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COMMISIONED by CHRIST 4 SHARING HIS LIFE/KEEPING IT REAL ADMIST THE LIES (II Cor. 5:17-21))

LAKELAND, FL: My thoughts…..(Part 8)

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on June 25, 2008

To anyone concerned,

     This will be the last post I’m placing up regarding the issue with Lakeland, Florida…and thoughts on Todd Bently. Rather than give you my thoughts alone (which are already jumbled enough at times as it is, though exhaustive), here’s something that I thought would be better: REFERRING YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE DONE GREATER WORK AND BETTER INSIGHT ON THE ISSUE.

First, the following are a list of solid teaching material on the issue of Spiritual Gifts and things regarding that topic so that the readers will have a solid foundation to stand upon when it comes to exercising discernment on issues (most of which are taken from one of the individuals I respect GREATLY in the Lord and his site, http://heatlight.wordpress.com/ )

WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF SPIRIT BAPTISM? by Adrian Warnock (and also, in connection with Andrian, consider these online lectures from New Frontiers’ conference in the USA.  NEW FRONTIERS CHURCH LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE.)

Holy Laughter: blessing, curse, or something else? (An Excellent Discussion on the issue). There’s another by one lady entitled  http://discerningtheworld.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/laughter-manifesations-are-neat/ . In the authors words:

It tells of an account of holy laughter by an unfamiliar spirit and it tells of an account of holy laughter by the Holy spirit.

You will notice there is a distinct difference between the two:

1) The one story tells of holy laughing that appears for
no reason but gives immense amount of joy at time of
said manifesation.

2) The other story tells about a deliverence that took
place in which Gods victory was evident over someones
life. This person laughs a laugh of victory, joy
and praise—

 

and in connection with that, seeing that it happens with just as much frequency as Holy Laughter in many circles (Hyper-Charismatic and Charismatic alike), Slain in the Spirit: Biblical or non-Biblical

 

CONVERGENCE (iTunes podcast)- a sermon by Sam Storms on “Reformed Charismatic” theology, with a   s QUESTION AND ANSWERS session available.

Using our Gifts in Proportion to our Faith part 1 (An excellent sermon on the prophetic, which I found Biblical, balanced, and challenging)

 SUBSEQUENCE, & ARE THE SIGN GIFTS NECESSARY: A DEBATE (2 excellent PDF’s of essays by Jesse Phillips, whose site entitled RESURGENCE is truly one of the GREATEST AROUND). Also, for anyone interested,  Is Prophecy the Same as Preaching (part 1)? & – Prophecy is NOT the Same as Preaching (part 2), which is also by Jesse Phillips at Resurgence and which is basically a marvelous two-part response to TeamPyro on whether, Biblically, Prophecy is the same thing as Preaching— a common Reformed Cessationist argument, flawed as well.

 JOHN OWEN ON THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS. (Intriguing thoughts by J.I. Packer on the issue….though of course,  I do not necessarily agree with it all, but interesting to study it remains nonetheless)

KNOWING HIM AND KNOWING ABOUT HIM (In other New Frontiers news, Terry Virgo).

BOOKS ON THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (In which Lastly, C.J. Mahaney shares his favorite books on the issue)
Others from the website:
      :
too much bloglove to even comment…read, quickly!HOW TO LISTEN TO A SERMON from The Blazing Center WHO IS THE KINGDOM FOR from The Gospel-Driven ChurchTHE CHARISMATIC QUESTION from Pulpit MagazineTHE BONDAGE OF GUIDANCE from Together for the Gospel

THE FAITH THAT ISN’T from Cerulean Sanctum

HAVING ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER from Challies.com

and lastly…

Audio & Video Messages from the Resurgence Conference: TEXT & CONTEXT

 

 

 

Others to consider (which are all audio, for those who are wanting something that they won’t have to read in-depth and just listen):

Concerning Spiritual Gifts – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Prophecy Today – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Use & Abuse of Tongues part 1 – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Use & Abuse of Tongues part 2 – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport

Discerning the Spirit – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
Discerning the Spirit’s Guidance – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
Empowered by the Spirit – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville

The Kingdom Triangle – J.P. Moreland/Vineyard Anaheim

All except the Apostles – Michael Fletcher/Manna Church

Convergence – Sam Storms/Sojourn Community Church

 

       That said, here are the ones on Bently from those individuals I feel would be best to recommend on the issue:

 

 TODD BENTLEY AND THE LAKELAND FLORIDA ‘REVIVAL MEETINGS’, from Adrian Warnock–a most insightful article on the issue….and who happens to be publishing Jesse Phillips series of detailed accounts from his visit, as Jesse has taken a break from blogging. First is, WORSHIP AT THE LAKELAND FLORIDA REVIVAL MEETINGS, followed by WHAT IS HAPPENING IN LAKELAND FLORIDA?, then JESSE PHILLIPS REFLECTS ON THE LAKELAND FLORIDA REVIVAL MEETINGSMORE REFLECTIONS, with the FINAL THOUGHTS.

 Here is the AOG’s excellent official response to the numerous reports of revival around the world presently

Dan Edelen’s thoughts on the Lakeland Revival

 THE FLORIDA REVIVAL at the Gospel-Driven Church.

HONEST QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LAKELAND REVIVAL. (from Charisma’s editor, J. Lee Grady, possibly the most balance look at the so-called Lakeland Revival I have read yet)

 Lakeland, Florida, & aptly, Lakeland Florida (continued). (from Terry Virgo, leader of New Frontiers International, who has posted a two part blog-post entitled—considering the man’s a solid ‘reformed charismatic’ -and has given an excellent response on the issue)

DISCERNMENT, REVIVALS, & GODLY COMMON SENSE by Cerulean Sanctum
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FLORIDA? by Blue Fish Project
LAKELAND (before) and LAKELAND TRIP (after) by Reformed-TULIP-Charismatic Girl

 

In line with that, these too are noteworthy:

My visit to Lakeland

 

When is a “Revival” Genuine?

 

Leaving Lakeland

 

 

 

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival

 

Lakeland – real revival?

 

     As another wisely said on them (And his stance I hold the same too):

I don’t agree with all that’s written below – in fact, some I disagree with, but they are helpful perspectives to get a bigger picture of what’s happening:

There is much to take in, but I will let these speak for themselves: real people, honest thoughts, sincere emotions…seeking the truth.  Some have left the church entirely and are taking one last peak inside, some are in the middle of the excitement yet voicing concerns, some are sympathetic but have questions, and others are diametrically opposed.  Read, pray, listen.  Amen.

   

To that, I say AMEN…….going along with that, from that same individual, here’s an article that I thought would be benefical to all the readers here on this blog

:

Last night I watched the Lakeland Revival on GodTV for the first time in over a month. This was brought about by the encouragement of a few friends, and then me stumbling across a recent YouTube ‘interview’ of sorts with Bentley. Though by no means do I ‘recant’ of my blogs on the subject (Be the Revival, Be the Miracle, Sound Doctrine, & Drop Kick), I was encouraged by much of what I saw.

Although I would love to see some ‘clarification’ (and correction of?) on some points of doctrine from Bentley, I will give him kudos in that he apparently listens to criticism from other believers. Last night there was far less talk of angels, no mention of ‘Emma’, and a LOT more talk of Jesus (though if I were a non-believer I’d still have pretty much no idea who Jesus was or what he did for me from the actual content of the revival teaching). In fact, there was far less ‘Todd’, and more ‘Jesus’, which is a considerable improvement over the last few times I had watched. More Jesus and less of anything else is always an improvement.

Another thing I really appreciated was the fact that he emphasized that – even with the world watching (and one has to admit that it adds a degree of risk to each possible healing) – he would pray for healing for anyone that came up to be prayed for. Now, though I don’t think illnesses, diseases, or viruses are all demons to be addressed ‘in Jesus name’, nor have I any idea what “Bam” or any of the other bizarre things Bentley says during ‘healings’ are intended to mean, as a “Third Wave Charismatic”, I love the openess to ‘pray’ for anyone. It would be even more powerful to me if it weren’t on a stage – move this thing to the streets, begin going door to door, meeting people’s needs then ask “Excuse me, may I…” BAM – healed! Maybe if there were less sound effects, and casting out diseases, and more actual prayers addressing God, and clearly trusting Him and His power to heal – then I would feel even less concerned by the Lakeland Outpouring.

Lastly, Todd claims they are trying to verify every healing testimony that is given on stage. That is an honorable thing indeed – I would expect no less from anyone that wasn’t a fake. However, given that Bentley himself gives no update from stage when healing testimonies are discovered to have not been true (which would increase the credibility factor 100% were he to do so), might it be better to do a full follow-up with the doctors and such FIRST, then – if it all pans out unquestionably – invite them to give their testimony at the revival? The fact that to-date none of the individuals having been raised from the dead as a result of this revival can be confirmed, and at least one has been proven false, as have a number of the healings (one husband was called after his wife was supposedly healed of deafness – he said his wife had never been deaf), leaves a great deal to be desired. I believe in healing – I’ve prayed for a man who was dying in the hospital with less than hours to live, who made a miraculous turn around and was home 2 days later (he’s still well, last I heard), but we shouldn’t expect sheeple to believe every radical testimony given on that stage, especially when some are shortly thereafter being shown untrue. Verify first, testify later. That said, kudos for pursuing any sort of verification whatsoever – that is a step in the right direction.

If I had one last request it would be this: TEACH JESUS. Thank you for mentioning Jesus more, and angels less (though, in an off-handed way, which I assumed Todd didn’t even realize, he did mention Jesus even more than he knows: in the Old Testament “the Angel of the Lord” IS the pre-incarnate Christ, since He is the only angel which receives worship without rebuking), however – as I mentioned before – if I were a non-believer watching I would have no idea, in reality, who this Jesus was. He could have been merely a miracle worker for all I know. Take time to teach Jesus – explain the Gospel more often, even if in simple terms. Acknowledge the indwelling problem of sin, and show how Jesus is the answer to that, Then the real miracles which may take place will have a larger context: they will make sense in the resurrected life of Jesus working through His Spirit in the church. That would be good news, indeed.

So, though I have no intentions of visiting Lakeland, and I still have my criticisms, doubts, & concerns, even I am not beyond acknowledging where I see growth and blessings. Don’t leave your head at the door, but don’t let me keep you from visiting either.

So be it! Amen…

I do hate to be the skeptic. Sometimes I think having discernment is more a curse than a gift. It might be fun to be able to jump on every bandwagon that comes down the Spiritual pike. It may not be spiritually healthy, but it might be fun.

Yet, I’ve done enough digging to know that my internal sense of uneasiness towards this ‘revival’ in Florida is not something I can support unquestionably with a clean conscious. I think the prophetically gifted Andrew Strom – who I disagree with on a few things as well – sums up most of my concerns quite well both here and here as does another blogger here(& though we don’t get along very well, I think Dan Philips makes a few good points himself). Don’t get me wrong – I hope & pray that the healings are genuine, even if the doctrine behind them is askew, for the sake of both those looking for healing and for the Glory of God. And that’s really what it comes down to: is this really about God?

That’s what I loved about the First Great Awakening, and Jonathan Edwards: from all accounts, Edwards was far from flashy – He preached the Word, God moved, people’s hearts were changed, and they came to God by the thousands. And it didn’t happen only in one church, but many, and for almost ten years! That’s what I call a revival, and that’s the sort of move of God that I’ve been praying for: that God will be the center – that Christ will be lifted up and made much of – that the Holy Spirit will move (which Scripturally means He will draw eyes AWAY from himself, and TO Jesus).

As I wrote a good friend this morning, I’m not going on the rampage battling against this – in fact, that would be silly. Ultimately if it’s not the real deal that will become readily clear (it always does), even if it takes some time. In fact, it’s probably a mix of divinely revealed truth, and human error, which I’ve dealt with before on this blog. However, I’d hate to see believers whom I love go the route that emphasizes flash & bang over (and ultimately against, since it’s a distraction from the real deal) what Christ did on the Cross, and the heart of the Gospel.

Don’t get me wrong – walking in the Kingdom of God results in miracles, but the picture of how the apostles worked miracles – the part miracles played in their ministry – and how many modern-day revival preachers use them look so different that I have a hard time even comparing the two. We’re so thirsty for signs & wonders that we forget what it means to actually follow God day-to-day, and instead we run to where-ever we hear that something exciting is happening.

Think about this: the only time I recall Paul going to where the signs & wonders were happening was to rebuke them for doing it incorrectly.

The real core of the issue is this: why even bother going to where someone else may or may not be experiencing ‘revival’? If it’s real, and God wants to do it, pray for it where you are! Then, when God sovereignly brings revival, you’ll be in the midst of it – you’ll already know the hearts and motives of those involved – you’ll see the real change in your own heart, and know your deeper affection towards God, and recognize it in those you’ve known all along when you see lasting change in them. Ultimately, that’s how one recognizes true revival – not only by it’s immediate external expressions, but it’s fruit many years after the ‘buzz’ has left the building.

I’m just another voice that wants to see God’s will done on earth as it is in Heaven – it just so happens that this voice isn’t yet convinced that many of the modern day revivals are working to bring that about. I say, “Be the real revival – don’t go to one.”

In the midst of all the discussion about the Lakeland Revival, the unusual over-emotional expressions of the first great awakening are often brought up. Having read Jonathan Edwards‘ biography, his collected sermons, and his ‘Religious Affections’, as well as being midway through Sam Storm’s “Signs of the Spirit”, and having long research the life and teaching of George Whitefield, I can honestly say that there is a very significant difference between the revivals of old, and the so-called revivals of today, and those differences are what give me pause.

The difference is that Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and most (if not all) of preachers involved in the First Great Awakening, were Orthodox Evangelical Christians – they taught sound doctrine, and modeled correct practice. Yes, the crowds, when some were touched by the Spirit of God, sometimes responded with a mix of Spirit and flesh, and there were – to be sure, by Edward’s own account – many among them who were merely caught up in the emotion of it all, who acted not in response to a move of God’s Spirit on their hearts, but merely to the buzz of emotion in the air. However, all the while they heard the Gospel proclaimed – the Scriptures taught with an attention to detail, and truthfulness. It was not the goal of Edwards or Whitefield to work the churches they stood before into an emotional frenzy, but to teach the truth of God, and see people respond appropriately.

I can look beyond unorthopraxy in those attending the Lakeland Revival, but what grieves my Spirit is that so many of those allowed to take the pulpit aren’t orthodox in what they teach or practice, both of which are important to genuine, full-orbed Christian faith.

A few years ago I taught on this passage from 1st John:

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us–even eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.1 John 2:18-27

 

Here is what I wrote about these important verses…

“Here John gives us couple of ways that we can identify saving faith. He asks, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” It appears as though individuals had left the congregation because they no longer believed the truth about Jesus.

Notice that by denying that Jesus is the Christ, we also deny God the Father. Since Jesus revealed the one true God who spoke through the prophets, by denying Jesus we show that we also do not truly believe in the one true God of the Old Testament, since one testified to the truth of the other.

Notice, also, the results of this false belief: they left the church. Remember this; it is SO IMPORTANT that we believe what is ultimately true because what we believe has an effect on what we DO — on how we live! Here the results of their misconceptions were divisions in the church, but every time we accept what Paul called deceptive philosophy over the truth of God it will have some sort of negative results. We were made to live out what we believe, whether it be true saving faith, or falsehood and lies. Either way we will live according to what we believe is ultimately true.

Later John expands on this thought by saying, “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God “(from 1 John 4:1-6). We should strive to know the Biblical truth about God, and to live out the teachings of Scripture, in order that we might present ourselves as a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

There are ways of denying the Father & the Son that are not overt – in fact, as an Angel of Light, those are the means that Satan most often employs. When one is actively acknowledging Jesus – that He is of God, and came ‘in the flesh’ – that individual is by necessity being Cross-Centered, & Gospel-Driven. To focus attention primarily on the Holy Spirit, who’s central goal is the guide eyes to Christ, is to actually go against the Spirit, and to risk submitting to another spirit entirely – one that is not quite so Holy.

Sound doctrine and correct practice should accompany the Spirit-filled, Spirit-guided man of God, as the Holy Spirit not only teaches us the Scriptures, but even more-so, applies them to our hearts and lives. To claim to have come in the name of God, and to claim to be led by His Holy Spirit, yet to not teach Cross-Centered sound doctrine, and to not practice Biblical orthopraxy – well, of that person we should at least set our ‘discernment’ on ‘high’, and be very careful to ‘test the spirits’ in every thing we hear them say or see them do.

Please don’t leave your brain at the door in exchange for an experience. If you do so, there is no promise that the experience you have will be one from God, no matter how good it may make you feel at the time. Be blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

     My personal thoughts on the issue: You may wish, by the way, to QUICKLY take note of this .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIjO4wMLjBk

As someone else said on the video, “Apparently “God” isn’t interested in the church hearing about Jesus any more. Todd Bentley claims that God wants people to believe in the angel named “winds of change” that supposedly visited Bentley at the beginning of the Lakeland “revival”.”

And In the words of John Piper, “you never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER outgrow your need for the gospel.” Even if the church really did have “no problem believing in Jesus,” that doesn’t mean we set Him aside and move on. The gospel must be proclaimed constantly.

For more instances on what happened when the Gospel was preached,

Acts 4:29-31

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Gave it out before, but I will again (seeing that Piper NAILED the issue squarely— http://www.desiringgod.org/Search/?s…ns+and+wonders,
Quote:
Quote:
Acts 4:29
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness
Acts 4:31
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:30-32 (in Context) Acts 4

Acts 9:28
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Acts 9:27-29 (in Context) Acts 9 (Whole Chapter)

Acts 13:46
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
Acts 13:45-47 (in Context) Acts 13

Quote:
Quote:
dActs 14In Iconium 1At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.Acts 14:3

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.
Acts 14:2-4 (in Context) Acts 14

Quote:

Acts 18:26

Acts 19:8
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:7-9 (in Context) Acts 19

Acts 28:31
Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 28:30-31 (in Context) Acts 28

Quote:
Quote:Ephesians 6:20
Ephesians 6:19-21 (in Context) Ephesians 618And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Boldness for the Gospel is a true evidence of the Spirit of God at worl—-not to mention being persecuted for the sake of the GOSPEL/CHRIST’S NAME (Matthew 5:10-12 )….

As the old saying goes, that was the straw that broke the Camel’s Back….and as I stated earlier, “Though on many teachings Todd Bently’s off, I’m waiting on ******** evidence of his DENYING THE GOSPEL—-that did it for me.

Of course, as another said,

Quote:
I have to look more closely at that tape – I’m wondering why its 1:58 minutes long and why it was cut so short.
I’ve said all along that Bentley’s theology is whacked – this was very disconcerting to say the least but I’m not so sure in the next sentence he doesn’t correct himself.
Prayerfully, I’ll be able to discover more info myself—–as I was wondering the same thing (and in trying to be gracious/doing unto others as I would to them, I’d hate to take what he said out of context). I tend to come from on things (regarding things such as gossip/slander and fair representation on things, #23, #118 —- seeing that it has happened to me/others and the destruction I’ve seen come from it even when intentions were good, I tend to try stay in check with it even when adressing things). As a brother in the Lord once said on the issue,

For Reference: http://www.raystedman.org/timothy/3788.html

The way many of us often go about things, it’s scary seeing how we don’t even realize that what we’re doing is essentially GOSSIP/SLANDER–whether done innocently or BLANTANTLY( and for FURTHER STUDY on the subject: http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/56-23.htm , http://preceptaustin.org/titus_31-8.htm#3:1 , http://www.familyministries.com/compassionate%20gossip.html , http://www.bible-topics.com/Slander.html , http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuse…738/Gossip.htm
—-and that must be avoided at ALL COSTS…..because we will be held accountable for our words

Quote:
Ecclesiastes 10:20

Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.

Quote:
JTitus 3Doing What is Good 1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone

James 3:13-18 (on what the FRUIT of TRUE WISDOM in our OBSERVATIONS AND ACTIONS LOOKS LIKE)

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As a brother in the Lord once said on the issue,

Quote:
The balance we do see in the Master is found in His addresses to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. Six out of seven churches got a word of comfort and encouragement, as well as exhortation and warning and rebuke. He gives both. Even in churches where there was false teaching going on (Pergamum and Thyatira) He had encouraging words for them. He looked for evidences of God’s grace in them, saw these evidences, and commended them. So much for the blogging crowd and commenters who complain and opine that we don’t always have to preface critical remarks with encouraging words! I think that when we are dealing with churches and Christians, even those with whom we disagree vehemently about potential or actual false teaching, there seems no better place to turn than to the Chief Shepherd in these two chapters.What I’m not saying here is that what we say, believe, preach, or teach about the cross is not important. What I am saying here is that how we say, believe, preach, or teach about the cross is as important as what we say, believe, preach, or teach. In fact, if the how is not reflective in our lives as much as the what, then the Bible would appropriately challenge whether or not we actually believe the same gospel as it describes.Christian combat in the blogosphere draws more of an audience than the Christian virtues of gentleness, humility, meekness, forbearance, etc. I think it would be fair to say that we as believers are strangely attracted to blogiators – that is, bloggers engaging in verbal gladiatory activity – fighting, accusing, quarelling, gossiping (talking about others without talking to others), and slander (saying untrue things about people we are supposed to love).The recent flurry of references by anti-emergent people to John Piper as an emergent or emergent-friendly, or of Josh Harris as emergent-friendly, or of Mark Driscoll as essentially a problem-child of the church, or of John Armstrong as an apostate (all accusations being fired from various and sundry reformed folks) are sinful and disgraceful references in a wicked world where our duty is to band together with our brothers and sisters for the sake of the gospel rather than continue with theological mud-slinging that is probably more a result of ecclesiastical in-breeding than a genuine care for the gospel. These words may sting, but they are true and are cautiously spoken from genuine care for the church.Oh, that the quarrelling would cease among our spiritual relatives, our flesh and blood through Christ, our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Engage those with whom you disagree in love, privately, with a sincere desire to see them change and yourself changed in the process. Seek never to speak of others in a critical or negative light publicly unless absolutely necessary, as a last resort, after multiple efforts to reach them.

And if that person is a public figure whom we are unable to reach, it is more honorable and glorifying to Christ to hold our tongues and say nothing at all than to believe the fleshly rationalization that just because someone published something or said something publicly that it is quite alright to criticize them publicly.

Further, rationalizing that because Paul mentions a handful by name in the Scriptures, or because Jesus frequently and publicly criticized the Pharisees, then it is also okay for us to use names publicly…I believe that this also is a disgrace to the gospel of grace which unavoidably makes us aware of the essential cross-centered attributes of grace that should be evident in our lives, and namely the ones mentioned in Ephesians 4:1-3

a reminder of the attitude of the gospel which is as important as what we believe about it. In fact, our attitudes will more likely reveal whether or not we believe the biblical gospel.

__________________
 The balance we do see in the Master is found in His addresses to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. Six out of seven churches got a word of comfort and encouragement, as well as exhortation and warning and rebuke. He gives both. Even in churches where there was false teaching going on (Pergamum and Thyatira) He had encouraging words for them. He looked for evidences of God’s grace in them, saw these evidences, and commended them. So much for the blogging crowd and commenters who complain and opine that we don’t always have to preface critical remarks with encouraging words— I think that when we are dealing with churches and Christians, even those with whom we disagree vehemently about potential or actual false teaching, there seems no better place to turn than to the Chief Shepherd in these two chapters…..and in critiquing BENTLY, I’d like to be faithful to that.
Also, as another wisely said on the issue:
A Christless Pentecost

Is Christ Becoming A Stranger Among Us?

David Wilkerson

The following is a prophetic warning from Azusa Street 75 years ago, concerning the dangers of a Christless Pentecost!

Frank Bartleman was an eyewitness to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907 at Azusa Street, Los Angeles. He has been characterized as the Reporter of the Azusa Street Revival. Nearly 75 years ago, during the outpouring, he wrote a tract warning of a Christless Pentecost

He warned: “We may not hold a doctrine, or seek an experience, except in Christ. Many are willing to seek power in order to perform miracles, draw attention and adoration of the people to themselves, thus robbing Christ of His glory, and making a fair showing in the flesh. The greatest need would seem to be for true followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. Religious enthusiasm easily goes to seed. The human spirit so predominates the show-off, religious spirit. But we must stick to our text-Christ.

“Any work that exalts the Holy Ghost or ‘gifts’ above Jesus will finally end up in fanaticism. Whatever causes us to exalt and love Jesus is well and safe. The reverse will ruin all. The Holy Ghost is a great light, but focused on Jesus always for His revealing.

“Where the Holy Ghost is actually in control, Jesus is proclaimed the Head-the Holy Ghost, His executive.”

In another place, Brother Bartleman warned:

“The temptation seems to be toward empty manifestations. This does not require any particular cross, or death to the self-life. Hence it is always popular.

“We may not put power, gifts, the Holy Ghost, or in fact anything ahead of Jesus. Any mission that exalts even the Holy Ghost above the Lord Jesus Christ is bound for the rocks of error and fanaticism.

“There seems to be a great danger of losing sight of the fact that Jesus was ‘all in all’ The work of Calvary, the atonement, must be the center for our consideration. The Holy Ghost will never draw our attention from Christ to Himself, but rather reveal Christ in a fuller way. We are in danger of slighting Jesus – getting Him ‘lost in the temple,’ by the exaltation of the Holy Ghost and of the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus must be the center of everything.”

I do not take Brother Bartleman’s warning lightly. The danger of a Christless Pentecost is very real today. I say to you it is possible to gather Spirit-filled people in one place, praising and lifting up their hands – and still have Christ walking among them as a stranger!

It’s true He said, “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20 NASB) But He can be in our midst as a stranger! Ignored, unrecognized – even by those who meet in His name! The Jews gathered every Sabbath in the synagogue to speak of His name, and to prophesy of His coming. They praised the name of the Father who promised to send Him. They spoke the Messiah’s name with awe and reverence. Then, when He came and walked among them – He was not recognized! He was a stranger to them!

Christ, a stranger in the midst of a Spirit-filled congregation? A stranger in the midst of those who speak His name – who worship the Father who sent Him? A stranger to those who sing His hosannas, who call Him “Lord, Lord”?

Yes! Absolutely yes! It is not only possible – it is happening among God’s chosen people today!

Let me show you three ways in which we are making Christ a stranger In our midst! May the Holy Spirit take away our spiritual blindness so we can once again see Him as He really is – LORD OF ALL!

I. We Make Christ A Stranger – By Giving The Holy Spirit Pre-Eminence Over Him!

Christ, and Christ alone, must be the center of life and worship!

“And He is the head of the body, the Church: who Is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell…” (Col. 1:18-19 KJV)

“That in all things He might have the pre-eminence…” That is – distinguished and spoken of above all others. Having first place in all things. Not even the Holy Spirit is to be exalted above that name! The upper room must never overshadow the Cross! We dare not think of Christ as simply the one who sent the Holy Spirit. In other words, “Thank You, Jesus, for sending someone better.” Christ sent the Holy Spirit to reveal His own fullness within us.

When the Holy Spirit becomes the center of our attention, the church gets out of focus! The Holy Spirit descended upon Christ as He came out of baptismal waters, and the Father said of Him: “This is My beloved Son – In whom I am well pleased…” The Spirit descended bodily like a dove, but the focus was on the Lamb of God – who taketh away the sins of the world. Not the dove, but the Lamb!

Christ told His disciples of a coming Pentecost, when the Spirit would be outpoured for a single purpose: It was to be a power given to lift up the name of Christ! “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost Is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me… unto the uttermost part of the earth…” (Acts 1:8 KJV)

Jesus made it clear that when the Spirit comes He will not draw attention to Himself, but will focus on Christ’s words. He will exalt Christ.

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, is come… He shall not speak of Himself… He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show It unto you.” (John 16:13-15 KJV)

Jesus said, “He will show you My glory, My power, My Kingdom. He will remind you of all My words.” The primary work of the Holy Spirit is not fellowship, although He does bring believers together as one in Christ. It is not ecstasy. It is not simply to teach us an unlearned tongue. The Spirit has come to exalt Christ! To guide all mankind to the truth that Christ is Lord! It is not enough to say the Spirit has brought us close to each other – He must bring us closer to Christ!

The fullness of the Spirit is the fullness of Christ If you do not have a consuming love for Christ, you do not have a Holy Ghost baptism! Christ, the baptizer, sent the Holy Spirit to fire our souls over lost humanity, to get us out into the highways and hedges to reach the unsaved. To shake up our lazy lifestyles and get us to doing His work. The blessed Holy Spirit will be grieved, and finally withdraw, the moment men try to exalt Him above the Son of God! He will not permit His power to be abused by those who want only the gift and not Christ, the Giver!

What is a true Holy Ghost meeting? Is it where people all speak with tongues? Or where people are healed? Where saints jump for joy? Where saints are prophesying? More – much more than that! It is where Christ is being exalted, where His holiness pierces the soul, where men and women fall before His holy throne, broken, humbled – crying, “Holy, Holy.” The moving of the Holy Spirit is a moving closer to Christ, deeper in Christ, with a greater submission to His Lordship!

II. Christ Is Made A Stranger When People Praise Him, But Will Not Pray To Him!We want His healing power. We want His promises of prosperity. We want His protection. We want more of this earth’s goods. We want His happiness. But we really don’t want Him alone!

The Church once confessed its sins – now it confesses its rights

How many of us would serve Him if He offered nothing but Himself? No healing. No success. No prosperity. No worldly blessings. No miracles, signs, or wonders. What if – onceagain we had to take joyfully the spoiling of our goods? What if – instead of clear sailing and problem-free living, we faced shipwreck, fears within and fightings without? What if -instead of painless living, we suffered cruel mockings, stoning, bloodshed – being sawn asunder? What if – instead of our beautiful homes and cars, we had to wander about in deserts in sheepskins, hiding in dens and caves? What if – instead of prosperity, we were destitute, afflicted, and tormented? And the only better thing provided for us was Christ?

Very few of God’s people pray anymore! They are too busy working for Jesus to talk to Him! Ministers especially have become so busy doing kingdom work, they have little or no time left to pray. There is time to visit, to build, to travel, time to vacation, to attend meetings, time for recreation, reading, counseling – but no time to pray!

Preachers who do not pray become promoters. They become frustrated building contractors. When they lose touch with God, they lose touch with their people and their needs. Preachers who don’t pray have egos that spin out of control. They want their own way. They substitute sweat for unction (anointing).

Evangelists who do not pray become stars, storytellers. They lack humility, so they manipulate crowds through emotional gimmicks. The cry of many pastors is, “Oh, God, where can I find an evangelist who doesn’t care about money, or who is not promoting something? One who can bring heaven down and make Christ real! Oh, God – give me a praying man to bring my congregation to its knees!” The shame of this generation is that we have too many talented men of God and only a few who have touched God in prayer.

There is even less praying in the congregation! I’m 100% for getting prayer back in our public schools! But that’s not God’s real problem! His problem is getting prayer back in our homes! His problem is to get His own chosen people to pray! And you are a phony if you fight for school prayer and neglect secret-closet praying yourself!

Do we pray? Oh, yes! When we need something. We have the formula down pat – “in the name of Jesus.” All we need Him for is to counter sign our petition checks before the Father.

I am weary of hearing people say, “This is such a busy age – I have no time to pray. I’d like to, but I don’t have time.” No! It’s not lack of time; it is a lack of desire. We make time for what we really want to do. Look at our Christian young people! Wasting hours of time playing Pac-Man, Galaxy War, goofing off, bored, restless, looking for some action! But no time to pray! No time for Jesus! Oh, God! Somehow! Some way! Get this generation on its knees. Not just the Lord’s Prayer, but a daily communion with Christ .

Our Savior, who has the care and concern for multiplied universes, has the time to pray just for you! He takes the time to intercede for you before the throne of God (Heb. 7:25), and you say you do not have time to pray to Him!

We work feverishly for a Christ we ignore. We will go anywhere, do anything, in His name. But we will not pray. We will sing in a choir. We will visit the sick and the prisoners. But we will not pray. We will counsel the hurt and needy; we will stay up all night to comfort a friend, but we will not pray. We will fight corruption! We will crusade for morality! We will stand up against nuclear weapons! But we will not pray!

Most of all, we don’t pray because we really don’t believe it works. Prayer is a bloody battleground! It is where victories are won! A place to die to self! A place where a holy God exposes secret sin! No wonder Satan tries to hinder prayer! A praying man sends a shudder through hell. That man or woman is marked because Satan knows prayer is the power that crushes his kingdom. Satan is not afraid of power-hungry saints, but he trembles at the sound of a praying saint!

III. Christ Is Made a Stranger In Our Midst – When We Want His Power More Than His Purity!

Reader Harris, an Englishman and director of The Pentecostal League of Prayer, once challenged a congregation on this matter of power and purity. He said, “Those who want power, line up to my right. Those who want purity, line up to my left.” The congregation lined up 10 to 1 – for POWER!

In the book of Acts, Pentecost was synonymous with purity more than power. Peter told the council at Jerusalem what God did at the house of Cornelius, “God…giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us…purifying their hearts by faith…” (Acts 15:8-9 KJV)

Who is the man or woman of God who has power? Is it the one who can heal the sick and raise the dead? Is it the one who can best talk in tongues and prophesy? Is it the one who draws the most people and builds the greatest church? No! The one with the power – is the one with the purity! “…the righteous are bold as a lion… (Proverbs 28:1 KJV)

The prophet Malachi prophesied of a supernatural purge coming to God’s house.

“… the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple… but who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:1-3 KJV)

This is a dual prophecy. He speaks of Christ’s first coming, and also of His second! He will come again suddenly, as a thief in the night. But first, He will purify His Church.

We are not ready for the coming of Christ! Is this the Church triumphant? Covetous, divorcing, depressed, worldly-minded, grasping for materialism and success, competitive, lukewarm, adulterous, rich and increased with goods, unaware of spiritual blindness and poverty, pleasure-loving, recreation-minded, consumed with sports, politics, and power – is this the Church Jesus is coming for?Simply coping, filled with fear and anxiety, satisfied only to have good health and happiness?

My Bible says He is coming back for an overcoming Church! A Church without spot or wrinkle! A people whose affections are on things above! A people with clean hands and pure hearts. A people who are looking for His coming! A people with a “new Jerusalem state of mind.”

The question is no longer, “What can my faith get me? What miracle will He perform for me?” The question now is -“How shall I stand before Him? How shall I make it at the judgment?” “… who shall stand when He appeareth?” (Malachi 3:2 KJV)

The question is no longer, “How do! feel – how do! get happiness? How do I get the desire of my heart?”

The question Is-“Can I withstand that moment when I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ? How can I withstand when I’ve lived so carelessly, so selfishly, so neglectful of His great salvation?” The central issue now has nothing to do with this world at all. At issue is-“HAVE I NEGLECTED CHRIST IN THIS MIDNIGHT HOUR?”

The purge is going to begin in the pulpit! “…He shall purify the sons of Levi…” (Malachi 3:3 KJV) God is going to accomplish that by “turning up the heat ” God isgoing to make things so hot, so fiery, so intense, God’s men will be driven to their knees! This isthe fire of the Holy Ghost! It isthe fire of persecution. It is the fire of tribulation. The fire of unbelievable hardships, ridicule, gossip, financial problems. He is going to shake everything that can be shaken! He is going to shake, and scrub, and burn, and purge – and purify!

No man or woman of God will escape the purging! God is determined to get all the dross and filth out of us. The purge will spread from the pulpit to the pew! Get ready, saints! God is getting ready to expose all sin, all adultery, all foolishness! The Holy Ghost is going to reprove us of sin. How can you play games when God puts you in His crucible and turns up the fire? Your Holy Ghost baptism is going to have some fire put to it now!

Malachi said-“…the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up…” (Malachi 4:1 KJV)

God also promises to bring down the strongholds of the enemy! He is going to once and for all let the devil and the world know who has the power!

If God is about to do all that the prophets predicted He would – WHAT A GLORIOUS FUTURE JUST AHEAD!

  • A purged, purified ministry!
  • A Church that God is calling back to repentance and holiness.
  • A people washed, cleansed – offering praises in true righteousness.
  • A revival among our young people! Drug strongholds coming down! Alchohol and divorce no longer prevalent among God’s people.
  • The sound of prayer-intercession!
  • A people of God who will discern between the holy and the unholy!
  • Everywhere, God’s people turning again to the Word.
  • A tested, tried people, once again devoted to the Person of Jesus Christ!
  • His Person being lifted up to draw all men to Him!
  • Christ no longer the stranger in our midst, but CROWNED – PRE-EMINENT!
  • A Pentecost that truly exalts the name and power of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all.

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We praise a Christ to whom we will not pray! We have become a praising people, but not a praying people. For many of God’s people the prayer closet is a relic of the past. “Why ask God for what He has already promised? Just get hold of the promises and simply command deliverances!“We no longer want Christ as much as we want what He can do for us. We want an escape from pain and suffering. We want our troubles to vanish. And we are so caught up in our escape from pain, we lose the true meaning of the Cross. We refuse crosses and losses – no Gethsemane for us! No nights of agony! We don’t even know this suffering, bleeding, resurrected Christ!

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