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WE WOULD LIKE to clarify, first of all, that we DO believe in miracles, signs, wonders, healings, and the gifts and workings of the Spirit. We have seen God do wondrous miracles and healings, time and again, and He continues to move in our midst and around the world.
However, we also believe that, unfortunately, some people in the “Charismatic Movement” have welcomed in “demon seed” and have taken things too far. They have not been alert in the war nor have they discerned the workings of satan in their midst.
Todd Bentley certainly functions in the realm of the demonic, yet this does not discredit all miracles and workings of the Spirit of God.
The following article was sent to us and is a contribution of an outside (non-ACMTC) source.
Truth or Consequences
Safeguards to protect the Body
from the falls of ministers
SUBSEQUENT TO THE EXPOSURE of Todd Bentley’s marital problems numerous high profile ministries have issued statements about it. Most have been merciful and have offered reasonable explanations about the issues. Those who were unaware of Bentley’s past indiscretions statements are appreciable. Those from those who were aware of his history have unwittingly done a disservice to the Body of Christ. In response to those who decried Todd, it would have been far better for those in the know to issue statements early on in the Lakeland Revival. Such might have served as deterrents to protect Todd from himself and to better insure that the Body did not again suffer embarrassment and hurt by the failures of one of its champions.
His board and some well-known ministers that appeared on stage with him knew the following: Prior to the current dilemma of some form of unholy relationship with a female co-worker, he had another in the past 3 years. 2 years ago, he had a nervous breakdown. While in recovery, he got the body tattoos and piercings. He was loosed to minister again by his board while some reputable outside advisors declared it premature. He is known to frequently over imbibe in alcohol. Prior to his salvation, he was incarcerated for some sort of lascivious behavior with an under aged male. Of course, his BC sins are forgiven. But, most saints have painfully learned that BC sin leakages into AC life are all too common with high profile ministers.
Close on the heels of the revival’s global Internet webcasts and the GodTV broadcasts, many sensed something was amiss and voiced the same. The discernment was on target. Unfortunately, such were written off as unfounded by many including Jim Croft. It appeared to us that subjective speculations were being made due to his style and appearance as opposed to the Spirit’s discernment. Unless there is objective evidence indicating the negative vibes might be well founded, those who honor the Word, have a heart for revival and love the anointing tend to err on the side of mercy. Beyond pointing out his obvious doctrinal flaws, many like me felt obligated to flow with the visible proofs that God was doing extraordinary miracles through the Lakeland Revival. Thus we defended the man and his ministry from the naysayers.
All the while, there were notable ministers who knew the discernment coming forth had foundations and chose to say nothing. Todd’s authority figures had opportunities to institute deterrents against his potential to fall yet again. Publicly informing Christians of his past and then giving an apologetic for God using him could have served as a substantial check against further sin. Such might have given the revival a better chance to continue untarnished. Most believers are very willing to forgive and forget once informed of weaknesses, especially when God is mightily using a person. In the event Todd opted for carnality regardless of the precautions, the alerts about his past might have softened the blow for many who are now seething in scandalized hurt.
Promotions Bring Increased Responsibilities
PAST SITUATIONS and this one, call for new initiatives to be put into place. Such should be enacted when ministers escalate from relative obscurity to national acclaim. Scripturally leaders are to be held to higher standards of exposure than other believers. Along with the accolades that come to the gifted, so come greater consequences should they fall. When sins are verified they are to be rebuked in the presence of all. (1 Tim 3:1-7, 5:19-29, Jam 3:1) We are not under the Law of Moses, but we can gain helpful insights from it. When a ordinary citizen sinned, he/she could be seen heading toward the place of sacrifice with their sin offerings, reflecting their ability to pay; a dove, a lamb and so forth. Priests were required to offer a bullock. (Lev 4:3) The practice had dual functions. The embarrassment of having entire communities seeing a leader leading an ox served as a caution against future temptations. The costly offering cleansed them until they gave way to future sins. Most would think twice before further ventures into rebellion as they didn’t enjoy the exposure and the price tag. Of course, the thought of failing God should have been an ever present deterrent.
IT WOULD be helpful for ministers to be required to submit to occasional reviews by those to whom they’re accountable. It would be beneficial for his/her spouse to be present to give their perspectives when necessary. The format could have several components: Confessions of marital difficulties and habitual sins with the goals of repentance and restoration. Specific inquiries about past sins popping up again could be part of the agenda as well. In circumstances in which the transgressions could bring dishonor to the Lord’s name, the weight of sobering consequences might be inserted into the equation. Permission to resume public ministry could be contingent upon the minister confessing his failings to his constituents and informing them about his repentance and any disciplinary measures that are in progress. In most instances such candidness with requests for prayer would draw approval from all. The knowledge of refusals to walk in truth carrying consequences could safeguard all concerned from worlds of hurt.
Note: The article following the photo is not an ACMTC contribution.
Faith Healer Separates From Wife, Draws Criticism From Charismatics
by David Roach
WITH CONTROVERSIAL FAITH HEALER Todd Bentley announcing that he is separating from his wife, charismatic leaders J. Lee Grady and Stephen Strang have reacted by saying someone should have raised questions about Bentley earlier.
Grady, editor of the popular charismatic magazine Charisma, said the way thousands celebrated Bentley despite his moral and theological shortcomings demonstrated a lack of discernment that pervades the charismatic movement.
“We’re spiritually hungry—which can be a good thing,” Grady wrote in an Aug. 13 column. “But sometimes hungry people will eat anything.”
Bentley, who led a heavily publicized revival in Lakeland, Fla., beginning this spring, announced in a statement Aug. 12 that he and his wife Shonnah were separating. The staff of Bentley’s Fresh Fire Ministries said “an atmosphere of fatigue and stress” created by the daily revival meetings “exacerbated existing issues in [his marriage],” according to Charisma. On Aug. 15, the board of Fresh Fire released a statement saying it had learned Bentley had been involved in “an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.” The statement said Bentley had agreed “to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.”
Bentley and his wife had been attending counseling for the past three years, but the counseling was suspended for the last four months while Bentley was away from his home in Abbottsford, British Columbia, Charisma reported. The Bentleys have three children.
Bentley is known for his multiple body piercings and tattoos, his violent healing techniques, his claims of angelic visions and “holy” laughter and “holy” vibrating shakes. He even claims to have raised dozens of people from the dead.
Bentley claims to be visited regularly by angels, including a 20-foot-tall angel in his apartment on one occasion and on another occasion an angel that knocked him out of his body. One angel’s name supposedly is Emma. Bentley also says that Jesus Himself appears to him.
Charismatic leaders who endorsed Bentley, Grady wrote, should have known better than to thrust him into the spotlight prematurely and owe the public an apology.
“Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study,” Grady wrote. “Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.”
God TV, the network that televised the Lakeland revival meetings, is particularly blameworthy because it told viewers in a pre-revival segment that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic,” Grady wrote, adding that the network’s hosts also warned listeners that if they listened to criticism of Bentley, they could lose their healings.
“This is cultic manipulation at its worst,” Grady wrote.
Though America needs true revival, any leaders who wholeheartedly endorsed Bentley promoted heresy rather than revival, according to Grady.
“Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy,” he wrote, “not spoon feed deception to them. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so flippantly contaminated.”
Charisma publisher Stephen Strang also took aim in a column at Bentley and those who supported him. Strang said the charismatic leaders to whom Bentley submitted himself in an accountability relationship—John Arnott, Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson—“should have seen it coming.” He listed several indications that Bentley’s ministry was not of God.
“Anyone who is in services 4 to 6 hours a day, 7 days a week for weeks on end is bound to have some type of breakdown,” Strang wrote. “Anyone who covers himself with tattoos while in the ministry raises questions about his stability.
“...Anyone who baptizes people in the name of the Father, the Son ‘and BAM’ is playing lightly with the Holy Spirit and is bordering on blasphemy.”
While God uses flawed men to do his work, Christians must hold spiritual leaders to the highest standards of conduct, Strang wrote.
“Perhaps some of the problems would have been prevented if men had spoken into Bentley’s life several months ago,” he wrote. “As good as it is to have an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff to help the injured, it is much better to have a fence at the top of the cliff to prevent someone from going over.”
Chad Brand, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while all denominations within Christianity have been touched by divorce, the charismatic movement is particularly susceptible to overlooking its leaders’ moral failures.
Brand is the editor of “Perspectives on Spirit Baptism,” a book detailing the charismatic and non-charismatic views of baptism in the Holy Spirit. He published several additional papers and articles on issues related to the charismatic movement.
“There is a dynamic that makes charismatic leader situations sometimes treated differently, and it is partly tied to the very term, ‘charismatic,’” Brand said. “Because this person is perceived to have charismatic power or anointing, his or her failure in marriage is often easily forgiven and overlooked. So, while in many traditions, a divorce for a pastor or key leader means a loss of prestige or influence, it is not necessarily the case in charismatic circles.
“John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio divorced his wife of 15 years in 1975 and the next year remarried, but his ministry and influence only grew in the years after that. Richard Roberts, son of Oral Roberts, also divorced his first wife after 11 years of marriage, and 10 months later remarried. Paula White and her husband Randy divorced last year. It was Paula White’s second marriage. While these divorces have had ramifications for their ministries, in every case the ministry only flourished afterwards. In most other evangelical traditions, the impact of divorce has been more deeply felt by the ministers in question.”
More important than focusing on Bentley’s marital difficulties is noting the fact that he is a false teacher, Brand said.
“We do not know all the details of Bentley’s marital situation, and so we should withhold judgment on that matter,” he said. “What is plain is that he is teaching false doctrine and that the claims to his ministry’s ‘successes’ seem pretty spurious.”
Brand speculated that . . . Bentley relies on hype to promote his meetings but has few real healings.
Pictures from the Christian News:
PRAISE GOD! I am humbled today as I share with the Body of Christ my personal testimony. I would like to say that I am so blessed to be numbered among those who are truly following Jesus and seeking to please God, not man. I want to share with you my own personal experiences in the Charismatic “Move” in the Christian churches.
In 1981, I was born again and filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I immediately began praying in tongues, according to I Corinthians 14:2 which says, “For one who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the Holy Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things not obvious to the understanding.” My new life in the Holy Spirit led me to fellowship with like believers in a church called New Life In Christ Church, which called itself Charismatic. There I found other believers in Jesus who also spoke in tongues, and I felt I had found a church home.
It was at this church that I was introduced to being “slain in the Spirit”. My first experience of this phenomenon was unusual, to say the least. I had spoken with the pastor about it, and he admitted to me that most of the people in his congregation just took a “nose dive” backwards into the arms of the designated “catchers” and were faking it. I did not want anything fake and I told God I was not going to fall backwards. When the time came for the elders to “lay hands” on me for the work of the ministry as a worship leader, instead of going backwards, I just collapsed in a heap on the steps of the altar. When I returned to my seat on the front row, the pastor’s wife came to me and told me I was injured. When I looked down at my right knee, sure enough, I had landed on a nail in the carpet and it had torn open the skin, of which I still carry a scar to this day.
The funny thing is...I never felt a thing. The blood was running down my leg, I was laughing and crying at the same time, but there was no pain or sensation of any kind. Of course, I attributed the whole experience to the miracles of God.
To make a long story short, the fruit of this Charismatic church was that the pastor resigned, his wife became a nurse, and he returned to the business world because they felt that God wanted them to make more money in order to take care of their large and growing family. The church eventually split up over the choice of a new pastor and I moved on. I did not question the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the form of being “slain in the Spirit” because I had read in the Bible in Hebrews 2:4 that God endorsed and showed His approval by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of His power by imparting gifts of the Holy Spirit to believers. I was taught that falling down in the Spirit was part of those manifestations.
I also knew that satan could perform lying signs and wonders as well. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9 -11 it says, “The coming of the lawless one, the antichrist , is through the activity and working of satan and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of pretended miracles and signs and delusive marvels—all of them lying wonders and by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false.” But I believed that only God performed in church and the devil performed outside the church. This is the deception. Matthew chapter 7 refutes this theory in verses 22 and 23, where it says, “Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works (wonders) in Your name?” The next verse tells us that God rejects them and tells them He never knew them. Why? Verse 20 is the answer. It says, “you will know them by their fruits.” That’s why I’ve entitled this message, “Where’s The Fruit?”
Going on with my personal testimony, I had many other “slain in the Spirit” experiences with the same results...no fruit, or in some cases, bad fruit.
One missionary friend from Kenya who had started a church in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, took his congregation to Canada where they all were “slain” in the “laughing spirit”. When they returned from their trip, this little church began to deteriorate. The pastor even ended up having an adulterous affair with a married woman in the church and they ended up leaving their spouses. The fruit resulted in the sheep being shattered and scattered, some never to return to God because of it.
My most recent experience with this lying wonder in the church occurred in Florida following a visit to the latest so-called outpouring of “fresh fire” in Lakeland. There I had witnessed tattooed, pierced, drunken “saints of God”, acting out all sorts of weird behavior and calling it a “move of God”. They were supposedly drunk on the “new wine” of the Spirit and “impartations” were being given to all who wished to receive.
A certain man who was once associated with the ministry which started the laughing manifestations in Canada, came to visit my husband and I in our hotel room where he proceeded to “impart” to me this same spirit. I fell down and hit my head so hard on the floor that I was almost knocked unconscious. Needless to say, there was no “catcher”. I then proceeded to try to get up off the floor and could not. It felt like something was pinning my shoulders to the floor and I could not raise myself up. I was crying and trembling and believed this to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. What was the fruit of this? When I returned home, I went into a rage and began shouting curses and obscenities and then became grieved to the point of wishing I could die. Was this God? I think not! The fruit was rotten and I ended up in deliverance to get the demons cast out of me by Generals Jim and Deborah Green. Praise God!
Another past experience with a well-known television evangelist who began prophesying over me in his church in Orlando, Florida, also ended badly. I was again “slain in the Spirit” and crying and praying in tongues while on the floor, and never was able to hear the “Word” he was giving over me. Looking back, I believe it was God’s protection and mercy. Anyway, the end result was that I ended up becoming involved with the Charismatic “move of God (?)” in the Catholic Church and became deceived once again and joined the church where I was attending these prayer meetings. Not long afterwards, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I had to get out of that, and I obeyed.
What is my point?...you might ask. This is what I am saying. Jesus taught us that if we follow Him, signs and wonders will follow us. We are not to follow signs and wonders. We have been putting the cart before the horse and we have it all backwards. Jesus Himself said that a perverse generation seeks signs and wonders, and I believe it because I see it happening in the Church today. I have been deceived myself. The fruit of such behavior is rotten, rotten, rotten! Jesus condemned such behavior in John 4:48 when He said, “unless you people see signs and miracles happen, you people never will believe, trust or have faith at all!”
In conclusion, I would like to say that God is sick of this childish behavior in His people. Isaiah 19:14 says, “The Lord has mingled a spirit of perverseness, error, and confusion within her; her leaders have caused Egypt to stagger in all her doings, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.” Could this be a picture of Christ’s Bride, the Church of today? Have we become a Harlot Church, staggering on the drunken wine of false signs and wonders, producing rotten fruit?
Let us repent and seek God, not the miracles. Let us return to our first love, Jesus Christ and the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Let us cry out in shame and beg His forgiveness for falling for such stupid and outrageous antics designed by satan to deceive even the elect, if possible. I say it not only is possible but is probable, if we continue to seek the gifts instead of the Giver of gifts.
Finally, I wish to leave you with one more Scripture which sums up all this nonsense into something we can depend on. Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Thank you, Lord, for sound Biblical teaching and for teachers who still walk in the ways of God without compromise and without gimmicks and trickery. This is the eternal path that leads to eternal life. The broad and spacious one, full of deceived saints, leads to physical and spiritual death. Next time you follow signs and wonders, ask yourself...“Where’s the Fruit?”
Dream Come True?
ABOUT twenty years ago I had a dream that was so real and so spiritual that I never forgot it and I’m sure it was a warning from the Lord. I would like to share this dream with all who have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church of today.
The Dream: “Many were inviting me to come hear a Charismatic evangelist who was drawing a record number of people to his meetings. I was reluctant, but finally gave in and attended. I sat in the back and observed as a spirit of hypnotism overpowered the people. It was so strong that I had to fight to stay sober myself. As he was speaking, I stood up and rebuked him, saying that what he was preaching was contrary to God’s Word, the Bible. At first, he prevented the guards from escorting me out, but as we continued to argue and the people were coming out of their trances, he ordered his men to kill me. I escaped into the parking lot where the Lord spoke to me and told me to hide. He said not to worry because he would ‘cloak’ me. Then I awoke.”
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us not seek after “strange fire” but rather, let us seek to be washed by the water of your Holy Word and be cleansed in the precious Blood of Jesus. Amen.
Rich Man, Poor Man
PRAISE the Living God! Today in my prayer time I asked God to show me whatever He wished to show me, and the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance a film I had recently seen, entitled ”Raised From the Dead”. In this film, an African pastor from Nigeria was raised from the dead after having been dead for 3 days, and even after having been embalmed. When he was in Heaven, God told him He was answering the request or prayer of the rich man in the parable found in Luke 16:19-31, as a sign to this generation.
In the film, the evangelist (who made the film) misinterpreted the message entirely by saying the reason the rich man went to Hell was because he said “No!” to Jesus. This cannot be true because the rich man had never met Jesus. Jesus was telling the parable Himself. If you follow this line of thinking, you would have to infer that the reason the poor man went to Heaven was because he said ”Yes!” to Jesus. This is adding to Scripture and missing the whole point altogether.
This whole chapter in the Bible is talking about false riches and the love of money versus the love of God. This evangelist made a big show out of pointing out that the rich man did not go to Hell because he was rich, and the poor man did not go to Heaven because he was poor. The Holy Spirit said this evangelist is totally wrong in his interpretation of Scripture. His erroneous teaching had nothing to do with the message God is trying to get to this generation by the raising of the dead pastor from Nigeria. The real message, as revealed to me by God, is this: “This parable of the rich man and the poor man is a picture of the Church in this generation. The poor man represents those who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. The rich man represents those who are seeking to get rich off the Gospel. Thus, the poor man suffering for Christ goes to Heaven and the rich man getting rich from preaching Christ goes to Hell.” Just as Abraham said in the parable, that even if the dead are raised, this wicked generation will still not hear or see the truth, so it is today. May those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, understand and be saved. To God be all the glory. Amen.
[All scripture is quoted from the Amplified Bible.]
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