of “His Presence”. The article has now been posted as a downloadable PDF file at the Discernment Ministries website:’s%20Present%20of%20His%20Presence.pdf

Warren Smith published his concerns about Sarah Young’s Jesus in his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. See HEREand HERE.

1. KUNDALINI: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (Destiny Books, 1986), p. 75. WARNING: This is a very horrible graphic and occult book that dispels any notions one might have about meditation being an innocent mental health exercise.


On False Teachers: Why We Insist on One Degree of Separation (PIPER,FLOYD,CHANDLER..)

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On False Teachers: Why We Insist on One Degree of Separation

In The Pen by JD Hall  

What did they say when you warned them about the Kansas City Prophets and the New Apostolic Reformation and all the wicked things that happen there? What did they say when you told them about the death of Bethany Deaton and cover-up by IHOP and allegations of cult-like mind control? What did they say when you brought all those facts to them?

They said it couldn’t be that bad. Ronnie Floyd was speaking there. They weren’t going to turn around. If it was good enough for the SBC president to speak, it was good enough for them.

I took a frantic phone call from a woman and SBC church member in north Missouri, whose pastor was taking a number of men to the conference last weekend. She had emailed her “leadership team,” deacons, and the pastor. She brought them facts. She sent them links to IHOP’s theology. She sent them articles about the problems. She did everything but throw her aging body in front of them on their way out of the driveway. But they went and exposed themselves to what can only be characterized as demonic worship with scandalous speakers and even a track for Catholic worshippers. The event was the spiritual equivalent of a 70’s key party – promiscuous, open to anything, and no discernible standards for who you dance with.

Southern Baptists considered Ronnie Floyd’s presence an endorsement: Ronnie Floyd, you see, can start out saying that his speaking at IHOP isn’t an endorsement of their theology (which he did). But it doesn’t matter, because in reality, Southern Baptist pastors and laypeople wound up at IHOP and took part in the sins of Nadab and Abihu because Ronnie Floyd was there.

Roman Catholics considered Ronnie Floyd’s presence an endorsement:Jeff has written about that here and I don’t want to steal his thunder, but the “charismatic catholics” present at IHOP were encouraged at the “unity across denominational lines” and were encouraged by Floyd’s affirming presence.

Charismatics considered Ronnie Floyd’s presence an endorsement: When Floyd said, “We’re we’re not in total agreement about life, ministry or the Bible. … Yet my being here is a clear indication that people must come together and pray,” (1) Understatement much? That you’re not in “total agreement” is something you say to the other Southern Baptist church across the street…not the pseudo-christian cults and (2) you pray with Christians. With the Roman Catholics and Oneness Pentecostals present in this spiritual key party, it’s presumptive to assume we’re praying to the same deity.

But Floyd is not the only one.

John Piper just spoke at Giglio’s Passion Conferenceagain. He’s speaking with Word-of-Faith impastor, charismatic prophetess and Hillsong gal, Christine Caine. He’s also speaking with a few other odious characters, like with Judah Smith at Passion #2 later this month, but let’s just keep it simple and focus on the charismatic lady pastor from the overtly-wicked church. That should suffice for this current exercise.

JD Greear and Matt Chandler are speaking with Hillsong‘s Brian Houston at the upcoming Exponential Conference.  Others, like Circle-Maker Mark Batterson will be there as well. Ed Stetzer will be there too, but he just spoke with radical Islamic clerics on how they can best reach evangelicals, so that’s nothing new. And really, it’s nothing new that Greear and Chandler would speak with nefarious characters. They’ve done that a lot.

And on and on it goes. Reformed leaders, as you’ve seen in the above list of names (Floyd excluded), are not immune from toxic associations. Granted, it seems that toxic associations in Reformed circles are typically limited to charismatic Calvinists who seem to suffer from repeated discernment issues caused by their continuationism, but it’s still troubling.

Why are polemicists and discernment-minded Christians upset that evangelical leaders like Floyd, Piper, Greear, Chandler, Stetzer, and Francis Chan (who frequents the IHOP circuit) et al speak with those who really no reasonable or serious-minded Christian would consider sound? Why is speaking with women preachers, charismatic prophets and faith-healers, people teaching positive confession and Word-Faith theology or other serious issues a problem?

And the answer is Bible.

[14] Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? [15] What accord has Christ with Belial?(1) Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? [16] What agreement has the temple of God with idols? (2 Corinthians 6)

This passage from Paul isn’t about marriage. It’s about religious enterprise. What business doth John Piper have with Christine Caine? Or what fellowship doth Ronnie Floyd have with Mike Bickel? What accord hath Matt Chandler with Brian Houston? What portion doth the SBC share with IHOP? What agreement doth Greear have with Circle-Making Mark Batterson?

God does not need the devil’s pulpit, friends.

All of these men speaking at all of these events do not constitute a Whitefield-type attitude toward speaking in enemy territory. Whitefield said, “If the Pope himself would lend me his pulpit, I would gladly preach the righteousness of Christ therein.” It is safe to say that if Whitefield had the Pope’s pulpit, he would have only preached there once. As Justin Peters says, he would preach on TBN if they asked him, but he wouldn’t be invited a second time. Matt Chandler, to his credit, once gave a passive-aggressive backhand to Steven Furtick at his Code Orange revival, but too many times he’s spoken with and for such spiritual charlatans with no such subtle rebuke. And lacking a rebuke, a preacher’s presence makes for an assumed endorsement. No, these appearances by all of the above men (and many more) at such conferences are not done to confront the wolves, but done to run with their pack.

The fact is, the Bible forbids such partnership – and a speaking contract is certainly a partnership – between Christians and the types of people we saw John Piper and Ronnie Floyd speak with last week. Some call that “guilt by association.” And to that, I say, is as sure as hell is real. Yes, it is guilt by association, because the Bible forbids association with such darkness.

Where does it stop, the fanboys ask. So so-and-so knows so-and-so who spoke with so-and-so and now they’re bad all in a sudden? Nope. We’re asking for one degree of separation, not two or three or four. It’s sinful for Ronnie Floyd to speak at IHOP. It’s not sinful for someone to speak with Ronnie Floyd. It’s sinful for Francis Chan to speak at IHOP. It’s not sinful to speak with Francis Chan. It’s sinful to speak with a woman who shouldn’t be preaching, who is compiled with problems of charismania, prophetic status, Word-Faith theology and from Hillsong. It’s not sinful to speak with John Piper. We are, Biblically, to separate from the evil person or false teacher.

Don’t get me wrong. I would not endorse Piper, Chan, Chandler, Floyd, Greear or others on the grounds that they lack discernment and if slightly off track today, may be very off track tomorrow. With their charismatic windows left wide open, who knows what pied Piper might sneak into their heart or mind and lead them astray? I wouldn’t want to turn on a young Christian to their works, without knowing where they may be led in years to come after the leaven they associate with has leavened them. However, it’s not as though these men are bad, but that they cannot be fully trusted or endorsed. Not speaking with them, however, would be two degrees of separation and probably overdone.

Is one degree really too much? Like, is that terribly legalistic? Pharasaical? Fundamentalist? Do we all feel totally oppressed now, like some over-reaching nanny is pooping on our party? I would ask, “Are your heretic conferences really that important? Like, you can’t get along without them? John Piper is so important to the success of Passion and Ronnie Floyd is so important to the success of IHOP’s One Thingthat it’s worth risking leading little ones astray? Is it worth the risk of earning a millstone?


[Contributed by JD Hall]

The Blood of Catholics on Southern Baptist’s Hands


The Blood of Catholics on Southern Baptist’s Hands

In The Pen by Jeff 

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

As we have stated several times at Pulpit & Pen, we strongly opposed Southern Baptist President, Ronnie Floyd’s appearance at the IHOP Onething gathering at the end of 2015. The gathering was a steaming brew of different denominations (mostly apostates) who joined hands in reckless unity to hasten a revival, prophesied for over 25 years by Ronnie Floyd, and coined the “Next Great Awakening.”

Floyd has been so adamant about his prophecy, that he has refused to hear even the warnings of his peers at the SBC, let alone the many who have been calling this to the attention of the church for months.

At the conference gathered many Holy Spirit-blaspheming charismatics, Roman Catholics, and many others from many denominations. On top of that, the worship music included the papist, Matt Maher, who played on stage with pope Francis at World Youth Day in front of millions.

Ronnie Floyd assured all of the Roman Catholics in attendance that their differences in theology were not important, and that they should be set aside in order to pray for the great awakening and spiritual revival in America.

I’m not here tonight to highlight our theological differences, but to bend my knee, next to yours, and to ask God to have mercy on America. I also know that my being here is not an endorsement of your theology or your endorsement of my orthodoxy, I did not get asked to this gathering tonight because the leaders agree with all of my theological convictions. In fact, if we’re totally honest with one another we know that thousands of us who are filling this convention center and thousands more who are streaming live around the world, we’re not in total agreement about a lot of the secondary matters of life, ministry, and even the bible. Yet my being here is a clear indication that these are times when people must come together and pray.

So let’s understand what he’s saying here. He is saying that his understanding of Scripture as compared to the (mostly apostate Catholic and charismatic) attendees isn’t really important. What’s important is that God sent him there to unite them in prayer. After all, his “being there” is a clear indication (a sign from God?) that what he’s doing is right. Nevermind what Scripture has to say about it (2 Cor 6:14, Eph 5:11, 2 Tim 3:5, 2 Cor 10:14, etc.)

Nonetheless, Catholics came away with a new sense of assurance in their hearts. After Floyd led the thousands of students in prayer, some Catholics commented,

As a Catholic Charismatic, I wept tears of joy so many times this week as I had the privilege of worshipping the living God with so many diverse brothers and sisters in Christ –  Leslie Bertucci, Onething app


As a member of the Catholic Charismatic renewal, I’ve had a heart for what is happening at IHOP for many years and it was amazing to finally get out there and experience the prophetic worship and preaching firsthand. There was a beautiful unity across denominations this week. – Ryan Baptista, Onething app

Congratulations Ronnie Floyd, I hope your primary matters were well worth the possibly innumerable lost souls you affirmed at this conference. While great men of the Protestant Reformation gave their lives to defend the truth, and oppose the heresies of Rome and other false religions, sadly, many people like Floyd are actively working to reverse the Reformation. Will any Southern Baptist leaders stand up and speak up? If you don’t, their blood is on your hands (Ezekiel 3:18).