But What About the Visions?

by Lonnie Lane 

Have you ever believed something to be true only to find out that it wasn’t what you thought it was? Or even that the Bible warns against it? Thank God, He is always there to bring us back to truth. We received a call from a woman who had gotten one of Sid’s They Thought For Themselves books in the mail and had questions. Lots of questions.  I liked her from the get-go and it was easy to talk with her. With respect for our friend, whom we’ll call Beth, I share this story with you, some of it hers, some is added which you may not have been aware of before.

"You'll think I'm crazy if I told you what goes on in my life." 

Beth was born and raised Jewish. “I read and write Hebrew,” she told me, letting me know how really Jewish she is. But she’s been attending a Catholic church for a number of years, prays to saints, and puts her faith in medals. She also tells me she “completely believes in Jesus.”  As we talked, it was clear this dear woman truly wants to be in God’s will but she’s not sure what the truth is anymore. Except, thank God, she’s sure Jesus is the truth, despite a recent encounter with a rabbi telling her to forget Him. The testimonies in Sid’s book gave her the courage to call. “You’ll think I’m crazy,” she said, “if I told you what goes on in my life. Those stories in the book? Mine are weirder. Supernatural stuff.”  Well, she came to the right place. She knew nothing about Sid’s TV show, It’s Supernatural. If she had, she would not think she’s so crazy. However, she’s the only person she knows having the kinds of experiences she’s been having. And no one around her thinks they’re normal.

Little by little, as we talked she decided to trust me enough to share some of her story. She has visions, and “knows stuff” before it happens. She’s almost always right, she says. And people get healed. Why do they get healed? Because she prays to the right saint with the right medal. When she began to have these visions and “knowings,” as I understand it, trying to follow the story as it unfolded, she went to her rabbi. Most rabbis are quite unlikely to have any insight into such experiences except to say things like, “Sometimes things happen we don’t understand.”  Who does understand “apparitions” and the like are Catholics. At least they understand miracles and medals. So that’s where she’s been since a vision of Jesus came through the wall to her one day beckoning her to come to Him.

Now before I go on, please know that what you are about to read is not anti-Catholic. It's just history. I want you to know that I believe that we all, Catholic or Protestant, have doctrines that Peter and Paul would be shocked that we consider as valid expressions of our faith. The real and only issue of the basis of our fellowship is whether we believe that Yeshua is the Son of God whom God sent to die for our sins and that our salvation rests in Him and Him alone. God sees those of us who are His this way as being one in Him – with no divisions. God will one day judge us by our hearts of love and deeds motivated by love for Him and others, and not by our doctrines or creeds. When we stand before Him He will not ask us what denomination we belonged to. No matter where you attend or don’t attend services or “go to church,” faith in His atoning death, expressed by living a life to please Him is what gives each of us entrance by His Grace to enter the Kingdom of God. It’s really simple. Simple faith. That which has been added to our faith only distracts or distorts who He really is to us, and robs us of an experiential reality of a relationship with Him in Spirit and in truth. For this reason, it is imperative that our Bibles are the criteria of what we believe.  First rule of Bible study: Believe what it plainly says. Distrust what is not clearly there, regardless of what you’ve been taught or what your experience might be.

Accordingly, I share with Beth how praying to saints and believing that medals carry healing power is unbiblical and deny who Yeshua is, adding that God says in His Word not to practice a religion that uses “things” to bring about results. The medals would be in that category. We are not to “listen to those who practice sorcery or divination….The LORD your God has not permitted you to do so” (Deuteronomy 18:14).  Medals would be in the category of divination, when it is believed that they have a power of their own. “But why would the people get healed?” she asks. My only thought is that she had faith in God (behind the saint and the medal) that they would be healed and God is merciful and while there was error in her theology, she did believe God would heal these people. And so He did. I tell her that if they were healed, it was Jesus who healed them, not the saints. She doesn’t need saints, only Jesus. It’s God who heals; Jesus is God; Jesus heals. He is the one whose name is Yahweh Rafa, “the God who heals” (Exodus 15:25,26).

“But,” she asks, “didn’t God give us the saints?” I tell her that the Biblical sense of a saint is a true believer, one who is following the Lord. I’m a saint, she’s a saint. It’s not someone who is now dead who performed a few miracles when they were alive that made them more holy than everyone else. Miracles were the norm for the fledgling church. Everyone was able to do miracles, because it is God who does them through His people. We don’t need to pray to dead people to do something only He does and can do. And when He does them, He does them through people who are alive! I can tell she’s still not convinced.

The average first-century believer would have had more healings and miracles under their belts than most dead "saints" of later centuries. 

So I give her a mini-church history lesson: Yeshua clearly said, “No one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). No one else is needed, nor can anyone else get us to God. As the church got further and further away from its Jewish roots, it took on things that were alien to Scripture, and would have been avoided by Yeshua or the first generation of His disciples. At the same time, the Holy Spirit withdrew. When the immediate sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit is lost, that’s when the church begins to try and fill the gap with rules or other experiences. It might also be programs. But when God is moving powerfully in His church, He is enough! No programs or rules are needed. In fact, they get in the way.

Having lost the anointing that brought the authority of the Lord to the early church, it was soon replaced by the appointment of professional clergy over the “regular people.”  This increasingly changed the daily dynamics of the Living Messiah expressing Himself through His Body to that of spectators in meetings in a building one day a week. When healings or miracles did take place (most were healings though some pretty bizarre things were called miracles), it was a rare occurrence and therefore were recognized as extraordinary. It was only after the person responsible for the healing or miracle was dead that they were recognized as “saints” and “canonized” and revered as a cut above everyone else. The fact is, though, the average first century believer would have had more healings and miracles under their belts than most dead “saints” of later centuries. And never would the first century believers have thought to pray to anyone other than God or after He had risen, to Yeshua Himself. Never! It would have been considered blasphemy. Certainly they wouldn’t have prayed to each other! Isn’t that what praying to saints is, praying to other people?

The Catholic Church, which was our common church until the Reformation in the 1500’s, however, moved in another direction although claiming to never have changed in doctrine but maintaining what the early church believed. There eventually developed what is called The Deposit of Faith which is comprised of Scriptures and traditions which were supposedly delivered by Christ to His apostles and were later defined as articles of faith. About traditions, Yeshua had this disconcerting thing to say, “You invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6). Mixing traditions that contradict Scripture with other Scripture does not validate them by including the Scriptures. Numerous practices which would never have been acceptable to Messiah Yeshua or to His disciples were introduced at various times as follows:*

  • Prayers for the dead - AD 300
  • Mary proclaimed “Mother of God” - AD 431
  • Worship in Latin - AD 600
  • Supremacy of the Pope - AD 606
  • Veneration of images and relics - AD 788
  • Holy water introduced - AD 1000
  • Marriage of priests forbidden - AD 1079
  • Rosary beads introduced - AD 1090
  • Confession to the priest - AD 1215
  • Transubstantiation of the wafer - AD 1215
  • Adoration of the wafer - AD 1220
  • Purgatory proclaimed - AD 1439
  • Apocryphal books added to the Bible - AD 1546
  • Tradition made of equal authority with
    the Bible (Deposit of Faith) - AD 1546
  • Immaculate conception of Mary - AD 1854
  • Infallibility of the Pope - AD 1870
  • The Assumption of Mary - AD 1950

The title, by the way, of “Universal Bishop” was assumed by Boniface in 606, thus becoming the first pope. The veneration of the pope, who supposedly is acting in Apostolic Succession, having taken on the mantle which is said to have been passed down from Peter, was not something the early church ever even considered. If Peter, the fisherman, saw the grandeur of the Vatican and the universal power and authority of the pope who is supposedly acting in his stead, he would, no doubt, call the whole thing heretical and blasphemous and have nothing to do with it. Only God gets the glory, not men. There was a reason God had Yeshua born in a stable, and raised in lowly Bethlehem, and not born to the high priest and raised among aristocracy in Jerusalem. He was making a point that the pride, pomp, power and position of men holds no sway with God, nor does it reflect His character.  There was nothing in Yeshua’s earthly life that would even hint at the ceremonial grandeur of what surrounds the pope, or even what characterizes a mass on a smaller level. So we can see that there are things that are believed in and practiced as being of God that are not in any way Biblical.

So what about our friend Beth with the visions and healings, and the saints and the medals? Revelation is progressive. By that we mean that understanding of biblical truth appears to be unfolding generation after generation. When truth is revealed, error is dispelled. Consider Luther’s revelation that "The righteous man shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11). This was first addressed by the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk who made a comparison:  “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith” (2:4). This revelation of faith as opposed to, for instance, the buying indulgences for forgiveness which the church was selling for money in Luther’s day, rocked the religious world and has reverberated down through history to us today.

It behooves us to be biblically aware, for the devil is an imitator. 

Not only was righteousness redefined as being a matter of faith, it also brought an awareness of one’s humility (in contrast to pride as Habakkuk pointed out) before the Lord. In recent decades, the reintroduction of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues, has dispelled the erroneous belief that the gifts were done away with when the Bible was canonized or when the last of the apostles died. Add to that, the doctrine of “Replacement Theology” which said that since Israel is not in her own land anymore, all the promises God made to Israel no longer apply to Israel, but have been appropriated to the church. Of course, once Israel was back in her land, the promises could once again be seen as applying to Israel.  However, not all of those who claim to be the Lord’s are on the same page where all this is concerned. 

Take, for instance, our friend Beth with the visions and the obvious gift of healing. She has a prophetic gift, but unfortunately she has not been in a church situation where the gift is recognized and certainly she hasn’t been ‘discipled’ by those who are experienced and mature in the use of the gifts for the good of the Body. She needs to be mentored. She needs to be where others can teach her and support her and help her to better understand the ways of the Spirit. I told her about Sid’s TV show, It’s Supernatural!  Imagine how she will feel when she sees that she’s not weird, that she’s not alone, and that there is legitimacy to the gifts God has given to her. Such a situation as Beth’s makes us aware of how imperative Bible based discipleship is.    

There are prophetic voices today that indicate the Lord is opening up deeper revelation and insight into His Word before He returns. If you watch Sid’s shows, you know there are insights into Scripture as we’ve not had before, and experiences of the Lord’s immediate presence and signs and wonders, and visible interactive angelic presence, that is unprecedented. At the same time, there is scriptural validity for what is taking place. But it behooves us to be biblically aware, for the devil is an imitator. He will try and make things that are not of God look like they are of God.  We must be careful to be sure that Yeshua is always the center and focus of what is taking place and not people, position or power. He gets the glory, no one else. We must be able to validate what is taking place in Scripture. If you read your Bible so you are familiar with it, as Yeshua told us, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). Additionally, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Do not desire sensationalism, but desire to know Yeshua more and more. When we seek Him, this is what He says to us who are His children, just as He said it to Abraham:  “Do not be afraid…I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1b).

*Notes: Information taken from: Miriam, The Virgin of Nazareth, by Victor Buksbazen; The Catholic Dictionary, 3rd edition; Catholic Doctrine in the Bible, etc. 

 

 Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2010. 

 
  

 

Lonnie Lane

For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.

Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

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