Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Jn.5:5-8 - Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

There are denominations and teachings that refer to God’s wind as some nondescript power that swirls generally around the world waiting for some “sails” to catch it. I have described that teaching in this previous post which presents the teachings of Shane Hipps and his pastor Rob Bell. They describe God’s Spirit like this:


“To lose your religious identity is like losing a sail at sea. The sail is like religion, the wind is the Spirit. You need a sail to catch the wind…to harness the wind, but you gotta’ realize that that sail isn’t the wind. The sail is actually dependent on the wind. See, here’s the crazy thing, the Spirit (the wind), doesn’t need sails in order for it to move about the world. The sails need the wind. So the Spirit in order for it to move and operate in the world has no need of religion, but we (those of us made the way we are) for some reason need sails in order to catch the wind. We need religious structures, external things we can touch and see and traditions and lineages that teach us so that we can better catch the wind.

Now some sails are built better than other sails; some sails are bigger than other sails, some sails are a different shape than those other sails, and those differences matter. And sometimes, one sail is better than another sail in the same way that some religions are better equipped to catch the Spirit of God. Some religions are not as well equipped to fully capture and be compelled by the Spirit. So it matters what religion you choose. It matters why that religion…why you choose it. It matters what it looks like…how it’s shaped, but don’t ever confuse the sail with the Spirit…the sail with the wind.

Here’s what’s so confusing about this…John comes along and says, “Hey both of you guys you’ve got great sails…they look awesome.” I just want you to know it’s the wind that I’m interested in. He says Jesus became the fullness of that wind. And so along comes us and we create a sail around that person. We go, “Now we’ve got it!” Wooo! It’s just another sail. Just because we claim Jesus as the center of our religion does not make us one and the same with the wind of God. It just means we have another sail. I happen to think it’s a better sail than most other sails. I happen to think it’s a more effective sail than other sails (that’s why I chose this particular sail), but it ain’t the wind. (pause)””

As we can plainly see from the section of Scripture in John chapter three, the wind is God the Holy Spirit. Of course it is metaphor revealed for our understanding, but even on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came to inhabit believers He was described as sounding like a mighty rushing wind.

We can most assuredly reject the teaching that the divine wind is some force that awaits it capture by the cunning of man, and be aware that the destination for such teaching is universalism that assesses all religions as paths to God. All such teachers are false and in fact tethered to the spirit of antichrist. No one has the right to change the Person and work of Jesus Christ and make it nonexclusive and applicable in all religious settings. When the religion of Islam reduces the Risen Christ to a mere prophet, are we to embrace that as a minor misunderstanding or must we agree with the Apostle John when he said all such teachings are antichrist, of which there are many?

We as believing followers of the Lord Jesus must stand humbly and boldly and proclaim that Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life, and that any and all teachings that compromise even in the slightest with that glorious truth are antichrist and anathema. It is with brokenness and joy that we acknowledge the Risen Christ as the Eternal Lord of all Glory. And against that truth we acknowledge as well the ministry of the Person of the Holy Spirit. It is this Person and His ministry that I want to address in this post.

No one can see the wind. That stood as the basis for Jesus’ point to Nicodemus. No one knows where it came from and no one is sure where it will go, and the only way we can know that He came through is by the effects He has on things that are in its path. Those effects can be seen and heard, and so it is with God’s Spirit. But there are differences as well as similarities between earth’s wind and the Spirit of God. One basic and dramatic difference is that God’s Spirit does not move arbitrarily or without purpose. The Holy Spirit is not floating around like the wind that changes direction from one minute to the next. God’s Spirit moves with direction and power and with a divine mission. There is nothing nebulous or indiscriminate about the ministry of God’s Spirit; quite the contrary, He has an eternal vision and mission which He has known before the foundations of creation and which were with Him as He descended on Pentecost.

The wind of earth is a non-personal force while the Holy Spirit is a divine Person and is eternal with the Father and the Son. But like common wind, His presence and power is revealed in the objects He came to affect. His common ministry to the entire world is to illuminate sinners to the gospel of Jesus Christ and draw them to Christ. No sinner can of his own wisdom and research believe that a dead Jew is the door to eternal life; he must be illuminated by God’s Spirit. This is essential, and when men like Shane Hipps project God’s Spirit as some metaphysical force that can be apprehended by hoisting some religious “sail” they are preaching another gospel and another spirit.

The Holy Spirit did not come to earth to parse the redemptive work of Christ that allows some religions to believe in God but not Jesus, and then make that acceptable to God. The Spirit lifts up the Person and work of Jesus Christ without compromise and without dilution. His ministry is essential for the spreading of the gospel and without God’s Spirit no man can know Christ, much less believe on Him unto salvation. In these last days there will be many spirits of antichrist. Some will openly deny Him, while others will give Him a diminished exclusivity that make Him one of many. We must faithfully reject any and all teachings that tamper with the quintessence of all truth and the foundation of the Christian faith.

Suggesting that Jesus can be found in all religions is a wicked and false teaching. And presenting the Holy Spirit as some wind looking for the sails of all religions is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit Himself. It is open and public apostasy and it counts the blood of Christ as an unholy thing. There can be no gentle way to say it. To the small company of people who read this blog I humbly and passionately warn you against becoming involved with these men and their false teachings. This is no minor doctrinal squabble and this is not even a battle of orthodoxy verses post modernism. This is infinitely more treacherous than those important issues because this is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

To teach that God’s Spirit fills all religions is to attribute the devil’s work to God’s Spirit. That, my friends, is the unpardonable sin and no one that can hear even the faintest voice of the true Spirit should have anything to do with these wicked men and their wicked deeds. Please do not sift through this as some inflated histrionics, and please make this a matter of prayer. Some of you have children who dabble in Rob Bell’s material, and some of you think that it is just a modern and fresh way to present the gospel. It is not. There is eternal danger even in being silent about these things, and although we have much to pursue in our own spiritual walks, we mustn’t allow teachings like this to go unchallenged or left for some apologist to confront.

Shane Hipps and Rob Bell are accurate in one part of their metaphor, there is a wind that is filling any sails which arbitrarily unfurl to see what wind they can catch. And these sails are filling up with this wind and moving those spiritual ships with increasing momentum and speed. But this “wind” of which they speak is the spirit of antichrist, a powerful and magnificently creative spirit. It is filled with deception of the highest kind, and its masquerade goes much deeper than just a benign spirit sent from the Universal Mind. This spirit claims to be the Holy Spirit sent from God and it is pushing many ships into the rocks. And these men are partakers of its evil deeds.

And you will see believers, true believers, who have become enamored with Rob Bell and others who will not, and possibly cannot, see that deception, even when it is presented before them. That is a breathtaking phenomenon when seemingly intelligent and Biblically educated men and women are so deep into this kind of deception that their minds cannot even be open about such things, much less entertain the thought that anything Rob Bell would teach is heresy. Once you harness your mind and heart to a man, and that can be any man from Spurgeon to Moody to MacArthur or Rick Warren, you have now relinquished your God given ability to understand the Scriptures and hear what the Spirit is saying to your heart. All teachers must be proven by the Word, and all teachers are on some level inaccurate in some things.

But when men manipulate and massage and dramatically change the gospel of Jesus Christ they are to be rebuked and their mouths stopped by strong and sharp words of correction and warning. These emergent men are far worse than seeker pastors or purpose driven pastors as far as their teachings go. But be aware that many seeker and purpose types and others will use emergent materials and will be accommodating to men like Rob Bell. So even men who would disagree with Bell’s and Hipp’s teachings must be approached with this evidence and asked what they will do about this great heresy.

We cannot allow hatred or self righteousness to fester in our hearts, or forget that we all stand by God’s grace alone. No, we have been born in these days and we are called to live for Jesus Christ. That includes contending for the faith and being called rigid and intolerant. When it comes to Jesus there can be no compromise, and when men teach things that are blasphemous to the Holy Spirit, we must run from them with fear and trembling for their souls. Do not think these things are being done in a corner and with a delicate attention to avoid publicity. Rob Bell travels around the country with pages of advertising and fanfare. He is not shy or clandestine; he openly charges admission to lectures which do not include a hint of Jesus and His gospel.

And large denominations use his material and show his videos. How did this happen, you ask? The world we call evangelical is dull of hearing and interested in their own welfare. And men like Bell and Hipps are good natured and amiable enough to lull the Biblically illiterate to sleep and allow their teachings to establish a beach head within many denominations and churches. Bell and many of his members have emerged from orthodox evangelical churches and in a very short time have stretched the linguistic parameters of Biblical understanding until it has become clear that they do not espouse the gospel of Jesus Christ anymore.

And many run to their defense, and when asked for proof within Bell’s teachings that he still believes the gospel, they do not have the time to peruse through his body of work to search for any scraps of evidence like that. And when Bell and others make statements that are blatant departures from Biblical truth, his defenders manipulate the interpretation to provide at least some thin and questionable link to gospel truth. It is all so tragic and sad, and good men are being deceived and the deception grows deeper by the day. I can say only this to us all:

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.


Mark Crisafi said...

Rick - this is an amazing and important commentary. Thank you for making the point that the idea of Jesus being found in all religions is heresy; more people need to not only hear it, but know it.

You also said "Once you harness your heart and mind to a man, and that can be any man from Spurgeon to Moody to MacArthur or Rick Warren, you have now relinquished your God-given ability to understand the Scriptures and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying..."
The only reply I have to that is: AMEN! This also is something that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

Paul discusses this exact theme when he says "...that each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Appollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' Has Christ been divided?" (1 Corinthians 1:12-13).

I firmly believe that all warnings and admonitions in Scripture were placed there for our benefit today as much as they were for the original recipients. Thank you for refreshing the memory of your readers as to why that admonition is so important today.

Anonymous said...

Those who believe everything they hear are like the wind spoken of in Ephesians 4:14

14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

That is why maturity is hard to obtain because people are always learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth which is in Christ Jesus.

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, amen. God help all of us.