Influential New Age Guru Encounters Jesus

“I believed that I was God, and we could all become Christ too, if only we realized this inherent connection we have to God,” says former New Age blogger Steve Bancarz.

At 19 years old, he was a spiritual guru to hundreds of thousands of followers. For Steve, it had spiritual, and financial benefits. “I was getting 200,000 to 300,000 views on it a day and the income was, to me was an affirmation from God,” he says. “I believed God was rewarding me with helping wake people up into a higher state of consciousness.  It gave me a sense of power, a sense of purpose and a sense of meaning and value perhaps.”

Steve grew up in a Christian home, but as a teenager developed a fascination for aliens, the paranormal, and psychic phenomenon.  That led him to question his parent’s Christian beliefs, and eventually led to a full-blown obsession with new age theology. “The first thing that really got me doubting the Biblical world view was UF-ology,” Steve says. “All of these UFO sightings, evidence from the ancient world that we might have been visited. And there was enough evidence to make me consider that maybe the universe is filled with intelligent biological life that was perhaps naturally evolved. If you piece together the alleged evidence for reincarnation and the alleged evidence for ancient astronaut theory, you get New Age theology.”

Even so, Jesus remained part of Steve’s worldview. “I didn’t really reject him, but I didn’t accept him for who he truly was. I created an idol out of Jesus to suit my own preferences, to suit myself and to suit my sin. This Jesus was politically correct; he was a universalist,” Steve adds. “I wanted to be my own guide and I didn’t want to have to play by somebody else’s rules.”

As Steve began blogging about new age practices and supernatural phenomena, he came to enjoy his prominence, and the money and vices that came with it. But it was never enough. “I was a lust addict for ten years or so,” he says. “I was a really broken person.  I didn’t realize how broken that I truly was, but I was depraved. I was miserable. I had depression and anxiety that I was suppressing. I had all this quote-unquote ‘spiritual knowledge,’ all of this information and it wasn’t bearing any real fruit in my life. I felt like something was missing.  I felt a little bit dead inside.”

One night, Steve had a disturbing dream. “When I opened my eyes, I was hovering four feet over my bed in my bedroom and I looked around and realized that I was out of my body and I started having a panic attack, and a being appeared in front of me and this being had red skin with black markings on his face and he was wearing a red cloak,” Steve recalls. “It just scared me because I realized that I wasn’t in control, that this stuff is more powerful than I was, that these forces were real and that they didn’t care for my well being. I was in their playground.”

Shaken by the experience, he began investigating the claims of the Bible and Jesus more closely.   “I would sleep with the Bible under my pillow because I knew there was something there that was authoritative, that was true, and that was secure and that had power over anything that I was scared of.”

In his search for answers, Steve was drawn to stories in books and online of people who had encounters with Christ.

“I would watch another near-death experience where someone would go to hell and Jesus would rescue them out of hell and they’d come back and the fruit of their lives – they would be totally transformed,” he says. “I’d feel moved and touched and I’d think to myself, ‘Okay, there’s something real to Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible.’”

Steve finally accepted one of his mother’s many invitations to go with her to church.  At the end of the service he prayed and asked Jesus into his life, but it was more of a mental exercise than act of faith. “I just decided, in my head, intellectually that I was going to soften up to him, but I still held all the same New Age beliefs.  I still believed in everything that I believed in my sin life. I wanted a little bit more of him, but I guess I still didn’t want all of him.”

After a few days, Steve realized he couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. “I reached a point in my life where the brokenness was weighing on me so much that I needed to stop playing games with my life, I needed to stop playing games with God, and stop playing games with Jesus,” Steve says. “And I just decided one night to go outside and to just fall on my face before Jesus and just weep. I was just weeping like a baby. I was submitting. I was repenting.  I was tired.  I was sorry.  I was broken and I couldn’t do this alone anymore, and I was crying out for him. I wanted him.”

In that moment, Steve had an experience with Christ of his own. “I could feel that he was Lord over me and he was Lord over all creation.  I could feel that he was concerned for me, but I could feel that he was king. I knew that He was king over all creation, that the universe was under his feet,” Steve says. “The wind was just tonally infused with his presence. And the thing that stuck out for me, that made me realize that I was dealing with God, was how the wind and the trees, the sounds outside, the birds, the crickets, they sounded like they were glorifying him, like he was there with me and they were acknowledging that somehow. Like, creation recognized him.”

Steve burned all of his New Age books, and made a public statement to his online followers. “I told people, within a few days of that experience, and said ‘I’m sorry for misleading all of you astray. This stuff is not of God. They’re tools of demons to deceive us and lead us away from Jesus and Jesus is the Son of God, He’s the God of the New Testament, he’s exactly who he claimed to be.’”

Steve endured waves of ridicule and personal attacks from the online community, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to teach those who persecuted him. His website, ReasonsforJesus.com, provides evidence and sound reasoning that prove the claims of the bible, and the only path to truth, forgiveness and joy in life, come through Jesus Christ.

“He delivered me from the strongholds of New Ageism and occult philosophy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Steve says. “I feel more whole than I’ve ever been in my life. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for anybody.  I was the most lost person that I knew, and the Lord drew me to himself and had mercy on me.  We come to the Lord, and he forgives us, He gives us his spirit and He wants to help us heal and restore us and walk us through these traumas and these pains and He wants to accept us and He wants to accept us and welcome us as a son into relationship with him, not into dry religious rule-keeping, but into a supernatural, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and his presence. Everything’s made new in Christ.”

cbn

把石頭變食物

馬太福音4:3-4_把石頭變食物

3 那試探人的進前來,對他說:「你若是神的兒子,可以吩咐這些石頭變成食物!」4 耶穌卻回答說:「經上記著說:『人活著不是單靠食物,乃是靠神口裡所出的一切話。』」

「你若是神的兒子,就可以……」,「你若是基督徒,就可以……」,多少時候,我們也像主一樣被挑戰。但是主為了接受這挑戰,禁食了四十晝夜,我們卻經常在沒有準備的情況下去應戰,所以我們有時會處於靈性低潮,或是被仇敵壓迫的痛苦中,或是經歷莫明其妙的憂鬱所困擾。

試探神

馬太福音4:7b  不可試探主你的神。

5 魔鬼就帶他進了聖城,叫他站在殿頂上, 6 對他說:「你若是神的兒子,可以跳下去!因為經上記著說:『主要為你吩咐他的使者用手托著你,免得你的腳碰在石頭上。』」 7 耶穌對他說:「經上又記著說:『不可試探主你的神。』」

再一次,魔鬼問耶穌:「你若是神的兒子,可以跳下去!」這回耶穌站在聖城的聖殿殿頂上。聖殿是神的家,也是神在地上的居處。魔鬼還引用神的話:「主要為你吩咐他的使者用手托著你,免得你的腳碰在石頭上。」在聖殿的殿頂,聖殿裡有施恩的寶座,假如神看見耶穌跳下去,豈不伸出手來接住耶穌,讓他不會掉下去,粉身碎骨?

四十晝夜

馬太福音4:1-2_四十晝夜

1當時,耶穌被聖靈引到曠野,受魔鬼的試探。 2 他禁食四十晝夜,後來就餓了。

摩西為了領受神的十誡石版,在山上住了四十晝夜,沒有吃飯,也沒有喝水(申9:9)。又因為以色列人製造金牛犢,拜金牛犢,大大得罪了神,神要滅絕以色列人。在這樣的危機裡,摩西在神面前俯伏了四十晝夜(申9:25),為百姓代求。

耶穌受洗

馬太福音3:13-17_耶穌受洗

13 當下耶穌從加利利來到約旦河,見了約翰,要受他的洗。 14 約翰想要攔住他,說:「我當受你的洗,你反倒上我這裡來嗎?」 15耶穌回答說:「你暫且許我,因為我們理當這樣盡諸般的義。」於是約翰許了他。 16耶穌受了洗,隨即從水裡上來。天忽然為他開了,他就看見神的靈彷彿鴿子降下,落在他身上; 17 從天上有聲音說:「這是我的愛子,我所喜悅的。」

三種洗禮

馬太福音3:11-12

11 「我是用水給你們施洗,叫你們悔改;但那在我以後來的,能力比我更大,我就是給他提鞋也不配,他要用聖靈與火給你們施洗。 12 他手裡拿著簸箕,要揚淨他的場,把麥子收在倉裡,把糠用不滅的火燒盡了。」

施洗約翰在這裡提到有三種洗禮。第一種是用水施洗,就好像他為人施洗那樣。這種洗禮要出於人的志願,有悔悟之心,但不一定有改變的能力。

第二種洗是來自聖靈,第三種是火的洗禮。聖靈在聖經裡常常被比喻成風一樣的,來去自如,不是出於人意。當聖靈動工時,彷彿配合簸箕的動作,吹走一切輕浮沒有實質生命的糠,保留了可用的麥子;然後火就來把糠燒滅盡。

毒蛇的種類!

馬太福音3:7-10

7 約翰看見許多法利賽人和撒都該人也來受洗,就對他們說:「毒蛇的種類!誰指示你們逃避將來的憤怒呢? 8 你們要結出果子來,與悔改的心相稱! 9 不要自己心裡說:『有亞伯拉罕為我們的祖宗。』我告訴你們,神能從這些石頭中給亞伯拉罕興起子孫來。 10 現在斧子已經放在樹根上,凡不結好果子的樹就砍下來,丟在火裡。

法利賽人和撒都該人是以色列人社會當中的上層階級。在希臘政府統治猶太人時,有很多猶太人接受了希臘的文化和宗教習俗,棄守摩西律法。因而興起了一批虔誠又嚴謹守律法的人,一般猶太人見他們十分敬虔,便稱他們為法利賽人Pharisees,也是猶太主義的先驅。他們相信靈魂永存不滅,死人復活,有永福永刑,有善惡天使,說人在天堂仍要飲食嫁娶(徒23:8),曾經受到主的辯駁(太22:29/30)。

吃蝗蟲野蜜

馬太福音3:4-6

4 這約翰身穿駱駝毛的衣服,腰束皮帶,吃的是蝗蟲、野蜜。 5 那時,耶路撒冷和猶太全地並約旦河一帶地方的人,都出去到約翰那裡,6 承認他們的罪,在約旦河裡受他的洗。

聖誕節大家都在吃大餐,想到主耶穌的先鋒竟然只能吃蝗蟲野蜜,不禁令人產生惻隱之心。不過在這講究吃得自然才會健康的理論下,說不定也有一些人去學吃這樣的飲食,就好像有人學以西結吃雜糧一樣。根據猶太拉比的古卷,施洗約翰吃的蝗蟲野蜜是一種生長在地中海一帶的Carob角豆樹,它被稱為施洗約翰的麵包、野蜜樹。

天國近了

馬太福音3:1-2

1 那時,有施洗的約翰出來,在猶太的曠野傳道說: 2 「天國近了,你們應當悔改!」 3 這人就是先知以賽亞所說的,他說:「在曠野有人聲喊著說:『預備主的道,修直他的路!』」

在聖誕節時我們經常唱平安夜和馬槽聖嬰,不知不覺把耶穌當成一個永遠可愛的嬰兒。但是以賽亞先知告訴我們:“因有一嬰孩為我們而生,有一子賜給我們,政權必擔在祂的肩頭上。祂名稱為奇妙、策士、全能的神、永在的父、和平的君。(以9:6)” 在第7節說:“祂的政權與平安必加增無窮,祂必在大衛的寶座上治理他的國,以公平、公義使國堅定穩固,從今直到永遠。萬軍之耶和華的熱心必成就這事。”這個嬰孩現在已經是萬王之王,萬主之主,因為神已經把天上地下所有的權柄都賜給祂了(太28:18)。