Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do We Rebuke The Territorial Spirits?

By Rev William Lau
Proponents of what is called “spiritual warfare” in the heavenlies may be aware that it is not clearly supported by Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture is found any instance where a disciple directly rebukes and attempts to drive out principalities or “territorial spirits” from geographical areas. (We are not referring to intercession or prayer to God here, but offensive action directed specifically against powerful demonic beings in the heavenlies.)

The prophet Daniel was not performing such warfare in Daniel 10 when the archangel Michael engaged the prince of Persia in the heavenlies over him. Rather he was praying and fasting when God sent Michael to help the angel who had been sent to Daniel but had been detained by the prince of Persia. It is not recorded that Daniel was in any way aware of the warfare taking place in the heavenlies until the angel was released and appeared before him. Clearly Daniel was not involved in the struggle.

Neither Jesus nor any of his disciples engaged in such a practice as recorded in the New Testament. If "spiritual warfare" is such an important and necessary factor in evangelism, why does New Testament Scripture not record a single clear incidence of it? If the early disciples did not need to conduct such "warfare" and were nevertheless very fruitful preaching the gospel in their time, what makes us think that we need to do it today? It is clear that if we are not fruitful today in evangelism, it is not because we are lacking the dimension of "spiritual warfare." We must be lacking some other dimension---a dimension which must be clearly evident and staring at us from the pages of New Testament Scripture.

Later in this article we shall discover what that missing dimension is.

The Scriptures often cited from Ephesians 6:10-18 by spiritual warfare proponents actually refer to a defensive posture in which the believer puts on the full armor of God in order to take his stand against the devil’s schemes and against the rulers and authorities. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” These verses cannot be used to support the practice of believers directly rebuking rulers and authorities in an offensive way.

Does Ephesians 6 really teach “spiritual warfare” in the heavenlies?

Does the end justify the means?

Finally, nowhere does Scripture explicitly command disciples to drive out territorial spirits in the name of Jesus. But since the practice is not expressly forbidden in Scripture, its proponents support its active use. Part of the reason the practice is justified by them is because of apparent results achieved in evangelism where the practice has been applied. There are some reports of areas where people had been closed to the gospel. But after spiritual warfare was performed with regional territorial spirits rebuked, people in the area were suddenly open to the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ in response to the gospel.

All this would appear well and good, especially when the salvation of souls and the Great Commission is at stake. However, we as servants of God must consider an important question before taking a position on this issue. Can the ends justify the means? The answer is no. Faithfulness to Scripture must take precedence over “results.” For example, we should not sweeten or water down the gospel---as is done so often today---in an attempt to bring more souls into the kingdom of God. The desire for “numbers” or "results" should never tempt us to compromise the gospel.

Moreover, there can be danger for us when we engage in offensive action which we have not been specifically authorized to perform. There is risk involved when we take action presumptuously, especially in the realm of the supernatural.

Numbers 14:44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the LORD’s covenant moved from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.

Another compelling reason not to do spiritual warfare

But there is now another and at least equally compelling reason why we should not engage in spiritual warfare in conjunction with preaching the gospel. By simply obeying the clear and unambiguous commands Jesus gave his disciples when he sent them out, we are now seeing unprecedented results in North India without the practice of direct "spiritual warfare" in the heavenlies.

Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. …6 So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

Luke 10:9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in a the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

In 2007 The Elijah Challenge conducted the Basic Training in North India. Servants of God were taught how to heal the sick and cast out demons as Jesus taught and commanded his disciples when he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God. After that Joshua Gowda and Simon Haqq began to conduct monthly Evangelistic Feeding Events in which the gospel was preached, the sick were healed, demons were cast out of people, and the people were fed.

In such a way, 42 churches have been planted and 11,098 people (predominantly Hindus) have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ in mostly unreached villages. This took place between July 2007 and June 2010 when this article was written. Other churches networked with The Elijah Challenge have planted another 118 house churches in various parts of North India. By God’s grace there is a great move of the Holy Spirit throughout North India. Feeding Events and Elijah Challenge-trained churches are now being used by God in the area of evangelism and church-planting. “Spiritual warfare” is not a part of this.

Moreover, churches trained by The Elijah Challenge are now the fastest growing churches in North India. This is based on progress reports and testimonies Joshua has received from full-time pastors, workers, and churches networked with The Elijah Challenge. In the days to come, Joshua and Simon desire to bring millions of souls into the Kingdom of God through the approach the Lord has entrusted to them.

The difference between the two approaches

There is very significant difference between the current approach of spiritual warfare against territorial spirits followed by or in conjunction with preaching the gospel, and what is being done by Joshua and Simon in North India.

The current approach involves first spiritual warfare in an attempt to dislodge territorial spirits. After that the sick are prayed for---not necessarily healed as Jesus taught and commanded his disciples. And the gospel is preached. Now there are two unscriptural components in this approach. The first is of course the spiritual warfare. The second, surprisingly, is praying for the sick. Jesus never commanded his disciples to pray for the sick when he sent them out. Rather he commanded them to heal the sick---which is very different and involves actually performing miraculous healings in real time to confirm the truth of the gospel to the listeners.

The scriptural approach which Joshua and Simon are now using involves preaching the gospel, actually healing the sick as Jesus commanded his disciples in Luke 10:9 to confirm the message to the lost, and then feeding the people. The meal is used to draw the people to the event and for fellowship with the new believers afterwards.

Both approaches, it is claimed, result in people turning to Jesus Christ. But one involves some unscriptural practices while the other closely follows the commands given by Jesus to his disciples.

Choose one

Which approach is preferable? Most obviously, the approach which follows scripture closely is to be preferred. It results in the advance of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and there is no risk of counterattack by vengeful rulers and authorities in the heavenlies which we may have angered in our presumption when waging “spiritual warfare.” God is not obligated to protect us from their attacks in such a case.

Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

This verse applies when we trample on earthbound “snakes and scorpions” which likely refer to spirits and demons attacking people on earth at ground level. It does not apply when we attempt to trample on powerful beings in the second heavens which we have not been commanded or authorized to do.

Let us now return to the word of God to understand how to fulfill the Great Commission. Let us be faithful to obey Scripture. Let us remember the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation: Sola scriptura. This Latin phrase means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the believer. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The “spiritual warfare” approach to evangelism adds a foreign dimension which is not taught in Scripture. It is not necessary, and could in fact be presumptuous and lead to unnecessary risks and suffering for ourselves and our loved ones.

We have ministered in some of the spiritually darkest places on the face of the earth. In Africa, we boldly challenge witchdoctors to a contest of power in the fashion of Elijah with the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel. And we consistently witness miracles and victory after victory over the enemy without having to resort to the practice of "spiritual warfare." And we are blessed with a side-benefit: we do not suffer from trials due to enemy retaliation and counterattack. We are convinced that we are shielded from them because we have not gone "beyond what is written" but simply done what the word of God says we should do. We are thankful also to our intercessors who blanket us with prayers to the Lord on our behalf.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The God of Humor and Miracles

This is a testimony of how God allowed RC, a young missionary to become sick so as to put her in a hospital ward next to a dying woman. By His grace, mercy and miracle, the woman and her Turkish family gave their lives to Christ. Read this amazing testimony:

Over the last six years of doing full-time missionary work, I have seen Jesus do amazing miracles to provide, guide, and protect me.

A friend asked me recently what my biggest leap of faith had been to date. It was hard to pick a certain moment, as I’ve come to see that every time Jesus presents a challenge and through faith I overcome, He “upgrades” me; the next challenge is a little harder and more faith is required. In that way my faith is always growing.

But there was one time that I can say was a definite turning point in my life of faith. I was 18 years old and on my way to Ethiopia with another missionary friend. Neither of us had been there before, I had never been to Africa period. So I felt rather uncertain. We landed in Frankfurt, Germany, and on arrival at the train station, we started talking to two people who turned out to be from Ethiopia. They introduced us to their church and the locals there. We didn’t have any finances for the tickets, and the deadline for the flight was getting closer as the days passed.

For a couple of days prior I had been experiencing odd twinges in the right side of my stomach. The twinges quickly turned into sharp, stabbing pain, but up till that point I had never been really sick before and so I ignored it. The morning before our departure, I woke up with a start. Nothing had awaken me, but something wasn’t right. I got out of bed and suddenly blacked out.

When I woke up a few minutes later, the pain was unimaginable. My friend had woken up when she heard me falling on the floor. She rushed me to the hospital. After hours of medical examinations, the doctors discovered that I had ovarian cysts and that two large ones had ruptured, causing internal bleeding.

The doctors explained that I needed to have surgery immediately. Then he asked for my insurance details. Being a young and new missionary, I had never thought about medical insurance. The doctor was upset as the surgery would cost me 15,000 euros and he wondered how I was to pay it.

He said, “What are you going to do?”

When I started to hesitantly say that I believed God could do a miracle, he just laughed. I was afraid, and in the back of my mind was this voice saying, “This is a punishment for the things you’ve done wrong. If you really had faith, this wouldn’t have happened.” They wouldn’t let my friend in, so I lay there asking myself, “What will I do? What will I do?”

An angel, in the form of a nurse, came in just then and said, “Don’t think about the money. You belong to God. If you can’t have faith in anything else, trust in His love.”

I decided to go ahead with the surgery. Later I learned that my friends who were doing mission projects throughout Europe and Africa were having hourly prayer vigil. They were also considering how they could help me pay for the operation.

The days after the operation were tough. The rules of the hospital did not allow my friend to visit much. However what really frustrated me was that I should have been in Ethiopia by then.

Just a few months before all these events, I had dedicated my life to serving Jesus. Now this happened! Laying there in the hospital, my mind was in turmoil.

 "How am I going to pay for the surgery? Is this a punishment from God? Why did it happen?"

During this time another lady patient was put in my room. I could hear her talking to her daughter, saying, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to face God’s punishments. What will happen to my family ... and why is God allowing this?” This lady was speaking in Turkish, and while I was by no means fluent in Turkish, yet I understood what she was saying.

I started to speak to her through her daughter, who spoke English. I told them about God’s love and how perfect it is. How God allows suffering so that we can better understand His love and grow closer to Him. As I shared with her, I started to find the answers to the very same fears and doubts that I had been struggling with.

The frightened lady was dying of cancer of the intestines. The doctors would operate on her but apparently with her serious condition, there was only a 30% chance of success.

The day before I was released from the hospital, she called me over and said, “In the Koran, Jesus is called the Healer. I have heard you pray to Him. Please pray now for my life.” Her whole family was standing there with such expectant faith. I don’t remember the prayer or what I said, but I was so desperate for Jesus to do something to honor their faith.

The next day I was released from the hospital but was told to rest in bed for two weeks. The only problem was that I had nowhere to go. I was issued a paper asking me to pay the bill within a month’s period. I did not know what to do. As I walked aimlessly, I found a seat near the entrance of the hospital and started to pray.

About two hours later I heard someone calling my name. IIt was the daughter of the Turkish lady woman, who had since been operated.

“It’s a miracle! The miracle from God,” the daughter was saying over and over again. She explained that just before the surgery, the doctors decided to do one more scan. in the previous scan, the cancer had wrapped itself all around her intestines. But this new scan showed something completely different. All of the cancer was gone, except for a small bit right at the top of the organ. The operation took very little time and she was fine. The doctors said they had never seen anything like that before—it was a miracle.

After hearing my plight, the lady and her daughter invited me stayed with their family. For two weeks,  each of them took turns to ask me questions about God’s love and Jesus’ power to heal. During that time the father, mother, and daughter asked Jesus to come into their hearts. Jesus changed their lives.

The hospital bill still needed to be paid. And I needed a miracle. With fear and trembling, I went to the hospital on the appointed date. However, with the first miracle, my faith was strengthened. I gave the receptionist my name and waited to be called to face the music. Finally I was ushered into an office by a lady. She looked at me with a confused look and then looked back at the file. Finally she asked me for my date of birth and birthplace. I told her, and she shook her head. For forty long minutes she rattled on her keyboard, made calls, and got angrier and absolutely frustrated.

Finally she threw the file down and said, “Bah! There is no real record of your having even been here.”

I must have looked as confused as I felt, as she continued, “There was a woman here with the same name as you, but according to our files she was 76 years old, had inflammation of the joints, and was covered by our medical insurance policy. We cannot charge you if there is no record of you even existing. You can go!”

I stumbled out of that office hardly believing that Jesus had a wonderful sense of humor. He had taken my medical file and replaced it with that of a 76-year-old lady. When I went back to the house of my new found friends and told them what had happened, the mother called the hospital to make sure. It was as the secretary had said: they couldn’t find a single trace of paperwork that I had ever been in the hospital.

Apparently, the hospital administrator said, “And to us Germans, if it’s not on paper, then it hasn’t happened.”

Before that miracle, I had always thought that miracles came to those that were more spiritual, to someone who was very close to Jesus. During that time I didn’t feel very full of faith at all. In fact, I was at my lowest point—just struggling to trust that Jesus loved me.

Remembering this experience helps me so much when I’m facing impossible situations and feel like I don’t have what it takes to receive a miracle. Since then the miracles I’ve experienced have always happened when I stopped trying to use my “common sense” and learn to depend upon Jesus alone. Today, I tell Jesus that I need Him and whenever He gives me instruction, I do not question but just do it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Casting Out Demons

(Sister Grace Kang writes to a sister-in-Christ about how to cast out demons. Here is her email.)

Demons are unclean spirits, cast down together with Lucifer. It is stated clearly in the bible that demons know that God is the Lord above all (James 2:19) and Jesus has authority over all (Mark 5:7; Mark 1:24; Matt 8:29; Luke 4:34).

Therefore, the demons, by nature, hate us human beings who are created in God's image. We are created to take over the place of angels to worship God. That is the why the unseen spiritual battle is constantly happening.

However, our Lord Jesus Christ calls us as His children and His body. And, He has given us His power and authority. Although we may not have supernatural power like the angels, our words can either build up or kill a person. "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." (Prov 18:21)

Coming back to the topic of casting out demons, we have power and authority over demons and diseases. Jesus says "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; NOTHING WILL HARM YOU" (Luke 10:19).

This is also reaffirmed in 1 John 4:4: "But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world."

We can cast out demons just like how Jesus does in the bible. He openly rebukes the demons and commands them to leave. He moves in authority. In Mark 1:27: The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”

He casts demons out by merely commanding:
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” (Mark 1:25);

For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” (Mark 5:8); 

"When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”" (Mark 9:25); 

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” (Luke 4:35)

So, when we cast out demons we do likewise. Apostle Paul simply commands: "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Acts 16:18).

The 70 or 72 believers (read: not apostles ;>) cast out demons and heal the sick by simply commanding in faith. It is reported in Luke 10:17: The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ says: "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; (Mark 16:17).

And once again, He says: "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; NOTHING WILL HARM YOU" (Luke 10:19).

They do not ask the demons to listen to them. They just command. They do not ask the angels to minister. They just take authority in the name of Jesus Christ. But, do take note, this is strictly for casting out demons.

I hope this 'mini article' helps you (I didn't expect to write this long...). May the Lord give you discernment and wisdom as you minister to your loved ones.


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