Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Spirit of Religion reigns in Cabarrus Arena

My last blog was about the ministry of Todd Bentley and my thoughts on the so-called Florida Healing Outpouring which seems to be gaining widespread acceptance among many Pentecostals and Charismatics. This will be my last post for now on this topic. Last week, I had the opportunity to go and hear Todd Bentley live as he had an impartation service at Cabarrus Arena here in Concord. He was only in town for one night but his associates did stay and preach the other three. From what I heard in the two nights at Cabarrus Arena, I am very moved to be more in tune with scripture than ever before and to be more aware of Christian doctrine because these guys are clearly showing the uncanny ability to twist the Word of God to their advantage.

The first night was full of reasons that validated my concerns. The speaker, Jerame Nelson said God had shown him how to take the treasures he's stored up in heaven and get them transferred to his earthly bank account (I wish God would show me that.) As Nelson continued preaching- it was obvious that what he was speaking was the very same doctrines of the Latter Rain heresy of the 1940's. Of particular danger is the Manifest Sons of God- the belief that there are is a remannt of people on earth who will bring about the return of Christ by growing into and becoming an incarnation of Christ prior to his return.

The second night Todd Bentley came and spoke. He wasn't as extreme as I expected though in the little bit of time that he did talk he did say a few things that brought cause for concern. His testimony indeed was powerful and compelling. At the same time even in the midst of giving his testimony, he could not resist talking about miracles, signs, and wonders and particularly how when he first converted he thought all Christians walked in that power and also had angelic encounters. He brushed over the topic of angelic encounters. I think much of that has to do with the fact that the pastor at Lakeland has asked him to tone down his references to angelic encounters. Karl Strader, pastor of Ignited Church in Lakeland has also asked him to tone down his reference to third heaven experiences.

Todd Bentley does indeed appear to have toned down his references to such. However, there are still references of the angel and his third heaven encounters in the teachings on his website. Based on the examination of those teachings, there is still much cause for concern. We must be discerning and test these spirits- and not simply just drink the kool-aid that he and his associates are serving up to us.

I have no doubt that the majority of the people listening to Todd Bentley are doing so with a hunger for the things of God. Satan as well is aware of that hunger- and that's why he doesn't come in his naked deformity but rather masquerades around as an angel of light. The greatest and most dangerous shift in the body of Christ is the belief that we needs miracles, signs, and wonders to operate in normalcy among us today in order to confirm the gospel of Christ. While I do believe in miracles, signs, and wonders the Word of God must take precedence over everything so that all is in accordance with sound doctrine. Looking at the teachings and beliefs of this movement- it is clear that there are many errors and many contradictions which might as well be spitting on the Bible. In Luke 11, the religious crowd asked Jesus to perform a sign for them. Jesus replied, "A wicked and adulterous geeration looks for a sign- no sign shall be given you except the sign of Jonah." As Jonah was in the belly of a whale, so the Son of Man would be in the belly of the earth and would conquer death, hell, and the grave.

It is the Spirit of religion that tells us to jump into the river embracing the experience without worrying about the doctrine. It is the Spirit of religion to believe and or to teach that there is any more of a sign needed what Christ did in His death and resurrection. It is the Spirit of religion that reigned last week in Cabarrus Arena. It is the Spirit of religion that is driving this so-called revival. It is the Spirit of God that tells us to test these spirits, to discern what is of God and not to turn to this man and his ministry for an impartation when we can go directly to the throne of Christ himself and receive that.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"The Florida Healing Revival" examined

This blog comes in a very timely manner, as this week Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries who is the guest evangelist at the Florida Healing Revival which started on April 2, will be right here in Concord. I feel in light of that, that I must go ahead and make my stance known in terms of the Florida Healing Revival.

Before I proceed let me state clearly that I do believe in miracles, I do believe God sometimes works in strange ways that are beyond our explanation. I believe firmly in the gifts of the Spirit being operative among us today though I feel we (including myself) have gone astray from realizing their Corinthians 12.

In the case of the Florida Healing Revival, there have been reports of many miracles taking place in Lakeland. There are reports of legs growing back on, people jumping out of their wheelchairs, and others having been raised from the dead. It is not my intent to question or examine the validity of such reports. Whether or not miracles, signs, and wonders are genuinely taking place is completely irrelevant. What is relevant are the doctrines and lifestyles being promoted within the context of this "revival movement."

We must remember that even if miracles, signs, and wonders are taking place- that does not necessarily mean they are of God. Take note of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:22-23 "There will be many who will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord did we not drive out demons in your name and in your name perform many miracles' and I will say to them 'Away from me you evildoers, I never knew you." The question we must ask in examining the fruit of this revival is whether or not this revival represents true historic Christianity, or are there dangerous abhorrent teachings which represent a clear departure from the faith. A closer look at the teachings of Todd Bentley will shed light on this question.

Todd Bentley brings cause for concern for several reasons. First of all, he claims his ministry is guided by the angel 'Emma' who is the same angel that also guided the ministry of William Branham in the 1940's and who birthed the prophetic ministries of Bob Jones and the Kansas City Prophets in the 1980's. To claim to be guided by the same angel as William Branham brings serious cause for concern. In 1949 denounced the ministry of William Branham based on his teaching that "the concept of the Trinity was a doctrine of the Devil" and his other teaching of the serpent's seed doctrine that Eve partaking of the fruit is symbolic terminology for her actually having sex with Satan and from that Union Cain was conceived.

Not only does Bentley claim to be guided by this angel, he brings her with him to the meetings and encourages the audience to seek their own encounters with this angel. While Hebrews does tell us that angels are ministering spirits sent to us from the heavenly realm, it is dangerous to encourage people to seek experiences with angels. Such is no different than walking into a New Age Church and trying to get in touch with your spirit-guide.

Bentley further claims to be in contact with the dead. He claims to have been to the third heaven where he conversed with both Abraham and the apostle Paul. He also claims to have seen Jesus resurrected in the flesh. When any man makes claims such as these you have one of two choices, "You accept what he says at face value and receive him as God's chosen instrument," or "you recognize him as either deluded or deceiving and seek to expose him as such." Not only does Bentley claim to have had contact with dead believers but also dead cult leaders, such as Sudhu Sundhar Singh- an Indian Hindu Christian mystic who taught the idea of universalism that all will be saved and will dwell in Paradise in the end.

Finally, Bentley very rarely preaches from the Word of God and when he does it is always in order to set up the manifestations that are about to take place in the service. I have watched countless videos and most of the times he's not preaching, he's manifesting on stage and talking about how God's power is getting ready to pay a visit to the people. It makes me question of the people that do get "saved" in these meetings- "Which Jesus are they really getting saved to" I have no doubt that some are getting genuinely saved as God can and does work in spite of man's folly- but I firmly believe that more people are confused by another clanging symbol than are touched by God's power in this so-called "revival.

Unfortunately, the body of Christ has become so desperate for a touch that it is desensitized to the importance of doctrine and the need for discerning and testing the spirits (I John 4:1). We are further deceived into thinking that a revival must be in accord with miracles, signs, and wonders. Thus we think that miracles signs and wonders truly make or break a revival. In sixty years of ministry the only miracles we have seen in Billy Graham's evangelistic crusades are the salvations that took place as people responded to the call of Christ. That is the true meaning of revival. It does not require miracles, signs, and wonders though they may follow. Yet when they do I believe they will be more rare than normative.

So if you go see Todd Bentley this week go with a discerning spirit. I plan to be there myself so that they can no longer that I haven't been in his presence to experience firsthand. Of course, then they will say I was so closed to what God was doing that I wouldn't jump into the river and experience the refreshing. To which I say I have no interest in jumping into a river full of refreshing water when spiritual piranhas are nipping away at my feet.