Blog: Testing the spirits 1 John 4:1

Our prayer is that you will be blessed and strengthened by the power of Jesus, and that you will live a life of abundance in fellowship, joy and liberty. Oakland Burmese Mission Baptist Church is here for you. It is not just a church; it is a fellowship of believers coming together to declare the glory of the Lord, and to celebrate Jesus as King. We study the Word, practice what we learn, and in the process grow together. May God richly bless you! May the Lord bless you and keep you! We hope to see you soon!
 
We have two worship services every Sunday. The English service begins at 11:00 am and the Burmese service at 1:00 pm. You are welcome to join the services.
 

Heresy Looming at Horizon: I Will Be Like the Most High

Recently, I attended the fundraising event for Kachin IDP at Oakland, California. Many Burmese tribal dresses and traditional foods were among the high light of the event. People of Burma, Kachin, Karen, Kaya, Chin, Bama, and others tribal people came to support the event. Suddenly, someone, who was a familiar person from Burma, handed over three booklets in my hands. Those three booklets were titled, “Bringing the Deeper Meaning of the Christian Message” by the Living Stream Ministry. Soon, I read those booklets and analyze their contents. Here is what I have found in those booklets.
Doctrine of Satan is a simple fact that he wanted to be like God. Isaiah 14:12-15recorded the story of Lucifer, the Satan, from the beginning of his sin to the end of his destruction. Lucifer claimed, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isa.14:13-14). Lucifer’s sin was to be like God in rebellion spirit. Today, this doctrine of Satan is alive and well in the hearts of men. The spirit of Lucifer is represented in the mind of men, who desire to be like God. For example, a person like Benny Hinn holds such doctrine of Satan. Benny Hinn claimed that he and his followers are becoming the gods (divine nature). Biblical discernment ministry exposed him, “Hinn claims to actually be a channel for God-that God enters him and takes over his mind and tongue to the point where he is unaware of what he has said. After his sermon on December 31, 1989, at Orlando Christian Center, during which he gave several future prophecies, Hinn expressed that he was drunk-presumably on the Holy Spirit-and asked someone to tell him what he had just said. In another statement, Hinn asserts that though we are not Almighty God Himself, nevertheless, we are now divine” (http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/hinn/general.htm). Witness Lee, the follower of Watchmen Nee(the Chinese Christian leader of 1903-1972), founded the Living Stream Ministry.Witness Lee taught that a new nature in Christ was the divine nature. God departed His divine nature to the believers. Thus, believers in Christ are to be transformed as divine, gods. This heresy continues to teach and followed by Witness Lee’s followers until present time.
The three booklets that I received were nothing but the teaching of Witness Lee. The doctrine of Satan, “To be like Most High” was repackaged with Scripture references (which were interpreted wrongfully to accommodate the doctrine). The Stream booklet stated,”By means of this grafted life the believers participate in God’s divinity. The believers are being mingled with God, and God is mingling Himself with them. As a result, the believers have divinity in their being and participate in God’s divinity” (“The Stream. The Secret of Renewing and Transformation. Vol.18, No 1, March 1998, p.7). Purely, Witness Lee’s heretic teaching was reinstated. The explanation of the phrase “participate in God’s divinity” was confirmed to the doctrine of Satan. They stated, “In God’s organic salvation we, the believers in Christ, can participate in God’s divinity. God’s life has been imparted into our life, His nature is being wrought into our nature, His mind is being wrought into our mind, and we even have His divine element, the element of the riches of His unsearchable life, to transform our entire being. Thus, we have God’s life, God’s nature, God’s mind, and the divine element of all His riches,and now we can participate in God’s divinity in full” (The Stream. The Secret of Renewing and Transformation. Vol.18, No.1, March1998, p. 9).
The Stream’s editor and writers are continuously indoctrinating the doctrine of Satan, “I will be like Most High”in every teaching such as in Eschatology (Study of End time), Soteriology (Study of Salvation), Ecclesiology (Study of Church), and Anthropology (Study of Man)areas. The Bible does not teach us any human being become divine (god). God saved humankind through His grace and mercy without anyone’s effort (Eph.2:8, 9). God in His pleasure gave salvation through Jesus Christ (Eph.1:5). However, God has not promised us to be gods, He claimed for Himself as One God (Deu.6:4). There is no other gods beside Him (Exo.20:3). The only promise for us is to be the sons of God or the children of God (Romans 8:14, 16). Heretic the Stream team is interpreting the New Life in Christ as the divine life. They claimed, “In regeneration a new life, the divine life, is added to our natural life, causing these two lives to become one” (The Stream. The Secret of Renewing and Transformation. Vol.18, No.1, March 1998, p. 4). The Bible only teaches us our new life in Christ as a life that is born in Spirit (John 3:6). Definitely, it was not the divine life (the imparted divine elements such as power, glory, and divinely attributes). Our spiritual life was born in Christ (John 3:3).
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, the heresy is at the doorstep of our homes. There is Witness Lee’s heresy (Lee, Witness. ‘’The Divine Dispensing of the Divine Trinity.’’ Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry,1990. Print.) spreading among our Burmese Christians community. Beware of twisted tongues that speaking half-truth like the Old Serpent in the Garden of Eden (Gen.3:5). They quoted right Bible verses to support their views without interpreting the context of the text. In the end, run away from the false teachers that teach you can be like Most High. They convince you to be gods. You have been warned!

Parasite within Burmese Christianity: Defending Biblical Gospel from the Different Gospel
 
Gospel (Good News) in the Bible according to Jesus and Paul is salvation and power (Romans 1:16). However, it is complicated and distorted for the false preachers and so-called Evangelists alike. What is Gospel in the Bible? Paul the apostle said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.“(Romans 5:8-10). God’s grace through Jesus Christ brought forth salvation for human souls on the cross; He died and rose again according to the Scripture. Whoever believes on this Gospel of Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord and Savior, will be saved (Romans 10: 9). Nothing more and nothing less!
 
The clear and present danger among Burmese Christians is the Parasite Preachers along with their “Different-gospel”(Galatians 1:6). Clearly, not every preacher is at false but the one with the Different-gospel. The nature of Parasite is that it has not its own establishment rather attach to its host and depends upon it. Seemingly, parasite preachers and teachers pop up among Burmese Christians and churches in the form of visiting evangelists or preachers. They usually oppose established churches and yet they visit them. They are come-and-go preachers from city to city, roaming among congregations of Christians. They attach to a few local followers and draw out Christians from local churches. It is a way of stealing sheep from the sheepfold (John 10:1). Most of time, they were utilizing YouTube, Facebook, and other forms of media to leverage their teaching to their viewers. They are simply harvesting popularity and soliciting members of churches for supports, including financial gifts. Their method of influence and approach are mostly identical to one another. It is, as if, a trade mark of parasite preacher. Nonetheless, the inexperienced Burmese Christians are still fall into their trap, only thinking that since they are popular, thus they must be right. The ignorance and uninformed Burmese Christians continue to follow after their teachings. What are they teaching? What is their message?
 
Parasite preachers and teachers are not to be taken lightly in regards to their craftiness and ability to manipulate the Scriptures. Paul states, “We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2Corinthians 4: 2). Meaning, Paul was handling God’s word in pure conscience without being manipulative. But clearly, those parasite preachers are not so. For example, most of those parasite preachers operate on what seems to be weaknesses of people such as sickness, sin, and guilt. When listen to their messages on Youtube or Facebook, you may find their teachings in these approaches:
 
1. Guilty conscience being tapped on (They often said, “This happen because you don’t believe”)
2. Demand to ignore reality (They said, “If you sick, do not think or accept that you are sick”)
3. Using the name “Jesus” generously (They ask you to say, “In the name of Jesus…”)
4. Casting out sickness, pain, problem, etc. (They tell you to cast out pain, sorrow, sickness…)
5. Show themselves as the more righteous person (Telling they’ve been there, done that)
6. Using repetitive words to persuade and stimulate crowd (Hallelujah! Amen!)
7. Show off unknown tongues (Not in the form of language but gibberish)
8. Ask to trust and accept Christ but not for salvation of soul (Rather for physical healing, personal well-being, success, wealth, and prosperity)
9. Ask you to contact them personally (For promotion, popularity, and acceptance)
10. Ask you to share their video, message, and support their course.
 
Parasite preachers are teaching prosperity and faith-healing (not biblical healing). Often their message is not about Gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of soul but well-being of people on this earth. That is different gospel! Paul said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8) Beware of false gospel and false teacher which can lead to destruction of your soul forever (2 Peter 2:1). Amazingly, many people watch and follow after such parasite preacher online. The reason lies with people who pursue after popularity of preachers, instead of searching the Scriptures and testing the spirit (1John 4:1). Bible warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2Timothy 4:3-4). Dear Burmese Christians, it is not about who is more popular or saying “Amen” to good-to-hear messages but without understanding the Scripture truth, you have been astray from your true faith. You are having itching ears to listen fables rather than the Gospel. 1Timothy 4:16 – “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” You have been informed and warned.
 
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another...” (Colossians 3:16a)
 
Examine Break Free Seminar: Heretical teaching on Christ’s human nature and baptism
 
In these days, many Burmese immigrant Christians are active in pursuing of popular preachers and attending their weekend seminars. It seemed that they took pride in attending those seminars. They believed themselves that they are doing favor to God by drawing in others to follow their footsteps. They have excitement for being in the midst of famous preachers and their crowd. They presume themselves as spiritual persons better than others Christians, when they involve with those activities. They often seek so-called miracles, wonders, strange phenomena, and laughter more than the truth. On the other hand, they are deeply held upon ramification of feeling, receptacle mind, and emotion instead of pure word of God. Recently, one of the popular preachers taught his seminar titled, “Break Free Seminar” and online audience was in thousands viewers although local attendees were in a few number. What taught in that seminar was astonishing and unorthodox.
 
After listening to live broadcasted video on Facebook, these questions are for study and response. Was Christ born of woman righteous, holy and sinless at his birth? Did Jesus liberate everyone who genuinely trusted him and his atonement work on the cross from curses? If life-problems (Duk Ka) equal to curse, if then, did Jesus promised to save people from their life-problems? Is life-problems equal to sin or not at all? What is Jesus’ baptism and what is its purpose? Is Jesus’ baptism to set one free from curse?
 
Heresy 1: Humanity of Christ was imperfect at birth
 
Break free preacher built his heretic doctrine on Job 14: 1, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” and Job 15:14, “What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?” He took these verses out of context and reconstructed heretical doctrine to implicate upon Jesus’ baptism (the baptism that Jesus took from John the baptist). The Break free preacher inserted those verses into Jesus life saying, “Jesus was born of Mary, a woman, thus he was impure and unrighteous according to Bible verses in Job 14 and 15.” He continued to say that Jesus has full of troubles (Duk ka) such as he was born in the manger (poor and dirty) and he had to flee to Egypt right after birth. Therefore, in his remark, Jesus had life-troubles (Duk ka) because he was born of woman and needed to be purified and regenerated. Thus, he believed that Jesus was taking up baptism with John the baptist. The preacher used Matthew 3: 13-15 to show that Jesus was baptized for the purpose of purification and making himself righteous. He said that the word of Jesus to John mentioned “to fulfill all righteousness” (vs.15) means Jesus was needed baptism to become a righteous man. Thus, heresy is that Jesus was born with impurity, unrighteous, curses, full of life-troubles, since he was born of woman. Humanity of Christ was imperfect at birth.
 
Response 1: Jesus Christ is righteous and holy born without sin at birth
 
The context of the book of Job chapter 14 was Job’s defense statement that he was innocent in his troubles. He responded to Zohpar at his accusation in chapter 11. Job is simply stating his human nature that is frail and short life. Chapter 15 context was Eliphaz’s answer upon Job on his statement of innocent. Eliphaz, one of the job’s friends, accused Job for being impure and unrighteous just because he was a human. These verses have nothing to do with Jesus and his baptism. Indeed, Jesus took baptism from John to fulfill his purpose of perfect obedience (Rom.5:19; Heb. 5:8: Phil. 2:7, 8) under the will of the Father and for the exemplary life for believers. He did what is necessary for the sake of complying God’s righteous precepts. Reflecting Matthew Henery’s commentary, “Our Lord Jesus looked upon it as a thing well becoming him, to fulfil all righteousness, that is to own every divine institution, and to show his readiness to comply with all God’s righteous precepts. Thus it becomes him to justify God, and approve his wisdom, in sending John to prepare his way by the baptism of repentance. Thus it becomes us to countenance and encourage everything that is good, by pattern as well as precept” (p.1621). The baptism of Jesus is definitely not for purification or sanctification reason. If Jesus were born with impurity, unholy or unrighteous, he is neither Messiah nor the true God at all. The preacher’s error remains in comparing Job’s understanding of a human and his life-troubles with Jesus’ humanity. That is like comparing apple with orange. Besides, in God’s perspective, human’s life-troubles are nothing more important than sin problem. John the baptist was baptizing people for their sins, but definitely not for the reason of purification from their birth of women or curses (Matt.3:6).
 
Heresy 2: Curses in Christians can be break free through Jesus’ baptism
 
Preacher claimed that most Burmese Christians are cursed with traditional curses since they came from Myanmar. Many Christians could not break through of their life-troubles (Duk ka) which the preacher called curses. In order to set free from those curses, believers in Christ must be baptized with baptism of Jesus particularly with him. Otherwise, he or she may not be saved but filled with full of life-problems because of their curses. Preacher said that Jesus died on the cross for all the curses of believers but not everyone received freedom from curses unless be baptized with the baptism of Jesus. Such a heretic claim came from his misused scripture text Mark 10:38 where Jesus said to his disciples, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?Preacher suggests that every believers of Christ must drink His cup and take His baptism in order to be truly saved.
 
Response 2: Jesus Christ completed salvation of mankind on the cross there is nothing more
 
The truth is that believers are baptized for the reason of faith that they believed in Christ’s atonement work on the cross. Galatians 3: 26, 27 said, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Indeed, baptized means to put on Christ. Romans 6:3 also said, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? It is to identify with Christ’s death, thus, we shall be like Him and rise again (Rom.6:5). The scriptures have never suggested that Jesus’ baptism means either purification or to be break free from curse or to be righteous. The Break free preacher emphasizes so much on baptizing people (with Jesus’ baptism) more than preaching pure Gospel of Christ. Paul set his priority straight between water baptism and preaching Gospel, he said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” (1 Cor. 1:17). Preacher imposed error that one cannot be saved by faith in Christ alone but must drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism (note: preacher distinguishes Jesus’ baptism with regeneration baptism). This is the added works upon grace of God for salvation. Jesus Christ completed His atonement work on the cross and breaks every chains and bondage of sin. There is nothing more to add to His grace.
 
Hope and pray that Burmese Christians may come to realization regarding what they heard in those seminars that contains errors and be vigilant in knowing the truth; God’s word is truth. “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

What is The Essential Christian Doctrine? (By Hank Hanegraaff)

What is essential Christian doctrine? 

The importance of essential Christian doctrine can hardly be overstated. First, these are the very doctrines that form the line of demarcation between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the cults. While we may debate nonessentials without dividing over them, when it comes to essential Christian doctrine there must be unity. Hence, the maxim: In essentials unity, nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity.

Furthermore, essential Christian doctrine is the North Star by which the course of Christianity is set. Just as the North Star is an unchanging reference point by which sailors safely guided their ships, so essential Christian doctrine has safely guided the church through the doctrinal storms that have sought to sink it. Shooting stars light the sky for a moment; following them, however, leads to shipwreck.

Finally, essential Christian doctrine is the foundation on which the gospel of Jesus Christ rests. From his deity to the eschatological certainty that he will appear a second time to judge the living and the dead, essential Christian doctrine is foundational to the gospel. All other religions compromise, confuse, or contradict these essentials. Muslims, for example, dogmatically denounce the doctrine of Christ’s unique deity as the unforgivable sin of shirk. They readily affirm the sinlessness of Christ, but they adamantly deny his sacrifice upon the cross and his subsequent resurrection as the only hope of salvation.

I am so passionate about inscribing the essentials on the tablet of your heart that I’ve organized them around the acronym D–O–C–T–R–I–N–E. It is my prayer that you will become so familiar with essential Christian doctrine that when a counterfeit looms on the horizon you will know it instantaneously.

Deity of Christ— The biblical witness is clear and convincing that Jesus Christ is the eternal Creator God (John 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1; Revelation 1). Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus claimed to be God in word and deed (Mark 14:61–62; John 5:18, 20; 8:58; 10:30–33) and vindicated his claims to deity by living a sinless life (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22), by manifesting his power over nature (Mark 4:39), over fallen angels (Luke 4:35), over sickness (Matthew 4:23), and even over death itself (John 4:50; 11:43–44; 1 Corinthians 15), and by accurately prophesying God’s judgment on Jerusalem through the destruction of the Temple that occurred in AD 70 (Matthew 24:1–2, 32–35).

Original Sin— Sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. “Sin” is a word that describes any thought, word, deed, or state of being that fails to meet God’s standard of holiness and perfection. The Bible unambiguously proclaims that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). While the notion of generational curses and spirits is foreign to the text of Scripture, there is a sense in which all people are cursed as a result of an ancestor’s sin. Adam’s rebellion brought death to us all and tainted every aspect of our being (Genesis 3; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; cf. Ephesians 2:3). God, however, has provided redemption through the atoning work of the “Second Adam,” Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12–21). (See The Bible Answer Book Volume 1, pp. 18–21.)

Canon— The thirty–nine books of the Hebrew Scriptures along with the twenty–seven books of the Greek New Testament are divine rather than merely human in origin and constitute the entire Christian canon (meaning “standard of measurement”). In addition to the internal testimony of the Bible about itself (2 Timothy 3:16), the divine inspiration and preservation of the Bible can be demonstrated by the early dating and consistency of the many available manuscripts, the corroboration of archaeology, and the fulfillment of predictive prophecy. 

Trinity— Though the word ‘Trinity’ is found nowhere in the Bible, it aptly codifies the essential biblical truths that 1) there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10); 2) the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God (1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:8; Acts 5:3–4); and 3) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct (Matthew 28:19; John 15:26; 17:1–26). It is important to note that when Trinitarians speak of one God they are referring to the nature or essence of God. Moreover, when they speak of persons they are referring to personal self–distinctions within the Godhead. Put another way, Trinitarians believe in one What and three Who’s.

Resurrection— All four canonical gospels record the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The immutable fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian faith, because it not only vindicates Jesus’ claims to deity but also ensures the future bodily resurrection unto eternal life of all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and proclaim him as Lord (1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). The historical reality of the resurrection can be demonstrated through the fatal torment of Jesus on the cross; the empty tomb––early Christianity could not have survived an identifiable tomb containing the corpse of Christ; the post–resurrection appearances of Jesus; and the transformation of believers throughout the ages whose lives have been radically altered upon experiencing the resurrected Lord.

Incarnation— The doctrine of the Incarnation is aptly summed up in the words of the apostle John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). The clear testimony of Scripture is that, in the incarnation, Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man; that is, he existed as the perfect unity in one person of a divine and a human nature (John 1; Colossians 1). As Theanthropos (“God–Man”), the spotless “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) lived a perfectly sinless human life and died a sinner’s death to sufficiently atone, once for all, for the sins of humanity (Romans 5:1–21; Hebrews 10:11–18).

New Creation— The essential doctrine of New Creation is aptly codified in the words of the apostle Paul: “If anyone is in Christ, he is anew creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis added). All who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord are reconciled to God and inherit eternal life in his glorious presence (John 3:16; Romans 10:9–10). Jesus’ resurrection from the dead inaugurates the renewal of all things. The new creation of faithful believers and the new creation of the natural world will be consummated in the resurrection when Jesus returns bodily to earth as the conquering king (Romans 8:18–25).

Eschatology— The word eschatology is an intimidating word with a simple meaning—the study of end times. While the meaning of eschatology is simple to grasp, its importance is difficult to overemphasize. Far from being a mere branch in the theological tree, eschatology is the root that provides life and luster to every fiber of its being. Put another way, eschatology is the thread that weaves the tapestry of Scripture into a harmonious pattern. It is the study of everything we long and hope for. Early in Genesis, Adam and Eve fell into a life of constant sin terminated by death. The rest of Scripture chronicles God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Although Christians debate secondary aspects of eschatology, such as the timing of the tribulation or the meaning of the millennium, we are united in the truth that just as Christ came to earth once to bear the sins of the world, so too he will return again to gather the elect and to usher in the resurrection of all things (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Hebrews 9:27–28). On that day, the just will be resurrected to eternal life and the unjust to eternal conscious torment and separation from the love and grace of God (John 5:28–29). Paradise lost will become paradise restored, and the problem of sin and Satan will be fully and finally resolved (Revelation 20–22).

For further study, see Bruce Milne, Know the Truth:A Handbook of Christian Belief (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999).

1 Timothy 4:16
“Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them, because if you do you will save
both yourself and your hearers.”

The essential tenets of the Christian faith are:
Deity of Christ
Original sin
Canon
Trinity
Resurrection
Incarnation
New creation
Eschatology


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