June 11, 2001

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Dear WPA and Others:

I had a most unusual day yesterday. The Lord woke me at around 5 A.M., and directed me to read Galatians. I read it slowly. When I reached our Church meeting, Pastor Joe had decided to preach from Galatians, so both of us preached for about 25 minutes on different aspects of that letter.

Afterwards, we went next door to the Spanish Church. The pastor is a lovely man, and he was delivering a message from James. The key thrust was to the believer. As a believer, we want to develop intimacy with Christ. We cannot do this if we have friendship with the world. We have to stop sinning if we want a close relationship with God.

James tells us to "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Also, "Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you." Again, "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double minded." Also coming to mind are the new testament admonitions to "stop sinning", and the clincher: "mortify (slb crucify) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry". (Colos 3:5)

I sat there, in wonderment, that Galatians and James are both in the new testament. This morning, the Lord led me to read James. I have these thoughts now, as I reflect upon the last two days:

Galatians does not exist apart from James. James does not exist apart from Galatians. James was given first, just as the law was. Galatians was a later revelation. There are many who have divided into camps. I will call them: The GALATIAN camp and The JAMES camp. When we do this, we tend to go to extremes, and we get into trouble. These must camp together.

The Galatians prescription is clear: we cannot mingle the law and grace together. Grace alone justifies a man before God. But the law is good too, and has it's purpose: it is the killing instrument. It highlights sin. It illuminates the flesh.

I taught yesterday an analogy. Last year, my Dodge Van developed cracks in the engine. Coolant was being mixed with the oil. This ruined the engine. The coolant is good. The oil is good. The mixture of the two is disaster. It is the same for the law and grace. We cannot mix them.

What of the law? James focuses somewhat on it. It is no good to wish that this book were not in our bibles. It is there, by the will of God. What are we to make of it?

James teaches us that the faith that saves is accompanied by works....works that demonstrate, in outwardly observable fashion, the faith that lies invisibly within. James argues that Abraham demonstrated such faith by what he did.

Is this a true statement? WHEN WE LOOK TO THE LORD AND BEHOLD HIS GLORY, WE ARE CHANGED INTO HIS IMAGE. This is Joyner. It is eloquent. But is it the Lord? If this is so, how is it that I change back into flesh and sin, which I am doomed to do because I carry this rotting flesh? Oh, how I wish that God would change me permanently, and get it over with today. Is Joyner speaking of an instantaneous change, a non lasting change, or a permanent one? I'm not sure what he is saying.

Is this a true statement? "We do not crucify ourselves for the sake of righteousness, purification, spiritual maturity, or to get the Lord to manifest Himself; this is nothing less than conjuring. We are "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20). If we 'crucify ourselves' it will only result in self - righteousness."

Another one made by Joyner in that article. Again, it is eloquent, but is it what God is saying. Compare to Colossians 3:5. If I mortify, or put to death, or crucify fornication that may be found within my members, am I not purifying? Also for spiritual maturity and for "getting the Lord to manifest himself", as Joyner teaches, which I take to mean intimacy. And so, at least in some sense, I must do it, yet Joyner teaches that I must not.

I think that Joyner is confusing here, and the word is not. Clearly, I know that if I am going to stop sinning in some area of my life, I am going to have to do it. God won't do it for me. He will help me by His spirit, and lead me into obedience, but I am not divorced from the doing of it.

Joyner says it must not be me doing it, and yet, it must be me doing it, according to the word. The key element here is: by what power am I doing it? Is it done by the spirit of God within me, or is it done by my own human will?

And yet, in some ways, I agree with Joyner because of one particular area of emphasis. I agree that our focus must be on Christ, and not on the sin. Just as it was necessary for the Israelites to take their eyes OFF of the snakes on the ground and to gaze resolutely at the serpent on the pole, we must place our spiritual focus on Christ. This gives us power to overcome the sin in our lives.

Some perhaps believe that my separation from Keith Mullins might also mean a repudiation of his teachings regarding Rick Joyner. Nothing could be further from the truth. Keith taught and revealed very accurately concerning Rick Joyner. I am no Joyner expert, but I saw enough through what Keith presented to know that there are deep problems in the man's ministry.

I believe what I see here, manifested in this article, is something that is tilted a little bit to the left of scriptural balance. There is nothing so strong as heresy here, but there certainly is more to this aspect of sanctification than Mr. Joyner presents. Remember, GALATIANS must camp with JAMES.

Stephen L. Bening
a servant and prophet of our Lord Jesus Christ

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