Daily Archives: September 18, 2014

Questions about Angels and Demons: How Are Catholics Able to Perform Exorcisms If Many of Their Beliefs Are Unbiblical?

 

In movies such as The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose—both of which are loosely based on actual events—the demons are cast out by Catholic priests. This has caused some to wonder, if such exorcisms are true, how they could be performed by Catholics, since Catholics are not Christians.

First of all, the statement “Catholics are not Christians” is too broad. The Catholic religion teaches much that is contrary to God’s Word, but sincere believers still exist within the Catholic Church and do much good in the world. Being a Catholic does not make one a Christian, but neither does it prevent one from being a Christian. Please read the following articles: “Is Catholicism a false religion? Are Catholics saved?” and “I am a Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?”.

Second, miracles can be counterfeited (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Jesus said that some who are not truly His may still perform miraculous signs—including exorcisms—in His name. In Matthew 7:22–23, Jesus warned, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” On Judgment Day, there will be those who had cast out demons and thought they were saved because of all their good works. They had adopted the mannerisms of Christianity and given mental assent to its doctrines, but they were Christians in name only. They had never surrendered their lives to Christ. At the judgment, these nominal Christians will find their outward show of spirituality will not be enough to earn them entrance into heaven; whatever miracles they performed were empowered by something other than the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many people today hold the dangerous philosophy that good works can earn salvation.

Satan has a certain amount of power that he uses to deceive and distract. The magicians in Pharaoh’s court were able to replicate many of the miracles Moses performed (Exodus 7:22; 8:7). However, there was a limit to what their magic could accomplish, and God’s power overwhelmed their tricks (Exodus 7:11–12). It could well be that Catholic exorcisms are similar “miracles,” designed to lend credence to Catholic doctrine and “prove” the power of talismans and rituals.

Acts 19:13–16 gives an example of exorcists who did not know the Lord Jesus yet who tried to use His power to cast out demons: “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” The true power is not in speaking Jesus’ name, sprinkling holy water, or touching a stole, but in knowing Jesus personally.

Demons are real. Satan is real. However, Satan is a master trickster and the father of lies (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:14). A demon’s ability to lure gullible human beings into its traps often exceeds our ability to detect the traps (2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8). If it would serve its purpose to hide within a human body, a demon might do that. Or, if it would serve its purpose to pretend to come out on command, it might do that, too. Satan could very well participate with an unsaved exorcist in order to inflate the exorcist’s pride and boost confidence in his power over evil. The purpose for “staging” an exorcism might be to more deeply entrap those who come to Catholic leaders for help.

The only power that is guaranteed to defeat Satan every time is the power of the Holy Spirit residing within a believer who is equipped with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11–17; 2 Corinthians 10:4). As we submit to God, we can “resist the devil, and he will flee” (James 4:7).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about False Doctrine: What Is Prophetic Worship?

 

Prophetic worship is a trending activity within the Charismatic movement that combines spontaneous music, dance, and other art forms to present a “new” word from God. The word prophetic in this context means “hearing God in your heart and communicating what He says.” To prophesy is to speak (or sing) by “inspiration.” Sometimes the music and lyrics during a prophetic worship service are said to be “the song of the Lord,” because of the belief that the musicians and song leaders were “inspired” to speak God’s word—in the same way that the Old Testament prophets were.

There is an emphasis on spontaneity in prophetic worship. There are no programs to follow, no lyrics on the screen, and no rehearsals ahead of time. Words to the songs just “come” to the singer, as the Spirit supposedly directs him or her, and the musicians play along. Whatever the Spirit wants to sing is sung. Prophetic worship services often include other Charismatic elements such as tongues-speaking, ecstatic utterances, and claims of healing. There is much talk of “the spirit of Elijah,” “Jehoshaphat worship style,” “anointing,” and “soaking.”

Those who promote prophetic worship use several passages of Scripture (almost exclusively Old Testament) to support their practice. For example, the fact that Habakkuk included a song at the end of his prophecy shows a link between music and the “prophetic” (Habakkuk 3:1–19). And, since David was a prophet and a musician, and since he did a spontaneous dance “before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:14), we should do the same. (Using this passage has an added benefit: anyone who criticizes the prophetic worship style is considered a “Michal,” verse 16.)

Is there anything wrong with spontaneity in worship? Absolutely not. Can the Holy Spirit use our artistic ability for the glory of God? Yes, He can, and He does. Is music an important tool in the communication of God’s Word? Yes, and Spirit-filled believers will be characterized by song (Ephesians 5:18–19).

However, prophetic worship goes beyond simply praising God with its claim that God is still giving “new” revelation to His people today. In prophetic worship, glossolalia, a “small inner voice,” and whatever lyrics being sung at the moment are all equated with the Holy Scriptures. And therein lies the danger. To place anything on par with Scripture is to diminish God’s Word and open the door to deception. For anyone to claim the role of prophet or apostle, on par with Elijah or Paul, is to invite God’s resistance of the proud (James 4:6) and bring confusion to the church. Prophetic worship may offer opportunities for musical creativity, but it is not “inspired” in the sense that the Bible is, and it does not provide any new revelation from God.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Family / Parenting: I Want a Baby, but My Spouse Does Not. What Do We Do?

 

The Bible declares children to be a blessing. Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” This is contrary to the way much of the world views children—as a hindrance and a burden. Children should not be viewed as a liability.

The lack of desire to have children often stems from selfish motives. Some people do not want children because they want to focus on themselves, their careers, and their money. They do not want to be “tied down” or give up their expensive cars, homes, or vacations. This kind of attitude is sinful. Others do not want children because of fears about not being able to parent successfully, not being able to afford to raise the child properly, or fears about childbirth itself.

Without knowing the reasons for not wanting to have children, it is difficult to determine whether or not the feelings are “wrong.” Are there health issues? Are there unresolved issues from childhood? These are things that should be discussed between spouses, and if need be, Christian marriage counseling should be sought.

As Christians, our devotion should first be to God, who says that children are a blessing. After that, the most important relationship is with our spouse. If it is very important to a spouse to have children, it should definitely be considered, with an attitude of respect and submission (see Ephesians 5:21–33). Practically speaking, this is a topic that should be thoroughly discussed before marriage.

If we devote ourselves to prayer, Bible reading, and meditation, God will reveal His will if we put Him first. Romans 12:2 declares, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Cold Case Christianity: Resources to Help You Defend the Deity of Jesus

 

Resources to Help You Defend the Deity of JesusSkepticism related to Jesus of Nazareth generally takes one of two forms: those who don’t even believe He ever existed, and those who acknowledge Jesus as an historical figure but deny He is God. The case for the Deity of Christ is centered on the Resurrection, but there are many other cumulative circumstantial factors to consider. I’ve written quite a bit about the Deity of Jesus, and I’ve assembled these articles to help you make the collective case. All these resources are available as downloadable PDF files:

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A calling out of all false teachers

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 NASB)

Carefully read the passage above my brethren. The writer of the Epistle of Jude is the brother of James, the well-known leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21;18; Galatians 2:9) and, therefore, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In v3 we read that Jude had intended to write a letter on salvation as the common blessing enjoyed by all true believers. This intent…

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