Continued from Part 2…
The person I told you about at the beginning of all this that shared the glowing testimony about their experience at the Azusa Now conference also told me that lots of people were miraculously healed. In fact, this person said they had a video of a healing they witnessed with their own eyes. I was eager to see it. In the video, a person in a wheelchair was receiving a mass of “Toronto Blessing” style prayer… Then, at one point, two large men gathered on either side of her (each taking an arm) and lifted her up and began to walk with her. As she walked (with the constant aid of these two men who never left her side), the crowd was cheering that the woman was healed. They walked with her and then all the way back to her wheelchair where they helped her sit back down in the chair. The woman then lifted her arms and was crying praise to God and everyone was cheering in joyous celebration that God had performed an awesome healing… But I did not witness any healing at all. As I mentioned, the woman never stood on her own two feet. In fact, you could see that her legs remained twisted and weak. She never cast off her wheelchair, she wasn’t ejected from it, she didn’t even get up on her own without help; she returned to it and left in it! YET, the crowd (and even the woman herself) was cheering that a miracle had occurred! Astounding!
I’ve observed this same thing in the days when I attended conferences affiliated with the Toronto Blessing movement. The guest preacher would tell hype stories about all the miracles he had performed in the past and observed… ALWAYS that happened at the last conference… Not the current one he was speaking at. I know this was routine because, at the time, I attended a ton of these conferences and never once saw any of the things these guys gave testimony of. One guy actually said that he had raised HUNDREDS of people from the dead. This kind of testimony stirred up the crowd with massive amounts of excitement and people were thronging the altars for prayer… Yet the only “miracles” witnessed were people being “slain in the Spirit” as the terminology goes. No radical healings, no confirmed miracles, nothing that would be viewed as “supernatural” in the least, yet the people cheered with as much excitement as if they were seeing elephants walking on water. After the conference people were telling testimonies to their friends about all the healings and miracles… but I noticed they were mostly just reiterating the stories the preacher had told, blended with the testimony of so many people getting prayer and “falling under the power”.
At one conference (many actually) I was asked to help catch people during prayer (as getting “slain in the spirit” was a regular occurrence at these events). I never much liked catching people and always felt that if something like that was genuine, no catcher would be necessary because God wouldn’t allow them to get hurt… Anyway, I was standing behind this lady and she was bending and swaying all over the place and then, all of the sudden, without any warning she just hit the ground with a thud. I didn’t have time to catch her. As soon as she hit the floor, she opened her eyes, grabbed my arm, and pulled me right down to where she could tell me to my face, “You’re not doing a very good job of catching! I hurt my back. You need to pay more attention young man.” To my own amazement, I spoke up and I replied, “Maybe you need to stop faking manifestations because if you really fell under the power, you wouldn’t even be talking to me right now and your back would be fine.”
It still amazes me the things that sometimes pass for “evidence” of the power of God at work. What about the lasting fruit of a changed life? Look, I’m not offended at the notion that when God does something powerful in someone’s life there might be a physical manifestation. I’ve had times in prayer when God’s presence caused me to weep and even laugh with joy. In fact, when I was teenager (long before any “Toronto” thing came along) I remember occasions in my own bedroom where I’d be worshiping the Lord in song (either listening to an album or while playing my guitar) and I sense His presence with me and I’d just lie back on my bed and laugh and smile because I was so happy to be saved and know Jesus. It wasn’t an out-of-control, shake around the room, drunk-like manifestation… it was just genuine laughter (a simple response of joy). I don’t even know that I would label it (something so ridiculous as “Holy Laughter”) because it wasn’t a “supernatural phenomenon”, it was just a young guy who loved Jesus, happy to know the Lord.
I remember during the Toronto movement (or “renewal” movement as we called it), they’d often use terms saying that the power of God was falling all over the place and everyone listening got just as excited as though they were witnesses to actual miracles, even though no apparent miracles occurred. This now strikes me as obvious total delusion! These people are perceiving a movement full of signs and wonders, but they are lying signs and wonders. When I used to read about lying signs and wonders in the Bible I thought, “how could you really lie about a sign and wonder? After all, people can see it happen… It seems it would be easy to tell if something was phony.” But now I’m watching it happen before my eyes; NOTHING supernatural happens and people are going nuts as though they’d just seen pigs fly before their very eyes.
In fact, often times (as I have investigated things) the so-called prophets that speak at these conventions are actually lying. They actually tell people things that happened at their last conference, but if you go and watch the video of their last conference (as I have done on occasion), none of those things happened at all! They were flat out lying to people to produce a response. They continually speak error. They twist the Scriptures. They give false testimony. They ignore their failed prophecies and convince people that they are spiritual elites among the body of Christ who stand on equal authority with the Apostles of Scripture. It’s stunning to behold, but even more stunning that so many people actually buy into this without question.
I have to say that, in spite of my amazement at some of the things people buy into, I do understand how some people feel because I used to be one of those people in the pews who bought into a lot of this junk… It’s really hard to sit in a service and listen to a guy on the stage who seems so excited about the power of God and he’s telling all these wild stories that appear to be about giving glory to God. The last thing you want to do in a moment like that is presume this guy, who is talking about Jesus with such excitement, might be lying through his teeth to you (to everyone), especially when your own heart wants to believe God for whatever He has. Humans are often drawn to the sensational and the truth is, we are spiritual creatures. God has put eternity in our hearts so, to a certain extent, I think it’s natural that we crave the supernatural. We’ve all read the stories of Jesus healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead and we know that some of His miracles were pretty radical, so something in our hearts wants to believe. That much is good. I’m sure there are a lot of folks that genuinely embrace these things because they don’t want to resist the Holy Spirit. The problem is, they often don’t really know the Holy Spirit very well (they’ve been churchified to the extreme and plugged their heart full of religious substitutes and errant mindsets) and they actually often resist Him (when He works in those non-sensational ways that require kneeling at the cross)… so they believe a lie. I can tell you from experience, it can be very hard for a person who thinks they have been the biggest fan of God’s supernatural sideshow to then acknowledge their own sin, repent of it, and go the other way.
While some have been preaching that apostasy is soon coming, I believe it is already here now. In fact, it has been present for a long time already. Even the apostles of the New Testament era stated that the spirit of anti-Christ was already at work then (1 John 4:3)! So there is nothing new under the sun, but the days do seem to be growing darker. The delusion continues to spread all throughout churchianity. Thankfully, God is waking His saints up in many places and calling them out unto Himself. I pray that many more will awake as the days advance. The enemy of our souls is a master of deception and uses so much convincing rhetoric and emotionalism to deceive people, but he is not greater than our Lord. So many people I’ve seen that acknowledge the apostasy going on in the world today, sometimes talk like there is no hope. They act like the devil is competition for God. Folks, the devil is nothing compared to our King and Master, Jesus Christ! NOTHING! Everything that must play out on the timetable of history in preparation for the return of the Lord will play out, and I don’t pretend to understand all of that right now. But I trust Jesus! I know He cares for His own! I know He will give His own the strength to endure through hardship and even persecution. I know He will yet work miracles (true miracles) and He will save people as they humble their hearts in repentance and turn to Him. I believe God will use anyone that has a willing heart and this gives me reason to rejoice, even though the days are dark.
Lots of false prophets may be foretelling that a great end times revival is at hand or even upon us now, even though the Bible rather predicts apostasy widespread in the last days. They intend to sweep many into delusions like this ecumenical, emergent, new-age revival and they will twist every Scripture possible to achieve it. They may appear to be ministers of righteousness but they are the subjects of Satan! They are wolves in sheep’s clothing! We must be watchful and wise. At the same time, the truth also is that though there is apostasy and the days may be growing dark, God is still God and able to deliver any who call on the name of the Lord! This is reason for great hope even in the midst of dark days. The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever! Keep in mind that God has told us long ago, even in the Scriptures, that these things would happen. That means God is not being caught by surprise! He has given us the means whereby we can discern truth from error.
When I read some of the things many of these leaders in this modern “revival” movement are saying, I see that God has already warned us that there would be those who say these things. I am reminded of guys like Rick Joyner who has basically elevated himself to a higher position that even Paul the apostle of Jesus. In Joyner’s books he actually states that Paul failed his course and so the task is being left to new super apostles who are greater than the prophets and apostles of the New Testament era. In fact, these men not only elevate themselves a super apostles, but they elevate their words as being higher than Scripture! But remember, there is nothing new under the sun and Scripture warns us of such things.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 – But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
As you read through the rest of that passage above, you find that Paul is grieved over how the people he has been pointing to Christ are putting up with these false preachers and their false gospel. Something worthy of mention is what Paul points to in contrast to these self-appointed religious leaders… This shows the character of a true Christ follower and a true leader whose only concern is to make genuine disciples of Jesus, not themselves:
2 Corinthians 11:28-31 – Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches (the people of God). Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.
In the next chapter, Paul continued to mention that he also had a remarkable experience the defied human explanation… but he would not speak of it. Contrast Paul’s words to the many in today’s so-called “revival” movement that love to boast about their alleged trips to heaven and how that makes them worthy of elevation…
2 Corinthians 12:5-10 – That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Where is this attitude among today’s super apostles? I tell you it does not exist! And that is just one more massive test to demonstrate with clarity that these men are not apostles of Jesus at all. They are frauds and liars… even workers of Satan!
Until God removes His people from this planet (and, no, I am not getting into the prediction of rapture events here), God will lead us, teach us, equip us, inspire us, infuse us with strength and joy, encourage us, and motivate us to action! He will work powerfully through us by His Holy Spirit as we yield to Him and listen for His voice and obey. It is important to set our minds on this NOW! It is vital that we let Him deal with us now, working in our lives to expel whatever displeases Him and whatever roadblocks we may have allowed in our path toward maturity. I am convinced that God wants to make us wise and cunning against the attacks of the devil. I am convinced He wants to show us what it means to know Him so close that we never lack for understanding and never have to walk in fear. Hard times may come, and they do come and they will come, but those who know Him will endure and thrive through it all… and for His glory! I believe God can use any of us as His beloved vessels. I am the least qualified, the least deserving, and just like many of you I don’t always understand what my next step should be. Walking these things out is not always as easy as writing about them, but I am writing from a position of honesty and conviction. I believe what I am saying. I have experienced God at work in these areas of my life. I have a distance yet to travel, but God is allowing me to see what He’s doing in many areas and that gives me great encouragement. I know that God hasn’t awoken me to see these things just so that I can see or complain about them. Ultimately I hope to encourage others to get close to Jesus so that the enemy will not be able to distract them from the truth.
God bless you guys! I have a lot more I was going to share, but I feel like I need to just leave it right there. I’ll save the rest for another post on another day.