The Lunacy In Lakeland – déjà Vu All Over Again

2 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2008 – Vol. 13   Issue 6 – The Lunacy In Lakeland – déjà vu All Over Again

Discernment Ministries International

The Lunacy In Lakeland

déjà Vu All Over Again

By Robert S. Liichow

Over the last month or so DMI has been inundated with reports (many of them “glowing”) with the latest revival to be sent, theoretically, by the Holy Spirit. Now many of the former sign-seekers who partook of the revival at Toronto and Pensacola are now flocking to Lakeland, FL to experience the latest outpouring of God’s power and presence.

What is amazing to me is that everything I have read about this latest manifestation of excited ignorance is that it is nothing new! The same “manifestations” of uncontrollable laughter, being slain in the spirit, reports of teeth being filled with gold, angel feathers being found along with gem stones after the praise services, etc. In short it is the same-old / same-old. The usual fanatical claims of miracles are being reported (and as usual unsubstantiated). Let me just cite one such “miracle” report before delving into the background of these meetings:

This is the 13 resurrection as a result of this outpouring. I’m saying to the media “the dead are being raised.” I received this testimony: “My dear brother died. We requested an all night wake. At the funeral we played the revival. We declared my brother alive. At 2:19 a.m. my brother began to stir in his coffin. My brother sat up in the coffin praising God. My brother went to heaven and he thought he would not return. He said Todd was Bring his spirit back from heaven. All of us the funeral home were praising God. (Obtained from http://www.revivallakeland.org/ May 25, 2008

Thirteen people have been raised from the dead as a result of this outpouring so the enthusiasts say.  I simply ask this — can you please supply DMI with the names, addresses, phone numbers and Death Certificates of these, any individuals? After all if thirteen people have been raised from the dead by the power of God then, obviously, their experience will stand any form of scrutiny. I doubt seriously that Fresh Fire Ministries (the vortex of this most recent Saint Vitas’ dance of delusion) will respond at all to our request.

Who Is Behind The Lunacy at Lakeland?

Revivalist Todd Bentley, an obese, massively tattooed and pierced individual who started a ministry called “Fresh Fire Ministries” several years ago in Abbotsford, Canada. The following information comes from his own ministries webpage regarding his ministry background: “In his late teens, Todd had a dramatic encounter with the saving and delivering power of God. This experience brought Todd out of a lifestyle of drug and alcohol addiction without cravings or withdrawal symptoms. He was also delivered from a lifestyle involving criminal activity, youth prisons, drugs, sex satanic music and bondage. Todd’s miraculous conversion to Jesus was much like the Apostle Paul’s on the Damascus road. Todd was instantly transformed into a radical disciple and soul winning evangelist for Jesus. (Obtained from http://www.freshfire.ca/index.php?Id=101&pid=8 on 05-28-08 bolding added for emphasis).

I rejoice that God delivered Todd from such a sinful past (mirrors my own in many ways). But to compare ones conversion to that of the greatest Apostle in the Bible is a little grandiose. “God has drawn Todd into deep and intimate places of prayer. These extended times in God’s presence has released a fresh prophetic and miracle-healing anointing…He ministers prophetically, corporately and personally as well as brings forth the word of God with the power and demonstration of the Spirit — God confirming His word with signs and wonders following. God has released an increase of the healing anointing into Todd’s life to the point where the blind see, the deaf hear & growths dissolve as Jesus still heals every sickness and disease. (ibid. bolding added)

This is the typical template of any of the revivalist of our past. AA Allen, Jack Coe, T.L. Osborn, William Branham all wrote about spending hours “shut in {“ with God in deep prayer with the end result of being given supernatural powers to work miracles and heal the sick. Not only did God allegedly give Todd a fresh (is there a stale anointing?) prophetic and miracle-healing anointing it seems that God has released an INCREASE of the healing anointing into Todd’s life! This increased healing anointing is so powerful that the blind see, the deaf hear, growths dissolve, as Jesus (through Todd Bentley) still heals every sickness and disease. The following are a couple of testimonies from the Lakeland lunacy proving Todd’s magnificent healing anointing:

George: We have a man that can see out of a glass eye!  Never have I heard of a glass eye seeing. I need a minute to process this. You can’t see out of a glass eye? Never have before. I can see light and shadow. When the optic nerve registers, I’ll be able to see. This is more of a miracle than if the Lord gave him a real eye. (Obtained from http://www.revivallakeland.org/ on 05-28-08 bold type added).

(I must admit that is pretty good when a guy can see through his glass eye. Let’s just set aside the FACT that no further verifiable information is given and let’s forget that the biblical Jesus healed by restoration, I.e. withered hand made whole, deafness cured vs. giving the person a gold hearing aid, etc.) This testimony and other’s we will look at just prove the susceptibility of people who check their minds at the door !

One thing that is patently missing from Mr. Bentley’s testimony is the lack of any biblical education (I know some of you are saying, “here he goes again”) yet facts are facts. Here is a man going around the world teaching the Bible, yet without having been taught himself ! The only credentials that sign-seekers want to know about is whether or not the preacher has some divine personal encounter with God. It is the alleged encounter that counts and is given a higher precedence over formal seminary training. To the sign-seeker the divine encounter is a spiritual revelation directly from the Holy Spirit to your human spirit. Formal biblical training is merely head knowledge; one mans understanding being transmitted from a mere man to another, man (or woman). Spirit ALWAYS trumps the mind in the extremists’ life. Since Todd (or Hinn, Copeland, Meyer, Dollar, etc) have no formal training then obviously their teaching is coming from a “higher” source, that source being touted as none other then the Holy Spirit Himself. In Bentley’s case we have a man who the testimony of the Apostle Paul & the Lord Jesus Christ, talk about your double portion! Here is a glowing review written by the Publishers at Destiny Image Publications:

Todd Bentley is causing quite a stir worldwide. Some say he is being used by the Lord to bring healing and miracles to thousands of people — others are deeply skeptical of him and his ministry, Fresh Fire founded in 1979. What started for the 32-year-old Canadian as an invitation to speak at a church in Lakeland, Florida, in April 2008, has turned into a massively growing revival that now accommodates 10,000 people on land at the local airport. According to Fresh Fire Ministries 1.2 million people have watched the streaming broadcasts on the internet, and more then 140,000 people from at least 40 countries have attended the meetings. Todd’s book, The Journey into the Miraculous, tells of his dramatic deliverance as a teenager from a life of alcohol, drugs, prison, and the occult, launching him by the Holy Spirit into a worldwide ministry… According to Todd, “I was told by a modern-day prophet that I am part of the ‘first fruits’ wave of a billion people whom God would light on fire. I am a forerunner and one of many who will carry the healing anointing to the nations. God has lead me to put this book together not just to tell about my personal journey into the miraculous, but also to help people understand what God is doing in our time, and encourage readers to take steps of faith in areas where they may have been holding back.” As an evangelist and revivalist operating in a fresh prophetic and miracle-healing anointing. Todd has witnessed God heal hundreds of people who were: diseased with cancer, blind, addicted to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and in bondage to Satan’s evil. Todd Bentley’s recently released book, The Reality of the Supernatural World: Exploring Heavenly Realms and Prophetic Experiences, teaches how Spirit-filled believers can take back what Satan has perverted, allowing them to explore the supernatural realms that God wants them to experience. Todd shares revelation about the supernatural world including: how to access it; types of experiences; locations in the supernatural; functions of angels; how to live under an open Heaven; and the price of accessing spiritual depth. (obtained from Destiny Image Communique” >dnj@destinyimage.com 06-06-08, (bold type added for emphasis).

I am troubled by everything about Mr. Bentley as I have already mentioned he declares to have had a conversion experience like Saul of Tarsus, is empowered with the miracle anointing of our Lord Jesus Christ and now we read that he is like John the Baptist in that he is a forerunner but his mission is to carry the healing anointing to the nations! Obviously, we are not dealing with a mere mortal but one of the super-charged end time remnant Ubermensch long prophesied to come by former heretics. A so called restored prophet Todd Bentley that he was one of a billion people God was going to set on “fire” Statistically that is pretty hard to swallow. There are around 2.1 billion professing Christians (obtained from http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html), so that means one out of 2 Christians will become “Todd-like.” Me thinks not.

What is more troubling than these grandiose claims of Bentley’s are his statements about teaching God’s people which are unbiblical and occultic in nature. He claims to teach God’s people how to take back from Satan the ability to “explore the supernatural realms that God wants them to experience.” Where in the entire Bible are we told that God wants us to explore supernatural realms? Where are we told that Satan has somehow hindered us from doing so? According to my knowledge of world cultures, and religions, Satan is constantly moving shamans, witchdoctors, crones, and others to delve into the supernatural to have mystical “experiences” via mind-altering drugs and practices. The Lord Never encourages His people to attempt to explore the supernatural or seek after supernatural experiences as Todd is teaching. Not only is this a false teaching it is a dangerous one. Bentley goes on to say that he will teach people how to access the supernatural, what types of experiences they can expect (I am sure it is nothing more than the usual holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, flapping, flopping and jumping about). Todd will reveal locations in the supernatural ! Again, where does the Bible speak of any of this?  This is all “new” revelation which does not proceed from the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of Mr. Bentley “ministering”. The following is a direct transcript from a You Tube Video:

The woman was standing in the back of the room when the faith of God hit the meeting, and her tumor exploded out of her right leg, slid down her leg onto the floor! (Audience applause) I said, “God I prayed for like a hundred crippled people, Not one? He said, “That’s because I want you to grab that lady’s crippled legs and bang them up-and-down on the platform like a baseball bat.” (Audience laughter) I walked up and grabbed her legs, and I started going, BAM! BAM! I started banging them up-and-down on the plat[form]! She got healed! And I’m thinking, God why is not the power of God moving? He said, “Because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.” (Audience laughter) And there is this old lady worshipping right in front of the platform. (Audience laughter) And the Holy Spirit spoke to me — the gift of faith came on me — He said, “Kick her in the face with your biker-boot.” I inched closer and I went like this [Todd Bentley performs a kick with his right leg and yells] BAM! (Audience laughter) And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God. (audience laughter ) Obtained from: http://www.christianresearchservice.com on 06-09-08).

Does this sound like the manner in which Jesus ministered healing? Is “God’s” power moving dependent upon anything we do, especially kicking an elderly woman in the face? To Bentley the gift of faith equals doing something bizarre and then attributing it to the Holy Spirit.

Is the Revival Biblical ?

Is revivalism biblical? That depends upon how we define our terms. To the charismatic extremist revival is when the Holy Spirit re-descends upon people in a certain locale and they are moved to repentance, or their spiritual joy restored or they are empowered to serve God in some dramatic manner. Please understand that the concept of “revivals” themselves comes out of either some portion of so-called restored Pentecostalism or pietism, both experiences based groups.

In the united States revivalism was directly tied to Pentecostalism and the belief that the Lord Jesus was soon to return. They believed He sent the Holy Spirit again to give people the gift of tongues to go into the entire world and proclaim the Gospel. This was the foundation of the Azusa Street revival of 1906. Well, Jesus did not return as quickly as hoped so Pentecostalism formed into distinct denominations. Forty years later after World War ll another “revival” broke out this time it was not a “soul-saving and healing revival” as opposed to seeking the salvation of the world, this revival was more concerned with healings and miracles. It was run by men such as William M. Branham, Jack Coe, AA Allen, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn and a few others. It died out due to the exposure of fraud, immorality, lack of verifiable proof and the people simply wanting something more.

Almost forty years later the next really true “revival” has to be considered that initiated by Rodney Howard Browne, dubbed “the Holy Ghost Bartender,” In short his unbiblical manifestations became the hallmark of the latest move of the Spirit and they initially became centered at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TAF) , from whence it spread to Holy Trinity, Bromptom England, from there via Steve Hill to Brownsville Assembly of God (BAG) in Pensacola, Florida. What differentiated this New Wine being poured out from the other two previous moves of the Spirit, was that it was a revival of “Joy” one in which the Heavenly Father came down to play with His children. I kid you not, I heard this in person, saw it played out in person at TACF, filmed it and dissected it and found nothing but filth. The end result of TACF and the BAG was that both churches underwent splits. The senior pastor’s left when the crowds died down and the sign-seekers were left unfulfilled and still hungry for “more” of God, since they had received little to no true spiritual nutrition. NEVER FORGET THE FOLLOWING QUOTE:

Son, let me tell you something. Do you know when you can tell a revival meeting is over? Do you know when God’s saying to move on to the next town? When you can turn people on their head and shake them and no money falls out, then you know God’s saying ‘Move on, son’, — A.A. Allen message to brother Marjoe Gortner. Obtained from the Preachers, James Morris St. Martin’s Press.

This is exactly what happened at TACF and BAG, the crowds thinned out, the other leaders in the church felt abused and used. The revivalists had all become extremely wealthy and left town! Now out of the blue we have another revival! Suddenly signs and wonders are being performed (this time down the way in Lakeland vs. Pensacola) Now the hungry can run and be filled with empty promises of power and glory. They can have a safe place to go enthusiastically mad and engage in the St. Vitas dance of delusion once more. Oh, make no mistake my friends, these experiences are powerful, fun, and very addictive (I speak from personal experience) and when they are grabbed in the clothing of the so called “anointing” of the Spirit they become holy to the practitioners. Let’s close with some simple Bible thoughts. Does the Bible prophecy a great world-wide end-time soul-saving revival? No it does not. As opposed to a great “ingathering” of souls the Bible speaks of a great falling away (2 Thess. 2:3) an apostasy. Our Lord Himself speaks rhetorically by asking if when He returns will He find faith on the earth (See Luke 18:8), no! Jesus is also caustic regarding those who run hither and thither seeking signs:

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.  Matthew 16:4

He considers such people (1) wicked and (2) adulterous, why? Primarily because these people are not seeking Jesus per se, they are seeking loaves and fishes, they’re looking to gain spiritual power and not the face of God. Jesus excoriates those who dare to claim to be the ones working the signs and wonders:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:22,23

I fear for Todd and all like him and their alleged “fresh prophetic anointing” and the false unfulfilled words they proclaim in the name of our Lord. The deliverances and miracles they say they have done in the name of Jesus… yet our Master says “I never knew you” Let me say that in the Greek this is very plain it does not imply “I used to know you, but I don’t know you now,” No Jesus NEVER knew these folks. What is more what on the surface seemed to be a good work, I.e. prophetic words, demonic deliverances, miracles Jesus calls those doing such things evildoers not doers of good!

The Bible is filled with warnings about false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, when will our sign-seeking friends awake to these warnings?

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruit ye shall know them. Matt. 7:15-20

Our Lord warns us to beware of the false prophets — they are coming in droves.

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.   Matthew 24:11-13.

What is the “fruit” of these false prophetic Sinisters? Many (a huge number in the Greek) shall be deceived, not blessed. The love of many (same word in the Greek) shall grow cold towards Jesus due to all the fraud being perpetrated in His holy name. The false words, the fake healings, the fraudulent claims will cause many unstable believers to become shipwrecked. Again and again our Lord warns His Church to beware (be-ware) false prophets, i.e. people who come in His name, show signs and wonders and YET do not belong to Jesus at all.

This is why the Apostle John warns: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Even from the beginning of the Church MANY false prophets went out to deceive God’s children, how many more so today? Many today even claim to be apostles (I have met and spoken with no less than six of these deceivers):

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.   2 Cor. 11:13-15

As a former charismatic extremist I taught much about the “five-fold” ministry of Christ (Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, and Evangelist) it was not until my deliverance from doctrinal darkness that I saw another false five-fold ministry in the Bible as well consisting of: false shepherds, false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, and false brethren… and to add a sixth, false Christs.

Charismatic extremists say that they have more faith in God to keep them doctrinally pure than in the devil to mislead them. I admit that sounds pious and faithful, yet if this were the case then why do we have ALL the warnings about being deceived in the Old and New Covenants? If what our extremists’ brethren proclaim is true then the Bible must be wrong. Scripture consistently warns us to “beware.” Beware of what and of whom? Without a doubt God is Almighty and Sovereign, yet the almighty and sovereign God has seen fit to warn His children to be alert to their foe. Here are a few examples:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing. But inwardly they are ravening wolves, Matthew 7:15

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues   Matthew 7:17

Beware of the dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.   Phip 3:2

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Col. 2:8

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness 2 Peter 3:17

Truth Matters my brothers and sisters and in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son and all we need is to look to Jesus through God’s Word and find the satisfaction our souls yearn for. What is transpiring in Lakeland, FL, is not a move of the Holy Spirit anymore than what recently occurred in TACF and Brownsville, both revivals left behind them thousands of disillusioned people. Some of these no doubt have run to Lakeland hoping against hope that maybe this will be the “real deal”. Sadly, they will find out the hard way this Lakeland is nothing more then excited ignorance in which our Lord is neither glorified nor present. Pray for those being mislead by the plethora of false prophets and apostles today! ♦

Copyright © 2008  Robert S. Liichow

 

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