PART 3: BIZARRE PRACTICES AND AN UNBIBLICAL ESCHATOLOGY.
By Roelof Ham - translated by Ursula Moestapa
God has kept some things hidden from us, on these subjects there is not a word to be found in the Bible. At best we can derive something indirectly from a passage or chapter in God’s Word. God has closed this to us for whatever reason.
This fortunately doesn’t apply to the end of times and the things that are related to it. In theology this is called eschatology and it is concerned with the study of the last things. The Bible writes extensively about these last things. Not that we could fathom all things related to the end entirely. Many things are written in figurative and abstract prophetic formulations in Gods Word, but the most important line in God’s plan with the end of times is clear: all things will be moving towards a moment in time when God will triumph and establish His Kingdom definitively. Evil will be defeated, the unrighteous will suffer God’s punishment and judgment and the children of God will forever be with God. Jesus is the Redeemer Who will make this happen and we shall be part of it. However, first the world will digress. There will be an increase in rebellion, unrighteousness and lovelessness; the devil shall seize power on the earth via the Anti-Christ and God’s judgments will come over the world. Then the end will come.
It’s remarkable that this is being denied by the supporters of the concept of the N.A.R. They claim, out of their own desire and due to a misunderstanding of John 14:12, that we ourselves shall make the end come true. In the first article in this series on the N.A.R. I have described exhaustively that it is believed that especially prophets and apostles will do greater and greater miracles and that then an unprecedented revival shall take place in the world because of this. This revival will result in the coming of the Kingdom and the return of Jesus. The concept of the N.A.R. therefore, doesn’t let the Day of the Lord’s return depend on Jesus and the Father, but puts the responsibility for this in the hands of men: the believers have to make sure that Jesus will return by making a revival happen with signs and wonders, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His apostles and prophets.
This is in direct contrast with the Bible. God’s Word shows us clearly that Christ will bring the end. 1 Corinthians 15: 22-24 reads: ‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to our God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.’ He, our Lord Jesus will do this, not we as His followers and children on earth.
Revelation 5: 2b-5 describes this from a heavenly perspective: ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me: ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to be able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’
The book with the seven seals in which the end of things is written, can only be opened by Christ the Overcomer. Not by a man. No, not even by a heavenly entity, but only by Him alone, the Lion of Judah!
That’s why it is a distortion of the Biblical truths to put the responsibility and execution of the final things in the hands of God’s children.
We are not able to do that. Only Jesus is able to do that at the time set by God. Nowhere in the New Testament it is written that we are commanded to realize the end and the definitive establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth by ourselves. Yes, we have been given plenty to do. We have the Great Commission to win men for Christ, we are appealed to stand firm in trouble and to persevere in persecution; we are allowed to form communities of faith, to do good towards our fellowmen and the world, and we are called to grow prayerfully by training in the knowledge of God and His Word unto holiness. However, we are never called to speed up or implement the end of things. This is reserved to the Father and will be accomplished by the Son.
Somewhere, the desire to implement the end by ourselves and to establish God’s Kingdom, is an expression of the modern way of thinking and the zeitgeist of our age. After all, people of our time want to make the world a better place by taking action. Marching for the climate, Black Lives Matter and what not. They all stand for the same: do you want a better world? Then start it yourself!
The Bible teaches us that the end of this earth is not a utopia, but a dystopia. The end of this reality shall be the result of an increasingly wicked and chaotic world. Before Jesus returns, the world will get destroyed more and more by the effects of sin and wickedness. Humanity will lose more and more of what it has acquired through time, the nearer it gets to the end. Jesus Himself speaks elaborately about this in Matthew 24 and in Luke 21, in His teachings that has become popular known as ‘the sermon of the last things’.
It begins with false religiosity and Christendom. It is false because it’s no longer about the true Messiah and the redemption that He has accomplished, but about all kinds of other messiahs that are being brought up. Individuals that present themselves as the redeemer, teachings that promise salvation but which are not based on the gospel of Jesus, this will be the ‘new’ faith. Modern and contemporary examples of this are positive thinking, God as the great Therapist who will solve all our problems and the promise of wealth and prosperity if only our faith is big enough. There have always been many christs and many deceptions that promise redemption, but in our time this seems to be spreading ever more, ever further and ever more easily across the world through social media and the digital world. This is a sign of the end. It will continue and it will become stronger. And this has got nothing to do with a renewed discovery of the gospel of Jesus, with a worldwide recovery and revival around the cross (which the N.A.R. claims).
Jesus warns us for the opposite!
In addition, Jesus teaches about disasters and wars that will increase. At the time of writing this (summertime 2021) there are numerous reports about natural disasters as a result of climate change washing over us like a wave. Forest fires in different places in the world, floods because of abundant rainfalls, drought, excessive heat and so on. It’s getting worse and more intense every year. Scientists, politicians and NGO’s claim that this will lead to more and more turmoil in the world among the nations and peoples. Wars will follow in the wake of these disasters and gigantic floods of refugees lie ahead with all the consequences that this entails. Jesus describes this increasing calamity already in His sermon and He closes then with the words: ‘This is only the beginning of the birth pains.’ This implies again that it will not get better but worse. The Biblical view of the end therefore does not agree at all with the view of the N.A.R.
There will be no revival, we are not going to bring the Millennial Kingdom of God and we will not establish an utopia where everyone follows God in blessing. It will get worse in the world towards the end. Jesus does not teach us that we shall triumph and that He will then appear. As far as us as believers are concerned, Jesus speaks about persecution and about being hated by all nations because of His Name in His teachings. Matthew 24:13 is very telling: ‘But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved.’ Not who overcomes and does signs and wonders and causes revivals, but he who endures.
And all of this is just an anthology. I could say a lot more about it. The message is very clear: before Jesus returns it will not get better. There will not be an enormous spiritual revival and we shall not bring about the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. There is no victorious eschatology as it is called in the N.A.R. (see also the first article where I wrote extensively on this) where we overcome the world in seven territories and mountains of culture and society. This is where the N.A.R. derails in its theology. In the Netherlands, the Kingdom Now Movement is a good example of this.
At the close of this series of three articles, some words about the excesses that come from a radical way of thinking that starts and ends in the human experience and the lack of using objective measurement and touchstones of God’s Word, the Bible. As I wrote earlier in part 2, this leads to bizarre practices. I will mention some of them.
All of these conceptions, all of the theology that I have discussed in the previous articles, give cause to derailment in all kinds of utterly bizarre and extreme expressions. An example of it is the ritual of the ‘Fire Tunnel.’ This ‘Fire Tunnel’ is considered to be an expression of the working of God’s Spirit. A ‘Fire Tunnel’ is a hedge of believers that stand facing one another (the tunnel). The idea is that when you as a believer walk through the tunnel, you will be flooded with the fulfilment of the Spirit (fire). However, what happens is a mass hysteria of whole groups of people that have totally lost control and are falling on the ground jolting and shaking with laughter and sometimes even lying helplessly on the ground in groups laughing in a bizarre way or jolting and crying while there is chaos all around them. This bizarre practice can be observed by all. Just just type the words ‘fire tunnel’ on Google or YouTube to see shocking examples of it.
These sort of things have got nothing to do with the working of the Holy Spirit of God. When we read the Bible on the subject of the Holy Spirit, we soon discover that the Spirit of God is a Spirit of rest and order, not of chaos, as we have already learnt in the letter to the Corinthians. In Galations 5:22 we read about the fruit of the Spirit: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control.’ Just these two texts alone make very clear that these ‘fire tunnels’ are not God’s work. And again, it is not my intention to give an elaborate and complete theology about the Holy Spirit and His work here. I am only indicating how the Bible is passing along things to us and is teaching us how this contradicts the excesses as described here. If the wisdom of God’s Word is not the touchstone, these derailments will happen and that’s wrong. At the very least the supporters of the N.A.R. should give an account in this Biblical light. It is not appropriate to only say: if it feels like God and if it blesses me, or if it happens with a sincere heart, it is okay. Then it’s from God.
Grave soaking or grave sucking.
Another extreme example of the consequences of the N.A.R. way of thinking, is to be found in the practice of ‘grave soaking’. With this, believers lie down on a grave of a famous dead believer (it also can be done by cuddling a grave stone) to suck up or absorb his or her spiritual gifts. They do this from the assumption that those gifts have been left with them on the spot where they have been buried.
This thought comes from apostles, in this case from Bill Johnson in particular, who have said and written so (see for example the book ‘The Physics of Heaven’) and as we have learnt: what the apostles say is true and is from God. When asked about this he explains that (see here) that he had never intended it this way. He meant that we should honor and remember our leaders, but he nevertheless does not distance himself from the practice. After all, this is the N.A.R. and… if it feels good, then it is good. Man himself is the measure. This is sad, especially when you realize that even his own wife practices grave soaking (there are pictures of her practicing grave soaking to be found freely on the internet). If Bill Johnson really did not want people doing this, he could have put a stop to this in no time with his authority as apostle. He could and should have distanced himself from it. However, he didn’t. This excess, for which there is no Biblical proof or substantiation to be given, is an outgrowth and result of the theology and conceptions of the N.A.R.
This is what it comes to when people want to go further than the Bible and make themselves the measure, touchstone and authority of all things.
With that said, no other conclusion can be drawn than that this movement and its thinking should therefore be rejected. It is a theologically faulty movement; it ignores the Bible as the word of God; it makes man and human experiences the measure for everything and it puts the statements of the apostles and prophets on equal level with Gods Word (or even higher) when it comes to authority. This inevitably leads to excesses – as I have shown – and to unbiblical thinking about something as eschatology.