Friday, 13 June 2008

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland 'revival'

Every day I am being asked about the current ‘revival’ in Florida and there is every sign that these enquiries will continue to increase as ‘it’ has now been imparted, as it is ‘transferable’, and has reached a number of places in Britain; because it is now on our doorstep it is very important that each one of us make up our minds before the Lord, especially as Todd Bentley is planning to come to England this summer, and he says that he wants to hire the largest stadium available.

We have read many words already written on these events and do not simply want to add to them, but we do want to encourage Christians to test this out for themselves and not simply accept one side or the other without really knowing why. We can so easily right ‘the other side’ off but there is only one God and I believe there is only one way to test what is happening. That is not by feelings; it is not be how many apparent signs there are; it is not by whether we like Todd Bentley or not but it is according to the Word of God. We move away from this basis at our peril.

I want to make it clear that we are not against supernatural manifestations, nor are we against true revival. Our desire is that what is happening will be tested and only embraced if it is found to be of the Holy Spirit.

First we will look at 1 Thessalonians 5 that gives the Biblical basis for testing out what is happening and then we will look at several areas that need testing. We will seek to be objective but it will become clear that our own testing has brought us to a clear conclusion. Please follow the Scriptural path and see if you agree. Please do not simply take my word for it but please do as Scripture encourages us and test it out.

1 Thessalonians 5

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” – I Thessalonians 5:19-21

These verses are put within the context of the work of the Holy Spirit and His gifts. We are not to quench - put out - the Spirit, which of course means that we must test out what is happening to see whether it is of the Spirit. We are then told not to despise - set aside - give no weight to, prophetic utterances; and again that means we must test the words to see if they are true prophetic utterances.

This is exactly what Paul tells us to do next, “But examine everything carefully”. Examine what? Examine if what is happening is the work of the Holy Spirit or some other spirit. And whether the words given are a prophetic utterance that we should listen to or something we should ignore. We are never just to accept every word someone says because they add on, “Thus saith the Lord.” We do so at our peril.

We are to examine these things, including what is happening in Lakeland, very carefully. It is not, “touching the Lord’s anointed” – please look at those verses carefully in context – it is doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture and come to a conclusion over its validity. How do we examine these things carefully?

The word for examine is the same one found in 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

This is the instruction, that every spirit is to be tested and the test is if they are from God. I would say then according to this definition we should ask the following questions:

1. Is it according to His Word?

2. Is it according to His Character – love, truth, etc?

3. Does it lead to glory and honour for the Lord?

We ask these questions and examine every aspect. Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible, comments on this:

“Subject everything submitted to you to be believed to the proper test. The word here used (dokimazete), is one that is properly applicable to metals, referring to the art of the assayer, by which the true nature and value of the metal is tested... This trial was usually made by fire. The meaning here is, that they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject. Christianity does not require people to disregard their reason, or to be credulous. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by the ministers of religion. It is, more than any other form of religion, the friend of free inquiry, and would lead people everywhere to understand the reason of the opinions which they entertain; compare Acts
17:11-12; 1Peter 3:15.”
We do not accept something as being from God just because something is shouted and much fuss is made of it. We need to know the reasoning behind it. Please also note then we are to “hold fast that which is good”, which clearly means we have rejected what is bad. The process of checking everything has highlighted things that are not according to the Lord’s Word and character and that do not lead to His glory and so we let go of them and do not bring them into our experience. Barnes again comments:

“Which is in accordance with reason and the word of God; which is adapted to promote the salvation of the soul and the welfare of society. This is just as much a duty as it is to “prove all things.” A man who has applied the proper tests, and has found out what is truth, is bound to embrace it and to hold it fast. He is not at liberty to throw it away, as if it were valueless; or to treat truth and falsehood alike. It is a duty which he owes to himself and to God to adhere to it firmly, and to suffer the loss of all things rather than to abandon it. There are few more important rules in the New Testament than the one in this passage. It shows what is the true nature of Christianity, and it is a rule whose practical value cannot but be felt constantly in our lives. Other religions require their votaries to receive everything upon trust; Christianity asks us to examine everything. Error, superstition, bigotry, and fanaticism attempt to repress free discussion, by saying that there are certain things which are too sacred in their nature, or which have been too long held, or which are sanctioned by too many great and holy names, to permit their being subjected to the scrutiny of common eyes, or to be handled by common hands. In opposition to all this, Christianity requires us to examine everything - no matter by whom held; by what councils ordained; by what venerableness of antiquity sustained; or by what sacredness it may be invested. We are to receive no opinion until we are convinced that it is true; we are to be subjected to no pains or penalties for not believing what we do not perceive to be true; we are to be prohibited from examining no opinion which our fellow-men regard as true, and which they seek to make others believe. No popular current in favor of any doctrine; no influence which name and rank and learning can give it, is to commend it to us as certainly worthy of our belief. By whomsoever held, we are to examine it freely before we embrace it; but when we are convinced that it is true, it is to be held, no matter what current of popular opinion or prejudice maybe against it.”
With this clear teaching in mind and our means of testing defined, let us examine our 5 areas.

Read the full article at: http://www.reachouttrust.org/articles/deception/ToddB.htm

1 comment:

Caron said...

Excellent post! Thank you!
Check out: http://www.adventuresinchristianity.com/?L=blogs.blog&article=3494
To see the work of the man who wrote this, go to: http://www.justinpeters.org and click on "demo." Justin is considered by some to be an expert on the Word of Faith movement and is speaking in this demo to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary...