We believe clarity and transparency is extremely important when it comes to working through our differences in the Body of Christ. The rules that guide our analysis are often unspoken and because of this, when we experience conflict with one another, it’s hard to pinpoint why.
For this reason, we wanted to share with anyone that is interested, the general guidelines we typically try to operate within in all of our content.
1. We consider any statement within the text of the Bible to be true. We consider anything that denies or contradicts a statement in the text of the Bible to be false.
2. We realize there are some things which do not fit either of these categories—-neither being stated in the Bible, nor denying or contradicting the Bible. Such statements are simply not falsifiable, meaning they’re unable to be observed, and thus, not authoritative based on rule number 1.
3. We consider the Bible, in essentially all of its mainstream versions and translations (including the original languages it was written in) to be God’s infallible Word. This means it accurately and precisely conveys His thoughts via the language used therein.
4. Typically, our goal is to make observations and identify assumptions.
An observation is anything that can be visually or audibly witnessed by an audience——whether that be a statement in the text of the Bible, or an event.
Example #1: “The Bible says Jesus wept.”
This can be visually confirmed in John 11:35 so it qualifies as an observation.
Example # 2: “Donald Trump said he would make America great again.”
This statement can be visually and audibly confirmed so it qualifies as an observation.
An assumption is a claim without an observation.
Example 1#: “Jesus played Yahtzee.”
This is a claim, but cannot be observed.
Example 2#: “Donald Trump said he would destroy America.”
This is a claim that (up to this point) cannot be observed.
Sometimes we will also refer to an assumption as a presupposition, or not falsifiable.
5. We know we are capable of making mistakes and rely on you, the observer, to let us know so we can correct them.
There is one category of claim that, due to it’s personal nature and out of respect for the sovereignty of God, we do not label assumption. These are testimonies and experiences.
Example 1#: “I was born again in 2010 after being strung out on drugs and stumbling into a church service.”
Example 2#: “God saved my marriage.”
Example 3#: “I had a vision.”
As alluded to in rule number 2, something not observed is not the same as something being false. Plenty of things cannot be, or are yet to be observed that are true such as the examples given above.
There is a category of assumption/presupposition that we usually won’t mention. We call these universal assumptions, or obvious truths. These are presupposed ideas that essentially nobody will disagree with.
Example 1: “The apostle Paul died.”
Example 2: “Jesus did not drive a Cadillac.”
Example 3: “Our senses can be trusted”
Example 4: “Language accurately conveys thought.”
The reason we don’t identify these is because:
They’re virtually innumerable.
They’re not in question, therefore are not the cause of disagreement.
Some deal with fundamental ideas about existence and knowledge that would only confuse and derail discussion.
Sometimes people will use these types of presuppositions to justify or goad others into accepting more.
Example: “You say you don’t believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased because the Bible doesn’t state that they have, yet you believe Paul died even though the Bible doesn’t state that either. Therefore, you’re being inconsistent.”
Making some assumptions (which we all do and are required to think, and function in a physical world) doesn’t mean one must make more. If it did, then it would stand to reason that one should make all assumptions. Which, of course, is fallacious.
Why is the Goal to Make Observations and Identify Assumptions?
Usually, by noting what one person is willing to assume that the other isn’t, we are able to pinpoint the causes of disagreement on an irreducible level.
Also, typically, the fewer assumptions you make, the less your thought process (and things like bias) are involved in influencing the conclusion.
Example scenario: A man is running down the sidewalk.
Person A: “That man is running.”
Person B: “He is running because he has a phobia of dogs and since there are dogs in the area, he is trying to get home where he can lock himself in.”
Person A made an observation with no assumptions. Person B made at least four assumptions: 1. The man had a phobia of dogs, 2. there are dogs in the area, 3. the man is running home, 4. the reason he is running home is to lock himself in.
Even if Person A had made one or two of the same assumptions as Person B, they still have less opportunity to insert their bias into their conclusion because they presupposed less than Person B.
Ask any Charismatic if they’ve ever seen or experienced the power of God to heal, and the responses are likely to be nearly 100% affirmative. But ask them to provide some kind of documentation for any of these instances, and you’re just as likely to be met with an overwhelming silence.
Is it possible for such a phenomenon to be happening in abundance and yet go undocumented?
By exploring the following variables, we will demonstrate just how easily this could be the case. We’ll also show that as much as some critics would like to claim they’re taking the side of science or logic, the mysterious nature of these factors will demonstrate that both sides of the debate are, in all actuality, predicated on faith.
In order to best understand the format of what you’re about to see below, I’ll use an allegory. Imagine a race track, obstacles, a runner, and a finish line. In this allegory, an authentic divine healing is represented by the runner, the questions we explore are represented by the obstacles that can potentially derail the runner from reaching the finish line, which represents public knowledge and a thorough documentation. In other words, a real healing would have to make it through all of these variables before it can be known, and considered legitimate by the average skeptic.
Let’s start here . . .
Obstacle 1: No Prediagnosis
How many, among those who experienced a divine healing, were never pre-diagnosed? This may be an especially high number in countries where people are too poor to ever see a qualified doctor. Obviously, without a pre-diagnosis, the prospects of a properly documented healing would be low in most cases.
Obstacle 2: A Misdiagnosis
In cases of healings where there has been a diagnosis, how many could be disputed as a misdiagnosis after the fact? Once again, under these circumstances, a legitimate healing would likely not pass a critic’s evaluation.
Obstacle 3: Other Potential Causes for the Healing
How many, among those whose diagnosis is not disputed, were being treated in some way? Obviously, if they were, and recovered, the healing could be attributed to the treatment, or placebo—thus lowering the number of verifiable healings even more.
Obstacle 4: Possibility of Spontaneous Remission
Spontaneous remission is a medically documented phenomenon that has been known to happen for no observable reason. How many doctors have witnessed a genuine healing miracle and instead of calling their local news or shouting it from the rooftops, simply chalked it up to one of these cases? Under these circumstances, we likely would not hear about it.
Obstacle 5: Medical Silence
In his book*, Dr. Scott J. KolbabaI discusses what it is like to be an MD, and the struggle to keep a scientific mind in the face of the miraculous. For this reason, he argues, oftentimes doctors will not talk about the things they’ve seen. How many are sitting on information for fear of ridicule? Under these circumstances, again, we likely would never hear about the healing.
Obstacle 6: The Romans 1:18 Factor
Of those doctors whohave witnessed a divine healing, how many simply are suppressing the truth due to their spiritual enmity with God? We certainly shouldn’t assume it’s zero. Under these circumstances, even more legitimate healings would go undocumented.
Public Access Issues
Obstacle 7: Media Silence
Even if legitimate divine healing cases somehow made it past 1-6, how many would never make it to the public eye because the news media decided not to cover it due to bias, disinterest, or Romans 1:18?
Obstacle 8: Lost Records
Of the cases the media did report, how many can we be aware of today? There’s Google, and YouTube (but even if we assume search engines are not suppressing or manipulating search results)— not everything stays preserved. For example, one of our videos (see above) mentioned a CNN IMPACT story reported back in the 90’s that admitted to documented healings taking place in Benny Hinn meetings. Yet we were unable to find a video of the segment. Only the transcript. In these cases, knowledge of such documentation would be reduced even further.
Obstacle 9: Unwillingness to Publish
Of those who are healed, how many would give permission for their video, and or personal medical information to be shared with the public? In the past, people may have been more willing to do this. Nowadays, with the internet, “Twitter mobs” are making everyone think twice about what they are willing to go public with. Not only are there plenty of secular groups that will jump at the opportunity to attack every single facet of such a story, but there are also believers who literally do this sort of thing full time (onward, Christian soldier).
Lack of Interest Issues
Obstacle 10: Documentation not Prioritized
The majority of people who claim to heal the sick will tell you they have little interest in trying to prove anything to skeptics. Attacks on those who have attempted to provide documentation that meets all the demands of critics in the past may have convinced them that it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Or worse, that it does more harm than good (accusations of fake videos, paid actors, slandering of persons involved etc).
And can anyone really blame them? Consider the instances in Scripture where people mockingly demanded to see a sign, and either did not see any, or ended up unconvinced by one if they did (Matt 12:38-39, 16:1, 27:42, Mk 8:11-12, Luke 23:8, 4:23-27).
This being the case, it comes as little surprise that quite a few ministers simply don’t make documentation a priority.
1. I think it’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a single recorded incident in the Gospels or Acts where the person who performed a healing, sought to have a medical authority to authenticate the miracle, for the purpose of using as a witness later. In other words, it doesn’t seem like Jesus or the apostles were that interested in trying to prove their miracles beyond the initial people who were present.
It’s only recently occurred to me that this attitude may not be entirely separate from what’s required in an environment to cultivate a healing in the first place. Is the faith that, “produces” a miracle, conducive to a mindset that seeks to gather evidence for one? If the answer is no, then that would go a long way in explaining the lack of documentation. People who are trying to convince themselves, or their critics, may become side-tracked from operating in faith and the Spirit. It’s difficult to quantify what effect this mentality could have on the atmosphere required for a supernatural manifestation. The end result possibly being more miracles when there is less focus on documenting them.
2. Both Matthew and Mark record an incident where the unbelief of the people in the city had an effect on Jesus (Mt 13, Mk 6). The Bible says He did not do many mighty works because of their unbelief. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes so far as to say He couldn’t do them. There is a consistent theme throughout Scripture that connects unbelief to a failure to experience the miraculous—which makes one wonder: is there more unbelief in the world today than back then? Jesus Himself asked, “when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on earth who have faith?” (Lk 18:8 NLT)
What kind of impact does the active unbelief of the world and of Christians today have on this phenomenon?
All these unknown variables taken into consideration, some might say it’s a miracle in itself that we have as much documentation* as we do.
When all is said and done, it would seem that the same pattern we see in Scripture we also see today: those who believe either saw and experienced it firsthand, or they believed the testimony of someone else. A second category consisting of former critics whose demands for evidence were fully met, doesn’t really seem to exist.
And who knows . . . Maybe that’s the way God intended it.
*Physicians’ Untold Stories: Miraculous Experiences Doctors Are Hesitant to Share with Their Patients, or Anyone
There is no Scripture in the entire Bible that commands the believer to crucify the flesh. There’s nothing that tells him to die to self. There isn’t even one verse telling the Christian to fight or wrestle against his flesh. In fact, the New Testament says the exact opposite. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12).
What I’m about to tell you I have used in multiple areas of my life to curb both unhealthy, and even sinful habits.
If you’ll follow the simple principles you read here—-even halfway—many of you will see notable change. If you follow them completely and consistently, you will experience supernatural freedom.
How can I be so sure? Because it’s God’s Word and God’s Word will work for anyone.
For the greater part of my adult life I was addicted to soda. I don’t mean I really liked it. Or even loved it. I mean I was literally addicted to it.
At some point I began to recognize how big of a problem this had actually become. So I decided it was time to stop. First, I tried limiting soda to only the weekends. But that didn’t work because now, instead of drinking fifteen or twenty a week, I’d drink fifteen or twenty in two days. On top of that, I started adding Friday evenings as part of the weekend. Then I figured if I was adding Friday, may as well throw in Monday. And as you might guess, I was soon back to all week long.
I finally came to my senses and realized I was struggling needlessly. I remembered that the flesh isn’t something we wrestle with or try to put to death, but actually, according to the Word, the flesh has already been crucified, and the body of sin already put to death.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Notice the tense in these passages. It isn’t something that is going to happen at some point in the future—it’s something that has happened. And it happened without any struggle or effort on our part. It’s something that happened as a result of our being in Christ.
I knew the Word of God wouldn’t profit me unless I mixed it with faith (Heb 4:2). So I wrote down these verses and would meditate and confess them out loud multiple times a week to help insure I was exercising my faith in them.
I’d say out loud, “Father I thank you that not only the flesh has been crucified but also the affections and lusts(that’s the part I was having issues with). Therefore I know I don’t have to desire soda anymore.”
This went on for about six weeks with no improvement. I just kept desiring soda and kept drinking it. I’d try not to. I’d set limits just like before but I just couldn’t keep it under control.
As a side note, this is the point where most Christians would just shrug and say, “Well, I tried that and it didn’t work.”—- I don’t believe God put a bunch of useless information in His Word. If something isn’t working, we need to figure out why instead of just rolling over for the world, the devil, or anyone else.
So I went to God and just spoke very frankly about it. “What’s going on, here? I’ve done this in the past with other things and it’s worked. Why isn’t this working?” And He answered very plainly back, “The reason it isn’t working is because you’re not taking my Word seriously. Hebrews 2:1 says to pay the more serious attention otherwise what you’ve heard will slip away.” I looked back over recent weeks and realized He was right. I really hadn’t given it much thought. I sort of just parroted that I believed what the Word said, but really wasn’t being serious.
Then He said something else, “You’ve also allowed yourself to begin believing that this is a mental issue. Like it’s merely the power of positive thought and that you could just will yourself out of the addiction. My Word is not the same as will power.” He was right about that too! I realized I had convinced myself on an unconscious level that I could break bad habits simply by thinking positively. Positive thinking is a good thing, but it certainly has no comparison to the power of God’s Word.
Once I saw where I was going wrong I changed directions. I began to daily meditate in the Scriptures and take them seriously. I never tried to stop drinking soda. In fact, I drank all the soda I wanted. But one thing I was sure to do was each time I took a drink I’d confess what God’s Word said and I would meditate on the truth of it.
“This is Your Deliverance”
Three or four days later I was driving down the street minding my own business and suddenly I heard an audible voice speaking in another language. For a second I didn’t know where it was coming from. Then I realized it was me! The tongues were coming fast and furious with no effort of my own. It felt like a geyser had gone off on the inside of me. In my mind I said, “Lord, what is this?” And He answered, “This is your deliverance from soda.” (First World problems, I know.) Anyway after He said this I don’t really know how to describe what happened next except that I felt a physical power, or energy descend over me. Then He said, “All you have to do is say, ‘I’ll never drink soda again’ and you’ll be free.” I answered back in my mind, “Well, now wait a second. I didn’t say I never wanted to drink it again, just tone it down a little . . .” He didn’t respond. Silence. Then that power that had come over me, I felt it beginning to lift. I realized how foolish I was being. So I quickly repented and shouted, “Okay, okay! I’ll never drink soda again!”
And that was it. Quit cold turkey.
To show you this was not the power of mind over matter, after going about 5 years without soda I became distracted, lost sight of my priorities, and stopped praying and reading the Word. Around this time I developed a desire for drinking soda again. And, like before, I tried to control it on my own, with no luck. I was back to being addicted.
However, eventually I got back into prayer, back into the Word, and one day I realized that over the span of about a week, my soda intake began to dramatically decrease. This happened on a totally unconscious level. I wasn’t trying to stop. I wasn’t even thinking about it. It was simply a byproduct of the Word.
It Will Work For You
Stop struggling in your own power. Find some passages in God’s Word that deal with your situation. Write them down. Then, be purposeful and serious every day to meditate, believe, and confess them.
You may not have the same exact experience of speaking in tongues and all that jazz that I had. And that’s okay. That only happened just that one time for me. In most of the cases that I’ve used these principles, the desire or frequency of the habit would simply just begin to wane over a short period of time until I was able to easily subdue it.
The first time I ever prophesied I was about 16 years old. I was part of the leadership for a local youth group and I was invited up on stage to pray one night. While I was praying I heard these words well up on the inside, “If you’ll get real with Me, I will get real with you.” Prophesying is downplayed today, just like the Bible warned against (1Thess 5:20). But those words have stuck with me all these years. I know what God meant when He said that. And it’s that most of us, when you get right down to it, are not really dealing in reality when it comes to our relationship with Him. It’s kind of fake. Kind of imaginary. It just has the feel of one-sidedness. Almost as if deep down, we don’t even really know if we believe there is a God, but we carry on somehow convincing ourselves otherwise.
Some may be offended I’m even saying these things out loud. But I don’t think it does anyone any good to avoid talking about it. After seeing a lot of my friends and family fall away, or fade off into oblivion concerning their Christianity, I think it’s finally time that this be addressed head on:
God feels fake for a lot of us because the majority of Christians have never actually benefited from believing in or serving Him. Now, I understand the churchy cliches’ about how we shouldn’t serve God for our own benefit. Or how we should just be happy that we’re not burning in hell (and we should), but the reality is, there’s a lot the Church has downplayed in this area and it’s been to our own detriment.
God is a Pragmatist
From the very beginning when God first spoke to Abraham it was about giving him land and making him rich (Genesis 12:1). Later, it was the same promise for the Israelites. In fact, God creating Covenant was an introduction to a legal partnership with Israel which involved all kinds of material and observable benefits. If you read in Deuteronomy (chapters 27-28) you see that tangible blessings were God’s way of manifesting His end of the Agreement. The Jews had a palpable way of knowing if they were holding up their end of responsibility.
Then we go to Proverbs and find a book packed full of practical wisdom on how to avoid tragedy, how to stay healthy, live long, and be rich (1:33, 3:15-16, 22:4).
In the New Testament, Jesus is going around manifesting signs and wonders in response to faith in Him (Matt 8:9-13, 9:2, Mk 5:34).
In Acts, when the Jews saw the Gentiles filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues, they knew He was at work (Acts 10:44-47).
Over and over again, we see observable ramifications due to actual encounters with God.
What am I getting at? God has always expected certain actions from man, and in response, He has promised to act.
In a lot of ways, that makes God a pragmatist.
A pragmatist is someone who is concerned with measurable results. They don’t like being tangled up in ideas that don’t produce definitive outcomes.
On the other end of this spectrum are idealists. Most believers really fall into this category. An idealist likes to be occupied with things that might seem right, or feel right, in theory—even if there is no tangible reality or benefit behind them. We pray. But our prayers are generic. So generic that our culture has begun to switch out praying for someone with the words, “our thoughts are with them.” What does that even mean?! Prayer has become so indistinct and ineffective in our minds that the whole concept has been reduced to little more than an abstract thought.
We witness. But there are no signs or wonders to accompany the message. Instead of the people being filled with fear and awe in the presence of the Living God, they’re filled with dread hoping and wishing that we stop talking so they can get away.
We go to church. But most of us walk away with nothing. When we say, “it was a good service” at best it means it gave us a good feeling. It made us feel nice. At worse, it means we lied and can’t even remember what it was about.
Obviously, there are exceptions to what I’m saying—but by in large, I just described the majority of our experiences. And the truth is, most people are not going to continue down this road forever. People crave substance. They crave real. And you know what? That’s okay because God does too.
What is Normal?
I used to think this was normal until one day someone told me about a guy by the name of, Smith Wigglesworth. I found out that there were multiple reports of people literally being raised from the dead under his ministry.
You know what my response was when I first heard this?
“Was he a witch?!”
Imagine that! Being so programmed to expect so little, that any manifestation of the supernatural, I automatically assumed was from the devil!
Then I began hearing about others. People who essentially just said, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” And would live as though the book of Acts never had a conclusion.
And that was when God and I had the talk.
I told God one day (and since then, I’ve told Him this multiple times), “I can’t do this. I can’t live normal. What I’ve experienced can’t be all there is to Christianity. If you’re real—-The same God I read about in the Bible—- then I refuse to settle for average things. I’m not going to put up with it anymore. I want what I read about in this Book. And I won’t accept anything less.”
Some people are afraid to talk that way to God. But I was just being 100% honest.
Then things began to happen:
Crazy answers to prayer.
Even supernatural knowledge of events before they took place.
It all starts with what you’re willing to be satisfied with. Don’t be afraid to get painfully—-brutally honest with God. This was all His idea anyway. He is the one who brought up healing. He’s the one that brought up miraculous answers to prayer. He’s the one that told us to expect and believe for the fantastic. It’s time to get real with God.
While political talking heads struggle and scramble to explain the Trump phenomena, there is something all of them (and all of us, for that matter) seemed to have missed. And that is the fact that the universe is governed not only by physical laws, it’s also governed by spiritual laws. One of which Jesus tells us about in Mark 11:23
Whoever should say to this mountain, “be removed and be cast into the sea” and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.
I’ve been watching Trump (who hasn’t, right?). But not for the same reasons most have. After a while of listening to what he was saying, I noticed the level of confidence he has is almost unprecedented in any other human being I’ve come across. So I told my wife six or seven months ago that I suspected there was more at work here than just a guy running for president.
As many of you may or may not know, as a child, Trump’s pastor was Norman Vincent Peale, author of the famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Mr. Trump has accredited his worldview, and accomplishments heavily to what he learned from this man.
While watching Donald this campaign season, time after time you have seen confessions of victory in the face of contradicting circumstances.
MEDIA: “Your numbers among hispanics are down, what are you going to do to get them up?”
TRUMP: “Hispanics love me.”
MEDIA:”Your numbers among women have never been lower.”
TRUMP: “No one respects women like I do. And I’m doing great with them. They love me.”
MEDIA: “You have the highest unfavorable ratings of any candidate.”
TRUMP: “I’m gonna win, and I’m gonna win big. And we’re going to make America Great Again.”
No matter the stat, or poll, The Donald has remained unmoved and has stood steadfast in confidence about what he will do. While it’s not uncommon for presidential candidates to say delusional things, there seems to be a difference, here. Trump really believes it, and circumstances over time seem to somehow align with what he has said.
New Age, and Christians Who Don’t Read the Bible
We unfortunately have a lot of Christians who don’t understand this, and never will because they have decided the Bible needs layers of theological commentaries in order to clarify it’s meaning. So when they come across Mark 11:23, they just can’t accept what it actually says. There’s gotta be some hat trick to it that will essentially convert it’s meaning to, “It’s not as incredible as it sounds. Relax, and go back to being normal.”
People can explain it any way they want, but in a nutshell, that is the outcome of both our interpretations of Mark 11:23, and the majority of other spectacular claims made in the Bible.
And when you don’t understand something, human nature is, and always has been, to fear it, and label it as evil. So people say it’s of the devil. It’s New Age. It’s demonic, etc. But regardless of what you think it is, God created the principle, and it still works.
For Those Who Want to Understand It
The context of Jesus’ words about speaking, and having, was the cursing of a fig tree. As many of us are aware, Jesus walked up to a fig tree one day, found that it had no figs, and responded by saying to it, “let no man ever eat from you again.” When the disciples saw that the tree had withered, they were shocked. This is when Jesus said, “If you have faith, not only will you be able to do what was done to the fig tree, but . . . Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that the things he says will come to pass he will have whatever he says.”
Many argue that this would never work for Donald Trump because he isn’t a Christian. Firstly, I don’t know if he is a Christian or not. Eric Metaxas, author of the book, Martin Luther said, “Martin Luther makes Trump look like Mike Pence.”—He was alluding to how brash, bold, and rude Martin Luther was. Yet Christians regard him as a great man of God.
I’ve pointed out many times how fluid our standards for, “fruit inspecting” are, so I won’t get into that here. But even if we assume Trump isn’t a believer, this principle is not just for Christians. Jesus did not say “Whichever Christian should say . . .” He said, “whoever.” —-That’s anybody.
It works for saved and unsaved, alike. Short, tall, skinny, fat. Arrogant. Bad hair. It’s whosoever.
Now, ready to be shocked?
Jesus never said faith in God was required for this to work.
He actually tells you what you have to believe in in order for it to work. And what he said was, “believe that those things which he says shall come to pass.” Belief that it will actually work. That what you say will really happen. This is the requirement Jesus put on this principle, and it is unfortunately why so many Christians can’t understand it. Because they want to turn everything into a generic faith in God. “Just trust God.” But Jesus corrected this type of thinking and told us we need a specific belief for a specific outcome. People don’t like that because it puts responsibility on them, but that’s what it says.
It can also work for good, or it can work for bad. See, we have over-spiritualized many of these things. We understand, for instance, that God created and gave us our hands. And that our hands can be used for working, for loving, for helping, or for hurting. We live in a world of God-given gifts and principles that we operate in every day. Sometimes we use them for good, sometimes for bad, but they’re all gifts from God. In Mark 11:23 Jesus tells us another gift God has given to us, and He tells us how to use it. Christians get confused and think because it’s abstract that it must be some weird isolated concept from the rest of the physical world we live in. But why?
I’ve used this principle all my life and I know hundreds of people who have as well. I’m not perfect, of course, so there have been times I tried to use it and failed. But I could tell you story after story of miraculous outcomes from operating in Mark 11:23.
Will Trump Be President?
My guess is that he will.
He has spent his life practicing and developing the concepts of Mark 11:23 much like a musician does on an instrument. The end result is an uncommon level of success–and yeah, probably of pride too.
Even with all the odds against him, he has consistently risen above them.
Many are concerned that if he gets elected, he will ruin the country.
He has said all along that he will make America Great Again, and I think that he truly believes it.
I often like to think of my positions in terms of science. In science, something qualifies as a theory if it can, among other things, make accurate predictions, or foresee outcomes to scenarios.
This is how I happened upon my understanding of Leftism in the first place. I began to see patterns in behaviors. Before long I realized I had stumbled upon an ideological dynasty that runs deep in this country, and apparently all over the world.
Before starting, it cannot be emphasized enough that a person can be a Democrat, or even Liberal in their political views and have little to nothing to do with what I’m talking about, here. One is a political view another is a worldview or, a religion. We will talk more about this below.
One other thing that should be noted about Leftism is that it seems to be the natural default of all of us. We all seem to tend that direction. In other words, unless you make a purposeful effort to avoid these characteristics, you will end up exhibiting them. For this reason, you will notice that many of these attributes are seen in people from all walks of life. No one group has a monopoly on them.
That being said, just like any religion shares some qualities with others, it’s those who embrace, and consistently practice the values that are considered disciples of them.
What is Leftism?
Well, Leftism is what I call it. Or, you could say, the Religion of Leftism.
I use this term because it seems to be a magnified and extreme version of many views traditionally associated with the political Left. The use of the word, “religion” is the level of zeal among it’s followers which really has no other comparison.
Like any religion, Leftism has some basic tenets that most of it’s followers adhere to. Here they are.
1. Humans are basically good.
That is, they believe that by nature, we are born mostly good. That if we were not influenced by outside forces, every human being would grow up to be a moral, productive member of society.
This, of course, is at odds with other worldviews (particularly Judeo Christian) that essentially teach that it is self that is the greatest enemy. The biggest obstacle to goodness, success, and true happiness is you. But instead, Leftism tends to say, “No, it’s not you. It’s someone, or something else. There is some outside force that causes you to be in the position you’re in.”
Which leads to another tenet . . .
2. Deflection of Personal Responsibility
If you do not believe that the greatest hurdle to success and achievement is self, then it would follow that when you fail, the blame would be placed on something, or someone else:
It’s an oppressive government.
It’s white people.
It’s your childhood.
It’s racist police.
And on and on and on.
Now, it should be noted, many of these things are legit concerns. There is racism. There is sexism. There is homophobia. But it all depends on where you put the emphasis. Leftism spends most of it’s time focusing on these things as the primary reason for personal failure. Magnifying them as some sort of justification for the lack of responsibility. Where common sense would say, “Yeah, those things are bad and should change, but you just gotta rise above it” Leftism essentially says, “It’s too big a mountain. It’s too complex a problem. I don’t need to change. I’ve done all I can do. People need to change. The government needs to change. Society needs to change. And until it does, I’m stuck where I am.”
3. Feelings Above Fact
This one is a bit hard to explain because, to be honest, I still can’t wrap my head around the level of irrationality that it involves but . . .
When it comes to the religion of Leftism, feelings rule above all else.
“If I feel like I am a man, then I am a man, regardless of my genitalia.”
“If I feel like I’m a woman, then I am a woman regardless of my genitalia.”
“If I believe the thing growing inside of me is a human being, then I will give birth to it. If I decide it isn’t, then it becomes garbage and can be disposed of. If I change my mind about this five times in a day, the thing in my womb will also change . . . Garbage, to human, to garbage, and back again. And nobody can take that right from me.”
No regard to science. No regard to biology. No regard to facts. In the world of Leftism, emotions decide reality.
This is also why people who subscribe to Leftism have no problem with a plurality of religions.Just as long as you don’t claim to have the correct one. Because for them, it does not matter whether the religion is true or not. It does not matter whether the belief is true or not. All that matters is how it makes you feel. If it makes you feel good, then this trumps reality.
You also see this in their approach to morality. The famous saying, “If it feels good, do it” is nearly a spiritual mandate in their minds. The moral compass is not decided by a higher power, or even common sense. It’s feeling.
4. A Child-like Intolerance Toward Those They Disagree With
As mentioned, we are not dealing with logic or reason, here. Therefore, in an argument, regardless of whether what is being said is true or not, the reaction will essentially be, “that hurts my feelings.” Or, the more sophisticated term, “that offends me.” Because feelings play such a big role in Leftism, it only makes sense that the way they deal with conflict, and disagreements would mimic the behavior of a child who has not yet developed the ability to curb their emotions.
So if you can imagine how a four or five year old would react to hearing something they don’t like, you can pretty much understand how those who subscribe to this worldview react to conflict:
“Racist”, “bigot”, “homophobic”, “sexist”, “xenophobic” etc.
The use of these terms in response to an argument is usually for one purpose: Terminate any productive dialogue.
In other words, if I can label you something terrible, it justifies me in ending the discussion. Because, “why should I even talk to a racist?” “Why even try to communicate with a bigot?” “What’s the point in trying to change the mind of a homophobe?”
So the end result is you don’t have to worry about having your ideas challenged.
Raising your voice, screaming, crying, displaying weird or erratic behavior, physical intimidation and sometimes even violence. You especially see this on college campuses.
Run away crying.
Basically, this is a conscious decision to ignore, or close yourself off to anyone who says something you don’t like. Those steeped in Leftism often refuse to have any dialogue with a person they disagree with. They’re living in an intellectual vacuum, consisting of only people who will affirm their beliefs. The goal is to create a reality around you that will never threaten, but instead reinforce. Remember, truth doesn’t matter, here. If it did, they would seek out other points of views and challenge their own. But it’s all about how it makes you feel. “Conflict and confrontation makes me feel uncomfortable. Therefore, I avoid it.”
5. Categorizing by Race, Gender, and Sexuality
There’s an obsession in Leftism. All the world is viewed through the lens of race, gender, and sexuality.
“You do what you do because you’re white.”
“You say what you say because you’re black.”
“This happened because that guy is gay.”
“That happened because she’s a woman.”
“You think that way because you’re a Mexican.”
There was a time where society judged the character of a person based on their actions. But in Leftism, who you are, and your value, are all found in your feelings, race, gender, and sexuality.
In regard to sexuality and transgender people, it’s seen as the ultimate claim to identity. “This iswho I am. I’m out of the closet and I accept myself.”
When it comes to gender and race, I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by people, “What do you know? You have no right to say anything. You’re a privileged white male.” In other words, depending on which of these categories you belong to, you are either morally superior, or inferior and should be treated as such.
Discrimination, racism, and sexism, are all big parts of the religion of the Left. The irony, of course, is they don’t see it. For instance, they don’t see any problem with a university, or company, accepting someone because they’re black, instead of someone better qualified who happens to be white.
It just doesn’t register for them.
In their minds, there seems to be some sort of Time Transcending, Universal Arm of Justice that essentially says, “Because you’re white, and your ancestors did some bad things (although I don’t even know that for sure. But I’ll just assume it based on the fact that you’re white), you will now be punished for it. And even though it’s racist, it’s okay . . . . because you’re white.”
6. Government is God
Just like any religion has a god or gods—- a near almighty being, so does Leftism. Of course, there are some differences. Such as the fact that they don’t literally worship government, but there are also many similarities.
Government is seen as never being too big. It can never have too much power. The bigger, the better.
Government seen as the ultimate provider for everything. Cell phones, health care, insurance, college tuition, cars, loans, food, utilities etc etc.
Government seen as the ultimate force for good and justice. This is why the average person who is refused business somewhere would simply say, “Okay, I’ll give my business to someone else” Leftism says, “Government must get involved and solve this injustice.” So you have a high frequency of lawsuits about the most absurd things. In their minds, all of the aforementioned tenets, are not enough to live by. It’s not enough just to believe these things. They want the Government to force everyone else to embrace and believe them.
Similar to Christianity’s belief that one day God will make every knee bow, and every tongue confess the Lordship of Christ, so their belief is Almighty Government will make every knee bow to this worldview.
The foolish may consider themselves religious, but their unbridled tongues show that religion to be worthless (James 1:26).
Now, at first, you may be inclined to think these passages apply to a certain candidate (not like the picture they used had anything to do with it . . . We Christians are so good at being objective, aren’t we?) But the more you read through them, you have to concede that most of them not only apply to every candidate running, but actually, to every person alive.
So now what?
Well, since we can’t locate anyone who is not guilty of these, we gotta go another route. And the chosen route is that we have to start asking “who sins more compared to the rest of us?” Which is where the grading on the curve comes in.
But this actually gives rise to another conundrum:
Since a large portion of sin cannot be observed, we ultimately end up asking who hides it better?
By the way, have we ever considered that the people who are the most honest would inevitably be the ones who seem to have more sin? They’re transparent. They’re not trying to hide it for fear of other’s opinions. So think about it . . . This means the process of, “fruit inspecting” is designed in such a way as to punish honesty, and reward deceit.
Just Ignore Christ’s Words?
Obviously this does not mean we disregard what Jesus said about knowing people by their fruit. It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.
“Either we apply it in a questionable and completely subjective way, or we’re ignoring what Christ said.”
The best approach is to recognize that the current application is deeply flawed and therefore we need to work on a better, more biblically accurate way of applying it. And until we do, we need to realize we are dealing with some very delicate issues of judgement, here. Issues, that, if we’re wrong (and remember, you fit that list of foolish characteristics, too), we are the ones in sin.
I used to be the poster boy for tithing. I preached it as a mandate from heaven. The, “anointing” that would, “break the yoke” of financial hardships. The key to rebuking the devil and opening the windows of heaven. There was no one I knew that believed in it more than I did. Once, I even told someone that the reason they weren’t healed was because they didn’t tithe consistently enough (sorry about that, dad).
Yup . . . I was one of those Christians.
Then I went into a new season in my walk with God and big changes started taking place.
I made the decision that moving forward, I would no longer consciously accept something as true unless I could read it for myself in the Bible. I was upending every doctrine I could think of, throwing it onto the biblical conveyor belt, and watching to see what was left at the other end. And for a while, the concept of tithing flew under the radar. Like so many ideas we accept and hold dear, I just never thought to question that one. It was so ingrained I unconsciously put it above scrutiny.
Until one day, like cleaning out the attic and grabbing stuff piece by piece to see if it’s time to throw it away, I grabbed hold of tithing.
I knew it couldn’t be avoided any longer. It was time to confront the subject head on:
Does the Bible Command the Christian to Tithe?
By this time I had read through the New Testament at least a dozen times. And it occurred to me . . . God hardly (and I mean, hardly) ever mentioned it.
Once, in Matthew 23:23, when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, (who were, keep in mind, teachers, and examples of keeping the law) He told them they should be tithing. And I realized that under the Old Covenant, if Christ had told them anything less, He would have been advocating the breaking of God’s Law. He commanded Jews not only to tithe but to keep ALL of the teachings of the Pharisees which would have included animal sacrifice along with every other mandate in the Torah (Matt 23:2-3).
So I quickly realized that unless we were trying to prove that Christians should be practicing all the Jewish ordinances, then this particular event in the Gospels could not be used for the tithe discussion.
Then the only other passage I knew of was in Hebrews 7:1-9. And it was pretty vague. I also noticed it merely mentioned tithing. It did not command Christians to do it.
And we need to be careful, here. Just because something is mentioned in the Bible does not mean God is commanding you to do it. It sounds like common sense, but this is exactly what people do with the passage in Hebrews. They assume that because God said the word, “tithe” that this is proof He wants them to do it. Just think how weird things would get if we consistently made that assumption about every word we read in the New Testament.
So, I had to be honest with myself and admit that just because the word, “tithe” was mentioned, does not justify the creation of the doctrinal dynasty we see today..
It was just too big of a stretch.
And the issue with stretching things is that if you allow it in one area in order to let your pet doctrine get by, then you can’t turn around and suddenly become Mr. Super Duper Critical Bible Scholar towards others who want to do the same for their pet doctrines.
Tithing Before the Law
Now, some folks mention the fact that tithing took place before the Law. Abraham, for example, tithed.
But Abraham also had multiple wives, including his sister, made animal sacrifices, and killed a bunch of people.
Again . . . Just because it is mentioned, does not mean God is commanding you to do it.
I understand the temptation to scramble and reach for something . . . . . . . . . . Anything—- to keep a dying idea afloat, but you have to look at the broader picture. A sloppy approach to the Bible such as this is only going to open the door for all kinds of weird ideas.
What Does the New Testament Say About Giving?
Whenever I talk about this, there is always at least one person who thinks I am against giving to the local church, or other ministries. I am not. I’m not even against tithing if that is what you want to do. I’m merely pointing out the absence of it being a command to Christians. God says we should be giving, but that it should be according to what we purpose in our hearts and not grudgingly (2Cor 6:7).
That is the New Testament instruction on the matter.
Good News For Those Who Love Tithing
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”
Notice how it says Moses writes about the righteousness of the Law. Another translation says, “Moses describes” the righteousness of the Law. When you can find a term that the Bible itself actually defines, it’s a good thing. So the righteousness of the Law is described here as a person who does the commandments and lives by them (ESV). Now, we know the Law, among other things, included a command to tithe. So keeping in mind that tithing is included, we could read it like this,
“Moses describes the righteousness of the Law as the person who practices the commandments, including tithing, shall live by them.”
Follow so far?
Now read this and watch for the same term, righteousness of the Law, to be used.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.3 For God has done
what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteousness of
the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
So you see . . . The righteousness of the Law (the doing of all the commandments, including tithing) has been fulfilled in those who are in Christ Jesus.
That’s past tense.
It does not say, “will be fulfilled if you try real hard.” It does not say, “You meet Jesus halfway with your efforts, and He takes care of the rest.” No, it says it already has been fulfilled. In who? Those who are in Christ Jesus.
So that’s you and me, right?
Remember what we’re talking about, here—-keeping the law, and in this case, tithing. That means the requirements of tithing have already been 100% fulfilled and completed in you by virtue of the fact that you’re in Christ Jesus.
Now, if you want to still try to tithe, that’s fine. But it’s important you know that it’s already been done for you.
So next time someone tells you there’s a Covenant Promise and the windows of heaven will open if you’ll just be faithful enough to give ten percent of your income, you can tell them, “I know! And I’ve already met the requirements!”
Even after two thousand years of attempting to adjust to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the Church still finds the literal life and ministry of Jesus Christ too extreme to follow (or even teach).
Initially, none sound too radical—so long as they stay on the pages of the Bible (you know . . . where they belong). But strip your mind of the fairy tale-type mentalities that surround them. Imagine these literally happening today—-in your church on a Sunday morning. What I think you will realize is that when we remove centuries of caked on commentary, and religious jargon, it quickly becomes apparent that there is little place for the Jesus of the Gospels in our churches. In many ways, He was and is everything the modern Christian disdains.
Don’t believe me?
Have a look 🙂
1. He both taught, and demonstrated speaking to inanimate objects to make them obey you (Matt 21:20-21).
Theologians can explain it away all day (and they do). If there were any doubt about what Jesus was referring to when He told His disciples to talk to mountains, the preceeding verses remove it. When read in context, we see Jesus had just spoken to a real tree, and says “not only will you be able to do what was done to the tree but if you say to this mountain . . . ”
2. He taught 100% success in prayer (Matt 7:7, Matt 21:22, John 16:24).
This was before the days of, “sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, sometimes He says wait a while.”
The idea of not receiving what you ask in prayer is completely foreign to the life and teachings of Jesus.
He also rejected weird religious idioms that still surround the concepts of prayer today. Such as the genie mentality that claims if you ask God for something, you can never truly be sure what to expect (Matt 7:8-11). He may give it to you . . .
. . . Or He may decide to kill you instead.
And if you think that is an exaggeration of what many mainstream churches are teaching—–I truly wish it were!
3. He made, “cruel and heartless” statements in times of tragedy that connected sin to physical calamity (Luke 13:4-5).
Jesus uses a recent accident in which 18 people were killed by a falling tower, and warned that unless there was repentance, more would perish. Young’s Literal Translation says they would perish in like manner. He also told a man who had been crippled for 38 years to stop sinning otherwise a worse thing would happen to him.
4. He scolded His disciples for not being able to perform a miracle (Matt 17:15-20)
A man’s son is suffering from seizures. The disciples try, but are unable to help him. Upon seeing this, Jesus could have said something like, “It’s okay guys, you’re only human. I shouldn’t expect so much from you. The reason it didn’t work was because it was all part of God’s sovereign plan. He has decided to use the suffering of this child for His glory.“—Let’s be honest—- if it were 21st century jesus, that’s what it would have sounded like.
Instead of such comforting strokes that we so often hear in times of hopelessness and unanswered prayers, Jesus straight-up rebukes His followers. “You perverse and twisted generation! How long do I have to put up with you!?” (punctuation added).
5. He said the devil was behind disability (Lk 13:11-16, Mk 9:25).
In a world where God and Satan have apparently switched jobs (now a days God is blamed for sickness and disease) man, oh man would Christians get their panties in a bunch over such a claim. And it wouldn’t even need to happen on multiple occasions. Just once and someone would catch it on video or audio, and it would be thrown onto YouTube where it would then be devoured by ravenous Christians who confess to believe in the supernatural, so long as nobody actually takes it seriously.
6. He emphasized faith for miracles (Mark 11:23-24).
And no, it was not some general faith in God as sovereign, or that it’s, “all in His hands.”
No. It was purposeful, specific faith in the desired outcome. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus very seldom (and one could argue—never) spoke about faith in God when it came to answered prayers. (We discussed this lie in a recent article.)
On another occasion He even said to a person, “your faith has healed you.”
“Blasphemy! Faith doesn’t heal anyone. God does!”
7. Most of His teachings on prayer were centered around how to get things (Mark 11:24 John 16:24)
He didn’t talk about how we are supposed to spend hours, “listening” for God’s voice in prayer (although I think we should). And He didn’t talk about how we should spend more time just thanking God in prayer (although I think we should.)
Now a days, all of us are trying to downplay asking God for things. Always coming up for reasons why prayers aren’t answered. How He isn’t a, “Cosmic Bellhop” etc etc. . . And yet—–When we actually read the accounts, we seethat time and time again, Jesus is teaching us how to get what we need, and even what we desire by prayer. And He does it unabashedly and with great frankness.