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About 20 years ago I was in fellowship with a number of preachers and churches who were drawing from sources in what is now commonly known as the New Age movement. Let me explain. Popular Christian teachers had been emphasizing the power of words, and some were finding that Christian Science, Unity, and other groups under the banner of “metaphysical” had been teaching this long ago. Also, we were so excited about the Scriptures teaching “Christ in you,” the Spirit of God living in us, and that we are the children of God by virtue of the New Birth. The New Age groups found exciting and modern ways of expressing these ideas and concepts, so it seemed we had something else in common with them.
Christian televangelists had been explaining that Christians need to abandon sin consciousness in favor or righteous consciousness. “For he (God) has made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) These metaphysical groups had long used psychological phrases like “higher consciousness” to describe the state of being they were seeking. Likewise, the belief in modern day miracles among Christians found a counterpart in a popular book entitled, “A Course in Miracles.”
My perspective is that truth is truth wherever it is found. Therefore I decided to investigate this movement and several of their writings. About the same time a very popular day-time talk show host was promoting several New Age teachers who gained a huge following with a non-threatening, affirming message. I would sum it up by saying it goes very far beyond “I’m Okay, You’re okay!” Many of them espouse that “You are Divine,” “You are God,” “You are the essence of the universe” “You ARE the universe,” and so on.
At this point one must choose between what Jesus and His apostles taught according to the Scriptures, and what these modern spiritual leaders believe and teach. Do the Scriptures teach that we are partakers of God’s divine nature? Yes. Do they teach that we can supernaturally rise above situations in this world? Yes. Do they teach that we are to take on some of the attributes of God? Yes. Do they teach that we are equal with God? According to some Christians today, they do, but I can very easily prove that while Christ Who is within us is equal with God, we ourselves are not. He is the Creator, and we are His New Creation in Christ!
The point at which I had to break with the Christians who were being influenced by these teachings was when the deception became clearly obvious. In only confessing the Scriptures where we are positionally righteous before God through Christ and His Cross, they chose to either ignore or explain away those passages that revealed our current place on the path of our spiritual growth. To some of them sin and death were no longer real. This is directly from “A Course in Miracles” and other metaphysical teachings. Here is a statement in “A Course in Miracles” that is supposed to sum up the theme of the book: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” From that foundation it goes on to say that sin and death could not be real.
So what do you think about this statement? Is human life threatened? Of course it is! Therefore, according to “A Course in Miracles” it must not be real. This concept that the physical universe is not truly real traces back to the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. So now, Jesus came to show us that all the sin, sorrow, pain and death in the world is not real. By accepting that, they say, we find true inner peace.
This redefinition of Christian faith is nothing new. Many in the early centuries tried to blend some of the wisdom of Greek philosophers with the teachings of Christ. At several points they seem to agree, but at one crucial point they are definitely not compatible. If Jesus thought He could just teach an enlightened message to the world by which we could all evolve into a higher level of divine consciousness, there would have been no need for Him to sacrifice His life on the Cross for our sins. His resurrection, which all true Christians believe in is among other things a vindication of the importance of the physical body, which God in the beginning created, and declared to be very good.
Have I misunderstood this new hybrid of Christian and New Age doctrine? It may seem so by the way I have oversimplified the situation. I don’t think so. Here and now I can honestly say that I tried my best to understand what was being said. I wanted to agree with my friends and the other leaders who I respected. For a time I too was deceived until I saw through the most blatant error – denying the very existence of sin. Another thing that would not let me continue was my concern for the complacency I saw in those who proposed this mixture of Gospel and New Age concepts.
Mind Over Matter
Quite frankly I am puzzled at how many from that time can possibly continue to rationalize their beliefs, seeing they are unable to reconcile them with their own experiences. The core of truth which lends any credibility to all of this is the fact that what we think, believe and speak does impact our lives and the lives of others. Examples of this are found throughout the Bible. Even humans in history whose faith was in nothing more than in themselves have accomplished amazing things!
But there are limits. Some of the people who believed their faith would not let them die physically have died. Many grand declarations have gone out into the air and have fallen to the ground. We have faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. Love does not set up those we love for failure. Instead of “naming and claiming” instant sinlessness, we should be confessing our faults and failures and pressing on to the mark of the high calling of God in Christ — as did our beloved apostle and teacher Paul. (Philippians 3:14).
This is not “sin consciousness,” but Word of God consciousness. It is one of the keys to victorious living in Jesus Christ. The way up is down. By humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of the only true God, we enable Him to exalt us in a way we could have never exalted ourselves.
My life began in one of the poorest parts of town, Columbus’ south side. My mother moved in with her parents after my father left. All this was before the three of us children entered grade school. Mom brought us up in church and we all trusted Christ and were baptized in our teens. I drifted from the Lord and tried to go my own way for several years, but He always kept His Hand on me. After years of struggling, never getting ahead, I found myself a single parent and overwhelmed with debt.
The Lord persistently dealt with me until I finally gave in. What sweet surrender! What overflowing peace! What amazing patience and grace!
The material problems in my life did not immediately cease, but the change within made all the difference. Better job opportunities soon came and to make a long story short, today I have a new wife of 35 years, two homes paid off, three adult children, eight grand children, and six great-grandchildren! All of this I attribute to humbling myself under the might hand of a great, powerful, gracious and loving Father God! (1 Peter 5:6).
Forgetting Those Things that are Behind….
What is the point of this message? Why am I bringing all this up now? Wasn’t that all in the past? Yes, but something else has come up since then. Present day Christian “Word of Faith” preachers on television have reformulated and repackaged this man-centered perspective of God and His Gospel. They have skillfully avoided connections with the New Age doctrines and have twisted Scriptures to mean basically the same thing. It is all about what I want. I want peace of mind, even though I sin, so I teach that the Cross of Christ has erased all sins even before I commit them. I do not my confess sins, because that would be denying the Finished Work of Christ on the Cross.
There is true peace with God through Christ and His death on the Cross, that much is true. It is a finished work. But when we sin, that inner peace is broken and we know it. There is a simple way to restore that inner peace, but the new Christian psychology of some has deprived millions of it! That is to confess our sins, for He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness! (1 John 1:9).We have a righteousness consciousness because we then have a clear conscience before Him! Humble yourself before Him and stay humble!
In our day, the slogan seems to be: “At all costs, we must FEEL GOOD about ourselves, even if we have to lie to ourselves!”
This requires a dogged determination to rationalize our behavior and the behavior of others, to close our eyes to anything that unsettles us, including those things that we are called by God to change!
Everyone of us has the choice as to what system of belief we follow. Not all people who claim to be Christians believe the Bible to be the Word of God. That is their choice. But at least admit it. Do not use the Bible to communicate what you are teaching and lead people to think that you believe all of it. If you believe in these New Age teachings then quote your philosophers instead of Paul, who would shut you down in a heartbeat!
But — If you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then receive it, even when it goes against your pride and vanity, even when it convicts you of wrong doing, even when it challenges you to take a stand against the evils of this world!
Some of my friends enjoy the teachings of the main purveyor of this new version of the Gospel of Grace. Some are even openly following the New Age gurus. I have already attempted to share my concerns with them, and the result is out of my hands. But having known the call of God on my life for 40 years, and the concern He has placed on my heart for all of His people, I am compelled to exhort and warn the greater community in any way I can.
This so-called “Hyper-Grace” message has the potential of creating an overly comfortable self-centered attitude in many, with very little concern for the purposes of God in this earth. At the very least it is setting a bad example of how the Bible is to be studied and understood. At the worst, some might be tempted to use it as a license to sin. I pray that none of these conditions come upon any of you. Most of all, I pray that you too will find Bible teachers who come from a God-Centered position, and who are not afraid to declare unto you the whole, full counsel of God. (Acts 20:27).