Sunday, February 12, 2017


While it is not possible to trust God too much, it is possible to trust Him wrongly and unbiblically. David had trusted God in the wrong way. He had been celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem – a good thing – but he was trusting God in the wrong way. Instead of appointing Levites to carry the Ark, as God had instructed, he thought he had a better way to convey the Ark – in an ox-drawn cart:

·       And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:5-7; ESV)

We find this very disturbing. Often, we too do things that we think will honor God, but instead, we are disciplined. We had thought that we had been led by right motives, but we weren’t. When we violate God’s concerns and His Word, we are not led by the right motives but by our own. Scripture gives us many warnings against departing from His Word:

·       And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isaiah 8:19-20)

·       I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6)

When we violate the Word or go outside of it in ways that compete against God’s counsel, we incur His needful discipline. Jesus therefore taught:

·       “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

I bring this up because many, in the Name of God, go beyond the Word of God to the detriment of the people of God. For example, the “Christian” mystics add many things to the Word, which they claim are essential for our Christian life. However, the Bible claims that whatever is essential is already contained in Scripture:

·       All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

However, in Celebration of Discipline, the mystic, Richard Foster, proposes many “essentials” that go far beyond anything that Scripture has to say:

·       “Often we assume we are in contact [with God] when we are not…Often people will pray and pray with all the faith in the world, but nothing happens. Naturally, they are not contacting the channel [of God]. We begin praying for others by first centering down and listening to the quiet thunder of the Lord of hosts. Attuning ourselves to divine breathings is spiritual work, but without it our praying is vain repetition. Listening to the Lord is the first thing…(34)

Often, “nothing happens” for many years. Abraham had to wait 25 years for the birth of his promised son, Isaac. Moses had to wait 40 years until God appeared to him in the burning bush. Therefore, the Bible counsels us to wait patiently:

·       For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

However, Foster suggests that there is something wrong if we don’t promptly receive from God. Yes, we can create barriers against God that can cause us to miss “the channel.” Unrepented sin creates such a barrier, for example:

·       Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Our motives can also create a barrier:

·       You ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)

However, failure to implement Foster’s unbiblical practices presents no barrier whatsoever.

Foster also promotes the use of imagination in meditation and prayer:

·       Hence, you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice and be touched by His healing power. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; it can be a genuine confrontation. Jesus Christ will actually come to you.

According to Foster, we can imaginatively visual Jesus coming to us, and “Jesus Christ will actually come.” This is little different from idolatry. In one instance, we create a physical idol; in another, we create a mental idol to do our bidding, something strictly forbidden by the Ten Commandments:

·       "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (Exodus 20:4)

Foster is instructing us to make for ourselves a mental idol, one that will actually serve us. Instead, Jesus requires us to worship God in “spirit and in truth,” rather than in our imaginations. We do not have the privilege to imagine or conjure up the God that we want. The KJV translation brings out the fact that many have hardened themselves to God by creating for themselves a god of “their imaginations”:

·       Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23; KJV)

Instead, we are to expose such false imaginations which oppose the “knowledge of God”:

·       For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5; KJV)

Nevertheless, Foster insists that:

·       Imagination opens the door to faith. If we can ‘see’ in our mind’s eye a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it is only a short step to believing that it will be so. (36)

Perhaps our imaginations do open the door to faith, but to which faith:

·       Imagine the light of Christ flowing through your hands and healing every emotional trauma and hurt feeling your child experienced that day. Fill him or her with the peace and joy of the Lord. In sleep the child is very receptive to prayer since the conscious mind, which tends to erect barriers to God’s gentle influence, is relaxed. (39)

Not only is this practice unbiblical, it is also assumes that we can coerce God, through the use of our imaginations, to give us what we want and when we want it. This represents both a serious debasing of God and an exaltation of our own manipulations. Against such presumptions, James warned:

·       Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

Foster’s teachings are no less boastful. We cannot presume that we can manipulate God to give us what we want and when we want it. This is how Satan tempted Jesus:

·       Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:5-7)

Foster is also putting “God to the test,” assuming that He must perform in accordance with Foster’s techniques. Instead, blessing doesn’t depend on such manipulations but on God’s specifications:

·       Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

·       But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Foster is teaching an unbiblical God, one who cannot bless “since the conscious mind, which tends to erect barriers to God’s gentle influence.” Instead, God is all-powerful and is not impeded by our conscious mind:

·       But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

·       "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.’” (Rev. 3:7)

Foster also suggests that our minds are an impediment to receiving the grace of God. Instead, we are taught that our minds are a tool that enables us to connect to God:

·       And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Foster has imagined an unbiblical God. How does God react to us when we go beyond Scripture? Here is how He addressed his most righteous servant:

·       “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)

·       “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (Job 40:2)

After Job repented of his foolishness, God turned His anger upon Job’s three friends:

·       “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-8)

We must speak of God correctly. However, after Job repented in dust and ashes, it was as if he had never sinned at all.

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