Friday, September 2, 2011

Reviewing a Daniel Lim Sermon at IHOP-KC

Daniel Lim (according to his bio) is a former Baptist minister from Malaysia who currently serves as chief executive officer of the missions base for the International House of Prayer here in Kansas City (IHOP-KC). IHOP-KC is known by many for its nonstop 24-hour prayer services, with continued praise songs intermingled with sermons and prayers. It was founded by Mike Bickle, infamous to some for his involvement with the Kansas City prophets as well as the Vineyard Movement, two groups rife with false prophecies and corrupt practices.

In May of 2010, Lim did a sermon entitled "Jesus Christ Heals," which is available at IHOP-KC's Weekend Teaching Archive. It is subtitled as an exposition of Luke 7:21-23. Throughout the sermon, Lim does say many truths: he begins by asserting the divinity of Christ, and at one point says that the greatest healing is that of being born again. However, certain things were said that led me to believe this sermon should perhaps be biblically examined, if not for the benefit of those outside the IHOP-KC movement, then for the benefit of those inside.

It begins when Lim states that Christ's works affirmed who He was (which is certainly true), quoting Luke 7:21-23 where Christ responds to the question by John the Baptist's followers on whether or not He was the true Messiah. Then Lim connects Christ's demonstration of His works not only with Himself, but with the ability for those within the church to be able to do such works:
But you know the works of Jesus is right now resting upon the body of Christ. God is working, and He's working through His body. In other words, His glory will then be manifested through His glory, so that when people see the works of God through the glory of God they give glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. The dead longing is the longing for the proclamation and the demonstration of the apostolic gospel. When I say that the authentic gospel being proclaimed and demonstrated, I long to see that a gospel is preached and then is confirmed and the - the kingdom of God is demonstrated accompanying the preaching of the Gospel. [6:57-mark]
As an example, he gives a time when IHOP students in Boston went out praying for healing, and supposedly a Harvard university basketball player was healed from a hurt leg, walking away without his crutches. "Now we're talking about demonstration," Lim says, "because then you don't need advertisement. The word will go out because a basketball player is kind of a mini-celebrity on campus" (8:25-mark).

I actually did a little research on this, and found an article that talks about the story. The Harvard University basketball player's name was Brandyn T. Curry, and he did indeed walk away without his crutches after some IHOP students prayed for him...but that's not the full story.
He was on crutches following a knee operation earlier that day, to fix a tear in his patella, an injury he says came from "normal wear and tear" playing point guard on the varsity basketball team. The doctors had told him to use the crutches for a week or two, and that it would take from four to six months to recover fully...

Curry’s take on the situation seems a little less dramatic than Hood’s. He describes feeling stronger when they prayed for him, and he says his recovery was shorter than expected, clocking in at just under four months. Curry says he reserved serious spiritual discussion of the event for fellow Christians, such as his mother. With others, he just talks about how his leg felt better and confirms that yes, it really happened. [source; all emphasis mine]
He didn't have to use his crutches after the prayer, yes, but the doctors didn't expect him to use his crutches for that long any way. Also note that he still had to recover. In other words, the healing was not complete. He felt strength after they prayed for him, but his leg was not fully healed. In fact, it wasn't fully healed until the time frame that the doctors had already provided. All this was not the way Daniel Lim portrayed it, and is an example of the danger behind healing "fish stories" that get thrown around so casually. One can only be reminded of the many times Benny Hinn healings were investigated, and the majority of the time it was discovered that the person supposedly healed was either misdiagnosed, not as sick as they were said to be, or died soon afterward. Might I propose that instead of trying to come up with or looking for healing fish stories to wow people, we should simply be turning to the word of God to transform people's hearts and minds towards Christ?

In any case, Lim continues:
I'm longing to see how the gospel is being proclaimed and demonstrated. This led to the promise of Jesus to say that, "You know, believe me for the sake of my works, but those who believe in me, the works that I do, he will also do, but greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father," referring to Him sending the Holy Spirit to indwell, to fill, to empower the body of Christ to carry out the works, so that the glory of God will be revealed on the earth. [8:45-mark]
In his sermon notes, Lim cites for this Matthew 24:14 and John 14:12. John 14:12 is relevant to what he is talking about, but Matthew 24:14 actually has nothing to do with works. Initially I thought this might have been a typo, but as the sermon went on, I began to wonder if Lim was either irresponsible or dishonest. This will become more and more clear as we progress.

Lim says the "words that were released" by him during this time of his great wanting for revival have been "catalytic in some way." He then shares the following story.
And then on December 13, again, the leadership asked me to share, and I was under the burden to talk about Elijah and Elisha, the double portion anointing, and going, asking God-asking the people to go for the double portion of the Spirit, and not just to settle down for what has already been released, and referring to how the Elisha/Elijah generation, how Elijah was taken by the chariots. And then, two days later, someone wrote me an email, that, "Did you know that one of the spiritual fathers of the healing movement went home to be with the Lord - Oral Roberts - on December 15." I was not making the connection, I was just preaching my Sunday morning sermon. So they told me that, you know, in some way, you release the word, things kind of happen, so I say, "Maybe I'm accidentally catalytic." [10:28-mark]
This is rather close to the doctrines of the Word of Faith theology, where a person speaks something and, by that word, it releases a power that makes it come true. Ignoring both the fact that he essentially claims to have killed Oral Roberts with his words as well as the fact he compared Oral Roberts with Elijah and Elisha, Lim continues with a promise that God is about to do something great:
...this morning is about us releasing a proclamation, and perhaps, perhaps, that this is truly in time and in line with something that God is about to release and launch forth. Whether I'm understanding or not, I believe what I'm feeling, which I cannot describe with language, is we are on the threshold of another wave of healing revival. And Kansas City has a vital portion along with many other appointed cities and lands for this to break forth on the earth right now, and this healing revival labors has been given to a period of time in Pentecostal and Charismatic church history in the 1940's to the 1950's when a company of vessels and messengers of the Lord has been set apart and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they were used by God to bring a massive harvest of souls that's accompanied by supernatural healings and miracles. [12:10-mark]
Lim admits immediately afterward that this revival was "tainted by imperfection of error and doctrine, as well as excesses of practices."  He shrugs it off with, "Nobody's perfect," but insists that there was still "a genuine touch of God during that period of time."
It was 1946 that some healing revivalists began to go forth and began to start in a small way, and in 1948 Oral Robert Evangelistic Association was registered because it's now picking up momentum, and in 1949 Billy Graham has his Los Angeles crusade that put him on a national and global scene, and 1950 he organized the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Now most of you would not classify Billy Graham - Reverend Billy Graham - to be a healing evangelist. Nobody would do that. So why am I putting this storyline together? Because as you look at the bigger picture, what was happening in the late 40's and 50's was not two camps - it was a release of anointed laborers, anointed evangelists, whether they were operating in healing or they were not operating in healings as their main gifts - there was a company of evangelists anointed by God to bring in an unprecedented harvest in the 20th century. What I'm feeling in my heart is again God is going to answer the Matthew 9 prayer, "Lord of the harvest, send forth laborers" - not just any laborers, anointed laborers. God is going to raise up in the 21st century - we're at the beginning of the 21st century - another wave of evangelists that will have variety of expressions. Some will be marked by unusual gifts of healing, and Kansas City will have a part to play in that. [14:08-mark]
Lim seems to glorify Oral Roberts and others, declaring this to be a work of the Spirit even if "nobody's perfect." How "perfect" should we expect a minister of God, especially one that is claimed to be used by God to bring about His Spirit? Let's review Oral Roberts, since Lim brings him up and seems to think he's a "spiritual father" of the healing movement:
Some believe God is raising the dead. Oral Roberts, for example, speaking at a Charismatic Bible Ministry Conference in 1987, said, "I can't tell you about [all] the dead people I've raised. I've had to stop a sermon, go back and raise a dead person."...Surely it is significant, then, that not one modern occurence of raising the dead can be verified. What about Oral Roberts' claim? Challenged to produce names and addresses of people he had raised, Roberts balked. Later, he recalled only one incident - more than twenty years before - when he had supposedly raised a dead child in front of ten thousand witnesses...Roberts conceded that neither the child nor others he said he had brought to life had been pronounced clinically dead. "I understand," he hedged, "there's a difference in a person dying and not breathing and [a person] being clinically dead." [pg. 131-132; John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 1992]
And again:
Strange private prophecies are proclaimed by all kinds of people who evidently believe God speaks to them. Surely the most infamous is Oral Roberts' preposterous death-threat prophecy. Roberts told his nation-wide audience in 1987 that God had threatened to "call him home" if he couldn't raise eight million dollars by his creditors' deadline. [pg. 54; ibid]
And again:
Oral Roberts asked for "seed-faith offerings" - money donated to him that is in effect a down-payment on your own personal miracle or healing. [pg. 242; ibid]
And again, this time from a different source:
Here is one of Roberts' illustrations of how giving money is the seed that produces miracles. In January of 1985 Oral Roberts sent out a letter informing his supporters that they could send for his "33 Predictions for You in 1985." These predictions were allegedly based on Roberts' exercising his "gift of prophecy" for them. The many recipients of his letter were instructed to expect "creative miracles" and money. The reader was urged to send a "seed-faith gift" which would help him get a "hundredfold return." But there was a catch. Roberts said, "If you neglect to pay attention to what He [God] is especially saying to you, then Satan will take advantage and hit you with bad things and you will wish that 1985 had never come." What could you have concluded from these statements if you didn't want to send any seed-faith money? [pg. 313; John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Cult Watch, 1991]
And yet again, from yet another source:
One well-known example of a false prophet telling made-up stories for profit is Oral Roberts. He claimed to have had a conversation with a nine-hundred-foot-tall Jesus, who told him to build the City of Faith Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If he failed to do so he would die. He told his supporters there would be cures for cancer and other diseases if each of his prayer partners contributed money for the project. Donors contributed the millions of dollars needed to complete the twenty-story complex. Sadly, the promised miracles failed to materialize. The medical center, with more than seven hundred beds, never functioned anywhere near capacity and finally went bankrupt. [pg. 129-130; David Emerson Wilson, Let No Man Deceive You, 2008]
If you think I'm exaggerating things by quoting sources other than Oral Roberts himself, you can always take a look at his book How I Learned Jesus was Not Poor, which goes along with the Word of Faith theology that Jesus was rich and thus so should we (or at the very least, so should his ministers).

All these practices are what Lim shrugs off with "nobody's perfect." Now, do I believe God does good in the midst of evil? Of course I do - but I don't glorify evil or the practices of evil because some good came out of it. To do so is to introduce a kind of spiritual pragmatism. Do I believe that all Christian ministers should be 100% perfect? Of course not - but there's a difference between personal flaws inherent in most people and evil practices that violate every biblical definition of what a minister of the word should be. To call men who practice such things a "spiritual father" shows an askew of priorities.

Lim returns to Luke 7, saying that he will use it to teach what Christ-centered healing ministry looks like. He correctly identifies that Christ's response to John the Baptist's disciples is a reference to the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, although he interprets Isaiah 53:4-5 the way Word of Faith preachers do:
So when the disciples of John came, Jesus said, "Look, and hear, what is happening around you. You are living in the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 verse 4 and 5: 'for He was stricken for our transgression, by His stripes we are healed...'" [26:03-mark]
Quite obviously the phrase "by His stripes we are healed" is being interpreted in a healing way, which is, again, how the Word of Faith teachers and most faith healers interpret it. As they are wrong in that interpretation, so too is Lim wrong. Let's review the verses in context:
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. [Isaiah 53:4-6]
This is one of the most beautiful passages in scripture, as it details the pain and suffering that the Good Shepherd will endure for His flock. Yet does it mean that Christ gives us the power to heal others? Does it even mean that by His death Christ is able to physically heal? Not at all! The context here is entirely one of spiritual healing. Note what the verses say: "our griefs" Christ bore; "our sorrows" He carried; He was "pierced through for our transgressions"; He was "crushed for our iniquities"; the "iniquity of us all" fell upon Christ.

What is the true context here? The atonement. Of what? Of our sickness? Of our disease? No, not at all - of our sins. To turn a great truth - that we are forgiven of our sins by the atoning work of Christ - into a verse supporting supposed "healing ministries" is not only a great disservice to the cross, but to Christ Himself.

Lim also reads the opening verses of Isaiah 61 in a strange way, but before I transcribe that part, let me first give what Isaiah 61 says:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. [Isa 61:1-2]
Now see how Lim quotes it:
...and that in Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the living God is upon me, He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor and to set the captives free, and to do different kinds of healings, miracles."  [26:27-mark]
Whoa whoa whoa! Where in the first few verses of Isaiah 61 are any healings or miracles mentioned? Now, as I said before, it is true that the Messiah was foretold to perform miracles, and we see this in Isaiah 26:19, 29:18 and 35:5-6. However, Isaiah 61 has nothing at all to do with healings or miracles. One must wonder then: why Lim chose to misquote it in this way? It's possible he may have been going from memory, but I highly doubt it, as he expounds Isaiah 61 in a similar fashion in his sermon notes (see III, B, 3). The most likely answer is because of the verse's use of "anointing," and his own theology's tie-in of the traits of those "anointed ones" of God. That is, those who are "anointed" will be able to do such things as healings and miracles. Whether this theology is true or not, Lim chose to completely misquote a verse to substantiate it.

At this point, Lim jumps to Matthew 10:8 for a further discussion on scriptural examples of healing ministries.
Matthew 10:8 Jesus commanded the disciples, and said, "Go into the house of Israel, and then begin to preach 'repent the kingdom of God is at hand.' Heal the sick, open the blind, [sic] cleanse the leper, raise the dead. I read the line, OK, pray for the sick, good. Uh, open the eyes of the blind, good. Cleanse the leper, we don't have so many people with leprosy today, but you know, it's still good. Raise the dead...hmmm. Why is it all happening in the same sentence? Can you put a period, like, after one of these, so that we can kind of interpret it differently? There's no period! There's no semi-colon! It's one sentence. If you believe that the sick can be healed, you gonna believe the lepers can be cleansed and the dead can be raised. It's all in one sentence. [27:30-mark]
Lim uses this to go on about "raising from the dead ministries" and the proper way for Christians to go about them. His application is that Matthew 10:8 is applicable to all Christians. However, he seems to not fully realize that this passage is meant only for the twelve disciples, and at that specific time. How do we know this? Lim didn't quote the verse that came right before the section he used: 
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans." [Matthew 10:5]
Let me ask you something: if this section of scripture is applicable to every Christian at every time...then should we avoid the Gentiles and Samaritans? Most Christians today are Gentiles, so that would be very difficult. So why did Jesus tell the disciples to avoid the Gentiles and Samaritans, and what relevance does that have to do with raising of the dead?

As Lim himself quoted, Christ told the disciples to go to "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matt 10:6). The signs the disciples were to perform served to tell the Jews that their Messiah had come, and that they were to repent before judgment would come on their nation (in the form of the Temple destruction). That they were to raise men from the dead was significant because such a thing had not been seen since the days of Elijah and Elisha, hence it was something the Jews would have noticed.

Lim seems to misunderstand all fact, later on in the sermon he goes so far as to call Matthew 10:8 the great commission!

Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, and the command to preach the gospel and to heal the sick comes in one sentence, so why should we choose one towards the other? If we say healing, preaching the gospel is the great commission, why not heal the sick is the great commission? There is no period. It is all one sentence, one verse, one flow of charge from Jesus: preach the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead. I know how painful this is to my soul because not everything is happening, but I have to be truthful to the scripture. It is one charge, one commandment, one commission that is going forth. [41:36-mark]
Lim is about eighteen chapters too early for this to be the great commission. What is the great commission?
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." [Matthew 28:19-20]
Note that there's nothing about healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, or raising the dead. The only three things mentioned are making disciples, Trinitarian baptism, and teaching all that has been commanded (in other words, the gospel). In fact, many who study the language of the New Testament point out that the only verb here is "make disciples" - the actions "baptize" and "teaching" are actually participles that are related to the making of disciples (in other words, they're the two elements of the disciple-making).

Keep in mind that we had already established that the instructions in Matthew 10 were explicitly given in regards to the "lost sheep of Israel," and that Gentiles and Samaritans were to be completely avoided. If that was the great commission, then it is a limited commission, and the gospel would never have been spread outside Judea. However, the true great commission is one that commands "all the nations" (or "all kinds of people") to be made disciples of Christ, including Gentiles and Samaritans. We see this fulfilled in Acts, where the Jews are preached to and then, after the rest of the Jews reject and even persecute the gospel, God's grace goes to the Gentiles. Daniel Lim is therefore completely misusing Matthew 10:8.

Perhaps the strangest (or perhaps most revealing) of Lim's exposition on healing is the part where he says Jesus either heals over time or instantaneously. In his sermon notes, Lim writes that this gift "can manifest in sudden complete healing or gradual partial healing," citing Matthew 8:24. In the sermon itself, he says:

And again, in Matthew 8:24, Jesus can manifest the healing power suddenly or gradually. Both are true. Now you say, how can that be true? Wouldn't Jesus have miracles instantaneously? Yes, instantaneously he can do it, or he can do it over a period of time, over a process. Now the fact is, whether Jesus heals in 0.1 seconds, or He heals in 365 days, the perception of time is on our side, not on His side, because there is still a process, the process is called be healed in 0.1 seconds. We are not able to perceive in 0.1 seconds, that is not perceivable time with us, but there is still a process from sick to heal and there is time involved, it's just very fast. Fast to the point that we perceive it as instantaneous by the relative statement. There is always a process. So this is scriptural. [40:18-mark]
Firstly, Matthew 8:24 has absolutely nothing to do with healing. It reads:
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.
What does that at all have to do with healing or healing ministry? This is the opening of Christ calming the storm - which, by the way, He stopped instantaneously, not over time. Daniel Lim is therefore guilty of one or two things: 1) irresponsibility in preparing for his sermon, not bothering to check that the verse cited both in his sermon notes and the sermon itself are correct; 2) outright dishonesty, citing a verse as evidence for his theology when that verse has absolutely nothing to do with the topic.
Secondly, Lim presents the (quite frankly) silly argument that if healing happens in 0.1 seconds it's still technically a span of time, hence we shouldn't be shocked if it happens over 365 days, which is also a span of time. What Lim is basically putting forward here is pretty much the same thing that faith healers employ to cover the fact that their own healings are not instantaneous. Namely, that sometimes healing miracles happen over time, or the effects can only be seen until later.
The problem is that this is where faith healers and those who promote so-called "healing ministries" shoot themselves in the foot. They claim that all Christians should be able to heal, and jump to all scripture passages where Christ talks of His disciples doing what He did, and hence establish that we should be able to heal like Christ and the apostles did. Then they turn around and say that sometimes, in our healing ministries, healing might take time or the effects may not be seen until later. However, nowhere in scripture is the healing done by Christ or the apostles ever over time, nor is it ever only a partial healing. In this case, the faith healers are in essence presenting an example of special pleading, where they say they are simply living up to the standard set by Christ and the apostles, but then say that not all rules applicable to Christ and the apostles are applicable to them for superficial reasons.
Please don't misunderstand me here - I do believe that God has a hand in natural, gradual, physical healing. Let's say a soldier over in Afghanistan is hit by an enemy bullet. I believe God has a hand in the bullet just missing all the vital organs. I believe God has a hand in providing nearby buddies to pick him up and carry him to safety. I believe God has a hand in providing for the vehicles to take him out of the battle zone. I believe God has a hand in providing just the right medic to give that soldier surgery. I believe God has a hand in providing that soldier a place to rest and heal from his wounds. I believe God has a hand in providing that soldier renewed strength to be ready to fight again. I do believe that in all healing, be it quick or slow, God has a hand.
However, I think John MacArthur (in Charismatic Chaos) is correct in trying to differentiate between what are miracles and what is merely providence. So many people today throw the world miracle around that the word has lost all meaning, so much so that something as small as finding a good parking spot at the grocery story is considered by some to be a miracle from God. Yet there is a wide difference between a person born blind being given perfect sight (as we see in John 9) and a basketball player, told it'll take four to six months to recover, recovering in the minimum four months. The former is a miracle; the latter is providence.
If we are going to claim that we are part of a "healing ministry" that seeks to mimic the healings of Christ and the apostles and for the same purposes for which they did them, then we should be holding ourselves to that same standard. Christ and the apostles healed completely and instantaneously. Praying for a fellow church member going through cancer treatment to have healing might indeed happen, and it might indeed happen gradually, but we should not compare that to the healing miracles of the New Testament.

This is why I worry about those who are caught up in movements such as IHOP-KC, where they are taught doctrine that comes not from sound exegesis but from proof texts that are tweaked just enough in context (or even, as we see here, in quotation) to prove the teacher's own individual theology. I worry about those who are dramatically changing their lifestyles and making great sacrifices because they sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit's own personal 55 Central Park West is a place in Kansas City founded by proven false prophets.

Many have asked me if IHOP-KC is a cult. While it doesn't necessarily have all the traits of a cult (they don't believe those outside of IHOP-KC are unsaved, for example), I do worry and pray for those who are giving up so much for something that has no real merit. They are caught up in a movement where they are fed teachings such as this, and have become emotionally attached to the guidance of wolves. We should pray for all of them, that they may come to know the true Spirit of wisdom and discernment, which can only be found in the scriptures and the sound doctrines of God.