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.

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