Editor's Choice

"These leaders have prostituted the divine intention of the Gospel"


John Arthur, Hard To Believe
"The first role of successful merchandising is to give consumers what they want. If they want bigger burgers, make their burgers bigger. Designer bottled water in six fruit flavors? Done. Minivans with ten cup holders? Give them twenty. You've got to keep the customer satisfied. You've got to modify your product and your message to meet their needs if you want to build a market and get ahead of the competition.

Today this same consumer mind-set has invaded Christianity. The church service is too long, you say? We'll shorten it (one pastor guarantees his sermons will never last more than seven minutes!). Too formal? Wear your sweatsuit. Too boring? Wait'll you hear our band!

And if the message is too confrontational, or too judgmental, or too exclusive, scary, unbelievable, hard to understand, or too much anything else for your taste, churches everywhere are eager to adjust that message to make you more comfortable. This new version of Christianity makes you a partner on the team, a design consultant on church life, and does away with old-fashioned authority, guilt trips, accountability, and moral absolutes.

One suburban church sent out a mailer recently, promising an 'informal, relaxed, casual atmosphere,' 'great music from our band,' and that those who come will, 'believe it or not, even have fun.' That's all great if you're a coffee house. But anyone who claims to be calling people to the gospel of Jesus with those as his priorities is calling them to a lie.

It's Christianity for consumers: Christianity Lite, the redirection, watering down, and misinterpretation of the biblical gospel in an attempt to make it more palatable and popular. It tastes great going down and settles light. It seems to salve your feelings and scratch your itch; it's custom tailored to your preferences. But that lightness will never fill you up with the true, saving gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is designed by man and not God, and it is hollow and worthless. In fact, it's worse than worthless, because people who hear the message of Christianity Lite think they're hearing the gospel-think they're being rescued from eternal judgment-when, in fact, they're being tragically misled...

Christianity, in the hands of some seeker-sensitive church leaders, has become a "get what you want" rather than a "give up everything" movement. These leaders have prostituted the divine intention of the Gospel. They have replaced the glory of God with the satisfaction of man. They have traded the concept of abandoning our lives to the honor of Christ for Christ honoring us. As such, our submission to His will is replaced by His submission to our will. Since people usually reject the real gospel, modern evangelicals have simply changed the message."

John Arthur, Hard To Believe
Thomas Nelson (January 10, 2006) pp. 1-2




J. W. Stallings
Primary function of the Comforter is to make men holy

"Jesus solemnly assures the disciples that they will, in the future, perform even greater miracles than He. By this He means to say that through the power of the Holy Spirit, they will bring about the greatest miracle of all — the salvation of lost souls. He promises them that whatever they ask for, in connection with their ministry of bringing the miracle of salvation to lost men, will be granted them.

The theme of this section is reassurance and encouragement. Jesus gives the disciples three basic reasons they should cease being troubled in their spirits. First, He tells them that, although He is going away, He will return for them so that they may ultimately join Him where He is going (vv. 1-3). Second, He tells them that, though He is going away, He will be the only means by which men may come to God and go to Heaven (vv. 4-11). Third, He tells them that, though He is going away, their ministries are not finished. In fact, the best is still ahead. They are going, by the Holy Spirit's power, to be part of the greatest miracle of all, bringing men to salvation (vv. 12-14)."...

25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have told unto you.

Jesus now summarizes all that He has been saying in this section. Referring to the many things which He has taught them while He has been present with them in the flesh, He tell the disciples that the Comforter not only is going to remind them of these things, but also will go to teach them all things necessary to their understanding and happiness. The Comforter will recall to their minds Jesus' teachings, will enable them to understand truly and completely, and will develop and expand them into new and wonderful truths.

Jesus has referred to the coming Comforter as the Spirit of Truth (v. 17)...[whose] primary function is the work of making men holy. This is the work we call sanctification.

In v. 16 Jesus has said that the Comforter is going to be provided to the disciples by the Father on the basis of His (Jesus') prayer that He should do so. Now He says that the Father is going to send the Comforter in His (Christ's) name. These statements are essentially identical and imply a joint action involving both Father and Son."

Jack Wilson Stallings and Robert E. Picirilli,
The Randall House Bible Commentary: The Gospel of John,
Randall House Publications, 1989, page 205




New York Times
The Child Preachers of Brazil
The youngest evangelists in the country's Pentecostal churches try to balance the demands of their youth with those of their faith.
By SAMANTHA M. SHAPIROJUNE 11, 2015

"No one keeps track of the number of child preachers in Brazil, but Pastor Walter Luz, who coordinates a 10-day conference for preachers ages 5 to 18 in São Paulo, estimates there are thousands. Most come from poor or lower-middle-class families, and nearly all of them are affiliated with Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination started in America in 1914 and taken to South America by missionaries. Assemblies of God is now the largest Pentecostal group in Brazil.

The central tenet of Pentecostalism is that God remains an active presence in the world; people can access his divine power just as Jesus, Peter and Paul did, to prophesy, speak in tongues and heal the sick. Assemblies of God, in particular, emphasizes that the Holy Spirit acts not just through trained priests but through anyone — the poor, the uneducated, even children.

The growth of Pentecostalism and other charismatic movements influenced by it — which also emphasize the Holy Spirit and miracles — has been responsible for an epochal shift in Christianity. In the 1970's, less than 10 percent of Christians were affiliated with these charismatic or "renewalist" churches. Today it is estimated that one-quarter are, and their rapid growth outpaces that of other denominations. With this expansion, Pentecostalism has shifted the center of world Christianity from Europe to what is sometimes called the Global South — Africa, Asia and Latin America. As Philip Jenkins, a history professor at Baylor University and the author of "The New Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity," writes: "The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes."

In Brazil, Pentecostalism — and especially Assemblies of God — has its strongest foothold in poorer neighborhoods, where residents are often overlooked by the government and too transient to be easily reached by the Catholic Church, which is structured around place-based dioceses. Scholars once thought that Catholic liberation theologies, which arose in the 1960s and 1970's, preaching a connection between faith and socioeconomic justice, would be the religion of choice for the poor, but Pentecostalism, with its emphasis on the supernatural, has proved far more appealing. Improvised storefront Pentecostal churches bloom like mushrooms in the cities' cracks, jutting out behind a gas station or wedged into the ground floor of a home.

Among charismatic denominations, competition to produce fantastic miracles and emotional release is fierce. Startling stories of redemption — from former prostitutes, for example, or drug dealers or murderers — are prized. (One famous preacher, Aldidudima Salles, is the former head of the Red Command, a drug-trafficking gang in Rio, and claims he was so depraved before he converted that he broke into tombs and ate human flesh.) Child preachers fill a special niche: They embody the charisma and showmanship of older preachers, but filtered through a child's inherent innocence. As Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of "Born Again in Brazil," explains it: "These child preachers are something that Assemblies of God have found that sets them apart."

The phenomenon is controversial, earning scorn from other Pentecostal denominations and even criticism from within Assemblies of God. Silas Malafaia, a high-profile Brazilian Pentecostal pastor whose TV show airs internationally and who has preached at American megachurches, says that children who are preaching are being exploited. "It's absurd," Malafaia says. "These are commercial interests on behalf of the parents in receiving donations and selling DVDs. It is not about God, and I am firmly against this."

But the Internet and social media have helped young preachers find wide, sometimes international audiences. Today Brazil's most successful child preachers work nearly every day and travel extensively."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/magazine/the-child-preachers-of-brazil.html
Web (Retrieved May 14, 2015)




"They no longer will be subject to death but will, like the angels, be immortal, for they have become 'sons of the resurrection.'"

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom
"When we trace this word [aion] in the new Testament, we discover that in the course of God's redemptive purpose, there are two ages which are frequently called 'This Age' [The past sending of Jesus by the Father/God Almighty]* and 'The Age to Come.' [The present sending of the Paraclete by Jesus through the Father/God Almighty.]* In Matthew 12:32 the A.V. reads: 'Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man , it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.' However, our Lord is not speaking of two worlds but of two ages. The entire sweep of man's existence is set forth in terms of this age and the age to come. The Greek word used is not kosmos but alon, age. It is unfortunate that our older English Bibles obscure this important fact; but it is correctly rendered in the R.S.V. Blasphemy against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; and the sweep of 'never' is two periods of time; This Age, and that which is to come.

In Ephesians 1:21, Paul describes the exaltation of Christ 'far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.' Here again the A.V.'s translation 'world' is inaccurate. Paul does not have in mind two worlds but two ages. His word is not kosmos but aion. There is no thought of two orders of society but of two periods of time.

A slight variant of this expression is found in Mark 10:29, 30."Jesus said, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brethren or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecution, and in the age to come eternal life.' In the second half of the verse, we find again the word aion; and the translation 'in the world to come' does not accurately represent the idea. In the first half of the verse, the word 'time' (kairos) appears instead of aion or age. This makes it doubly clear that the reference of the verse is to two periods of time, not to two worlds. In this time, in This Age, we are to expect hostility to the Gospel. In The Age to Come, those who have followed Christ will be freed from all opposition and sufferings and will enjoy eternal life...

But a different state of affairs will prevail in The Age to Come, for those who enter that Age will do so by way of resurrection. Therefore, they will be like the angels in this one respect: they no longer will be subject to death but will, like the angels, be immortal, for they have become 'sons of the resurrection.'...

When we ask what Scripture teaches about the characters of these two ages, we find a sharp contrast. This Age is dominated by evil, wickedness, and rebellion against the will of God, while The Age to Come is the age of the Kingdom of God."

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (March 13, 1990) pp. 26-8
* emphasis ours




John MacArthur, The Jesus You Can't Ignore
"But sometimes—especially when a vitally important biblical truth is under assault; when the souls of people are at stake; or (above all) when the gospel message is being mangled by false teachers—sometimes, it is simply wrong to let a contrary opinion be aired without any challenge or correction. One of the worst things a believer can do is show a kind of feigned academic respect or artificial cordiality to the purveyors of serious, soul-destroying error (Psalm 129:4—8; 1 Corinthians 16:22). The notion that an amiable conversation is always superior to open conflict is quite contrary to the example Christ Himself has given us.

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

It may not always be easy to determine whether a disagreement is merely petty or truly weighty, but a careful, thoughtful application of biblical wisdom will usually settle whatever questions we may have about the relative importance of any given truth. Scripture makes clear, for example, that we must take a zero-tolerance stance toward anyone who would tamper with or alter the gospel message (Galatians 1:8—9). And anyone who denies the deity of Christ or substantially departs from His teaching is not to be welcomed into our fellowship or given any kind of blessing (2 John 7—11).

The principle is clear: the closer any given doctrine is to the heart of the gospel, the core of sound Christology, or the fundamental teachings of Christ, the more diligently we ought to be on guard against perversions of the truth—and the more aggressively we need to fight the error and defend sound doctrine."

John MacArthur, The Jesus You Can't Ignore
Thomas Nelson (October 5, 2010) pp. xii-xii




John Arthur, Hard To Believe
THE NARROW GATE

'So, what do you want to do? According to lots of churches and preachers, the answer is to popularize the gospel: get rid of all this slaying-yourself and carrying-your-cross stuff, and get a decent band up there on the stage. Tell everybody God wants him to be happy and successful and full of self-esteem.

The only problem is that saying those things gives people who don't know any better the illusion they're saved, when they're not. And someday, when they face Christ, they're going to say, "Lord, Lord!" and He's going to say, "Depart from Me. I never knew you" (see Matt. 7:23). What's a good band worth then? About as much as healthy self-esteem.

Mankind wants glory. We want health. We want wealth. We want happiness. We want all our felt needs met, all our little human itches scratched. We want a painless life. We want the crown without the cross. We want the gain without the pain. We want the words of Christian salvation to be easy.

That's how people think. But that's not God's instruction to us. According to Hebrews 2:10, suffering made perfect the Captain of our salvation. And so we also will go through the crucible of suffering. What we suffer first of all is the death of all hopes, all ambitions, all desires, all longings, all needs that are human.

Listening to a seeker-sensitive evangelical preacher today, we're likely to think it's easy to be a Christian. Just say these little words, pray this little prayer, and poof! you're in the club. According to the Bible, it doesn't work that way. In Matthew 7:13 during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished His followers, "Enter by the narrow gate." The connotation of "narrow" here is constricted. It's a very, very tight squeeze. We can't carry anything through it; we come through with nothing.

A wide religious gate also exists, and I am saddened to think so many preachers, and so many churches, are leading people through it. They're saying, "You don't have to do all that hard stuff to get into heaven. We're open-minded and inclusive, and we think everybody who wants to, should get saved."

We've actually come to the point where people who call themselves Christians have apologized on behalf of all us hopelessly inflexible nitpickers: those who hang onto old, outmoded ideas that Christianity should be biblical, exclusive, inflexible, and inconvenient. Recently, a group of more than fifty pastors and laymen, including a divinity school dean, representing half a dozen mainline Christian denominations, placed an ad in a major daily newspaper insisting it was "Wrong-ethically, morally, and spiritually-for anyone, whether individual, group, church, or religion, to claim exclusive access to God or God's grace, blessing, or salvation . . . Claims of exclusivity by Christians and others have played a self-justifying role in causing untold human suffering . . ."

Excuse me, but if Christians don't acknowledge and preach the fact that salvation is through Christ alone, they are herding unwitting people through the wide gate that leads to destruction. That's not my opinion; that's the Word of God. People are breezing through those wide, comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs, their self-esteem, and their desire for fulfillment and self-satisfaction. And the most horrible thing about it is they think they're going to heaven. And somebody thinks he's done them a big favor by coming up with a consumer-friendly gospel about which everybody feels good.

But that gospel is a false gospel, a treacherous lie. That easy-access gate doesn't go to heaven. It says "Heaven," but it ends up in hell.

"Because narrow is the gate," Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, "And difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." I agree that we have a hard time finding it, especially today. You could go to church after church after church and never find it. It's a very narrow gate.

The same teaching appears in Luke 13:23-24: "Then one said to Him, 'Lord, are there few who are saved?' And He said to them, 'Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.'" It's hard to find, and it's hard to get through.

Why is it so hard to find today, and why is it so hard to get through? It's hard to find because so many churches have strayed from teaching the truth of the gospel. And it's even harder, once we've heard the truth, to submit to it. Man worships himself. He's his own god. What we need to tell people is not "Come to Christ and you'll feel better about yourself," or "Jesus wants to meet whatever your needs are." Jesus doesn't want to meet our needs-our worldly, earthly, human needs. He wants us to be willing to say, "I will abandon all the things I think I need for the sake of Christ."

It's hard to get through the narrow gate because it's so hard for us to deny ourselves. Jesus' first requirement in Luke 9 was for Christians to deny themselves, but that's just about impossible to do. Self-importance is the reigning reality in human fallenness: man is the master of his own soul, the captain of his own fate, the monarch of his own world.

To say he has to deny and slay himself is simply too much to swallow. Preach a gospel that doesn't include that, and people will flock around to get out of hell and into heaven. But start preaching the true gospel, the hard words of Jesus that call for total and absolute self-denial-the recognition that we're worthy of nothing, commendable for nothing, and that nothing in us is worth salvaging-and that's a lot less popular. Take it from someone who has been targeted on national television for saying this."

MacArthur, John (2003-11-13). Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus (Kindle Locations 238-282). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.




Does God Want You To Be Rich?
A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful Yes! But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors
By David Van Biema and Jeff Chu Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006

When George Adams lost his job at an Ohio tile factory last October, the most practical thing he did, he thinks, was go to a new church, even though he had to move his wife and four preteen boys to Conroe, a suburb of Houston, to do it. Conroe, you see, is not far from Lakewood, the home church of megapastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen.

Osteen's relentlessly upbeat television sermons had helped Adams, 49, get through the hard times, and now Adams was expecting the smiling, Texas-twanged 43-year-old to help boost him back toward success. And Osteen did. Inspired by the preacher's insistence that one of God's top priorities is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime--and by the corollary assumption that one of the worst things a person can do is to expect anything less--Adams marched into Gullo Ford in Conroe looking for work. He didn't have entry-level aspirations: "God has showed me that he doesn't want me to be a run-of-the-mill person," he explains. He demanded to know what the dealership's top salesmen made--and got the job. Banishing all doubt--"You can't sell a $40,000-to-$50,000 car with menial thoughts"--Adams took four days to retail his first vehicle, a Ford F-150 Lariat with leather interior. He knew that many fellow salesmen don't notch their first score until their second week. "Right now, I'm above average!" he exclaims. "It's a new day God has given me! I'm on my way to a six-figure income!" The sales commission will help with this month's rent, but Adams hates renting. Once that six-figure income has been rolling in for a while, he will buy his dream house: "Twenty-five acres," he says. "And three bedrooms. We're going to have a schoolhouse (his children are home schooled). We want horses and ponies for the boys, so a horse barn. And a pond. And maybe some cattle."

"I'm dreaming big--because all of heaven is dreaming big," Adams continues. "Jesus died for our sins. That was the best gift God could give us," he says. "But we have something else. Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It's Joel Osteen's ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?"

In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to "deny himself" and even "take up his Cross." In support of this alarming prediction, he forcefully contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: "For what profit is it to a man," he asks, "If he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" It is one of the New Testament's hardest teachings, yet generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian, on some level, means being ready to sacrifice--money, autonomy or even their lives.

But for a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, "Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?" For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million--strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels' passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn't want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names--Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology--its emphasis is on God's promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%--a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America--agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

"Prosperity" first blazed to public attention as the driveshaft in the moneymaking machine that was 1980s televangelism and faded from mainstream view with the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals. But now, after some key modifications (which have inspired some to redub it Prosperity Lite), it has not only recovered but is booming. Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three--Osteen's Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes' Potter's House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar's World Changers near Atlanta--are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes' ministry has many more facets). While they don't exclusively teach that God's riches want to be in believers' wallets, it is a key part of their doctrine. And propelled by Osteen's 4 million--selling book, Your Best Life Now, the belief has swept beyond its Pentecostal base into more buttoned-down evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal Mainline. It is taught in hundreds of non-Pentecostal Bible studies. One Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor even made it the basis for a sermon series for Lent, when Christians usually meditate on why Jesus was having His Worst Life Then. Says the Rev. Chappell Temple, a Methodist minister with the dubious distinction of pastoring Houston's other Lakewood Church (Lakewood United Methodist), an hour north of Osteen's: "Prosperity Lite is everywhere in Christian culture. Go into any Christian bookstore, and see what they're offering."

The movement's renaissance has infuriated a number of prominent pastors, theologians and commentators. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen's by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. "This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?", he snorts. "There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?"

The brickbats--both theological and practical (who really gets rich from this?)--come especially thick from Evangelicals like Warren. Evangelicalism is more prominent and influential than ever before. Yet the movement, which has never had a robust theology of money, finds an aggressive philosophy advancing within its ranks that many of its leaders regard as simplistic, possibly heretical and certainly embarrassing.

Prosperity's defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse. They caution against broad-brushing a wide spectrum that ranges from pastors who crassly solicit sky's-the-limit financial offerings from their congregations to those whose services tend more toward God-fueled self-help. Advocates note Prosperity's racial diversity--a welcome exception to the American norm--and point out that some Prosperity churches engage in significant charity. And they see in it a happy corrective for Christians who are more used to being chastened for their sins than celebrated as God's children. "Who would want to get in on something where you're miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?" asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. "I believe God wants to give us nice things." If nothing else, Meyer and other new-breed preachers broach a neglected topic that should really be a staple of Sunday messages: Does God want you to be rich?

As with almost any important religious question, the first response of most Christians (especially Protestants) is to ask how Scripture treats the topic. But Scripture is not definitive when it comes to faith and income. Deuteronomy commands believers to "remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth", and the rest of the Old Testament is dotted with celebrations of God's bestowal of the good life. On at least one occasion--the so-called parable of the talents (a type of coin)--Jesus holds up savvy business practice (investing rather than saving) as a metaphor for spiritual practice. Yet he spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven"; and his encounter with the "rich young ruler" who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Both statements can be read as more nuanced than they at first may seem. In each case it is not wealth itself that disqualifies but the inability to understand its relative worthlessness compared with the riches of heaven. The same thing applies to Paul's famous line, "Money is the root of all evil," in his first letter to Timothy. The actual quote is, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

TIME September 10, 2006




Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told
"So it’s quite true that the parables do help illustrate and explain truth to simple people who listen with faithful hearts. But they also conceal truth from unwilling and unbelieving auditors— by neatly wrapping the mysteries of Christ’s kingdom in familiar symbols and simple stories. This is not an incidental point. By His own testimony, the main reason Jesus suddenly adopted the parabolic style had more to do with hiding the truth from hard-hearted unbelievers than explaining the truth to simple-minded disciples. It was Jesus’ own declared purpose thus to “utter things kept secret”— and His parables still serve that same dual purpose today. If it seems the stories Jesus told are capable of endless interpretations and therefore devoid of any discernible objective meaning, that’s because truly understanding them requires faith, diligence, careful exegesis , and a genuine desire to hear what Christ is saying.

It is important to also know that all unbelievers lack that capacity. Jesus’ parables “speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor . 2: 7– 8). No unbeliever will ever grasp the mysteries of the kingdom by filtering these stories through the sieve of human wisdom. Scripture is clear on that. The carnal, unbelieving ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard , nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things , yes, the deep things of God” (vv. 9– 10, emphasis added). In other words, faith, prompted and enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, is the necessary prerequisite for understanding the parables. These stories do have objective meaning. They have a divinely intended, and therefore correct, interpretation. Jesus Himself explained some of the parables in detail, and the hermeneutic He employed gives us a model to follow as we learn from the rest of His stories. But we must come to the parables as believers, willing to hear— not as skeptics with hearts hardened against the truth.

John F. MacArthur, Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told
Thomas Nelson, Kindle Edition (2015) pp. xxiii-xxiv




The Great Adi Shakti Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
Shri Mataji
"The religions, if they were practiced from the understanding how important it was to make one wise, balanced and compassionate for the last breakthrough of our evolution by following spirit-oriented religions, even the wrong doers would have become good normal people and deep seekers of absolute truth.

But the people at the helm of affairs of religion are themselves money or power-oriented and not spirit-oriented. They can poison the ignorant minds of the simple faithful and mislead them into hell.

The truth is there is a residual Power in the triangular bone Sacrum, called as Kundalini. She has the Power to bring forth the complete nourishment and adjustment of the disturbed genes whether they are genetic, inherent or acquired. When She is awakened, She changes the series of genes. Not only that She corrects the gene's database but She breaks through the fontanelle bone area and connects the seeker to the All-Pervading Power of Divine Love also called as the Cool Breeze of the Holy Ghost, Ruh, Ritambhara or Paramchaitanya. Thus one, by this second birth, becomes a Realized person as actualization of Baptism takes place. The Light of the Spirit, which is the reflection of God Almighty in our heart, enters into our attention and enlightenment.

The seeker is really born again, not just a certificate but he changes as the transformation takes place within. There is a vast difference between an ordinary seeker and a Realized soul. He becomes his own master, full of Divine Love. It is a resurrection process, like an egg becoming the bird. Maybe this is the reason eggs are presented as a symbol, reminding that one has to get resurrected. The genes change and complete transformation takes place."

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi





THE APOCALYPSE OF THE SPIRIT-PARACLETE
The fulfillment of the promised divine eschatological instruction
“The original meaning of the word ‘apocalypse’, derived from the Greek apokalypsis, is in fact not the cataclysmic end of the world, but an ‘unveiling’, or ‘revelation’, a means whereby one gains insight into the present.” (Kovacs, 2013, 2) An apocalypse (Greek: apokalypsis meaning “an uncovering”) is in religious contexts knowledge or revelation, a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities.” (Ehrman 2014, 59)
Shri Mataji
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923-2011) was Christian by birth, Hindu by marriage, and Paraclete by duty.
“The Paraclete will come (15:26; 16:7, 8, 13) as Jesus has come into the world (5:43; 16:28; 18:37)... The Paraclete will take the things of Christ (the things that are mine, ek tou emou) and declare them (16:14-15). Bishop Fison describes the humility of the Spirit, 'The true Holy Spirit of God does not advertise Herself: She effaces Herself and advertises Jesus.' ...
It is by the outgoing activity of the Spirit that the divine life communicates itself in and to the creation. The Spirit is God-in-relations. The Paraclete is the divine self-expression which will be and abide with you, and be in you (14:16-17). The Spirit's work is described in terms of utterance: teach you, didasko (14:26), remind you, hypomimnesko (14:26), testify, martyro (15:26), prove wrong, elencho (16:8), guide into truth, hodego (16:13), speak, laleo (16:13, twice), declare, anangello (16:13, 14, 15). The johannine terms describe verbal actions which intend a response in others who will receive (lambano), see (theoreo), or know (ginosko) the Spirit. Such speech-terms link the Spirit with the divine Word. The Spirit's initiatives imply God's personal engagement with humanity. The Spirit comes to be with others; the teaching Spirit implies a community of learners; forgetful persons need a prompter to remind them; one testifies expecting heed to be paid; one speaks and declares in order to be heard. The articulate Spirit is the correlative of the listening, Spirit-informed community.
The final Paraclete passage closes with a threefold repetition of the verb she will declare (anangello), 16:13-15. The Spirit will declare the things that are to come (v.13), and she will declare what is Christ's (vv. 14, 15). The things of Christ are a message that must be heralded...
The intention of the Spirit of truth is the restoration of an alienated, deceived humanity... The teaching role of the Paraclete tends to be remembered as a major emphasis of the Farewell Discourses, yet only 14:26 says She will teach you all things. (Teaching is, however, implied when 16:13-15 says that the Spirit will guide you into all truth, and will speak and declare.) Franz Mussner remarks that the word used in 14:26, didaskein, "means literally 'teach, instruct,' but in John it nearly always means to reveal.” (Stevick 2011, 292-7)
Stephen E. Witmer, Divine instruction in Early Christianity   
F. B. Meyer, Love to the Utmost Robert Kysar, John, the Maverick Gospel 
Danny Mahar, Aramaic Made EZ Lucy Reid, She Changes Everything
David Fleer, Preaching John's Gospel: The World It Imagines Berard L. Marthaler, The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology
George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament In Spirit and Truth, Benny Thettayil
Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17 Marianne Meye Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John
Eric Eve, The Jewish Context of Jesus' Miracles D. R. Sadananda, The Johannine Exegesis of God: an exploration into the Johannine understanding of God
Michael Welker, God the Spirit Georg Strecker, Theology of the New Testament
Tricia Gates Brown, Spirit in the writings of John Michael Welker, The work of the Spirit: pneumatology and Pentecostalism
Robert Kysar, Voyages with John: Charting the Fourth Gospel John F. Moloney, The Gospel of John
Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith Robert Kysar, John
Robert E. Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament 
“The teaching of the Paraclete, as the continuation of Jesus' teaching, must also be understood as the fulfillment of the promise of eschatological divine instruction.”
Stephen E. Witmer, Divine instruction in Early Christianity

“Jesus therefore predicts that God will later send a human being to Earth to take up the role defined by John .i.e. to be a prophet who hears God's words and repeats his message to man.”
M. Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur'n, and Science

“And when Jesus foreannounced another Comforter, He must have intended a Person as distinct and helpful as He had been.”
F. B. Meyer, Love to the Utmost

“The Paraclete has a twofold function: to communicate Christ to believers and, to put the world on trial.”
Robert Kysar, John The Meverick Gospel

“But She—the Spirit, the Paraclete...—will teach you everything.”
Danny Mahar, Aramaic Made EZ)

“Grammatical nonsense but evidence of the theological desire to defeminize the Divine.”
Lucy Reid, She Changes Everything

“The functions of the Paraclete spelled out in verses 13-15... are all acts of open and bold speaking in the highest degree.”
David Fleer, Preaching John's Gospel

“The reaction of the world to the Paraclete will be much the same as the world's reaction was to Jesus.”
Berard L. Marthaler, The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology

Bultmann calls the “coming of the Redeemer an 'eschatological event,' 'the turning-point of the ages.”
G. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

“The Paraclete equated with the Holy Spirit, is the only mediator of the word of the exalted Christ.”
Benny Thettayil, In Spirit and Truth

“The divine Paraclete, and no lessor agency, must show the world how wrong it was about him who was in the right.”
Daniel B. Stevick , Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17

Stephen Smalley asserts that “The Spirit-Paraclete ... in John's Gospel is understood as personal, indeed, as a person.”
Marianne Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John

“The Messiah will come and the great age of salvation will dawn (for the pious).”
Eric Eve, The Jewish context of Jesus' Miracles

“The remembrance is to relive and re-enact the Christ event, to bring about new eschatological decision in time and space.”
Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, The Johannine Exegesis of God

“The Spirit acts in such an international situation as the revealer of 'judgment' on the powers that rule the world.”
Michael Welker, God the Spirit

The Paraclete's “Appearance means that sin, righteousness, and judgment will be revealed.”
Georg Strecker, Theology of the New Testament

“While the Spirit-Paraclete is the true broker, the brokers they rely on are impostors.”
T. G. Brown, Spirit in the writings of John

“The pneumatological activity ... of the Paraclete ... may most helpfully be considered in terms of the salvific working of the hidden Spirit.”
Michael Welker, The work of the Spirit

“The pneuma is the peculiar power by which the word becomes the words of eternal life.”
Robert Kysar, Voyages with John

“The gift of peace, therefore, is intimately associated with the gift of the Spirit-Paraclete.”
Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John

“This utopian hope, even when modestly expressed, links Jesus and the prophets to a much wider history of human longing.”
Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith

“Because of the presence of the Paraclete in the life of the believer, the blessings of the end-times—the eschaton—are already present.”
Robert Kysar, John

“They are going, by the Holy Spirit's power, to be part of the greatest miracle of all, bringing men to salvation.”
R. Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary

“The Kingdom of God stands as a comprehensive term for all that the messianic salvation included... is something to be sought here and now (Mt. 6:33) and to be received as children receive a gift (Mk. 10:15 = Lk. 18:16-17).”
G. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament


“But today is the day I declare that I am the one who has to save the humanity. I declare I am the one who is Adishakti, who is the Mother of all the Mothers, who is the Primordial Mother, the Shakti, the desire of God, who has incarnated on this Earth to give its meaning to itself; to this creation, to human beings and I am sure through My Love and patience and My powers I am going to achieve it.

I was the one who was born again and again. But now in my complete form and complete powers I have come on this Earth not only for salvation of human beings, not only for their emancipation, but for granting them the Kingdom of Heaven, the joy, the bliss that your Father wants to bestow upon you.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
December 2, 1979—London, UK


“I am the one about which Christ has talked... I am the Holy Spirit who has incarnated on this Earth for your realization.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
New York, USA—September 30, 1981


“Tell all the nations and tell all the people all over the Great Message that the Time of Resurrection is here. Now, at this time, and that you are capable of doing it.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
Cowley Manor Seminar, UK—July 31, 1982


“This is the transformation that has worked, of which Christ has talked, Mohammed Sahib has talked, everybody has talked about this particular time when people will get transformed.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Chistmas Puja, Ganapatipule, India—25 December 1997


“The Resurrection of Christ has to now be collective Resurrection. This is what is Mahayoga. Has to be the collective Resurrection.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Easter Puja, London, UK—11 April 1982


“Today, Sahaja Yaga has reached the state of Mahayoga, which is en-masse evolution manifested through it. It is this day’s Yuga Dharma. It is the way the Last Judgement is taking place. Announce it to all the seekers of truth, to all the nations of the world, so that nobody misses the blessings of the divine to achieve their meaning, their absolute, their Spirit.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
MAHA AVATAR, ISSUE 1, JUL-SEP 1980 (Date and place unknown)


“The main thing that one has to understand is that the time has come for you to get all that is promised in the scriptures, not only in the Bible but all all the scriptures of the world. The time has come today that you have to become a Christian, a Brahmin, a Pir, through your Kundalini awakening only. There is no other way. And that your Last Judgment is also now.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi


“You see, the Holy Ghost is the Mother. When they say about the Holy Ghost, She is the Mother... Now, the principle of Mother is in every, every scripture — has to be there. Now, the Mother's character is that She is the one who is the Womb, She is the one who is the Mother Earth, and She is the one who nourishes you. She nourishes us. You know that. And this Feminine thing in every human being resides as this Kundalini.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Radio Interview Oct 01 1983—Santa Cruz, USA


“It is the Mother who can awaken the Kundalini, and that the Kundalini is your own Mother. She is the Holy Ghost within you, the Adi Shakti, and She Herself achieves your transformation. By any talk, by any rationality, by anything, it cannot be done.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi


“She is your pure Mother. She is the Mother who is individually with you. Forget your concepts, and forget your identifications. Please try to understand She is your Mother, waiting for ages to give you your real birth. She is the Holy Ghost within you. She has to give you your realization, and She's just waiting and waiting to do it.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Public Program Mar 22 1981—Sydney, Australia


“The Kundalini is your own mother; your individual mother. And She has tape-recorded all your past and your aspirations. Everything! And She rises because She wants to give you your second birth. But She is your individual mother. You don't share Her with anybody else. Yours is a different, somebody else's is different because the tape-recording is different. We say She is the reflection of the Adi Shakti who is called as Holy Ghost in the Bible.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Press Conference July 08 1999—London, UK

The Great Goddess is both wholly transcendent and fully immanent: beyond space and time, she is yet embodied within all existent beings; without form as pure, infinite consciousness (cit) ... She is the universal, cosmic energy known as Sakti, and the psychophysical, guiding force designated as the Kundalini (Serpent Power) resident within each individual. She is eternal, without origin or birth, yet she is born in this world in age after age, to support those who seek her assistance. Precisely to provide comfort and guidance to her devotees, she presents herself in the Devi Gita to reveal the truths leading both to worldly happiness and to the supreme spiritual goals: dwelling in her Jeweled Island and mergence into her own perfect being.” (Brown, 1998, 2)





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