The dangerous theology of Spiritual Breakthrough

Many conferences and meetings, under the banner of Christianity, promise spiritual breakthroughs to take your faith to the next level.

There are books written about spiritual breakthroughs:

“Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough”

“Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough”

“Prayer Walking for Spiritual Breakthroughs”

“How to be patient while waiting for a Spiritual Breakthrough”

You can even buy anointed water for a spiritual breakthrough.

“Spiritual breakthrough” is a term that seems to have more in common with animism and African Traditional Religion, than Christianity.  ATR and animism teach that there are evil forces that constantly bind and oppose us and we need to break through these oppressive forces to access God’s favour.

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How does God guide us?

Christians have always been fascinated by this question and there is no shortage of weird and wonderful teachings on the subject.

We’re interested in the question because decision-making is such a big part of our lives.  We make hundreds of choices every day.

Every time we make a choice we receive the consequences of that choice – intended and unintended.

Often our seemingly most insignificant decisions have the biggest consequences.

We could make the choice to leave 5 minutes early for work and be in a terrible car accident that affects the rest of our lives.

Because we don’t know the future, making decision-making can be tough.

How should we make decisions? How do we hear God’s voice? How does God Guide us?

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Does God want to heal me?

I know this is a very sensitive question as many Christians struggle with all kinds of illness, depression, mental illness and genetic disorders.

Note that the question is not, “Can God heal me?”

We know that God can.

If God can create the universe by speaking words, he can do anything.

The reason I ask is because some churches are teaching that Jesus died to take away all ours sins and sicknesses.  They teach that physical health demonstrates a robust faith and physical weakness, or illness, demonstrates a weak faith. Health is therefore an indicator of the strength of one’s faith.

If you are a Christian, you should, apparently, not get sick, or depressed, or be diagnosed with cancer or mental illness.

If you were, you’d obviously not be trusting God enough or you would have unrepentant sin in your life.

If you belong to one of these Health and Wealth churches, you would obviously feel very embarrassed if you ever got sick.  Besides being sick, the shame of being sick compounds your agony.

I have a stake in this game.

When I was 10 years old I was in a car accident where I cracked my hip in a few places and the right side of my body was paralyzed.  As a result, I walk with a limp and don’t have full functionality of my right side.

Every now and then a well-meaning Christian seeks to pray for my healing and cast out the spirit of infirmity.

What does the Bible teach?

Christians are not immune from a fallen world

We live in a world where bad things happen. There are viruses, car crashes, droughts and illnesses.

Since Genesis 3, when people rebelled against God, this has been our sad reality.

The Apostle Paul describes our present world in Romans 8.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (v18)

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (v20-21)

Suffering is the word that characterises life in our world and Christians are not immune from it.

Of course, there is also much good in the world that we thank God for.

Throughout the Bible there are examples of Christians who suffer and are sick.

Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. (2 Timothy 4:20)

I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.  (Philippians 2:25-26)

No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Timothy 5:23)

The Apostle Paul himself endured many hardships and much suffering.

Does someone think that Paul lacked faith?

Suffering and hardship, including illness, is a normal part of life in this world, and for Christian life in this world.

Jesus came to save us, not heal us

Jesus came to save us from the consequences of our sin – the wrath of God.

The following account in Mark 1 is very instructive:

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.  And the whole city was gathered together at the door.  And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”  And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came.” (v32-38)

Jesus priority was preaching, not healing.

Jesus came to save us, not necessarily heal us.

Jesus did heal, but that was not his priority.

Jesus came to preach repentance and faith.

Jesus died to pay sin’s penalty, so that we can be forgiven by God and therefore saved from his wrath.

Jesus and the Apostles performed supernatural healings to authenticate their message

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

Jesus’ supernatural “signs” authenticated that he was indeed the promised Christ or King.

Jesus’ healings were not an example for us to follow.

Just because Jesus did something, it does not mean we should do it.

Unless you also want to walk on water, raise dead people, be homeless and die at age 33?

What about the healings performed by the Apostles?

Those healings also authenticated their role as Christ’s spokesmen who spoke and wrote with Christ’s authority.

2 Corinthians 12:12 is a very important verse:

The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.

We are not Apostles.

What we do now is pray and ask God for healing.

We pray like Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

We pray like this because God may be more glorified in our illness than in our health.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 is a crucial passage.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It’s easy to trust Jesus when we are healthy and wealthy.

However, when we keep trusting in Jesus in the midst of our hardship and illness, Jesus may be more glorified in us as his great power is seen in our weakness.

Praying for healing

Of course, the Bible says we can pray about anything, including healing.

What then should we pray for ourselves and for our suffering loved ones?

“God, please heal this cancer”, is very appropriate.

“God, please use this cancer for your glory and our good”, is equally appropriate.

Does God want to heal me?

Yes, but maybe not in this world.

Definitely in the world to come – if you belong to Jesus.

 

We believe in the Life Everlasting

Death is not a spectator sport.

The mortality rate of humankind is the same all over the world:  one death per one person.

The question, “What does the Bible teach about life after death?”, becomes vitally important.

Not everyone thinks there is life after death, though.

Regarding the afterlife, Stephen Hawking, the brilliant cosmologist and theoretical mathematician, declared in 2011:

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

When Christian people say the last two phrases of the Apostles’ Creed we affirm our belief in life after death:

“I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

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The Rock and the gates of death

Matthew 16:15-18 is a very misunderstood passage in the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Rock on which Jesus builds his church was the Apostle Peter, who allegedly was the first Pope or Bishop of Rome.  Subsequently, all the Popes have been the spiritual descendants of Peter.

The true church is, therefore, all those who acknowledge the headship of the Pope and belong to the Roman Catholic structure.

In Roman Catholic doctrine, God’s grace flows from God through the Pope, through the Cardinals, through the Bishops, through the Priests, and then to the congregation via the sacraments.

To be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church is to endanger your immortal soul.

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Are you a Trinitarian heretic?

One of the mysteries of the Bible is the nature of God himself; that God is Trinity.

Trinity means tri-unity – three in oneness.  There is diversity in unity.

God is three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and each person in fully God.

Yet, we believe in one God, not three.

The word “Trinity” does not occur in the Bible and opponents of Christianity are very quick to point that out.  But the Bible certainly teaches the fact that God is Trinity.

There are many other words that do not occur in the Bible either.

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The God syndrome

Many religious practitioners, down through the centuries and throughout the world today, have suffered from (what I like to call) the “God-syndrome”.  It refers to religious leaders or church pastors who see themselves as the Lord’s Anointed or the anointed Man of God.

It’s the priest in Roman Catholicism who can absolve you of your sins and turn wine into Christ’s very own blood. Without his intervention, you would be eternally damned.

It’s the anointed prophet or healer in the Charismatic church who can call down God’s blessing and bring healing. Without his intervention, you would not have all that God intended for you.

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