It is considered to be a cliché though it is still true that throughout your mortal span – especially in searching for salvation – you have to fight many difficulties to be able to reach your goals. The most destructive counterforce that both individuals and communities face with is wizardry. All forms of human life are saturated with wizardry putting up opposition against your intentions mostly at points where you would seek help and solution. Wizardry binds ignorant mortals lacking sense of locality and orientation by hiding behind the wings of religion, culture politics and trade.
We are all on the road. According to Jesus many go on the broad road though it leads to destruction. Only those who go on the narrow road will meet endless pine life. You are to choose between life and death, blessing and curse even if you are under the influence of imperative hostile forces, just as the Israelites were to at a mount in Arabia, at the place of the covenant with God, where Moses revealed to them.
Though Israel chose life and truth, for a short while it fell on its way to life. Wizardry played the key role in the failure of the generation of the Exodus and later in the perish of Israel and Judah as well. Wizardry overcame the nation of the old covenant and made them be outlaws with no place for home for them.
At the beginning the people of the new covenant – those that had believed in Jesus Christ, had been born again and baptised in Holy Spirit – promisingly marched on the way to eternal life. The first generation led by the apostles proved that victory could be gained against evil powers by fighting the good fight of faith. Even the Roman Empire, which was encompassed and saturated with idol worship, occultism and wizardry, could not stop the early church to serve and preach the Gospel.
One of the dark sources of Babylon described in the book of Revelations is wizardry. Babylon is a religious, economic and political power-based world system that subjects nations to exploit them and make them be opposed to the Kingdom of God.
…By your magic spell (pharmakeia) all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who has been killed on the Earth. (Revelations 18:23,24)
The Apocalypse of John mentions expressions in connection with wizardry four times in the chapters about the last years of this present age. The occurrence of these words expresses that wizardry was not only the feature of ancient, historic ages but it is an important component of the time characterised by the anti-Christ. Religions effecting smaller or greater multitudes have the same driving force as the Hollywood-type show and entertaining business, politics or even world wide or local trade does.
Wizardry has many levels and various forms. Almost every day new institutions are set up in order to work out newer and newer techniques for manipulating you and determine your choices. The civilised forms of wizardry are organic parts of the culture of these days. Though these forms do not seem to be such repulsive and frightening as the unmasked forms of occult practice they have the same disastrous and damning effects as the practice of magicians, shamans and voodoo priests does.
Modern wizards regard you as an intelligent computer that they can programme to make you show the desired behaviour. Many institutions of higher education consider depriving young people from originality and reality and forming them to the image of consumer society as their main duty. Qualified flesh and blood robots are being formed world wide; robots that would give themselves and their abilities and skills without conditions to serve a particular system and its master even if it is against the will of God
Charismatic Christians and Wizardry
Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity - especially the most influential leaders of it - is often accused of misusing religious, spiritual-psychological authority thus committing wizardry. A part of the media is eager to present the remarkable financial and spiritual success of this movement obtained in the 20th century as if it had been reached by dishonest and unfair way. The News shows the supernatural manifestation occurring during services as if they were the result of occult practice. Leaders are accused of putting money making and their own welfare into the centre of their life, instead of serving God,. Believers are portrayed to be such simpletons that, as a result of bewitch, have lost their personality, their rights and dignity and become the slaves and toadies of sect leaders obeying them without raising any question. These leaders not only exploit their blind followers but rob them of their rights and properties as well.
It is a fact that one or two cases have happened in the history of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement (just as it has done in other religious movements as well) but still the point of the 20th century revival is the restoration and proclamation of the reality of the Gospel. The spreading of wizardry and the above mentioned baseless accusations necessitate the definition of wizardry from a Biblical point of view, and to outline the proper New Testament model and the right order of church authorities. One of the main characteristics of wizardry is that it is likely to present honest aims and motives to be evil while things that are wicked to be of good. Pentecostal-charismatic Christians have to prepare to face with baseless and malicious accusations and accusers for a long time further on.
The name of the movement indicates that it is a wave of revival that focuses on God’s supernatural presence and power both in the lives of inpiduals and churches. As many consider all supernatural phenomena to be manipulation or of devil, therefore people with such preconceptions often reject charismatic experiences appearing among Pentecostals accusing them of occultism. It seems that this kind of accusation would come to an end only when, similarly to nominal Christianity, the Pentecostal movement refused the supernatural content of Christian faith, the continuity of the signs and miracles following the Gospel.
The necessity of advocating the movement should not make us forget that false prophets may turn up among Pentecostal-charismatic Christians just as they did among the Israelites in the Old Testament times. These prophets do not listen to the Word of God but derive religious revelations out of their own heart misusing the authority of God’s name. These revelations turn believers to false aims, perspective and knowledge that do not meet the pine facts and revelations.
The Bible rejects all forms of wizardry. It is especially dangerous for God’s people when a man possessing God’s power rebels against the leaders and believers standing for the word and the will of God, or at least starts an aggressive attack against a group of them.
The most instructive example of this kind of wizardry is the case of King Saul. Samuel the prophet warned the king of Israel to the graveness of his sin, yet Saul became more and more alienated from the will of God and more and more often used his power and authority – especially during the last years of his reign - against this will. According to Samuel
...rebellion is like the sin of pination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. (1Samuel 15:23)
The literature on wizardry accepts this Bible verse as the definition of wizardry. The original text does not compare rebellion and pination but identifies the two notions: "...rebellion is pination...” The second part of the quoted Bible verse identifies arrogance (obstinate, stubborn behaviour) - or insubordination (NAS)- with the serious sin of keeping domestic idols. According to this revelation wizardry comes from two negative attitudes: on one hand rebellion against the Word of God, on the other hand aggressive resistance, that is when someone tries to force his own will -opposing God’s will and authority - on others or on circumstances.
The Hebrew term for wizardry comes from the concept of "cutting". The basic meaning of this word reflects exactly the ultimate purpose of wizardry. The aim is to cut and tear you away from the will of God, from listening to the Word and from the positive according behaviour in order to - by getting under the power of demons - make you be opposed to the purposes of God and the authentic representatives of His will.
Wizardry consists of many negative behavioural forms. The complex of these forms makes up the technique of wizardry. The main aim is to wind up the interpersonal connection between God and yourself and to damage all relationship through which you may experience the reality and the blessing of God.
The Father of Wizardry
According to Samuel the prophet, one of the greatest sins of Lucifer the archangel rebelled against God is wizardry. Originally Lucifer served in Eden as an anointed guardian cherub. He had been blessed with beauty, wisdom and charisma, but he let ambitious thoughts conceive in his heart and desiring the greatness of God he decided to make himself equal to God thus trying to gain the praise and honour - that were only due to God - of all creatures. By absurd and slanderous talk he managed to make notable number of angels take side of him. He used his power given by his Creator to incite and instigate rebellion.
The Bible tells us that because of Lucifer’s rebel God deprived him of his glory and threw him and his followers out from Heaven. After this Lucifer as Satan (enemy, insubordinate person, accuser) with the help of the fallen angels organised an anti-dominion. Opposing and fighting against God’s plan for salvation is the condition of the existence of this invisible, supernatural, evil reality.
In the New Testament Jesus Christ set himself and his deeds against Satan. Jesus of Nazareth gave a true and accurate picture of the reality of God’s Kingdom. His personality, his deeds reflected the nature of the father, that’s why he told his audience: " I tell you the truth.”
While Satan - Diabolos as he is called in the New Testament – already at the very beginning of the history of salvation killed man. Satan detached himself from reality - what had been, before the first rebellion, completely the same as truth. According to his altered imagination and will he made up an unreal reality, the world of lies, into which he drew Adam and Eve by wizardry.
Satan has always forced his will on man and on the world by lies. Eve had been drawn into the unreal world of Satan by the following false statements and promises:
You will surely not die...your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4,5)
This program seems extremely positive and as a matter of fact is based upon the basic desires of man. Satan places this situation into the centre of his manipulation.
Instead of getting to know everything the first couple got into the power of darkness and blindness. The result of temptation is well known - instead of perfect security, man has become completely defenceless and extradited. Adam, instead of rising up to pine greatness and absolute freedom, got into the captivity of Satan and become the slave of sin. Instead of getting to know everything the first couple got into the power of darkness and blindness up to the stage that they became unable to realise and understand their real situation and destiny.
Saul the self-appointed priest
Samuel the prophet tried in vain to protect Saul and Israel from this diabolic stray. The king assessed the situation wrongly and as a result, in the last period of his life made a series of bad decisions. He revolted against the Word of God, when he continued to hold on to his authority. Instead of withdrawing himself, he started to fight against his successor, David to inhibit the realisation of God’s will in the life of Israel. For years, with his talents, charismatic abilities, and the means of his political power (all of which he had received from God) he served and tried to force on Israel too his own mistaken will and interests.
Not only did he and his whole family pay a big price for his witchcraft. In the fratricidal war excellent and talented Israelites died pointlessly, and the whole nation neglected the worship and service of God; such righteous people as David for example, had to go through persecution and atrocities for years. In addition, during this period the enemies of Israel became strong and started to attack Israel in order to stop the plan of salvation.
Some religious groups, in order to force their leaders to resign, often misinterpret the story and the consequences of David and Saul’s conflict - whereas the Word definitely claims the king to be responsible. They claim that
The Lord has left their leader and what he is doing now is witchcraft.
These accusations often prove to have no grounds, and they only serve to mislead people and turn the attention away from the rebellious behaviour of the authors. Pushy people identify their leaders with Saul only to take place in a leading position of the church or create a position for themselves. Samuel the prophet and David did not start a discrediting campaign against Saul, they did not organise a coup against him, after being informed about the will of God: it was clear for them that if something was from the Lord it would stand firm forever.
However, the fall of king Saul did not start with his confrontation with David. The king would have never lost his call, and thus would have remained without a conflict with David, if he hadn’t gone beyond his authority. God ordained him king. But when in Gilgal he offered up a burnt offering, he arbitrarily entered the service of a priest. Doing so he offended God’s sovereign will, and offended the social and political system, which was based on the Word of God.
In the Old Testament times in Israel the positions and authorities of the priest, prophet and king were separated. These positions were to be taken by such people only who were chosen by God, through whom He secured the rule of the Law and His presence among His people. In the heroic times of the Old Testament the Jews respected God’s right to choose. When people chose positions and tasks for themselves, they always entered into conflicts with the will of God. God’s anger always fell on the self-appointed priests, kings and prophets.
Saul was a lawful king, but made himself a self-appointed priest. As Samuel put it, he ‘acted foolishly’ when he seized the authority of a priest and offered an offering. He lost his real call, the position of king because of his foolishness. Saul raised himself in a position, which God had never given him. With his deed he fulfilled the moral law ‘everyone who exalts himself will be humbled’.
A big lesson to be learnt from this story is that the recognition of an existing problem or need does not authorise anyone to put himself into charismatic authority. Saul tried to defend himself by saying that the trouble was very big in Israel: The philistines were suppressing the people and there was nobody in Gilgal who was authorised to offer the offering. God did not accept Saul’s plea and revoked his call and anointing from Saul’s life. From this time on the king’s personality and ministry went through a continuous deformation. In this process his conflict with David was only a result and not the primary cause.
Therefore those who take no notice of the real reason for God’s rejection toward Saul, and put David and Saul’s conflict forward as primary reason, misinterpret this biblical story, which, in fact carries a lot of actualities. As in Protestant churches the questions and problems concerning leadership are often symbolised with Saul and David’s conflict, we also need to examine the New Testament references of this subject.
Is it the rule of the holy or the clergy?
In the course of history several types of governing systems have been created in the church. The form of traditional hierarchy (‘holy rule’), the regulated, rigid class of priests who share the authority and privileges, and the aristocratic and monarchic building governing this class, were radically turned down by the Reformation. Protestantism however, lately has a more tolerant attitude to it, even if the papal position constituting the essence of the system is still considered inconsistent with the revelation and apostolic tradition.
One of the main problems of this system is that God’s sovereign choice has no real place in it, and as a result ‘holy rule’ means the rule of the priests over church members. People decide that they want to be priests and then on finishing their training they are ordained by bishops. Church members lead their religious lives under the leading of priests that is under human control. At the same time, the possibility cannot be excluded that in this rigid class of priests God calls people supernaturally and uses them for his purposes.
For some people graduating from certain institutions it is most important to be good at ‘sect - chasing’
The functioning of the traditional hierarchy is fundamentally different from the governing system of the early church. The New Testament reveals that church leaders have to work on building God’s presence and rule in the church, so that the life of Christ may be seen in it. The trustees of the ‘holy rule’ are the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the believers and leaders who live in close relationship with God. This way a basic requirement of the realisation of the ‘holy rule’ is that the members of the congregation should be born- again, spirit-filled Christians and that they should take their positions and carry out their duties in the church on the basis of God’s choice and call, in line with the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We do not wish to detail the reasons why these churches governed by the traditional hierarchy do not have the moral and spiritual conditions for God’s. Church members who live in close relationship with the traditional hierarchy live under the control of priests that is under human control. At the same time it has to be admitted that the regulations of this class system of priests are so detailed and clear from the structural point of view that a rebellion against the whole system, from the part of a priest in the lower ranks or even from somebody in the position of a bishop is doomed to death from the beginning.
An essential aim of the traditional hierarchy is to maintain and protect the structural unity, ritual order, and doctrinal clarity of the church. With religious practises based on these points, they are quite able to keep together great masses of people which may seem to be a great success in the eyes of the world; but the question is whether it is permissible or not to keep people seeking Jesus Christ, dependent of a closed hierarchy and whether it is right to keep them away from God’s authority. Several revival movements in the course of church history proved that the rigid, strictly controlled class system of priests - especially after the Reformation - is capable of preserving its structure and organisation from splitting, from great reforms, but cuts its believers and in many cases forbids their believers from the kingdom of God. In the alienation process this kind of church often uses the measures and methods of witchcraft.
The second synod in Vatican. The power of the traditional hierarchy.
It is a thought-provoking fact that lately in the institutions belonging to this system, and ‘study of sects’ subject has become a main subject. In the curriculum of this subject the destructive critical approach towards revival movements, churches and people representing these movements has a privileged role. Most people who graduate from such institutions do not even have basic Christian, biblical knowledge. As a matter of fact, they are not even interested in such things, as the most important fact for them is to be at home in proving that others are ‘sects’. Nowadays among these people a good Christian is a person who can attack well the so-called ‘sects’.
Churches with democratic leadership, in their essence, are nearer to the traditional churches than it seems at first sight. A lot of the differences between the two are only formal; the content however, in case of the churches with democratic leadership is identical with that of the churches led by the traditional hierarchy. The only difference is that they are not able to work so efficiently as the Catholic Church for example. In this democratic system as well, it is the human choice, which is in the centre. The system may be successful only if the choice of the church members were in every case identical with God’s choice. The church led by a democratic leadership failed right on the day of the birth of the new covenant, when to Pilat’s question the manipulated crowds voted the liberation of Barabbas in the place of Jesus.
A great dilemma of churches with democratic leadership is that there is no guarantee for not voting Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit or the Bible out of their lives and their church. Before the regular votes, the candidates campaign to get supporters for themselves. This system works in the political sphere because society is heterogeneous and it has no common religious ground. In the life of the Christian church, the Bible has to have a central role even if it was against the will of most members. Leadership in church has to stand first of all not on the support of the believers but on the will of God, on the Word of God with or without majority support.
It is an experience that most of the so-called democratic churches are in chronic crisis in their leadership. From the spiritual, mental life of the community (if there is left anything like that), from the preaching of the gospel the attention is drawn to the continuous battle for position which takes place between the actual ruling party and the opposition. These, mostly Protestant communities are also famous for ‘multiplying with splitting’, and in a conflict the people involved are unable to submit their inpidual interests to the benefit of the community. Those having lost in the elections do not concentrate their energies to the promotion of the development of the church, but often prepare for revenge or a breakout, and try to harm the chosen leader everywhere they can.
A controversial advantage of this system is the fact that its ministers get better assessment in the press of the world than those in the charismatic or traditional hierarchies. Naturally, if the choice of the congregation is identical with that of God, the churches with democratic leadership are also capable of functioning without internal problems.
The democratic style of church leading failed at the birth of the New Covenant, when the crowd voted the liberation of Barabbas in the place of Jesus
The general controversy concerning leaders is a characteristic of certain small churches. In these communities there is a widespread idea according to which the church as such failed, right in the first century in the course of history, so now we live in the age of apostasy. They see the measure of deviations from the word of God fatal, irremediable on the church level. They think that today Christians shouldn’t found or build churches, but have to put their faith in action in small groups (in twos or threes) and the person suitable among them should do the work of counselling etc. However, even these people shouldn’t be officially ordained in the ministerial position.
This type emphasises the importance of getting sinner to repent (with very little success), the co-operation with genuine believers belonging to various denominations and the realisation of ‘love community’ with them. They have a pragmatic approach to the structural form of the church: if they meet real needs then they are necessary. These groups emphasise brotherhood, the equality of Christians, and turn down the subordinating system found in organised churches.
They have already given up their radical rejection towards the system having traditional priesthood, ministry and pastoral system. However, they still look unto them with suspicion. Earlier, they used to call them categorically ‘Nikolites’, who with human power, and abilities defeated and subordinated the believers, so that they can rule in the church. This tradition has entered the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement as well, even if this revival movement believes the fact that the church model is restorable, institutions should be founded and kept alive.
The general controversy towards leaders and institutions is a sect type characteristic of the Pentecostal Charismatic movement. Several representatives of this sect- type branch of the movement are having a neurotic, superstitious fear towards spiritual leaders, propriety, and publicity. That is why they look badly, with distrust unto the successes of Christian churches and leaders. According to their point of view ‘God gives success to those whom He does not love’. They consider success a dangerous position in which the leaders become conceited, which necessarily will be followed by fall.
So, as they say, effective charismatic leaders have to be prayed and fasted for, because they themselves don’t see what danger they are in. They have to be forced to share their authority, so that the church and the believers would not fall with them. That is why a system of controls, brakes has to be installed in the leading bodies of the church.
They are sceptic or reductive towards the restoration of the ministry gifts and their roles in the building of the church. Sceptic are those who accept the ministry of the leaders, the preaching of the word of God, the praise and worship of the Lord, and would like to draw advantages from these, but have a rebellious attitude towards the authorities, which are necessary for the leading of the church. They love to call domination or even witchcraft the popularity of influential charismatic personalities, their relationships with believers, based on mutual trust and love. At the same time, whenever they have the chance they grasp it, to prove their own importance, merits to believers. In those Charismatic-Pentecostal communities, where this sectarian tradition influences believers the church and its leadership are both characterised with chronic crisis.
On the basis of the previous facts it is obvious that abuse with either the authority of priesthood or clerical power is not an acceptable method, not to mention the denial of authority. The leadership models of the World (democratic, dictatorial) cannot be adapted in the church, because they ruin the believers’ relationship with God and each other, and in the church they undermine the authority of the Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the Hungarian cultural system leadership, especially if it is decisive and effective - mostly because of earlier well-known historic events and experience -, is connected to dictatorship. In the Hungarian version of the Bible authority is often mentioned with a negative connotation. This is also a reason why this subject is surrounded with great embarrassment, misunderstanding and evil suspicion.
A lot of Pentecostal Charismatic pastors are afraid to be stigmatised by believers or outsiders as dictators. For this reason they do everything to leave no suspicious sign around their work.. They are not willing to read letters, articles where their name is among the names of notorious dictators. They want to make everybody happy and blessed, to prove their goodness. They do not want to deal with such unpopular tasks as the correction of the spiritual-moral state of the church or disciplining, as when they do so they might easily be called dictators.
However, all leaders have to take into consideration that their personality may be put to shame in public. In the past years several neo-protestant, charismatic leaders were humiliated in their human dignities by their enemies in the press, by being described as terrible, cruel dictators.
Notwithstanding, real dictatorship in a Neo-Protestant church, which can be well followed by the public, and is growing in number, and influence, is impossible. In churches of this type the believers’ knowledge of the Bible is continuously growing. More reasonable critics of the movement also admit, that those belonging to these churches have a greater knowledge of the Bible than those in general belonging to the historic churches. The believers’ knowledge of the Word of God restricts the authority of the leaders, and motivates them to lead a life, have a ministry and attitude, which is in line with the pine facts, and reality.
Even in the early church the prestige of the apostles was continuously kept up by the fact that in the life of the community of believers the authority of the Word was growing. The service of the Word was the ’break’, and not some kind of human system of controls. The building and maintaining of an unlimited authority, based on psychical violence, in the Charismatic-Pentecostal churches is impossible because the focus of community life is the subordination to the Word of God - of free will and faith. It is exactly the Christian leader who has to serve as an example in obeying Biblical requirements, and this same fact makes certain believers presbyters.
Every God-fearing person knows the difference between dictatorship and subordination to the Word of God by faith. In communities, which stand on the Biblical principals the preacher, minister cannot speak or say whatever he or she wants to. The believers compare their leaders to scriptural norms, measurements and most of them follow the leader as long as he follows the Lord.
It is an impossible assumption to think that Christian crowds who know the Bible, what is more, live in a democratic social environment flow to certain charismatic services to be colonised, be deprived of their riches, and have their families ruined by an autonomous Pentecostal tyrant who does not take any contradiction, who aims at unlimited power, and gives orders all the time. It was the communist secret service that made this paranoid picture up about Faith church, which was then spread out in the society. All those religious-political powers have been ever since interested in maintaining and cultivating obsessions lacking any real foundations, whose presumed or real interests are being interfered by our existence and results.
Unity and differences
A Biblical picture has been evolved about church leadership in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, but its practical application is still accompanied by numerous hardships and contradictions. One of the preconditions of the realization of scriptural church leadership is that in churches everyone has to respect God’s sovereign decision, on which election is based. This pine right (freedom) can be realized perfectly, where the Holy Spirit is Lord.
The ministry gift is not something, nor is merely a spiritual gift. God gives flesh and blood persons to bless His people through them.
The election of grace doesn’t start from men below, but the initiative comes from God above. It is He, who has chosen every believer for eternal life. The basis of calling and election is never realized by human values, qualifications or merits, but only according to God’s sovereign decision.
Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls… (Romans 9:11).
In the Old Covenant, the emergence of the principle of the election can be well tracked in the lives of the patriarchs, when it almost regularly collided with the natural birth rights: the Lord chooses Isaac instead of Ishmael, Jacob instead of Esau, Joseph instead of Rueben and Ephraim instead of Manasseh. Everyone has a place, role and task in the kingdom of God, but God distributes positions, ministries and tasks for the called ones. Every believer can live and walk in the perfect will of God, only if he is on the place ordered by the One, who called him and accomplishes the tasks appointed by Him.
The basis of Christian unity and common identity is that one God, one Lord, one Spirit lives in them. The basis of their differences – apart from natural talents – is that they participate in the gifts of grace, various ministries and tasks in a different measure (1.Cor. 12:4–6).
No operable church can develop in those collectivist communities, which stand on the principle of horizontal equality. They oppress certain areas in the believers, the development of which would be of vital importance for someone to become capable to serve God. Beside public spirit and unity there are characters and differences in successful churches: the community is of such persons, by whom the church is genuine and real.
Many believers were deceived by those fashionable character-developing courses, seminars, which suggested that people might become anything (“you will be like God”). However, according to the Bible there are things, values, which one can’t develop in him. The question is whether he received them from God or not. Indeed, the essence of the gifts of grace is that they are neither the extension of human talents, nor products of work, but pine gifts.
The distribution of the ministry gifts takes place also on the basis of the sovereign decision of God. In the charismatic “holy dominion” (hierarchy) it is the apostles, prophets, teachers and evangelists who play the pivotal role. These gifts aren’t placed into positions, panels (committees), but into certain people. God appointed “some” for these tasks; he endowed their personalities with a certain ministry gift often before their repentance, moreover before their birth.
In the traditional hierarchy ministry gifts were linked decisively to positions. But according to the teaching of the apostle Paul “in the church God has appointed first of all apostles…” (1.Cor. 12:28a) that is people and not positions. The apostle defines the ministry gifts even more unequivocally in his epistle to the Ephesians:
When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men (…) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:8,11).
According to the quotations above, ministry gifts are not chosen by men for themselves, nor they give them to the church. It is Jesus Christ, who gives gifts to the churches to lead them. The ministry gift is not something, nor is merely a spiritual gift, but a concrete man, a person. The Lord God gives flesh and blood persons - whom the church has to regard as Christ’s gifts - to bless His people through them.
Every believer receives his salvation, eternal life and the Holy Spirit from the Lord, and by these he can maintain a personal fellowship with his Redeemer and the Father. At the same time, beside the new birth and walking in grace and spirit, every believer needs improvement, operable scriptural and spiritual church; as well as his task is to take active role in the growing and development of the church.
Neither believers who obey the Word can develop, nor New Testament churches can be established, nor the community can head towards God’s dominion where Christ’s gifts are rejected or wrongly recognized and such people are accepted as apostles, prophets, pastors, etc., whom were not given by Jesus Christ. Besides their stagnation in spiritual life, believers belonging to such communities are exposed to the experiments, manipulations and many times the witchcraft of people who imitate the real ministry gifts.
Most generally, beside revelations, gifts can be recognized by their fruits and results. Ministry gifts are often mixed up with the charisma of the Holy Spirit. The two are not the same: ministry gifts are people, whom God ordered in the church, and Jesus Christ gives to the believers and they receive these roles by the election of grace. On the contrary, spiritual gifts are the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in believers.
The gifts of the Spirit can work by any believer that’s why the apostle Paul encourages the church to desire the more valuable, more useful charisma. So these must be asked for from the Lord with faith, since they are given not only to some. The Bible cautions everyone not to take any of the ministry gifts to himself, but encourages all to receive the Holy Spirit and be filled with Him.
In some places being filled with the Holy Spirit and the working of the spiritual gifts are interpreted so, that they make the work and the role of the apostles, pastors, etc. useless. Those believers, who say, “let no man tell me what to do” presume that the Holy Spirit reveals and shows them everything. They don’t want to live under men’s but God’s control.
Their goal is correct, but they can see the way to God’s control in a distorted manner. They do not realize that opposing the guidance of the Holy Spirit to the scriptural relation to the ministry gifts will necessarily result in losing the balance in sticking to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is aware of that the primacy and rule of Jesus Christ cannot be built up in the church without the work of the real ministry gifts and the scriptural relationship to them.
The Holy Spirit justifies faith in the Word instead of cranks. The worst witchcraft against the church is when certain people want to blacken anointed, trustworthy persons, who are accepted and honoured by the whole body of Christ by describing them as being the obstacles of revival. According to their misbelieve they demonise, oppress people, rob them out, make them sick, etc., therefore the church should be cleaned of these persons.
It’s important to describe and define the competence and the task of the ministry gifts as well, in order to see their rights clearly, and the possible abuse with the power could be identified and be eliminated. Every Christian agrees with the fact that all power (exusia) belongs to Jesus Christ in heaven and on earth. His competence, rights are unlimited he can and is able to do anything. He can change anything both in the spiritual and the physical world, for he has power over everybody and everything and is superior over the whole Universe as well.
The primacy and rule of Jesus Christ cannot be built up in the church without the work of the real ministry gifts.
God has submitted everything to Jesus Christ, either it is recognized or not. The pine situation is independent of the state of the earth and mankind. It is also obvious that the state of the earth is contrary to the pine reality. Still it does not deny Jesus Christ’s omnipotence, but proves that an abnormal, unreal world has been realized on earth, which is basically contrary to the true reality, the transcendent facts.
Another feature of the present age of salvation is that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father and is waiting. He doesn’t vindicate directly his unlimited power and rights over his enemies and this world. An additional feature of this present age of salvation is that Jesus Christ has assigned his power to those who are born again, live in personal fellowship with him and the Holy Spirit, and form the New Testament church with each other.
This power has been given for reign: the church has to rule over sin, demons and “all the powers of the enemy”. The church can accomplish this task only by obeying the Word and being in the real presence and work of the Holy Spirit. The dominative area of the church is currently not in this world, but on the spiritual level.
One of the most important questions concerning this topic is that whether believers are endowed with equal rights and power, or they participate in them in a different measure. The Biblical answer for this question is: believers have same rights, such as the right for being God’s son, they have acquired rights which can be possessed and used by faith (these are for example casting out demons, healing by faith), and there are special rights which according to the Word of God are given to ministry gifts and the elders, helping them, “who direct the affairs of the church well” and serve successfully in the ministry of speech.
There are two important areas of the special powers. One of them is the right to discipline, exhort, lead the church and to correct its spiritual-moral order. It also includes setting someone into the ministry, the ordination, appointment of the elders and giving other commissions. The other special area is the direction of the finances. Within this area one of the main questions is that who and what amount someone receives from the church for his services.
In most cases tensions and disputes arises in churches in connection with the special powers. The extreme opinions can be classified into two categories: according to one opinion there must not be special rights. The other extreme claims them to be, but everyone should have them, or at least these rights should be used under everyone’s control.
Before giving the correct answer, it is important to clarify that the Bible contains a clear plan about the structure and the system of the church. Those who want to take part in building up the church must decide whether they want to accomplish this work according to the pine plan or their own conception. It is also clear in the Holy Scriptures that Jesus Christ regards the church His personal possession and body which is built up according to the revealed plan. The owners of the communities built up according to human ideas are the masters of these conceptions that are men. According to the New Testament, the elders and other ministers must be enrolled and ordained by the ministry gifts with the support and agreement of the church. In a certain measure Jesus Christ shared the right of selection with the apostles, prophets, pastors, etc. on the basis of determined spiritual-moral norms. The leading, disciplining of the church as a whole and the keeping of its spiritual-moral order is the task of the ministry gifts. Judgements in connection with serious disciplinary cases, such as excommunication, anathema, or handing someone over to Satan are to be passed by tested, legal ministry gifts. The safety and the future of the church depends on, whether believers acknowledge and support their legal leaders in applying these special rights of theirs.
The direction of the financial matters, decisions concerning the use of the offerings, determination of the salaries are the tasks of the legal leaders of the church, too.
It has happened in numerous cases that some turned against their leaders chosen by God when they used their authority rightfully to protect the spiritual-moral interests of the church. The New Testament clearly teaches that the right to discipline is an important part of the special powers of the ministry gifts. Those communities that want to remain in the will of God stick to these truths, even if certain people under discipline do not acknowledge that they transgressed the fundamental norms of the church, moreover they are not willing to give up their activities against the church.
In the past, such people disturbed the relationship between the church and the society by accusing Christian leaders - who had risen up against them with authority - at secular authorities and in the media, in order to get protection and justification to their behaviour against the church and Christians from the world. Generally, the media and the public opinion protect those against the church. This circumstance also plays a role in that the activities of Christian leaders come down decisively to bless the believers and to manage the administration of their organization and thus they are alienated from fulfilling the tasks of leadership. Worldwide the threatened pastors, elders do not put enough emphasis on the reality of the gospel and the protection of the moral order of the church.
The direction of the financial matters, decisions concerning the usage of the offerings, determination of the salaries are the tasks of the legitimate leaders of the church, too. In the early church it was them who led the collection of the offerings and they made decisions about how to handle and use it. Of course, in churches of greater membership those appointed by them do this work. The Bible in details does not regulate the handling forms of the money of the church, because in this area the church should accomplish this task corresponding to the given operative state laws.
Inside the financial matters, the most sensitive internal question is that who shall receive salary from the church for his spiritual activity. Some extended the words of Jesus – “freely you have received, freely give” – to services inside the church, too. Two working areas were mixed up, even though Jesus was talking about evangelism, the ministry towards the world when he emphasized freeness concerning the preaching of redemption and the sharing of its blessings. The gospel is not an article, but God’s gift of grace for everyone.
According to apostle Paul’s opinion, those Christian leaders have right for church payment who enrich believers and the church by their services with real spiritual values. Payment is due not to the position, but to the person, who transfers values, carries them out and does productive work. Since there are differences in service, in grace and in deeds (merits) as well, the salaries of the Christian leaders are also differentiated. Their income should be in harmony with the value of their gift and work. Those effective leaders with expanded ministry area, drawing masses into the church live on higher living standard and have more financial tools and values than an average leader of an average church.
On the basis of the biblical principle “do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” the majority of believers support these rights despite all mocking campaigns, as long as they experience that their spiritual leaders walk in the Lord and they mean blessing to their lives. If a Christian leader is blessed financially, too, this doesn’t mean that the person is disgraceful, dishonest, as some jealous people claim. The financial state of a spiritual leader should always be measured to the value of his work, and it must be considered as well, for how long he’s been doing his work, and what its significance is (local, national, international). Besides, the membership of his family must be regarded, too, since he can do his work full time only if he can support his family by its income.
The New Testament draws the attention to the financial appreciation especially of those leaders who are successful in the ministries of speech (preaching, teaching). The spiritual leaders have to know that they are the stewards of blessings and among these they have to guard their hearts from the love of money, of greed, and the desire for profit. Many Pentecostal leaders have failed in the past because of unclear financial matters. Greed has deformed their personalities and their ministries. However, groundless suspicions, charges create unnecessary tensions in brotherly relationships and destroy the churches.
The charismatic hierarchy
In the past years attention was drawn to an unimportant issue in connection with the ministry gifts: shall there be singular or plural leadership? On the basis of the Bible this dilemma is not essential, but is of pragmatic kind. God doesn’t care about how many people are in the presbytery; one man ore more lead the churches. The main question for the Lord is whether His dominion can be realized in the church or not. Neither inpidual nor corporate leadership gives guarantee in itself for the realization of the “holy dominion”, that is the vindication of Christ’s supremacy in the church.
According to the Biblical stories one man is able to lead a whole nation under God’s dominion (e.g. Moses, Joshua, the judges, David, etc.). God ordered elders beside Moses not because He became distrustful of His anointed one, and He thought that his attitude jeopardized His dominion over the people. There were pragmatic reasons for the anointing and appointments: Moses, deriving from his human, natural limits, was unable to solve the problems of the people alone. God’s love was manifested towards Moses when He chose co-workers to him: He wanted to save him from physical collapses, sicknesses.
Also in the New Testament church, God ordered elders not to compete with the apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, and to be their drag, to embitter their lives and to destroy their ministries, but they were ordained to assist the ministry gifts as colleagues. God looks at His chosen ones with confidence, He is not afraid of that His anointed ones betray Him or separate themselves from Him. Although there were some examples for that, too, the positive patterns are much more. Incidentally, chiefs and elders beside charismatic personalities always caused more damage in God’s work than the number one leaders ordered by God. Let us just think about Korah, Dathan, Abimelech, Joab, Absolon and further numerous self-made kings and prophets!
A major part of the tensions in the leading of the church derives from the conflict between the persons given to the people of God as ministry gifts and the elders, pastors and teachers appointed by them. One of the sources of the problems is that the appointed, commissioned Christian leaders start to show themselves as sovereign gifts and they try to make themselves accepted by their sphere of influence. Such ambitions confused many believers and churches, mainly because they didn’t have checked information about the source of the work, the ministry and its legitimacy.
During his missionary work, apostle Paul himself and his colleagues appointed the elders in every city. Among these there were such, who received commission in local churches for pastoral and teaching ministry. Many of them accomplished the task well, which they received from the apostles. God blesses those ministries established by commission, appointment, and the church grows by them. Nevertheless it cannot be stated, that every pastor and teacher who minister in full-time is a sovereign ministry gift for the church.
Without the commissioned, appointed Christian leaders churches would struggle with serious difficulties. Still, beside the excellent stand on their ground and work, it must be clearly seen that those Christian leaders belong to the fivefold ministry gifts that achieve more results by their ministry than the average, and significantly contribute to the development and growth of the churches.
These two categories of the leaders can be well recognized also in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. On one level there are those who are endowed with a ministry area as gifts, on the other level of the leaders those can be found who are commissioned and appointed by the former ones or those who support their ministries.
On the basis of the Book of Acts, it can be seen that the church developed decisively as a result of the operation of the five ministry gifts, and this growth was speeded up by the activities of the commissioned, appointed leaders and believers. Everyone is a blessing for the people of God as long as he remains in his calling. The appointed, commissioned, ordained leaders mean a blessing as long as they are satisfied with their roles and they do their activities accordingly.
It is a misfortune and trouble for the general and the local church, too, if their leaders lift themselves into such authority, which is not given by God to them. Participation from authority (rights), grace and tasks in a different measure doesn’t mean order of values in relation to the leaders and believers, but it means merely a ministry order.
Election is for a determined purpose, task, which doesn’t endow the chosen one with superiority or with extra values, but with greater responsibility. The chosen person realizes the purpose of selection, if he obeys God and manages the gifts well he is entrusted with and accomplishes the task appointed to him. Then his determinate values will be apparent. A whole life-work is the ultimate proof of whether someone is chosen by God to be an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, a teacher or an evangelist or not.
Your will be done!
Most critics consider to have discovered the proof of leaders’ dictatorship and dishonourable deeds in the obedient life proper to Pentecostal-charismatic churches striving to achieve the New Testament model. They claim, that the believers of these churches are deprived of the freedom of thought and speech, and that every type of criticism is severely sanctioned by the leaders. The greater part of believers is intimidated, compelled to unconditional obedience by (psychical, demonic and sometimes physical) violence. The cruel and evil leaders hold the members in slavery, deprived of fundamental freedom. The members of the sects are mediums of their leaders, that's why their positive opinion about the church lacks any foundation. In this paranoid approach each church member is considered to be agent of the sect head, and their exclusion from the state positions and public life represents a task to national security.
These unfounded accusations stiffened up to prejudices are fed not only by an anti- charismatic or counter - small - church zeal, but also by a general anti-religiousness, which impregnates the subsurface spheres of most post communist societies up to the present day. Although the greatest part of the inhabitants consider themselves members of the historical denominations, only a small fraction obeys the teachings of their church, and even those frequenting the Ministries do not adjust their lifestyle according to the Word preached in their church. In the midst of a general social resistance to the Word of God, the activity of a church intending to build its faith, pine service and life upon real biblical basis, instead of a merely cultural and political type of Christian identity, acts quite irritatingly.
In the cultures, where the decisive part of public opinion does not see the Bible more than an obsolete, antiscientific, life-denying religious tradition, myth and racial-religious ideology, the evangelical communities, aiming at the New Testament manner of life and church model, can hardly hope to be accepted by their environment. Especially if politicians forge political capital out of this tendency. Hungary's ground law guarantees general religious freedom, too, but actually the political elite and most leading public figures (re)present a spirit contrary to the law. The true Christian attitude consists of an unconditional identification with God's will. The famous words of Jesus “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26, 39b) represent a fundamental life philosophy for each believer following Christ authentically. The life of God's men was determined in all its detail by the will of the Almighty. After knowing the plan of God and being convinced of its real character, they joyfully and willingly committed their whole personality to God and completely submitted their spirit, mind, will and body to God's claims. The main goal of their life becomes the service of God's will.
The essence of God's program for the visible world is contained by the truth of “your will be done”. The believers gladly welcome this purpose, as they are convinced, that God is good and his will (plan) serves the prospering, earthly and eternal happiness of each believer as well as the salvation of the whole of mankind.
According to the teachings of the entire Holy Scripture, the task, reason and goal of human existence can be achieved only if they submit their life to God's will for ever, by a decision made of their free will. The Lord does not compel anybody to do this step. He only helps, if asked. He respects human freedom, even if they use it for wrong targets, or if the consequences of their decisions are catastrophic. Only decisions made of own free will have moral value.
According to the Bible, God put before mankind life or death, blessing or curse. Every one, if willing, can learn from God's Word the way leading to these, and can decide what to choose. Evidently, the Holy Scripture's important aim is also to convince: “he” tries to influence men by moral histories, facts or teachings, in order to wish life and blessing. Another message of the Word is, that even choosing positive goals, man can achieve them only by submitting himself to the will of the Lord, acting and living accordingly. The Word is at the same time God's will, so pine will can be learned from the Scriptures.
God's enemy, Satan binds human will and thus forces him to live an immoral, lying life as a slave to sin. Man can detach himself from God, because He guarantees his freedom and free will inside this live community. But contrary to this, nobody can separate himself from Satan, because this vile being keeps man's will in captivity by a supernatural evil power, which surpasses human potential. Jesus Christ had to set all of us free from this diabolical condition.
The recognition of God's will results mainly from hearing the Word. This is realized, when people preach the Word of the Gospel. The unconditional identification and submission do not refer to the person of the preacher, but to the message and the Word. The measure of the Word impressing the audience, is determined mainly by the quality of the preacher's communion with God, his way of life, his gift, as well as the power and strength conveyed by his service, i.e. the anointing.
People react more intensively to the services of God's anointed man. This is due to the fact that in such cases by paying attention to the Word both the message and the Holy Spirit influence the listener's spirit, feelings, will, mind, and physical limbs more than during a normal sermon. An anointed praise and preaching can cause ecstatical, emotional and physical manifestations. These do not mean a devotion to the preachers, singers or musicians, but prove that God's Word and the Holy Spirit are really acting during the Ministry, because all who are present identify themselves with the will of God. The most important target of the charismatic Scripture service is to plant God’s Word into the hearts and to lead the believers into the Holy Spirit's presence. During the sermon, important effects and signs can appear among the listeners: decisions concerning repentance to God, huge overflow of sin-forgiving grace, deliverance from demons and curses as well as healing from physical diseases.
In the New Testament congregations’ life moves on outside the ministries, too. Inside the community life, Christian leaders are given the task of representing God's will in a spiritual moral respect, as well as in the manner of living and speaking. Both the anointed and appointed charismatic leaders have to meet the spiritual and moral norms established by apostle Paul. Their temporary and derivative authority must serve the building-up of the church.
The leader's personal example set in the matter of obeying God's will is the determinant part of church leading, and never other activities, like direct personal influence, persuasion, giving of orders and instructions, etc. Obedience to superiors is an important requirement in the Pentecostal-charismatic churches. “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13, 17). Obeying (submitting) is a positive attitude based on confidence in the persons representing God's will, and expresses that the believers are listening to the word of the pastor, submitting themselves and behaving accordingly.
Obedience to the church rulers is not unlimited, but limited. It does not extend to their personal problems and claims. If leaders of any level are unequivocally representing intentions, life style and deeds contrary to God's will, the principle to be applied to the emerging conflict will be: “We ought to obey God rather than men”; in such situations believers’ obedience would mean sinning.
Jesus encouraged his listeners to accept the teaching of the Pharisees (religious authorities of that time), but not to follow their deeds, since they did not represent God's will at that level. In the almost two thousand years that passed their situation got worse, as nowadays neither their lives, nor their teachings represent God's will any more.
In the main streams of Pentecostal-charismatic revival, leaders aim at the re-establishing of scriptural conditions, too. But this has nothing to do with the paranoid images suggested by the forces hostile to the movement. The rebellious believers, who, sticking to their independence, refuse to obey the Christian leaders and rulers, often find support among those who criminalize the pine order of the churches.
God’s Word itself presents the requirement in the matter of submission inside the church to us. God's plan concerning the church cannot be achieved without it. The anti-authoritarian and leading opposing attitude met in the homeland's evangelical and Pentecostal-charismatic circles are doubtlessly influenced by some imprecisely translated Hungarian Bible passages, too. For instance in apostle Peter's instructions written to the elders of the church the Hungarian text says that “neither as being lords (or ruling) over God's heritage”. (1Pt 5,3.) The original expression, the katakürieuó, does not deny the right of leaders to exercise authority, but protects them from misusing their power.
Apostle Peter interdicts practicing power in the church in a heathen, worldly style, materialized as authority abuse. The Gospel uses the same expression when Jesus kept his disciples away from practising a worldly kind of power. The original word refers to the practice of arbitrary and voluntary influence and control. This type of authority can be built up and maintained only by violence and force. The domineering persons defeat and subdue the people. The expression “Nicolaitanes” used in the Book of Revelations shows that the practice of power abuse got its reason for existence even in the Christian world. If Christian leaders separate themselves from the will of God and the Word, but still try to keep their influence and authority over the church members, their power becomes automatically authoritarian, selfish and illegal. It happens that they apply sorcery techniques in such cases, too.
The reform and the different revival movements recognized the distortions of charismatic authorities, but the re-establishment of biblical practice proves to be a difficult and controversial process. According to our opinion, the Pentecostal-charismatic movement has the possibility to approach the New Testament model also in church leadership. The historical and contemporary problems occurring in the matter of church authority cannot be used by believers as a pretext to rebel against their leaders who represent God's will.
Fighting with or against God
According to the Bible, rebellion is sin, and the Scripture distinguishes between different forms of negative behaviour. The easier form contains the resistance and opposition to the Word of God, or the person representing it. Inside the church this is often achieved in silence, in the sphere of soul and heart; the rebellious person has not even the slightest intention of changing his attitude according to the Word he hears. These church members attend the services, praise the Lord, listen to the Word, but their actions are not followed by submission to the will of God.
A harder form of rebellion is the revolt containing deeds directed not only against the speeches or messages, but also against God or the person(s) representing His will. This negative behaviour aims at distraction, has insulting character and causes suffering to the person whose totally legal claim is to be obeyed. In the most severe form of rebellion the disobedient member instigates others to riot and influences (or even determines) them to deny and attack both the person legally asking obedience, and the truth represented by him.
Even during the Old Testament history of Israel, several organized revolts occurred against God's will. Riot leaders, like Korah, Dathan or Absalom are the most tragically infamous Jewish figures of the Old Testament.
Each time, the revolts against God's anointed men were organized by persons having great influence upon the people, but being unsatisfied with their role gotten from the Lord, they wished to obtain greater power and glory. Their actions claiming a lot of lives shook the order of the Old Testament Jewish society to its very foundations. Most of the great, organized revolts failed just because God intervened in the events on the side of His chosen people. Moses, David etc. were anointed men representing a guarantee before God that the people keep going on in the way of covenant.
In New Testament time, organized revolts are much more dangerous and harmful, as they are directed against communities and persons, in whom the Holy Spirit is eternally dwelling, and whom God uses for fulfilling His pine plan. The different religious movements, led by the Pharisees, associated themselves against Jesus Christ's person and service, in order to achieve an organized social resistance against the Gospel of God's Kingdom.
The leaders of the riot had sent agents, spies and provocateurs into the surroundings of the Nazarene, to pick out of His speeches, deeds and manifestations, all the moments usable as incriminating exhibits in the show trial against him. They systematically gathered these “evidences” and quoted later the sentences out of context, with a distorted semantic content, (for instance, in the case of His statements about the Sabbath, or the destruction of the Temple). It was the task of agents and provocateurs, too, to spread slander, and theological accusations among Jesus’ audiences.
The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees came down to exerting influence. The Nazarene’s influence upon the crowd was built on the Service of the Word, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, as well as on His deeds, miracles and signs. The Pharisees, on the other hand, based their influence on monopolizing the authority of education and instruction, formal religiosity, traditions, severe legalism and cooperation with the state power. They declared Jesus demonised, right before the masses, rumoured that He was a swindler, transgressor (of the law), and that His activity was followed by supernatural manifestations due to His community with Satan. So His mass influence was of satanic origin, said the same.
The confused crowd did not even know what to believe. Jesus wished to re-establish their clear-sightedness, when He drew His listeners’ attention to applying the principle of “knowing the tree by its fruit”. In response to His sermons and deeds many sinners repented and came to God, abandoned their wicked lifestyle, and were healed of the most severe pains and sicknesses. He drove out evil spirits from a lot of the demonised, resurrected dead, etc. The exclusively useful and good results proved, that the Holy Spirit dwelt in Him and performed through Him great miracles. This was the reason He soon got into the limelight of the society.
The Pharisees were shocked by this. They considered their position, social authority, dominance and control over human thinking, values and lifestyle jeopardized. They associated with anyone, even with their enemies, (the Sadducees and Herodians), only to stop and suppress Jesus’ social ascension. They refused to accept that not manipulation and sorcery stood behind Jesus’ mass influence, but the activity of the Holy Spirit alone.
Reacting on their curses and blasphemies, the Lord said: “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12,31). Both the fear of losing their power and the envy transformed them into traitors, when they surrendered Jesus to those representing the Roman Empire, Herod and Pilate, for execution.
After Pentecost another organized and “stately” supported revolt and resistance occurred against the disciples, repeatedly led by the Pharisees. The enemies of the Messianic revival disregarded the advice of one of their renowned rabbis, who told them that, “For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.”, but if it is in God's plan, “you will not be able to stop these men”. He cautioned them not to “be found even to fight against God” (theomakhoi).
But the religious authorities of the time continued to fight against the growth and popularity of the early church. In that situation the will of God was represented by the men believing in Christ and led by the apostles. The Pharisees strongly opposed them and by fighting against the Jewish Christians they forced their selfish interest and subjective will upon the society. In his defence statement the martyr Stephen revealed the ruling religion's tradition of revolt and resistance, which according to Samuel's assertion can be called the sin and spirit of sorcery.
You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! (Acts 7:51)
Since Cain's religiousness, we can follow step by step through the whole Bible, how religion opposes God's will and claims. Moreover, the most violent conflicts took place between the community of persons representing God's will and the camp of religious figures. In these conflicts religion drew its substance and destructive force from sorcery and witchcraft. By the spirit of rebellion and sorcery, Satan binds those representing the religion; in order to achieve his will through them, wherever people get together to form a community seeking God.
Nothing has changed to the present time. Very often those ones, who opposed God's will were close to the work of the Holy Spirit and tasted “the power of the world to come”. Apostle John declares in his epistle that before the Antichrist's coming (the leader rebelling against Christ and opposing Him in every respect and furthermore putting himself in the position of the Messiah), many antichrists will rise. He says about them that they were Christians, members of the church, not only in cultural, but in a spiritual sense, too.
This is because; in apostle John's time the process of becoming Christian unavoidably included the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit. This means that men got acquainted with the third pine person, turned against God's will and the community representing it. The apostle says about them:
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (I John 2,19-20).
In today’s world there are again present communities representing God's will, and indeed one of our time's specialties is, that this can be seen not only in the realm of God's grace, but also at the natural level of the world's political and economic system. The prosperity of Israel and the true church is not only the business of those belonging to these two communities, but according to numerous prophecies, it seems to be the pledge of mankind's future itself. That's why it's an important task that instead of disorder, internal dissension and fights, peace and joy based on righteousness would reign in the life of communities representing God’s will. This is the single way the church can efficiently represent the Gospel and can overcome the power of hell, where sorcery is a central factor.
Source: New Exodus