Chicken staringSelf-appointed discernment critics like the chookwatchers are desperate to find anyone online who will agree with their unwittingly antichristian dogmatism.

A recent article features a post by a blogger from a site aptly called ‘Spirit of Error’ [SoE] which condemns what it considers a NAR conspiracy to take over churches and bring world dominion.

As we have shown often, the NAR [New Apostolic Reformation] is actually an observation of a phenomenon amongst certain ministries rather than a defined or organised movement, but the discerners have created a rumour that it is a dangerous movement.

They even randomly slot every ministry they oppose into the NAR category having demonised it to such an extent that they have actually created their own arch-enemy.

Ironically for the accusers, even the people supposed to be in the NAR do not know that they are in the NAR.

Again, if you google ‘NAR’ or ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ you will find that the only reference will be to so-called discernment ministries who have imagined a surrogate version into being, and a Wikipedia entry contrived by the same.

Look! Another conspiracy theory

But SoE believes this press so much that the author has written two books about the dangers of the NAR. They write…

‘We documented in our books that the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) has penetrated mainstream Christianity. Many people find this hard to believe, claiming they’ve never heard of the NAR. I suspect one big reason this movement has flown under the radar for so long is because people don’t know what to look for.’

It’s perfectly understandable that they haven’t heard of NAR – at least, not the NAR of the discerners. It is a figment of discerners’ fertile imaginations.

The average church-goer doesn’t know what to look for because this version of the NAR only exists in the curriculum and pages of a conglomeration of self-promoting critics, most of whom have recycled their invented NAR sophistry, passing it from critic to critic until they all believe their own press, to such an extent that they are beginning to write books about it.

Anyway, to help the congregation member who is happily going about their daily walk with Christ completely oblivious to the discerners’ machinations on the NAR, the author of the SoE site has come up with a help guide for identifying books that are from these supposed NAR authors. SoE states…

‘Certain words in a book’s description can be useful clues for identifying it as NAR. Pay special attention to words like “apostolic,” “prophetic,” and “revivalist.” Also watch for phrases like “bringing heaven to earth, “manifest presence,” and “supernatural ministry.” “Sozo” is a very popular practice in NAR churches. The “fivefold ministry” teaching is typically NAR. And so are teachings about “releasing” angels, “operating in the courts of heaven” and “breaking curses.” There are many more NAR teachings and terms, but you’ll pick up on them over time.’

Hang on. Most of those terms are actually contained in the Bible, either literally nor by implication. Does this mean that the Bible is now on Spirit of Error’s books to be avoided?

Jesus had an apostolic, prophetic ministry that was obviously supernatural, and based on sozo. The Apostles and Prophets were apostolic and prophetic. Do we now ignore their letters? The Church is being built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets under Christ. The Church itself is apostolic and prophetic.

Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Apostolic calling of the saints

Of course, ‘apostolic’ is from the Greek apostolos, which means ‘a sent one’ – someone sent by God for a specific purpose, which we all are.

It literally means ‘a delegate’ – someone who has delegated responsibility from Christ. It can refer to an Apostle, of course, but, generally, it can also be attributed to a saint. All believers have been sent out. We are sent-out ones. We are apostolic.

And this seems to be the issue, doesn’t it, with these discernment ministries who are associated in some way with cessationist teaching? They appear to want to end the notion that all believers are called and sent to minister the good news including the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit. They apparently want to hold us back from the gifts of the Spirit.

The books they appear to detest the most are the ones that help equip the saints to minister life to the hearer through the Word and Spirit, including His supernatural gifts, such as healing, deliverance, and prophetic utterances, which are perfectly Biblical.

The idea that Jesus has separated believers onto the ministry of the gospel – by which I mean the full gospel – is ostensibly anathema to cessationists. They will allow us to have the Word – Sola Scriptura – but not the Spirit and the Word.

In the limited world of the cessationist, being sent out with signs following the preached gospel ended sometime after the last of Christ’s Apostles passed away. There is no Sola Scriptura for this, however. The signs have not ended and won’t until Jesus comes again for the Church.

Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

‘Sign’ – semeion – signs, wonders, miracles of God outworked through believers in His name; in other words, the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit that continues the works of Christ through the Church.

Thus, denying this truth, the cessationists’ dogma quenches the Spirit.

Issue with apostles and prophets

The SoE blog has a problem with apostles and prophets in the modern era. Their attack on the Body of Christ is focused on denying that these gifts remain in the Church.

Somewhere along the line the offices of apostle and prophet, according to cessationists, have been removed, ended, and have, in their own minds, rendered these offices unnecessary.

So if a Christian minister and author is directed by the Holy Spirit to write a book that helps equip or teach Christians about the ministry of the apostle or prophet, or how to be part of Christ’s apostolic-prophetic Body, sites like the chookwatchers and SoE write posts, articles, commentary and now books opposing the move of the Spirit.

But the New Testament tells us that all will prophesy under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This has never ended.

Acts 2:17-18 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.’

So we need to teach the menservants and maidservants what it means to prophesy, what it means to be filled with the Spirit, what it means when we are called to dream dreams and see visions.

Supernatural God

Cessationists struggle with this because it is indeed supernatural. It is beyond the natural being to do things which are of the regenerated being. We have been saved, delivered and recreated. Our spirit has come alive to the Spirit of God. His Spirit is with us, in us and upon us. We are justified, sanctified and glorified, and have been made vessels of His glory.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Jesus told His disciples that anyone who believed would do the same things He did, and greater things because He would be going to the Father. It was expedient for Him to go so that we could receive His Spirit.

Cessationists reject the supernatural because they cannot spiritually discern the Word of God. They do not grasp the significance of the Spirit of God in our lives as believers. They consider it foolishness and are betrayed by their lack of understanding.

1 Corinthians 2:12-15 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

There is the natural world and there is the spiritual. We who have been born of the Spirit operate in both realms simultaneously, so we need to be led by the Word and Spirit so we know how to spiritually discern our surroundings and walk in the supernatural of God as well as the natural.

Sozo – salvation, deliverance, and preservation

Sozo‘ is a Greek word. It refers to the change that has taken place in us when we are saved. It is the Greek word for ‘saved’. It means to save, deliver or protect, literally or figuratively. It is the basis of salvation.

According to SoEsozo is a very popular practice in NAR churches’. I put it to you that if there is no sozo in your church it’s not a real church. Sozo isn’t a ‘practice’. It’s the ministry of Christ. He is the Healer, the Deliverer, and the Saviour. This is basic soteriology, which is the doctrine of salvation. The root of the word soteria is sozo.

Three key Greek words are related: sozo, meaning salvation, deliverance, and protection, soter, meaning the Deliverer, or the Saviour, or the Preserver, referencing Christ, and soteria, meaning salvation, deliverance, health, well-being, safety, preservation, prosperity, and security.

SoE is, for some reason, attempting to draw people away from the work of the Spirit in our lives by downplaying the importance of sozo. There is so much scripture that demonstrates the power of God in our lives and how He equips us to do the work of the ministry, including signs following the Word.

But the critics want to remove the supernatural from the Body of Christ. They quench the Spirit with their rejection of the gifts and manifestation.

Five gifts that equip the Body

Then they attack the idea of the five-fold ministry. It is an obvious term coined by those who identify Paul’s reference to Christ’s gifts to the Church. Five-fold because there are five gifts mentioned by Paul.

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…

Do the saints still need equipping? Edifying? Yes, of course. Is there a single reference anywhere that indicates the end of apostles and prophets? Not one.

Cessationists allow for evangelists, pastors, and teachers, but reject apostles and prophets. They do not understand the ministry offices given by Christ as gifts to the Church.

The real thrust of the SoE‘s attack is against apostles and prophets. In SoE’s mind, anyone who teaches on the gifts of the Spirit, or on the ministry offices of apostle or prophet must from the NAR. This is a ludicrous proposition, and very naive.

Like many ministers of the Word, I definitely teach on apostles and prophets, but I am not of NAR. I reject the need for a new apostolic reformation. I say that the apostolic call and office have never ended since Paul first taught it, nor has the prophetic. Therefore there is no requirement for a reformation because it never went away. Not in God’s eyes. Not according to the Word of God. Not according to the Spirit of God.

Having said this, I don’t have an issue with those who have written that there is a developing move of God to restore the Christ-given gifts of apostle and prophet. I certainly agree that we need teaching on these things because the Body of Christ has been lacking in some of these areas and needs to be brought back into the Word and Spirit to take its rightful place as full gospel ministry to the lost world.

We limit God, and, of course, ourselves, when we take away the whole counsel of the Word.

Spirit removalists

The problem with these critics is their determination to remove aspects of the Word of God that, in their ministry at least, render it weak. They keep from congregants the full gospel. They remove the power of the Spirit.

They claim Sola Scriptura, but leave out swathes of its meaning. They cherry-pick certain passages they can believe in and accept for themselves but skim past passages that challenge them to change their thinking and teaching.

The manifestations of the Spirit, for instance, are, without a doubt, supernatural gifts that can only be accessed through His leading. They are evidence of His presence in the Church. He uses anyone He chooses. The only prerequisite is that the person being used is a believer.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

This passage has never ended. It is a key to the ministry of the Spirit in the Church today, just as much as it ever was. We need people who understand what the Spirit is saying to the Church today. We need to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit and be prepared to be used by Him in the gifts and manifestations as He wills.

There are more people on earth right now than every before, and most of them need to be saved, delivered and set free from their sins. A great many need healing, deliverance, and repentance, and we, the believers, need to know how to bring the ministry of the Spirit of Christ to a fallen world.

That is what the Body of Christ is lacking most today – an understanding of our place in the Body and the call on our lives. We need teaching that shows us how to move and live in the Spirit in a dynamic way – as He intends. According to scripture.