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.
I was visited recently by a lovely, Christian person who claimed to have received a message from God for me and our church.
The message was this,
“Your church will enter a time of unprecedented miracles, signs, wonders, blessings and conversions. However, you shouldn’t limit God. You need to open yourself to the work of the Spirit”
Apparently, the gospel about Jesus’ death and resurrection is good and essential, but it is not enough. Seemingly, we need demonstrations of God’s power (like healing, prophecy, words of knowledge and miracles) to show people that God is real and the gospel is true.
I tried to persuade the person that, according to the New Testament, the gospel is enough for Christian conversion, Christian growth and Christian life; but I did not convince the person – after all, God had given them a vision.
It’s interesting that throughout the letter of 1 John, the Apostle John warns his readers not to be deceived by those who would undermine the sufficiency and power of the apostolic gospel.
In our world and country, we are inundated with people who claim to speak on behalf of God – Angus Buchan being one of them – claiming all kinds of visions, messages, warnings and prophecies.
What are we to do? Fortunately, this is not a new phenomenon.
Modern spirituality claims that it is possible to know God through a variety of ways: whether it be a spiritual encounter, private conviction or an angelic spirit-guide.
God is like buying groceries – it doesn’t really matter which supermarket you shop at, as long as you get bare essentials. Some people might prefer Spar, or Woolworth’s, or Pick n Pay – different strokes for different folks.
This approach to spirituality is by no means new. It’s as misguided today as when the Apostle John first wrote his letter of 1 John.
The trouble was that many of these false teachers or antichrists were promoting their opinions under the guise of Christianity. The false teachers spoke about Jesus, the Spirit and God; but what they were saying was not true. They sounded Christian, but they were antichrist.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim is a charismatic Indian guru known as one of the so-called Indian godmen.
These godmen, who follow a strain of Hinduism, have a high-profile presence, have thousands of devotees, and claim to possess paranormal powers. They claim to have attained a higher level of spirituality.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted of rape a few weeks ago – which led to large-scale riots by his followers resulting in 28 people dead and 250 injured. It turns out that he and his close followers were involved in the sexual exploitation of many, many girls.
He is a self-proclaimed teacher, claiming a higher spirituality, deceiving and exploiting others.
Unfortunately, we have a similar phenomenon in the Christian world as well: self-proclaimed teachers, claiming a higher spirituality, yet deceiving and exploiting others.
One of the worst things one can be accused of in our society is Intolerance. We are constantly told to be tolerant and open-minded in all things. If something works for you, that’s great, but something different may work for me. Everything is considered right in its own way. To be intolerant of anything is being narrow-minded and bigoted.
Many people, therefore, think that 2 Peter 2 should not be in the Bible. The chapter is too intolerant, too judgmental and too condemnatory. However, the chapter is there for good reason.
We have all been following with horror the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in northern Iraq against Christians and other minority groups. We are all filled with revulsion knowing that Boko Haram has kidnapped over 200 mostly Christian schoolgirls. Our news reports are filled with acts of violence being committed against Christians. Christians are suffering, going hungry and dying of exposure. How ought we to think about the suffering of God’s people?