Acts 17:11 Archives

Winning Cities to Christ

On a requested reviews of a "winning cities for Christ" teachings written by "Jim" and "Carlos" whose statements are bulleted and in quotes. by Dean VanDruff.

As is common in popular charismatic writing, the Hebrew "definitions" which were the basis for the teaching were contrived, and in one case completely wrong. There was a very strong hint of Kingdom Now "encourage the flesh" and "think like men" theology. In general I find this sort of thing the spiritual equivalent to a high-school pep-rally. It sounds sort of good and upbeat, but if you step back from it is is absurd. It is the stuff of self-absorbed hype. It attempts to stoke the flesh with a bright and shining--if unbiblical--vision, and thus grieves the Spirit.

  • "He wants cities transformed and nations discipled. This agenda requires more than what one local church can do."

  • Yes, it will require His coming again, according to Scripture. Till then, God deals with people, not cities, nations, etc. God might speak judgment on a city, and has many times over, but it is not quite time for us to be doing the same (Lk 9:54). The Lord spoke peace to Jerusalem when He was dwelling in "temples made of stone", but I should think no longer--unless prophetically. "Speaking to cities" then, is only used in the New Covenant by God in the way of condemnation. Please correct me if you can find an example to the contrary.

  • "As a corollary to this point, let me say that we, like Joshua, should function in a conquest mode and not in a survival model."

  • Again, understanding whether he means external or internal here is my principal discomfort. If I discern correctly, this is what we might call the Abram stronghold. Now Abram means "gung ho in the flesh" in Hebrew (yes, I am kidding; Abram means "father" [I am lampooning Jim's faux Hebrew scholar style, where he misdefines words as points in his case]) and represents those who live-in and appeal-to the grandeur of human machismo. They are "into" pep-rallies in the flesh, which aim for the human swoon. And flesh efforts "Abram" / "father" little Ishmael's which end up seeding enemies all around us in the future.

    Gal 4:29 (NIV) ...The son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

    If what Jim means by "conquest mode" is being eaten by lions, getting whipped, imprisoned, and being let over walls like baby Moses fleeing for his life--as happened for the early church as recorded in the Bible, then I am all for it. Inner conquest, outer defeat, just like with Jesus (2Co 4:16) whom we are following, right? But I suspect Jim is looking for something a little more Ishmael, Esau, or Saul like.

    Against this desire to "do something", admire manliness, or swooning over height and grandeur, we have Jesus suffering like a common criminal outside the camp. Somewhere I got this idea we were to follow Him, and if we did we were not to expect a "broad road" or external success. There was something said once about a stumbling stone, something about how God's way intrinsically offends the flesh.

    As opposed to this sermon, I turn to the words of my Lord Jesus Christ:

    Mat 10:21-28 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child... All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another... A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! So do not be afraid of them... Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."

    I must have missed the part about winning whole cities to Christ during all of this. It just doesn't fit with "the perfect expression of the Father", Jesus.

    Now, then; who should I believe, Jim or Jesus? They seem to be saying two very different things, weaving two very different visions. One leads to Ishmael in the flesh, and the other to "waiting" for God to do what He promised all along. One leads to cutting off Malchus' ear--which work Jesus must undo--the other to external defeat and eternal glory.

    Matthew 26:51-54 (NAS) With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest [Malchus, Jn 18:10], cutting off his ear. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"

    Yes, indeed, there may be Jim's "transitions wars". But rather than launch out on flimsy Hebrew vagaries, I suspect it will be along the lines so clearly revealed in scripture all along: those in the flesh will persecute those waiting in faith by the Spirit. It has always been so, and it is so now.

    Matthew 16:21-23 (Wey) From this time Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer much cruelty from the Elders and the High Priests and the Scribes, and be put to death, and on the third day be raised to life again. Then Peter took Him aside and began taking Him to task. "Master," he said, "God forbid; this will not be your lot." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Adversary; you are a hindrance to me, because your thoughts are not God's thoughts, but men's."

    Luke 24:25-26 (Wey) Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?"

    John 12:26 (NIV) "Whoever serves me must follow me..."

    Is 43:2 (NIV) "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets."

    The person who wrote up the Carlos piece is suggesting a formulistic approach that smacks of flesh. Suffice it here to say that I disagree with the writer of the document in his mechanistic approach to evangelism and church growth. This is "man's wisdom" in the most obvious sense and a great way to build a human following or religion, but it is hard to imagine God would wink at such hubris. For more on this, see "Will this work for the Mormons?" and "God's unconventional Church growth program". (From the first link, you can get to the second at the bottom by clicking on NEXT, then hit BACK twice to return here.) The "methodology" of God confounds such programmatic approaches. The only program God is interested in promoting is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which means death to all such "flesh" and resurrection by the Spirit.

    Besides the idea that "method" can replace "Spirit" (even if the "method" of intercession), there is the problem of erroneous practice being encouraged. We never see this sort of "power evangelism" ever done in Scripture, nor are we encouraged to do it directly or indirectly. In fact this sort of "rebuking the devil" thing is warned sternly against as the harbinger of a false teacher. "Do not go beyond what is written."

    1 Tim 1:6-7 (NIV) Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

    Back to hype... I know a couple of the ministers mentioned in the Carlos article. Rather than drop names and hype my own case <smiles> I will tell you of another "odd" experience and trust that the Spirit of truth in you will confirm the veracity of the point.

    Larry Lea was rising to fame in the late 1980's. It was Larry and his followers, in fact, that I had in mind (in the original "binding and loosing" post that you found) when I said "I have tried to point out how some of these practices are specific fulfillments of the prophecies of Jude 8-10 and 2 Peter, and been rebuked and argued with--to the point that I have given up." But at first, like you, I was rather taken by the bravado of it all. I traveled to San Francisco for the 1990 Halloween prayer rally, for example, since my roommate was playing the keyboards for Larry and crew. Just a few months before this, Larry had "named" the ruling "spirit of greed" in Southern California and "bound" it (some funny sounding "tongues" sort of name like "Aboladan") to great applause and rousing music and jubilant celebration for all present. The problem was that nothing happened afterwards. Nothing. No change. No less greed, no more generosity, nothing... as a result. But a great time was had by all, and the video tapes of the "ministry" were selling like hotcakes and being promoted as a prototype for how to "take" other cities. By the time of San Francisco, I was beginning to have doubts and suspect this was a lot of hot air. For there was immorality and other very serious problems in his family and personal staff, which Larry kept in the dark. Meanwhile, with his own house is dramatic disorder, he is casting spirits off of large cities like San Francisco? Is this comedy, or blasphemy? It is like chosing off Mike Tyson whilst Pee-Wee-Herman is flicking you in the head--and you can't get him to stop. Just after this, God burst the Larry ministry bubble rather gently (considering the other things that might have surfaced) on national news with the revelation that Larry's finance manager was committing fraud and misrepresentation, which Larry defended to his own demise. Anyway, with this limited description in mind, and now that you know "the rest of the story"... so to speak, you can appreciate the statement I made in the "binding" post with Larry in mind:

    "Here we are, spiritual warriors, brandishing our toy balloons as swords, battling imaginary foes and beating every last one of them. Our credo: "the battle is to the handsome, the talented, the charming, the pretentious, the haughty." Our personal lives are a real mess, and our families and ministries are deteriorating, based more and more on fleshly power, but "we take authority and bind every demon spirit over this city". Hell laughs, Heaven cries."

    God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. We should not be imitating evil, but good.

  • "Don't say, Father I ask You to break the bindings of..."

  • Jude 1:9 (NIV) But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

    2 Peter 2:10b-12 (NIV) Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

    Anyway, that was my overall reaction to what you sent. I hope it is edifying to you to hear it.

    I pray that God will lead you into all truth, and that you will gain a sense of the smell of what is the "opposite of" Christ, or anti-christ. For we know Christ, do we not? Can we not discern His polar opposite when it is abjectly displayed?

    3Jo 1:11 (NIV) Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

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