The Third Day Church

The Future War of the Church by Chuck Pierce and Rebecca Wagner Systema.

This recent book is another that follows the Restorationist agenda. I know that some of you who read this are following this movement closely.

I wrote an article addressing the salient features of the movement titled Restorationism: Hype or Hope? But things change and evolve, and the movement goes by "The Third Day Church" these days, at least in some parts of North America.

We are in the unique position of being able to observe one large church locally (New Life) that is in the mainstream of the movement, particularly since connecting with Lance Walnau of the CNET team a few years ago. At least one other local church appears to be coming on board with the movement in connection with the Transformation crowd, and other local church groups seem either sympathetic or intrigued.

Pierce and Systema write, "…the Lord has been restoring to his Church the office of prophet…." "…it is the prophets who have heralded the next move of God in restoring the full government of the Church back to an apostolic structure." (p.94). From a prophetic vision, Pierce claims, "[God] began by saying that within 12 years from that time (1985), the government of the Church would change to reflect the pattern given to us when Jesus ascended into heaven…. He would release revelation and gifting for the new administrative methods that would cause his people to become influential and victorious in the next season of history." (p.28)

The government that Pierce has in mind is ruled by apostles and prophets. And it is a canopy over a region that would embrace all the churches in that region. Yes, we are talking about hierarchy, though I'm sure they would argue it is primarily relational.. at first.

All this is based on revelation.. personal revelation, not biblical revelation. Pierce saw a building called "My Future Kingdom Authority," with the five-fold gifts of Ephesians 4 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) being brought into order and placed in the foundation of the new church. This releases an exodus from existing denominations, fellowships and movements: "Once the proper order has been established, He [God] would rapidly transfer this people to the new structure." (p.31) God then spoke, "This is the government of the church of the future that will arise…. This government will overcome all other governments [including other church governments]. When this government is in order, you can then command governments of the earth to come into order." (p.31)

A big part of this agenda is a new flow of wealth into the church. Well.. ya gotta like that! Part of the attraction of this movement is the old health and wealth agenda.

But any attempt to link such an agenda to Scripture contradicts what we already know about the apostles. Oddly... they didn't seem to be wealthy. In fact, they didn't appear outwardly popular or successful. Not one had a thriving book or tape ministry.

Instead, what we read in I Cor. 4 and II Cor. 4. In I Cor. 4 Paul warns against the super apostles by pointing to his own example: "a spectacle to the world.. both hungry and thirsty.. poorly clothed and homeless." Beware of those building great ministries on the backs of the tithing doctrine! If God gives you great wealth, find a way to care for the poor. That is true religion.

Central to the Third Day Church is a cosmology of the three heavens. Christ now reigns in the third heaven. He has defeated Satan through his death and resurrection in the first heaven (our atmosphere). But Satan still has authority in the second heaven. These powers are the real threat, and they keep the gospel from advancing. Prophets and intercessors have received revelation concerning these powers and have had some success in breaking their authority, leading to mass conversions. But God is not allowing for a full victory over these powers until the Church is ready. They continue, "God is establishing a new authority in His Church to break through to the third heaven, gain the heart of God and carry the revelation back to the earth where we can accomplish his will" (pp.82-83) Moreover, "The church government we have known during the past several decades - will not be able to overthrow the antichrist kingdom we have described. Therefore, the government of the Church must now make a transition and increase in authority, strength and wisdom." (p.85)

This leads to the prophetic revelation that God is restoring the true Church through the 5-fold ministry of Ephesians 4. Central to this restoration is the gift of apostle. While the church through its history has had apostles, it has not had the proper government in place. This government is a network of apostles who are in communion with each other, directed by prophets who function with them, and together break through the second heaven powers and bring evangelism to the territories assigned to them. This government, when coordinated with prophetic revelation and intercession (showing which powers rule an area) can overcome the second heaven powers and release anointed evangelism in the assigned area, bringing in the harvest. This in turn will restore a representative reign of Jesus, and then we will see the final spiritual battle which will then usher in the physical return of Christ.

In his introduction to Pierce's and Systema's book, Dutch Sheets writes, "This is a clear scholarly teaching, filled with and substantiated by an abundance of Scripture, brought to a prophetic point of application for a people born for such a time as this." (p.12) But is this really so?

There is no evidence in this book of any knowledge of current biblical scholarship or standard commentaries. As a result, Pierce and Systema quote Scriptures often with little interest in the immediate or larger context. Their interpretations continually follow their presupposed "prophetic" insights, and they knit verses together simply because they share the same word, rather than the same meaning. For example, they try to build a case for the importance of the "Third Day," by gathering verses where the noun and adjective are used throughout Scripture. There is, however, no relationship between Jesus' resurrection on the third day, Pierce's and Systema's typological application of these three days to the three millenniums of church history and the use of the third day in various, scattered texts.

Pierce and Systema promise us that there will be a great transfer of material wealth to the Third Day Church so that it can pursue its mission (pp.165ff). They base this on Jesus parable about binding the strong man and plundering his goods (Mark 3:23-30). Pierce and Systema write, "Jesus' illustration is tied with prosperity and wealth. First, He tells us that there is a strong man who rules Satan's kingdom in any territory [Jesus does no such thing - he speaks of a single strong man (The Prince of demons) and denotes no territory whatsoever]. Pierce and Systema continue, "He also tells us that if we bind the strong man, we can plunder his house and take his spoils [He doesn't tell us to bind him, he has already bound him]." Now the application, "As apostolic authority arises throughout the earth and aligns with strategic prophetic intercession through spiritual warfare, I believe we will plunder the enemy's kingdom and unlock the wealth necessary to reap the harvest for the kingdom in the days ahead." (p.165)

Whaaaaa ? This isn't scholarship but rather prophetic imagination running roughshod over the Word of God.

Finally, we need to heed the warnings of John Paul Jackson. Jackson warns us of the danger which Pierce and Systema fall into again and again. In Needless Casualties of War, Jackson holds that the church is allowed warfare only in the terrestrial arena, not the second Heaven arena. If this is violated, great personal and physical harm may come to well-meaning spiritual warriors. He writes, "To attack principalities and powers over a geographic area can be as useless as throwing hatchets at the moon. And it can leave you open to unforeseen and unperceived attacks." (p.33) We are not to address principalities and powers (i.e., Pierce's "Prayer of confrontation"), but only address our prayers to God against them (p.42) Jackson rightly warns, "When we pay too much attention to evil spirits, we end up paying homage to the strength of the demonic powers rather than to the power of Jesus." (p.44)

Please note that none of this is to imply evil intentions on any believers who teach these things. Many of the leaders within this movement are sincere, committed followers of Jesus with pure hearts.

What is God really doing? Are there apostles today? Sure there are.. you may know one or two yourself.. and they may be electricians, truck drivers, or janitors. Remember that the first apostles were fishermen, tax collectors, doctors.. and that has never changed. I have a feeling that the apostles of today are less interested in building large ministries than in helping their neighbor find work, or speaking out against prophetic distortions like that above. As for relational connections between local ministries, I prefer a vision of the new tent.

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• © 2005 Len Hjalmarson.• Last Updated on September 9, 2005