by Frederick Hoehn, copyright 2012 |
Author's note: As a Christian since a small boy, and now a senior, I've seen good and bad occurrences in Christianity, but Christians have a bright future if they'll "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12) May we all strive to please the Lord. F.H.
Some have called the United States a "Christian Nation." This is not exactly correct. America does have many Christians, but we also have people of other religions, and we have freedom of religion. We can't be forced to be any certain religion.
There are even professing Atheists in the U.S. My Dad was one of them. And, according to I.Q. tests, Dad was a very smart fellow. But that doesn't get you into heaven. Jesus said, "You must be born again." (John chapter 3) Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
But Dad didn't invite Jesus in. Then he died and went to hell. Am I glad he went to hell? No, and I made efforts to try to convert him to Christianity. But everyone has the right to accept or to reject God. As an Atheist, Dad thought there is no God. But God says, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." (Psalm 14:1) What good is it, then, to have a high I.Q., if God regards you as a fool, and you die and go to hell?
Of course, you could have a high I.Q., and also be God-fearing.
But it may have been correct at one time to call the U.S. a Christian nation, since we were founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Perhaps the majority of the Americans were Christians once, but maybe not now. There are so many things happening in the U.S. that are not Christian, that it's difficult to say we're a Christian nation.
There's a channel on cable TV that used to be a news channel. But now, it's mostly about murder mysteries. And they never seem to run out of new murder stories. I'm glad if crimes are being solved, but why so many murders? Well, that would be because people aren't living the way Jesus told us to live.
But how do we really know there's a heaven and a hell? Because Jesus said so in the Bible, and Jesus doesn't lie. And God the Father doesn't lie. Jesus said that in hell, "There worms don't die, and the fire is not quenched. Where there's crying and gnashing of teeth." Does that sound like a nice place to be? Certainly not. And we all go either to heaven or hell.
But for Christians Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." I think I'd rather have the mansion rather than the fire and worms, wouldn't you?
But my mother was a God-fearing person all her life, and lived to be 99, before going to be with Jesus. As a teenager, she went to Sunday School. She had not yet become a Christian when her Sunday School teacher got a little aggressive toward her in an evangelistic way. At the insistence of her teacher, my mother accepted Jesus as savior. There's a scripture that says, "the kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:12)
Mostly though, Christians are not violent. Yet, in Ecclesiastes, it says there's a time for all things. So there is a time to be somewhat aggressive. Jesus was somewhat aggressive when he drove the merchants out of the temple with a "scourge of small cords."
Later, when Mom got alone, the Lord spoke to her, and said, "Well, you weren't very enthusiastic about becoming a Christian, were you?" Mom answered, "Well, no, I wanted to have some fun."
My mother was a younger sister with older brothers and sisters who were going out dancing, and Mom was looking forward to the time when she could, too.
The Lord answered her back, "Do you want to be lost?" Mom answered, "No, I don't want to be lost." What does it mean to be lost? It means to go to hell rather than heaven. So, Mom stayed faithful to the Lord, then died and went to heaven.
Jesus said, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" You lose your soul if you wind up in hell. And Jesus said most people go to hell. "Broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go there. Narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there are who find it."
But there are many in America who are professing Christians. They go to church on Sunday. But we need to remember that Christianity is a seven day a week proposition. You can't be a Christian only one day a week. The Lord won't recognize that.
A friend asked me once about suicide. He was probably in his seventies and having some health problems. He asked if it's OK in the sight of God to commit suicide. I told him God is against suicide.
Jesus said, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life." Jesus meant natural death. Jesus said, "He that endures to the end shall be saved." You're not being faithful 'til death, nor enduring to the end if you cut your life short with suicide.
There's good news about health problems. "I am the Lord that heals you." (Exodus 15:26)
So, God expects us Christians to be Christians 24/7. Twenty four hours a day, and seven days a week. It's the least we can do for him who was sacrificed like a sacrificial lamb for our sins.
"I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And don't be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you'll prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1,2)
It is our reasonable service to God after he sacrificed his son for us.
I met a couple in Houston who had previously been in the Catholic church. My wife and I met them at a protestant church. They said, "When we were in the Catholic church, we weren't taught what Jesus said, "You must be born again." (John chapter 3)
"We were taught that you'll go to heaven if you're a good Catholic." But the fact is, membership in any church can't get you into heaven, because Jesus said, "You must be born again."
There are probably some Catholics that are born again. But probably some are not.
How does one get born again? By hearing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, believing it, and saying "Yes" to God's offer of free salvation.
"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you're saved. For with the heart, man believes for righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made for salvation." (Romans 10:9,10)
Various people have said, "The Lord told me this," or, "the Lord told me that." Yes, well, the Lord can and does sometimes speak to people. But not everyone who says, "The Lord spoke to me" is correct.
The Bible tells us "Satan comes as an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:14) There are people who want to hear from God, but may hear instead from Satan, or a demon. There is a Bible test to use if you hear a spirit saying something to you. "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that doesn't confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God." (1 John 4:2,3)
So, what you do if a spirit speaks to you, speak back to that spirit, and ask this question, "Has Jesus Christ come in the flesh?" If you get a no answer, command that spirit to go and not return, in Jesus' name.
If someone gets up and says, "The Lord spoke to me," well, maybe yes, and maybe no. I don't think I've ever been present when the Lord spoke to someone else. Maybe they did hear from God. Maybe it wasn't God.
However, there are some that I've heard that I'm quite certain are reliable when they say, "God spoke to me." One of those I believe to be reliable said, "The Lord told me, 'Now these are the most important words that ever came out of my mouth.' "
And the words referred to are in Mark chapter 16, where Jesus said, "These signs shall follow those who believe, in my name they'll cast out devils, they'll speak with new tongues...they'll lay hands on the sick, and they'll recover."
OK then, let's ask this question, "How many of the churches in the U.S. (or in the world) have the signs following of Mark chapter 16?" Uh, well, not very many.
It is difficult to find a church where they cast out demons from people, and yet that's the very first sign Jesus mentioned in this passage from Mark chapter 16.
But if Christians are supposed to cast out demons, why is so little of that being done? One reason is that there is not enough good teaching on the subject. It's not just clergymen. It's not just preachers and pastors. It's believers that are supposed to cast out demons. But if they're not aware they're supposed to be doing that, then not much of that will happen.
I do know of a church where some casting out of demons has been done, the Hegewische Baptist Church in Highland, IN. And there's a Dr. Norvel Hayes out of Cleveland, TN, who casts out demons. He operates a Bible school in that city, and is on the web at nhm.cc I've seen him on the GTV channel on Direct TV.
And where is our authority, as Christians, to cast out demons? In Luke 10:19, Jesus said, "See, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and OVER ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY."
What enemy is Jesus referring to? He means the devil and his crowd, the demons. In Ephesians chapter 6, we're told, "We don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but (and these are the four categories of demons) against princedoms, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and wicked spirits in high places."
Demons are fallen angels, who rebelled against God when Satan did. Demons are spirit beings. They don't have flesh and blood bodies like people do. Angels and demons exist in a different dimension, in what is called the spirit world, so we don't see them with our natural eyes, although God can and has opened the eyes of people to see into the spirit world and see demons or angels.
So, in Luke 10:19, we Christians have authority over demons (or, devils). And in Mark 16, Jesus said we're supposed to cast out demons.
And how does a Christian cast out demons? The same way that Jesus did. Jesus cast out the spirits with his words. Jesus commanded them to go, and so can we. But if Christians don't command demons to go out of people, then the demons stay right there. They don't want to leave their hosts, and they don't have to leave unless a Christian commands them to go.
But the Christian commanding them to go must do so in faith, knowing he has his authority from Jesus (Luke 10:19).
But then also, Jesus said there's a kind of demon that doesn't go out except by prayer and fasting. But Jesus didn't give us a list of which demons those are. So, here's what we should do. Cast out the demons that can be cast out without prayer and fasting. Then, if some demons remain in that person, do some prayer and fasting.
But I also believe fasting can be overdone. I know of a minister who brought about his own death with fasting. Unfortunately, he was obese to begin with, and that didn't help any. Then he decided to go on a long fast. Medical complications caused his death.
Unfortunately also, that pastor was something of a scorner of faith preachers. Pride might have gotten into it. The Bible says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Pride can absolutely kill you. That pastor may have thought he was a real achiever because he had been casting out demons from people, and I would say that yes, he was something of an achiever, however, Jesus said we should humble ourselves like little children.
Some of the knowledge that faith preachers teach would likely have saved that pastor's life, and prolonged his life had he known them and put those principles into practice.
There was a famous casting out of demons done by Dr. Lester Sumrall of LESEA Broadcasting, several decades ago in the Philippines where Sumrall was a missionary.
Sumrall was listening to the news on the radio one evening, and after the news, turned the radio off. In the news had been a story about a woman prisoner in the city of Manilla who was demon possessed, and was giving a hard time to prison officials there.
The Lord spoke to Sumrall and told him to go to Manilla and cast out those demons from that woman. Sumrall answered, "Lord, I'm just a visitor here. Don't they have priests in the Philippines that can take care of that?" The Lord said, "I don't have anyone else." So, Sumrall made the decision to obey the Lord and go. But first, he fasted and prayed for a day.
Then he went to Manilla and cast the demons out of the woman. This is in his book , "Demons, the answer book," in a chapter titled "bitten by demons." The woman had been bitten on her arm by one or more demons. The teeth marks were not human.
This exorcism was a national news story in the Philippines at the time. They said, "The devil is dead." That statement was incorrect, of course. The devil wasn't dead, but had been cast out of the woman.
Kenneth E. Hagin is also an authority on the subject of casting out demons. His books are available at Rhema.org (click on "bookstore").
Hagin cured a woman of cancer by casting out a demon of cancer from her. She was so weak, and at the point of death, that she had to be carried into the meeting in a bed. After Hagin cast out the demon, she recovered, and lived decades longer.
Another sign from Mark 16 that Christians are supposed to have is the speaking with new tongues (or, languages.) This refers to the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, as in Acts chapter 2, chapter 10, and chapter 19, and Jude verse 20.
This is a different baptism from water baptism. Jesus taught that his people should be baptized in water, but also Jesus breathed on his disciples, and said, "Receive the Holy Ghost." Why did he first breathe on them? Because the Holy Ghost is like wind.
"The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you can't tell where it's coming from, nor where it's going. So is everyone that is born of the spirit," Jesus said. If you are a born again Christian, you're born of the spirit, but Jesus also wants you to have the baptism with the Holy Ghost (or, Holy Spirit).
And by the way, what is the unforgivable sin? It's the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Don't ever say bad things about the Holy Ghost (or, Holy Spirit).
So then, how will we know when we've been baptized with the Holy Ghost? The evidence of the baptism with the Holy Ghost is the speaking in unknown tongues (or, languages). Do you pray in a language that you never learned? If not, then, as a Christian (it's not for unbelievers), ask the Lord Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
In each of these four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, John the Baptist says that Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Ghost. And Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given to you." (Matt. 7:7)
But what if I don't ask? Then you don't receive. When you see that Jesus wants you to have the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, then obey the Lord, and ask him for it. But, when you ask, believe that you receive the things you ask for, and you'll have them. (Mark 11:24)
Sometimes people ask God for things, and don't put their faith with their prayer. That's no good. We have to put our faith to work with our prayer if we want to receive what we're asking for.
And faith expects to receive what is being asked for.
I recall my own experience when seeking the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. It was at a Christian summer camp when I was a teenager. A teacher in a class was teaching on the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. At the end of the class, he asked, "How many want the Baptism with the Holy Ghost?" Well, I certainly did, and went forward.
But I didn't receive it that day. When I got alone, I asked myself, "Now why didn't I receive today?" I answered myself, "I think it's because I didn't believe I would receive." So I said, "OK, I'm going back to the class again tomorrow, and I believe right now that tomorrow I'll receive." And that's what happened, because I chose to believe. You can choose to believe.
The Bible says the just shall live by their faith. In another place, "Without faith it's impossible to please God, for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he's a rewarder of those who seek him." (Hebrews chapter 11) God rewards those who seek him.
But what if I don't seek him? Well then, you don't get so many rewards, things that would have been a blessing to you and to your family. In Thessalonians it says, "Pray without stopping."
But if you're praying in your native language, you might run out of things to say. That's another reason to have the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, because when you have it, and pray in unknown tongues, YOU'LL NEVER RUN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY IN PRAYER TO GOD.
It's called an unknown tongue because it's a language unknown to the person speaking. How can a person speak in a language he's never learned? Because the Holy Ghost (or, Holy Spirit) gives you words in that language to speak. Then, you add your voice to those words, and speak them out. God doesn't move your lips and tongue for you. You speak the words that God gives you, starting at the time that Jesus baptizes you with the Holy Ghost.
Now there has been some confusion about "tarrying." Tarrying is waiting. They tarried in the book of Acts because the Day of Pentecost had not fully come. But now that that day is in the past, we don't have to tarry for the Baptism. You ask for it. You believe you receive. You get it from Jesus, and you start speaking in the unknown tongue, or language that the Lord gives you.
"You'll receive power after the Holy Ghost comes on you," says Jesus in Acts 1:8 So then, Christians who are baptized with the Holy Ghost have more power than they would without it.
Also, in Romans 8:26, "We don't know what we should pray for as we ought, but the spirit itself makes intercession for us..." You can pray more effectively when you pray in the unknown tongue. You can pray about things you didn't know you should be praying about.
Having learned about the signs following of Mark chapter 16, I would be embarrassed if I were not casting out demons, speaking in unknown tongues, and laying hands on sick people for their healing.
Some Christians, though, are not embarrassed. Perhaps they're unaware of Mark 16.
When I was in Nebraska, I heard about a man who prayed, and asked the Lord to make him a better witness for Jesus. And what happened? The Lord baptized him with the Holy Ghost. You're a better witness and soul winner if you've been baptized with the Holy Ghost.
The Bible says, "He that wins souls is wise." Kenneth E. Hagin (Rhema.org) told about a vision he had where the Lord Jesus showed him a very beautiful golden crown. The Lord told Hagin, "This is a soul winner's crown." If you're a soul winner for Jesus, He will give you a soul winners crown when you get to heaven. And really, someone helped win you to Jesus, didn't they? So then, we should also win others.
In fact Jesus spoke of thirty fold Christians, sixty fold, and hundred fold Christians. I've asked the Lord to make me a hundred fold Christian, or better, and I expect him to do it. I'll win hundreds for Jesus, or thousands, or multitudes. And now, we have very powerful tools such as TV, radio, the internet.
Charles Capps has written an important book, "God's Creative Power Will Work for You." I've seen it at Christian book stores, or, he has a website. In the book, he tells how though he was a Christian, he was financially poor. Then another Christian came to his house and brought some books, one of which was Kenneth E. Hagin's, "Right and Wrong Thinking."
Capps was browsing through the book, and it hit him. "Oh, that's what I've been doing wrong." What he had been doing wrong was talking wrong. You can be a born again Christian, and still speak inadvisedly with your mouth.
Capps was a farmer. Farmers have to decide how deep to plant their seeds. As he was considering that, he said a dumb thing. He said, "Well, it probably doesn't matter how deep I plant the seeds, I'm probably going to get rained out, anyway." You know what happened? He got rained out. He got just what he said. That was the wrong thing to say.
So he got his talking straightened out, and started confessing over himself promises from the Bible, such as Psalm 1:3, "Whatever he does shall prosper."
You can do that, too. Say out loud, "Praise God, whatever I do prospers." Another good promise is from Galatians chapter 3:
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree," 14 So that the blessing of Abraham would come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
One of the blessings that God blessed Abraham with was, God made him rich. Of course, I'm sure Abraham also put some effort into it. But God wants Abraham's blessings on us.
So, I recommend, make a list of promises like Capps did, and like I have, and quote your promises from the Bible every day out loud with your mouth.
We are made in the image of God. In the image of the God who spoke the worlds into existence. So then, you and I also have some power to speak things into existence. Let's be careful not to speak the wrong things into existence, but rather speak into existence prosperity for ourselves and families, and health, and wisdom, and knowledge, and fruitfulness for Jesus.
Sometimes Christians have health problems. In Mark 11:23, Jesus said you can speak to the mountain and tell it to go, and it will go, if you believe what you say will happen, and you don't doubt in your heard.
So then if someone has Tuberculosis, that's their mountain. They should tell it to go. If they have cancer, that's their mountain. They should command it to go.
If they have arthritis, that's their mountain. They should tell it to go. But many of the health problems that people have are also associated with demons. Tell the mountain to go, and command out loud all evil spirits associated with the problem to go. Do so in faith, knowing the Lord Jesus has given his people authority in Luke 10:19 and in Mark chapter 16.
Consider Psalm 103. God forgives our sins and heals our diseases. Most Christians know that their sin problem is solved, but some don't understand that's only part of the package. When you get saved, you're also entitled to healing. To get that healing, you ask for it ("Ask and you shall receive"), but also, you must put your faith to work, and believe that you receive. That's how Kenneth E. Hagin got a new heart from God.
Five doctors said he wouldn't live another decade. Hagin put Mark chapter 11 to work, together with his faith, and lived about another seventy years, in excellent health. After he got his healing, the Lord told him, "Now go teach my people faith." So he did.
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