by Travers and Jewel van der Merwe

Chapter 4: The Supernatural

Scripture very clearly gives us insight into the realm of the supernatural. We know that the supernatural realm suffered a terrible rebellion as Lucifer made his bid for godhood. God became man, and this man was Jesus Christ who was born of corrupt humanity. He bridged the supernatural chasm between God and man. All things work and progress according to God's PLAN and PURPOSES and the supernatural realm functions within the parameters God has set. As natural man, we are forbidden to attempt to even peer into those unseen things that scripture refers to. We are presently to be occupied with bringing the Gospel to the natural realm, the creation.

However, there is a time soon coming, even the angels know that at this appointed time, when the last trumpet heralds the return of Jesus Christ, the saints will put on immortality, cross the supernatural barriers and judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).

Today we are seeing a strange trend as again, man, but his own endeavours (experientially and philosophically), tried hard to relate to the "supernatural realm" and walk in a sense of godhood. The nature of this is clearly characterised as the New Age philosophy, as opposed to Orthodox Christianity. Regretfully, a great part of the church has latched on to this trend. By all appearances, Christians are knowingly or unknowingly dabbling in eastern mysticism and the spirit world. Unless they resist this temptation, they will ultimately fall prey to Satan's control. Deeper spiritual understanding seems to be the motivation behind it all. The problem is that Christians are no longer satisfied with the literal Word of God. They are looking for experiences "beyond the sacred page". The Bread of Heaven, according to their inner "sacred feelings", has become stale and outmoded.

Scripture indicates that participation in the supernatural realm is ours to be had. However, not until the prescribed Biblical time - the literal return of Jesus Christ! Any participation in the supernatural realm apart from this is treading on the same path that Lucifer walked in pursuit of going beyond his limits. Until this appointed time, the saints should be content to live and rest in the Word of God. They are to live by faith, keep God's commandments and with a passion, resist dabbling in the spirit world.


To Believe or Not to Believe

With the variety available on the "gospel menu today, how does the ordinary person discern between truth and error? We are hearing tales from those who are preaching on "spiritual warfare" that make the toes curl. Their so-called experiences and encounters with the spirit world not only renders the cross of Christ of no effect, but clearly manifests spiritual deception and a departure from the Holy Scriptures. We have heard reports of people, when engaging in the recent "spiritual warfare" craze, that have received actual bruises and injuries from their encounter with territorial spirits or demonic beings. Almost a reward in itself, the recipients' reaction to this phenomenon is one of gratitude, as if he or she has truly entered into a high spiritual level to have been so offensive to the enemy to experience such an attack. Prophets are proclaiming that God is now "birthing" the supernatural, and new revelations, based on dreams, visions and personal experiences. Mysticism is on the increase. Yet, we hear with all sincerity, "It must be God" because the advocates have an intuitive witness that it is true, whether it accords with Scripture or not. Be on your guard whenever you hear this defence. It is not a defence, it is an excuse for deception!

It is abundantly clear in the history of the human race that humanity finds it easier to believe in mysticism rather than doubt it. Inquiring minds always tend to want to know or experience something new. In religion, this is especially true. More than 2,300 years ago even the Greek philosopher Aristotle said, "the ability to doubt (mysticism) is rare, . . ." The general responses of Christians to pagan practices and Gnostic doctrines shows that many are gullible and ignorant of the Scriptures.


Mysticism

In listening to many tapes that are coming out of the present day "prophetic movement", the underlying current is mysticism. Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopaedia defines "mysticism" as "an immediate, direct, intuitive knowledge of God or of ultimate reality attained through personal religious experience". Experiences are being set up as the criteria for truth. There are many Christians who cannot communicate spiritual knowledge without the use of this term. The danger lies in that when experience is the basis for faith instead of the Word of God, erroneous theological ideas arise. This gives way for a deviance from the Word of God.

A lady had called to a local radio talk show exuberantly declaring her belief in Inner Healing. When referring to Ruth Carter Stapleton, she just oozed with the "wonder experiences" she had had as a result of Ruth's ministry. When questioned about some of Mrs. Stapleton's strange beliefs that did not accord with orthodox Christianity, the caller assured her listeners that she had been to Bible College. Yet she could not establish a basis for Mrs. Stapleton's teaching other than her own experiences.

Those associated with the "prophetic ministries" on the scene today bristle when they hear that some say they are New Age. A New Age book states that "Charismatic congregations in mainline churches are entry points into the Aquarian frontier". [Unfinished Animal: The Aquarian Frontier and the Evolution of Consciousness by Theodore Rosak]

Why would a New-Ager even try to make an inroad with someone who makes a claim to be part of the blood-washed body of Christ? We believe that instead of the attention being drawn to the cross of Christ, it is being directed to supernatural experiences which have become the basis of faith. This has caused an almost imperceptible cross-over. Johanna Michaelsen said it well,

The apostate church is a bearer of mysticism as her structure and institutions are subtly being overtaken. From the very beginning, mysticism has plagued the church. In these last days we are witnessing ominous manifestations. This should not be surprising for the Scriptures foretold this:

The following quote is how a Gnostic looks at the Church today:

This takes us back to Gnosticism. It was already manifest in John's day. It was called "the doctrines of the depths of God", while in fact it was the doctrine of the depths of Satan (Revelation 2:24). It boils down to the fact that in Gnosticism man's redemption and justification is not by faith in God according to the Scriptures, but rather in "mystical knowledge" acquired by personal experience. This theme is intertwined in all the cults and occults.

Though the heavens disappear in a burst of fervent heat and the earth is obliterated out of existence - what will abide? Your experience - or the Word of God?

TAKE HEED PASTORS! You may not want to agree with every statement listed below; however, for the sake of your flock and the Lordship of Christ, discern every form of mysticism clearly adverse to Scripture and deal with it. By no means do I suggest a witch hunt. At this time in the history of the Church, extreme caution is of the utmost importance.


Signs and Entry Points to Mysticism

1. The cross of Christ is not the sole basis for redemption.

2. The Holy Scriptures are not the complete single revelation of God to man.

3. Experience is the way to perfection and knowledge.

4. Experience takes the precedence over the Scriptures.

5. Intuition is given preference to Scripture and sometimes a substitute for the Holy Spirit.

6. Faith in the Word of God is defected to faith in the Church, man, self, experience, etc.

7. Transubstantiation of the Eucharist becomes Christ in you - i.e. symbols of Holy Communion namely the bread and the wine are transformed into the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

8. Mediators other than Jesus Christ are acknowledged and believed on.

9. Self is deified.

10. The allegorical method of interpretation replaces the literal.

11. Salvation is based on experience and not the Word of God.

12. The coming of Christ for His Church is spiritualised.

13. The presence of God is sought in a mystical sense.

14. Astrology (the Zodiac) is seen as an accessory to the Gospel - a source of enlightenment.

15. The Church is the ongoing incarnation of the literal presence of Christ.

16. Inner Healing, imagery, centering and "psychology" are substituted for the power of the Gospel.

17. Personal revelations, dreams and visions are given priority to Scripture as final reference in judgements, decisions and guidance.

18. Experiences are sought rather than God's will and His righteousness.

19. A euphoric form of love and unity with little or no regard for Scripture or sound doctrine.

20. Like Simon the sorcerer, signs and wonders are sought instead of true repentance and a right heart before God.

21. Hyper-faith, positive thinking, self-potential, and self-deification are taught as gospel truths.

22. Finding Christ or forming Christ within according to Eastern mysticism or New Age philosophy.

23. Meditation void of the Scriptures and reality.

24. The obsession of "spiritual warfare" with a Gnostic and "New Age" slant - allegedly doing battle in the supernatural realm to free cities and areas from the control of spirit beings before the Gospel can be preached effectively or have power to save sinners in the natural world.


True Spiritual Warfare

The Christian's battle (true spiritual warfare) is not a reeling, an intuition or an imaginative experience in the spirit realm - however real it might seem. On the contrary, the warfare is against every form of mysticism that ties the feelings, intuition and imagination into the spirit world which God strictly forbids. (Deut. 18:10-12).

As Christians we war against the strongholds of spirit mysticism that war against our minds, feelings and intuitions. By the power of the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified we cast down:

Reasonings, pagan philosophies, Gnostic concepts and carnal dogmas that nullify the Word of God.

Imaginations, theories, religion, fables, metaphysics, thosophy and meditations that defy the knowledge of God; and

Every thought, form of godliness and spiritual intent or practice opposed to the Gospel of Christ.


>Are we to sit by and let these strange teachings develop without a word? Must we just ignore what is happening and smile passively in agreement without a protest?

A popular evangelist will stand before a congregation and ask, "how many here have read my books?" As hands go up, the evangelist will nod his approva