Monday, July 14, 2008

Being wary of false prophets

Perhaps I am too sensitive to the topic of the false amongst the flock of God. I have met some of the people who are big named ministers today. I have had the opportunity to have meals with, be involved with, listen to, and correspond with several such ministers over the years. I lost a position as a deacon because I refused to sit under a false prophet's teachings during a revival. I left a couple of churches because of their false teachings. I have even been thrown out by those with false teachings. One was a congregation I helped found.

A friend of mine who has seen many of the same things I have seen with false prophets called me over a month ago about some revival going on in Florida. The revival is on television on some obscure satellite network that I do not get on cable. It is also web cast on the internet. My friend named a few ministers who are involved in this "revival". I personally have been around one of the names he mentioned and knew from whence this man came. I sat for several days right behind him in a prayer gathering in Jacksonville, Florida that lasted several days. I saw this man "in action" so to speak, as he was one of the "one and twenty elders" as I termed them. 21 people that the lady who organized the meeting felt were at the "forefront of the prophetic ministry" were guests and acted as elders to judge every prophetic word or deed in that meeting.

What the leader missed was that there were people who walked much deeper in that office or anointing that were sitting in the pews than the ones she hand picked. Of course she did not know those people, but it was not hard to pick them out by the Spirit of God.

I watched as this particular man, who is on the internet a lot and if I mentioned his name, many Charismatic believers would know exactly who I was writing about and the company he keeps. I will say that I witnessed some way off judgment, a lack of maturity in the very subject they were supposed to be elders and the forefront of, and some serious control/posturing by the one and twenty.

Another man who is at this revival is Todd Bentley. I have seen his name on the internet quite a bit. I have checked out his web site and heard a bit of his teachings. Today, the Religion News Blog had an article on Mr. Bentley which I find curious.

I have seen and heard many ministers that had great claims in the faith. They had alleged healings, allegedly raised the dead, and performed miracles. Hey, I have not raised the dead, but I have seen healings and what some would consider to be miracles at my own hand. I have heard claims of men talking with angels. One such man in particular was Mack Timberlake. The same claims are being made by Bentley.

The Religion News Blog asks a simple question. Where is the evidence supporting his claims? That is a reasonable question. I have no problem with the idea of making claims that are true. I just made a few in my post about my own self. Nonetheless, Bentley is preaching to thousands, maybe millions. He is making some grandiose claims of things way out of the ordinary. Apparently, he has had to distance himself from the revival after an expose on network television.

From the RNB piece:
Bentley told stories of remarkable healings. In fact, he claims that in his ministry 30 people have now been raised from the dead. Are these stories credible? A common pattern in his accounts of healing was an absence of specificity. Bentley claims that one man, unembalmed, had been dead for 48 hours and was in a coffin. When the family gathered around at a funeral home, the man knocked from inside the coffin to be let out.

But what are the specifics? Who was this man? What’s his name? Where’s the death certificate? And why not parade the man at Bentley’s meetings? If I am ever raised from the dead through anyone’s ministry, you can be sure I’ll put in a guest appearance. Bentley claims that he is having a team investigate healings performed under his ministry and will soon go public with the evidence.

It is people like this that give the rest of Christendom a bad name. I believe in tongues, prophecy, healing, and miracles. I have often said that the prophetic ministers in the church have shot themselves in the foot and ruined things for those who came after with a legitimate and mature gifting. The same goes for healing evangelists and others. It is sad that in order to find sound teaching, I have to fellowship with cessationalists, meaning those who believe that such spiritual gifts are no longer for today.

Here is a video on Youtube that is on one of the web pages I linked you to.

I weep for the Church because of things like this. I stayed away from Christianity for years because of such people. After getting saved, I hung out with such people. After learning to discern the true from the false, I again separated myself from the Church for years, but not before I attempted to have regular, sustained fellowship with different groups and after seeking something different. I ran across hyper critical pastors, hypo critical ones, ignorant people, some apathetic ones, and some just plain heretics. After beating your head against the wall for years, it makes you want to withdraw.

For the past 8 or 9 months, I have been fellowshipping in two different churches. One of which I decided that I would no longer attend regularly because of its leadership, control, and lack of fellowship. The other I have attended more regularly since and have become fairly involved. As much as I love miracles, healings, signs, and wonders, I have a great appreciation for doctrine. I find it ironic that those who major on the gifts of the Spirit often lack the fruit of the Spirit. Those who major on developing the fruit often never experience the gifts. What irony. I have been attending a solid, evangelical congregation for a while, and have enjoyed the participation and fellowship that has been growing amongst the brethren. I need to step up my fellowship with other believers, and so I should probably do so soon. I will still feel like Jeremiah and weep over those who are duped by the false, though. It not only makes me sad, but indignant with a righteous anger within.

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