September 9, 2006

Cup of the Lord/Cup of Demons

During recent discussions over my stand against deception in the church, I have noticed a common complaint by my detractors is, "What essential doctrine does so-and-so deny?" In fact, there are many false teachers in the church who confess what many apologists would consider "the essentials of the faith." But does that make them reliable?

It seems to me that Christians have forgotten the existence of demons, fallen angels, and they appear as angels of light. These deceiving spirits have had to beef up their disguises lately in order not to be detected. We need to understand their M.O., because Scripture says "we're not ignorant of his devices" though for many professing Christians that is not the case. That is not to say we should "see a demon under every rock," but to totally ignore this element is unwise.

"How sophisticated will demonic deception become before Jesus Christ returns for the "elect" -- His Church, The Bride of Christ, the saved Ė born again believers in Jesus Christ living at that time? Ö What purpose does it even serve to write about such matters? It matters a great deal, because if we donít discern the level of deception in our midst today, we might be less equipped (less sensitive to the Holy Spirit) to discern a higher level, or higher sophistication of deception in the future. The Bible strongly indicates deception will become more sophisticated -- more pronounced -- more subtle to detect as we move ever closer into end times," warned "Christian blogger" Norm Rasmussen

Some demonically inspired deceptions that have crept into the Christian community in the past several years include:

  • Counterfeit gifts, i.e. "The Toronto Blessing"; "Fake Faith Healers"; "Psychic Prophets"; "Apostle-Prophet Movement"
  • New Age practices, i.e. labyrinths; contemplative prayer; self-realization; cold readings; automatic writing
  • Feminist Infiltration, i.e. "Sophia Worship"; Gay Clergy; Matriarchal Leadership; "Gender-Neutral Bibles & Hymns"
  • Ecumenical Movement (Catholic + Protestant) and Syncretistic Religion (Christian + World religions)
  • Catholic Mysticism/Monasticism and a return to the use of "sacramentals" which equals superstition and idolatry

Some Christians argue that someone involved in some of the practices listed above, as long as they acknowledge the Apostleís Creed and hold to the "essentials of the Christian faith" that it is fine to have fellowship with them. In other words, "if you canít beat them, join them." It seems to have come down to that. Christendom has had a long history of joining the sacred to the profane Ė looking to other religions and religious practices to join with the true faith. Yet, the Bible teaches that this is an abomination. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" (1 Cor. 20-22).

But the church continues to look the other way as false teachers who add pagan mythology to the Bible are held in high esteem in the church. Books by writers and teachers who have brought in deception (as listed above) and are shipwrecking many a Christianís faith have been prominent on the Christian Best-Sellers List over the years.

And these men and women influence even well-meaning pastors and churches who lack discernment. Just last night, I checked out a local Calvary Chapelís (whose pastor has in the past identified himself with the emerging church) Friday night "Vespers" service. I was curious as to why a Bible-believing church would adopt a Roman Catholic ritual to its own gatherings. I now see that it was no accident.

I arrived on time but only a couple of people were there. The church "sanctuary" was dark; it was 8 pm and no light came through the stained-glass windows of this former Baptist church. The only light came from candles all over the altar Ė the sort of candles you would see in front of statues in Catholic churches. The screen over the altar had an ugly see-no-evil gargoyle projected onto it, its hand covering its hideous eyes.

Music was coming from some speakers that gave me the creeps; it sounded very gothic and Middle Eastern in its use of the sitar and a droning noise without much of a beat. I sat on a hard pew and noted that I hadnít seen such religious spookiness since the last time I attended a high mass. It didnít look like any Calvary Chapel I have ever seen. In fact, the scene before me resembled the set of the old Sci-Fi program Jeepers Creepers or Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

A lady greeted me wearing a bandanna on her head who looked like she had been put in suspended animation since the hippie days Ė blue jeans and wearing no make-up. She was the singer with a very angelic voice. More people trickled in and the vespers began with a prayer that showed up on the screen over a blurred out image of an old cathedral cupula. The congregation recited the prayer in unison that ended with the Catholic "Glory Be" prayer that I used to say with every rosary back when I was a practicing Catholic. Thereís nothing particularly unbiblical about the words, itís just that they were so Roman Catholic.

The worship leader with an acoustical guitar played softly and sang with the greeter. The songs were typical Calvary Chapel tunes, mostly focusing on the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus. Psalms and other scriptures were projected onto the screen between songs and all recited them in unison. One of the longest scriptures recited was the Magnificat, the prayer of Mary from the gospel of Luke. I suspected they were trying to be open to the Mother Churchís placement of the Theotokos in importance. And upon further investigation, I learned that this was a standard practice in Roman Catholic vespers.

An official Roman Catholic source says, "Vespers may be taken from any Office, Öprovided that the sacred ministers privately recite the Vespers proper to the dayÖ The portions that must be sung are: the first verse of the "Magnificat." 

The Catholic Doors Ministry reiterates, "During today's Gospel Reading, we heard from where the "Magnificat" originated. Also known as the "Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary," it begins with "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" (My soul doth magnify the Lord). As one of the three "evangelical canticles," it is included in the Roman Breviary for Vespers daily throughout the year and prior to Vatican II, it was often sung on solemn occasions. The Magnificat was recited by the Blessed Virgin on her visit to Elizabeth after the Angel Gabriel had announced to her that she was to become the mother of Christ."

After the scripture recitations and the songs, the pastor came to the front to lead the group of about 50 people into an afterglow of sorts. The atmosphere was already staged and everyone was told to just keep silent for a few minutes and see if the spirit would tell them anything and then they could share that. He prayed and asked God to speak to them and tell them what he wanted to say. During the silence, I too prayed. I asked the Lord to not let any unholy spirits manifest and I lifted up these well-meaning but misguided Christians to God praying for their deliverance from deception. My heart really went out to them. I didnít view them as heathens or even as Catholics, but as fellow believers for whom Christ died. In the silence, I pondered how pitiful this effort was at making contact with the divine and how void of the Holy Spirit all of this outward performance was.

I wrote down some of my thoughts there in the dark, noting that this was a return to religion and a step in the wrong direction of spiritual enlightenment. The pastor calling upon the spirit to manifest reminded me of sťances I used to attend before I was saved. I made a note about that and noted that the only thing missing was joining in a circle, holding hands.

When the pastor asked the group to share any unctions from the spirit, some called out psalms, another spoke of a vision of them all walking on water, and other Bible verses were called out. I kept praying away any unholy things and asked God to show me what He would want me to see or only to allow an unholy manifestation if He wanted me to know about it. But nothing from the underworld surfaced to my relief, and the pastor said to stand for one last song. All of a sudden, the worship leader said "this may seem odd, but I would like all of us to stand around in a circle and hold hands for the last song." At that, I headed for the exit Ė that totally confirmed my impression that this invoking of the spirit was indeed comparable to invoking deceiving spirits to put on a show.

I shared this with my sister Janet on the phone, and she said, "Iíll bet something manifested after you left." Probably.

♥♥♥

Dear Lord Jesus, rescue your little ones from those who are deceived and deceiving others. Have pity on those who mean well and are only trying to make a connection with You, but not according to Your ways. Show them that such things are not in Your Word and that Your Holy Spirit was given to lead us to You, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Fill them with Your Holy Spirit so that they can recognize the difference between Your Spirit and the unholy spirits. I lift this congregation up to You now, standing in the gap, and praying that You will reach those who have ears to hear what You are actually saying to the church in this era of Laodicea. Thank You for Your continued grace and mercy. Amen.

 

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