Lest we be carried away

When I was still using my own understanding trying to learn the things of God I jumped on every Scripture I could find that resembled what was on my mind at the time. I also read many books written by Christians. Consequently, I ended up thinking things that were not true. It wasn’t until I learned to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word to me that I began learning the truths of God.

Many Christians today are still trying to learn the things of God with their own understanding. They jump from verse to verse, preacher to preacher, and book to book, trying to learn the things of God. As a result, their minds become weighed down with thoughts that often do nothing but confuse them. They end up trying this formula and that formula, hoping they’ll hit upon something that actually works. 

People who rely on their own understanding find themselves taking mental stands against anything that questions their beliefs for the moment. For instance, if one believes healing comes by claiming the promise, he will take a stand against any thoughts to the contrary. His struggle quickly erodes to a mind game, refusing even sound doctrine. In contrast, people who rely on Jesus listen from the heart, and, thus, never enter mind games, (nor do they claim promises from a holy God). 

 People who depend on their own understanding leave themselves open to the wiles of the devil and they end up, more often than not, fighting against the Holy Spirit, all the while thinking they are following Him. They blame the devil when they begin to doubt, when in reality, it is the Holy Spirit trying to warn them they’re heading down a wrong road. As a result, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit, they rebuke Him thinking He is the devil. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and leads them from one snare to another.

When we enter into the things of God with our own understanding, we lose sight of true faith. True faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is a matter of the heart; with the heart we believe, with the mouth we confess. If what we believe is not in our heart, it isn’t faith; it’s just our thoughts. We must keep our thoughts in subjection to the Lord, lest we be carried away by them. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Clouds Without Rain

A few days ago I heard a self-proclaimed preacher say Isaiah 43:19a is a scripture promising a miracle coming in 2019 for everyone who will sow a seed by sending him $43.19 before the end of this year. One hundred or more people are supposed to send him $119.00, and nine people are supposed to send him $1019.00 (the more dire your circumstances, the more money you should send). He said the Holy Spirit was speaking to these people through his mouth, after which he insinuated that to not send him this money would be an act of disobedience to God. He then took it upon himself to declare and decree these miracles to come in 2019 (as if he were some kind of god). I also heard two other men, both claiming they are apostles, saying nearly the same things on two other programs. 

Yes, I watched a little so-called Christian TV. It’s the first time I’ve watched it in well over a year, and I’m sorry I did. It left me once again feeling that there just might be a special place in Hell for these phony peddlers of God’s Word who speak lies and take advantage of naive people. 

These pompous, arrogant self-proclaimed preachers seem to believe their own lies, and have thousands upon thousands of followers who also believe their lies. As Paul wrote, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” 2 Timothy 3:13.

May the Lord keep His chosen remnant safe from these thieves who use the Word of God for personal gain, and leave people grasping for straws, and trying to make things happen by speaking words, and by their supposed authority the arrogant have told them they have. They teach both the naive and greedy that they don’t have to pray and ask God for things, they can just declare and decree what they want, and God will make it happen. And, if you can’t make it happen yourself, you can send them money and they will declare and decree it for you.

These thieves are not confined to TV, they are in pulpits all across the Christian world. You will know them by their fruits. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit,” Matthew 7:18. Verses 22-23 tell us that even though they cast out demons and perform miracles, they do not belong to Jesus because they practice lawlessness.

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness,” 1 John 3:4. It is evident these people practice lawlessness; for rather than submitting to God and becoming bond-servants to Him and His Son, they instead make themselves to be as gods and declare and decree as if God was their servant. They have formulas for how to do this and how to do that, and they’ll send you pamphlets with instructions to do what they do for a so-called ‘donation’. 

Dear ones, those who preach and teach these things are not of God, they are clouds without rain, clouds that float around as if they are spiritual guides for the masses, but their end will be their removal from the Kingdom when Jesus sends forth His angels, Matthew 13:41. Be on guard. 

Many people spend their lives chasing preachers and reading books, looking for answers and formulas for their problems when, in fact, there are no answers or formulas. There is only Jesus. Consider a true servant of God:  A true servant of God knows that all things are from God and through God and to God. A true servant knows that God is the creator and would never even suggest that Christians can create things with their words. A true servant of God would never lift himself up to the level of God, or tell anyone else to do so. A true servant of God would never preach about how to work miracles, or how to receive healing. A true servant of God preaches Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Rather than giving instructions and formulas on how to do this and that, a true servant guides the flock to the feet of the Good Shepherd in whom we live and move and have our being. 

Dear friends, “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him [Jesus] they are yes…” 2 Corinthians 1:20a. The key words in this verse are ‘in Him’. The promises of God are yes ‘in Him’. Fulfillment of each and every promise of God is found, not in formulas, or books, but ‘in Him’. Submit to Him, abide in Him, and you will find yourself saying, “Amen,” to the glory of God.  

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Preaching Satan and Calling Him Jesus

I was nearly brought to tears recently when I heard someone preach that in the beginning God spoke words to create things, “Let there be light,” etc, and then referred to Ephesians 5:1 that begins with, “Be imitators of God…”, and taking it out of context, said we are supposed to imitate God and speak things into existence. He also took the first part of Proverbs 18:21 out of context, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” and used it to prove his point. He was not speaking metaphorically, he was speaking physically. He was telling people who had gathered to worship and learn from God that they should raise themselves up to God’s level and be like God. I’m so grateful the Lord’s sheep will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers, John 10:5.

————————

You don’t have to join a satanic cult to follow Satan, you can simply follow the doctrines of most TV evangelists and many nondenominational preachers and be smack-dab in the middle of the will of Satan, and call him Jesus while you’re there. They preach the very things Satan spoke to Eve — you don’t have to listen to God, you can call your own shots, and to Jesus, you can take authority and make the promises come true. The devil’s end game for both Eve and Jesus was to have them bypass God and exalt themselves to His level. This is the same thing the word of faith movement and many nondenominational churches preach today. They are literally preaching Satan and calling him Jesus. 

If you disagree, try to stop your mind from running for a few minutes and listen to the Holy Spirit. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them.

Truthfulness

A friend called me yesterday to talk about some problems he was having. At one point I told him about times doubt would creep in when our son was going crippled and how I would immediately confess them to God and He would help me overcome my doubts. My friend said, “That’s because you didn’t own the doubts.” He went on to explain that someone had told him that, when we doubt, it is really the devil tempting us to doubt, and that we should take authority over the devil and rebuke him, and tell him to leave. So he was saying it wasn’t me doubting, it was the devil tempting me to doubt.

I told him that, on the contrary, I was most assuredly the one doubting; it was my mind entertaining the doubts. I did the opposite of what his other friend had told him, I “owned” my doubts. I confessed them to God and asked for mercy, and He, in turn, granted me mercy and grace abundantly, showering me with love and His understanding of why I was doubting. And because I was honest with Him He became my Rock, my Protector, and hid me beneath the shadow of His wings. 

I explained to my friend that our Father desires truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part He will make us know wisdom, Psalm 52:6. He doesn’t want us stumbling around fighting the devil like our lives depended on it; He wants us cuddling up to Him, casting our cares upon Him and taking refuge in Him. The Bible tells us that when we are harassed by the devil we are to submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from us. It doesn’t say we are to rebuke him or bind him or send him away. It says we are to resist him and he will flee from us. Peter said, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you,” 1 Peter 5:8-10. 

We must always be honest and truthful with God. We have a high priest who was tempted in all things as we are and He sympathizes with our weaknesses. We can now draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We don’t have to go before Him like mighty warriors in need of nothing. He would much rather that we admit our weaknesses, rather than blame the devil for them.

Rev. Jon Banks

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In His Body

Colossians 1:22-23 tells us that Jesus has reconciled us in His physical body through death, in order that He might present us to the Father holy and blameless and beyond reproach. We could not draw near to God while we were alienated and hostile in mind, and engaging in evil deeds. So God, in His infinite wisdom, placed us in Christ, that in the death of His physical body our body of sin might be done away with, as it is written, “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin,” Romans 6:6,7. We have also been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, (Hebrews 10:10). 

Paul tells us that we were foreknown by God, and that He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren, Romans 8:29. He accomplished this by placing us in Christ when He was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.

We were most assuredly in Jesus when He was crucified; we were in Him when He was buried; we were in Him when He was raised from the dead. This is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Christianity — “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God IN Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:10,11. We are in Him, and we have been in Him since before time when God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. And we were in Him when He was crucified, buried, and raised up into newness of life. We are now the body of the risen Christ and He is the head.

Through His sinless life, the giving of His body, and the shedding of His blood, Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities, and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them. He is now the head of all rule and authority. Jesus is now a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, no beginning and no end, and He has become the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. And having been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, He sympathizes with our weaknesses, and we may now draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, where we can receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ, absolutely nothing.

What a glorious and wonderful God we serve, full of mercy and compassion and lovingkindness, who sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice Himself, in order that we might be crucified, buried, and raised up together with Him, freed from sin and alive to the Father. We are forever in debt to the Father and Son. Thanks be to God that we will have eternity to praise and honor them.

In the most holy name of Jesus,

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Sanctification Clarification

I believe there has been a misunderstanding about some things I’ve said about sanctification, and I would like to clarify:

We are sanctified when we are born again. This is made obvious in 1 Corinthians 1:2 where Paul addresses the recipients of his letter, “…to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” Paul was, in fact, speaking to all Christians at the church in Corinth, therefore all were sanctified, for his letter was to ‘those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus,’. He went further saying they were part of all who call upon the name of the Lord. He addressed the whole church at Corinth and all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as sanctified saints, or holy ones.

Backing up just a little, the Holy Spirit does NOT enter us when we first believe that Jesus is the Messiah. I believed all my life that Jesus was the true Son of God and was not born again until the Holy Spirit drew me to Jesus. The Holy Spirit entered me at that time and I was immediately born again. We cannot be born again without the Holy Spirit, (John 3:5) for without Him there is no new life, and we cannot receive Him until we repent, (Acts 2:38). And when we do, we are sanctified and sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Without the Holy Spirit we cannot be raised up into the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3) where we now worship our Father, and do His will (as He works, we work). And there, in the heavenlies, our Father accepts us, and treats us as sons and daughters, training us up in the way we should go. He does this while we, at the same time, learn obedience through the things which we suffer. And as we continue in obedience, we move from victory to victory, learning to stand, to walk, and run as we head to the finish line. The Christian life is a steady walk through the trials and tribulations of life, wherein we learn obedience, and move from one obedient act to another, thus fulfilling the will of God with every act of obedience, that we might be to the praise of His glory.  

During our Christian life there are many experiences, some so powerful they may seem like a second work of grace, but they are really just experiences. We receive them simply by walking with the Lord. Jesus ordained me and that experience was extremely powerful and sacred, but it wasn’t a second work. The Holy Spirit has driven me to my knees at times, my spirit was caught up to heaven one time, I’ve had revelations that have taken me to the limits of my understanding, and I never tried to put a name on any of these experiences. They are simply places the Lord has taken me in my Christian walk.

We must simply walk with Jesus and learn obedience, doing everything He tells us to do. In this way we will grow up to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. 

In closing, herein is the sanctified life — denying ourselves — turning away from, leaving behind, every thing and every one we hold dear; — taking up our cross — acknowledging that our old self was crucified with Christ and that we are dead to the law and to sin; — following Him — walking by the Holy Spirit in the perfect law of liberty, obeying the Lord in all things. The sanctified ones do these things one day at a time.

Peace to those who have been sanctified in Christ, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

Rev. Jon Banks 

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Authority

There are some who are going around preaching and teaching that every believer has the authority of God, and that God is just waiting on them to use it. One of these preachers uses Isaiah 45:11 as proof that all believers have the authority of God. He quotes from the King James Version of the Bible, “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” This person says on his website, “What a powerful scripture! What does the Lord mean when He tells us to command Him? Well, He certainly doesn’t mean we are mightier and more powerful than Him and can order Him around. He means, concerning the things He has already done, He wants us to take our authority and command His power.” 

‘Take our authority and command His power” — what an arrogant statement. Even Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, refused to lift Himself up to God’s level, both when the devil tempted Him, and throughout His ministry. Instead, He emptied Himself, considering equality with God as a thing NOT to be grasped. 

These false prophets are everywhere. They’re online, they’re on TV, they’re standing in pulpits; they are even in the pews of our churches. In these last days men and women are raising themselves up and presenting themselves to be servants of God and ambassadors of Christ, claiming to have all authority in the name of Jesus. These people are nothing more than peddlers of the name of Jesus. Rather than giving Him the worship and reverence He is due, these peddlers teach people how to use Him. They teach people how to use the name of Jesus, promising the people they can get what they want, when they want. These peddlers are nothing more than opportunistic ear ticklers.

Because of these so-called preachers and so-called teachers there are many today who believe that each and every Christian has all the authority of Christ. Some quote, as proof, Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” The fact that these verses apply to the church as a whole, and not to each individual, is evidenced in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30, “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?” Since the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit has been distributing gifts as He wills, to one this gift, and to another that.

The man I spoke of in the first paragraph was speaking of healing. He is teaching that all healings have already taken place through the sacrifice of Jesus and, therefore, we need only command the power of God to work and heal. This gentleman apparently isn’t aware that God has given us the spirit of a sound mind. 

I now appeal to your sound mind given you by God, and ask, “If healing is already accomplished for every believer, then how on earth would a sickness or a disease ever come upon a Christian? Are sicknesses and diseases more powerful than God?” Of course not! Healing is not something that is already done; it is something that is promised to those who believe, as is forgiveness of sins. Our sins are not forgiven until we repent of them; our sicknesses and diseases are not healed until we approach God with faith in His promise of healing, and He touches us with His healing power. This is why the Scriptures say a prayer of faith must be offered by the elders.

I believe that we, in these last days, must be of sound judgment and sober in mind and spirit, and prayerfully guard against these false prophets flooding the air waves and pulpits; those who flatter people for the sake of gaining an advantage; those who give people what they want to hear in exchange for money. I believe it is our responsibility to shun these vultures and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, emptying ourselves and becoming servants of God, rather than becoming equal to Him. We are the children of God, He is our Father, not our equal. He sent His Son to save us and to leave us an example as to how we should live. 

Jesus humbled Himself before God, and did nothing on His own initiative, but worked as the Father worked. These false prophets tell us to take the initiative and command healings and anything else we might want. Isn’t this eerily similar to the devil telling Jesus to command the stone to become bread, and to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple? But, what did Jesus say? “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. And, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”                                                       

Dear friends, we must be on our guard against wolves who would entice us away from our meek and lowly Shepherd. We must always walk humbly before God, trusting Him in All things, and refusing to lift ourselves up to His level.  He is the Father, we are the children; Jesus is the Savior, we are the saved. We must walk reverently by the Spirit, seeking God’s will, not His authority.  

Test what I have said by the Word of God, and please do so with an open and sound mind. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. It is my sincere hope that everything I write be tested, not by what others have said, but by the Holy Word of God. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Addendum to Concerning the Authority of Christ:

Through the obedient life of Jesus, the cross of Jesus, and the shedding of His blood, Jesus overcame and conquered the evil one, and was resurrected from the dead making it possible for our sins to be forgiven, and for us to be raised up with Him, and in Him. Our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. We are in Christ and He is in God. We have received the Holy Spirit who leads us in our walk in this new life. We are the body of Him who has all authority in heaven and on earth. 

It is the same for the 70 Jesus sent out in His name. When the Holy Spirit came, they, too, were born again. They were no longer just with Him, they were born into Him. Their lives, actually their new lives, were hidden with Him in God. They no longer needed His authority, they were then parts of the body of the One who had been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

We of the new creation need only trust and believe in the name of the Head of the new body wherein we dwell, that is, Jesus Christ. He has already conquered the devil. We need only trust in Him and He will lead, guide and direct us from victory to victory. 

Why would Jesus now find it necessary to give us His authority? He is the head of all rule and authority, all authority has been given Him, and He is the head of our new body, the church. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us now distributes gifts as He pleases, to one this, and to another that. We need only walk by the Spirit, in total obedience, to do the will of God for our lives. Jesus is the head, we are the body; the head controls the body. 

There is nothing in the Bible that even insinuates that we who have been born again have the authority of Christ. Paul mentioned authority he had been given for the building up of the church, and he once encouraged Timothy to speak with authority. But neither of these had anything to do with the authority over demons and sicknesses and diseases, or the authority of Christ. I, too, have been given authority, but it is not all the authority of Christ, it is authority to do certain things pertaining to my call.

Someone may say, “Well, Paul and Timothy needed the authority of Christ to fulfill their ministries, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to cast out demons or heal the sick, etc.” But I say, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Hence, if a miracle is needed, the Holy Spirit will provide a worker of miracles. If another problem arises, He will provide someone who can take care of that problem. This is how the church works, not by any authority of a believer, but by the will and the working of the Holy Spirit; not by super-spiritual giants, but by humble souls walking in obedience to the Holy Spirit. 

If the so-called authority of the believer was such an important part of the Christian life, why is it not mentioned in the letters to the churches? One would think it would be covered somewhere in the letters. But nowhere in the writings of Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, or in Hebrews is there any mention of it. 

It is not mentioned because it does not exist. Well meaning people have taken a few verses of Scripture that pertained to 82 believers (the 12 and the 70) before the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and carried them over into the dispensation of the fulness of times, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth, where Jesus Himself is now the head of all rule and authority.  

Dear friends, the truth is:  as Satan enticed Eve to lift herself up to the level of God, and as he tried to entice Jesus to lift Himself up to the level of God, he now tries to entice us to lift ourselves up to the level of God by telling us we have the authority of Christ and we need only command things to happen, or declare and decree things into existence. We must not be as Eve, but as Christ, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant. As long as we are in the body of Adam, we must LEARN from the example of Eve, and FOLLOW the example of Jesus.

Jesus is no longer walking on the earth in the form of Adam, He is now dwelling within us, and, having been born again, we are now walking this earth in the form of the new Creation, the Spirit of the risen Christ, yet still in human form, also. And, as we maintain faith in His name, refusing to lift ourselves up to His level, but rather walk humbly by the Spirit of the new creation, all things are possible to us. We need no authority; the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth is the head of our body. The Holy Spirit leads one to do this, and another to do that, and we all do something. We are one body fitted together, and each part led by the Spirit of God in ways that He chooses. If we could all do everything there would be no need for the other parts of the body. We need one another. 

This is the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of God. This is the secret that was hidden for ages, that is, Christ in us. Let us bow to His authority and walk in complete submission to Him, for He alone is worthy of all authority in heaven and on earth.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. I have seen many healings, one just a few weeks ago. My wife had a headache she said was the worst she had had in her life. I put my arms around her and asked the Lord to take the pain from her. He took it from her instantly. I have seen the Lord make storms turn and move in other directions. I have seen Him heal a child with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have seen Him heal burns instantly several times. I once saw a man die in his sins, only to come back to life a born again Christian approximately 30 minutes later. All these things were done in response to either my prayers, or my saying, “In the name of Jesus be healed.” I had no authority; I had only faith in the name of Jesus. And, because of my faith, I was rewarded by God with answered prayers. I have never once needed the authority of Christ; Christ is my Savior; I need only Him.

P.P.S. It is my sincere hope that everything I write be tested, not by what others have said, but by the Holy Word of God. Please, please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Concerning the Authority of Christ

For years now many have been lured away from the meek and lowly Jesus by the teaching that all Christians have the authority of Christ. Those who teach this sometimes call it ‘the authority of the believer’. I submit to you —- this teaching is straight from the lips of Satan, —- ‘If you are a child of God, do this, and do that; make the promises come true. Don’t wait on God, declare your right to the promises and make them come to pass.’ Satan’s tactics, the logic behind them, and the Lord’s way of dealing with them, can be found in Genesis 3:1-5 and Matthew 4:3-10.

Many think Jesus’ giving authority to the 12 and the 70 is proof that He gives us authority today. But consider this, — the 12 were the Lord’s apostles. All but one of them were soon to be His witnesses, His spokesmen, His ambassadors. His giving them authority is somewhat understandable. But what about the 70? They were believers, but so were thousands more. Why only the 70? Why would Jesus only give 70 believers authority over demons and sicknesses and diseases? Why not all believers? We know the 12 went to several towns and the 70 were sent to towns where Jesus Himself was to go. The fact that, out of thousands of believers, He only gave authority over demons and sickness and diseases to 82 makes it evident these were special missions, and not a forecast of things to come.

Regardless of what one might think about these things, Calvary and the resurrection of Jesus changed everything, for they brought about the promise of the Holy Spirit who came on the Day of Pentecost. Since then, the Holy Spirit distributes gifts as He wills; and these gifts are used through faith in the name of Jesus. Jesus no longer gives anyone authority over things; now we walk by faith.

Still, many Christians believe that all Christians have all the authority of Christ. I’ve actually heard preachers say that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus, and that Jesus has given that authority to us. The second part of that sentence doesn’t exist in the Bible. Yes, all authority was given to Jesus, but nowhere does it say He gave it to us. It is something that has been added by man, and has been passed down as truth. But it is not truth. It is evil and it is sin. It is rebellion and insubordination.  

After Jesus said all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth, He said, “Go THEREFORE…” The word ‘therefore’ means consequently, for that reason, because of that, hence, or, on that ground. So instead of telling the apostles to go in His authority, He was actually telling them that because of His being given all authority in heaven and on earth, they could now go and make disciples of all the nations in His name. 

Some will ask, “But what about speaking in the name of Jesus? What about healing the sick in the name of Jesus? Isn’t this speaking and healing by the authority He has given us? Doesn’t doing something in the name of Jesus mean doing it with His authority?” 

The answer to these questions is found in Acts 3:16. After saying to the lame man at the gate of the temple, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — walk,” Peter told a crowd of people, “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” So using the phrase ‘in the name of Jesus’ does not mean ‘by His authority’; it means ‘by faith in His name.’ Just as it says in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “…but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We were washed, sanctified, and justified through our faith in the name of Jesus, not by any authority we may have had. The authority of the believer is a fallacy perpetrated by Satan and spread by false prophets who tickle the ears of the greedy and the selfish, as well as the weak and the gullible. 

Dear friends, we are in Jesus now; we are His body; He is the head. He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Does anyone think for one minute that He will not take care of His own body? Revelation12:10-11 says, ‘And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”’ 

Jesus is still the only Person with all authority in heaven and on earth. We overcome by faith in His blood and by the word of our testimony, and by not loving our lives even to death. We overcome by submitting to God and trusting in Him. We overcome by taking up the full armor of God, which, by the way, does not include authority. We don’t need authority; we need faith; faith in the name of Jesus, our Savior, who is above all rule and authority.

One more misunderstanding that needs to be corrected:  Mark 16:15-18 speaks of signs that will follow believers. Many think this is proof that all Christians can work miracles, cast out demons, speak with new tongues, heal the sick, pick up serpents, etc. But these verses are speaking of the church as a whole, not of individuals. This is made evident in 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul refers to the body of Christ as being many members. In verses 29 and 30 Paul reiterates, “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? Verse 18 says, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” Verse 7 says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Paul then lists different gifts of the Spirit, after which in verse 11 he says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

All cannot do everything. The teaching that we can is just another false doctrine perpetrated on the masses. It is heralded and widely accepted by those who thirst for power and a way around the hardships of following Jesus. Most followers of Jesus can see through these haughty doctrines, but some need to be plucked from the fire.

The devil will do everything he can to keep us from walking humbly with Jesus, including convincing us we have the authority of Jesus, so that we will lift ourselves up to the level of Jesus. He tempts us just as he tempted Jesus. Satan tried to get Jesus to prove Himself, telling Him that if He was the Son of God the Scriptures pertained to Him. He was trying to get Jesus to prove His Sonship by lifting Himself up to the level of God and making the promises come true. The devil does the same with us, telling us that if we are children of God the promises pertain to us. He then tries to get us to lift ourselves up to the level of the risen Christ, and make those promises come true. This is why Satan started the erroneous rumor that we have the authority of Christ; he couldn’t get Jesus to lift Himself up to the level of God, so he now tries to entice us to lift ourselves up to the level of the risen Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God.

Consider the tactics of Satan. He enticed Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, and to share that fruit with her husband, which resulted in them both becoming like God, knowing good and evil. And this prompted God to say, “…Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve were then removed from the garden and placed on a cursed earth where death awaited them.

Subsequently, Satan, having accomplished his plan to lift the first Adam up to the level of God, tried also to entice the last Adam to lift Himself up to God’s level. He tempted Him by quoting Scriptures that applied to Him, trying to make Him prove Himself. But, unlike the first Adam, the last Adam, Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, Philippians 2:6-8.

Dear ones, Satan’s goal has always been to get us to lift ourselves up to God’s level; but, thanks be to God, Jesus left us an example, that we, still being in the body inherited from the first Adam (flesh and blood), should not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but empty ourselves, taking the form of bond-servants, as did He.

We are not to usurp authority and make the Word work for us; we are to submit to God’s authority and humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us at the proper time. We are not to even seek the authority of Jesus; we are to humble ourselves and walk with the Person of Jesus. The choice is ours:  We can follow the Lord, or we can follow Satan?

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. It is my sincere hope that everything I write be tested, not by what others have said, but by the Holy Word of God. Please, please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord give His chosen ones ears to hear.

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A Caution

Last Sunday I looked at a NRSV Bible and found a preface to the letters of Paul. It explained a little about each letter he wrote. At the end of its description of 2 Corinthians, it said, ‘Chapters 3 through 5 are a meditation on what it means to be an apostle.’ This Bible was published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and used by permission of the National Council of Churches. I believe it was published in 1990. 

Years ago the Lord revealed to me that 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5 spoke of the call of an apostle. I have written a few things concerning certain verses in these chapters in the past year and was ridiculed because of what I said. The verses that seemed to bother people the most were Chapter 4 verses 7-12, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the death of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” Another verse that was troubling to some was chapter 5 verse 20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Paul was speaking of the call and the life of an apostle in each of these verses. 

All these years I have had only two witnesses to the truth of what I’ve said about these three chapters, the Word of our God, and the Holy Spirit. Now I have two other witnesses, the National Council of Churches, and Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

Why am I saying this? I have been ridiculed and lied about quite a bit this past year. One pastor called me a false apostle from his pulpit, and said that I’ve been saying there is no such thing as sanctification. I never once said anything like this. He deliberately made it up to build a case against me.

This gentleman spoke against me because I said there is nothing in the Bible concerning dying to self. Another minister had taught him we must die to self, and so he took issue with me. Since there is no mention of dying to self in the Bible, he couldn’t call me false because he had no proof he was right, so he twisted something else I said about sanctification, and used it to attack me. I said sanctification is not a second work of grace, but a work that begins when we are born again. He turned that statement into my supposedly saying there was no such thing as sanctification. I have never said that either. 

Dear friends, I can put up with a lot of things, but when someone lies to the children of God, I draw the line. God is a jealous God, and when someone tries to entice His children away from Him, or belittle His truth, He also draws the line. This was not just a difference in opinion; this man literally told a church full of God’s children something he knew to be a lie. He did this for one reason, — to belittle me. He didn’t stop there; he also posted his lie on the internet for others to see. 

It’s a small thing to me when someone questions things I say, but when they lie about things I say, I take offense. And I take offense, not on my own behalf, but on behalf of Christ, and for the sake of those who read what I write; on behalf of Christ because He is the One who ordained and sent me, and for the sake of those who read what I write because they are the ones He sent me to. 

Please understand this letter is not meant to justify myself, but it is meant as a caution to each of us; that we must test the things we see and hear by the Word of God through the Holy Spirit. 

In closing, let us turn away from those who subvert, or twist, things people say. Let us also turn away from those who subvert, or twist, the Scriptures to mean what they want them to mean. Those who do such things are dishonest. But let us instead be true children of God, and not dishonest impostors. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth; let us be honest, and steadfastly follow Him.

There are many dishonest preachers today. Guard yourselves.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. It is my sincere hope that everything I write be tested, not by what others have said, but by the Holy Word of God. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Two Creations

The first Adam was born a mature man, given a commandment, and subsequently sinned. The last Adam, Jesus, was born an infant, trained up in the way He should go, learned obedience through that which He suffered, and offered Himself, blameless and without sin, as a sacrifice for the sins of Adam, the first creation. In His death the old creation, Adam, was done away with for those who would believe; and when He rose from the dead a new creation was born; that is, the body of Christ. There are now two creations, Adam and Christ, one of earth, one of heaven. Those who walk in the sinful nature of the old creation are of Adam, and those who walk in the godly nature of the new creation are of Christ. 

Romans 6:2b-7 says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self (lit. man) was crucified with Him, that our body of sin (the first Adam) might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

Even though our old self was crucified with Jesus, there still remains what is described by Paul as the principle that evil is present in us. We serve the law of God with our minds and the law of sin with our flesh, Romans 7:23-25. The flesh wars against our minds, making us prisoners of the law of sin which is in the members of our body. Paul then tells us we don’t have to feel bad about the evil nature that is within us, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For since we could not conquer the desires of the flesh on our own, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, Romans 8:3b-4. 

Therefore, rather than repenting continually for the evil within our bodies, and rather than beating ourselves to death trying to make it go away, we need only walk by the Spirit. For as Paul says, “So then, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if we are living according to the flesh, we must die; but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God,” Romans 8:12-14.

The principle of evil that is present in us will remain until mortality puts on immortality, but we don’t have to give in to it. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death,” Romans 8:2. We need only believe that Jesus has saved us to the uttermost, and in Him we have our salvation; in Him we have forgiveness of sins; and in Him we have deliverance from sins if we walk, not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, considering the members of our earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For we have died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:5,3. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please,” Galatians 5:16. 

“Now those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,’ Galatians 5:24. The flesh is the carnal mind; it is our human nature driven by animal appetites, or animal instincts. We crucify it by putting to death the deeds of the body with the help of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:13; and by faith in the Son of God, as Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me,” Galatians 2:20. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

We crucify the flesh by not allowing it to have its way, and by presenting ourselves to God to do His will, and His will alone. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace,” Romans 6:12-14. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers  to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul,” 1 Peter 2:11. 

As we diligently put to death the deeds of the body we find that we are becoming conformed to Christ’s death, Philippians 3:10. “And after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us,” 1 Peter 5:10. “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1 Peter 4:1,2.

Dear friends, the righteous shall live by faith, and that faith is in Jesus Christ who has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts, Romans 13:14. Let us follow our Lord’s example and learn obedience through the things which we suffer, from one trial to another, until we have persevered to the end. 

We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us; for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death, Romans 8:2. Let us conduct ourselves accordingly; let us lay aside the old creation, Adam, and walk in the new creation, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Jon Banks

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A little about me

When I was in my early twenty’s I had a friend who was the daughter of a Church of God pastor in my hometown. The Church of God (Anderson, IN) had a statewide Camp Meeting outside my hometown every year. They would have something going on every day for a week. Every evening a preacher chosen for that specific year would preach. That year my friend persuaded me to go.

It was the last sermon on the last night of the week. I was sitting about three rows from the very back. When the invocation was given I wanted to go forward to the altar, but I just stood frozen. In my mind I said, ‘Jesus, I can’t walk up there. If you want me, you’ll have to come and get me.’ Immediately, a hand was on my left arm and leading me to the altar. As I started to kneel, I looked to my left to see who had led me down that long isle. It was Jesus, the Son of the living God. As soon as He let go of my arm He walked around the end of the altar and knelt right in front of me. The pastor, my friend’s father, knelt to my right and the gentleman who had preached the sermon knelt in front of him. They both began talking to me, but it seemed like their words were coming from light years away; I was so overwhelmed by the Presence of Jesus that I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying. And that night, kneeling in front of the Son of God, I became a Christian at a camp meeting in the country.

From that night on I felt the Presence of Jesus every day for one to two months. His Presence was especially prevalent in the mornings when I would awake. I would fall to my knees as soon as my feet hit the floor in total awe of what I was experiencing. I didn’t see Him during these times, but I knew exactly where He was standing each morning, and the entire room was filled with His glory. (The Holy Spirit witnesses to my heart right now as to how precious and how real these experiences were and how, to this day, the Lord uses them to help me from time to time.)

A few years later an elderly lady invited several people to her house after church one Sunday morning for some snacks and cold drinks. My wife and I attended. At one point this lady asked us to come into her kitchen. Another couple heard her invite us and they came, also. The lady then addressed me and said that she was the nurse on duty when I was born. She said that when she entered the delivery room Jesus was standing in a corner. She explained His Presence as being almost overwhelming. She went on to say that Jesus was also in the room my mom and I were placed in after my birth. She would pause each time she came in to check on us because His Presence was so glorious it was hard for her to bear. He stayed in our room until we were released from the hospital. It was so humbling to know that Jesus was present at both my natural birth and my spiritual birth.

About six months after my wife and I were married, we moved to Houston, TX where I would attend Gulf Coast Bible College (which later became Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City, OK). We both worked for a year before I started school. A man I worked with that year happened to be a student at the college. He invited me to a prayer meeting at a house in the Houston Heights that several young men from the college had rented. The house was built like a mansion. Just inside the front door there was a huge foyer and two stairwells, one to the right of the door and one to the left of the door, both leading to an open hallway upstairs that formed a half circle overlooking the downstairs foyer.

There were approximately twenty people present. Most of them were standing in the upstairs hallway. A few were on the stairs. I took a seat about four or five steps up the stairwell to the right, hugging the wall, in case someone might want to get by me. There were two or three men sitting several steps behind me, but none below me. This was in the evening and there were a couple of lamps left on in the foyer and also rays of light from a street light shining through some windows with sheer curtains on the front wall parallel to the stairs.

At a point in the prayer meeting, I think near the end, there came a period of complete silence. During that silence, someone put his hands on my shoulders. I sat frozen, not knowing what was happening. I then heard a voice say, “I ordain you to preach my gospel”. When the person removed His hands I opened my eyes and saw that it was Jesus who had ordained me. He then started up the stairs. I leaned back and, with my right hand, I reached out and touched the hem of His garment. I saw His garment move when I touched it. He stopped, looked back, and smiled at me. He then walked to the top of the stairs and disappeared. A man who was standing in the upstairs hallway was made aware that the Lord had dealt with me that night. The Lord actually let him see the same thing I saw after my ordination, an unclean spirit that was pursuing one of the students present in the prayer meeting. Twenty-four years later a church presented me with an ordination certificate. There was no ceremony. Jesus is the only Person that has laid hands on me.

My ordination is not from man, nor through the agency of man, but through the laying on of the hands of Jesus. I did not choose Him; He chose me. I now belong to Jesus and my allegiance is to Him and the Father alone.

Several months after that night, I started Bible College. A few weeks into my second semester my wife got a phone call from my biological father’s wife. (I had met them when I was sixteen and my dad had a bad heart condition. My wife and I went to see him the day we left for Houston. He was still working and doing okay.) His wife said that he had recently been forced to take a medical retirement from his work. The doctors weren’t giving him much time to live. He wanted us to move back to Oklahoma before he died. When my wife told me about this, I thought, ‘I can’t just drop out of college. It’s a four year college.’ However, after a week or two, I began to feel that God might really want me to leave school and move back to Oklahoma.

I prayed about it for several days and the feeling wouldn’t leave. I asked the Lord to please let me know for certain if He wanted me to do this. I then put a cotton work glove on the grass outside our apartment and, with my finger, I drew a twelve to fifteen inch circle around the glove. I prayed and asked the Lord to let there be dew on the ground but not on the glove, nor within the circle, if He wanted me to leave school and move back. I checked the following morning and the dew was on the ground, but not on the glove, nor was it in the circle.  I then asked that He do the opposite the next day, let there be dew on the glove and within the circle, but not on the ground. That next morning I overslept and was almost late for school. I rushed outside and quickly checked the ground, and it was dry. I crawled to the glove and it was wet with dew, as was the circle around it. We began packing our belongings and within days we were on our way back to Oklahoma.

After driving over eight hours we stopped and spent the night with my wife’s family. My dad lived approximately thirty-five miles north of them. The following day we visited with her mother most of the morning, then drove to my dad’s house. We arrived around noon. He and his wife were so surprised to see us. They had no idea we were coming. We never thought about letting them know. I had just asked the Lord what He wanted me to do, and then did it. They weren’t prepared for company so my wife and his wife immediately left for town to get some food to prepare for lunch.

My dad and I were standing outside talking when they left. They hadn’t been gone one minute and my dad had a heart attack. I helped him inside the house and laid him down on a cot by the wall just inside the door. In approximately one and a half minutes more, he passed away. I just stood there beside him, looking into his open eyes that were so still and so quiet, not knowing what to do. We had no cell phones back then so I couldn’t contact my wife. He lived a few miles from the nearest town so I didn’t bother calling an ambulance. I soon went outside.

My dad wasn’t a Christian when he died. I began asking the Lord to give him another chance. I sat on a porch step and prayed and prayed and prayed. Every once in a while I would stand up and pace back and forth on the patio and then sit back down. Twice I went back in the house and checked to see if my dad had come back to life. After what seemed like an eternity of sitting and pacing, sitting and pacing (it was actually about twenty-five to thirty minutes), I sat down for the last time and heard the words, ‘I have heard and I have answered; I have given you the desires of your heart’. I rushed inside and he was still dead. I went back outside for a few more minutes, and then went back in, and again, he was still dead.  I thought, ‘Maybe I have to tell him to wake up,’ but, before I could speak, the last Adam, Jesus — the life-giving Spirit — breathed into him and he awoke from sleep. His first words were, “I was dead!” He said it three times and then began to praise Jesus.

As he was praising the Lord our wives returned. His wife went into a panic and started screaming, “What happened. He’s never looked this bad before.” I assured her he was okay and that he only needed a bath (he had passed his bowels and urine). After this day my dad still had a bad heart but he had renewed energy and vigor. He and his two brothers began going from one Church of God to another in Oklahoma, each giving their testimonies. My dad always worked into his testimony a statement saying, “People say that when you’ve been dead as long as I was, your brain will be affected, and I can attest to its truth – my brain was affected drastically — I was a sinner, now I’m a saint; I was dead, now I’m alive.”

Several years after this experience, I was at a prayer meeting in North Carolina that was being held in the loft of a barn. There were about twelve to fifteen people present. I was sitting in a chair beside a middle aisle that ran down the middle of the loft. As we were praying in silence, I was suddenly filled with faith that what was beginning there would spread to the north, south, east, and west. I stood and began to speak but was cut short before I could complete a sentence. In the blink of an eye, I was standing beside Jesus in a place far above the earth. I don’t know where we were, whether in heaven, or on top of one of the highest clouds. God knows.

Jesus was standing to my left, facing me; Peter and John were to my right. I saw someone coming up from behind us and turned to look, and it was James. When I saw him, I glanced down and saw my body lying on the floor in the loft. Jesus began telling me I had been born before my time, and that the knowledge I had received would be usable, but I must wait until God completed a work in His people. He didn’t tell me what that work was. While Jesus was talking to me, Paul appeared, walking from my right to my left, several feet in front of me.  He was looking straight at me. I had the feeling that he knew me. Jesus then told me about my call and I returned to my body. My physical body ached for almost three weeks after this experience.

These have been just a few experiences that I’ve I held in my heart for nearly fifty years. Recently I shared them with two different people in two different places at two different times and both of them felt that I should share them with others. So I now believe the Lord wants me to share them. I have written them for the sole purpose of exalting Jesus and the Father, who love us beyond our ability to comprehend.

If you would pass me on the street you wouldn’t even notice me. I’m just another nobody from nowhere. There’s nothing good in me except that which Jesus has worked in me. I realize this may sound like a cliché, but it’s the absolute truth.

Rev. Jon Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

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We must be careful when we counsel:

The night I was born again I found that I was in a brand new place, a place I had never before experienced. Everything had changed; I was literally in a new life, a new realm, that I learned later was the kingdom of God. After the night of my new birth, I walked in the sweetest fellowship with Jesus day by day. I felt so comfortable with Him in those days, and I knew He loved me. I knew it because He showed me by leading me daily in where I was to go, what I was to do, what I was to say, etc. I was happy, content, and felt at home in His kingdom. 

However, it wasn’t long before I started asking my pastor and others questions concerning things in the church that didn’t correspond with the Bible. Unable to answer my questions, my pastor began telling me I had to die to self. I was very naive and believed it was impossible for a man of God to lead anyone in a wrong direction. So when he said I was so bad that I had to die to my self, I believed him. I tried and tried, and before long found that I had lost my fellowship with Jesus, and had become miserable because I couldn’t die to my self; I didn’t know how and I could find nothing in the Bible to help me. 

I started talking to other ministers and almost without exception they told me I either needed to die to self, or be sanctified. I felt as if I was dealing with my step-father again. He had made me feel that I should apologize to people for breathing the same air they breathed, and the church made me feel I was not worth God’s mercy and grace. They made me feel that I had to go farther and get rid of my self because I was so bad.

What they didn’t understand was that I had already reached the place they felt I should go, a place of complete submission to Jesus, free of sin, and doing the will of God. I walked this way in the first two or three years of my Christian life. But apparently it wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did; I was supposed to be born again first, and later down the line I was supposed to die to self and be sanctified, and then walk in humble obedience to Jesus. That was the Church of God way, and I had done it backwards.

As I’ve said, I believed men of God were men of God, and that God wouldn’t let one of His men lead anyone down a wrong road, so I continued trying to die to self and praying to be sanctified, all the while racked with guilt for not being able to accomplish it. Thank God that after walking in a state of constant guilt for years, always longing for the walk with Jesus I previously had, Jesus began separating me to Himself. During this time He taught me the truths of His Gospel and I learned that I had been crucified with Him and raised into newness of life when I was born again. 

When He showed me this, I thought, ‘Of course, that explains why I was able to walk with Him in the heavenly places He had taken me to back then.’ The old me had already been crucified with Him, and the new me had been sanctified through faith in Him, and set apart to God by the Holy Spirit. I had been saved by grace through faith and was walking in the will of God in my early Christian years. I felt so stupid to learn I had given that up to follow doctrines of men. After this experience, I was never led astray again, for I had the privilege of learning from Jesus, and not from man. 

It may be worth adding that during all these years I was battling PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. During my first few years of being a Christian and walking with Jesus, these ailments didn’t bother me at all. When I began trying to die to self and become sanctified, the symptoms came roaring back, growing worse year after year. This was debilitating, to say the least. In addition to that, I had been taught since I was three years old that I was worthless, and should apologize for being here. Hence, I had no self-confidence and always deferred to others. 

Dear friends, I cannot stress enough the importance of being careful when we counsel people about God and His kingdom. Words alone can destroy a life, especially when repeating false doctrines. It is equally important to remember that it matters not where, nor by whom, we have been taught, for we are not to follow men; we are to follow Jesus, and the Scriptures testify of Him. Therefore, all must be verified by the Scriptures. 

In Him,

Jon Banks

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Five working angels

One evening my wife and I visited another couple in North Carolina who lived 30 to 40 miles from us. Just before we headed home it started to rain. About half way home the rain had become very heavy and the winds were howling. The road we took was very narrow and surrounded by very tall trees and we couldn’t see very far in front of us (it was also pitch black). It seemed like the road curved every 10 or 15 feet. (It may not have been that often, but it was close).

As we were coming out of one curve I saw two angels, one on each side of the road, standing a few feet ahead of us. The angel on the right let me know I had to slow to just a few miles per hour very quickly. I did and as we rolled to the point where the angels were standing the road took an abrupt curve to the left. About 3 to 6 feet into that curve there was a fallen tree stretched across the road. It covered the entire road. We were able to get around the tree by driving on the side of the road. My wife and I were so grateful that the Lord had sent two angels to protect us.

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Another time in Florida we managed an apartment complex we lived in. Every Christmas I would decorate a tree in the front yard. One year just as I finished stringing the lights the Lord told me three angels would be standing around the tree I had just decorated. I expected to see the angels, but I didn’t.

However, a couple weeks later I was out front one evening checking the lights for burned out bulbs when a car drove by very slowly. It went by and turned at the end of the block and came back, and stopped in front of our building. There were two people in the car and one of them, a lady, got out of the car and walked up to me. In a very shy tone she spoke and said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but there are three angels standing around your tree.”

I thanked her and spent the rest of the evening telling my wife about it and thanking God for having done such a wonderful thing for the lady and her companion. I could tell by her voice that they were both truly blessed. (I didn’t tell her the Lord had told me about the angels; those angels were for her, not for me).

Rev. Jon Banks

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More about sanctification

I recently said that I believe the Scriptures bear witness to our being sanctified when we are born again and raised up into newness of life, rather than sanctification being a second work of grace, or a separate experience to be sought. We are separated from sin, separated from the world, and set apart to God the moment we are born again. It is evident that we receive the Spirit of God at that point, for it is written, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him,” (Romans 8:9b). It is also evident that our old self, the self that lived in sin and was destined for death, was done away with, making room for the new life in Christ, for it is also written, “…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him [Jesus], that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin,” (Romans 6:6-7). So, we are both dead to sin, and alive to God through the sacrifice of Jesus, our Savior.

The author of Hebrews says Jesus came to do the Father’s will, and that by God’s will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all; and by that offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified, (Hebrews 10:10). Rather than needing a second work from God, we need to embrace the new life God has given us through the sacrifice of Jesus, commit to Him, and show that commitment by steadily walking in the new and sanctified state He has placed us in. For just as Paul said, ‘Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God,” (Romans 6:13).

Christians begin their walk being tested and tried, in order that they might learn discipline. The more discipline they learn, the more discipline they practice. The more discipline they practice, the more they grow, all the while advancing spiritually, from infancy to maturity, (this process actually continues to the end of one’s life, and only those who persevere to the end will be saved). It is more than logical that those who have been Christians longer should be more disciplined, and more attentive to the Holy Spirit, and therefore more knowledgable to the ways of the Lord. Does this make them more holy than the younger ones? Absolutely not! So why would anyone think that more disciplined Christians would be sanctified and less disciplined Christians not be sanctified? There is no reason whatsoever, other than those derived from doctrines which are false.

Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” It therefore stands to reason that to whom little is given, little is required. We must always be careful not to judge one another, for how do we know what is required of one, and not required of another? How could we dare measure ourselves with ourselves, and compare ourselves with ourselves. We are truly without understanding if we do this.

Why, also, would God leave some of His children in a state of no sanctification, when others are sanctified? For all were sanctified by the blood of Jesus and the offering of His body. To believe the doctrine that sanctification is a second and separate experience from the new birth is to believe that faith in the sacrifice of the body of Jesus and the spilling of His blood is not sufficient. And that would mean that we are not saved by grace through faith, and that those who have yet to be sanctified will go straight to hell should they pass before being sanctified, for no one will see the Lord without sanctification, (Hebrews 12:14). 

The doctrine of being sanctified some time after the new birth is as illogical as it is unscriptural. And for that reason there is no mention of it in the Bible. I understand that people have believed in this for years and years, but it is not Scriptural. As a matter of fact, many beliefs we have today are the result of inaccurate labeling of experiences people have had. They meant well and believed in what they were calling their experiences, but that doesn’t make them right.

Dear friends, the church has been operating in a state of sleep for centuries, and the time has come to wake from that sleep, and speak the truth in love, that we all might attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. I believe with all my heart that in order to attain this magnificent goal we must confess our ignorance, and re-examine dogmas we’ve been preaching and teaching for years, and open our hearts and minds to the living Word of God, and to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance when reading the Word.

Many are waiting for an awakening, and some think it will come suddenly with an overwhelming display of the works of the Holy Spirit. I believe it will begin slowly, with the Holy Spirit revealing the truths of the Gospel to the existing children of God, that they, in turn, may teach those who will come in when the Holy Spirit starts a final revival. In that way, and only in that way, can we attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

The mystery of God is great and we have not even begun to scratch its surface. But in these last days, as the body of Christ begins to mature, I believe the Holy Spirit will open secrets of God’s holy mystery to our hearts and minds, for the times of restoration and the summing up of all things in Christ are at hand. 

I’m well aware that many things I say are not welcomed by most people. This is unfortunate. However, Jesus didn’t commission me to be popular, He commissioned me to speak the truths of God. And so I speak. Again, please, please test what I say with the Word of God.   

His most unworthy servant,

Jon Banks

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