When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood Abuse is Inevitable

7 09 2011
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 9 – When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood – Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

“When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood Abuse is Inevitable”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Last month I began an article on The International House of Prayer (IHOP) and now I want to focus in on what it is that actually transpires in these vaunted 24/7 never ending prayer services.

 I have gone as far as to join the IHOP website and I have spent too much time watching their archived services and reading through their own literature. One thing I am pretty firmly convinced of this that IHOP is a grand experiment, which may or may not yield anything verifiable. By “experiment” I mean that Bickle has put into motion a charismatic-experiment, something hitherto untried in the Church. This vision he has created is simply one of a long line of charismatic-experiments.

 Most people today know nothing about Shiloh in Maine operated by early restored apostle Frank Sanford which ended in the spiritual abuse of many people and the deaths of several of them and children as well. (2) Sanford was indirectly connected to another grand experiment down south from him in Zion, Illinois. Again, many people do not now that Zion was founded by apostle/prophet/healer John Alexander Dowie. Dowie wanted to create a godly city patterned after heaven. He got things going pretty good until he received the revelation that he was The Elijah to Come and after making that pronouncement he was stricken with a stoke and died suddenly, only to be replaced by several men more despicable than himself.

 In our day PTL had their little precious moments Kristian Kingdom. We know where that experiment ended up today — vacant land. Let us never forget The City of Faith that Oral Roberts built in Tulsa. Another costly, yet failed experiment. I am still waiting for the medical cure for cancer to come from the now defunct ORU Hospital and Medical School that Oral said God told him would happen. (3) The Children of God led by the now deceased David Berg aka Moses David tried to express a utopian view which was in reality nothing more than a thin veil to cover Berg’s insatiable sexual perversions. (4) Berg was a tongue-talking self-proclaimed restored prophet who burst onto the Jesus Movement in the late 1960’s.

 IHOP seems to be following this pattern. In all these cases a leader gets an “inspired” (aka novel) idea, gets feedback from others of like mind, seeks some form of biblical proof text(s) and rallies disciples and puts the vision into motion. When it fails later, as they all have, the leaders shrug their shoulders and keep on stepping leaving in their wake many shipwrecked souls.

 Think I am being harsh? I am not being harsh enough. Here is the proof: John Arnott allowed the Holy Laughter phenomena which destroyed true body ministry, burned out his staff and people. In the end, Arnott left TACF and took off when the revival died. The same thing happened to Pastor John Kilpatrick who oversaw the Pensacola revival (Brownsville Assembly of God, BAG). When problems arose at BAG and the crowds diminished revivalist Steve Hill left, then music leader Lindell Cooley bugged out and finally Kilpatrick left (or was fired, it is unclear) to assume the same role as Arnott who declared himself as one called to “shepherd the revival.” These men took the money and ran, leaving in their wake more damaged and abused souls.

 In researching IHOP I learned that there are many people (mostly unmarried) that make up the “staff” of the IHOP meetings. It is these people who have the responsibility to see to it that Isaiah 62:6-7 is fulfilled by them:

 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: Ye that make mention of the LORD, Keep not silence. And give him no rest, Till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (5)

 As in some of the other experiments, the people all live together in a campus/communal setting. Living together makes sense on the surface, but in the charismatic experiment cases it has always been about control over people’s lives and has ended in spiritual abuse and often sexual abuse as well. The IHOP application form which asks some extremely personal questions concerning past sins. Answering such questions places the devotee at the “mercy” of their leaders who will refer to these forms if there are any problems with the person. Knowing every detail of one’s life, especially a detailed list of past sins is an easy way for a SINister to psychologically manipulate their followers by playing to either their strengths or weaknesses. Do I sound cynical? I hope not, but as one who has suffered spiritual abuse I know what I am saying is true.

 IHOP has been hopping along since 1999 but it has taken them awhile to develop to the place where they have people paying money to serve their vision. It takes time for abusive situations to develop. The initial recruits have to proe themselves to their leaders, who initially are very involved with the people. After some time of people coming and going a core group remains; these become the second tier of leadership. At this point the leader(s) usually back off from contact with the plebeians, (7) apart from the larger gatherings they spend their time “imparting” to tier two leaders and living off the largess generated from the “down-line” dupes in this Ponzi scheme. [I’d make money all day betting Bickle is virtually impossible to get “face time” with by the rank-n-file].

 There are now several credible accounts on the Internet from people long associated with IHOP who have escaped the madness and are now sharing their sad experiences. One Blog account located at truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/is-ihop-a-cult speaks about some common practices in the charismatic experiments formerly mentioned:

 1. Food deprivation (required fasting), 2. sleep deprivation – (praying at all hours of the day and night) Sleep and food depravation are all used as mind control methods! Mike Bickle’s own words: (Matthew 12:37 “for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”) “We require that all our full-time staff missionaries commit themselves to at least 50 hours per week of dedicated service. This includes helping to lead prayer and worship meetings, training missionaries and leaders, evangelism, outreach to the poor, administration of the Missions Base, etc. our missionaries maintain a rigorous prayer life with regular fasting as they serve the poor, sick, and needy in our outreaches.” So, the question is how do you support yourselves? If you have to work a secular job to pay for your food and rent and then are REQUIRED to work another 50 hours per week as a full time staff missionary, this causes SEVERE SENSORY DEPRIVATION! (8)

 Anyone whose studied religious phenomena knows that protracted fasting accompanied with hours of repetitive songs and ecstatic tongues does at least tow things in virtually all people: (1) it causes ones conscious mind, the ability for critical thinking aspects to be diminished, (2) and opens people up to paranormal experiences bypassing one’s normal state of perception. These practices are used as spiritual tools by all religious cultures to attain altered states of consciousness — EXCEPT — orthodox catholic Christianity. (9)

 Even the most cursory reading of any of IHOP’s literature reveals a myriad of paranormal (10) experiences including angelic visitations, visits from Jesus, visits to heaven/hell, out-of-body experiences which are the same results attained by the false religions and cultists whose deception is shown to them in the appropriate religious grab. If a Hindu has a demonic paranormal experience it falls within the context of his religious culture, background, former experience. So, I am not surprised that demons present their deceptions in Christian grab. Isn’t this what Scripture warns us about?

 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 the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (11)

 Prayer, fasting, worship are as we know are godly activities when used in their biblically prescribed forms. However, when they become simply tools and or as spiritual weapons (12) depending upon the context of the gathering, although the atmosphere can change in these meeting in an instant and I mean suddenly from praising Jesus to calling down demonic strongholds with angry shouts, foot stamping, karate kicks in the air (I kid you not); they become twisted and open people up to deception. Never forget what Jesus taught us in:

 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (13)  John 8:31-32

 If we continue in God’s Word, being doers and not hearers only (James 1:22) we shall know the truth ( truth matters, it really does) and the truth we know shall set us free. However, I believe the converse is equally true. Just as the truth of God’s Word sets us free, the misapplication of His Word will put people in bondage, even though they think they are people of the Word.

 There is little contextual validation for using prayer, fasting and praise/worship as either weapons or as means of gaining spiritual power. [A Short Rabbit Trail to be Fair & balanced] I say “little” because of one possible text in:

 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (15) Mt. 17:18-21

 It would seem that Jesus is saying that “this” specific kind of demon is cast out by means of prayer and fasting. Some interpret this event to mean that since Jesus neither “prayed” nor “fasted” at that moment He was referring to living a fasted life in which one is prayed-up at al times so the disciple will be ready to victoriously encounter the demoniac. Others, say this refers to the need for a specific time of fasting and prayer in preparation to successfully cast out the demon. So if pressed I would agree that prayer and fasting can be used to cast out this specific demon if ever encountered. This text does not teach a doctrine that fasting and prayer is required to cast out all demons. [IHOP abuses prayer, fasting and their concept of worship. [End of the Trail]

 Let’s focus back on the abuse of the people, next month we will deal with the abuse of the three practices that comprise this movement. The formula is like this: Get the people to fast for long periods of time combined with hours of praying in other tongues during virtually their every waking moment liberally sprinkled with dancing, moving around, loud repetitive music both vocal & instrumental. Intersperse during the lulls in these marathon services with quasi preaching exhortations delivered under the emotion that befit’s the mood. (16) The result is like this: A room full of, in Rush Limbaugh lingo, peole with “skulls full of mush.” Within the large group is a sub-group that is highly susceptible to suggestion, probably many more people than we suspect and these folks comprise the swallow-and-follow cadre of devotees. These folks have been taken “captive” by the enemy (2 Timothy 2:26) and they have suspended their rational critical thinking abilities. The fact remains, there are things people will do or believe under duress that they would not act on or accept if in their sober mind (1 Peter 1:13). Many leaders use what I have shared (the less scrupulous SINisters in their ranks) because they know the mechanics work whenever they are applied.

 The following is the testimony of a former prayer-warrior showing how these spiritual practices were really tools for manipulation, spiritual control and abuse:

 1. Mandatory fasts which made me very physically ill. They would never admit to having “mandatory” fasts but when you don’t have any food available, close down the kitchen, give your cook the day off and don’t allow interns to hold jobs (or that they have money to go buy food if they aren’t participating in the fast) then that is called mandatory.

 2. Being practically held hostage in the prayer room and told that it was required that I be there and I was not allowed to leave even though I did not feel well and wanted to go back to my apartment. I was told I needed to stay in the prayer room to be part of the “corporate anointing” and that I shouldn’t leave. It was one of my “required” prayer room sets as an intern so I spent the remainder of that 2-hour set in one of the side prayer rooms in the back sobbing on the floor because I wanted to leave so badly and our internship leaders were standing by the door. You might ask “why didn’t you just force your way out and leave anyway?” When you are part of a cult where free, independent thinking is not condoned when you don’t comply with what is expected of you, very often guilt, manipulation and penalties are instated for those who resist. Interns who didn’t follow “the rules” of the internship were penalized through loss of privileges (such as loss of your day off, having to do extra work/manual labor, etc.)

 3. The grip of control and micro-management increasing: greater demands and restrictions on interns (such as increased pressure to fast more to attain a higher pinnacle of spirituality) being told where we had to sit when in the prayer room, taught a model for how to pray, how to dance, sing, etc. Any form of worship outside of this model was not considered to be acceptable. It had to fit IHOP’s style and method to be admissible.

 4. Mandatory journaling assignments which we had to do weekly and then we had to turn in our journals to be read by internship leaders. (17)

 I do not doubt the validity of the many growing complaints by former IHOP participants. These groups/experiments have always ended up being abusive to its followers. Sometimes they can be pulled back from the brink of becoming labeled an actual cult. This was the case concerning The Jesus People U.S.A. (JEPUSA) located in Chicago. A large and influential charismatic commune that got very heavy-handed and abusive got brought back to some form of orthodoxy via the intervention of people like Dr. Norman Geisler and others. IHOP as an organization is beyond redemption, but the people, often referred to as sheeple can have their eyes opened and be recovered back to usefulness. God delivered Tracy and myself from extremism so I know He can do the same in the lives of others too.

 Next month we will biblically consider the three ingredients that comprise an IHOP meeting prayer, fasting and worship. I believe you will continue to learn why false doctrine produces false practices which often lead to bondage and abuse. Selah.

 Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 1. Restored false apostle Myles Monroe made this statement to us as elders at an extremist congregation Detroit. Later he wrote a best selling book on “Purpose.”

 2. DMI has an excellent and hard to get book entitled: Shirley Nelson, Fair, Clear, and Terrible: The Story of Shiloh, Maine (Latham, New York: British American Publishing 1989). Nelson was the daughter of former members and it is fascinating and sobering reading. Check for it used at www.abebooks.com

 3. To read more about it check out http://www.ondocrine.com/10robero.htm

 4. Fellow truth-tellers have a good web site & article on Berg at http://www.arcapologetics.org/articles/article17.htm

5. The holy Bible: King James Version 2009 (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.) (Is. 62:6-7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

6. Obtained from www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=100005168o Underlining added for emphasis by the author.

7. Nothing like paying for the privilege to be abused.

 8. If you doubt what I say simply visit any big charismatic Word of Faith church say Word of Faith in Detroit with over 10,000+followers and try to speak personally with Pastor Keith Butler (you will not get past his armed bodyguards, I kid you not). This is common in many charismatic congregations where the pastor is led to and from the pulpit by his or her personal Armor Bearer one of whose duties is to deflect cloying toadies from the SINister.

 9. Obtained from www.truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/is-ihop-a-cult/ Bold type added to honor the text cited.

 10. By “Catholic” I obviously mean universal referring to the “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith” type of Catholic (I regularly tell people who ask “Oh me? I’m an Evangelical Catholic which never fails to open doors for communication).

 11. I purposefully use the term paranormal to describe these type of events. Only God is supernatural and only His actions are truly supernatural. Paranormal simply means beyond the normal observable realm, a realm I consider the haunt of demons and unclean spirits and all manner of darkness and deception that masquerades as the supernatural.

 12. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009) 2 Co. 11:14-15.

 13. When I was an extremist my wife and I ministered at a congregation led by a restored “Apostle.” We were know as a “warfare church,” in that we waged what we called “strategic level spiritual warfare” using as weapons fasting, long sessions of praying in tongues and protracted praise and worship times.

 14. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009) Jn 8:31-32.

 15. Naturally if you interpret “truth” here to refer to Jesus then simple faith in Him is eternal life, yet I do stand by the fact that a person cannot walk (live by faith, obey, etc…) the Word (portion of the Bible) they do not know. Ignorance is one thing, something that is easily ovrecome through study. Ignorance when combined with scriptural error and the resulting self-deception (see Gal. 6:3) takes the power of God’s Word rightly roclaimed to set at liberty such individuals.

 17. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Mt 17:18-21.

 18. I’ve seen these guys cry at the drop of a hat, then quickly switch gears. If the service atmosphere is somber or too happy either can be manipulated by a skillful charismatic con-artist.

 19. Obtained from www.endtimepropheticwords.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/some-of-my-ihop-%E2%80%Cred-flags%E2%80%9D/ Underlining added for emphasis by the author.





Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival

15 12 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2010 – Vol. 15  Issue 12 – Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival

Rev. Bob Liichow

This time the location has changed from Pensacola & Toronto to the gulf coast of Mobile Alabama.

The reason DMI has not jumped immediately onto the bandwagon of wall watchers on this one is because it is so lame. The men who were evicted from their pulpits are involved in this latest display of carnality and works righteousness. Please keep in mind that both Kilpatrick (Pensacola) and Arnott (Toronto) both lost their pulpits when the hoopla died down. Needless to say all the “leaders” of these former movements of excess became very wealthy due to the largess of the attendees. Both men and their accompanying music leaders took their show on the road and after a few months of traveling tapped an un-mined vein of potential dupes and a rag-tag assortment of charismaniacs in seek of the next cosmic fix in Mobile, AL

Please go back to our Blog at http://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com    re-read all that DMI has researched and written about revival and simply insert Mobile in place of Pensacola or Toronto and you will have the same cast of shady characters running the show (or their disciples).

I have nothing positive to say about this latest example of spiritual debauchery and no new insights as to why people continue to love to be deceived even when the deceivers have been proven to be liars and frauds. Even after all the behind-the-scenes revelations from both Pensacola and Toronto, books, newsletters, Youtube accounts (see videos below), people still choose their experience over and above God’s Word.

I am concerned for people when God graciously presents them with His truth and they reject It in favor of their own experiences which they use to validate their incorrect biblical understanding and practices. Such people are in a very precarious spiritual situation and are in need of our intercession. There are two passages of text which ought to give every sentient being pause to think regarding the rejection of God’s mercy when it is offered:

Because I have called and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, And would none of my reproof I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, And your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; When distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; They shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: They despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, And be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, And the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs 1: 24-32

Every blow of Noah’s hammer was a warning of impending judgment. Yet all the people laughed at Noah and rejected his message. For a little over 100 years God granted the people a “space of grace” to repent, but they would not and then “Jehovah shut him in” (Gen. 7:16) and they were all destroyed.

The time comes when God allows man to have his own way which always ends up in destruction and death (Pro. 14:12). For over fifteen years Apologetic Ministries including DMI have been crying out to the Body of Christ as watchmen on the wall—-

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore hear the word at My mouth and give them warning(Eze. 3:17)

Nothing good is headed towards the lives of these SINisters unless they repent of their sins. They have been confronted many times and shown the error of their ways and they have (1) refused correction, (2) would not accept reproof and (3) have spurned the open hand of God, i.e. that which He freely offers us through the Gospel. As always, God is the aggressor in the relationship and He has thus far been treated as a spurned lover! Because they have rejected God’s bounty in the Gospel He will give them over to their own ways. Never forget what the Apostle Paul warns of in his letter to the Church at Rome:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who know the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Rom. 1:1-28-32

Those who reject the goodness of God are left only to experience His wrath in this life and the ageless eternity to come. I highlighted in green just a few of the common traits found among our current crop of televangelists. For the record I consider the various gimmicks, points-of-contact, etc. as “evil things” having been invented by covetous people. Don’t be swayed by their “god-talk” even a parrot can be trained to say “Jesus is Lord” and a chimp can sign those words too, big deal!

The next text that concerns me greatly when it comes to the Copeland’s, Hinn’s, Dollar, Crouch’s, et.al. is the following:

Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power? And then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness. Matthew 7:22

The saddest words ever uttered and heard are “I never knew you.” The Greek word for “never” is best translated as having never known you at any point in time. (1) On that day Jesus will look people in the eye, people who called Him “Lord,” folks who prophesied in His name (falsely), who through the name of Jesus even cast out evil spirits and did some sort of powerful works. Jesus’ response? I NEVER knew you at all, you NEVER at any time belonged to Me. This is not what they are expecting to hear, after all, they offer up to the Lord their bona fides by stating their good works done in His name. All of which avails them nothing, but the wrath of a Jealous God. The context of our Lord’s statement is clear, He goes on to speak about the one who is approved by God and that one is the person who receives (hears) and does (acts) the Word of God humbly acknowledging that “father knows best.”

I fear with godly fear for Mr. Kilpatrick, Steve Hill, and all the others who go about proclaiming “revival” and great “moves” of the Holy Spirit when in reality there is no revival nor anything moving but sweaty stinky excited flesh.

I urge that this Advent season (historically it is a Penitential Season) you take time to pray for those involved in all forms of biblical error that our Lord may yet be gracious still towards them and grant them repentance. ¨

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

** See John Kilpatrick, Lindell Cooley and Nathan Morris promote this latest ‘Revival’

 

Fire falls on Young People at Revival: 

A  warning for believers about the latest Revivalto Test the Spirit 1 John 4:1

End Notes

1. 3763 oo-dep’-ot-eh; from 3761 and 4218; not even at any time, i.e. never at all; —neither at any time, never, nothing at any time.





Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part I

18 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – October 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 9 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

Part 1 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Sorry for the delay, but I am seeking to give back to our readers and supporters for their faithful support. So for the next few issues I will be reprinting some of our books in the newsletters, i.e. keep the next couple of newsletters and you will end up with one of our books to share or give to others! I am starting with some of the fundamental “doctrines” of modern neo-Montanism, aka the charismatic movement of today. This first installment deals with the dogma of being slain in the spirit. It is a phenomena common to virtually all sign-gift believers and thus this information is of vital importance in your reference libraries. Please share this information with your friends and family!

Introduction

This booklet will set forth the charismatic attempt to prove Biblically that the manifestation of being “slain in the spirit” is in fact Scriptural. However, it will become evident to the reader that what they have done is to twist the Scripture, wrest it from its context, in a vain attempt to validate the emergence of fleshly and demonic activity in their midst.

To those who have not ever been to a charismatic service the terminology may be unfamiliar so I will begin by defining the terms. Then we will examine their apologetic, the historical background of this manifestation, and consider what the Bible actually teaches regarding the issue at hand.

Chapter 1

Being “Slain in the spirit”  The Phenomena Defined

Being slain in the spirit denotes the phenomena that occurs when hands are laid on an individual and they swoon or fall to the ground in an altered state of consciousness. One can be slain without hands being physically applied, but that is more the exception than the rule. Generally people “fall out” due to direct ministry of another, either individually or in a group. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements defines the experience this way:

A relatively modern expression denoting a religious phenomenon in which an individual falls down; the cause of this is attributed to the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon is known within modern Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal under various names including “falling under the power,” “overcome by the Spirit,” and “resting in the Spirit.” Within the discipline of the sociology of religion “slain in the spirit” might fall under the general rubric of possession trance.”   (1)

As a former charismatic pastor and teacher I can personally testify that in the course of ministry my wife and I have laid hands on over 1,000 people for various reasons. Many times when praying for people’s physical healing we would lay hands on them and they would fall down on the ground for a period of time and then regain their senses, stand up and return to their seats.

I can further testify when many times when people fall it is due to a genuine power entering into them or at least affecting their body to the degree they cannot stand. I have fallen down many times and I was not “faking” it. I felt a power, a tingling, something akin to electricity flow into me and upon yielding to this power I would fall down.

How is this explained?  There are a variety of ways to explain this manifestation. We will examine these possible answers towards the end of this book. I believe it is only fair to allow our sign-gift brethren to give their explanation first.

Chapter 2

TACF’S Apologetic

The Toronto Airport Church Explanation

The Toronto Airport Church Fellowship (TACF) says this occurs when God’s presence comes on the human body. The body simply cannot stand the weight of God’s presence and thus fall.    (2)

Falls are commonly much less violent and may be backward (common) or forward (less common and in my observation more frequent in pastors and ministers). Falls may be associated with further violent movements, with head-banging, tremors, movements suggestive of epilepsy, but commonly with a total absence of movement. Subject may have no experience beyond a pleasant sense of calm, may experience visions, or may feel they are being crushed. One man told me he felt as though a massive weight was crushing the life out of him, making it impossible for him to breath…Many people may be affected simultaneously. When this is so, the precise timing suggest supernatural choreography rather than mass hysteria.    (3)

Toronto’s answer is that when a person is slain in the spirit it is simply a physical response to the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the individual. What does the Pensacola vortex of revival have to say about this matter?

There are several incidents in the Bible which demonstrate that the immediate presence of God is more than the human body can physically stand. One of the most significant examples is John 18:4-6, where we read of Jesus’ arrest. When Jesus identified Himself to the soldiers who were arresting Him, we’re told they “drew back and fell to the ground.” These troops (who were pagan unbelievers and only view Jesus as another criminal to arrest) were involuntarily smitten by His moment unleashing of His inherent power as God. Even these ungodly men could not physically stand up in the presence of His holiness and glory. (4)

Again, we read of the “fact” that the human body just cannot stand the presence of God and so human bodies fall down. Let me ask two questions:   (1). if this is true then why don’t those laying hands on people fall too? If God’s presence is manifest why doesn’t everybody fall? (2). In the account in John, Jesus, the completely unique One, did unveil His glory by stating “I am.” The sinners did fall down backwards (keep this fact in mind for later on). However, the account does not say the believers fell down, it is remarkably silent about anyone else being slain in the spirit.

The Toronto Blessing FAQ (5)

Revised April 1997

Scriptures quoted from King James Version unless otherwise stated

FALLING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT – this is when we fall to the ground because we can no longer remain standing when the power of God is on us!!! Sometimes we remain on the ground from several minutes up to several hours, our body simply cannot move very much because our flesh is corrupt and cannot stand in God’s full presence!!

II CHRONICLES 5:11-14: And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy [place]: (for all the priests [that were] present were sanctified, [and] did not [then] wait by course: Also the Levites [which were] the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Herman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, [being] arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers [were] as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: that [then] the house was filled with a cloud, [even] the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

MATTHEW 17:5-7: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

JOHN 18:5-6 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am [he]. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.

ACTS 9:3-4: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?

 

A Biblical Examination of the Revivalists Argument

To begin with whenever you make comparisons for them to be honest correlations you must compare “apples to apples.” None of these texts resemble anything remotely close to what happens when believers are slain in the spirit today. My wife and I have observed less then 10 people fall under the power with no human intervention of some variety in 30 years of combined charismatic experience. When people get slain it is due to the direct ministry of another person, not a sovereign act of God.

Invariably, charismatic people fall down when hands are laid on them. There are no examples of people falling down when hands were laid on them in the Bible.

In 2 Chronicles 5:11 we read of the dedication of Solomon’s temple. In that dispensation God manifested His presence in a tangible manner to His covenant people Israel.

This case was no exception, God manifested His presence to demonstrate His approval of the Temple. After that initial service, His presence was confined to residing above the ark of the covenant.

Note also that the priests were outside of the temple when God’s glory filled it. There is nothing stated which indicates that the priest fell down at all.

Matthew 17 gives us the incident where Jesus took Peter, John and James up to the mountain top where He was transfigured before them. There is nothing in the text which indicates that God slayed them in the spirit. The text states “they fell on their face, sore afraid” it does not saythe presence of God was so strong they could not stand,” nor does it say, “the power of the Holy Spirit knocked them on their faces.” It says “They fell,” Peter, John, and James chose to fall.  Why?  They were afraid! It was a voluntary act on their part, not a sovereign act of God upon their bodies. Please note also, that at no time were they unaware of their surroundings, i.e. they did not loose consciousness, which is common with today’s manifestation.

Also, in Mark and Luke’s account we read of Peter seeing Moses, Elijah and Jesus and then Peter speaking with Jesus. These two accounts do not even mention them falling down at all. It does mention them being afraid, but no falling. It is textually impossible to validate what happens in charismatic services today from Matthews account.

The last text they use to shore up their doctrine is the account of Paul encountering the Lord on the road to Damascus. What is interesting in the Acts 9 account is that only Paul is slain, i.e. falls off of his horse. The men with Paul, were (1) speechless, (2) heard a voice, (3) saw no one, and (4) did not fall down. Another facet of this account is the fact that this extraordinary manifestation is Paul’s call into apostleship. This text cannot legitimately be used to prove the machinations taking place in charismatic circles. No one laid hands on Paul and caused him to be slain. According to the Biblical record this was not a regular occurrence in his life or ministry. Paul himself never testifies to laying hands on anyone and having them slain in the spirit, nor do any of the other writers of the New Testament, or Old Testament for that matter. Paul never lost consciousness, his faculties were very sharp, he was able to speak, he rationally answered the Lord.

On the following page John White uses the following two verses in his book When The Spirit Comes With Power to justify falling down under the Holy Spirit’s power:

Daniel 10:9-10 But the sound of his words came to my ears, and on hearing his voice I went into a deep sleep with my face to the earth. Then a hand gave me a touch, awaking me, and putting me on my knees and my hands.

Rev. 1:17 – And when I saw him, I went down on my face at his feet as one dead. And he put his right hand on me, saying, Have no fear; I am the first and the last and the Living one;

In the event in Daniel chapter 10, we encounter the writing prophet at the banks of the Tigris. He alone sees the angelic being who has come to deliver to Daniel a sweeping revelation concerning the prophetic economy of God. This Old Testament account is totally devoid of any comparison of what takes place in Pentecostalism. First, Daniel was a writing prophet and as such the Lord manifested His Word to those prophets in various ways (dreams, visions, divine appearances, etc). Secondly, Daniel’s experience was unexpected, whereas today people fully expect to be slain in the spirit. The purpose of the angelic appearance was to reveal a significant prophetic word to God’s prophet, Daniel’s falling down had nothing to do with the divine message, it was at best a tangential response on Daniel’s part.

Next, while Daniel was overcome the angel touched him and gave him strength. This is something we do not see in today’s services. I have seen multitudes fall, but none receiving supernatural strength. Note also that Daniel fell face forward, almost one hundred percent of charismatic’s who are slain fall backward, thus the reason for catchers (more on the ministry of catchers in a later chapter).

There simply is no legitimate manner in which this verse can be used to shore up a doctrine of being slain in the spirit.

The text in Revelation 1:17 also fails to meet the test when examined. John the beloved was an apostle of the Lamb. Fist of all, there are no more apostles today. Secondly, John saw the resurrected Lord which was the reason he fell. The purpose for the Lord Jesus appearing to John was to give him the final installment of the canon of Scripture. John was given a revelation of immense importance. Please note that John never lost consciousness and that he also fell face forward.

Comparison Chart

The falling of people in today’s services, especially in this latest revival has no relationship whatsoever to the few Biblical accounts they attempt to use to prove their beliefs. Every text they have tried to use is taken completely out of its context and these leaders are guilty of wresting the Scriptures in a vain attempt to validate their practices.

The leaders of the Holy Laughter movement prove nothing by the Scriptures they use except that they do not know how to properly interpret the Scriptures. They are attempting to compare apples-to-oranges and not apples-to-apples. The simple fact of the matter is that they have no biblical context to prove what is happening is in fact the manner in which God moves by His Spirit. Try as they might the best they can do is to twist the Scriptures in an attempt to make “a round peg fit into a square hole.” The Biblical accounts and what transpires today simply do not compare with one another.

Pastor John Arnott said the following during a revival meeting we attended at TACF (paraphrased) regarding people laying on the floor (after being slain in the spirit) who were screaming aloud:

1. The Holy Spirit could be expelling demons from the person, so we say “more Lord.”

2. The Holy Spirit is bringing back past painful memories to heal them, and the person is screaming out in agony, so we say “more Lord.”

3. The Holy Spirit is blessing the individual so tremendously they are screaming out under His power, we don’t want to stop that do we?

4. The person is simply faking it to fit in.

5. The Holy Spirit is doing a prophetic work in the person’s life & we do not want to interfere with that do we? (6)

The only problem with John’s definitions was that he used absolutely no Scriptures to validate any of his five points. In fact he contradicted himself on the video when he said that upon asking people what was happening to them while on the floor the people responded “we don’t now, but we know the Lord was doing something.” If individuals who have been slain in the spirit did not know what was taking place how in the world does John Arnott?

The following apologetic for being slain in the spirit is taken from the following web page on August 25, 1997: http://www.revivaltimes.com/manifest.htm– they use the same proof texts as TACF and other extremists, this shows the paucity of their argument.

Falling

People are skeptical when they see a person falling on the floor. This is really not hard to understand, as so many have been pushed over. Hands were laid so hard on them, that they either had to walk back or fall over. Others have come to think that unless you fall down, you have not received. This is not true. The Holy Spirit can minister to you anywhere, and in any way He pleases. I purposely lay my hand very lightly on peoples heads. If they fall, they will know that I did not push them over. It had to be the Holy Spirit or themselves.

Why do people fall?

Well, evidently they found it was impossible to stand up any longer. They just felt their knees become weak and fell down. Sometimes the glory of God is so great that we are overwhelmed and consequently fall prostate before the Lord.

Is Falling in the Spirit scriptural?

There is no direct reference to what we have termed being slain in the Spirit; However, there are references in the Bible of people who could not stand for the glory of God

1 King 8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

Another indication of falling in the Spirit is when Saul of Tarsus had the encounter with God on the road to Damascus. When the light shone on him, he fell to the ground and lay there until God had finished talking to him.

Acts 9:3-4 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?

The author gets an “A” for honesty, he admitted there are no direct references to the man-made doctrine of being slain in the spirit. What is puzzling is that he (and multitudes) of others are willing to submit themselves to highly questionable practices which have no Scriptural basis and attribute them to God. They have no Scriptural method by which to judge the origin of their experience, and assume it must be the Holy Spirit.  On what basis?  Because it happens in a church service? Because a minister lays their hands on them? Because they have seen others do it? Or because they have been told this is of God by leaders? These are not the criteria by which we judge our spiritual lives and practice. We are to look to the Word of God alone as the first and final court of appeal.

Revival Glory’s Explanation of the Experience (7)

In revival people often fall on the floor. Termed “slain in the Spirit” by some, and “falling under the power” or resting in the Lord” by others, one does not have to look long to see that something is happening inside those “horizontal before the Lord.” Such was the response of people like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28; 3:23), Daniel (Daniel 10:9), and John (Revelation 1:17). After the ark was brought into Solomon’s temple, “the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filed the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14), perhaps indicating that these priests had “fallen under the power” of God. The Holy Spirit seems to do a wide variety of things in a person’s life during this time: a renewed understanding of God’s holiness, an inward healing of emotions, anointing for ministry, a giving of direction for life, a refreshing of God’s love, and in limited cases, the giving of a vision from God. [Bold type and underlining added for emphasis].

Revival Glory’s definition adds that the Holy Spirit seems to do a wide variety of spiritual works in the slain person’s life. Six things are cited, but not one verse is given to substantiate these claims. Five of the works attributed to being slain in the spirit are found within the context of scripture apart from any paranormal experience. All six, minus the vision from God, come to any believer through a reverent study of God’s Word, no more no less! To the extremist simple Bible study is not as “sexy” as having a power encounter or becoming the center of attention by laying front of the congregation in some form of enthusiasm and/or alleged spiritual rapture.

A person “overcome” by something, but it is not the Holy Spirit!

Rev. Liichow’s book  will be continued in the next issue.

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

* (color highlight, some bolding and underlining are added for emphasis, and do not appear in the original book by Robert S. Liichow)

 





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

 





“HEARING” THE VOICE OF GOD

23 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 4 – “Hearing the Voice of God – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing the Voice of God

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

One of the most frustrating things for me as a charismatic extremist was hearing the various testimonies of my teachers regarding hearing the voice of God. All of these men and women made it abundantly clear to us mere sheep that they were in fact in daily, if not, moment-to-moment communication with the Ancient of Days.

Usually their sermons or lessons began with statements like “ I was in prayer the other night and the Lord said to me ‘son why don’t you explain what faith is to My people’ and I said yes Lord and He opened my eyes to the scriptures like never before.” Obviously, we as the hearers upon hearing this statement buckled down in our seats, got out our pens and took notes on what was divinely revealed to the speaker (you can insert almost anyone’s name e.g. Ken Hagin, Copeland, Savelle, Dollar, Price, Jakes, White, Meyer, Dupantis, Hayes, et al.). After their stirring words we little sheep would wander to our homes wondering what did it take to actually “hear the voice of God”? We were literally in awe of people like Kenneth Hagin senior who said on a regular basis that God was more “real to him then his wife.” Also, Mr. Hagin was a man who claimed to have had at least seven (7) direct face-to-face encounters with the risen Christ, during which encounters Mr. Hagin was given revelations which became some of the body of his teachings {doctrine}. Obviously Mr. Hagin and many of our other teachers had a relationship with Jesus Christ that we did not have. Hagin used to share an anecdote that went something like this: “A man told me he was afraid of anyone who said God spoke to them, I answered him back and said I was afraid of anyone who God didn’t speak to!” In context let me add that Hagin was not talking about God speaking through His Word, he meant God speaking directly to us as individuals. Hagin’s position was that it was normative for God to speak to His children.

This obviously lack of intimate fellowship with the Godhead that our teachers seemed to have led many of us “on-fire” saints (me included) on the “hunt” for obtaining such an equally close fellowship with our Lord and Savior. After all, who does not want to “hear” the Holy Spirit say directly to them “go this way, turn left on Elm, “ or marry this woman,” or “accept this job position, it is My will.” Hearing from “God” on that level would take all of the guesswork out of life. If a person could hear so clearly from the Lord it would equal an error-free life (something God nowhere promises any of us in His Word) assuming the individual heeded everything the Lord told Him directly.

I’ll let you in on one of charismania’s dirty little secrets. A large portion of what charismatic teachers offer to those who will follow can be condensed into the claim that they (the teacher) possesses some spiritual experience which can be anyone’s if they will learn how to “tap in” as their teacher did. This experience can include some of the following examples: receiving revelation knowledge, receiving divine healing; walking in divine life; increasing the anointing in one’s life; achieving financial prosperity among other claims. Naturally merely attending a conference will probably not give one any of the above abilities. Thus the seeker is urged by the SINister or his or her shills to purchase books, tapes and DVD’s on the experience being sought, all of which happen to be for sale, authored by the SINister just outside the arena (all major credit cards accepted).

Apart from the extraordinary gifts, such as the power to heal or work miracles, every charismatic teacher claims to hear directly from God. The old expression “from God’s lips to my ear” would be wildly accepted by these people. Most Christian’s will accept that they will probably not work miracles or heal the lame, but at least they can hear from God can’t they?

The question is a simple one —does the Bible teach that the children of God would in fact hear His voice and be led by Him directly and individually? It does not matter how many people vociferously declare that God speaks to them directly to their spirits. As discerning Christians we must always go back and look at what the Bible teaches concerning this or any other matter being foist upon us.

Really the challenge is in the court of the charismatic extremists to prove to us biblically that it is the practice of God to speak individually to His children. The spiritual enthusiast has two general responses to this challenge. The popular response today (at least since the Holy Laughter paranormal manifestations) has been well expressed by Jack Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor who went off the spiritual rails so to speak:

God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible.

According to Dr. Deere, John Arnott and a host of other charismatic leaders God speaks to His children all the time, gives them guidance, but it is of such a type that cannot be verified biblically. The best they can say is that any supernatural direction given, whether through dreams, visions, apparitions or voices will not violate the Bible!

This is the same type of argument that John Arnott (former pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Church i.e. vortex of the holy laughter nonsense) gave me personally in our e-mail correspondence. Mr. Arnott in answering my concerns regarding all the non-biblical manifestations my wife and I eye witnessed in his congregation was simply to begin by citing John 21:25

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25 (KJV)

Arnott’s response to me was simply that what was taking place in the outpouring of the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit was nothing new, it just was not recorded in the Bible for us to read about. Holy Laughter, making animal noises, being slain in the spirit, uncontrollable jumping, jerking and running are simply part of the “many other things” Jesus did as well !!!

I responded by asking Arnott how can we know that what is happening is biblical if the Bible is silent on this specific matter? What are we to use as our guide pertaining to spiritual matters? His response was to direct me to all the good fruit being borne by the revival, the joy, the laughter, the changed lives of those undergoing these manifestations.

In the words of the arch-heretic Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt!” If the best Arnott can do is point me to subjective paranormal experiences that some people were undergoing as proof that it was “God” at work then he has a great deal to learn about religious experiences. I can take Arnott to various ashrams where the same manifestations are being experienced by the devotees of various power gurus and these followers will give passionate explanation of how their lives have been changed.

Appealing to anything other than the Bible as the final arbitrator of doctrine and experience is to leave oneself wide open to demonic deception, delusion, and disappointment. What today’s charismatic enthusiasts want the Church to do is simply accept their teachings, experiences and practices on the power of their word alone, not on the authority of God’s Word.

I warned Mr. Arnott that he and those like him were in danger of becoming a cult due to their going down the same pathway all the Bible-based cults have gone. The reason we call them “Bible-based” cults is due to their claim to believe in the Bible, however God has given them further revelation whether it is in the form of the New World Translation of the JW’s, or the Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, The Scripture Keys to Science and Health or the Mo Letters. So for these cults it boils down to a formula like — The Bible + new revelations/writings {guess which ends up being authoritative }. Many charismatic are in the same place — The Bible + new revelations, fortunately the Bible still seems to hold ultimate authority in may of their lives.

The second response to our apologetic challenge is a finally turning to the Bible and cherry pick examples that seem to fit their particular belief or practice. In the case of our topic, they will show us people God talked to and use these examples to attempt to prove these encounters as normative. This is GREAT! Always guide the discussion with these misguided folks back to the Bible, because we both can agree that it is God’s Word and as Christians It is binding on our lives. So then the weight is upon us to prove our position is in fact – the biblical one.

Who “Heard” the voice of God?

Old Testament

Adam & Eve: Obviously we can start with them. They not only heard the voice of God, but also walked with Him in the cool of the garden (Genesis 2:3). Obviously none of us can use Adam and Eve as our examples of fellowship with God since after they sinned and were kicked out of the garden their face-to-face communication ceased with the Lord.

Noah: Yes Noah heard from God directly. Since it had never rained on the earth until the flood I’m sure the Lord had some things to make clear to Noah, such as the directions on building the ark and who to place within it. (Gen. 6:9). Noah conversations with the Lord can hardly be normative since it involved the salvation of mankind.

Job: Only towards the end of the book of Job (Job 38-42) do we read of Job having a divine communication from the Lord.

Abraham: Over the entire span of his long life Abraham heard directly from the Lord in various manners only 16 times, hardly a daily ongoing conversation between The Ancient of Days of the patriarch of the faith!

Sarah: She only was spoken to once, which she initially denied saying what she had said (read Gen 18).

Moses: He holds the “record” of hearing from God, but then leading a few million Jews no doubt required quite a bit of direction. We read are approximately 85 times when God spoke to Moses. Again the majority of these times had to do specifically with the economy of God and the leading of God’s people.

Aaron: Moses’ brother and first high priest, he heard from God about 14 times, again always involving serious matters.

Joshua: The man who replaced Moses and led the people across the Jordan — again only around 13 or so experiences with the “voice of God” in his life.

Samuel: The great prophet of the Lord, we know at the beginning of his ministry the Lord spoke to him and he did not even recognize the Lord’s voice (1 Sam. 3) How the “word of the Lord” came to him and the other prophets we are not always told. We do know that in Samuel’s time the “word of the Lord was rate” (3:1) and there were few visions. What I am focusing our attention on is direct, personal communication from God to individuals.

David: The sweet psalmist of Israel, you’d think he would had daily running conversations with the Lord (like Hagin, Copeland, and others claim), But, no, go read the accounts of his life again and you’ll find less than 12 direct encounters Person-to-person.

Solomon: One of Israel’s most blessed kings, wisest of all O.T. personages, he only had 3 experiences hearing directly from the Lord. (read 1 Kings, 3:5-14; 9:2-9; 11:11-13).

My brothers and sisters there are many other O.T. examples I could cite, but these examples should make it very clear that people in general never personally heard God’s voice. Even God’s specially chosen vessels, rarely heard His voice and when they did it was regarding salvation’s history in some form or another.

The charismatic belief that throughout biblical history God is just chattering away to His people simply doesn’t stand up to any close examination of the Bible. Of course many within the charismatic movement will point that we are “New Testament” believers, ergo we should consider the New Testament as our “norm.” Ok, let’s take a quick look through the New Testament.

New Testament

Again our sign-gift inclined brethren would have us believe that under the new covenant we find our heavenly Father speaking to His children on a regular basis, leading and guiding them via personal speaking, dreams, visions and even angels. However, as Christians we must allow the Bible to be our guide, not subjective personal experiences. We know that during Jesus’ ministry when God spoke it was at times considered thunder by those who heard it (see John 12:29). On the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, John and James did hear the audible voice of God they were speechless (see Mark 9). There is absolutely no evidence that “God” apart from the personal earthly ministry of Jesus, God and Son, ever spoke internally to any of the disciples in the Gospels.

As a former charismatic I’d be quick to argue that the Book of Acts is really the template for the Church and that’s where will find God speaking to about everyone. I also used to believe that miracles were commonplace and were being wrought by just about every Miriam, Peter and John. Folks the truth is, as with hearing the voice of God, very few people were ever used by God throughout the entire Bible to work a miracle. Think about it, write them all down and you will have a very short list. Common sense dictates that if miracles where commonplace then they would cease to be “miraculous.”

Well if one reads the Book of Acts carefully one will discover that the vast majority of the times we read of God speaking directly or even indirectly, say through an angel, less than twenty times and the majority of these times were involving the Apostle Peter and Paul. The few others so specifically guided by God were folks like Agabus (a prophet), Cornelius (whose salvation was a catalyst for the Gentiles), and Ananias (who went to pray for a man named “Saul”.

What is remarkable about each occurrence is that none of these individuals were seeking to hear from God directly! God was the One who reached out to them. Also keep in mind that none of these people were ever taught any formula, hidden keys, or method on how to hear from God (which is a very popular subject in almost all Christian bookstores & conferences). Even more astounding is the FACT that no one is ever counseled to seek to hear God’s voice.

A simple truth that really “blew” my mind in seminary was when I learned from Dr. Eugene Mayhew that the Book of Acts is a historical account of what took place in the early Church and NOT a template on how to do Church. This was contrary to everything I had been taught as a sign-seeking believer. However, once you realize this is true you see that everything that took place in Acts is not normative nor to be expected in the daily life of Christians today.

Some may respond “but brother Liichow doesn’t the Apostle Paul tell us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14)?” Yes, but the text does not say “those who hear from God directly are the sons of God.” In fact, this text does not tell use exactly how God’s Spirit will lead us. Sign-gift folk insert voices, dreams, visions, visits from Jesus and /or angels into the text in invisible ink. They may assent that this text does not say exactly how the Spirit will lead us but will often counter with another text, this time from the Gospels. “Didn’t Jesus say that ‘My sheep hear My voice’ so obviously His true hear from God!” The context of John 10:16 is regarding sheep and goats and the fact that untimely there will be one flock (Jew & Gentiles together) under one Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus is not speaking about some private conversation(s) He will have with His sheep. Compare this text with Romans 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Add to this “how shall they hear without a preacher’? (Rom. 10:14). Jesus was not speaking about Him personally talking with His sheep. Oh yes He does “call” us but He does so generally through the foolishness of preaching or even through our baptism.

Some Charismatic Comments

“In June God gave us a vision of the world with silver and gold bands covering the entire globe —we began to understand that God was telling us to take the message…” Charles and Francis Hunter, How to Heal the Sick, Hunter Books, pg. 1.

“I could hear the Spirit of God challenging me, “You’ve approached it wrongly. You’ve worked on the wrong end of the thing. You fasted and you prayed that I would do something and I’ve done all I’m ever going to do…” Kenneth E. Hagin, The Art of Intercession, Faith Library, pg. 47

My Father said to me (oh, I could hear His voice so plainly as He spoke to me), ‘Son, you don’t know how that delights My heart…You know, He said to me, ‘I made man so I’d have someone to fellowship with. I made man for My companion…I’ll put this way (and He said it is just these words), I made man so I’d have someone to pal with,’ “ Kenneth E. Hagin, Growing Up, Spiritually, Faith Library, pp. 64-65.

“The Spirit of God spoke up on the inside of me and said, ‘She has been holding fast to the problem al of these years. If she had prayed in faith she wouldn’t have prayed all those other 24 years…But she has bound Me from the situation by the words of her mouth.” Charles Capps, Releasing the Ability of God, Harrison House, p. 38.

“I asked the Lord, ‘Why did the centurion have that kind of faith…The Lord said, ‘He was a military man who understood authority because he was under authority. If you will teach My people to understand authority as this man understood authority, they will operate in the same kind of faith.” Charles Capps, Authority, Harrison House, p. 5

“Just this Pat: God is telling me to go and share the message of His power an the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Mrs. Peale.” Pat Robertson & Jamie Buckingham, Shout It From the Rooftops, Logos, p. 66

Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER… He told me how I would be able to detect diseases by vibrations on my hand. He went away, but I have seen him several times since then.” Gordon Lindsay, William Branham A Man Sent From God, Voice of Healing, p. 77.

The BIG Question

These are just a very few examples of some instances where well known charismatic leaders are relating a little of their personal conversations with the Lord. In the same arena we have to also include today’s restored prophets and the “word of the Lord” they proclaim to congregations and individuals (that also is a common charismatic way to hear from God). The question for either individuals hearing from God or from the mouth of an alleged restored prophet is the same: “Why isn’t the words you’ve received from God authoritative?” In other words if God is indeed speaking then what is said should be transcribed and placed in the back of the Bible, right? Since when does God’s “word” cease to become God’s word to us? Also, if the words received in whatever manner (through a neo-Montantist prophet, dream, and vision or audible voice) is not elevated to such a level, then what good are they?

Our sign-gift brethren have a problem on their hands (as does anyone who says they have heard directly from God) and their response is to say that these words are a combination of both our flesh & the Lord which is what many leaders suggest having mature believers discern the wheat from the chaff so to speak. They say this is the biblical pattern as taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:29. This text says let 2 or 3 prophets speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said. That’s fine considering at the time there were still prophets in the Church as well as false prophets! The Corinthians being sign-gift driven needed to be told to “judge” what was being told them in the name of the Lord. Plus there is nothing in the text to indicate that the “others” ere discerning if part of the word given was of God and part of the flesh. Biblically either one was a true prophet, 100% accurate or one was a false prophet. From the record of scripture it seems most likely that the “others” were judging whether the person speaking was in fact from God or our enemy.

When it comes to the accuracy of today’s so-called prophets and their prophetic declarations virtually every charismatic leader will defend the blatant error, lies and unfulfilled statements given out in God’s name as being simply part of the “growing process” we all undergo in our God-given gifts! Just as one develops as a pastor or a Bible teacher even so one develops as God’s prophet. Oh really? Pray tell where is that in the Bible? There is nothing to indicate that the prophets developed from one level of accuracy to another. Daniel was not 5 % accurate as a young man and about 80% as an old man. What nonsense! Yet this explanation is commonly handed out to those who dare question the inaccuracies of today’s plague of prophets.

All of us who have thought that God was speaking to us and directing us in some area of life have had to admit that it was not God after all. I remember before I was married another sister in our congregation “heard from the Lord” that I was supposed to marry her. God had told me nothing about it and I told this deceived sister she was in error. She later went on to marry someone else and would gladly admit today she was not hearing from God. Other couples said they both heard from God to marry and now are divorced, what happened to the “plan of God” (I can assure you His plan never includes divorce).

There is a method by which we ALL can hear from God, but I have run out of space to go into this month. Stay tuned for Part Two! (Below are some examples of the many books out there to mislead the unwary).♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





Here We Go Again

25 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – Here We Go Again – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Here We Go Again

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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Want to get a charismatic extremist salivating? Just tell him or her that “revival” is on the horizon! Charisma magazine has a section entitled the “Prophetic Edge” and in the April 2007 issue the article is entitled, “Get Ready to Serve” written by Steve Hill. His article starts with the following words:

SOMETHING POWERFUL IS ON THE HORIZON. The Lord is equipping His church for the greatest outpouring the world has ever seen. We must do everything possible to prepare our hearts and to train others for this soul-saving revival. We also must be willing to be used by the Lord in new, unfamiliar ways. (1)

Hill’s History

Allow me to refresh your memory concerning Mr. Hill. He is the individual who is often cited as God’s instrument for the so-called revival at the Brownsville Assemblies of God (BAG) church in Pensacola, Florida. According to the BAG mythology here is what they claimed took place. The Pensacola church has been divinely appointed by God to be the catalyst of revival according to some prophetic words given by a couple of recognized charismatic leaders. In 1993 Dr. Paul Cho, pastor of the world’s largest congregation in Korea was in the United States and was praying for revival:

He did so, and the Holy Spirit told him to point his finger at the map. As he did, he felt his finger drawn to the Florida panhandle and to the city of Pensacola. “I am going to send revival to the seaside city of Pensacola, and it will spread like a fire until all of America ha been consumed by it,” said the Lord to Dr. Cho, Dr. Cho shared his experience with others and the word predictably spread to many of the pastors in the Pensacola area. Some time later, a Mobile, Alabama, Church of God pastor (70 miles away from Pensacola) inquired of Dr. Cho. “Dr. Cho, there’s been a rumor that you have prophesied a great revival in America to begin in Pensacola, Florida. Is there any truth to this?” he asked. “No rumah! No rumah! No rumah! Said Dr. Cho in his broken English “Received vision; revival will com!” (2)

Cho’s “leading” of the Spirit sounds more like someone using a planchet on a Ouija board as opposed from hearing from God. Not to mention the fact that what Cho allegedly received from the Holy Spirit did not come to pass. The fire did not spread throughout all America, nor was all America consumed by it. The revival did spread to many charismatic and Pentecostal congregations and the fruit produced by it was nothing less than spiritual heartache, disappointment, church splits and fanaticism. (3) Secondly, I have personally sat under Cho’s preaching and his English is not broken, if anything, he speaks English better than many Americans, so the “broken English” is not true either. Make no mistake about it my friends, God is not inaccurate and His true prophets were absolutely correct when they spoke under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Cho was not hearing from the Holy Spirit, so his direction had to be coming from another source and given the paranormal way in which Cho describes this leading, we know that it had to be a demonic spirit that was his guide.

John Kilpatrick was the pastor of BAG during the revival. What he failed to tell people outside the congregation was that he sent his wife and leaders up to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) prior to the actual assigned start date of the BAG revival. TACF was the North American vortex of enthusiasm and fanaticism and the holy laughter revival had already been in full gear for several years prior to the BAG “outpouring.” He sent these key leaders to TACF to get the blessing and get some idea of what they should expect at BAG. So Kilpatrick had primed the pump, his people had been fed a spurious prophetic word and thus were expecting a “revival” to visit them. Their leaders (unbeknown to many congregations members) had already bought into the delusion being meted out at TACF and the stage was set for Mr. Hill to arrive.

Hill arrives at BAG on Fathers Day June 18, 1995 and he brings the revival with him! A “sovereign” move of the Holy Spirit begins as Hill and other BAG leaders lay hands on the seekers. Those responding to the alter call begin to exhibit all the bizarre manifestations common to the TACF revival. Keep in mind that Florida is a long way from Canada so to these Pensacola Pentecostals manifestations such as uncontrollable laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit from protracted times, shaking, hopping, arms flapping for hours ere “new” to many of them. (4)

To this day, BAG, Kilpatrick and Hill declare that what took place at Pensacola was completely different than what was taking place at TACF. What they are reluctant to admit is that BAG leaders went to TACF and brought that brand of madness back to Pensacola and simply waited for Hill to arrive. Nor does Hill admit that he himself received the “blessing” while attending meetings at Holy Trinity Church in Brompton England just prior to coming to BAG. The truth is that what took place in Pensacola was simply an extension of what was already happening in Toronto. The BAG revival was a fully coordinated and orchestrated event. One thing both revival centers do agree about is that these revival manifestations, also referred to as the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit are highly transferable from one anointed vessel into a person seeking the experience.

Kilpatrick declares that the Holy Spirit has fallen on their congregation and he agrees to allow Mr. Hill to continue to preach. The news spreads initially throughout the Assemblies of God denomination and many members come to BAG and fro there the news spreads to other Pentecostal and charismatic people. At the height of the madness BAG reported the following statistics:

…approximately 3,000-4,000 visitors attend the revival each night. According to Evangelist Steve Hill, who has preached over 650 messages, the Brownsville Revival has had over 1,720,000 visitors to the services and over 108,000 have responded to the altar calls. The Revival has attracted visitors from over 17 foreign nations and boasts about 100 foreign visitors a night. (5)

The revival fire sputtered to an end by 2000. It seems that five years is historically about the extent of any Pentecostal “revival.” One can only sustain peak emotionalism for so long and the spiritual junkies seek ever increasing doses of transcendental highs. (6) Once the crowds (and offerings) began to dwindle and the manifestations became passé, Hill was the first leader to abandon ship. Lindell Cooley, the worship leader at BAG was the next to leave and by 2003 Kilpatrick himself resigned (or was asked to leave). Cooley and Hill both became pastors of their own congregations and Kilpatrick started his own “evangelistic” association. I might add that the same thing took place at TACF when the fire turned into cold ashes. John Arnott resigned as senior Pastor and started his own outreach.

Interestingly enough the Brownsville revival website does not mention much about all the controversy surrounding their move of the Spirit. They fail to mention the acrimonious split that occurred between BAG and the revival “Bible School” that had been birthed during the revival:

This group of students is particularly unique. With such a flood of interest in the school’s Fall session, this may be the only opportunity for such a small group of only 120 to commune together with the Holy Spirit and learn under tutors and elders while being in the midst of the mighty outpouring of Revival fire. (7)

The school started with big hopes but shortly became a divisive issue the school ended up leaving the church and establishing itself down the road. Also these leaders failed to mention the scorching articles written about the revival in the Pensacola News Journal. A series of articles uncovered the following facts about the two main leaders, Kilpatrick and Hill:

The two ministers we investigated were the two who are most in the spotlight: John Kilpatrick, the pastor of the revival church, and Steve Hill, the revival’s evangelist Both live in Alabama, not Florida. Alabama’s records are not easy to access and track, but when we finally got the property records together, we could prove that the revival had provided those two men with dramatically improved lifestyles and successively large and more luxurious homes. Their primary source of revenue is the nonprofit corporation each one created

We uncovered the ways the ministers turned Brownsville Revival into a million-dollar industry, and we uncovered the facts that contradicted their statements about how the money was used…We found and exposed the falsehoods in the public image that the evangelist [Hill] had constructed for himself…We debunked the revival leaders’ claims that they were performing miraculous healings. We tracked down a number of people the revival touted as “cured” and found none had medical evidence, such as lab tests, X-rays, or doctor’s examinations, to corroborate the cure…We exposed the origin of the revival, showing it was a planned and orchestrated event. A well-edited videotape of the first revival service appears to support the leaders’ claims that the revival was a spontaneous act of God. But close and attentive viewing reveals how it was manipulated to make the public believe the revival was spontaneous. (8)

Mr. Hill’s salvation testimony is riddled with exaggeration and outright lies but it does make for “exciting” reading, after all, God needs our help form time to time…ask Abraham. His claims of divine healing and miracles also proved to be false when given closer scrutiny. Hill reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars from the BAG outpouring and yet provided little if any genuine spiritual adulation began to dry up Hill knew it was time to head on down the road and form his own church, which he did in Dallas, Texas.

Now seven years later Hill is back and proclaiming that God is equipping His church for the GREATEST OUTPOURING the world has EVER SEEN! He says in his article that “a fresh evangelistic anointing is about to rest upon true believers.” Considering the lies, fraud and deception fostered by Hill in the prior greatest outpouring, I guess he will miss out on this upcoming greatest outpouring…since it is only for true believers. (9)

Hill is at best a semi-Pelagian and this heretical position stresses the roll of man in every aspect of redemption. We can see the man-centered emphasis in his article

However, we can’t ignore those who are starving for fresh bread and fresh water from heaven. Their deep[ hunger pains can only be satisfied as we offer more of God’s presence, power and prophetic insight. We can do this by allowing the Lord to show up in our church services….without restraint. The world is craving a touch from the creator. We must provide the atmosphere and the opportunity for miracles to take place… I believe God is going to empower us by sending a new wave of revelation as a foundation for operating in the prophetic… (10)

To begin with the world is not “craving a touch from the Creator,” I guess Evangelist/prophet and now Pastor Hill has forgotten the following elementary Bible truth:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understand, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one Romans 3:10-12

No one comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ of their own volition. The Father draws us to His Son by the working of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). We are saved by GRACE alone through faith alone. The faith that saves is itself a GIFT from God (Ephesians 2:8) and not of human works.

Hill does not mention how “we” are to go about offering more of God’s presence, power and prophetic insight. He does not mention the reality of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper as means of God’s grace and presence. Nor does he ever mention the proclamation of the Gospel, which is the power of God unto everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). God’s Word is the infallible and totally sufficient prophetic insight, yet Hill means a fresh new revelation flowing from a restored prophet.

Hill says it is our job to provide the “atmosphere” and “opportunity” for miracles to take place. Just what does that mean? Talk about subjectivity! He does not state how we are to create this atmosphere and opportunity for miracles. He failed to produce such an atmosphere at Pensacola, maybe he has obtained some new “mystical” insight during the last seven years that he lacked back in the mid 90’s.

Hill says “I believe God is going to empower us…” but he does not say what he bases his faith on. His entire article does not cite one biblical text at all! He goes on to pontificate on what will characterize this next greatest outpouring. The new and unfamiliar” ways that God will empower His people seems to be in the arena making us peripatetic psychics:

He will reveal to us the depth of their cravings as if we were watching a documentary on starvation…

The spiritually sensitive are going to experience revelation knowledge of those who are dying of spiritual malnutrition and disease.

Hidden secrets with be revealed to the believer, and out of a heart of compassion, he or she will share them [the hidden secrets] with the lost to prove that Jesus Christ is alive. These words will be so direct and precise that conversations will take place. (11)

According to Hill during this next greatest outpouring God’s true saints are going to share these revelations that will be so “direct” and “precise” that people will be converted by our sharing them! What utter nonsense! Does Hill have any scriptures, even out of context to back up his assertions? No, none whatsoever. The Bible does say the following:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper tan any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21

It is the Word of God that reveals the content of men’s hearts, not man mystically “anointed.” It is the seeming (to the world) foolishness of preaching the living Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to convict the world of sin and draw people to Christ, not some demonstration of power. NEVER FORGET the Jews saw daily miracles for forty years in the desert and yet died there in UNBELIEF (Hebrews 3:19) Miracles do not create faith! Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God (Romans 10:17) Marin Luther rightly stressed that God moves through His Word and sacraments and any other alleged “moving” of the Spirit apart from these means is demonic.

Hill, like Schuller places the emphasis on mans actions and not God’s drawing power through proclaiming the Gospel. Hill states:

My favorite prophetic words have always been those that are given outside the church walls. These are divine appointments that reach into the lives of people who often know nothing of biblical principles and doctrine. All they know is that some brave heart just read their mail. (13)

He closes his pronouncement of the coming greatest world revival by saying such “divine appointments” will be commonplace in the days ahead of us and that “these words fitly spoken, will literally shock the unbeliever into reality. (14) What he is describing is more akin to encountering the occult work of the TV psychics John Edwards or Sylvia Browne than any biblical accounts of people encountering the reality of their sin in the light of God’s holiness. In fact, according to the new reformation of Schuller the reality of personal sin is a barrier to accepting the grace of God in Christ. “Once a person believes he is an ‘unworthy sinner,” it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Christ Jesus.” (15) My friends let me state unequivocally that unless a person is brought to despair through seeing themselves as sinful they will not cry out “God have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13, NIV)

What Does the Bible Say About Revival?

Hill ha made the bulk of his money off of revivalism, which is possibly why he is proclaiming the coming greatest revival in human history. Who better to ask then the man seen as responsible for the Pensacola Outpouring? If I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Hill I would ask him the following questions. “Didn’t the people at Azusa street in 1906 declare that what they were experiencing was the final fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy? Or, how about, “didn’t restored prophets declare that what was taking place in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1949 was really the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy?” maybe I should ask, “wasn’t 1967 declared by the Roman Catholics to be the beginning of Charismatic Renewal in the Church?” These sign-seekers have made as many false predictions as the Jehovah’s Witnesses! Or maybe I could ask him about all the supposed “moves” of the Holy Spirit beginning with the Pentecostal movement of 1906, the New Order of the Latter Rain of 1949-52, possibly the Charismatic movement of 1959, possibly the Word of Faith movement, the Prophetic movement of 1980, the Apostolic movement of 1990, the Signs and Wonders movement of 1995-onward? More moves than Exlax my friends! In the face of all these unfulfilled deception ridden and experience driven non-revivals Hill has the audacity to declare the “greatest” revival is just around the corner!

Personally, I would rather enquire of the scriptures and see what they indicate regarding the last days. Does the Bible state that the Church and world will experience a world-wide soul-saving revival or not? Are there any prophetic statements that (in their context) indicate a great sweeping move of the Spirit prior to the return of Christ? I will simply cite a few of the biblical texts and let you draw your own conclusions:

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. Matthew 24:10-12

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:23-25

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their action deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kind of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. The perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, ratherlovers of pleasure  than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3: 4

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

In these eight passages do you read anything about a great world-wide soul-saving revival”? I read of the love of most people growing cold, of the danger of false Christs (truth Matters just dealt with one last month), false apostles, false teachers, and false prophets. At no time in recorded Church history have there been as many people claiming to either be a restored apostle or prophets as there are today. (16)

Deceivers are going about seeming to work signs and wonders which are not from God. Claims of holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, heavenly jewels, and even angel feathers abound in thousands of congregations.

People claiming to be ministers exploit those who follow them and making merchandise out of God’s gullible sheep. Countless numbers of professing Christians have indeed heaped up teachers who teach them exactly what they want to hear versus faithful teachers who will teach them what they need to hear.

Revival? Sorry Mr. Hill I do not know what translation you are reading that gives you any idea of such a thing. The truth is the people who claim revival do so apart from scriptural support. Hill’s article, as I noted, does not mention one verse of scripture. Why not? The answer is simple, there aren’t any for him to cite. He and others must declare that the “Lord” has given them insight regarding the coming revival(s) supernaturally apart form the Bible.

In closing to my charismatic brethren I would remind them of the old saying “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” Don’t get fooled again by this man with an abysmal track record. Don’t be deceived by a man who would break the Third Commandment and lie in the name of the Lord God. No my friends, my advice is simply this—keep your eyes focused upon Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith and pray for Mr. Hill and those who would be beguiled by him and others promising much but producing nothing of enduring value.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes

1. Underlining added for emphasis, Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

2. Bold type added for emphasis, Brownsville Revival Organization, Home page: http://www.brownsville-revival.org/index/php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=163/ accessed on April 9, 2007.

3. This book can be purchased form DMI for a donation of $10.00 plus 3.00 shipping and handling Roert Liichow, Fruit Proof (Detroit: by the author, 1999

4. Rev. Liichow has written separate booklets on each of these manifestations all of which can be purchased from DMI individuality or a set.

5. Religious Movements, http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Brownsv.html. Accessed on April 7, 2007).

6. I speak from experience as a former charismatic and revival participant I know that one cannot “live” off of yesterday’s spiritual experience.

7. “Brownsville Revival Magazine,” http://www.victorious.com/BRMagazine/brsmopen.htm accessed on April 7, 2007

8. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis, Gannett, May, 1998, http://www.gannett.com/go/newswatch98/may/nw0515-1.htm accessed April 7, 2007

9. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

10. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14 Underlining added.

11. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

12. Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Texas Word, 1982), 64

13. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

14. Steve Hill, “Get Ready to Serve,” Charisma, April, 2007, 14

15. Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Texas Word, 1982), 64

16. A simple Google search on the Internet on the word “apostle” displays over 8 million web sites and “prophets” displays over 24 million. Certainly not all of these site are run by so-called restored prophets and apostles, but thousands of them are.





THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

23 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – The Toronto Deception By a Former Toronto Vineyard Pastor

Discernment Ministries International

THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

It has taken me nine years to actually come to the place where I would write this story. Part of the reason was because I was not fully convinced that it is appropriate to speak out against weaknesses in the body of Christ publicly. Another reason is because it has taken years of soul searching to become convinced that what happened in the Toronto Airport Church was actually all bad or at least more bad than good!

For the past number of years I have called it a mixed blessing. I think James A. Beverly called it this in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing 1994. Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been the dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrine of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.

After three years of being in the thick of the Toronto blessing our Vineyard assembly in Scar bough (East Toronto) just about self destructed. We devoured one another, with gossip, backstabbing, division, sects criticism etc. After three years of “soaking” praying for people, shaking, rolling, laughing, roaring, ministering at TACF on their prayer team, leading worship at TACF, preaching at TACF, basically living at TACF we were the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know. I remember saying to my friend and senior pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in 1997 that ever since the Toronto Blessing came we have just about fallen to bits! He agreed!

My experience has been that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12 was much more common in our assembly, before January 1994 (when the Toronto blessing started.) than during this period of supposed Holy Spirit visitation. During 1992-1993 when praying for people we would experience what I believe was genuine prophesy, deliverance and much grace and favour from the Lord. After the Toronto Blessing started, all ministry time changed, the only prayers were ‘More Lord MORE’, the shouting of ‘Fire’ the jerky shaking of the body with the ‘ooh ooh OOH WOOOAAH’ prayer. (I kid you not!)

On January 20th 1994 about 15 people from our church traveled over to Toronto Airport Vineyard in order to listen to Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from the USA. John Arnott had called our senior pastor to invite us. He communicated that Randy had been to the Rodney Howard Browne meetings and that the stuff had broke out in his church in the following weeks. John was hoping that something might break out with us too. We were only too happy to travel over. We were a church plant out of the Toronto Airport and we started in 1992. In those days there were three Vineyard Churches in Toronto. One Down Town church, Scarborough vineyard church to the east and the AirPort Church. We were one big happy family. Because we were small in number we did special meetings, conferences etc, together.

The year before most of our leadership teams joined and had headed to Nicaragua for a short term missions trip. We had genuine love and fellowship with each other. Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception. They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic. I am guilty of this sin also. I have preached renewal in Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and here in Canada. I am genuinely repentant and in writing this story I would ask you the bride and body of Christ to forgive me. Especially the Pentecostal/charismatic Christians among you, for you are my immediate family theologically. I am an evangelical Christian, I always have been but I do not believe in the cessation of the spiritual gifts at the end of the apostolic era. I believe that it was my evangelical roots (my Family are Baptists and I was born again in the Presbyterian Church) that started to open my eyes to problems with this so called renewal In hindsight I look back and think how could I have been so blind? I laughed at people acting like dogs and pretending to urinate on the columns of the TACF building. I watched people pretend to be animals, bark, roar, cluck, pretend to fly as if they had wings, perpetually act drunk and sing silly songs. How I thought that any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible. I suppose in my mind I reasoned that as long s they did not teach any thing in direct violation to scripture then it was what we called the exotic. This is a buzzword for manifestations that could not be justified from a biblical perspective. I was taught from the pulpit that we had two options. The order of the nursery full of life and messy or the order of the graveyard, very orderly but dead! As a young immature pastor I wanted life with mess. I failed to remember that God wants us to become mature and grow up in him.

I became disconnected by the prophetic words that came forth especially one by Carol Arnott in which she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex! I was shocked in my spirit and thought how can one compare the love of God with sex? When we suspected that demons were running riot in our services John Arnott would teach that we should ask are they coming or going. If they are leaving then that is ok! John would defend the chaos by saying that we ought not be afraid of being deceived, if we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill us then how could Satan come and deceive us? This would make Satan very strong and God very weak! He said that we needed to have more faith in a Big God to protect us than in a Big Devil to deceive us. This sounded very convincing but was totally contrary to scripture for Jesus and Paul and Peter and John all warn us about the power of deceiving spirits and especially so in the last days. Again we did not love God enough to obey His Word and the result was that we opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy upon us!

Finally the penny dropped for me a I was rolling around one night ’drunk in the Spirit’ as we would say. I started singing and as I rolled around the floor the Nursery the Rhyme ’Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.’ came to mind. I sang this in a mocking spirit and instantly my heart told me this was a demon. Instantly I repented and was in total shock. How could a demon get into me? Did I not love God? Was I not zealous for the things of God? Was I not nuts about Jesus? I knew that as unclean spirit had just manifested through me and I was guilty of great sin. After this experience I stayed away from TACF. I did not go back there any more. I did not possess the conviction to denounce the whole experience but thought that we were failing to pastor the Blessing well enough.

Even after I stopped going over to TACF, I had to pastor the fruit of it. One example was when some of our people returned from a meeting there asking us if we had all received the golden sword of the Lord? I asked them what they were talking about thinking that it was some prophetic reference to the Holy Scriptures but they said, ’no its not the Bible, it’s an invisible golden sword that only the really pure can receive. If taken in an unrighteous fashion then the Lord would kill you. But if you are holy enough to receive it then you can wield this sword and it will heal aids, Cancer etc. and bring salvation. How one wielded this sword was by pretending to have this invisible sword in your hand and motioning to strike people with it when in prayer! I thought while even in deception at this time that the TACF had become Looney bins! This was purportedly first received by Carol Arnott and then given to the ones holy enough to receive it! Another thing was the golden fillings in the teeth. We had people in our assembly peeping down one another’s throats looking for the gold fillings that God had placed there to show how much he loved them! In all my time there I only heard one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party in the Lord! After one year into the blessing, I spoke out at a pastors meeting and said ‘guys we have shaken, rattled, rolled, laughed cried and bought the tee-shirt. But we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism so what’s the deal?” I was soundly rebuked – who was I to expect to see fruit when the Lord was healing his broken people? We had been legalistic long enough and god was spending this time restoring his wounded and freeing us from legalism I was told not push the Lord and the harvest would come in his time.’

So there is my story. I could go on and document much excess, folly, sin and latter day reign teaching that manifest from the prophetic end of this blessing but others have already done that. We sang about Joel’s army and the billion soul revival as if it were one of the Ten Commandments, and as always it was just around the corner. Next month, next year etc. Jesus said that when the son of man returns will he find faith upon the earth ? And if he dies not return when he does no flesh would be saved but for the sake of the elect he comes. This is a far cry fro the dominionism, that is being taught all through the vineyard/prophetic/spiritual warfare movement. I honestly think that they think they are going to take over the whole world! While in the Vineyard I embraced a life verse from the Apostle Paul the phrase do not go beyond what is written!

To finish I just want to say sorry for the damage, that I have personally done by teaching things that are not correct biblically. I repent before men as I already have before God. I will not excuse my falling into deception. I did not bother to test things when the scriptures commanded us to do so. Everyone who was there when this thing started knows that what I write is true, they would just come to different conclusions especially if they are still promoting the ‘river!’

To those in te river I would say swim out, there are things living in the water that will bite you real good! I love the people of TACF and the Vineyard movement but I think that we have much to answer for and may the Lord open your eyes sooner rather than later. I suspect that when this letter goes online I will get bombarded by emails from both camps, some damning me for still believing in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and still walking in deception and some old friends damning me for exposing dirt or being negative about the Lords anointed! Well, the Lord knows my heart and by his grace he will guide me into all truth as I seek to know Christ and him crucified! I would call on all who read this to pray that the Lord would open the eyes of all who have been involved in this deception. Whether leader or follower, we are loved and the Lord is a forgiving God. He says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I believe we are like the church in Laodicea, we think that we are rich, have prospered and need nothing, we do not realize that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the Counsel of Jesus and buy gold refined in the fire (which is his suffering, not a false spirit!) white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance and thank the Lord that he is, for it will lead us to true restoration with our Father! If God has forgiven me and opened my eyes then he can do it for all those caught in deception too. I will finish with a warning from Paul, he says if you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall.

Sincerely, Paul Gowdy

Personally having been redeemed form charismatic extremism I applaud brother Growdy for his honesty and brokenness to share his testimony. My wife and I were present when Mrs. Arnott gave her infamous “golden sword” prophecy and saw firsthand the effect it had on the thousands present at that service. I pray our gracious Lord continues to restore Paul’s soul and that he has found safe haven in a biblically sound congregation. His testimony simply affirms what DMI has been saying for over the years. Literally hundreds of thousands of professing Christians have bought into a belief system which is not only biblically unsound but also spiritually damaging.

Sadly to date charismatic extremism shows little decrease in momentum and in some of its man facets in growing rapidly. Due to the growth of such gross doctrinal error DMI needs your support more than ever and we ask that you would pleas pray for our portion of Christ’s ministry and to also put “legs” to your prayers by financially supporting our work to His glory.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow