Not All That Glitters Is Gold
By RL Forrest
Table Of Contents
NEVER NEVER LAND
THE GOLDEN CALF
SPIRIT AND TRUTH
Taking center stage recently in packed churches is a new phenomenon that really is not that new. It is the appearance of "gold dust" and the transformation of fillings or crowns into "gold." These transformations have been hailed as a new move of God, or a sign of God's presence. Many people do not try to explain it or question it, they just accept it as coming from God because that is how it is presented to them. Unique as the "gold" phenomenon may seem, it does not only play in the Christian theater.
An evangelist from Brazil named Silvania Machado was the first to take center stage in the gold dust phenomenon that has been sweeping the charismatic churches world-wide. The late Ruth Heflin, Pastor of Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle, was responsible for bringing Machado to America and was her biggest promoter. Machado prays for people during these services as 'gold dust' falls from her head. It is taken by some as a sign from God. But is it? Machado, herself, has stated that, "Some people focus on the signs instead of the fruit."
Charisma recently had samples of the 'gold dust' from Machado's hair analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington D.C. The tests show the 'gold dust' was nothing more than plastic glitter that had no gold content at all. Is this a sign?
Prior to the materialization of gold in church services, there have been other accounts of the "gold phenomenon." In his book, Voices, Visions and Apparitions, Michael Freze states, "On June 24th, 1987 one lady stated that her rosary had turned to gold while she was visiting Medjugorje (a major Marian site of visitation). This same woman claims that over forty people, whom she ministered to, had their rosaries turned to gold. This phenomenon is not at all remarkable... thousands have come back from Medjugorje testifying that their rosaries turned to gold immediately during a prayer service in the presence of hundreds of witnesses."
However, this does not happen only at Medjugorje, but also at Conyers, Georgia in the United States. Gold dust has been promised by "Jesus and Mary" to the Mary worshippers who gather there. From the messages of April 23, 1993, devotee Nancy Fowler tells us, "A beautiful crown appeared over the blessed Mother's head"... Nancy goes on to say, "She was beautiful. More suffering will befall all of mankind if you continue to violate the law of God." The blessed Mother told Nancy that rosaries will turn to a golden color and that there would be sprinklings of gold dust." See Conyers Apparition website at http://conyers.org/conyers.html
Many times when people are evangelized, especially in places where paganism is rampant, Christianity is assimilated into aberrant belief systems. History also reveals that many aberrant belief systems also find a home in Christianity.The transmutation of base metals into gold is not a new phenomenon, but has its roots in an ancient system called alchemy. Alchemy originated in the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria in Egypt. It was formed out of the mingling of three systems, Egyptian technology, Greek philosophy and the mysticism of the Middle Eastern mystery religions. The culmination of philosophy resulted in the theories of Aristotle, which in turn had a direct influence in the theories set forth in alchemy. They believed that just as common metals were transformed into perfection as gold, so too could the common human soul be transformed into the 'perfection of heaven'. Also incorporated into alchemy were beliefs from the astrologers of Mesopotamia. In order to hide the secrets of his trade, the alchemist would use symbols. The alchemist would assign the astrological names of heavenly bodies to metals. The most important metal, gold, was attributed to the sun, silver to the moon, etc. There was a shift away from the 'scientific' (technological) aspects of alchemy to the mystical (divine revelation given to initiates) and philosophical (the perfecting of man) which became known as Gnosticism. Alchemical writings became more mystical and allegorical.
Chinese Taoist philosophy also drew from alchemical roots. The Chinese added 'medicines' to mercury or other metals to transform them into 'gold'. They believed that this 'gold' had healing powers, and was able to make people immortal ("the elixir of life") The Europeans later called it the "philosopher's stone". Simply put, it is magic. The idea of the 'healing power of gold' is not a new one. Today, the 'healing power of gold' is being used in churches. This gold dust is gathered and used to anoint the sick to heal them.
NEVER NEVER LAND
In the story, there is a place between 'sleep and awake' where you will find Peter Pan, Tinkerbelle, fairy dust and Never Never Land. In essence, it is where the gnostic alchemical transmutations of the soul occur. This is where they have their divine encounters and like Peter Pan, this is where life's problems are solved. Some Christians think they are meeting God (or the Holy Spirit) in this same place. New Agers are also familiar with this place, it is where they meet their spirit guides. Whether it is gold dust or some other phenomenon or manifestation, it is all based on experience, a personal supernatural experience. In his book, The New World Religion, Gary Kah reports, "The New Age movement, like Jung, bases its 'spiritual truth' upon personal experience, not upon established fact and biblical truth. This experience is gained from going within."
There is a spill over from Never Never Land, into reality where both 'realities' exist. For the Christian, it is the manifestation of the supernatural of the 'spirit realm'. Personal experience with the supernatural nowadays, seems to be the thermometer by which the church measures its spirituality. Just because something is supernatural, or seems supernatural, does not necessarily mean it is from God. Can God cause gold dust to fall during prayer services? He can do anything He chooses, but, He never contradicts His Word. God operates within the revelations of His Word, for our sakes. For many in the Christian church to be deceived by their experiences, in their quest for a deeper revelation of God, says little for their discernment. Our thermometer should be the Scriptures.
Gnosticism begins with the quest for a deeper revelation of god through tangible, supernatural experiences. These experiences take the place of God and become an end in itself. No longer do they look at the fruit of the Spirit in a believer's life (Galatians 5:22), as proof of the work of the Spirit, but they look to personal supernatural experiences as proof of the work of the Spirit. This is gnosticism.
Gnosticism was a particularly aggressive heresy that plagued the early church and also plagues it today. It uses our Christian terms and even uses the name of Jesus. To the undiscerning, gnosticism replicates Christianity. It is by far the most subtle and dangerous heresy to infiltrate the church ever.
In the first century there arose many heresies that threatened the young, growing church. The doctrinal letters of the Apostles provided the answers to those heresies. They were encouraging letters, that exhorted Christians to live godly lives in Christ Jesus. They were also prophetic letters, for they warned of future dangers, spiritual deceptions, heresies and deceit that would come against Christians. These letters eventually became known as our New Testament. Satan, the master deceiver, has tried time and time again to destroy true Christianity. He can appear as an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14) "For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matthew 24:24) This is where his greatest deception lies.
Gnosticism is like a chameleon, it changes its colors to blend into its environment. An allegorical interpretation of scripture will allow gnosticism to thrive within Christianity. A literal interpretation of scripture makes the ground infertile for gnosticism. In Robert P. Lightner's book The Last Days Handbook, he states, "not until the third century A.D. and the Alexandrian school of theology was there any serious opposition to the literal method. Teachers in this school -- Clement of Alexandria and Origen -- used a method of interpretation that made all scripture an allegory." Origen's use of an allegorical interpretation allowed him to come to the conclusions and beliefs he held. Origen believed in the preexistence of souls and that "not even Satan was so depraved and has so lost rationality and freedom as to be beyond redemption." The 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica also states, "The chief accusations against Origen's teaching are the following: making the Son inferior to the Father and so being precursor of Arianism; spiritualizing away the resurrection of the body; denying hell, a morally enervating universalism; speculating about preexistent souls and world cycles; dissolving redemptive history into timeless myth by using allegorical interpretation, thus turning Christianity into a kind of Gnosticism." Origen held some strange and occultic beliefs. Dangerous doctrines permeate the church today. It is terrifying, when Christians passively accept teachings without searching the scriptures for the truth. If those teachings do not stand up to the Truth, what do we do with them?
THE GOLDEN CALF
In Exodus, we find a valuable lesson about idol worship. When Moses was up on the mountain, meeting with the Lord, his people grew impatient.
"And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.'" (Exodus 32:1)
They made a golden calf and substituted it for the Lord, saying it was what brought them "out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4b) After receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord, Moses came down from the mountain. He saw the people worshipping the golden calf they had made. "Moses anger waxed hot." (Exodus 32:19) He took the golden calf, burned it in fire, ground it into powder and sprinkled it upon the water. Moses "made the children of Israel drink of it." (Exodus 32:19,20) The powder Moses sprinkled upon the water was 'gold dust'. From the context of the passage, drinking the 'gold dust' seems to have been some sort of punishment.
It is human nature to want something of substance, to see, feel and touch; a God who is tangible and not invisible to us. We need to 'experience God' as the saying goes. Christianity is experiential, but it can be turned against us very easily if we do not exercise discernment. Does God operate supernaturally today, absolutely. But, are we to run to and fro seeking supernatural signs of God's existence? No. Faith is the basis for our belief in God, not experience. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11: 1-3) It is our faith that pleases God.
SPIRIT AND TRUTH
When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, He said "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:..." (John 4:23) Most proponents of the 'gold dust' phenomenon believe that they are worshipping God in spirit. The question is, are they worshipping Him in truth?
When the artisans of the day made an image (idol) to worship, it was usually made of gold. The Bible instructs us not to chase after gold and silver but to look to Him for everything we need. "Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." (Proverbs 8:10,11) "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, Making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them is there great reward." (Psalm 19:7-11)
The Apostle Paul instructed the church in this way, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with gold, or pearls, or costly array." (1 Timothy 2:9) Has God changed? Does He now desire to cover and adorn His children with gold?
There was a man that was lame at the gate Beautiful to ask alms from them that entered the temple. He, seeing Peter and John asked for alms, and Peter said to him "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6) All of these scriptures give testimony of God's unchanging grace and righteousness.
God is concerned with our spiritual condition, that's why the Scripture says: "They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity." (Ezekiel 7:19)
People have come from all over the world to see the gold dust phenomenon. Most people have been attracted to the 'glitter' of this movement. But, God is not in show business. God's ways are not our ways. Yet some still chase after all the glitter, convinced that there they will meet God, instead of meeting with Him in their prayer closets. We are being led down the path to destruction. Not very many can see the condition the church is in. The Lord wants us to see our spiritual condition.
In Revelation, Jesus had this warning for the Church at Laodicea which can also apply to the Church today:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Revelation 3:17-22.