I am completely sold on the idea that in the fullness of time by the fullness of Spirit, we are going to experience the fullness of the Ecclesia. Sold. Period. Too late to convince me of some neo-cessationism or “the last apostle died and Jesus quit doing anything supernatural.” I have looked at there isn’t even a hint in the Bible – although the sola scriptura crowd crows about there “if it ain’t in the Bible, it ain’t viewpoint – that Jesus stopped being the King of kings just because Paul died or that Paul was the last apostle or that there were only twelve of the dudes. Not a word or hint. Not a squeak or thump. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Case closed.
Anyone who espouses this point of view is intellectually dishonest and will include a “the testimony of history” to back up their claims that the Bible reaches this conclusion. The arguments assume a worldview and applied systematic that are purely human in origin as a basis for fitting some Scriptures that do not even discuss this subject into a theory or viewpoint. The attempt to make the viewpoint conclusive leads to exaggeration, and the exaggeration disproves the theory. Then, the writer begins offering a bunch of “science” or “psychology” that he would never use for any other discussion of Bible truth.
The other end of the spectrum of “God still does miracles, signs, and wonders” is the hyper and super-saints point of view. Just as intellectually dishonest, just as much an exaggeration that disproves the theory, and just as beside the point, and thus a distraction, as denial. Exaggeration being the greatest enemy of truth, stretching truth to prove a point seems to be the inevitable downfall of humanly-devised theories.
Example: The Resurrection Stretch
Jesus defeated the ultimate enemy, death! The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the high point of redemption, the completion of His victory, and the reality of His finished work. He is now the Firstfruits of Glorified Man. “He alone has immortality,” Paul tells Timothy. “He alone.” So, no one is getting a glorified body until He applies Resurrection to everyone ready for it, and that will happen only when Jesus does it personally.
So, the idea that some group of people are heading toward glorification and spiritual X-men status in the last days is purely a notion akin to comic book heroes. Avoid this hype because it is an exaggeration. Avoid this hype because it is a distraction. Avoid this hype because it is based upon extra-Biblical ideas or “higher revelations” that shouldn’t serve as the basis for our worldview or didiche.
Another form of this exaggeration is that the Ecclesia should have authority over death so that it can resurrect people. First, the term, resuscitate, would be much better for this idea since no one, I suppose, is saying that even the super-saints can resurrect someone in the sense that they can give this dead person a glorified body. (The difference is that Jesus raised Lazarus, but Lazarus later died again.)
This exaggeration leads to the idea that “God doesn’t want anyone to die.” Ridiculous on its face, inconsistent with God’s revelation, and contrary to Jesus’ ministry, teaching, and way of dealing with people.
Does the Ecclesia have authority to raise the dead today? Absolutely! Does it happen today? Absolutely! Have I had this occur in my own ministry? Yes! Does this mean that I have authority over death in everyone, and God doesn’t want people to die? No! Should we pray for people to be raise from among the dead? Certainly, we should; and like every other ministry, we should have protocols for this type of ministry.
In fact, the Resurrection means that the hell can gain no victory in the death of any saint.
Once you remove the hype from this form of ministry, you usually uncover a deeper, rather obvious, human motivation that is patently unlike Christ. Even when you use the story of Lazarus to “prove” that we are all living far too below the level of power and authority we should be living at by asserting somehow that the story teaches us that Jesus wants every person who is dead to come back to life, or something like that, the concept that any believer, at any time, can pray for anyone, in any condition, and expect unlimited healing or restoration is an exaggeration.
On the other hand, I won’t be satisfied where I am now, and I want to experienced my shadow healing the sick. Yet, the idea that restoration means every believer is supposed to have their shadow healing the sick all the time, everywhere, any day of the week, until there are no more sick people, demonized people, hunger, death, or discouragement – inconsistent with the voice and tone of Scripture and other remarkable comments and priorities of the kingdom of God.
Beware the statement, “We should accept death.” Of course, we should accept death, and furthermore, we should understand that “precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of His saints.” We should know that Jesus wants people to die, plans for people to die, and is fully prepared for their deaths, that these deaths are not failures of faith, power, authority, kingdom, or Latter Rain super-saintliness.
Observe that behind the teaching of such hype is the subtle assumption that the person teaching this idea has received an assignment to deliver the Ecclesia from bondage that doesn’t exist, to raise the bar too a level that the bar simply won’t go. And, more to the point, to prove that God does resuscitate people by asserting that God wants to resuscitate every dead person. He doesn’t. God is still in charge of birth and death. He hasn’t asked us to update or usurp His Providence in this area.
While there is clearly not a word or hint in the Bible that God stopped raising the dead through His representatives on earth when “the last apostle died,” neither is there a word or hint in the Bible that the Ecclesia is moving toward super-saintliness, or that this is a requirement of “fullness.”
Jesus’ last words to Simon Peter were clearly a discussion of Simon Peter’s death.
I tell you the truth. When you were young, you tied your own belt and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will put out your hands and another person will tie you. That person will lead you where you don’t want to go.” (Jesus said this to show how Peter would die to give glory to God.) Then Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me!” [John 21:18-20]
Jesus says that Peter should expect to get old before he dies and expect that his death would glorify God! Two pretty powerful ideas about the death of a saint! While I intend to fight death and aging as my enemies and not my friends, to reach for wholesome of health in every area of my life, I am not going to hype the Gospel to include some concept of failure to getting older or dying. This kind of thing leads to exaggeration about the power of herbs, oils, gold dust, manna, barley greens, and acai berries as well. That kinda makes you scratch your head, though, when the same guy who is telling you that every believer should be able to raise anyone from the dead also wants you to purchase his special, revealed-from-a-trip-to-the-Realm mixture of dust, oil, herbs, and anointing for $95. (Get it now and get glorified by Christmas!)
Not everybody takes the hype to such an obviously illogical extreme, but all the teachers of hyper-kingdom will tend toward some form of exaggeration that distracts from and discredits Truth about miracles, signs and wonders. It reminds you of the missionary that comes through on furlough and leaves you feeling that you might not go to heaven if you don’t sell everything you own and move to the remote villages of the Amazon by Thursday at 5 o’clock. Good people tend to exaggerate to prove a point.
Note: nearly every preacher has some form of this exaggeration, but the more mature the leader is, the less exaggeration will be expressed. The exaggeration leads to a “if only” mentality, an unspoken background noise of “if only everyone would get to one of my conferences like you are,” the Ecclesia would be raising a million people a month and taking over the universe by next June. The problem immediately becomes: how do I prove that God wants every believer to do this all the time when I’m not doing this all the time? Solution: The reason I’m not doing this all the time is that God wants us all to do this all the time. Problem: He doesn’t. And, everyone doing something all the time has nothing at all to do with you doing it all the time. Cool your jets a bit, cleanse the hype from your presentation, and just do what you are called to do. Teach the Bible and share your experiences. But, don’t attempt to make some experiences, the best ones you caught on video, the foundation of a doctrinal system.
Example: Let’s Go to Heaven on Vacation
The idea that Jesus wants us all to go to Heaven or give us all a fuller revelation of Heaven right now, or that Jesus has a few special ones He has called to be tour guides to Heaven, or that Jesus has in mind some kind of Mount of Transfiguration moment for our generation so we can talk to Elijah and Moses too…well, it all speaks to the same exaggeration of what it means to be prophetic. It overreaches the prophetic by appealing to people like the $1,000 seminars that will turn you into a real estate mogul after spending the day with a “guy who used to be just like you” in a meeting room at the Marriot.
I’m always a bit confused by the “I’ve found the secret” guys in business and healthcare, aren’t you? The celery diet. The Tasmanian tea root wonder drug. The milk and honey Manna and Moses bread. You know what I mean. The idea is that someone discovered the secret formula for a six-pack, the body of a seventeen-year-old cheerleader, and everlastingly elasticity of the skin around your eye sockets.
Hype comes to the prophetic in several ways, and the ones who celebrate the hype are seldom the ones actually experiencing valid prophetic experiences. Even then, the tendency is that you need to have higher and higher, deeper and deeper, broader and broader, longer and longer, mysterious-er and mysterious-er revelations in order to show that you have reached the place Jesus wants everybody to see and hear, “if only.” Then, you will get the “in these last days” part of the explanation, and the just as common “latter Glory is greater” explanation of why this particular person is the one…with the word…of the moment…for the people.
Beware the person who claims to have the inside information from the secret services of Israel, US, and China about the antichrist, but be just as wary of the prophetic person who works a little too hard to convince you that their prophetic visions tell the true story, complete story, or higher revelation of the complete, true story.
First, not many of the people claiming to go to Heaven for a visit have ever been to Heaven for a visit. The difference between vision, dream, trance, and revelation and “going to Heaven for a visit” is significant. The number of people given a “pass” on the train is bit smaller than you might think, and there is specific Bible discussion about how Jesus works in a person who is having such an experience. Consider that nearly all the intercessors and prophetic people of every type I train see angels, demons, Glory, and heavenly things. That part is elementary to prophetic experience, but at no time would I countenance even one of them building a ministry out of it or using their experience to create a super-saint profile. In fact, I would see that as clear evidence of immaturity, dysfunction, and pride!
The mature leaders who teach these experiences have mature character, leadership, understanding and wisdom about how their discussions fit into the kingdom norms and protocols that help us all avoid the carnival atmosphere many of the revelationists seek to create.
People are experiencing revelations that include visions, dreams, trances, and spiritual vision, but none of that means “I went to Heaven today.” The idea of “an open door” and “caught up into heaven” is very Biblical. The experiences are real, valid, and wonderful! No problem. The idea that my experience was unique, higher, deeper, longer-lasting, bestest-one-among-thousands, however, should trigger some loud alarms and flashing red lights.
The whole “I talk to dead people” scenario isn’t foreign to vision. I have had several vision in which people no longer living on earth were included in the visions. I spend very little time talking about the people in the vision, because the purpose of the vision isn’t to discuss the color of Jeremiah’s eyes and length of Elijah beard. The people represent something in the vision, and I’ve never claimed that I actually talked with David even when I’ve had a vision that included David. There is a great deal of difference between having a vision of Jesus and taking a trip to Heaven for a guided tour! Even when you are “caught up,” the tour of heaven isn’t about you being given inside information that will make you a buzz word in the kingdom. You aren’t receiving a WOW moment or assignment to “reveal the realities” in the vision. It is a vision, and the protocols of prophetic ministry tell you what to do with the vision.
You don’t get the right to be an exception to the protocols because you claim your experience was unique!
Visions are not the basis for doctrine. That is, your experiences aren’t the basis for principles. You don’t get to say, “Well, this is how things work in Heaven” because you had a vision. You don’t get to determine, in a vision, who went to Heaven or what the Cloud of Witnesses are thinking about things. Your vision is a revelation that begins a prophetic process, reveals a particular message, requires prophetic decision-making or judgment, and fits into the greater understanding Jesus is giving the Ecclesia.
Take out the desire to be special, unique, different, and prove yourself to people, and your visions would probably to really helpful in some way as part of a team. Pull them aside as an exemption to the rule as if you are above the proper function and protocol of revelation, use them to build something that is about yourself and your uniqueness that cries out, “Please give me the proper honor. I’m valid!” and you are turning the visions into something other than what their purpose and strategic worth allow.
You will have opened the door to error. You will be saying, “God wants to destroy America!” Or, you will be saying, “God showed me that Michael Jackson is in Heaven.” Or, you will be saying, “I have the insight on what is going on in Iran.” And, your visions may be completely legitimate! You really did see these things, but that doesn’t mean your communication, interpretation, application, or implementation of these things is valid!
Much of this kind of “revelation” presentation leads to a dismissal of valid prophetic function, opens the door to new age mysticism in ways that lead immature and prideful people into error. It does unnecessarily. It does so with a subtle need to drop more balloons from the ceiling and “one-up” the previous revelation, and it does so with a less subtle hint that the person who is having these experiences has a higher, deeper, inside-track, special, “you only hear this here” approach to ministry.
Example: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
Every segment of christianism has a distinctive that provides logic for their group to be in existence, distinct in some fundamental way from everybody else. Since we know from Paul that this kind of thinking is immature, that disunity is a symptom of immaturity, many of the distinctions are merely a work of immature doctrinal exaggeration that provide some good reason in the minds of people for being separate and distinct from everybody else. This is totally different from other clarifying distinctions that actually produce unity in mature people: that is, I am not arguing that unity is the product of “sameness” but the result of maturity in all our proper, God-given distinctions of role, relationship, and responsibility.
Male and female are the crowning distinctions of Creation and they produce the greatest unity possible in human beings through the covenant of marriage. The distinctions produce oneness in mature people because the role, responsibilities, and relationship is designed to produce unity.
We see that nothing Jesus designs and sets into place produces disunity within the Body when mature people function in the roles, relationships, and responsibilities as He designs them.
Hype produces exaggeration that produces distinctions that produce dysfunction that produce disunity.
Most of this form of Supersaintliness is simply immaturity in people who refuse to listen to good counsel or walk in accountability for what they say and do. Often, we merely ask a question, they are so defensive about their statements that they will assume that any question is a confrontation. They fall back on their own inner insecurities because their inner insecurities are their filtering system for their spiritual lives.
Any desire to be accepted, celebrated, received, honored, and understood by means of spiritual grace, power, gifts, or ministry reveals some dysfunction of the soul. Of course, proper function and operation will produce acceptance, celebration, reception, honor, and understanding, but a motivation to acquire these through the function or operation of spiritual power usually means that their is impure motivations behind the best of what Holy Spirit is doing.
While we all have our moments, some people fall into the well-rehearsed mode of applying their uniqueness to a confirmation of their personal value. So, they always tend toward proving their worth through their spiritual prowess, demanding inside that people validate their worth in what they are able to do with spiritual power. This is always dysfunctional. Always.
At some point, to stand out in the crowd they propose that some novel, new, or notable aspect of their spiritual capacities shows them unique among their peers. “Anything you can do, I can do better.” You can prophesy good things? I can prophesy something greater. You can heal headaches? I can heal leprosy. You can laugh? I can laugh so hard that I get muscles spasms and roll around on the floor. You can see angels? I can see God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You hear God speak? I can hear Him telling me stuff that He refuses to tell anybody else – I got the deeper mysteries! You know the Bible? I am writing updates to the Bible. [lol]
Yep, you get this all the time, in fact, if you are a leader because you get a steady stream of people who arrive with their spiritual capacity packages in full operation, people who wish you to immediately recognize that “whatever you can do, I can do better.” Therefore, I should immediately be up front, with a mic, telling people how assume I am. If you don’t, this proves to me that you really are inferior to me in spiritual capacities.
This is always inappropriate and motivationally flawed. It should always be shut down immediately even if the person can raise the dead, see all of Heaven on a daily basis, pull feathers from their ears, laugh so hard that they sweat, or prophesy so accurately they can tell you what’s in the third drawer on the left side of your dresser. Even if the dead just go on to Heaven, the vision of Heaven remains undisclosed, no one laughs, or you don’t get a revelation of what you already know is in the dresser drawer. This should be shut down whether the person is working in the power of Holy Spirit or not – this should be quenched! Not Holy Spirit. The person.
The assumption that whoever sees the most of Heaven is the most mature or spiritual, and should be beyond accountability has been plaguing the establishment of the valid voices of the restoration long enough! The assumption that grace gifts denote a measurable aspect of spiritual competition has kept us functioning with diapers and pacifiers long enough! It is this particular kind of dysfunction that substitutes for proper function. The assumption that we require this kind of supersaintliness to prove the validity of Bible norms is simply another form of devilish distraction that produces substitutes for the proper operation and function of spiritual power and authority.
The teaching that God can hardly wait to manifest a bunch of spiritual X-men who will do all the cool stuff that proves God is awesome, Jesus is King, and Holy Spirit works through people here and now – well, that’s is simply another form of “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
The idea that we are going back to the first Adam in order to have dominion is rather ridiculous on its face. The idea that Heaven waits for some special folk to get up in the morning so God can get something done in the universe, create some galaxies, organize some angels, raise a few hundred dead people, so He can finally let the world know that He is God? Come on! Some of these guys are even convinced that this is the body of Christ, this group of misunderstood spiritual X-men, the supersaints history has been waiting for, Creation has been groaning for, and all of us can’t wait to see perform so we will finally know for sure that God is really God. Nope.
Any discussion of this idea is, of course, a non-starter because if you ask a question you must be too far below their understanding and revelation for the discussion. “Just show up for my seminar on walking in the superdupers, and you might catch a glimpse. I’m too far ahead of you right now to talk about this.” If you do show up for the show, you will unfortunately recognize that the level of ministry, revelation, and anointing isn’t that different from any other. You will also notice that the stories told are a collection of the coolest stuff, reset into a broader application of error and exaggeration that are never allowed to stand for something as simple as the ministry of Jesus. When boiled down to their essence, they are simply the valid kingdom things that happen all over the world every day with people who believe. Somehow, in the seminar they are made to represent a sign of something much, much greater that is about to arrive. “The greatest show on earth” is about to happen, and you heard about it first right here!” Nope.
In other words, many ministry leaders have seen the same things and had the same experiences, but they aren’t trying to use them to prove that the spiritual X-men are almost here. Or, that they will certainly be one of them when that day finally dawns. “Then, we’ll show’em!”