The Apostasy: Falling Away from Truth

Last Updated: 04/29/2021 21:14    | Print This Page | |

New Age Movement | Christianity | Final Destination of Apostasy

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except
  1. there come a falling away [G646: Apostasy] first, and
  2. that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
      Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

I begin with the scripture above because Paul tells us there are two signs that precede the day of the Lord and Christ’s coming to gather us to Himself. This is the blessed hope that we are to watch for. According to the Bible, God’s Word is Truth. The Greek word used for “falling away” is apostasia and it means: defection from truth (properly, the state) (“apostasy”): falling away, forsake. Therefore any teaching that strays from what the Bible, God’s Word, says is a defection from the Truth and an apostasy.

This is not limited to the secular, but is a great part of many who consider themselves Christians who have beliefs and practices in direct contradiction to God’s Word. I believe in God’s Word being the foundation for all belief and whatever deviates from that is no longer in line with Biblical Christianity. This would include “new revelation” that deviates focus away from what the foundation of scritpure teaches. There’s a composite theme throughout the old and new testaments that cannot be deviated from.

I’m not trying to exclude anyone, just uphold the value of taking God at His Word and living it as best as I can. I’m not perfect either, but there is a time prophesied in which people will fall away from the Truth to fables.

1 Timothy 4:1-9
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

There are many beliefs out there that depart from the Truth. Some are more subtle than others. This page will be a work-in-progress watching the various forms of deception, blatant and subtle, so that you are not in darkness regarding what God’s Word says about much of the deception that is part of the end-times. In fact, that is the first thing Christ warned about when asked about the time of the end. The ultimate end of this apostasy will lead people away from God and into a one world religion that will eventually worship the antichrist.

Matthew 24:3-5
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Matthew 7:15-23
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 fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Until you learn what you don’t know, you have no idea how blind you are. Blindness comes from a lack of understanding of Truth, the inability to see it. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. That is our Truth, not material things or man’s rule, God’s Word is Truth and is eternal. The Word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:25

Revelation 3:14-22
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouthBecause thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Is this speaking to the “prosperity gospel” being preached around the world? It seems many Christians today are too wrapped up in the world and conforming to it. The ways of the world hold more importance than the ways of God and spending time with Him. The desire to “get ahead” in the world takes our time away from God. Less time reading God’s Word means less foundation upon which to build belief leading to a lukewarm attitude not based on Truth of God’s Word, but feelings and impressions built from ideas here and there, both Christian and secular. I’ve had to un-learn many things because I did not keep God’s Word central in my education of reality. Rather I conformed somewhat to the world while holding onto the basics I had learned growing up. Looking back now, I don’t believe that was enough and it is a constant journey and relationship with God and His Word that builds me up. It’s also something I struggle with doing faithfully.

This mixing and mingling of belief is what Babylon was all about. It is what God warned Israel not to do because they were set apart as God’s people to follow His ways. How much more as followers of Christ are we to walk in His ways written in the Bible? These are the ways of selfless love toward God and others with the recognition of Yeshua as the Messiah that died for the sins of the world, rose again and is going to come again. This is obedience to God and a requirement to build a personal relationship with Him. God and sin cannot coexist and we as Christians are temples that God dwells in with us by His Holy Spirit. So let us return to the Book and His ways and get out of the world and its indifference to righteousness. Let’s fit into God’s kingdom now, even if it brings hatred against us for speaking the Truth in love.

Trust the Word of God, for it is Truth.
Lighthouse Trails Research Project

The Lighthouse Trails Research Project website and associated newsletter covers in greater detail the pulling away from Biblical Christianity that is happening more and more today as experience drives belief over the Book for more and more believers. We must be cautious and guarded about this because God is not the only being we can have supernatural encounters with. I believe it is possible to be so caught up in searching for signs and wonders that they cause us to miss the subtle and every-day miracles that God works in the lives of them that love Him. There are many ministries that the world sees through and then associate with all Christianity even though these ministries are not following God’s Word, but men’s fables and tickling words.

2 Timothy 3-4:18
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound [Biblical] doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Titus 2:7-15
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

This website is an examination of Biblical doctrine in light of end-time events currently unfolding. One of those prophesied events is an apostasy from Truth, the Bible. That alone is the foundation to determine sound doctrine. However, it is just not the bits and pieces we choose to accept but the whole collection of 66 books written by the Holy Spirit through 40 authors over thousands of years. We are to teach the Gospel while looking for the blessed hope, the coming of Christ. In determining what the Bible has to say about how that will come about, here are some things that I’ve learned about different types of spirituality out there being used to chip away at the foundation of Truth through the teachings of men and doctrines of demons showing signs and lying wonders to deceive. I encourage you to learn what the Bible has to say about what is going to unfold in the near future.

Standing Fast in the Last Days

New Age Movement


In the following passages, take note that some of those shut out of the marriage and even those that cast out demons and do miracles in Christ’s name and who call Him Lord are not of Him.

Matthew 25:1-13
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Matthew 7:15-23
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 fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

My concern is that some of these ministries focus less on Christ (while still using His name) and more on signs and wonders and drawing those looking for personal experiences rather than the Truth of God’s Word. I don’t claim infallibility in determining error, but I ask you to just look honestly at these things and search the Bible for yourself as well. Rely on God’s Word over man’s word, including my own things I share. Acts 17:11 


GodThoughts Wired! email series
Matthew 7:20
So then, you will know them by their fruits.

The results are in!  And sadly, they are not surprising. In a church age where the average professing Christian is both “in” the world AND “of” the world...In a church age where the average pulpit is filled with compromise and half-truths...In a church age where uninspired commentaries pass for the inspired word of God...Here’s the latest statistics:*

  • 70% of those claiming religious affiliations believe multiple religions can lead a person to salvation.
  • 57% of evangelical Christians say that multiple religions can lead to salvation.

57% of evangelical Christians say that multiple religions can lead to salvation, though nary an evangelical theologian or minister would be likely to say that.”*

Ya’ know, it’s one thing to be silent about something that is false, but it’s quite another thing to CLEARLY PRESENT THE TRUTH IN LOVE! Where is the pastor who will boldly proclaim from the pulpit that “THE BIBLE ALONE IS THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!” Where is the preacher that will unapologetically declare that “JESUS ALONE IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN!” The Bible says,

Acts 4:12
There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

And Jesus says,

John 14:6
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

Self-help tips from the pulpit this Sunday won’t be of much value come Judgment Day.

Jeremiah 10:21
For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the Lord.

-57% of evangelical Christians say that multiple religions can lead to salvation.*

We live in a day much like the one that Jeremiah lived in. He declared, Those who handle the law do not know Me (God)(Jeremiah 2:8). Can you imagine? A pastor of a church? A minister who proclaims the Word of God each Sunday? Not even having a relationship with the One he/she supposedly represents?

Jeremiah 5:30-31
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so!  But what will you do at the end of it?

Can you imagine?  A pastor running his church based on the principles of a best selling book rather than the Word of God?  A minister or Bible school professor replacing the innerant/infallible Scripture with his own ideas and calling them “The Bible?

Well, it happened in Jeremiah’s day... And it’s happening RIGHT NOW!

* Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Survey (36,000 people), San Francisco Chronicle, “Americans Reshape Religion,” p.1.

For Many Shall Come In My Name

Excerpt from the book by Ray Yungen (Pg.128-130)

A Global Religion

What is happening to mainstream Christianity is the same thing that is happening to business, health, education, counseling, and other areas of society. Christendom is being cultivated for a role in the New Age. The entity, Raphael, explains this very clearly in the Starseed Transmissions:

We work with all who are vibrationally sympathetic; simple and sincere people who feel our spirit moving, but for the most part, only within the context of their current belief system. (emphasis mine) | Ken Carey, The Starseed Transmissions, op. cit., p. 33.

He is saying that they “work,” or interact, with people who open their minds to them in a way that fits in with the person’s current beliefs. In the context of Christianity this means that those meditating will think that they have contacted God, when in reality they have connected up with Raphael’s kind (who are more than willing to impersonate whomever the person wishes to reach so long as they can link up with them.)

This ultimately points to a global religion based on meditation and mystical experience. New Age writer David Spangler explains it the following way:

There will be several religious and spiritual disciplines as there are today, each serving different sensibilities and affinities, each enriched by and enriching the particular cultural soil in which it is rooted. However, there will also be a planetary spirituality that will celebrate the sacredness of the whole humanity in appropriate festivals, rituals, and sacraments. There will be a more widespread understanding and experience of the holistic nature of reality, resulting in a shared outlook that today would be called mystical. Mysticism has always overflowed the bounds of particular religious traditions, and in the new world this would be even more true. | David Spangler, Emergence: The Rebirth of the Sacred, op. cit., p.112

The rise of centering prayer is causing many churches to become agents of transformation. Those who practice it tend to embrace this one-world-religion idea. One of the main proponents of centering prayer had this revelation:

It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced.... I think it has been the common experience of all persons of good will that when we sit together Centering we experience a solidarity that seems to cut through all our philosophical and theological differences. (emphasis mine) | M. Basil Pennington O.C.S.D., Centered Living the Way of Centering Prayer (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, Revised edition, 1999), pp. 198,200

In this context, we may compare all the world’s religions to a dairy herd. Each cow may look different on the outside, but the milk would all be the same. The different religious groups would maintain their own separate identities, but a universal spiritual practice would bind them all together - not so much a one-world church as a one-world spirituality. Episcopal priest and New Age leader Matthew Fox explains what he calls “deep ecumenism:”

Without mysticism there will be no “deep ecumenism,” no unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions. Without this I am convince there will never be global peace or justice since the human race needs spiritual depths and disciplines, celebrations and rituals, to awaken its better selves. The promise of ecumenism, the coming together of religions, has been thwarted because world religions have not been relating at the level of mysticism. | Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1988), p. 65.

Fox believes that all world religions will eventually be bound together by the “Cosmic Christ” principle, which is another term for the higher self.

As incredible as this may sound, it appears to be happening now. The New Age is embedding in American religious culture far deeper and broader than many people imagine. If your concept of the New Age is simply astrology, tarot cards, or reincarnation, then you could easily miss the real New Age as it pulses through the religious current. If mystical prayer continues its advance, then we could one day see, perhaps sooner than we expect, many Christian churches becoming conduits of New Age thought to their membership.

Is God Graffiti?

Sue Monk Kidd is a best selling novel writer. Her book, The Secret Life of Bees has sold over four million copies, mainly to women. At one time a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, she became attracted to centering prayer as a way to know God more deeply. Today, she is the Writer in Residence of the Sophia Institute, which is devoted to “foster[ing] the emergence of the sacred feminine” (i.e., the Divine feminine). Monk Kidd now adheres to what New Agers teach, that this mystical force (called God or Divinity) is in all things, nothing excluded:

Deity means that divinity will no longer be only heavenly... It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the earth, in this river, in excrement and roses alike. (emphasis mine) | Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback edition, 2002), p. 160.

She reiterates this in her 2006 book, First Light, in which she writes:

If I am intent on centering my life in the presence of God, then I must understand what I believe about where this presence can be found... God became the steam of my soup, the uprooted tree, the graffiti on the building, the rust on the fence. | Sue Monk Kidd, First Light (Carmel, NY: Guideposts Books, 2006) pp. 96,98

But what if the graffiti is gang graffiti about killing members of a rival gang or even worse, what if the graffiti is cursing God with vile language? Well, Monk Kidd would still say that the graffiti is God. Why?

It is because New Agers believe God is not a being but Being itself. In other words, there is nothing that is not God. This is the decision that the world is now facing -- is God a personal being or is God the Universe and all that it entails? It is this vital question that we will explore in the following chapters of this book.

The “Wiles” of Satan

Ephesians 6:11 warns: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (emphasis mine).

The word wiles in this verse translates ingenious trap or snare. In order for a trap to be effective, proper bait is needed 00 something that is alluring, that looks and feels valid. For example, let’s take the case of the Reiki. The average Reiki practitioner would think it outrageous and ridiculous that someone would even suggest that Reiki is linked to Satan. One Reiki practitioner offered this comment on the positive nature of Reiki:

During a Reiki treatment, you can expect to feel any number of sensations; warmth, coolness, tingling, deep relaxation, or at times you may not feel anything discernible. Sessions usually last one hour, and afterward you will feel calm and relaxed. you will sleep better and have a general sense of well-being. | Jennifer Thebodeau, link

Does this sound like something that is Satanic? Most people would not only say no but would feel that something of this nature probably would have to come from God. In The Reiki Factor, Reiki master Barbara Ray says:

Reiki has reemerged as a trasformative tool for energy balancing, for natural healing, for wholing and for creating peace, joy, love, and, ultimately, for achieving higher consciousness and enlightenment. | Barbara Ray,  Ph.D., The Reiki Factor (Smithtown, NY: Exposition Press, Inc., 1983), p. 12.

Enlightenment is the same as self-realization, especially in the context of a metaphysical practice. When a Christian hears someone claim to be God, he immediately should recognize the pronouncements of Satan, “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5) and “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Hear this closely, He said, I will be like the most High (God) ... I will be like God.

In view of this, the only logical conclusion is that the power behind Reiki is satanic. The key is not to think in terms of how the popular culture sees Satan, but rather how the inspired writers of the Bible portrayed Satan -- a master deceiver and counterfeiter of the Truth. He is one who comes as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) to offer mankind godhood (you are divine and the master of your own destiny).

The sad thing about all this is that these experiences are so real and convincing. People experiencing the superconscious testify that deep meditative states are incomparably beautiful and harpazoous. They experience intense light flooding them, andhave a sens of omnipotent power and infinite wisdom. In this timeless state, they experience an ecstasy compared to nothing they have ever known before. They feel a sense of unity with all of life and are convinced of their own immortality. Such experiences keep them returning for more. One is not going to believe he or she is God if one doesn’t feel like God.

The late New Age leader Peter Caddy related an incident in which a group of Christians confronted him and tried, as he put it, to save my soul. He told them to come back and talk to him when they’ve had the same wonderful mystical experiences he has had. the point he was trying to make was that these naive Christians had no idea what the metaphysical life is all about and if they did, they would want what he had rather than trying to convert him to their way of thinking.

Feelings such as this are common in New Age circles and have hooked many over the past twenty years. They feel something this great has to be of God. A similar account is related in Acts 8:9-11:

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. (emphasis mine)

In the Greek, the word bewitched means to amaze or astound. Sorcery means using the power of familiar spirits. What this man was doing had to have appeared good, otherwise the people would not have felt that “this man is the great power of God.” The truth of the matter is, he wasn’t of God, it just appeared that way.

In light of all this, it is easy to see why the coming of the Christian Gospel to Ephesus, that bastion of the Ancient Wisdom, had such a dramatic effect:

And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.9Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:18-19, emphasis mine)

The word curious is translated from a Greek word meaning magical. The magical or metaphysical arts went out the door when the Gospel of Christ came in. The two were not only incompatible, but totally opposite as the following account reveals:

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? (Acts 13:5-10, emphasis mine)

The Shameful Social Gospel

The Berean Call (August 27, 2008)
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

For various reasons, Christians of different sorts have tinkered with “the gospel of Christ” as though it needed adjustments. Not major alterations, most will tell you, but just some minor tweaking here and there. The changes often begin by one’s declaring that there is no real change involved, simply a shift in emphasis. Yet, no matter what the rationale may be, the end result is being “ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

To be “ashamed of the gospel” covers a number of attitudes from being totally embarrassed by it to thinking one can improve upon it a bit to make it more acceptable. One example of the former is the recent claim by an Emerging Church author that the teaching regarding Christ’s paying the full penalty for the sins of mankind through His substitutionary death on the Cross is irrelevant and viewed as “a form of cosmic child abuse.” More subtle examples include trying to make the gospel seem less exclusive, and the “softening” of the consequences from which the gospel saves mankind, such as the wrath of God and the Lake of Fire.

Prevalent among many religious leaders who profess to be evangelical Christians (i.e., Bible-believing Christians) is the promotion of a gospel that is acceptable to, and even admired by, people throughout the world. Today, the most popular form of this is the social gospel.

Although the social gospel is common to many new movements among evangelicals, it is not new to Christendom. It had its modern beginning in the late 1800s, when it developed as a way to address the various conditions in society that caused suffering among the populace. The belief was, and is, that Christianity will attract followers when it demonstrates its love for mankind. This could be best accomplished by helping to alleviate the suffering of humanity caused by poverty, disease, oppressive work conditions, society’s injustices, civil rights abuses, etc. Those who fostered this movement also believed that relief from their conditions of misery would improve the moral nature of those so deprived.

Another driving force behind the introduction of the social gospel was the eschatological, or end times, views of those involved. Nearly all were amillennialists or post-millennialists. The former believed that they were living in a (symbolic thousand-year) time period in which Christ was ruling from heaven, Satan was bound, and they were God’s workers appointed to bring about a kingdom on earth worthy of Christ. Post-millennialists also believed they were in the Millennium, and their goal was to restore the earth to its Eden-like state in order for Christ to return from Heaven to rule over His earthly kingdom.

The social gospel, in all of its assorted applications, helped to produce some achievements (child labor laws and women’s suffrage) that have contributed to the welfare of society. It became the primary gospel of liberal theologians and mainline denominations throughout the 20th century. Although its popularity alternately rose and fell as it ran its course, it was often energized by the combination of religion and liberal politics, e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Midway through the last century and later, the social gospel influenced developments such as the liberation theology of Roman Catholicism and the socialism of left-leaning evangelical Christians. It is in this present century, however, that the social gospel has gotten its most extensive promotion. Two men, both professing to be evangelicals, have led the way.

George W. Bush began his presidency by instituting the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. His objective was to provide government funding for local churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious ministries that were providing a social service to their community. Bush believed that programs run by “people of faith” could be at least as effective as secular organizations in helping the needy, and perhaps more so because of their moral commitment to “love and serve their neighbor.” As he prepares to leave office, he has declared that he considers his Faith-Based program to be one of the foremost achievements in his tenure as president. Presidential candidate Barack Obama stated that, should he win the election, he will continue the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Rick Warren, the mega-selling author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life, has taken the social gospel to where it’s never been before: not only worldwide but into the thinking and planning of world leaders. Warren credits business management genius Peter Drucker with the basic concept that he is executing. Drucker believed that the social problems of poverty, disease, hunger, and ignorance were beyond the capability of governments or multinational corporations to solve. To Drucker, the most hopeful solution would be found in the nonprofit sector of society, especially churches, with their hosts of volunteers dedicated to alleviating the social ills of those in their community.

Warren, acknowledging the late Drucker as his mentor for 20 years, certainly learned his lessons. His two Purpose-Driven books, translated into 57 languages and selling a combined 30 million copies, reveal the game plan for what Drucker had envisioned. Warren had local churches implement this vision from his books through his enormously popular 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community programs. To date, 500,000 churches in 162 nations have become part of his network. They form the basis for his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan.

What is his P.E.A.C.E. plan? Warren’s presentation of the plan to the church is found at On video, he identifies the “giants” of humanity’s ills as spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy, which he hopes to eradicate by (P)lanting churches, (E)quipping leaders, (A)ssisting the poor, (C)aring for the sick, and (E)ducating the next generation.

Warren uses the analogy of a three-legged stool to illustrate the best way to slay these giants. Two of the legs are governments and business, which have thus far been ineffective, and, just like a two-legged stool, cannot stand. The third very necessary leg is the church. “There are thousands of villages in the world that have no school, no clinic, no business, no government--but they have a church. What would happen if we could mobilize churches to address those five global giants?” Warren reasons that since there are 2.3 billion Christians worldwide, they could potentially form what President Bush has termed a vast “army of compassion” of “people of faith” such as the world has not yet experienced.

In addition to the Christian version, Warren has an expanded inclusive version of the P.E.A.C.E. plan that has drawn support and praise from political and religious leaders and celebrities worldwide. At the 2008 World Economic Forum, he declared, “The future of the world is not secularism, but religious pluralism....” Referring to the ills besetting the world, he declared, “We cannot solve these problems without involving people of faith and their religious institutions. It isn’t going to happen any other way. On this planet there are about 20 million Jews, there are about 600 million Buddhists, there are about 800 million Hindus, there are over 1 billion Muslims, and there are 2.3 billion Christians. If you take people of faith out of the equation, you have ruled out five-sixths of the world. And if we only leave it up to secular people to solve these major problems, it isn’t going to happen” (YouTube Video).

To accommodate working with people of all faiths Warren has revised the “P” in his P.E.A.C.E. from “planting evangelical churches” to “(P)romoting reconciliation” and the “E” from “equipping [church] leaders” to “(E)quipping ethical leaders.” Warren has elsewhere acknowledged his practical shift to pluralism: “Who’s the man of peace in any village--or it might be a woman of peace--who has the most respect?...They don’t have to be Christian. In fact, they could be Muslim, but they’re open and they’re influential, and you work with them to attack the five giants [to which he has added global warming].” He quotes a secular leader who affirms what he’s doing: “I get it, Rick. Houses of worship are the distribution centers for all we need to do.”

Warren has joined the advisory board of Faith Foundation, established by former British prime minister and recent Roman Catholic convert Tony Blair. The Foundation’s goal is to further understanding and cooperation among the six leading faiths: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jewish. How does the Cross fit into this ecumenical gathering? It doesn’t. Critical to achieving that ecumenical goal is the elimination of the problem of exclusive religions, a concern articulated by one of the World Economic Forum panelists: “There are some religious leaders in different religious faiths who, in seeking to affirm their own faith and its authenticity and legitimacy...deny other people their faith with its legitimacy and authenticity. I don’t think we can keep going like this without...spawning the kind of hatred we are all here to try and solve. I think it’s up to us to hold the clergy’s feet to the fire of whatever faith. That we insist that we affirm what is beautiful in our own traditions while at the same time refusing to denigrate other faith traditions by suggesting that they are illegitimate, or consigned to some kind of evil end.”

The Bible declares all the religions of the world to be “illegitimate” and “consigned” not to “some kind of evil end” but to their just end. Only belief in the biblical gospel saves humanity: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved;...He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Acts 4:12; John 3:36).

The history of the social gospel is, in nearly every case, a sincere attempt by Christians to do those things that they believe will honor God and benefit humanity. In every case, however, the practical working out of “benefiting humanity” has compromised biblical faith and dishonored God. Why is that? God’s Word gives no commission to the church to fix the problems of the world. Those who attempt to do so are starting out under a false premise, “...a way which seemeth right unto a man,” not God’s way. So where can it go from there? “The end thereof are the ways of death,” i.e., destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Furthermore, the problems of the world are all symptoms. The root cause is sin.

THE SHACK & Its New Age Leaven: God IN Everything?

Herescope Blog written by Warren Smith (June 21, 2008)
Galatians 5:9
A little leaven leaventh the whole lump.

The Shack is being described as a “Christian” novel and is currently ranked number one on the New York Times bestseller list for paperback fiction. Many believers are buying multiple copies and giving them to friends and family. The Shack reads as a true story, but is obviously allegorical fiction. The book conveys postmodern spiritual ideas and teachings that challenge biblical Christianity – all in the name of “God” and “Jesus” and the “Holy Spirit.” Author William P. Young’s alternative presentation of traditional Christianity has both inspired and outraged his many readers. All the while his book continues to fly off the shelves of local bookstores.

Much like New Age author James Redfield’s book The Celestine Prophecy, The Shack is a fictional vehicle for upending certain religious concepts and presenting contrary spiritual scenarios. Allegorical novels can be a clever way to present truth. They can also be used to present things that seem to be true but really are not. Some books like The Shack do both.

I was drawn into the New Age Movement years ago by books and lectures containing parabolic stories that were not unlike The Shack. They felt spiritually uplifting as they tackled tough issues and talked about God’s love and forgiveness. They seemed to provide me with what I spiritually needed as they gave me much needed hope and promise. Building on the credibility they achieved through their inspirational and emotive writings, my New Age authors and teachers would then go on to tell me that “God” was “in” everyone and everything.

I discovered that author William P. Young does exactly the same thing in The Shack. He moves through his very engaging and emotional story to eventually present this same New Age teaching that God is “in” everything.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me first provide some background material concerning this key New Age doctrine that “God is in everything.” A good place to start is with Eugene Peterson, the author of the controversial Bible paraphrase The Message. After all, Peterson’s enthusiastic endorsement of The Shack is featured right under the author’s name on the front cover.

Ironically, it was Peterson’s endorsement that caused me to be immediately suspicious of this high-profile, bestselling “Christian” book. Through his questionable paraphrasing of the Bible, Peterson had already aligned himself in a number of areas with New Age/New Spirituality teachings. One obvious example was where he translated a key verse in the Lord’s Prayer to read “as above, so below” rather than “in earth, as it is in heaven.” “As above, so below” was a term that I was very familiar with from my previous involvement in the New Age Movement. This esoteric saying has been an occult centerpiece for nearly five thousand years. It is alleged by New Age metaphysicians to be the key to all magic and all mysteries. It means that God is not only transcendent — “out there”— but He is also immanent — “in” everyone and everything.

But, as I found out just before abandoning the deceptive teachings of the New Age for the Truth of biblical Christianity, God is not “in” everyone and everything. The Bible makes it clear that man is not divine and that man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2, Hosea 11:9, John 2:24-25, etc.) In Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, I quoted the editors of the New Age Journal as they defined “as above, so below” in their book, As Above, So Below:

“‘As above, so below, as below, so above.’ This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one.” (p. 32)

My concern about Peterson’s undiscerning use of “as above, so below” in the Lord’s Prayer was underscored when the 2006 bestseller, The Secret, showcased this same occult/New Age phrase. In fact, it was the introductory quote at the very beginning of the book. By immediately featuring “as above, so below” the author Rhonda Byrne was telling her readers in definite New Age language that “God is in everyone and everything.” Towards the end of the book, The Secret puts into more practical words what the author initially meant by introducing the immanent concept of “as above, so below.” On page 164 The Secret tells its readers—“You are God in a physical body.”

Most significantly, in his book The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, New Age leader Benjamin Crème reveals that a New World Religion will be based on this foundational “as above, so below” teaching of immanence — this idea that God is “in” everyone and everything:

“But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent — outside of His creation — and also the concept of God immanent in all creation — in man and all creation.” (p. 88)

New Age matriarch Alice Bailey, in her book The Reappearance of the Christ, wrote:

“…a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and God Immanent within every form of life. “These are foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.” (p. 88) [link added]

In a November 9, 2003 Hour of Power sermon – just two months before he was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals – Crystal Cathedral minister Robert Schuller unabashedly aligned himself with this same New Age/New World Religion teaching. The man who claims to have mentored thousands of pastors, including Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, stated:

“You know in theology — pardon me for using a couple of big words — but in theology the God we believe in, this God of Abraham, is a transcendent God. But He is also an immanent God. Transcendent means up there, out there, above us all. But God is also an immanent God — immanence of God and the transcendence of God — but then you have a balanced perspective of God. The immanence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here, in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics — the immanence of God…. Yes, God is alive and He is in every single human being!”

But God is not in every single human being. God is not in everything. One of the many reasons I wrote Deceived on Purpose was because Rick Warren presented his readers with this same “God in everything” teaching. Quoting an obviously flawed New Century Bible translation of Ephesians 4:6, Rick Warren — whether he meant to or not — was teaching his millions of readers the foundational doctrine of the New World Religion. Describing God in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, he wrote:

“He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” (p. 88)

Compounding the matter further, “immanence” has been taught as part of the Foundations class at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. An ill-defined reference to immanence on page 46 of the Saddleback Foundations Participants Guide plays right into the hands of the New Spirituality/New World Religion by stating:

“The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).”

All of this discussion about “God in everything” immanence is to explain why The Shack is such a deceptive book. It teaches this same heresy. This book ostensibly attempts to deal with the deeply sensitive issues surrounding the murder of a young child. Because of the author’s intensely personal story line, most readers become engaged with the book on a deep emotional level. However, the author’s use of poetic license to convey his highly subjective, and often unbiblical, spiritual views becomes increasingly problematic as the story line develops. This is most apparent when he uses the person of “Jesus” to suddenly introduce the foundational teaching of the New Spirituality/New World Religion — God is “in” everything. Using the New Age term “ground of being” to describe “God,” the “Jesus” of The Shack states:

“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things….” (p. 112)

This false teaching about a “God” who “dwells in, around, and through all things” is the kind of New Age leaven that left unchallenged could leaven the church into the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. And while many people have expressed a great deal of emotional attachment to The Shack and its characters — this leaven alone contaminates the whole book.

Clearly, the “Jesus” of The Shack is not Jesus Christ of the Bible. The apostle Paul chided the Corinthians and warned them that they were vulnerable and extremely susceptible to “another Jesus” and “another gospel” and “another spirit” that were not from God (2 Corinthians 2:11). In the Bible, the real Jesus Christ warned that spiritual deception would be a sign before His return. He further warned that there would be those who would even come in His name, pretending to be Him (Matthew 24:3-5;24). more...

Lighthouse Trails Research Project Note: In 2007, Lighthouse Trails published the apologetic biography, The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves. For twelve years, Reeves was part of a River church, one in which visions, signs and wonders, and other mystical manifestations occurred. His story tells what happened during those years in a church that was so influenced by the Toronto Blessing, holy laughter, the Kansas City Prophets, the Word-Faith movement, and the spiritual hysteria and manipulation that these hyper-charismatic movements encourage. Because of the recent stories coming out of Florida with Todd Bentley’s revival, we hope you will read Reeves account. Below is an excerpt from his chapter on visions.

“I Just Had a Vision!”

by Kevin Reeves

There is perhaps nothing so powerful as a vision. When the heavens open and our eyes look upon fantastic things once hidden, it can alter the course of our lives:
Isaiah 6:1-5
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

A glimpse into heaven itself to behold the God of all flesh made Isaiah panic with self-loathing. His innermost heart was revealed in the light of the Lord’s glory, and there was no place to hide.

Who wouldn’t want to have a vision of this magnitude? And why shouldn’t we? On the day of Pentecost, the Christians present experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “[A]nd your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

Never in the history of our planet have so many who call themselves Christian claimed visions from God. Encounters with Christ, angels, demons, even saints long departed have begun to appear in book form, crowding the charismatic section of our local Christian bookstores. The popularity of visions never seems to wane, and the more a person has and the greater the scope, the quicker he is skyrocketed to Christian stardom. People with virtually no genuine theological training are suddenly propelled into the teaching arena, regaling vast audiences with tremendous accounts of their own spiritual derring-do. And while the stories continue to scale the heights of plausibility, an amazed public looks on, vicariously a part of the panoramic excitement and often with hands folded atop a closed Bible in their laps.

Sadly and without exaggeration, the above account is an apt description of the spiritual maelstrom that always characterized [my former church]. Sunday services were routinely stopped to give opportunity to report a vision that occurred during worship. Many in the congregation would listen with rapt attention as one person after another would share what had transpired “in the spirit.” Sometimes demons would make an appearance; sometimes it was the Lord Jesus Himself.

Angels were a particular favorite. I can’t tell you how many times angels made an impromptu appearance at our services.... No one halted the festivities to suggest examining the claim in the light of God’s Word. It was merely taken at face value and used to bolster our self-image as the church on the cutting-edge of God’s worldwide movement....

The cries of “I saw!” reverberated throughout my church my whole tenure there. Sometimes the visions were two-dimensional, sometimes 3-D, and sometimes the person was actually caught up into them, in the same way the apostle John was translated into the heavenly realms in the book of Revelation. They moved as participants in the vision itself, walking, feeling, etc. As our pastor consistently reminded the congregation of its prophetic calling, dreams and visions grew to paramount importance. They were used to chart our congregation’s very course, and any resistance or verbal doubt was severely frowned upon or openly dismissed....

Many people cannot appreciate the gravity with which visions are accepted in many charismatic circles, and consequently cannot understand the bondage that results. If someone has a vision of “the Lord Jesus” and is given a message to convey to you, for you to treat it lightly is to despise the very words of God. You are bound to carry out the instructions of this visionary or face the consequences. The ensuing fear can be devastating, especially if the message contradicts your own conscience or understanding of the Scriptures.

The new believer is especially vulnerable because he is led to believe that all these visions are from God. Furthermore, any hindrance to, or lack of visions on his own part is due, he is told, to lack of maturity and failure to fully trust the leadership....

At my best count, there are less than thirty visions or dreams recorded in the entire New Testament, and of these only about fifteen took place in the book of Acts. And this in a period, from the birth of Christ to the last chapter of Acts, encompassing about sixty years.

I have come to the conclusion that visions are not the norm for a believer, but a rare occurrence. Of those saints in the Bible described as having bona fide visions from God, a mere handful had more than one recorded vision in their entire lifetime. Furthermore, none of these occurrences were initiated by the individual, but were the result of a divine act of God. In explaining mystical experiences, which is the category visions fall into, I like this explanation by research analyst Ray Yungen:

While certain instances in the Bible describe mystical experiences, I see no evidence anywhere of God sanctioning man-initiated mysticism. Legitimate mystical experiences were always initiated by God to certain individuals for certain revelations and were never based on a method for the altering of consciousness. In Acts 11:5, Peter fell into a trance while in prayer. But it was God, not Peter, who initiated the trance and facilitated it. | (ATOD, p. 34)

Compared with the frequency of modern visions by many charismatic churchgoers, these past biblical heroes seem almost deficient in their relationship to the Lord....

I believe that most of what are reported as visions are not such at all, but could be more appropriately termed mental pictures. The two are certainly not synonymous. Mental pictures occur constantly during our waking hours but don’t necessarily have anything to do with the spiritual, whereas visions always have their origin in the supernatural realm. As we speak in conversation, we see mental images, memories, etc., to correspond with the dialogue; reading gives us the same experience. Even television viewing offers the same scenario, as the images dancing across the screen click on our own past experiences or connections with our present situations. This can transpose into our times of prayer, giving us mental pictures that may or may not be of God....

The practice itself can be dangerous, actually maneuvering an innocent Christian in the wrong direction. In many cults, and, unfortunately in much of the Pentecostal arm of the church, it has already done just that....

According to the Bible, there are three sources of visions--God, the devil, and the flesh. Of these, only one can be trusted as to motive and authenticity. As for the other spiritual experiences originating with the kingdom of darkness or human sensuality, they must be discarded, and immediately. They are not impotent fantasies, but are corrupt from the word go and will quickly lead astray anyone whose attraction they capture. (see Ezekiel 13:3-8)...

I cannot stress this enough--contrary to popular fallacy, there is no such thing as a harmless false vision. Its fraudulent nature alone is enough to condemn it in the eyes of God; those who give ear to it will eventually have their faith in Christ contaminated, perhaps shipwrecked. Attendees of the Peoples Temple were regaled with stories of angelic visitations and “revelation knowledge.” The reverend Jim Jones capitalized on his self-proclaimed intimacy with heaven to lead a group of followers into mass suicide in the Guyana bush.1 Don’t think that the average believer in Christ is immune to this kind of deception. In the wake of gold teeth and gold dust miracles showing up in various River congregations worldwide, stories of angel feather sightings have set a portion of the charismatic church wild with jubilee. One West Coast church said that “tiny white feathers and gold flakes” appeared during the service.2 Such occurrences were the next logical step in an already deception-heavy system of super-spirituality, rationalization, and the frenzied pursuit of illusion....

Any spirit, vision, dream, prophet, experience, whatever, that does not agree with the revelation of Jesus Christ as set down in the Scriptures is not of God. Water may look pure, but unless we know the source from which it is drawn we may drink to our own ill health. A close examination with a magnifying glass may betray bits and pieces of debris, or worse yet, organisms roaming its depths that, taken internally, would cause debilitating disease.

Am I suggesting we carry around a magnifier to inspect anything coming our way? Perhaps that is just what is needed. For too long, we’ve covered our eyes with blinders instead and accepted a testimony to our detriment, simply because the person giving it named Christ and seemed sincere. Paul said even deceivers within the church would attempt to pass themselves off as the real article (II Corinthians 11:3-4, 13). We can judge without being judgmental. Peripheral issues we can overlook, knowing full well the sole reservoir of truth does not rest with us.

But in the presentation of Christ, there can be no leeway. A false image of the Savior--His character, words, or deeds--will lead us away from the truth, and consequently, away from God. And eventually, that is what every fraudulent vision will do--take away from the person of Christ and demand our attention and adherence to its personalized message. I have seen it happen, as one vision after another proclaimed in my former congregation boosted our elitism and remolded Jesus just a bit more into the user-friendly image we preferred. With virtually no accountability, fear of redefining Christ’s biblically revealed character faded bit by bit into obscurity....

This current state of things within the church is just the outgrowth of an inner movement attempting to differentiate between truth and revelation. It is being stated by popular authors that truth is where God has been, but revelation is where He is at the moment. This dichotomy is a contrived one. The Word of God is truth and revelation both, and the timeless truth of God’s Word applies to all saints throughout all ages. Again, the implication of this kind of compartmentalized thinking is that the Scriptures fall embarrassingly short when it comes to equipping the saints for life in today’s world.

In a mad dash to embrace the new thing, many Christians have run right past the only place of refuge, God’s Promise, that can keep us from hurtling down the face of an impossibly steep cliff. I can testify to the broken lives and empty spirituality that remains when the initial high wears off. We had congregation members regularly spending their cash to jet to this or that prophetic conference. They just had to keep up with the latest move of God, and bring it back with them to our church. Running after other gods, ancient Israel attained to this spiritual bankruptcy on a regular basis. But we can take heart, for their failures can be our lessons:

Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

For those former seers willing to swallow a large helping of humble pie, there is most certainly hope. For those willing to repent, the grace of our Lord will lead past every soulish and narcissistic revelation, helping us to walk in humility and the simple freedom of Christ Jesus.

For the rest, the road can only lead further into deception and confusion, compounding itself with every new revelation that adds to, subtracts from, or contradicts Scripture.

Jeremiah 23:25-27
I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name.

This has been an excerpt from The Other Side of the River.

1. In 1978, cult leader Jim Jones lead over 900 followers in a mass suicide in northern Guyana.
2. Mary Owen “Oregon Church Says Gold Dust, Feathers Fell During Meetings” (Charisma magazine, September 2000).

Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion

Discernment-Ministries Inc. By Warren Smith

I watched the video again. It was entitled Signs and Wonders Camp meeting 1994. Pastors of huge charismatic churches were stumbling around the church stage “drunk” with “holy” laughter. Wanting to testify to the fact that “holy” laughter had transformed their ministries and their lives, many of them were unable to speak when called on to do so. But their “drunken” condition became their testimony. Their halting speech was seen as “proof” of the “power of the spirit” that had come over them. The congregation roared in approval as pastor after pastor laughed uncontrollably and then fell to the floor. Standing alongside the “drunken” pastors was evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, the self described “Holy Ghost bartender” who was serving up this “new wine” of “holy” laughter. Many Christians today believe that Howard-Browne is God’s appointed channel for imparting joy and revival to the end-times church. Other Christians see Howard-Browne as a false prophet who is inflicting great damage to the body of Christ.

Early last spring the Spiritual Counterfeits Project received a fax from someone expressing concern about a new phenomenon called “holy” laughter. He said that a San Francisco Bay Area Vineyard Church was experiencing what was being described as “revival” and that the manifestation of “holy” laughter was being cited as one of the signs of this “revival.” Church members and visitors were reportedly breaking into fits of spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter during their nightly services.

Later when I talked with several members of the San Francisco Vineyard congregation I was told how hundreds of people were getting “hit” with “revival”--how some people were getting so “soaked in the spirit” they would lose consciousness for up to several hours after falling to the ground with “holy” laughter. The Vineyard members described “holy” laughter unqualifiedly as “awesome” and definitely “the work of the Lord.”...

But what does the Bible say about laughter? Last summer, after watching Rodney Howard-Browne on TBN, I consulted my concordance to see if there was any biblical precedent for “holy” laughter. Surprisingly, I found only 40 references to laughter in the Bible; 34 of them were in the Old Testament, while only 6 were in the New Testament. Of those 40 references 22 of them referred to scornful laughter, as in Nehemiah 2:19 when Nehemiah said, “they laughed us to scorn.” Of the 18 remaining references to laughter, seven of them referred exclusively to Abraham and Sarah’s initial disbelief and ultimate astonishment that God would give them a child in their old age. Barely into my study on laughter I was already down to my last 11 references.

In Job 8:21 Bildad, one of Job’s false comforters, wrongly advised Job that if he were in right standing with God he would be prosperous and full of laughter. The Psalmist in Psalm 126:2 recorded that when the captivity of Zion was over, “then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.” Proverbs 29:9 says, “if a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

With only 8 remaining references I had seen nothing in the Bible up to this point that suggested anything even resembling “holy” laughter. In Ecclesiastes 2:2 Solomon says, “I said of laughter, it is mad.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says, “sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” Ecclesiastes 7:6 says, “for as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 10:19 says that “a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry.

Interestingly the Bible’s last three references to laughter--the only three references to authentic laughter in the New Testament--warn against laughter. These three references actually seemed to underline Solomon’s contention in Ecclesiastes that “sorrow is better that laughter” and that now is a time to weep and not to laugh. In Luke 6:21 Jesus says, “blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” In Luke 6:25 Jesus says, “woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” James 4:9 tells us not to laugh but to “be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

I had searched the scriptures to find any biblical precedent for “holy” laughter and there was none. To my amazement, I had discovered that there were surprisingly few references in the Bible to any kind of laughter. Did this mean that God doesn’t have a sense of humor or that people in the Bible never laughed? No. It just meant that laughter apparently was not something that God chose to emphasize very much. And certainly Jesus’ last words on laughter--“woe unto you who laugh now!”--were not ones that would seem to give any encouragement to a “laughing revival.”

The Lord says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18. Here are some of my concerns about “holy” laughter and “the laughing revival.”

(1) There is no biblical precedent for “holy” laughter.

Laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible. Yet, when it is, the Bible seems to make more of a case for holy sorrow than for “holy” laughter. Scripture supports Solomon’s contention that “sorrow is better than laughter.” It does not support the present “laughing revival.”

(2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is inaccurate and misleading.

There is no scriptural authority for equating biblical references to joy with the involuntary manifestations of “holy” laughter. Just because there are insufficient Bible texts to make the case for “holy” laughter, it does not follow that you can simply redefine the word laughter by substituting the word joy.

(3) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need to “test the spirits.”

The Bible warns us that not every supernatural manifestation is necessarily from God. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Charles and Francis Hunter write in their book Holy Laughter, “Once you begin to walk in the supernatural you really have to be ready for anything and everything and never question the way God does it!” (p.65)

(4) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Spirit’s express warning that in the latter times some people will be supernaturally seduced by deceptive evil spirits into following them and not the one true God.

1 Timothy 4:1 warns, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

(5) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Bible’s warnings of false prophets who come in the name of Jesus but bring with them “another spirit.”

2 Corinthians 11:4 says, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

(6) Many laughter advocates condescendingly discourage and even openly intimidate sincere Christians who question the “laughing revival.”

According to the August Charisma article, Rodney Howard-Browne “disparages” people who “try to apply theological tests” to what he does. The Hunters’ book Holy Laughter refers to skeptics as God’s “frozen chosen.” Mona Johnian writes, “skeptics, hesitaters and procrastinators do not get anointed.” She warns “that any person or church that wavered could be eliminated.”

(7) Rodney Howard-Browne’s prayer to God just prior to his “anointing” (“either you come down here and touch me or I’ll come up there and touch you”) was unscriptural.

Howard-Browne’s prayer was the essence “my will be done.” It was not “thy will be done,” as taught by Jesus in scripture. Why should we automatically assume that it was God who answered his prayer?

(8) “Holy” laughter advocates, in talking about “signs and wonders,” rarely, if ever, mention the Bible’s many warnings about deceptive signs and wonders.

In Matthew 16:4 Jesus warns, “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” In Matthew 24:24 JESUS says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:9 the apostle Paul warns of the coming Antichrist, “even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.

(9) “Holy” laughter advocates seem to lay hands on almost everybody. The Bible specifically warns against this.

The eighth chapter of Acts describes how the disciples would not lay hands on Simon, a baptized believer, even though he desperately wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost, because his heart was “not right in the sight of God.” 1 Timothy 5:22 warns us to “lay hands suddenly on no man.” Yet “holy” laughter is passed on from person to person without so much as a second thought.

(10) “Holy laughter advocates blatantly disregard the biblical admonition that things be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Mona Johnian in her book Fresh Anointing says, “decently and in order! We must do things decently and in order. The Bible itself commands it, cry those who are frightened by that which is beyond traditional order” (p. 35). She advises her readers to “break with tradition” (p.45).

(11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the “laughing revival: contradicts the Bible’s description of the Person of God.

1 Corinthians 14:33 states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

(12) Laughter advocates rarely if ever, discuss the well documented demonic deceptions that have manifested in past revivals.

To combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote “War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God’s people.” Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The forward to War on the Saints warns of “the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm.”

(13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of “holy” laughter when they were in the New Age.

Indian Guru Bhagvhan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the “divine drunkard” because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the “Divine.” As a former follower of Rajneesh I met hundreds of Sannyasins who had flown to India “to drink” from “Bhagwan’s wine.” When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktananda would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru.

(14) The “laughing revival” could one day merge with what the New Age calls the coming day of “planetary Pentecost.”

Barbara Marx Hubbard, (revered New Age leader and a 1984 Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States), writes in her book, Teachings from the Inner Christ, how the human race will soon experience a day of “Planetary Pentecost.” Hubbard, claiming to be in contact with “Christ,” writes: “the Planetary Smile is another name for the Planetary Pentecost. When enough of us share a common thought of our oneness with God, Spirit will be poured out on all flesh paying attention” (p.79). In her book The Revelation, Hubbard says “Christ,” in describing the planetary smile, said: “an uncontrollable joy will ripple through the thinking layer of the earth. The co-creative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and this joy flashes through the nervous systems of the most sensitive peoples on earth, it will create a psycho magnetic field of empathy, which will align the next wave of people in synchrony, everywhere on Earth. This massive, sudden empathic alignment will cause a shift in the consciousness of Earth” (p. 234-235). Writing in Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, Hubbard repeats what she heard from “Christ.” He said, “as the planetary smile ripples through the nervous systems of earth, and the instant of co-operation begins, and empathy floods the feelings of the whole body of Earth, separation is overcome, and I appear to all of you at once (p. 10-11).

The controversy over “holy” laughter is already splitting congregations and causing deep divisions in the body of Christ. And while many people have already taken sides, there are many more who are still trying to figure out just what is going on. Is this really a move of God, or is this the kind of deception the Bible warns about in Matthew 24, 1 Timothy 4:1, and in the second chapter of Thessalonians?

Unity is indeed the heartfelt desire of every sincere Christian (Psalm 133:1). But the Bible warns of massive deception that will come at the end and in Christ’s name. Before the Church--in the name of unity--free falls into a worldwide “laughing revival,” we had better be sure what it is we are uniting with.

In reflecting on “holy” laughter during these very troubled times, I recalled a music special I had seen on television a number of years ago. In the midst of an otherwise polite Hollywood type crowd, a male vocalist sang straight faced and sober into the teeth of their celebration. His words were electric and piercing, and they seemed to hang in the air. He sang, “you’re laughing now, but you should be praying. You’re in the midnight hour of your life.”

How Pietism Deceives Christians

by Bob DeWaay

There are no extraordinary Christians; but being an ordinary Christian is an extraordinary thing. How I wish I would have understood that when I was a new Christian. But I didn’t. Soon after my conversion I began a quest to become the best possible Christian. In so doing I fell prey to teachings that promised me a Christian life superior to that of ordinary Christians. What I did not know was that I had embraced pietism. I didn’t become an extraordinary Christian and I did walk straight into error.

My journey into the “deeper life” oftentimes involved embracing contradictory teachings. For example, two of my favorite teachers in the early 1970’s were Watchman Nee and Kenneth Hagin. One taught a deeper Christian life through suffering) and the other taught a higher order Christianity that could cause one to be free from bodily ailments and poverty. The hook was that both claimed to have the secret to becoming an extraordinary Christian. I found out that they didn’t.

My dissatisfaction with the Christianity taught in Bible College led me to join a Christian commune some months after graduation. That group’s founder taught that all ordinary churches and Bible Colleges were caught up in “religious Babylon.” He taught that the kingdom of God was to be found by quitting one’s job, selling one’s possessions, giving the money to the commune, and moving in together to be devoted to the “kingdom” twenty four hours a day. So in my search to become an extraordinary Christian I did what he said and joined. By the time I had fully explored many versions of pietism seeking to escape the tainted Christianity found in ordinary churches, I had squandered the first ten years of my Christian life.

I was converted in 1971 and by 1981 I had given up on becoming a superior Christian. I bought a house for my family and began a car repair business to pay the bills while I tried to figure out what to do with my calling to preach now that most everything I had been taught, practiced, and taught others had failed. By God’s grace I went back to the Bible and determined to merely teach verse by verse from that point on. It took another five or six years to rid myself of the various errors I had embraced and then I taught Romans in 1986. Through that study I came to appreciate the doctrines of grace. That understanding opened my thinking and was the turning point for my ministry.

I also came to realize that the wrong-thinking that attracted me to pietism was that I held to a theology based on human ability rather than grace alone. Once I grasped that, I never looked back. If the “secret” to a higher order Christianity is based on something we discover and implement (the secret to the deeper life), then it makes sense that some Christians could achieve a higher status than others. But if salvation AND sanctification are God’s work through His grace, then we are all in the same boat, and there’s no higher order.

Pietism is difficult to define because it can be taught and practiced in an unlimited number of ways. Some versions appear to be innocuous while others are so radical that most people would see that something is wrong. I now know that no version of pietism is actually innocuous. If a teaching is called pietism but teaches no more than what God has always used to sanctify Christians, then it is not really pietism. Real pietism always harms those who embrace it.

The essence of pietism is this: It is a practice designed to lead to an experience that purports to give one an elite or special status compared to ordinary Christians. The Bible addresses this error in the book of Colossians. The false teachers in Colossae claimed to have the secret to a superior Christian experience that would cause people to rise above the bad “fate” they feared. Paul went on to explain that they already had everything they needed through Christ and His work on the cross. Another way of stating this is: If after having fully trusted Christ’s finished work on the cross, you are told that you are still lacking something, you are being taught pietism. Church history is littered with misguided pietistic movements. Many of them are linked with mysticism. I will give examples later in this article. Pietism can be practiced many ways including enforced solitude, asceticism of various forms, man made religious practices, legalism, submission to human authorities who claim special status, and many other practices and teachings. The fact that pietism has many forms can be seen by the litany Paul gives in Colossians:

Colossians 2:16-23
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day -- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Paul calls this approach “self-made religion” which is exactly what all forms of pietism are. They all suggest that having been converted by the Lord through the cross and practicing His ordained means of grace by faith are inadequate. They have discovered a better way that leads to a higher order experience. Paul says they have “the appearance of wisdom.” Pietism is an attack on the scriptural truth that Christ has already done it all and that this is true for all Christians. I believe in progressive sanctification, but God is sanctifying all Christians by the same means. more...

Protection From Deception: Navigating Through The Minefield Of Signs And Wonders by Derek Prince (Text based on a series of talks given by Derek Prince to his coworkers in Derek Prince Ministries in March 1996)

Firsthand testimony from a Todd Bentley Fresh Fire Ministries Conference

End Times Prophetic, Prophecy, Visions, Dreams, Revelation, Christian Blog (March 16, 2008)

“I went to a “Texas Ablaze” conference in Austin, TX. It was put on by Stand Firm World Ministries, Fresh Fire Ministries, and Streams Ministries. Some of the speakers were Keith Miller (SFWM), Todd Bentley (FFM), and Barbie Breathitt (Streams Ministries). It was hosted at one of the local Austin churches (I forget the name of the church). It was three days long beginning on a Friday, in February. One of my friends had recently become engaged, and his girlfriend was visiting San Antonio to go to this Todd Bentley conference. They had been to one before somewhere else in the USA. I had never heard of Todd Bentley or Fresh Fire Ministries before. She compared going to a Todd Bentley conference to having “An ice cream sundae treat in the Spirit.”

Well, my friends and I were up for that, so we registered and paid the fee and booked a hotel for the weekend. I believe the registration fee was 35 dollars, but more if you paid at the door. It felt weird to have to pay to go to church like you would a concert or sports game. I attended the conference with several people from the single’s group at the church I was going to (Vineyard Church of San Antonio.). Many other families from the Vineyard also attended, but us singles carpooled and shared hotel rooms because we were cheap, and some of us did not have much money to pay for our own hotel rooms, so it helped defer the cost. We were all excited about this conference and prayed that God would do great things while we were there. I went expecting a move of God. “I hope he does the ‘ring of fire’!!” one of my friends commented. Ring of fire? Apparently a thing where he makes a ring of fire in the air and you walk through it, and supposedly this is some anointing or blessing or something. You walk through the ‘ring of fire’, and he prays for you and you fall down. It’s awesome, they said. That it was a rush to get the Spirit like that. They way they talked about it made me feel a little apprehensive about it. I hadn’t read anything about a ‘ring of fire’ in the bible. (He didn’t do this signature ‘ring of fire’ at the conference I went to after all.)

The first night it was jam-packed with everyone trying to get in. Because we had paid our fee in advance, we went to the pre-registered table. They required us to get these purple wrist-bands that we had to wear for three days (we could not take them off, not even to shower, or we could not get back in.). I am lucky my wrist is very small and I could slip mine on and off because they did not put it tight enough. It would have been obnoxious to have to sleep/shower with that thing on. They did not want anyone who had not paid to get in. They had ushers (guards?) at the doors to the sanctuary to make sure you had your wristband. They would check your wrist after you went to use the bathroom too, before they let you back in. I guess they were afraid of people getting the Holy Spirit or getting healed without paying for it first?

Around the registration tables were tables piled full of things you can buy from the ministries, or outrageous prices, too. 25 dollars for a CD, or 30 bucks for a book. They had sets to teach you how to have experiences like Todd Bentley has (going up to the third heaven, meeting angels, etc, etc.) From Todd Bentley’s ministry you could also buy hankies and get Todd to pray over them, and transfer the anointing to them, so your sick relative or friend might be healed, or if they were healthy, just get an “explosion” of an anointing of the Holy Spirit. (based on people getting healed from Pauls’ hankies in Acts. I don’t think Paul made people pay for hankies though). Streams Ministries had cards that excited everyone, because our church was involved with Streams Ministries, and was doing Dream Interpretation. They had laminated cards that you could buy for $10-25 that were ‘cheat sheets’ on things like 1) What causes what illnesses, or 2) What numbers, colors, letters, and various animals mean in dreams. My friends bought the illnesses card and the dream card, and I looked at them on the way home. The Illnesses card had things like “Obesity is caused by low-self esteem.” “Low back pain is caused by familiar spirits.” Etc. It was a chart with the illnesses on the left and the demons/spiritual conditions on the top , with X’s to show you what caused what. Some things were caused by multiple things. They also had other material for sale that of course, showed you how to cast out whatever demons you had so you could get well, or how to get better self esteem so you wouldn’t be obese. The dreams card was your basic run of the mill dream interpretation stuff, like the color red means danger, purple means royalty, etc.

One thing I noticed is they interrupted the service a lot to advertise products at the pulpit. They would talk for a minute about a book or CD, and then remind us that we could buy it in the foyer for a “low, low” price. I did not see how this is doing anything but turning a house of prayer into a house of merchandise. They did this between speakers. They encouraged people during the breaks to go out and shop at the tables. In the sanctuary, they had special areas roped off for ‘VIP’ people. Churches that were partners with the ministries, or groups that had paid extra money, got to sit in these special areas up front. Everyone else that had just paid the regular price had to sit in the back. Sometimes we could not all sit together because there wasn’t enough room in one area, and we had not reserved an area for our group. Apparently paying extra money for your group got your group mentioned up front, because the first day they were like “And we’ve got guests from such-and-such church over here” and then that church would clap to show everyone where they were. They did not mention any groups that were not seated in the VIP sections.

At the beginning of the conference Keith Miller talked about how he felt there were going to be “open heavens” during this conference and people were going to get new anointings and stuff like that. I don’t remember much about Keith Miller, except that when he was ‘invoking’ the Holy Spirit, he kept saying “psssshhh, pssssh” into the microphone. Like, “Come down Holy Spirit, psssh ,psssh, psssh. The Holy Spirit’s coming tonight, psssh, pssh. Psssh. Psssh.” It was very weird, and I did not know that making hissing noises into the microphone like that got the Holy Spirit to come down. It actually made me a little uncomfortable, the way he was doing it. But I had not experienced something like that before, so I did not pay much attention to it, but it did not seem much like praying to me. He talked a lot about angels appearing to him and such, and how there were angels in the room. He talked a lot about ‘mantles’. How God was going to rip off a tiny piece of His robe and float it on down to you to cover you, and you would get a new mantle that would give you some kind of power. That prophetic mantles, and healing mantles, etc, would be given out today, straight from God. (They tie this in with Elisha taking Elijah’s mantle).

So Barbie from Streams Ministries also spoke. She spoke about “heavenly orbs” that people would be seeing at conferences, and how they would capture them on camera. How these ‘heavenly orbs’ were God’s glory and angels and things like that. How they had pictures of one that when you looked close, you would see a figure with her hands held out. That these orbs (Angels) were here to minister to us. They showed pictures on the projector of orbs at other conferences, some of the pictures had more orbs than others. How many orbs were there was supposed to be in proportion to how much glory of God had come down. I was extremely skeptical about the whole orbs thing, because it just did not sound right to me. One of my friends caught ‘orbs’ on her digital camera ,but when we showed them to our photographer friend back in San Antonio who could not come to the conference, she told us that those orbs were nothing but ‘lens flare’. Also while Barbie was talking, she interpreted some dreams from pastors. She would only do it for pastors and not anyone else. The reason she gave for this was that they work hard and we need to give something back, etc. Strangely, all the pastor’s dreams, while each one very different, all seemed to mean that God would be blessing expanding their ministry and bringing them rich people to their church to help. (One guy had some dream about diving into a well with a big fish ,and she took this to mean a ‘big fish’ businessman who would be able to finance ministries.)

When Todd Bentley finally spoke (I believe it was the 2nd day), the atmosphere in the room was like “Finally! The guy we have been waiting for!” And you could feel the room get excited in anticipation. He started out really energetic. There wasn’t any prayer beforehand. He was sweating within like 3 minutes. Not that there is anything wrong with sweat, but you could see the perspiration on his brow from the back of the room. What was weird, was that he said he was going to preach on a psalm. So we all got out our bibles. But every time he went to try to read the verse, he would begin to laugh, and stagger, and make weird noises. This made me EXTREMELY uncomfortable. It seemed as though he was mocking the scripture, by laughing at it when he began to read it. Everyone admired him for this, though, saying he was so “drunk in the Spirit” that he could not read his bible! He would calm down, but as soon as he went over to the pulpit where his bible was, he would immediately become so “drunk” that he could not read nor preach, but just would stagger around laughing and snorting for a few minutes. Still acting rather drunk, he began to preach about all the great things he’s done (with God’s help, of course.) About how he went from having no money to having a multi-million dollar ministry, and healings, etc, and how great it all was. Everyone thought this was a fantastic testimony on his part, but I wondered why God would have him set aside whatever he was going to preach on to brag about his accomplishments. He laughed, snorted, and chortled through his entire speech. Whenever he would begin to mention something a scripture said, he would become incoherent. Why could he not read nor recite the scriptures without breaking into a fit? But was able to maintain enough composure to brag about all the great stuff God’s done with him. And people ate it up! It was seriously disturbing to me. He talked a lot about how he would go to the third heaven, and how many times he’s met angels, etc. And how you, too, can get into a Holy-Spirit induced trance whenever you want and go to heaven, and how he’s got teachings on how to do it. (apparently we can force the Holy Spirit to take us to heaven and have out-of-body experiences whenever we want.) He related one tale, of a witch doctor. Who had come to a conference of his. That night God took him out-of-body, supposedly, and into the witch doctor’s dreams, and witnessed to him while he was dreaming. The witch doctor came back the next day saved because of being witnessed to while he was dreaming. He also talked about one time, he got taken up into the third heaven, and angels were running around saying “The books of destiny, the books of destiny!” and stuffed a page from one of those books which had a map of this one African country into his mouth, and then 3 days later the ruler of that country called his ministry...

So at the end of the conference, we were supposed to move our chairs out of the way and stand in line to get the anointing from Todd Bentley and Keith Miller. The “prophets” went in the back room to pray while everyone stacked their chairs along the walls. Then we all lined up in semi-circles with space in-between, and waited for them to come back out. They came back out and you were supposed to hold out your hands, and wait for them to touch you. They had men to walk behind the lines to ‘catch’ you so you would not hurt yourself as you fell. So they were touching people’s hands, and people would fall over. So lots of people were falling. They got to one guy, and he would go into a seizure-like state, as he was falling, sortof crazy dancing and squealing. They thought this was great, and it made them laugh, so they had the catchers lift him back up so they could touch him again and laugh as he did this weird dancing/seizure thing as he fell backwards. They did that a few times. They did not spend a lot of time with most of the people, just touched them and moved on.

I was praying during all of this, that God would show me if it was of Him or not. I was a little frightened at the prospect of it NOT being of Him, and possibly opening myself up to the influence of evil spirits. So I was a little scared too, I did not want a bad spirit to make me fall over. I had considered opting out of being touched, but then I thought what if it IS of God and I miss my chance to get a word from God? So when they finally got to me, Todd Bentley said “FIRE OF GOD!” as he touched my hands. But I felt nothing. Certainly not any fire. The other guy touched my hands as they passed by. I just had a very heavy feeling, and I began to cry. One of the prayer ladies that were following them to pray stopped by me because she had seen that I had not fallen, and she put her hand on my forehead to pray for me. She did not seem to understand that I wasn’t falling, because she kept praying for the Spirit to come over me, and pushed her hand harder on my forehead. Her pushing made me plant my feet even more firmly on the ground. She was not going to knock me over. She gave up when she realized I was not going to going to fall over, and was just going to keep crying, so she moved on. I was not the only one who did not fall over.

I noticed that a few others did not either. I went and sat by the wall to pray, and was crying a lot because I just felt horrible at this whole experience, and was wondering where God was in all of this. The prayer pastor from my vineyard came over to talk to me, but I did not have much to say. I could not express what I was feeling about this whole event, and everyone just assumed that the holy spirit had touched me through the prophets and that was why I was crying, they did not know I was crying because God did NOT touch me through those prophets, and I did not know how to tell them that I didn’t think that God was here. I felt uncomfortable about the whole conference, and it just reached a climax at that point, as I saw people shaking with seizure-like things, and laughing uncontrollably, and rolling around on the floor. I cried a lot, also, because nobody seemed to really be praying to God. In fact not a whole lot of prayer seemed to go on during this conference, for as long as it lasted, there were only a few times that any of the speakers prayed. The only ‘prayer’ was to call down the Holy Spirit, or ask for angels to heal or give anointings. They talked about the Holy Spirit a lot, and not so much about Jesus or the Gospel. There wasn’t hardly any talk about sin, or repentance either. Just anointings and mantles and prophecy. more...

I do find it disturbing that scripture was not a central part of this conference, but rather sales and talk of angels and mystic practices. There are many more things that bring up big red flags with Todd Bentley:

The Great Florida Healing Revival

Spiritual Pyromaniacs (November 12, 2007)

You’ve heard the saying, “If you play with fire you’re going to get burnt.” Today’s “Christian” Gnostics seem to have an obsession with the elements of earth, wind, water, and fire. When we watch “Christian” television, be it Sky Angel, TBN, or the God Channel, we hear the televangelists and “prophetic” folks scream “Fire!” over people who react with wild jerkings and flailing of limbs as they go down in a heap on the floor. What is this “fire” being thrown around on these platforms in such a showy fashion? First of all from Scripture we can see where fire has symbolized God’s presence such as in the burning bush and in the pillar of fire by night that led the Israelites across the desert plain. Old Testament offerings were burned and the aroma of the smoke ascended to God in an acceptable sacrifice. Also, in the book of Hebrews it says “our God is a consuming fire.” In its context, it is speaking of His attribute of wrath towards evil works.

Hebrews 12:27-29
And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.

This “fire” is that of God’s judgment – a judgment that is not sleeping but is ready to be poured out upon a world that rejects God’s provision of a Messiah. This is the fire that is being kindled – the sort of fire that believers hope to escape by virtue of abiding in the Lamb – the Messiah. And then the Bible speaks of hell’s fire – eternal fire that is also called “the lake burning with fire.”

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The modern day “prophets” who throw fire around like it is theirs to command attribute this fire to the Holy Spirit. Yet, if they are correct, what is their biblical justification for doing so? Do we really want to “catch the fire” that these men and women are trafficking in? Would you want anything to do with the sort of “fire” that Elijah’s List’s founder, Stephen Shultz is describing in this excerpt from his website?

From the desk of Steve Shultz:

“I would like to recommend a couple of our newer instrumental music CDs, Abide by Paul Ahn and El Olam: Ancient Echoes by John Belt and Barbara Grimshaw. These CDs are designed for times of reflection, meditation, and worship. Open the door and ENTER into an experience in the eternal King’s Realm where the fire NEVER dies. Come to the streams of promise and wait until you encounter Him. Fire by Night delivers a powerful and intimate live, prophetic, worship experience that will thrill your spirit and invigorate your senses. This CD is one of our best-selling AND one of my personal favorites!”

Steve Shultz

Where have we read that before? -- “where the fire NEVER dies” – What is that describing? When we look that up in our concordance, what materializes?

Mark 9:47-48
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Or from the Living Bible, the paraphrase many of these televangelists so love to quote: Mark 9:48 – “where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out.” I don’t think I want to serve a “king” whose abode is there! Other charismatic ministries use -- even over-use the “fire” symbol to describe their emphasis. We hear terms and slogans such as “Touch of Fire Ministries,” John Arnott hosts the TV program Catch the Fire, “Fire Evangelism” a book by prophetic leader Che’ Ahn , Sacred Fire, a music CD by John Belt, “Wild Fire Ministries,” “Blaze of Glory ministry,” etc. And then there are conferences called “Let the Fire Fall” But what fire are these people toying with? It is not a coincidence that the occult throws around the same “fire” term in much the same manner as the charismatics. In the classic occult book, “The Secret Destiny of America,” written by occult historian Manly P. Hall, he writes of the special initiates of the flame who pass on secret knowledge from Babylon all the way to modern day, on page 195:

“We are exploring into the mysteries of the atoms and the electrons, and have brought the heavenly fire, electricity, to be the servant of our purposes.”

This fire of the occultists can also be shared with others. Cindy Jacobs, at the 1999 Charisma Women’s conference in Daytona Beach spent quite a while throwing around the fire to the participants, sometimes speaking in a deep voice with a look of evil on her countenance. Over and over again, she waved her hand over the crowd of women shouting, Fire! “Yes for the Lord says there’s a new wave of the spirit coming and the Lord is showing me that Daytona Beach is the gateway for the fire of God… Church of Daytona, put your hands up. Yes, burn up those religious spirits. Here comes more fire!! Take it! More! Fire! Fire! Take it!!”

She seemed to be emulating Benny Hinn, who has been using the “Fire!” shout for over a decade. When this “fire-anointing” comes over him, he says even his children are afraid of him. On October 19, 1999 during a guest visit on the Praise the Lord program on TBN, he told a frightening story to host Paul Crouch. Speaking of a perceived attack on his ministry by the secular media, Hinn says:

“Right before that happened, my dear sweet Suzanne (his wife) gets attacked… 2 o-clock in the morning, I wake up and my wife is choking in bed. The devil trying to kill her. My wife wasn’t acting like my wife. I saw my own wife attacked. It was like the last thing I could handle, I think.”

False prophet Kim Clement on the Praise the Lord program on July 5, 2007 described the spirit that he mistakes for the Holy Spirit in terms that can only describe an unholy spirit such as the ones taking control of these men and women. He said to hosts Matt and Laurie Crouch, “The prophetic word opens up a whole new world out there for you to be enticed. God entices you with a future. That’s the glory of the future, he entices you. Remember something, he wants you there, he says he’s gonna get you there and he’s going to lure you there.” Who is this “he” that is going to “entice” and “lure” people to enter this “new world?” I believe this is the same “he” that entices the fire throwers to spread his false anointings. It is said in Scripture that in the last days (and I believe we are in those days) God will remove this evil spirit that masquerades as the Holy Spirit. Zechariah wrote: 

Zechariah 13:2
“It shall be in that day,” says the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.

That same unclean spirit gets mentioned in the New Testament as well: 

Matthew 12:43
When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.

Benny Hinn used the same terms to describe the spirit that directs him – the one he passes around with the exclamation “Fire on you” to those who attend his crusades.  more...

Matthew 24:3-5
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

The Final Destination of Apostasy

Ultimately apostasy will lead to the dilusion of Truth so that the lie will be more acceptable. So whether it’s atheism, the New Age Movement, Christian apostasy or a combination of them all, I believe that by diluting the Truth, the lies become easier to accept. It’s a lot harder to spot a counterfeit dollar bill if you don’t really know what a real one looks like or what all the security features are.

There is a strong delusion coming and many people will fall into the lie brought about by the master of deception. He will have power to perform signs and wonders.

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This paints a much different picture of the time leading to Christ’s coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 speaks of an apostasy, a falling away from Truth that comes before the end.  If the Bible (Word) is Truth, then it is a falling away from the Bible. The Bible is not read by much of the world now-a-days. If it were, and followed, there wouldn’t be such a coldness in the world as the Bible said the end would be. Love is selfless and we live in a self-centered world.

Those who fall for this delusion are doomed to eternal separation from God. I believe that for many of them, because of the lies, will be willingly rejecting God and fighting against Him because they don’t understand the Truth.

I am personally more cautious because I believe there are lying signs and wonders that will deceive many people. The distrust of men has led to sole trust in the Bible, which I believe has opened my eyes, but I am not infallible and am still learning from God’s Word.

What I see is continued persecution of Christians around the world and increased rejection and persecution of Christians in Western nations. In addition, increased deception leading many to a one-world religion that will eventually point to the antichrist. He is the one that will bring about the great tribulation. He will also come with lying signs and wonders. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 Some feel this irrelevant because the harpazo will come first. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 speaks of a pre-wrath harpazo however as described by Paul.

I could be wrong not trusting some individuals, but I’ll never go wrong trusting the Bible and all things should be compared to it. I don’t need signs and wonders, those will come soon enough when we’re in heaven and the Bible lays out our coming persecution because we preach obedience to God’s Word and salvation through Yeshua alone. I ask only that you search your heart for the motivations, listen to the Spirit and step forward in faith when guided by the Spirit - just check first (pray). Signs should not be the source of our faith because faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. I believe that whether logos (written word) or rhema (spoken word), it is God’s Word (Bible) that brings faith when heard. From personal experience, that’s when my faith began to increase, when I read His Word. Until then faith was a struggle, now it is not.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.