Read Your Bible: The True Message of Life Is In It!
This post by Jeff Spencer is from the “Quarterly Journal of The Irenaeus Foundation; Volume 3, Issue 1: Winter 1998 culled from www.deceptioninthechurch.com. This article details the errors of the Third Wave very well.
Since most people have never taken the time to read the Bible themselves, many are not aware of the errors and heresies in the teachings of Bishop David Oyedepo, pastor Chris Oyakhilome or pastor Enock Adeboye and other Pentecostal and Word of Faith preachers. Most people in fact take what these people preach to be Christianity! Watch and hear pastor Adeboye butcher the Bible in a sermon titled The Master Key, in pastor Matthew Ashimolowo’s (modestly!) named The International Gathering of Champions workshop in 2003.
You will hear our revered pastor:
(a) savage prayer as something that has limited effectiveness (cf James 5:16-17);
(b) distort true Christian faith as of little extra value (cf Hebrews 11), and;
(c) glorify fake, unbiblical holiness, as the rope that guarantees every self-induced ambition.
You must ask yourself, after watching this video, if pastor Adeboye has any idea Who God, really, is. You must question in your mind if our pastor knows what prayer or faith in God mean or if he believes God created this universe out of nothing by the sheer power of His word.
Some wonder why we are seemingly harsh on these ‘Christian’ leaders. To many, these people are the representatives of God on earth (Acts 8:9-10). To some people, not been aware they are sitting in judgment against God’s words, whatever error or discrepancy Pentecostal, Word of Faith and Charismatic pastors’ teachings have with the Bible are only minor! Some believe these differences should be overlooked, possibly as part of the preachers’ learning processes!
In case you ever entertained such notions – and there, really, are very few who never thought these preachers were Christians – you need to spend a little time on this post and the next from the same author on the subtle, but occultic, source and ramifications of the teachings of these preachers. God cannot be forced to accept teachings contrary to His words expressly written in the Bible.
A smug, effete, response in the evangelical circles to the teachings of these preachers must be seen clearly as part of the work of Satan, ‘the angel of light’, to deceive even the elect.
False teaching, false doctrine, a false gospel, and a false anointing go hand in hand. These are what are being spread in ECWA, Baptist, COCIN and other evangelical churches through the teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, David Oyedepo, Enock Adeboye, William Kumuyi and many other charismatic preachers.
Many of the pastors in evangelical churches now are not only sold into these teachings, they are the advance guards of these heresies in their churches.
We may safely repeat the warning of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation: whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
There is a spirit involved in the Pentecostal, Word of Faith, Charismatic and Dominion Churches and Fellowships but it is not the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.
Introduction. As an apologist, I find myself dealing with Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and Brownsville Assembly of God and their manifestations more than any other issue. I am, however, a bit surprised by the staggering popularity of this “revival.” With the problems of today’s evangelical church, such as the biblical illiteracy, its high emphasis on subjective experience, and its theological pragmatism (i.e., “if it gets good results and if it feels good, it must be true”), it is no wonder this “revival” is spreading throughout evangelicalism. Many people I know have embraced, to one extent or another, this “revival” as a movement of God.
This is the reason that I am writing about the “revival.” My thoughts will be presented in two parts. Part One, contained in this issue, will deal with biblical foundations that explain why such an article, one calling the “revival” into question, must be written. It is because the doctrines and the attending manifestations of this “revival” fall far outside the walls of Christianity, and thus, beg to be answered. Part Two, contained in the next issue, will deal directly with the false teachings of the “revival” leaders, such as the false Jesus, the false spirit, and the false gospel.
Part One. A church that does not love and seek truth will not stay in truth for long. Blaise Pascal, in Pensees, correctly stated, “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” And if the truth was so obscured in Pascal’s time, it is certainly more obscured in present times. Truth is simply not a concern for many believers today, who are eagerly searching for an experience-and apparently any experience will do. This is evidenced by the willingness of the evangelical church to welcome the teachings and manifestations of Brownsville Assembly of God. Sincere, Bible-believing people have been deceived by BAG’s false doctrines which are accompanied by occultic spiritual manifestations that have slithered into the Church disguised as angels of light (2 Cor 11:4, 2 Cor 11:14).
Even a brief examination of this “revival” reveals Christianity is being distorted by false teachers. Many who name the name of Jesus are falling away from the Faith into error. Jesus prophesied this when He said, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24). And, yes, this “revival” preaches false christs-from the false christ of Rodney Howard-Brown, who says, “Nothing Jesus did was because He was the Son of God. The Bible says He laid aside His royal robes of deity and when He walked the earth He did so as a prophet under the Abrahamic Covenant,” to the New Age occultic christ that is preached by the very man who prophesied the Pensacola “revival” and wrote the forward to a book by Pastor John Kilpatrick, Paul/David Yonggi Cho, who teaches, “There is a reason to use the power of the spoken word: through it you create and release the presence of Jesus Christ. . . Jesus is bound to what you speak forth. . . You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. . .He is bound by your lips and your words.” Likewise, there is no shortage of false prophets who dispense a plethora of manifestations-roaring, barking, being pinned to the floor, uncontrollable shaking, laughing, etc., to the converted and the curious alike. Sadly, many are falling into this end-time deception due to experiencing one of these manifestations (i.e., “something spiritual happened to me, therefore, it is from God.”) or seeing changed lives (i.e., “Bill used to be a wild guy, but since he went to Pensacola, he sure is changed. Therefore, God is really moving there.”). Neither of these are valid reasons to believe God is behind the “revival” manifestations because the same thing happens in the cults and world religions-people are changed through subjective spiritual experience.
God has given us the guns to battle false teachings-His Word, which is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Through His Word, God has given us the commands to: 1) teach sound doctrine, 2) test all things, and 3) defend the Faith. By doing these three things, we can keep the Faith pure from the filth of false doctrine, and pass the true Faith down to those that come behind us (as opposed to the false faith that is being passed down in this “revival”). We now look at these three commands, our biblical foundation for doing apologetics, in more detail.
“Teach Sound Doctrine.” Sound doctrine is of vital importance to the health of the Church. If a man does not hold to sound doctrine, he is not qualified to be in leadership over others. One of the main jobs, if not THE main job of the elder is to preserve and teach sound doctrine. The New Testament is full of verses to this effect. For example, Paul commands that leadership must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). Contradict what? Sound doctrine! The leader must confront false doctrine with sound doctrine. Also, Paul tells Timothy that a good minister of Christ ensures the church is “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Tim 4:6). Sound doctrine keeps the Church healthy. In fact, the Greek word for “sound” literally means “healthy.” Also, Paul instructs the Church to honor worthy elders, “especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim 5:17). Paul again proclaims the importance of sound doctrine when he commands Timothy, “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . . Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:13,16). Here, Paul claims sound doctrine can “save” someone. Save from what? In context, sound doctrine will save one from the deceiving spirits, doctrines of demons, and apostasy which Paul describes a few verses earlier (4:1ff). And sound doctrine can save the church from the deceiving spirits, doctrines of demons, and apostasy perpetuated by this modern “revival.”
Any church which devotes itself to the teaching of sound doctrine is an obedient church. Yet, many churches today are rejecting the teaching of sound doctrine and embracing a more appealing curriculum, such as studies done by psychologists, evangelical “exorcists,” or financial experts. In a day when these books are held equal to or even greater than the Bible, it is no wonder believers are more interested in having a subjective encounter with the spirit world than being taught in the Holy Word by the Spirit of God. We, right this moment, have the most biblically apathetic church in history. People are losing the ability to discern right from wrong and don’t even know it because psychologists have their self-esteem soaring and Kilpatrick and Hill have them shaking, howling, and staggering around the altar, encountering the occultic spirit that is being passed on in Brownsville. The Word of God centered service has taken a back seat to a self-aggrandizing, self-centered “Hey-look-at-what’s-happening-to-me” form of Christianity.
Paul could have been looking directly at the Church of the 1990’s as he prophesied a time when the church would not tolerate sound doctrine or those who teach it. In 2 Tim 4:3-4, Paul says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” I cannot think of any better description of today’s church. Present-day pulpiteers rarely teach objective doctrinal truth obtained from deep studies of the Word. Rather, the trend is to proclaim light-hearted Christian truisms through anecdote-centered, feel-good sermonettes. Because of recent aggressive movements towards ecumenical acceptance of people despite major doctrinal differences, the pulpit is becoming a place, not for the broadcasting of absolute truth, but for the promotion of a watered-down, non-offensive form of the Christian Faith that is barely distinguishable from the cults such as Mormonism, Oneness Pentecostalism, or even the faith promoted by the gurus of the eastern pantheistic religions and its western counterpart, the New Age Movement.
Amazingly, the very things that move the Church into spiritual maturity and a deeper relationship with God, such as good theology, sound doctrine, and reason are now being touted as hindrances to one’s relationship with God. The Church is being told by people like Rodney Howard-Brown and Steve Hill to “turn off your mind and let the Spirit do as He pleases.” Beloved, that is not Christ’s message, that is Buddha’s message-Eastern mysticism and New Age occultism. We Christians should always be using our minds to serve and please the LORD. We should love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (Matt 22:37). God, by His very nature, is a rational Being who has created man in His image as a rational being. Therefore, to devalue rationality is to devalue God. If one turns off his mind, he has no defense against demonic influences that are so prevalent in these “revivals.” Yet, Christians ignorantly obey the “revival’s” occultic soothsayers, thus blindly embrace the same spirits and spiritual experiences that are epidemic among the cults and world religions, like shaking, roaring, barking, and laughing. Thus, the “revival’s” occultic gospel is spreading into church after church because turned-off minds cannot objectively analyze the teaching of the “revival” leaders and their supporters who are “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Cor 11:13-15).
The Church is moving farther away from the Faith once-for-all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and is rapidly becoming impossible to distinguish from the cults and occult. The only way the Church is to regain spiritual health and move towards maturity in Christ is to return to the Christ of the Bible and the Christian Faith as revealed in the Word. Sound doctrine is of vital importance.
“Test All Things.” Now that we have established the importance of sound doctrine, we see the command to test all teaching by sound doctrine. John warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits (or teachings), whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1). Paul concurs, “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thes 5:21-22). Well, how do we test teachings brought into the Church? Do we test doctrinal truth by prayer, a feeling, an inner witness, or a spiritual manifestation that says it is true? Well, the Mormons would be delighted if we agreed to do that. They see these things as adequate tests for truth. In fact, when confronted with undeniable truths that prove the Mormon position wrong, every Mormon missionary with whom I have spoken retreats to subjective tests for truth by saying something like this: “Well, what you have shown me makes a lot of sense, but I prayed about my Faith and the Holy Spirit told me in my heart that it is true.” Likewise, those involved with the “revival” would be delighted if subjective experience was the only test for truth. In fact, the most common proofs used to prove the “revival” manifestations are from God are subjective proofs. Believers are commonly heard saying such things as, “God made me shake all through the service-I know it was God because my spirit bears witness with it.” Is this how we discern truth as Christians? Not at all. We do not test doctrinal truth by praying about it, listening to “still small voices,” or following our feelings. Almost every cult was started by someone who used these “signs” as tests for truth. Christians should never do this because the Bible does not teach us to listen to a “still, small voice,” pray about truth, or follow our feelings to find truth. This is because God has given an objective standard by which we test truth-His Word. For example, I don’t pray about how much gas is in my car when I have the objective measurement, the gas gauge, right in front of my eyes. In the same manner, one does not pray about truth when one has the objective measurement, the inerrant Word of God, which is Truth (Jn 14:6, Jn 17:17). If someone makes a truth claim, we don’t imitate the Mormon and pray about whether it is true-we rush to the Scripture and see if the claim stands up to the Word of God. Yet, more and more believers are rejecting this objective test and embracing the “revival” because it feels good, or it “bears witness to their spirit,” or “God told me in my heart that it is true revival.” When we reject the objective Word of God and begin relying on subjective inner feelings, experiences, or voices to adjudicate truth from error, we have jettisoned the Christian Faith and are dangerously walking in the kingdom of the cults.
The New Testament teaches that many false prophets will infiltrate the church. Jesus, in Matthew 7, cautions believers to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” In the context of this passage, their “fruits” are their false teachings. The apostle Peter warns, “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways” (2 Pet 2:1-2). Paul says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1). This is exactly what is happening in this “revival.” The leaders and supporters who desire to take “revival” from Pensacola back to their home churches are escorting the wolf right into the sheep’s pen. And one day, these shepherds will be horrified to find that the only member left in their flock is a well-fed wolf. Therefore, the testing of all things is quite literally a matter of life and death.
“Defend the Faith.” Based on the above facts that 1) we are commanded to teach sound doctrine, and 2) we are commanded to test all things because the world is full of false teachers, we are thus commanded to “defend the Faith.” Jude 3 commands Christians “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints.” Furthermore, 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” In Acts 17, the apostle Paul defended the Faith against unbelieving philosophers. Jesus defended the Faith before the Pharisees. And in the same way, we today are not to sit idly by while the church is drifting farther and farther away from the teaching that defines the Christian Church as the Christian Church. We are being invaded by the New Age, by the cults, by the atheists, and now by Christians who have fallen into serious occultic error and are intent on spreading it like a cancer throughout the Church. Moreover, many leaders are letting it happen because they have been indoctrinated by our anti-Christian societal standards which say above all things we must be tolerant. In fact the one great commandment of our society is “Thou must be tolerant,” of all groups because “nobody has a corner on the market of truth.” Incredibly, the evangelical church has bought into this lie.
The Church is now slipping into a mindset which believes the confrontation of doctrinal error is ultimately an act of intolerance and bigotry. Therefore, in the name of “peace” and “unity,” false teaching is tolerated. And when untruth is tolerated, it won’t be long until it is embraced. As a result of our ‘please-don’t-make-waves’ mindset, the Church is filled with leaders and laity who are being “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). Most believers are failing to defend the Faith because they are being taught that the correcting of doctrinal error disrupts the “unity” and being critical is “unloving.” However, in most instances, being critical and correcting error is the most peace-making, unifying, and loving thing one can do! Jesus did it (Matt 23), Paul did it (2 Tim 2:17-18, Acts 17, etc.), and James taught that it could save a believer’s life (Jas. 5:19). We should follow the example of our Lord and His apostles and defend the Faith. Peace, Unity, Love, and Truth demand it. Besides, God commands it.
I believe the discernment of the Church has deteriorated to the point that many do not even notice that a significant portion of the evangelical church is deviating far from the historic Christian Faith. So, it is no surprise that little is being said about evangelicals being pinned to the ground for hours, being uncontrollably shaken like a rag-doll, roaring like a lion, howling like a wolf, barking like a dog, laughing at the preaching of the Word-and then standing up to say, “Bless you Jesus for giving me that experience.” Let me unequivocally state that Jesus has nothing to do with such behavior. But as long as the people are having a good time, no one is saying much at all, the roaring, howling, shaking, and laughing continues, and the Church CEOs are well pleased because more people means more money, which means higher salaries, the envy of peers, job security, and a more impressive resumé. After all, business is business, right?
Regrettably, “Why can’t we all just get along?” continues to be the battle cry of many evangelical leaders today. Under the feigned pretense of love for others and unity in the Body, they refuse to wage war with the enemy. And when our leadership cannot even point, aim, and fire the guns at the enemy, then us common folk certainly will not be able to fight off the invading enemy who is prowling like a lion seeking whom he may destroy. There is a life and death battle raging all around us, and our generals are asleep in their tents! The lion and his wolves are getting fat, beloved.
Conclusion of Part One. The Church today, for the most part, simply cannot discern Living Water from deadly poison. It is no wonder that Jesus asked in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Believers, let me assure you that we are commanded to defend the Faith-and if we do not, we will stand before Jesus one day and answer for it (2 Cor 5:10-11). Those desiring the easy route, letting those in error continue in error even if it overthrows the faith of some (2 Tim 2:18), will be judged very strictly (James 3:1). Beloved, get serious about your high calling from God, which is teaching sound doctrine, testing all things, and defending the Faith.
Sadly, the leaders of the false “revival,” along with believers who visit Brownsville and happily stagger back to their home churches eager to spread the occultic gospel, are now in the process of overthrowing the faith of millions. These perpetrators must be called to repentance. This brings us to the task at hand-Defending the Faith against specific claims of “revival” in the Brownsville Assembly of God. Does it line up with Scripture? Absolutely not. I will show you why in the next issue.