Posts Tagged ‘charismatic’

Coming into “Alignment”

LTRP Note: Kevin Reeves is the author of The Other Side of the River, which is an account of his years as an elder in a Latter Rain, “River” church.

By Kevin Reeves 

Back in about the early ’90s, my former church went through a series of divine healing videos put out by Charles and Francis Hunter, or “The Happy Hunters.” At the end of each video, we put the teachings to the test—not the scriptural test for truth, mind you, but the “practical application” of what we had just learned. By laying on of hands, usually administered by Jason (our pastor) but sometimes by others in the group, we often felt things—sometimes a sense like an electric current running through the body, sometimes “drunkenness” (I experienced this one time where I literally could not speak without slurring my words), and sometimes in a very strange manipulation of the limbs. This was particularly powerful. Once (and I was not the only one so affected), according to the command on the video, I stretched out my arms and brought my hands together in order to see if my back was out of alignment. Well, according to the Hunters’ criteria it was, and when I asked for God to heal me, right there in that room with about fifteen other people, my back seemed to move of its own accord, my outstretched arms and shoulders slowly rotating as if there was another person inside me doing the motions. There appeared to be a definite power at work unlike any I had ever felt before. I was thrilled. Even elder Smalley was impressed, pointing at me and exclaiming with a huge smile, “Look at Kevin!”

This manipulation went on for about ten minutes, when it gradually subsided and left altogether. We had seen many people on this video manifest in this way, so it was only natural that we should experience the same thing. Incidentally, I never did feel any lasting change in my back.

It wasn’t my spine that needed aligning—it was my heart. And that needed to be aligned using the plumb line of God’s Word. Although we could not find its precedent in Scripture, the experience was powerful,stimulating, and sometimes seemed to work. Even unbelievers who were occasionally brought to meetings testified of the power that coursed through their bodies and moved their limbs of its own accord. At least one, however, left our meeting hurting with worse pain than when he arrived.

Was it of God? What do you think? Its absence from the ministries of Jesus and the apostles should sound warning bells loud and clear. This was a formula prayer, the same thing Jesus had in fact warned against in Matthew 6:7.

“Do this, and this will happen.” How many times I heard that kind of spiritual reasoning in our congregation eludes me. But God simply doesn’t act that way. Jesus healed differently for different people, based on heart attitude, not a specific agenda, method, or ritual. One of the main points of the video, which fell right into line with our own doctrine, was that Christians should not be suffering under sickness. Well, if we believe that, then we will have a very hard time explaining away the sickness of sincere believers like Timothy (I Timothy 5:23), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27), and Trophimus (II Timothy 4:20). In congregations today that follow these doctrines of men, the many who suffer sickness, sometimes chronically, are placed in the position of being healed or being condemned for their lack of faith, either by church leadership, the congregation, or their own feelings. They believe they have failed God. Or worse, that God has failed them.

Other Articles by Kevin Reeves:

Slain in the Spirit: Is it a Biblical Practice? by Kevin Reeves

C is For Catholicism—An Evangelical Primer on Catholic Terminology

D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity

 

 

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW – PART 4 – TOP 10 LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS EDITORS’ ARTICLES

See also Part 1 Year in Review | See also Part 2 Year in Review | See also Part 3 Year in Review

(Listed in order of date posted)

1/A History of AWANA’s Contemplative Track Record and the Implications of Their New CEO

On March 9th of this year, a press release came out announcing the retirement of long-time AWANA president Jack Eggar who was being replaced by an interim president and CEO, Valerie Bell. Bell is a member of Willow Creek (and her husband is a Vice President of Willow Creek Association). The fact alone that AWANA has selected someone from Willow Creek to lead AWANA should be enough to show that AWANA has at least in part absorbed the spirituality of Willow Creek, which is the spirituality of the emerging church (and that is NOT guilt by association). But the selection of Valerie Bell has even deeper roots in the “new” spirituality.

2/Christian Homeschoolers Targeted by “Christ-Centered Energy Healing” Organization

“Are you looking for reliable, Christ-centered information and healing that is safe, affordable and that really does work? Are you sick & tired of being sick & tired? Are you a healer or are you searching for effective healing that is Christ-centered? You have found your tribe.”

So says Tammy Anderson Ward, President of Hope Haven Events, who presents the “Christ-Centered Energy Healing Conferences.” If Christ-centered energy healing sounds like an oxymoron, that’s because it is. And all one needs to do is cruise around on the  website to see that the nature of these conferences is blatantly New Age. But we’ll get to that in a little bit. The group is reaching out to a broad audience and is being billed as “the world’s largest Christ-centered energy healing conference;” but what caught the attention of Lighthouse Trails and author Ray Yungen more than anything is that they are reaching out to homeschool kids and parents, a traditionally conservative segment of the population.

3/DRESS REHEARSAL FOR A FALSE REVIVAL? – Evangelical, Charismatic, Emerging Leaders, & Pope Francis Unite for “Together 2016” in Washington, DC

According to a news release from PRWire titled “Pope Francis To Address Americans At National Mall Event ’Together 2016’ With Special Video Message,” Pope Francis will be joining (via video) evangelical leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Michael W. Smith, and Josh McDowell, emerging-church leaders such as Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF), and Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and charismatic leaders such as Sammy Rodriguez and Hillsong for an event motivated by a goal to bring unity to all those who “love Jesus.” The event is called “Together 2016,” subtitled Fill the Mall.

4/Evangelical/Ecumenical Leaders Together in “The Gathering” Raises Serious Questions

On June 13, Lighthouse Trails reported on an event called Together 2016 that will take place this summer in Washington DC. We explained that organizer Nick Hall was bringing together evangelical, emerging, charismatic, and Catholic leaders for the ecumenical purpose of uniting together. A special video appearance by Pope Francis will be part of the event. A similar event (but without the Pope) has been announced. The Gathering: A National Solemn Assembly will take place in September in Dallas, Texas, and while there doesn’t appear to be any direct promotion of the Roman Catholic religion as there is with Together 2016, there is a definite united-we-stand-regardless-of-our-beliefs scenario in The Gathering.

5/Brian Brodersen and Greg Laurie’s “Bigger Picture of Christianity”

As we observe evangelical Christianity being drawn toward “the Mother Church” of Roman Catholicism, it is amazing to see how very few Christian leaders speak up about this. On the contrary, one after the next, Christian leaders are succumbing to this ecumenical, interfaith last-days apostasy of merging evangelicalism into the Catholic fold. Lighthouse Trails has reported on numerous examples of highly influential evangelical leaders heading in this direction: Rick Warren, Beth Moore, James Robison, and Ken Copeland to name a few.

Today, we received two different e-mails that provided information to show the continuance of this evangelical move toward Rome. In the first e-mail sent by Roger Oakland of Understand the Times, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa senior pastor Brian Brodersen was brought to our attention. Brodersen is beginning an online YouTube series called Things That Matter.

6/Erwin Lutzer Tells Skip Heitzig’s Church: Don’t Attack False Teachers, But Spiritual Disciplines Are “Absolutely Critical”!

Last week, a colleague sent a note to Lighthouse Trails asking us to review a sermon that Erwin Lutzer recently gave at Skip Heitzig’s Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque (New Mexico) Church. Lighthouse Trails has issued challenges and appeals to Erwin Lutzer on a number of occasions over the past ten years because of our concerns that as a major Christian leader (Pastor Emeritus (as of spring 2016) of Moody Church  – the same church Dr. Harry Ironside and D.L. Moody pastored many years ago), Lutzer would lead many astray because of his written endorsement of Larry Crabb’s book, The Papa Prayer, that openly promotes “centering prayer.” An editor from Lighthouse Trails spoke personally on the phone with Lutzer in 2006 but to no avail.

7/Christian Leaders Finally Beginning to Speak Out About Jesus Calling, Saying: “WE LOVE IT!!”

For three years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning believers about Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. It was October 25th 2013 that we announced going to press with Warren B. Smith’s book “Another Jesus” Calling. Since then, we have published three booklets by Warren on the topic as well as several articles. We also sent his booklet 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book to over 100 Christian leaders earlier this year. Interestingly, in these past few years, we’ve heard virtually no public comments by Christian leaders about Jesus Calling – for or against. We wondered, “Do they like the book and are too afraid to say so?” or “Do they NOT like the book and are too afraid to say so?” Afraid that if they stated their true feelings about the book – whether for or against – they would take heat from either their followers who love the book or from discernment ministries who warn about the book. Well, apparently, all that doesn’t matter anymore because leaders are starting to speak up about Jesus Calling – and the ones who are, LOVE IT!

8/InterVarsity Comes Under Heat for Trying to Make a Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage – But Straddling the Fence is Hard to Do

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has come under public heat because it recently announced they were giving an ultimatum to employees who saw nothing wrong with same-sex (homosexual) marriage. In a Charisma magazine article (we are not endorsing Charisma), the author states:

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is one of the leading campus ministries, and its publishing arm, InterVarsity Press, is one of the top Christian publishers. But this fine ministry is learning the hard way that, when it comes to homosexuality, you cannot straddle the fence.1

The reason the Charisma writer says “straddle the fence” is because InterVarsity Press has been publishing emergent, contemplative, New Age/New Spirituality authors for a long time, and mixing truth with error has finally caught up with them.

9/LifeWay Resources (SBC) Stops Selling Same-Sex Marriage Promoter Jen Hatmaker . . . But LifeWay Still Not Seeing the Big Picture

According to a Christianity Today article, LifeWay Resources (the Southern Baptist Convention resource arm) has stopped selling products by Jen Hatmaker because of her promotion of same-sex marriage. The CT article stated:

Jen Hatmaker posted a 650-word response on her Facebook page Monday, saying she “wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it” before coming to a decision to affirm same-sex relationships, which recently led to LifeWay Christian Resources pulling her books from its stores.

Hatmaker has been the topic of Lighthouse Trails articles and Cedric Fisher’s booklet called IF it is of God: Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering as she is part of the group of women who head up the women’s movement called IF: Gathering.

10/Pope Francis Proposes New Beatitude – to See God in Every Person

According to an article in the Catholic Herald, Pope Francis has proposed six new beatitudes. The article states:

At the Mass, which took place at the conclusion of his ecumenical trip to the country, Pope Francis highlighted the lives of the Swedish saints Elizabeth Hesselblad and Bridget of Vadstena.  . . . New situations require new energy and a new commitment, he said, and then offered a new list of Beatitudes for modern Christians.

Four of the “new beatitudes” had to do with forgiving others, caring about the earth, and helping the poor and needy. One of them was ecumenical in nature: — Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians [meaning Christians and Catholics], and the second resonated with earlier comments Pope Francis has made to indicate that this pope is not only ecumenical, he is also interspiritual (all paths lead to God) and panentheistic (God is in all).

Question to the Editor: What Do You Know About Ed Silvoso and the Transformation Movement?

“Ed Silvosos’ paradigm is no different than many others who have come into the church before basically “rethinking everything into a new strategy.” Using the magic word of ‘transformation’ (a word originally found in theosophy of the New Age movement), it has found itself as one of the many new platforms for ‘mission strategies’ now being employed by the New Apostolic Reformation.” – Mike Oppenheimer

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Ed Silvoso

Do you know anything about Dr. Ed Silvoso who, from this announcement below, is coming to Tulsa? Someone sent me this announcement and I did some Internet research on him re: his bio, etc. Can you tell if his “transformation” is anything like Rick Warren’s?

Thanks,

B. _______

Our Comment:

While we don’t have anything about Ed Silvoso on our site, we are familiar with the transformation movement. It’s not exactly like Rick Warren’s agenda. It is more along the lines of the NAR movement and the redeeming the cultures movement. Silvoso and other leaders in the transformation movement may have good intentions, but they are kind of like the salesman who promises miracles with his product, and people buy it because of all the hype, but in the end, the product doesn’t deliver. Since the 1980s, the transformation movement leaders have promised that entire cities were going to be changed dramatically and violence would be reduced throughout our society if Christians followed their ideas on unity and prayer. But look where we are today in this world. Cities are not being transformed, and society is growing darker and more violent, just as Scripture tells us it will because men’s hearts will grow colder and further away from Christ.

Here are a few articles that will provide information on Ed Silvoso and the transformation movement:

The Global Transformation of Redeeming Cultures by Mike Oppenheimer

BOOKLET TRACT: Can Cultures Be Redeemed? (Some Things You Should Know About the Indigenous People’s Movement) by Nanci Des Gerlaise

Transformations or Re-transformation? A Paradigm Shift for Evangelism by Mike Oppenheimer

Ed Silvoso & Transformation Africa by Herescope

 

DRESS REHEARSAL FOR A FALSE REVIVAL? – Evangelical, Charismatic, Emerging Leaders, & Pope Francis Unite for “Together 2016” in Washington, DC

photo: from a still shot from video on Reset 2016 site; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act

photo: from a still shot from video on Reset 2016 site; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act

According to a news release from PRWire titled “Pope Francis To Address Americans At National Mall Event ’Together 2016’ With Special Video Message,” Pope Francis will be joining (via video) evangelical leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Michael W. Smith, and Josh McDowell, emerging-church leaders such as Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF), and Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and charismatic leaders such as Sammy Rodriguez and Hillsong for an event motivated by a goal to bring unity to all those who “love Jesus.” The event is called “Together 2016,” subtitled Fill the Mall.

Nick Hall, the organizer of the event who hopes to draw one million people to the National Mall on July 16th, stated: “Together 2016 is about laying aside what divides us to lift up Jesus who unites us.”1 Hall told one news source, “We are coming together in historic unity to pray for a reset for our nation.”2

It’s been over fifteen years since contemplative pioneer Richard Foster shared his vision of Catholics and evangelicals coming together3 and over two decades since Chuck Colson helped author a document titled “Evangelicals/Catholics Together.”4 It’s been over a decade since Rick Warren announced his hopes to bring about a second reformation that would include people of different religions.5 In more recent days, evangelical leaders such as Beth Moore,6 Franklin Graham,7 and Kenneth Copeland8 have played their parts in helping to remove the barriers between the evangelical/Protestant church and the Roman Catholic Church (something the Catholic Church calls the New Evangelization program9).

According to the Bible, we know a time is coming when a global one-world religion will serve alongside a global one-world government, both of which will reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Lord. Whether they realize it or not, the leaders and musicians participating in Together 2016 are helping to make that global religion a reality as they participate in this ongoing relay race of breaking down the walls that divide different faiths in the name of unity at all costs.

Right now, in America, evangelical and charismatic leaders are calling for a nation-wide revival. But will their revival be a revival from God; or will it be a false revival? And is Together 2016 nothing more than a dress rehearsal for this false revival?

 

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: “I JUST HAD A VISION!”

“I Just Had a Vision!” written by Kevin Reeves, is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The booklet is 16 pages long and sells for $1.50 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. This booklet is specifically geared toward passing out to those who are involved in movements such as the River movement, Latter Rain, Word Faith, IHOP, Kansas City Prophets, Toronto Blessing, or Brownsville Revival, etc.).  Below is the content of the booklet (the names of people and churches have been changed). To order copies of “I Just Had a Vision!,” click here.

I Just Had A Vision“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:

 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. (Isaiah 6:1–5)

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, Sunday services at New Covenant Fellowship, my former church, 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 have made an impromptu appearance at our services.

Jeannette McElroy seemed graced with multiple visitations. On this particular Sunday afternoon, Jeannette had gone up to the front of the sanctuary, in the middle of a worship song, to speak privately with worship leader Beth Clayton, Pastor Phil’s wife. Beth held her hand over the microphone, listened momentarily to Jeannette, and then nodded. At the end of the song, Beth in triumph noted the presence of the two angelic beings seen by Jeannette. They were there to worship with us, she exclaimed, and she led the congregation into a brief period of shouting praise to God for sending His angelic emissaries.

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. By then several months into my own charismatic research, I exchanged a brief, frustrated glance with my wife, Kris.

When I later brought up the angel incident in an eldership meeting, Beth staunchly denied she’d promoted the vision. She maintained she had merely acknowledged Jeannette’s word and left it to the congregation to decide its veracity. But my wife and I were both there. The way it is described above is exactly the way it happened. Interestingly, none of the rest of the leadership in the room nixed Beth’s version, despite the fact that some were present during the “angelic visitation.”
Tunnel Vision
The cries of “I saw!” reverberated throughout New Covenant Fellowship 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 Pastor Tom 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.

Never having been much involved with either prophecy or visions, I had no foundation of experience from which to judge. I left the decision to the rest of the leadership, to accept or reject whatever came forth with the label of vision. Finally, during my last year as elder, I did my own Bible study on the subject, and what I discovered left me angry, frightened, and delighted. Angry, because I felt we had been duped personally and congregationally.

Frightened, because so many visions were coming forth on a regular basis with no real safeguard as to their origins. Delighted, because I was no longer held captive by supposed visions from God, which I had long suspected were other than from Him.

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.

Accepting everything that comes down the pike as from God is like driving a car while wearing blinders. You can’t see the big picture. Your actual focus becomes so constrained that you miss necessary landmarks to indicate proper direction—not to mention the fact that sooner or later you’ll get sideswiped by a vehicle you never saw coming.

On the Wings of Angels
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.1

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

Concerning the visitation of angelic beings themselves, the scriptural record directly conflicts with such experiences. In our own meetings, those with frequent visions of angels had often depicted them as merely standing around, enjoying or participating in a worship service with us. Contrast this with the biblical model of angelic visitation. In both Old and New Testaments, angels are beings sent by God to give verbal messages (often concerning the future), to administer divine judgment, to strengthen and comfort, and to give specific direction, warnings, and deliverance from dangers. Their appearing was an amazing event; fear was the natural human reaction to their presence, or at the very least an awed respect. Visions of angels in the church of today, however, nearly always produce glee or a giddy joyfulness, little awe, no fear, and often the “angels” are just standing enjoying themselves and have no message from God. In heaven this may sometimes happen (we simply don’t know), but the scriptural precedent demonstrates their earthly visitation always heralded a direct message from the Lord and their very presence caused an immediate shock to the person witnessing it. In those times when angels hid their identity (Genesis 19) they were viewed as mere men, and when they made their identity known, the reaction was fear, shock, and awe.

Likewise, visions of any kind, in both Old and New Testament, appeared to be very rare occurrences. Acts 2:17 has been used to support the argument of increased occurrence of visions in the end-times, but the context of Scripture shows that we have been in the last days for the past two thousand years. If anyone should have had a preponderance of visions, you’d think it would have been the apostles, who knew the Lord Jesus face-to-face and wrote the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

All in the Mind?
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 off 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.

This conclusion really upset my wife Kris (the first dozen times I mentioned it!) because she had often relied on mental pictures as a guide when praying for others. Encouraged by the leadership as prophetic, Kris watched the pictures that arose in her mind for clues to the spiritual condition of the person she was praying for, and the subsequent remedy.

After personal Bible study and serious prayer, she came to question this method and eventually discard it as a valid practice in ministry. 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.

That is not to say that all images we see are wrong. Some may be quite correct at times. But “[w]e have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Peter 1:19). The Word of God is the mirror in which to examine all our practices, thoughts, deeds, and desires. If God had left anything out of His written record, the void would allow all manner of personal interpretations or inventions to prosper. The resultant chaos would cripple any objective discernment.
Quality Testing
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:

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD. (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.2 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.3 Such occurrences were the next logical step in an already deception-heavy system of super-spirituality, rationalization, and the frenzied pursuit of illusion.

While there could be genuine godly visions that do take place today, they are very rare and not apt to guide people into the fantastic or to gather a following. Contrast this with the nearly cult status accorded some presumed seers, who not only relate a plethora of dreams and visions that contradict biblical foundations but who make a rather decent living doing it through books, conferences, special engagements, etc. The overused mantra of “God is doing a new thing and therefore the Scriptures don’t specifically address it” should be relegated to the ash heap. Any true heavenly vision may only confirm what is already in the Scriptures:

And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (I Corinthians 4:6)

Do not go past that which is written. Through Scripture, the Holy Spirit repeatedly makes the same statement in manifold ways:

 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

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. (II Timothy 3:13–17)

A master of camouflage, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14). We are admonished to put to trial those things we see or hear claiming to be from the heavenly realms:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:1–3)

To confess means to agree with. 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 charismatic 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.

What should shame us as believers is the wholesale disregard for the only visible, objective, sure, written Word of God. In our mad dash to embrace the new thing, we 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 New Covenant. 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:

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

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.

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. (Jeremiah 23: 25-27)

To order copies of “I Just Had a Vision!,” click here.

Endnotes
1. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd edition, 2006), p. 34.
2. In 1978, cult leader Jim Jones lead over 900 followers in a mass suicide in northern Guyana.
3. Mary Owen “Oregon Church Says Gold Dust, Feathers Fell During Meetings” (Charisma magazine, September 2000, http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/component/content/article/248-people-events/517-oregon-church-says-gold-dust-feathers-fell-during-meetings).

To order copies of “I Just Had a Vision!,” click here.


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