The Third Heaven: The Apostle Paul and Kat Kerr – a Contrast


The Third Heaven: The Apostle Paul and Kat Kerr – A contrast

Paul went to the third heaven. He had a vision – a revelation – and it was not the first time. Here is what he said:

1 Corinthians 12:1-5:  I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast,except of my weaknesses.

Most commentators think 2 Corinthians was written between A.D. 55 and A.D. 57. The vision he described occurred fourteen years earlier, or between A.D. 41 and 43. This would have been around the time of his second visit to Jerusalem and before his first missionary journey. His third heaven experience would have been, it is speculated, his third vision. A record of Paul’s visions is as follows: (1) on the day of his conversion he had a vision of the glorified Christ – Acts 9:3 and 22:6; (2) a vision of Ananias coming to him – Acts 9:12; (3) a vision showing he would minister to Gentiles – Acts 22:17; (4) his vision-call to Macedonia – Acts 16:9; (5) an encouraging vision when difficulty arose in Corinth – Acts 18:9-10; (6) a vision that followed his arrest in Jerusalem – Acts 23:11; (7) a vision during a storm at sea – Acts 27:23; and (8) a vision that gave him insight into understanding the mysteries of Christ – Ephesians 3: 1-6.[1]

It is likely that the report of Paul’s vision revealed in 2 Corinthians was the first time he mentioned it. He did so, because some detractors who had come into the Corinthian church were challenging his status as an authentic apostle, thereby at minimum attempting to downgrade the doctrines and theologies Paul preached. Paul’s critics, as was the custom, elevated themselves by claiming supernatural knowledge obtained by means of dreams and visions. For millennia, the shamans had gained authority by claiming direct encounters with supernatural entities, and this shamanistic tradition was alive and well in the Graeco-Roman world. It is alive and well in our own day, and shamans continue to enter into a trance state, a soul journey to heaven or hell, in order to bring back information to their clients, which is mostly of a comforting nature.

Reluctantly, Paul describes a vision he had, in order to assert his status and authority as a true apostle of Christ. He does not employ typical shamanistic language, however, nor does he use trance-inducing techniques such as meditation, mind-altering substances, dance, physical deprivations, or any magical devices. His is a distinct vision that fits into what his detractors and the congregation at Corinth would find acceptable.

Paul’s limitations

 Paul had not known Jesus during the days of the Lord’s earthly ministry. The apostles in Jerusalem, as well as the general Christian community, had been afraid of Paul, because they knew well enough of his career as their persecutor, then named Saul. Paul had little chance yet to establish himself, whether by personal testimony or through second hand accounts of his dramatic reformation. Being zealous for the work of Christ and for the well being of the churches that he founded, he brought to the table what he could, though at the stage in his career of A.D. 55 or 57, the Corinthians would have had little information to confirm Paul as a full-fledged messenger of the Gospel. But Paul had been to the third heaven.

A commonsense view

 The first heaven consisted of the clouds and the air that humans breathed. The second heaven held the lights above the clouds – the sun, moon, and stars. The third heaven was where God dwelt – His abode.[2] The foregoing is a generalized way that Jewish people conceived of what was above them. God was above them, far away, and transcendent over them yet with them at the same time.

Paradise was considered the same as the third heaven. Paradise is a loan word from the Persians meaning ‘garden’ and was a reference to the garden where God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. Fellowship restored with the Creator would take place in Paradise, the dwelling place of God.

Caught up

 Paul, referring to himself in the third person and therefore in a humble fashion, was “caught up” to the third heaven. He did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body. He simply did not know. Not too much should be made of Paul’s inability or refusal to be more concrete. The distance between his experience and mechanisms used by shamans for vision questing is very great.

Despite the other visions to which Paul referred (see above), this is the only time he reports being in the presence of God, or in the third heaven. My opinion is that Paul’s vision and revelation would be like other visions in the New Testament. For instance, John was “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s day when he received what we know as Revelation, the last book of the New Testament (see Revelation 1:9-11). What “in the Spirit” means is uncertain, and it may or may not be the same as a vision.

John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos by Roman authorities. Alone in a cave on a hillside grotto on that island (tradition tells us), he saw things that were heavenly, not earthly. He reports it as though he turned and saw a real life play set before him.

Paul’s experience simply happened to him; he did not seek it. It came upon him in much the same way as what happened to John on Patmos. There was no ‘soul journey’ and no mediumistic trance, nor was there a paganistic transportation facilitated or attended by spirit guides. Without warning, without expectation, without any means at all, Paul was suddenly seeing that which he would not speak of, even if he had been able. Only God knew how it all took place, which Paul emphatically asserts with the double denial, “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.”

“He heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter,” is one of the more puzzling statements Paul makes as he describes the vision experience. Commonly, commentators suggest four different solutions to explain Paul’s meaning. One, he was warned not to speak of what he had seen. Two, he could not find words suitable to describe the incredible content of the vision. Three, it would do harm to do so. Four, to reveal the sum and substance of the vision would make him sound like he had lost his mind. Whichever it was, and the short list may miss it all together, Paul never revealed anything other than the fact of his vision.

Kat Kerr and Revealing Heaven: An Eyewitness Account

 Kat Kerr, a sixty-year-old woman living in Florida and sporting pinkish hair dyed ‘in obedience’ to God’s command (she insists), wrote the above titled book. In it she reports not on her visions but upon her direct encounters, including conversations, with “the Father” in heaven’s “throne room.”[3]

Kerr is radically different from Paul, in that she freely talks about what she sees and hears. There is no hesitancy on her part, unlike Paul. It is apparent that her mission is to communicate what she experienced in her visits to the “throne room.”

On one occasion the Father escorted her, via time travel or what some would call ‘astral travel’, to the very time when Jesus was crucified. She says she was right there at the cross of Calvary; not only that, she was there at the resurrection. Wow, not even the shamans have been as brazen as that!

She visits various persons’ loved ones in order to bring back reports on their status in heaven. Here is where she is closely identified not only with the shamans but also with the psychics and mediums of the occult branch of spiritism. Always she reports that the departed are securely saved and well, much to the comfort of the bereaved. In one instance, according to Kerr’s testimony, a person who lost a loved one was surprised to hear of that person being in heaven at all.

She reports that every human being has at least one guardian angel that comes to be with him or her at the moment of conception. These angels go with the believer all along the road of life, helping, rescuing, and at death accompanying the faithful departed all the way to heaven. She learned that if a person had done bad things while on earth the guardian angel is owed an apology upon arrival in heaven. Sometimes, however, she says that Jesus personally does the work of escorting to heaven, at least for those who have been especially faithful.

Heaven, she reports, is within the created universe and has streets of gold as John of the Revelation saw.[4]

In so many ways Kerr is biblically sound and presents a standard gospel message, which is firmly in the Arminian stream. She recounts her own conversion experience at age four, then again at age five, when she prayed the sinner’s prayer just to be sure.[5] She is of a pentecostal persuasion, and her rapidly growing audience is primarily among the charismatics and pentecostals.

A more significant concern

It is not necessary to continue detailing the incredible things Kerr reports about her frequent visits to heaven; these can be garnered by visiting YouTube and typing her name in the search field. There are other more significant and dangerous aspects to her ministry.

One, it is a divisive ministry. One either accepts what she says as true or one disagrees and objects. In this latter circumstance it is tantamount to declaring her a false prophet. The Old Testament penalty for ‘false prophecy’ is stoning; the New Testament settles for simply rejecting the message. As the issue of Kerr’s veracity and authenticity is forced into discussion, it will impact congregations and relationships. In some instances husbands and wives will be divided; in others, the leadership of a church may embrace Kerr while others are duty bound to reject the whole business. This is happening right now, since Kerr has caught on in a big way.

Two, acceptance of her ministry opens the door to further connection with spiritism and shamanism, for this is essentially what Kerr is up to. We do not find mention in the New Testament of congregations developing such connections or recommending them. The experiences of Paul and John are exceptional and are not anywhere the same as Kerr’s.

Three, there is a ‘mind bending’ process going on. Much of what she details of her visits crosses the line of that which is plausible. If one accepts that Kerr visits heaven, then one is compelled to believe what she reports to happen there despite its unusual nature. With the wide acclaim Kerr is presently enjoying, people will have to suspend skepticism in order to accept the often-bizarre nature of what she proclaims so as to go along with the crowd. Thus comes into play the toxic or cultic mindset. Little by little we can be led astray.

Four, Kerr has a not-so-subtle expectation that others should be or could be doing what she herself is doing: you, too, can visit heaven and talk with the Father, and here’s how, so why don’t you? Pretty soon Christians are being moved into the occult realm. Talk about a ‘slippery slope’!

Five, those who are critical in their analysis are ignored or shunned by the suggestion that opposing Kerr is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The idea is that if Kerr is critiqued, it is the same as blasphemy or rejection of what God is doing in ‘these last days’.

 The core contrast between Paul and Kat Kerr

 Paul does not state that he spoke with God; not the Father, not the Son, not the Holy Spirit, in any mention of a vision he experienced . Kat Kerr, on the other hand, does. Herein is the great contrast between Paul and Kerr. Nothing could be more telling. Kerr’s picture of the Father is more akin to a description of a conversation with a friend than anything else. I think that this is exactly what Kerr intends to convey, that she has such an exalted status that she is able to be in the very presence of God and talk directly with Him, reminiscent of how Adam and Eve spoke with the Creator God in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. (see Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-19)

Paul spoke of the utter transcendent nature of God in his first letter to Timothy chapter 6 verses 15b-16: “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.”

It is true that the Spirit indwelt born again Christian is seated with Christ in the heavenly places, indicating the priesthood of the believer in terms of our access to the Father in prayer. It also points to the fact we rest in the finished work of Christ and cease from our efforts of trying save ourselves. But it does not mean we are presently in the heavenly places. Kerr ignores this standard and historical Christian understanding and claims to actually have been, and repeatedly, in the very presence of God, which God dwells in “unapproachable light.” This contrast cannot be ignored or accepted.

Concluding considerations

Kat Kerr is not the first one to make such assertions. One thinks of Mohammad, Joseph Smith, David Berg of the Children of God, Sung young Moon, and countless others. The claiming of special revelation is standard fare in the spiritual market place.

And where will this all lead? What is next for Kat Kerr? Her reporting is firm and clear, so there are only two responses: she is either spot on or a false prophet. She will attract a following, and churches and couples will be forced into either compliance and acceptance or resistance and rejection of her claims. Her followers could develop a new cultic expression within the visible Christian church. She may tone it down some, but due to her published videos and book, it will be nearly impossible to move away from the heavenly visitations statements.[6] Nothing short of a clear confession and repentance will suffice.

It is with a saddened heart that I write this essay. It is crucial, however, for Bible based Christians to stand up and be counted. Fortunately, I no longer identify with the charismatic and pentecostal movement, because if I still did it would be harder for me to write this.

We must recognize that everyone who claims spiritual experiences does not have to be accepted and believed. There will be false signs and wonders performed by the power of Satan. This we know about, and the demonic tricks are sometimes played out within the Christian community. Deceptive attacks almost always come from within.

“Watch and pray,” Jesus told His disciples that last night in Gethsemane. So we are to watch and pray.

Kent Philpott

September 2013

[1] It has been suggested that this last vision as mentioned in Ephesians 3 is a reference to the same vision spoken of in our passage in 2 Corinthians. I will not commit either way.

[2] Some Jewish traditions report seven heavens, even ten. The use of numbers like three, seven, and ten have special meaning in ancient Jewish beliefs as well as Scripture and point to completeness, wholeness, and fulfillment. “Third heaven”- surely the very presence of God.

[3] Ms Kerr has recorded a number of videos and has uploaded them on YouTube. In the videos she reports on her visits, not visions, to heaven.

[4] In a way, this is troubling since it reduces God to be less than transcendent and seems to violate what Peter said about the universe being destroyed. See 2 Peter chapter three.


[5] There is a mystery to conversion, and most mature Christians are aware of false conversion, especially in a culture that is saturated with Christianity. In my book, Are You Really Born Again?: Understanding True and False Conversion, published concurrently by Earthen Vessel Publishing and Evangelical Press, the issues of false conversion are examined.

[6] Kat Kerr is not the only one presently claiming heavenly conversations with angels, Jesus, and the Father. This has some recent history particularly among the Fourth or Fifth Wave folks and those who are on board with the goings on at the Bethel Church in Redding under the leadership of Bill Johnson.

Charismatic and Pentecostal: An Opinion

Charismatic and Pentecostal: An Opinion

I admit it; I am a charismatic and a pentecostal.

A “charismatic” is a person who believes in and/or practices or has one or more of the ‘grace’ gifts. The Greek word for grace as transliterated from the Greek is charis. The word charismatic, then, is an adjective turned into another noun built from charis. All but cessationists, who are those who deny the operation of grace gifts now that the New Testament is published and the age of the Apostles is over, would be classed as charismatics or at least persons believing that the grace gifts are still bestowed on believers today.

A “pentecostal” usually means someone who, in the tradition of the early part of the 20th century in the Azusa Street Revival (Los Angeles in 1908) to the present, speaks in tongues.[1] Early in their tradition, pentecostals believed that if a person did not speak in tongues they were not really born again, since the evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit was tongue speaking. (Some denominations still teach this while most do not.) Pentecostals generally hold that, even if tongue speaking is not evidence of salvation, it is at least something everyone will do if they are truly seeking after God.[2]

I myself spoke in tongues from 1968 to about 1990, with the frequency going steadily downhill until finally it ceased completely. During the Jesus People Movement I also received words of wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy, plus consistently had the gifts of discernment (distinguishing between spirits), healing, and miracles. This is no exaggeration; in fact, I am purposefully minimizing my experiences.

Let us look at the grace gifts:

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Romans 12:
utterance of wisdom Prophecy
utterance of Knowledge Service
faith Teaching
gifts of healing Exhorting
working of miracles contributing (in generosity)
prophecy leading   (with zeal)
ability to distinguish between   spirits acts of mercy (with cheerfulness)
various kinds of tongues  
interpretation of tongues  


Many contend, as do I, that Paul cites an additional grace charismatic gift, celibacy. 1 Corinthians 7:6-7 seems to teach this.

Let us take a moment to examine the charismatic gifts.

The cessationist ought to have a problem with the idea that the charismatic gifts are no longer operational, since many of these gifts seem to be in evidence today. Among them are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, distinguishing between spirits, service, teaching, exhorting (which means encouraging), contributing, leading, and acts of mercy. To look at one of these, acts of mercy, it is apparent to most pastors that some will have this gift while others do not. There are observable differences then and not with acts of mercy only. Others that I have seen are leading, contributing, encouraging, teaching, and serving.

What the cessationist actually rejects however are the so-called ‘power gifts’ – tongues, miracles, and prophecy; the others are ignored or accommodated in some way or another. Prophecy, in particular, is generally misunderstood. It is essentially a forth telling or proclamation of the Word and Truth of God, which, ever since the publication of the New Testament, is simply the preaching of the Word of Christ. In the Jesus People Movement we used to think prophecy was a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ thing, the prophet communicating new information. After long exposure to and experience with this form of prophecy, I concluded that the ‘prophet’ would tend to announce what was in his or her own mind, however sincerely. I thought and practiced in this manner for a decade, much to my regret now.

Being an actual pentecostal

Whether one speaks in tongues or does not is of no consequence. If such is necessary for proclaiming the glory of God, then God will supply it.

The real problem surrounding tongues speaking occurs in a congregational setting. As a senior pastor of a fairly large church during the 1970s I ignored the teaching about the necessity of interpreting tongues for the understanding and teaching of the congregation. I also turned a blind eye to the statement of Paul’s that there should be only a few tongue-speaking messages (see 1 Corinthians 14:27).

Another significant issue arises in a situation where many people, in a service, are speaking in tongues. Others who are new to the group may feel expected to join in. I suspect that whatever can be observed, that is, seen or heard, can be mimicked. Frankly, I have seen this hundreds of times. If one wants to be seen as spiritual and have a need to be approved by the group, he or she may well copy or mimic what the others are doing. Then the group will congratulate, approve, and welcome the new tongue speaker into the inner circle of the truly born again.

A kind of cognitive dissonance is operative. There is pressure to speak in tongues, the urging to do so, the prayers offered up for the gift to be granted, only to have nothing happen. Eventually, the tension must be broken, and the result will be either mimicry or abandonment of the whole effort.

I am pentecostal

This is my testimony: I am pentecostal. In has been decades since I have spoken in tongues, but it could come back. No, I will not carry on speaking in tongues with a whole group of others doing the same thing and without interpretation, as it is a complete violation of Scripture. (Carefully study 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14, making every effort to set aside pre-conceived views. We must be more concerned about being faithful to the Word of God than to the traditions of men.)

At this present time, in September of 2013, I consider that many gifts of the Spirit abound in tens of thousands of congregations around the world, probably without many of these people even being aware of it. My experience has been that those who least suspect they are being gifted by the Spirit are, in fact, the most gifted.

Here is where I see the real evidence, the most biblically oriented evidence, of the working of the charismatic gifts: in proclaiming the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus set His agenda for the Church to continue until His Second Coming: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Indeed, when the day of Pentecost arrived, the Apostles spoke in tongues, to the effect that people heard them telling in their own languages “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). Three thousand converts came from the proclaiming of a dozen, less one, preachers.

What were the “mighty works”? They were the old, old story of Jesus and His cross and resurrection. Yes, the Messiah had come and died in the sinner’s place. Nothing has changed since then, but when the babbling goes on and on, confused and clamoring, it is not the Spirit of God. It is either human confusion or demonic imitation.[3]

Another kind of speaking in tongues – prayer language

It is characteristic of charismatics and pentecostals to distinguish between speaking in tongues as a prayer language and the speaking in tongues in a congregational setting. It is this latter form that demands interpretation. Let me repeat: if there is so-called speaking in tongues in a group of Christians with an absence of interpretation, then something is drastically wrong.[4]

“Prayer language” is what the lone Christian utters, words that are unintelligible to the human ear but which are supposed to be the indwelling Holy Spirit praying through the mouth of the believer. We are on murky ground here, because the material in support of a private prayer language is not perfectly clear but is open to interpretation. In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul writes, “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” Now this verse is connected with Romans 8:26-27 by most charismatics and pentecostals:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Here I am not as certain as I would like to be. It was private prayer language in which I most often engaged and which slowly went away without return to this date. I must admit that I am still convinced that this type of spiritual prayer is genuine. The validity of this form of prayer I observed when casting out demons from people during the 1970s, during the Jesus People Movement. This form of prayer caused dramatic reactions from two different people on two separate occasions, about one year apart. These two raised their hands, covered their ears, and said, “Stop that perfect prayer.” However, I do not want to anchor the validity of private and personal praying in unknown tongues on the retorts of demonized individuals.

Whether or not the Spirit intercedes for the Christian in the form of private speaking/praying in tongues I cannot say for sure, but either way, it does not violate Paul’s concern that, in the congregation, tongues must be interpreted.

Of greater concern: Christian-oriented shamanism practiced by some pentecostals

The Shaman, while in an ecstatic state, can go to heaven or to hell and deal with angels, deities, demons, or the souls of the dead. Pentecostal Christians are also claiming to have met with angels, either in heaven or on the earth. Some describe taking a journey to heaven and conversing with angels. Some even claim to have talks with Jesus in the “throne room.” These assertions have been made for several years now. One wonders if this is not simply an example of one-upmanship – “I am more spiritual and closer to God that you” – since pride is a powerful motivator even in the broad Christian community. Or perhaps it is delusion; or trickery; or lying. Who knows, but it is reminiscent of the Shaman’s ‘soul journey.’ Talking with Jesus in heaven – how could this find acceptance with Bible-oriented Christians?

The rationale runs something like this: Since we are living in the last days,[5] God is doing something new. We are off the charts now, being so close to the rapture[6] and the years of tribulation. The Bible, while perfectly fine, does not cover the final period and so God is speaking with some specially chosen servants directly. God’s chosen anointed will communicate what God is saying to the Church. So, why be limited by the Bible when you can go direct? And the Church, the real and true last days Church, becomes those who listen to and obey the words of the chosen anointed.[7]

And if someone like me questions such assertions, the rejoinder is: “Well, how do you know God is not doing this?” Or, “Aren’t you in jeopardy of committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?”

Many would-be questioners will retreat if so confronted. They may even be cowed into accepting and joining in. I personally have been confronted with those exact statements, and I found it difficult to give a credible answer. It is like being asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” There seems to be no good, at least no direct reply to the accusations.

Taking a stand

It is not established in the New Testament that there would be a time prior to the Second Coming of Jesus that sends us off the charts, requiring direct communication with angels or deity. There is no passage of Scripture that indicates Christians will do this; nothing even close.

The Revelation of John, the last book in our Bible, details the very end of history. In the last chapters of that apocalyptic book are the accounts of the defeat of Satan, the victory of Christ, His return, the celebration of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. What began in Genesis is completed in Revelation. What more is needed?

The Holy Spirit has not been taken from the Church or individual Christians. When we gather in Jesus’ name, He is still in our midst, and He will be with us until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20).

Then lastly, there are the words of John himself. He gives readers a warning not to add to or subtract from the revelation given to him by Jesus. Such warnings were not uncommon in that era; they served as a kind of an ancient copyright mechanism. John inserted it for a reason, and it is applicable to those who insist that we have moved beyond the Book:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

The role of feelings in the charismatic/pentecostal experience


Since 1968 I have been involved with those who are charismatic and pentecostal. While not a terribly emotional or feeling-centered person, still I enjoyed the rock and roll bands of my teenage years. My friends knew me as a rather even-tempered person without major highs and lows, emotionally speaking.

During my years as pastor of a charismatic church, increasingly I found myself the odd-man-out. In our services and other gatherings, the ‘worship time’ was the centerpiece and it was assumed to be the time when God showed up. Feeling good became identified with God’s presence. Quiet times, silent prayer, reflective listening to Bible portions, the repeating of creeds, and reciting of prayers we considered be ‘lame’ even sub-Christian. Over time I began to question these assumptions.

By way of my pastoral counseling efforts I found that people would be worried if they did not feel good. Sad, depressed, uneasy, discomforted – these were to be avoided. I began to hear, “Doesn’t God want us to feel good?” “If God is present shouldn’t I feel good?” “God wants me to feel bad?” “Doesn’t God care about how we feel?” “Aren’t praise and worship enhanced when we feel good?” And so on.

These are tough questions, especially for the generations that have grown up to think that everything has to do with feeling good. After all, sad is not the goal of life. But from a biblical perspective, both in terms of precedence and warrant, our feelings are pretty much downplayed if mentioned at all.[8] Yes, there is joy, real and legitimate joy, but upon further study it becomes evident that joy and feelings have little to do with each other. Joy can be present in sadness, even despair.

Sometimes I think that feeling good in worship is, or can be, an attempt at assuring oneself of salvation. I learned that healing was that way, too. If you are healed, it must mean you have God’s gift of salvation. Right? If you ‘feel’ good this must be a sure sign of genuine conversion? Right?

Paul, in Romans 8:14, speaks directly to the issue: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” This is what counts. Here there is a gentle but strong assurance of salvation that is not dependent upon feelings. We may be sad or glad, no matter; we may be struggling mightily or rejoicing with “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (see 1 Peter 1:8), no matter.

Growing up into Christ we learn to distrust our feelings and rely instead on the finished work of Christ, both for our salvation and our sanctification. Walking through the “valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil because God is with us,” David said in Psalm 23. We will endure times of distress, pain, and grief, until gladness appears and this may not come until we are in the presence of God in heaven. It is the inner witness of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we cherish. Feelings come and go, but Jesus is with us until the end of the age. To that I say, Hallelujah.

Concluding thoughts

Why we cling so tenaciously to that which is contemporary than to time honored points of theology and practice is not completely understood. We tend to embrace what is new and exciting, large and loud. If crowds of people are flocking in, this must be evidence of genuineness. Numbers, influence, popularity, and money are the proof of the pudding.

Charismatic and pentecostal – these adjective/nouns are still divisive and growing more so as people pray for and earnestly desire the authentic moving of the Holy Spirit in revival and awakening. There is a kind of desperateness apparent and along with it a rush to sanctify anything that looks like it is attended by miracles. The desire is a good and true one. But it is here in the hunger and the yearning where mistakes are made and well-intentioned people go off the charts, ignore boundaries, and depend on supposed power gifts and miracles as evidence of a fresh move of God. According to Jesus and Paul, we should expect demonically inspired signs and wonders (see Matthew 24:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, among others). Maybe some of us who lived through the Jesus Movement and who had to deal with the dark aftermath of it may have a helpful word to speak here. This is what I am hoping to do in this essay.


Kent Philpott

September 2013

[1] This essay does not refer to any specific denomination with “Pentecostal” in its title.

[2] Paul made it clear that even in the Corinthian Church where there was tongue speaking, not everyone did. See 1 Corinthians 12:30.

[3] Based on Scripture it has been long understood that Satan is capable of counterfeiting the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. This sad, confusing, and alarming, but true nevertheless. The story of Simon the magician, see Acts 8:9-25, is a case in point.

[4] No one knows what speaking in tongues looked like or sounded like on the day of Pentecost. It is simply an assumption that what is seen and heard today is the same as what took place in the New Testament era. But it is only a guess, as there were no tape recordings made. The fact is that many religious groups, and non-Christian groups among them, claim to speak in ecstatic tongues. The phenomenon is not limited to Christianity. Some who so practice are as far from Christianity as could be. Considering the vast and confused spiritual marketplace that has overrun the world, critical analytical thinking is advised.

[5] We do expect Jesus to return, but no one knows when this will be. Some try to set dates only to find themselves embarrassed and Christians scandalized as a result. There is nothing in the biblical record that reveals even signs of a run-up to the Second Coming. A careful study of Matthew 24 makes this clear.

[6] A study of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 shows that the “rapture” and the Second Coming are the very same event and not two events.

[7] This is a formula for the development of a toxic faith, or to put it another way, this is how cults come to be.

[8] By ‘precedence’ I mean direct mention in the Bible. while ‘warrant’ refers to biblical teaching that clearly justifies a doctrinal position or practice.

If the Devil Wrote a Bible, interview questions # 3-5

3.        What makes you think you can speak for the devil?

The devil has some new tricks, but not too many. The devil is actually boring in that he simply wants to build a wall between people and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. After a while then you have pretty much seen it all. Especially when casting demons out of people, you learn a great deal as it would very often become clear how it was that a person became vulnerable and open to demons and what lies the demons used to remain in a person. It may sound a bit weird, but it was pretty much just text book.

Most importantly however is what we see of Satan in the Scripture. It is all there, every trick and crafty deceit. In our book we simply do a little updating. There is nothing new under the sun certainly, but context shifts from age to age and culture to culture.

4.        Whose side on you on? The Devil’s?

True, we have heard comments that suggest we are promoting the devil. But this before much of the book had been read. After a little time has passed, maybe into the fifth or sixth chapter, the reader begins to get the picture. The danger is to make the devil appear so obvious, so crazy, so cartoonish, that the subtle, cunning, enticing mechanisms go un-noticed. We like to say that the devil has the second best computer in the universe and that his data base of experiences and human observations are second to only one. Would we then expect the devil to announce himself with neon?

Despite then what some have said of the book, and ourselves as authors, we are definitely followers of Jesus Christ, we love our Savior and Lord, and completely trust in His Word.

5.        How is your book different from other books, like C.S.Lewis’ Screwtape Letters?

            C.S. Lewis wrote of the same Satan we do.  Our approach is different than his certainly, but we hope to have written something that would be of use in our own day and time.

I was shocked to learn that Lewis, and I had read his Mere Christianity, actually believed in the devil and his demons. Shocked and thrilled all at once. By the time I read it I already knew that demons were real and that without question. And let me say here that once you have directly encountered Satan you never doubt his existence again. Nor do those from whom demons have been cast out. It is unforgettable and it is entirely plain the whole thing was not an illusion, a magic trick, or smoke and mirrors. The devil would rather not expose himself; Satan likes to fly under the radar. There are of course some who openly embrace the devil and do not care what anyone else thinks.

Book can be ordered at or at by typing in the title with 2013 with the title or only the 1974 version comes up.

If the Devil Wrote a Bible

Part of the promotion for our new book, If the devil wrote a bible we prepared some interview questions to be used for radio and television. Here are the first two questions and responses. These will help clarify the nature of the book and who might benefit from reading it. More of it can be seen at:

Interview Questions for If the Devil Wrote a Bible by Kent and Katie Philpott

1.        What’s in the book?

There are 29 passages from the devil’s bible. Each is followed by the devil’s own commentary whereby he expands on his theme. Then there are the Ten Demonments, Satan’s version of the biblical Ten Commandments of Exodus 20. Last are the Bebaditudes, the devil’s refutation of Jesus’ Beatitudes. All together around 180 pages.

We must sound a warning: the devil’s bible is persuasive and some have said it is too much that way. The devil does not always show up in a red suit, with pitchfork, breathing fire. He has a zillion disguises and is an accomplished philosopher. He appeals to the fleshly desires as well as the intellect. Satan is all about having power, power to rape, rob, murder, steal, and pillage. He just does it in clever ways.

2.       What makes you an authority on the devil?

As a kid the devil was merely a cartoon character. While in college studying psychology and philosophy I considered demons, possession, and the casting out of demons we read about in the New Testament to be nothing other than the pop psychology of an ignorant age. Even as a seminary student I inwardly laughed when professors spoke as though the demonic realm was real.

My views changed in 1968 when as a street preacher in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco I encountered demon possessed people and found out up-close and personal that demons were real.

Sometime in 1969 I ran across Carla La Vey, the daughter of Anton La Vey who was the author of the Satanic Bible and head of the Church of Satan in San Francisco. I had heard of him, had even been evangelized so-to-speak by a member of La Vey’s church who gave me a copy of that bible. Carla was what was called at the time a “teeny bopper” or “wanna-be hippie.” I could tell she was much older than her age, meaning she had seen way too much of the seamy side of life for a mid-teenager. We ran across each other a number of times and little by little on Haight Street I got the essential Gospel message across to her. Long story short, she took me to meet her dad, and this several times, and I had a chance to talk to La Vey in his home and church, painted black of course, on California Street. He was a dramatic and imposing individual and I teetered on being afraid of him. After a few conversations, he refused to see me anymore. I think Carla became a Christian but I cannot say that for sure as I never saw her again.

Then, for a ThM degree I spent 3 years researching the occult, this from 1970 to 1973. The thesis become a book, A Manual of Demonology and the Occult, which was published in 1974 by Zondervan. Then, all during the 1970s and beyond, I engaged in hundreds of sessions where we cast demons out of people. With the publication of the occult book, people showed up at my door from literally all over the country wanting to be free of possessing demons.